The Project Gutenberg eBook of Argentina and Uruguay

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Title: Argentina and Uruguay

Author: Gordon Ross

Release date: December 16, 2017 [eBook #56186]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by MFR, Adrian Mastronardi and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)















First Published in 1917


IN 1911



An allegory of the Pampa—Patriarchs and Oligarchies—National and local politics and administration—Patrician government—The landed aristocracy—Patriotism and foreign railways—The problem of agricultural labour—Propaganda, in theory and in practice—Needed and unneeded immigration—The peon of to-day and the gaucho—Urgent need of rural population—Industries in waiting—The INCALCULABLE future of the River Plate countries—Lack of Uruguayan statistics 1
The shock falls on existing local depression—Vigorous and prompt action of the River Plate governments and banks—No “Mañana”—Mr. C. A. Tornquist’s views—Again the need of rural population—Socialism from above and below—Buoyancy of national securities 18
The Declaration of Independence—Subsequent chaos—Rozas and Artígas—Sarmiento—Mitre—Juarez Celman—The Argentine financial crash of 1891—Uruguay; “Whites” and “Reds”—Uruguayan patriotism and honesty—“State socialism gone mad”—The commencements of modern River Plate history—Dr. Saenz Peña—Sound financial policy—Future peace and prosperity—The ballot in Argentina and former electoral corruption—The people a new factor in Argentine politics 29
The Argentine of the future (?) and of the past—Spanish and Italian immigration—Young patriots—Argentine and Uruguayan[viii] sources of immigration—River Plate Spanish and philology—Argentines and Uruguayans contrasted—Manners and characteristics—The true signification of “Mañana”—Some advice to immigrants—Land and the foreigner—Much learning and little application—Lower-class illiteracy—Argentine women, households, and children—Jeunesse dorée—Further contrast of Argentines and Uruguayans 40
The constitutions of Argentina and Uruguay, advantages and defects of each—Dr. Figueroa Alcorta—“Revolución de arriba”—A “Coup d’État”—Former Argentine electoral practices—Doctrinaire government in Uruguay—An autocratic democrat—General strike and general festivities—Certified milk-cans—Provincial authorities—Freedom from corruption of National governments—The “making” of internal politics—Finance—“A fat thief better than a lean one”—Childish things, soon to be put away 62
History and modernity; music and verdure—Theatres and Bathing—The ambition of Montevideo—Carnival—The origins of two great fortunes—More historic buildings and the “Palace of Gold”—The Buenos Aires “tube”; its tramways—Comparative expense of living—Opera houses and theatres—Night and day—Ever-changing Buenos Aires—The Jockey Club—Palermo and the Avenida de Alvear—Fashion moves northwards—Corso and race-course—Gambling—The agricultural show—Hurlingham—The Tigre—The Recoleta—“The Bond Street of the South”—Hotels—Buenos Aires not a hot-bed of vice—Marriage and mourning—“Conventillos”—Fashion in Buenos Aires and Montevideo 79
Susceptibility of South America to conditions of the European money markets; early fear of Balkan complications—Relatively bad times—Transient “crises”—August, 1914—Protective measures—“It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good”—Still further insistence on the need of agricultural population—Currencies—The Argentine “Conversion” Law—Former gold speculation and banks of issue—Golden opportunity for British trade—A South American view of the Monroe doctrine—The “Hustler”—British manufacturers and the South American trade—How to lose it—How to keep[ix] it—Uruguay’s creditable reputation—General commercial conditions in Argentina and Uruguay—The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange—Gambling—Sound securities: the Argentine Hypothecary Bank, and National, Provincial, and Municipal Debenture Bonds—The new and the old Buenos Aires corn exchanges—More about the “Bolza”—Fictitious booms—A great bear—The death of public speculation—Cedulas and Cedulas—Credito Argentino 93
An Imperium in Imperio—Foreign capital in River Plate railways—Gauges—The “Mitre” Law—Luxurious travelling—An U.S. Syndicate—Argentine national railways—The Transandine and Entre Rios lines—The projected southern transandine line—Maritime accessibility of the River Plate Republics—Chief ports—Spanish immigration 122
Increase of trade during past two decades—United Kingdom imports of grain and meat—U.K. exports, showing importance of Argentina and Uruguay—British capital invested in Argentina during first half of 1914—Trade of the U.S. with S. America—U.S. exports, showing importance of Argentina—Argentine imports from Europe in 1913—The rich productiveness of Uruguay—Increase of Argentine and Uruguayan exports—Public works and small budget surpluses—Buenos Aires commercial and industrial census, 1914; bread and smoke(!)—Italian and Spanish retail traders—Russians and Jews 127
BUENOS AIRES, the “Queen” Province: Its stillborn capital—Famous museum and university—Bahia Blanca—Mar-del-Plata, a veritable round of gaiety; the new Port—Potatoes—Other chief towns of the province—Cereals and live stock—Great agricultural and industrial activity—Generally uninteresting scenery: model farms and fine country houses 139
SANTA FÉ: Forests, live stock and agriculture—An old-world capital—Busy Rosario—Other ports—Mixed agriculture and stock farming—Milling and other industries 144
CÓRDOBA: The gaucho wars—The learned city—The Cathedral and university—Monks and nuns—Mediæval atmosphere—Some[x] personal recollections: religion and roulette—Alta gracia—Mar chiquita—Chief towns—The Dique San Roque—A projected canal 145
ENTRE RIOS: No longer the “Poor Sister”—The railway ferry service—City of Paraná; Urquíza and Sarmiento—Concórdia—Large land holdings—Extract of meat 150
CORRIENTES: Where the Diligence still runs—Descendants of the Conquistadores—San Juan de la Vera de las siete Corrientes—Other chief towns—Good possibilities but commercial apathy—Lake Iberá—A zoological invasion—General San Martin 153
SAN LUIS: Alfalfa—Irrigation—Grapes and wine—Minerals—Native indolence 156
SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO: Irrigation and cereal cultivation—AlfalfaresQuebracho and charcoal—Amenities of the Santiagueño—Quack doctors and wise women; a cure for toothache—Dangers of quackery 158
TUCUMÁN: Smallest Argentine province, but important—Sugar—Former difficulties and present progress—The city of Tucumán—The Declaration of Independence—Palatial villas—The Plaza Independencia, theatre and casino—Irrigation—Snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys 160
CATAMARCA: Sparse population—Irrigation and transport; a new government line—Minerals—The Campo del Pucara and the city of Catamarca; a sleepy hollow—Native lethargy; a Spanish aristocracy—Unexploited mineral wealth 163
LA RIOJA: Water, labour and transport needed—Maize and tropical fruits—Wine—Irrigation—A new national railway—Mineral wealth; La Famatina—The city of La Rioja; arrested development—Remains of Inca civilization—Mountain and plain 165
JUJUY: The brothers Leach—A picturesque province—The Humahuaca dialect—General Lavalle—The blue and white flag and the “Sun of May”—A primitive population 167
SALTA: “The Cradle of the Republic”—Jabez Balfour—The gaucho—Coya Indians—Need of intelligent and energetic population—Ponchos—Rubber—Hot springs—No soldiery, only armed police 169
MENDOZA: Wine—“Entre San Juan y Mendoza”—Alfalfa—San Rafael—Irrigation—Earthquakes—Public gardens and the West Park—Wine manufacture—Table grapes—Peaches—Coal and petroleum—The Puente del Inca—Hot springs 174
SAN JUAN: Former financial recalcitrance—Depreciated paper—Irrigation and enforced prosperity—A new railway—The defeat of the Buenos Aires grape ring—Old colonial charm 178
THE PAMPA CENTRAL: The fifteenth province?—Wheat, linseed and maize—Rapid development—Shifting sand-hills—Three great railways—Wool and hides—The latent landlord in excelsis—Need of a real colonization policy; settlers wanted 182
[xi]NEUQUEN: Chilean colonies and trade—Wheat, alfalfa and vegetables—“Tronador”; Scandinavian scenery—Lake Nahuel Huapí and Victoria Island—Hot and medicinal springs—Future wealth—Vast irrigation—Rich, virgin soil—Deep-water ports 185
RIO NEGRO: Fertile soil, but no rainfall—Irrigation and the Lago Pellegrini—Regulation of the flow of the river—Former disastrous floods—A climatic transformation—New railway lines—San Blas—Copper, salt, and petroleum—Furious winds—A scheme which failed 188
CHUBUT: Petroleum—The Welsh colony—“Foreigners” not admitted—Lazy descendants of active forefathers—Sparse population—Wool and alfalfa—A new railway 193
SANTA CRUZ: English climate, orchards and gardens; far from the madding crowd—Sheep—Wind!—Cold storage—Wheat, oats and alfalfa; apples and pears 196
TIERRA DEL FUEGO: No volcanoes in “Fire Land”—A cure for anarchy—Hardy sheep—Seal and whale fishing—Potatoes and table vegetables—The Silesian mission—Mr. Bridges’ refuge—The new gaol—Gold prospecting—“De Gustibus!” 197
MISIONES: The “Imperio Jesuitico”—Practical religion—Fairyland—The Iguazú Falls—Timber—Mate—Maize, sugar and fruit—Granite—Neglected industries—Need of suitable labour—Indians then and now—A projected railway to the junction of three republics 200
FORMOSA: Not the most beautiful—No man’s land—A projected railway—Quebracho—Alfalfa and maize—Again the Latifundío question—A fiscal land scandal—Landlords and squatters—Smuggling—Tobacco and sugar—Timber—Pleasant memories of the River Plate 205
URUGUAY: General physical and climatic characteristics—Flora—The Uruguayan Rio Negro the dividing line of general physical features—Fruit and vegetables—Flour—Soil—Minerals and the Mining Laws 212
THE CHACO and LOS ANDES: Timber and Minerals 214
Comparative values of agricultural exports—Railways not the only causes of agricultural extension—Railway policy—Ambassadorial managers—Intensive and extensive farming—“Secondary” industries—Bread versus meat—Minerals, petroleum and pigs—Uruguayan agriculture—River Plate cereal exports—Wheat and alfalfa; Agricultural dolce far niente—Again “population!”—An economic deadlock—“Colonists”—Mr. Herbert Gibson’s views—Dr. Francisco Latzina—Cultivable land in Argentina—The Defensa Agricola—Señor Ricardo Pillado—Tabular statistics—Latest Argentine harvest and cereal export estimates—Deficiency of official Uruguayan statistics—General soil characteristics 215
The “History of Belgrano”—The first horses on the River Plate—The Goes’ cattle—The first goats and sheep—Early export trade—The first freezing establishment—Amazing pastoral and agricultural changes—The “discovery” of alfalfa—Sheep—Fine stock—Horses—Pigs and poultry—Tired land—Tabular statistics—Favourite breeds—Comparative absence of disease—British prohibition of import of animals on the hoof—Drought—Water supplies of Uruguay and Argentina—A windmill which was not erected—Fencing—Anglo-Saxon enterprise—The Argentine Rural Society; its herd and flock books—The agricultural and live stock show—Trees—The coming colonist and mixed farming—Tabular statistics—The meat trade: its history from the seventeenth to the present century—Market classification—Predominance of U.S. interests in cold storage industry—Influence of cold storage companies on fine breeding—Tabular statistics 249
River Plate timber and fancy woods—Señor Mauduit’s lists and descriptions—Argentina and Uruguay considered as one arboricultural area—Importance of this subject—Railway coach building—Shelter for cattle 277
Historians and poets—Other writers—Art awaits development—Painting, architecture, literature and music—The native Drama—Oratory—Heroes and history—An Argentine sculptress—Wanted: an author 299
Index 303



Map Front Endpaper
A Part of the Iguazú Falls Frontispiece
The Plaza Libertad, Montevideo 80
The Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires 84
The Cathedral and Plaza Victoria, Buenos Aires 86
Transporter Bridge, Port of Buenos Aires 122
Grain Elevators, Madero Dock, Buenos Aires 126
Ruins of Jesuit Buildings, Mendoza, Argentina 174
A Bit of the Transandine Railway, Argentina 176
Entrance to the Summit Tunnel through the Andes (Chilean Side) 176
Puente del Inca; Mendoza, Argentina 178
Views on Lake Nahuel Huapí, Argentine National Territory of Neuquen 186
Head Portion of the Rio Negro, Argentina, Great Irrigation and Control Works. (Bird’s-Eye View) 188
A Typical Small “Camp” Town (Rivera, Uruguay) 212



I. International Trade of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay 133
II. Development of Argentine Agriculture 243
III. Argentine Meat Trade 273
IV. Argentine Frozen and Chilled Meat Exports 275



For the majority of the Statistics and Statistical Diagrams contained in this book the Author is indebted to the Division of Commerce and Industry of the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture and particularly to the kindness and courtesy of Señor Ricardo Pillado, the Director-General of that Division, for permission for their reproduction; for others to Señor Emilio Lahitte, the Director-General of the Division of Rural Economy and Statistics in the same Ministry. And in Uruguay to Dr. Julio M. Llamas, Professor of Political Economy in the University of Montevideo, and Dr. Daniel García Acevedo, of the Uruguayan Bar, eminent as an authority on Commercial Law.

The Author’s sincere thanks are also tendered to the Buenos Aires Great Southern, the Buenos Aires Pacific, and the Central Uruguay of Montevideo Railway Companies, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, Mitchell’s Library, Buenos Aires, and several private persons for permission to reproduce photographs with which this book is illustrated; to the Proprietors of The Times for their consent to the embodiment under the heading “Currency” of the material portions of an article by the Author which appeared in the Special South American Number of that Newspaper under date December 28th, 1909; to the Argentine Committee for the National Agricultural and Pastoral Census taken in 1908 for much information; to Mr. Herbert Gibson for his very kind permission to quote portions of his pamphlet, “The Land We Live On.” And to very many official and other friends of different Nationalities for help freely given to the literary work of the Author in the past, much of which help has borne fruit in this book.




A tale of the Pampa[1] tells how a River Plate farmer of bygone days, seeing his wife and child dead of pestilence and his pastures blackened by fire, fell into a magic slumber born of the lethargy of despair.

He was awakened, many years afterwards, by the scream of a railway engine at his boundary; to find his land fenced in, his flocks and herds improved beyond recognition, and maize and wheat waving where only coarse grass had been before.

This allegory is true.

It tells the whole story of the real development of the River Plate Territories, a development in which the descendant of the original settlers has but comparatively recently begun to take an active part.

He, the Patriarch of the soil, lived on his land while English capital and Italian labour opened up its treasures to the world. In the beginnings of Argentina as a nation, his property consisted of vast herds of long-horned, bony cattle, valuable only for their hides, which roamed the Pampa in savage freedom; untended, save for periodic[2] slaughter and skinning and the yearly rounding up for the marking of the calves.

Later, came the acknowledgment between neighbours, living at vast distances from one another, of boundaries which indicated the huge areas over which each had grazing rights. Later still came the time when the more far-sighted of such men bought wire and, with quebracho posts, ringed in those areas as their own. The foreigner and his railway did the rest to build up the huge fortunes of the children and grandchildren of those far-sighted Patriarchs. For Patriarchs they were, Pastoral Kings surrounded by half-caste gauchos who lived in the familiar vassalage of the great mud-walled, grass-thatched house, and spoke in the familiar second person singular still in use among Argentines towards their servants; otherwise only employed between members of the same family or close friends. Until a very few years ago, these great Argentine families constituted Oligarchies which ruled almost absolutely each over one of the more distant Provinces, the people of which were the descendants of the vassals of their forefathers. The full power of these Provincial Oligarchies was only broken by the centralizing policy of President Dr. Figueroa Alcorta (1906 to 1910). The curtailing of their power was very necessary for the credit of National Finance and Justice, for that power was often exercised with a mediæval high-handedness unsuited to twentieth-century ideas.

The disintegration of the power of local Oligarchies, each of which completely dominated the Congress of its province, was one of the final but quite necessary steps towards putting the house of Argentina into perfect political and financial order; especially as Provincial Governors, hitherto always members of the Oligarchic families, were also almost invariably members of the National Senate. Add to these considerations the further one that the Provincial Courts had somehow or other gained a reputation for not meting out justice to political friend and foe alike, and that much[3] complaint was heard about the difficulties encountered by some persons in even working the way of their cases up to the admirably impartial hearing of the Federal High Court of Appeal; since, for instance, it is difficult to appeal from a decision which has not been given, and which you seem to possess no means to obtain, even as against you.

All these inconveniences and scandals had long called imperatively for reform, but it was reserved for Dr. Figueroa Alcorta to discover the way to successfully bell these powerful provincial cats.

The way he found (which is referred to more fully in a later chapter) was essentially South American; but, as many things in South America which at first sight appear strange to European eyes do, it worked very well.

It is desirable here, however, to make quite clear the fact that any political South Americanisms which may still survive in Argentina are strictly confined to her internal and local politics and administration. Within that sphere it might almost be said that only the Judges of the Federal High Court of Appeal keep themselves completely clear of any shadow of suspicion. If you get to the Federal High Court you have the Law of the Land administered with unflinching impartiality. The only leaning of which that Tribunal has ever been accused (and that only jokingly) is that of an inclination to decide against the Government. Because, its judges, once appointed, cannot be removed unless on the ground of gross misconduct; whereas all other functionaries in the country are more or less liable to feel the effects of political influence. The National foreign or commercial policy is also as transparently pure and fair as it is possible to be. Argentina knows her best interests much too well to seem even to offend against European ethical standards in anything which touches external policy or Foreign interests, however remote.

As for her internal politics, these have been, until very recently, at all events, left by common consent of foreigner[4] and native alike to the sweet will of the caste of professional politicians. These people intrigue for place and profit and have vicissitudes, triumphs and defeats, without the real wealth-producers of the country knowing or caring one way or another. The doings of the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture (embracing Commerce and Industry) and Public Works and the legislation affecting matters appertaining thereto are all that matter to the Bankers, Traders and Agriculturists or the great Railway Companies; and these leading Official and Commercial and Industrial Classes are the only people of real consequence in the land; unless one adds the Municipal Authorities of the Cities of Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca.

The actual Government, however, is jealously kept in native patrician hands. If one finds a foreign name in the list of high officials it may safely be assumed that the bearer of it is connected by marriage with one of what may be called the great ruling Argentine families, with names recurrent in the country’s History.

These families constitute the real aristocracy of the Republic, and are mostly possessed of very great wealth. Kind and sympathetically courteous to the stranger as are all Argentines, one cannot but smile when one finds writers implying that entrance into Argentine Society is easily effected by anyone who, as I once saw it stated, could play a good hand at bridge.

As a fact, no stranger ever becomes a member of the best Argentine Society; he may find himself in it at brief, fleeting moments, but he is never of it. As in the aristocracies of the old world, all its members are connected more or less remotely by blood or marriage, usually both, with one another. One may know intimately many men prominent in Argentine Society, may be received by them at their houses now and again and mingle there with other men, their kindred; but the charming conversation one enjoys when there is not that which was going on when one[5] entered, and will continue after one has left again. Argentine ladies only receive on set, formal occasions; unless in such public places as the Palermo Race-course or the Rambla at Mar-del-Plata. Small and select dinners take place rather at the Jockey Club than in private houses. Under a somewhat effusive external manner, the Argentine has all the reserved exclusiveness of his Spanish ancestors. Gold has its weight in Argentina as elsewhere; but it has more efficacy as a key to society in many European capitals than in Buenos Aires; notwithstanding the almost childish fondness of Argentines for the display of their own wealth, a characteristic which makes them (and other Americans) beloved in Hotels and Restaurants throughout the world. The one characteristic for which the Argentine does not get full credit from the superficial observer is the very strong vein of common sense which underlies his more immediately noticeable affectation of manner and behaviour. A great deception is always in store for those who do not appreciate the fact that the most boisterously extravagant Argentine never really loses sight of the fact that 2 and 2 make 4 and no more and no less. Yet this should be apparent in a nation which has known so well during the fifty or sixty years of its real development how to let the foreigner work out that development at a good profit for himself, of course, but at a much greater one for them. The Argentine, while availing himself of every advantage derivable from the influx into his country of foreign Capital and Labour, has never really loosed his hold on his own independent Government nor the land. His land is and has always been the source of his fortune, and to his land he clings with unrelaxing tenacity. If there is a good bargain to be made in real property, it is an Argentine who immediately takes advantage of it to increase his probably already large holding.

He it is who most readily lends money on mortgage, at a high rate of interest, on real property. He knows only of one way in which to invest the surplus of his income—in[6] land or the things intimately connected with land and its immediate productivity. Agricultural enterprise he understands and daily appreciates more and more its scientific working. Intensive farming is already practised by him in those parts of the country where land is most valuable. He breeds as fine cattle and sheep as any foreign breeder or colonizing company.

But for commerce other than purely agricultural he has no bent. So he wisely leaves it in the hands of the stranger, who thereby develops his towns, and builds railways and tramways; all of which go to the enhancement of the values of Argentine real property.

Now and again there is a pseudo-patriotic clamour in certain sections of the Native Press over what is denounced as the exploitation of Argentina by the foreigner. But all this is mere froth born of journalistic need of “copy”: mere great-gooseberry matter for a dull season. That it is no more was proved a few years ago by the great English Railway Companies.

They became weary of being denounced as the worst kind of exploiters of an innocent bucolic people; and, in reply, published broadcast an announcement that they would transfer a certain large quantity of their shares at par (the market price being considerably higher) to Argentines who might thereby qualify themselves not only for a share in the Companies’ profits, but for seats on the Boards of Directors; where they could have a voice in the management of what was being denounced as a vast system of exploitation. To this very liberal, almost quixotic, offer there was no response. For the simple reason that, whilst the railway dividends did not exceed 7%, land mortgages carried 10% or 12%, and the yield from immediate agricultural enterprise proportionately more.

Every branch line opened by the railways, often at huge expense of expropriation, spells fortune to Argentines. If the railway gains in a less degree who should complain?[7] No one really does, everyone really concerned being much too well aware on which side his own particular bread is buttered. As I have said, the Argentine is possessed of a quite preponderating amount of common sense.

His attitude towards the foreigner is, “I give you all liberty and protection for any enterprise you may wish to carry out in my country, by which you may become very rich; but the country itself and nearly all the land in it is mine and will remain so.”

The last thing the Argentine will part with as an individual or as a nation is land.

Grants of fiscal lands were made in the past with scandalous liberality for political services, but to Argentines. Mighty little of such lands, none of any, then, apparent value, went to foreigners; whatever they might have done for the country’s development and good. Now, few grants of such lands are made to anyone; the National and Provincial Governments appreciating too fully the advantages of their retention as aids to power and wealth.

In all this the Argentine is right from his natural point of view; but his obstinate maintenance of it is gradually bringing certain economic problems of vital importance to a stage when some way will have to be found out of the dilemmas which they already present.

The chief of these problems is that of agricultural labour. What inducement does Argentina offer to the class of colonist she needs most, the man with a wife and family to aid him in his work and with, perhaps, a small amount of Capital?

He will find plenty of work and people to employ his labour at a liberal wage as soon as he lands. He will be taken, if he so wish, free of all cost to himself, to one or other of the more or less distant parts of the Republic, where he may be set to work on virgin soil at a wage, or, may be, on a half share of profits for a period of three years. On the scene of his industry he will find an Italian or Galician[8] storekeeper who will supply his every reasonable want on credit, taking as security the share to come to him of the profits from the land to be worked. The storekeeper will also charge a high rate of interest on prices of his own fixing, unembarrassed by any competitors within a radius of very many miles; or, if there be such, he and they will know well enough how to preserve a rate of profit which would astonish an European shopkeeper.

At the end of three years the landlord will have his land in good working order,[2] and the storekeeper will have most, if not all, of the new colonist’s share of profits. The latter can then, if he likes, have some more virgin land on similar terms. He is a mere labourer, a worker for others, with no betterment on his own horizon.

There is as yet no real practically working official machinery by which he can obtain a direct grant of land in freehold to himself; such as exists, with other added facilities, in each of our own great agricultural dependencies such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

For this reason alone, the rural population of Argentina has almost ceased to show much more than a vegetative increase. The population of the whole Republic is that of greater London spread over an area only a very little less than that of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland put together.

This lack of increase in the rural population is not due to Argentina being a country unknown to the appropriate class of people. There are thousands of Italian peasants who go there regularly every year as harvesters, and who return to their own country as soon as the crops are gathered in. They know Argentina and the natural richness of her resources as well as do born Argentines, but they also know that they cannot get land. Only wages; the purchasing power of which is so much greater in Italy that there they[9] can live on them in semi-idleness for the remainder of the year, whereas they would attain no greater pecuniary advantage by remaining and working permanently in Argentina, where the cost of living is relatively very great. So they remain “swallows” as they are called, coming and going with the beginning and close of the harvest season.

If Argentina wants settlers, and she does need them badly, she must make up her mind to give them land.

And she must also make a thorough overhaul of the titles to all lands as yet not under cultivation. Because many of such lands are merely traps for the unwary who may be induced to occupy and develop them only to find himself, after he has ploughed and planted, called upon to pay rent to some resident in Buenos Aires or some other town whose property they turn out to be, under some long-forgotten Government grant, and who has not only never visited them, but has also practically lain in wait for some innocent settler to develop them under the impression that they were his own. Cases of this kind have happened over and over again; and the deluded settler, who may have even purchased the land in question at a public auction or have obtained it from some self-styled colonizing Company, finds himself with nothing but a vista of wearisome and costly litigation before he can hope to grasp a usually very elusive remedy for his wrong. Generally, he gives the whole thing up in despair and becomes a tenant of the land on which he has already spent all his small capital. These things are also known to the Italian harvester, and the knowledge of them acts as a further deterrent to his becoming a settler.

As Argentina is blessed with almost the best possible laws about everything sublunary, she has, naturally, first-rate colonization regulations. Only these are confined to her statute books and sundry pamphlets which lie in dust-covered heaps in the Ministry of Agriculture. But there is as yet no real working machinery for the carrying out in practice of all these excellent embodiments of the results[10] of experience of farming colonization all the world over. There are no officials whose exclusive duty it is to attend to the multiple exigencies of true colonization, and none capable of such work if they were suddenly called upon to do it, for lack of the necessary experience.

An intending colonist may therefore land in Buenos Aires with a small but sufficient amount of capital for a reasonable start in, say, Australia or Canada, and may wander about that city till, if he be foolish enough, his money is all spent without ever having found any Government office or official willing or in a position to put him into possession of the land he wants.

He usually, after a few weeks of fruitless search, goes back to Australia or New Zealand or wherever else he may have come from, disgusted with Argentina and her ways; of which he, on getting back, gives an account which effectually damps off any existing enthusiasm in his neighbourhood for emigration to the River Plate for a long while to come.

The Argentine Government spends plenty of money in advertisement, and true advertisement, of the fertility and marvellous climates of a Republic which extends over 35 degrees of latitude, but neglects to make provision for those who may desire to respond actively to its propaganda. This neglect is due, really, to an inherent incapacity for detail, part of the Argentine nature which, therefore, is terribly prone to get tired half-way through a job. In South America, generally, a wonderful amount of enthusiasm is always available for the planning of new schemes. The declamatory exposition of their sovereign virtues and glory amid the acclamations of sympathetic Board or Committee meetings is a grateful task; as is that of the dissemination of these discourses in pamphlet form, in which also the full list of the names of the originators and supporters of the scheme appears. It is, however, when practice shows unworkable flaws in splendid theories, when the drudgery of[11] adapting high-flown principles to plain everyday drab facts must take the place of inaugural banquets and florid speeches, that Argentine enthusiasm has a regrettable way of petering out. Soon, something newer and of a different kind is started by someone else. The meetings and banquets are held in its honour by other groups and the former scheme passes to a shadowy land, the way to which is always kept paved with a plenitude of good intentions.

Capital will always be forthcoming for profitable enterprise; as will Labour if that enterprise be made profitable to the worker—a good and useful class of whom can only be induced to emigrate by the prospect of permanent betterment of the conditions of life. The natural ambition of every man is to work for himself, to be the master of the results of his own efforts and to possess those results as a provision for his old age and his children. This a new country or colony must offer if it would obtain the high level of intelligent labour which it needs for its fullest and best development.

On the other hand no one need starve or go hungry for long in any of the countries of the River Plate; unless he elects to be and to remain a persistent loafer in one of the large towns. Even then he has only to ask and he will receive food, at almost any restaurant or private house. If he refuse to beg or to leave town, he may suffer hunger and thirst, otherwise he cannot. To begin with he can always get a job at one thing or another from any of the numerous private agencies which have standing orders for labour, and even schoolmasters, for the “Camp,” and which are as avid of candidates for such jobs as any crimp of the old days was for men of any kind to sling aboard a ship.

Once in the camp any man who has had the grit to go there is sure of finding someone wanting some kind of work which he can do in some sort of fashion. There he will recover such of his normal health and strength as he may have lost as a city unemployed, and will soon shake into[12] a capacity for, and get, something better to do than his first job.[3]

The native agricultural labourer or “peon” is a very free and easy and light-hearted kind of person, and must be treated accordingly if his services are to be retained. He is never rude unless in answer to obviously intentional offence offered to himself, and will work very much harder for an employer he likes than for one he finds unsympathetic. Indeed he will only remain with the latter on his own tacit understanding that he takes things easily.

When he has accumulated a few dollars of wages he will take himself off to the nearest store or township and indulge in such dissipation as the place affords. From thence he departs with perhaps a few cheap handkerchiefs or other small finery, in the breast of his blouse, which he bestows as gifts at various friendly cottages; at each of which he may while away a day, partaking of pot luck, a shake down on the floor, and innumerable mates and cigarettes, making himself merrily agreeable to his hosts. When he gets tired of this, or has exhausted the immediate circle of his friends, he will return to work on the property on which he left off; or somewhere else should he find himself not as well received on his return as he had hoped.

It is pretty much all one to him. An experienced native peon need never go far begging for a job.

These men are strong and wiry, capable of spurts of very hard work indeed; so that, even with frequent intervals for chat with everyone available, their average day’s work is usually by no means a bad one. Severity in an employer[13] they will take with perfect good humour; but any affected superiority, or “side,” on his part will meet with a very contemptuous resentment. They are true sons of a Republic, though holding school-learning in the deep respect observable in peasantry almost all the world over.

The Argentine peon inherits much of the ready wit and extraordinary gift of repartee of his immediate ancestor the GAUCHO; of whom he is the modern representative. With whom, however, a concertina has most unfortunately taken the place of the guitar. But as a bachelor he is the same flirtatious, lady-killing scamp; loving often and riding away from, most frequently instead of with, the lady of his ephemeral choice.

His wit, and hers, most frequently take the form of double entente. An interchange of chaff has always one perfectly innocent superficial meaning and another the realization of which would redden the ears of a British bargee. Both parties to this skilled contest of phrases keep perfectly immobile countenances and neither gives a sign, except by his or her, always latent, reply, of any perception of the underlying significance of the conversation.

This exchange of wit is a form of art derived from the gaucho Payadores or minstrels, who improvised their songs in verses which, on the face of them, were hymns to Nature in its purer forms, and contrived simultaneously to either hugely amuse ribald company or else to convey insult to a present rival payador who answered in like manner in his turn; hidden insult being thus intentionally heaped on insult till a fight with knives succeeded singing. A fight in which all present took sides and joined.

Thus were Sundays enjoyed in the PULPERIAS (canteens) of the older times, over a quarter of a century ago.

A now almost lost art of those days was the knife play in which the gaucho was then an extraordinary adept. Even now gauchos may be found, in the distant northern Provinces,[14] who in a duel, according as it be a serious or a playful one, can kill or just draw a pin-prick’s show of blood at will from their adversary. In these duels the knife is kept in constant rapid, dazzling movement, while the poncho or gaucho shawl, with a slit through which the head is passed when wearing, is wrapped round the left arm which is used as a guard.

The gaucho was a picturesque figure in his chiripá[4] or festal, wide-bottomed, lace-frilled trousers, a broad leathern girdle studded with silver coins and his silver-mounted, high-pommelled saddle. The chiripá and girdle remain; and one may still see a camp dandy glorious on feast-days in a saddle adorned with silver mountings.

But the cow-boy utility of the gaucho waned with the advent of scientific farming. He had no taste nor aptitude for such new-fangled ideas; and now his sons are mostly to be found in the army, the police, or that very useful body of firemen and soldiers too, the corps of “Bomberos,” men who can be relied on at any moment to quell a fire or a riot in their own very effective way. They fear neither flames nor turbulent strikers, and are only too ready, in the case of the latter, to shoot first and listen to orders afterwards. Another body of men drawn almost exclusively from gaucho sources is the “Squadron of Security”; a mounted corps of steel-cuirassed and helmeted semi-military police, also used to clear the streets of political or other disturbances. Three trumpet blasts sounded in quick succession are the signal for a charge in lines extending, for instance, over the whole breadth of the Avenida de Mayo. Such is the law and everyone, as in England, is presumed to know it. If he do not, and therefore fail to take prompt refuge down a side street or in a shop, so much the worse for him. The Avenida will be cleared even if he be taken to the Asistencia Publica as a consequence of the[15] process, without any valid claim for damages. He heard the “Clarion” and is assumed to have contumaciously disregarded its warning.

It might be thought that the vegetative increase of such a hardy nucleus of native population would suffice for the Labour needs of the country. There are, however, many reasons for the fact that it does not. The chief of these is the general refractoriness of the Indian to the process of education on the lines of the white races. You cannot by any means make a white man out of an Indian any more than you can of a Negro. And the gaucho has usually more Indian (and Negro, from the slave days) blood in him than he has white.

Unrivalled in the days when vast hordes of semi-savage cattle needed rounding up and cutting out with his lazo and boleadora, the gaucho has not always the patience nor the regard for detail needed for the care of prize Durhams, Polled Angus or Herefords; nor is he at his best with modern agricultural machinery. Neither does his character lend itself to the dull discipline expected and necessary on a farm to-day. He can no longer with impunity stay the extra day or two at the canteen to which his savings entitle him; and on the farm he finds himself confined to the more subservient work. Against all this his native pride rebels, and he gradually drifts into the army or the police, where he is gradually being exterminated by the disintegrating effects of idleness and lack of the hard physical exercise which kept his ancestors in health. A greedy meat-eater, he succumbs as often to stomach as to lung trouble.

Population! In every other way nature is most bountiful on the River Plate. If only Argentina were more thickly peopled her wealth would be phenomenal in the world. For it must not be thought that grain and cattle sum up the whole extent of her possible productivity. Far from it: her output has hitherto been confined to these commodities because they were so obviously those which most readily[16] yield immediate profits, without in the first place demanding any great outlay of capital or scientific acquirements. Cattle there have always been on the Pampa since the time of the Goes’ cows;[5] and as for grain, the virgin soil barely needed scratching for its growth. Thus cereal cultivation and cattle raising naturally became the national industries, and the population has never been sufficient to attend even to all the possibilities of these, let alone others. Nevertheless, there are many more which Nature has in store for these marvellous countries with their great variety of climates.

Sugar (pretty badly exploited till recently), coffee, cotton, tobacco (already grown in the North and even, to a comparatively small extent, in the Province of Buenos Aires) and timber of many and valuable kinds are among the future produce of the Southern Republics; while the wool output of Argentina could be greatly increased.

No lack of capital would be felt were there the necessary skilled management and labour available for the production of, leaving sugar and timber apart for the moment, let us say cotton and tobacco.

In the cultivation of both of these, much depends on selection of kinds according to soil and climate and on the right moment for gathering. It is owing to ignorance in these regards as well as to labour difficulties that several attempts to cultivate these crops on a large scale have hitherto only resulted in failure.

Given the necessary science and labour, soil and climate may well be trusted to do the rest for assured success.

Nothing is lacking to the countries of the River Plate but population. Given adequate human agency to exploit their evident and latent treasures, they have before them a future[17] prosperity which can only be called incalculable in its marvellous immensity.

Note.—A fact that cannot escape observation by the reader of this book is that of the comparative absence of exact statistical information disclosed in it in regard to Uruguay in comparison with that which appears relating to Argentina. The reason of this is that while the latter country has now had many decades in which to put its house in order, the former is still so busily occupied in that necessary task that its officials have as yet had little time to devote to compiling authoritative statistics of a progress of which it must not, therefore, be inferred that they and their country are not very justly proud.

Thus figures which are easily available through the patriotic ability and industry of Dr. Francisco Latzina, the chief of the National Argentine Statistical Department, and so clearly and strikingly digested by Señor Ricardo Pillado, the Director of the Division of Commerce and Industry in the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture, a Ministry the scope of whose work is extremely wide and all-important in the Republic, have really yet no counterparts in Uruguay, where one is rather left to guess at the general effect of such isolated agricultural trade statistics as alone are immediately available. Figures are to be had by the private courtesy of individuals connected with various administrations, and these, if not exact, are no doubt approximately so; but they do not bear the stamp nor the proof of comparison which should be found in authoritative figures.

The author knows from the test of his own previous experience that such few figures as he has given concerning Uruguay are substantially correct, and must therefore, though reluctantly, ask the reader to take his word for it that they are so.



As has been indicated elsewhere in these pages, the shock of the commencement of the Great War found the River Plate Republics already in a condition of considerable local depression. This was owing to relatively poor harvests, due to a long continuance of exceptional and ill-timed rains; a consequent collapse of land speculation and the usually sinister effects of slump after a long period of boom; and the condition of money markets, for some time past disturbed by the fear of the results of political complications in the Balkans.

The Governments of Argentina and Uruguay must be most warmly congratulated on the vigour and promptitude with which they faced the fact that, with the declaration of war in Europe, they were suddenly left to their own resources to an extent they had never experienced during the few decades which really form the whole period of their true economic history.

Lucky it was for Argentina that such a veteran statesman as Dr. Victorino de la Plaza occupied the Presidential chair, and that he had the aid of a man of such high intelligence and reputation as Dr. Carbó as Minister of Finance; fortunate also for Uruguay in having Dr. Viera (since elected President) at the head of her Ministry of Finance.

Honour is also due to the Officials of the State Banks of both nations and to the private Banks and financiers who[19] lent such an untiring and efficacious aid to both Governments in the hour of pardonable alarm; alarm which was prevented from developing into panic by the prompt and statesmanlike measures adopted.

Really, as Mr. C. A. Tornquist justly observes in an article cited in these pages, it cannot be said that a “crisis” exists in a country while its vital forces are in full development.

Still, in Argentina and Uruguay these forces had not for some time been in full operation, from causes stated above; and, therefore, panic would not have been a surprising result from alarm falling on depression, before cool reason had time to assert its reassuring influence.

It soon did so, however, thanks to the virile and sound handling of the situation by the heads of Government and Finance.

Congresses assembled and their usually heterogeneous political elements unanimously and swiftly agreed to pass the several measures of economic defence placed before them.

During seven days’ Bank Holiday the finance of both Republics was set in good order; not only to avoid ill consequences from the initial and any likely future shocks, but to enable the countries to profit—as there can now be little doubt they are doing and will do—from the political and economic disturbance of Europe.

As Señor Carlos F. Soares, writing in La Nacion (Buenos Aires) under date January 1st, 1915, said:—

The laws and financial and economic measures necessitated by the European conflagration have proved opportune and efficacious.

Thanks to them, danger to the Credit Houses and Institutions was avoided; Internal and Foreign commercial pressure was lessened, the gold stock in the “Caja de Conversión,” which guarantees the value of the paper currency, was preserved; the escape of gold from the country was avoided; the lack of foreign bills of exchange was compensated for by deposits of[20] gold at the various Argentine Legations; shortage of coal and dearness of wheat and flour were foreseen; and, finally, means of obtaining its value were assured to the natural wealth of the country.

Only one Buenos Aires Bank (of comparatively small importance) failed to reopen its doors after the seven days’ holiday; a failure which there is some reason to believe was by no means entirely due to the War.

Not one Bank and very few Commercial Houses availed themselves of the Moratorium; a fact which is highly creditable to the Local Banking and Commercial community.

The arrangements for the deposits of gold at the Legations constitute a feature novel to the system of International Exchange.

After all this accomplished in so short a space of time, who will continue to throw the reproach of “Mañana” at either Argentines or Uruguayans? A reproach long since unjustified by the attitude of the inhabitants of either of the River Plate Republics towards any matter the advantages of which they grasp.

No European Statesmen and Bankers could have more promptly realized and carried out the necessary measures for the economic protection of their country.

The present of Argentina and Uruguay was thus assured. What of their future?

Prophecy, which is generally counted as hazardous, is especially so when it is about to be printed, and may still be read by the light of the experience of several years hence. Still, some Commercial and Financial angels have not feared to tread the ground of prophecy as to the immediate and post-bellum future of Argentina and Uruguay; and not only has competent authority not feared to forecast results in this regard, but there is a remarkable unanimity of influential opinion as to the probably favourable effects of European affairs on the economy of the River Plate Republic. Always supposing, as there seems every reason[21] to suppose, that these Republics continue to have the commercial and common sense to manage their internal affairs in such manner as to be able to derive the greatest possible pecuniary benefits from the troubles of European nations.

One, perhaps the chief, in his courage of declaration of these prophetic authorities is Mr. C. A. Tornquist; a man having very large financial and commercial interests on the River Plate and enjoying a very high local reputation for business acumen and honour. His whole life has been spent in the higher financial circles of Argentina.

Therefore the author has thought well to cite here some portions of an article published by him in the Argentine Press, a translation of which appeared in The Review of the River Plate, under date December 25th, 1914.

In this article Mr. Tornquist says:—

From this chaos (that of the European War) there will arise perhaps an Asiatic country, and, quite certainly, some American countries, and in the first place the Argentine Republic, which, on account of the class and special conditions of its products, is called upon to benefit from the situation more than any other country in the world, as even the United States cannot export in any quantity the noble products produced by Argentina as they require them for home consumption. This war not only does not create difficulties for our economic development, as will happen to nearly all the other countries in the world, but, on the contrary, it will stimulate it, and for this reason, the longer the war lasts the more our national economy will gain at the expense, sad as it is to say it, of the countries now at war. Whilst the war lasts the prices of the majority of our products will not decline, for many of the countries which produce the same goods as we do are at war, and on this account the demand is bound to increase. The first effects of this advantageous situation will bring about the disappearance of what we call here “crisis,” but which is nothing more than a “commercial indigestion,” brought about by excessive speculation, and which has principally affected speculators, and has done absolutely no harm to pastoral or agricultural industries, which are our principal[22] sources of wealth. … It cannot be said that a country is in “crisis” when its vital forces are in full development. This does not mean, nevertheless, what many erroneously think, that if the next crop is good they will be able in 1915 to sell their lands in the vicinity of cities and summer resorts and speculative regions at the prices ruling when they purchased them. Nothing of this will occur, and only the value of revenue-producing property will normalize itself, and will be placed at a value corresponding to a return of 8 to 9 per cent per annum. On the other hand, I believe that several, perhaps many, years will pass before it will be possible to liquidate properties which do not give revenue at the prices which their owners desire. … A favourable factor which might become important, perhaps in the not distant future, is the immigration of the “capitalist” farmer from Belgium and other European countries, who prefer to liquidate their affairs there and come to Argentina with what remains to them, and so get away from the taxes which of necessity the Government of the conquering or conquered countries must impose so as to re-establish their finances. It is a very interesting fact for ourselves that after all large wars or revolutions in Europe in modern times there has been an enormous increase of good immigration in new countries, and especially to America, from which the United States has been the first to benefit, because in that epoch the future of South America was based solely on the gold mines of Peru and the coffee and diamonds of Brazil, whilst the Argentine Republic was only known by its “sterile Pampa and Patagonia,” and its internal revolutions. To-day these things have changed, and if any country is to interest the capitalist immigrant it will without doubt in the first place be the Argentine Republic, because it is in the best condition to receive them, especially if they are convinced that the value of property is not inflated. It is the duty of our Government to make all this known to future immigrants by means of serious propaganda. … Then we shall have to struggle against the lack of tonnage for exporting our crop, but we should not forget that whereas to export with regularity is for us an economic question, for the belligerent countries, purchasers of our produce, the matter is of vital importance, as it is a material question not to die of hunger, and of indispensable necessity to be able to carry on the war, so that those countries are even more interested than ourselves that we should be able to dispose of the necessary means of transport. We take as[23] our basis of the probable assets of our balance of payments an exportation to the value of $580,000,000 gold. At first sight this figure appears high, but let us analyse it. Our record of exports was in 1912-13 $513,500,000 gold, of which $306,000,000 corresponded to cereals and the remainder to produce not affected by locusts, droughts, rain or frost, that is to say, the crop of that year represented $306,000,000 gold for produce exported, and we will suppose $104,000,000 remained in the country, making a total of $410,000,000. If the crop of this year should be 25 per cent less than our “record” crop we should have “at the prices of that time” $307,000,000 as the value of the harvest, and there would remain, deducting what the country requires for consumption and seed, over $200,000,000 for export. But the actual prices and those in perspective are 25 per cent higher than the others, so that would give $250,000,000 for exports of cereals, besides which there are the other products (meat, wool, hides, tallow, etc.), which then represented a value of $207,000,000 gold, and which to-day are worth 20 per cent more, that is to say, $250,000,000 gold, making a total of $500,000,000 gold. To this we must add the value of 2,500,000 tons of maize, the balance of last year’s crop which remained to be exported on October 1st, 1914; the possible value of the export of horses; the value of the sugar exported, which is more than 60,000 tons, and which will probably be duplicated; the export of woven goods (ponchos, cloths, etc.) and articles of saddlery and tanned goods for the European governments; alcohol and other products of lesser importance, which come under the heading of extraordinary exports. It would not therefore be at all extraordinary if we reached $600,000,000 or even passed that figure, which will be the case if our harvest exceeds our estimate. … If the crop turned out to be a “bad” one[6] (that is to say, that it failed in certain parts, as due to the great extension of area, it is not possible to-day for a whole crop to be lost) and it only results in 50 per cent of that of 1912-13, we should still obtain a total value of $205,000,000, and there would remain after deducting the necessities for home requirements $100,000,000 gold for export, calculated on prices of two years ago, but in this case the prices would rise much more than 25 per cent, and for this reason the consumption of cereals in the country, as well as imports in general, would show such a marked decrease, that[24] the favourable superavit in the balance of payments would never completely disappear.

I take as my starting-point the sum of $460,000,000 gold, made up as follows:—[7]

(a) Imports $270,000,000 gold. (b) Service of the Public Debt payable abroad $50,000,000 gold. (c) Interest on Cedulas and on capital placed by foreign companies on mortgage $31,000,000 gold. (d) Interest and dividends on foreign capital in railways $42,000,000 gold. (e) Interest and dividends on other foreign capital $27,000,000 gold. (f) Savings of immigrants and emigrants $24,000,000 gold. (g) Expenses of Argentines abroad $6,000,000 gold.

The sum total of all these items is $460,000,000 gold, so that we have

$ Gold.
Assets 580,000,000
Liabilities 460,000,000
Total balance 120,000,000

in favour of the Argentine Republic, a sum which can be increased if the harvest is very good and imports are less than I estimated, and decreased if the harvest is bad and imports greater than $246,000,000 gold. From this it will be seen that if my calculations are confirmed Argentina will receive from abroad the sum of $120,000,000 gold for balance of accounts for the commercial year of 1914-15. To demonstrate the importance of this fact I will mention that for the year 1913-14 the balance was $185,000,000 against Argentina; in 1912-13 it was $200,000,000 in contra, and in 1911-12 $202,000,000 in contra, so that compared with the three previous years Argentina will have a difference in its favour in the balance of payments of $300,000,000 gold!

What do these figures signify?

$120,000,000 gold is equivalent to the service of the National Debt for two and a half years, and is more than half the amount actually deposited in bullion in the Caja de Conversión. It also represents the half of all that the country owes abroad for mortgages.[25] On the other hand, $300,000,000 are three-fourths of all our national external debt, are two annual national budgets, as well as the total value of a good harvest. Practically speaking, it results that the Argentine Republic will receive with these $120,000,000 gold a sum which exceeds the average of the new foreign capital which has come to the country in the last few years, which will compensate for the absence of capital which formerly came to the country seeking investment, and will contribute to develop the economic forces of the country. Outside of this $120,000,000 gold it is logical to imagine that some capital will come, as some railways and other foreign companies have recently made issues abroad and others will place their profits here. There are also the various financial operations of the National and Provincial Governments and the Municipality of the capital for the payment of debt services or to consolidate the floating debt, for although money does not come to the country this will diminish by these operations the emigration of capital in respect of items b, d and e of the balance of payments, that is to say, the dividends and interest on foreign capital placed in commercial enterprises and railways, and thus also the service of the external debt, which otherwise would have to be remitted and all of which I have not taken into account. Besides, where will Europeans place their savings? In European bonds which continue to depreciate on account of the issue which will have to be made for the war debt and to consolidate the monetary situation? Assuredly more money will come here than many believe in search of investment. The United States with its new monetary law does not require as much as before. To Brazil and Chile it will not go for some time, neither to Mexico or the Balkans.

An interesting point is the manner in which these $120,000,000 will come into the country.

It should come in the form of Argentine bonds (“Cedulas” principally), and in coined gold all that is not employed to cover debts payable to our commerce and industry to European banks and manufacturers, which sums cannot be very considerable, although it is difficult to fix them. … The reaction will bring about the investment of savings in Argentine revenue-producing bonds instead of in purchases of land on monthly payments; it will bring about a reduction in interest and as a consequence of this an abundance of money which will stubbornly withstand speculation in land. The movement of the Stock Exchange will[26] reawaken—it has been dead since 1906—and there will be money for mortgages and business, replacing that which came from abroad and which has to be repaid. All of this will bring in time an immigration of Cedulas of our external debt bonds and of railway and industrial shares. What will probably not take place for several years, perhaps for many, is what I mentioned at the commencement, namely, that land and other objects of speculation which do not produce anything will rise to prices which their owners dream about and pretend to obtain, as neither banks nor capitalists will invest their money in such objects, neither will they stimulate speculation, all of which are circumstances which will contribute to develop the economic forces of the country and to foment its industries and its commerce until there arrives for the Argentine Republic the psychological moment of being able to produce all that it consumes, that is to say, become self-supporting, without having to fall back on European industry, a situation at which the United States of North America have arrived after great efforts.

Remains only to be added that Mr. Tornquist appears to have omitted consideration of the possibility of money being withdrawn from South America by European investors, not on account of any lack of confidence, but simply because such investors may under existing conditions have actual need of all the pecuniary resources they are able to realize.

For the getting in of the 1914-15 harvests there has been sufficient labour available; because of the stoppage of much municipal and building work, on account of retrenchment rendered necessary by the situation. But for the future, if, indeed, they are to occupy the prominent place in the world’s economy for which Nature appears to have destined them, the River Plate Republics will have to increase their agricultural populations greatly and speedily.

The need of this is now fully realized in both countries, but, strange to say, it is in Uruguay where there are no fiscal lands that proposals for probably useful legislation to this end have attained the greater maturity. It is there proposed, in effect, that the Government should purchase, at least portions of, the present holdings of the large landowners[27] and colonize the land so purchased on systems similar to that obtaining in, for instance, Canada.

Argentina still has large tracts of fiscal land, but no doubt her large landowners will also aid towards the colonization by granting to colonists greater fixity of tenure and greater facilities for mixed farming than the latter have been hitherto able to obtain.

With regard to Belgian emigration to the River Plate, the fact which cannot be lost sight of is that the Belgian, especially the Fleming, is a person deeply attached to his own land and his own ways of living. It seems certain that if Belgians of the agricultural class are to be colonized in South America, such colonization will have to be effected by means of settlements like those of the Welsh colony in Chubut and the Swiss colony in Colonia.

A Flemish family would view with vehement disgust the ramshackle home of an Argentine or Uruguayan CHACRERO (small farmer); a disgust which, communicated to their friends in Europe, would effectually stop further Belgian immigration.

The Belgian is a good worker, but he is much more “insular” than the British in his scorn of ways of living which differ from his own. He is not adaptable enough, in any way, to be put to live or work among the composite Spanish-Italian-American rural classes of the River Plate.

Probably both Argentine and Uruguayan will continue to work out his own salvation in this vital matter of attracting agricultural colonists to his land. Already the spirit of democratic unrest menaces privilege in Argentina, privilege which has already been destroyed in Uruguay. And the greatest political danger which now seems to threaten Argentina and has for some time past been the bane of Uruguay is doctrinairism; a tendency to pursue to most unpractically illogical consequences theories which seem to their initiators and supporters to be destined to cure all the social and economic ills to which man is prone.

State socialism from high places in Uruguay and socialism[28] of all kinds and varieties from lower social spheres in Argentina are each set on the adoption of its own empiric policy.

Like all young things, these Republics must pick themselves up again when they fall (and, in truth, they display great capability for doing so), but it would be well if, just at the present moment, they were to adopt and fully carry out some provedly sound colonizing policy. Afterwards they might experiment with single-tax, rural Banks, state ownership of land and all upon and within it, as much as they might find themselves able to afford to do.

Meanwhile they must work patiently, in unadventurous fashion, towards the most soundly rapid possible development of their rich natural resources.

During 1915, all extension of activity was at a standstill in both Republics. Little or no land changed hands, unless under practically forced sale; city improvements and private building projects were stayed, and no new railway extensions were put under construction.[8]

A few good harvests[9] will put these things as they were; but the lesson of the War will have been lost for Argentina and Uruguay if they do not see to the matter of the extension of their agricultural industries.

It seems, however, that they now are solidly determined to do so; and that, far from the lesson of recent events being lost for them, the finding of themselves cast on their own resources has led to a most beneficial and self-sacrificing examination of what those resources are in contrast with what they so easily might be.

The real vitality of these countries can be measured by the fact that the prices of their National Securities, which fell with the world-wide shock of July-August, 1914, were by the following September already on the high road to the practically complete recovery they have now attained.



The political history of the River Plate Republics begins with the wars which made possible the great Declaration of Independence from the dominion of Spain on the 25th of May, 1810. Their most romantic history is that of those wars and that of the old Colonial days immediately preceding them. As, however, the only slight pretension of the present book is to be informative on matters of fact, romance must wait on, perchance, the author’s more leisured moments and some outline be presented now of the events which had most influence in making Argentina and Uruguay what they are to-day.

Having overthrown the rule of Spain the former River Plate colonies became involved in a long internecine struggle for supremacy of power. For fifty years the United States of the River Plate were most disunited by local jealousies and the rural districts were only usually unanimous in their refusal to submit to the Government at Buenos Aires, composed of men who, as the rural populations said with a great amount of truth, were endeavouring to rule even more despotically than did the Viceroys and by purely Viceregal methods. Were that submitted to, the revolution would have been in vain as far as concerned the substitution of democratic principles for those of tyranny. This was no doubt true, for the politicians of Buenos Aires neither knew, nor had had any opportunity of knowing, methods of Government other than those under which they themselves had been brought up. Had they known it, though it is only[30] just to them to say that they did not in the least realize the fact, rule under them in the way they proposed to rule, would have been merely an exchange of King Stork for King Log. The country was, however, quick to grasp the menace, and it is only very regrettable that rivalry between its several contemporary would-be saviours produced so long a continuance of political chaos, during which newly acquired Liberty and Independence had no chance to develop the vast natural resources which had lain idle in consequence of the Spanish policy of squeezing the life out of the goose which would otherwise have laid so many golden eggs for Spain. In consequence of civil war it was, as has been indicated, not much before 1860 that it began to lay any appreciable number of such eggs for itself or anyone else. It only began to do so under two tyrants: Rozas in the South and Artígas in the North. Both were strong men and patriots; and both held power, in spite of opposition both open and treacherous, for, as later history has shown, the good of the respective territories they had brought under their sway. Harsh as were their methods, these were suited to lawless times. Of each of them it has been said that he permitted no thief but himself to live.

As a fact neither were thieves nor sought nor attained overmuch wealth for themselves. Both, however, forestalled otherwise inevitable assassination by giving their enemies no shrift at all; once these had been ascertained. And both succeeded in establishing police systems throughout their territories which would rival the European secret services of to-day.

Nothing went on unknown to them; from short-lived conspiracies to petty thefts. And the punishment for each offence inflicted by them was swift and closely fitted to the crime.

No one has yet attempted a complete whitewashing of Rozas; though, in every political crisis in which the Government has shown any apparent weakness, old men have[31] sighed for his reincarnation. Artígas, on the other hand, whose memory not so long ago rivalled those of the most traditionally cruel old-world potentates, is now become the Saviour and National hero of Uruguay. The apostle of the democratic principle.

Truth about his personality probably lies somewhere between these two views, but there is no doubt but that he and Rozas were men needed for and suited to their times. Fearless and far-sighted, they made order out of chaos, and individually cruel as may have been many of their acts, it was their iron rule which laid the foundations of the admirable constitutions of what are now the separate Republics of Argentina and Uruguay. Rozas really founded the Argentine Republic as much as Artígas did the “Banda Oriental,” part of which is now Uruguay. But the period of strife which succeeded the Declaration of the Independence of the whole of the River Plate Territories had lasted just over half a century when General Mitre was chosen as the first President of a United Federal Argentina.

He was succeeded by Sarmiento, who did much to develop agriculture and was the great pioneer of education. Sarmiento had been a political exile in Europe, where he learned much; and, being a man of exceptional intellect, stored up his acquired knowledge and enlightenment for his country’s subsequent great good.

Since the first Presidency of General Mitre there has only been one political revolution which affected the whole of Argentina, the one which in 1890 ousted President Juarez Celman and was immediately succeeded by the financial crisis with which the name of Baring is chiefly associated in the European mind.

Both that revolution and the crisis were the natural outcome of a disease which would have completely ruined any country less rich in natural resources than Argentina. That disease was complete political and financial corruption; which then came to a head and necessitated drastic operation.[32] Since then the Argentine nation has advanced in political and financial health with extraordinary and unparalleled rapidity.

The history of Uruguay has run on different lines since she emerged from the older Banda Oriental. She has been the almost constant victim, until very recent years, of the fervent patriotism of her rural population; in rebellion, often with much apparent justice, against what it has from time to time considered to be the prejudicial doctrinarianism of the town-bred men who have directed her Government in Montevideo. In any case the rural population has always been in a more or less declared state of rebellion against the Government. For many years the “White” party was in power and the “Red” in revolution. Now for a long period the “Reds” have kept place and nominal power, from which until comparatively very recently the “Whites” have never ceased to endeavour to oust them.

Let it not, however, be thought that either the retention of power by one party or its attempted overthrow by the other has in Uruguay been due to personal ambition or corrupt greed on either side; as has been, unfortunately but very frequently, the case in other South American Republics. To think this would be to do a cruel injustice to the national character, the leading characteristics of which are uprightness and honesty in thought or deed. No Uruguayan would ever have rebelled had he not thought that the policy of the existing Government was gravely prejudicial to the vital interests of his country, nor would an Uruguayan statesman have ever clung to power unless he had been conscientiously convinced that the policy of his party was the only true way to that country’s best development and prosperity.

This may seem to many readers as yet but little acquainted with Uruguayan political and commercial History as the mere expression of an enthusiasm for the Uruguayan character on the part of the present writer. But a closer examination of that History than is within the scope of the present[33] work will show the views just above expressed to be nothing more than a statement of cold fact. In part proof of which stands the total absence from Uruguayan Financial History of any repudiation or avoidance of the National indebtedness. Long periods of Agricultural paralysis, often almost total (in a land which depends exclusively on agricultural products), due to civil strife and all the heavy outlay consequent on such wars, have never led Uruguay to depart from the strictly gold basis of her monetary system. Her paper dollar has always retained its full face value as a token and remains the best dollar on the exchange markets of the world. And the world-wide credit of private Uruguayan firms stands high above that of similar firms in other, even the most prosperous South American Republics. This is due, and due only, to the very high standard of political and commercial morality obtaining, and which has always obtained, in Uruguay.

Now, there is good ground for the hope that the country is persuaded that the best way to attain the greatest possible general prosperity is to beat the sword, once and for ever, into a ploughshare. At the same time it cannot be hidden that “State Socialism gone mad” (to quote an Uruguayan description of the policy introduced and pursued by Señor Batlle y Ordoñez[10]) strained the patience of the rural population and that of a goodly proportion of Montevideans as well, to a degree which was perilously near to breaking point. He wished, not only to improve all conditions of his country, but to make Uruguay an object-lesson in State Socialism to the world. His political enemies, or rather opponents, say that, while he has read the works of Henry George, in some confused translation or other, neither his education nor his acquaintance with such subjects fits him to judge of even the works of a now somewhat discredited political economist; also that he, the ex-President, is a potentially dangerous lunatic. But note that no one, even those who feared most[34] from his persistent political and financial adventures, have ever even so much as hinted that his policy was dictated by other than quite honestly intentioned conviction. Uruguayans are seldom corrupt and seldom suspect venality in their fellow-countrymen.

Modern Argentina history commences with the renaissance of the country immediately after the upheaval of 1891, and that of Uruguay a much less number of years ago. Till these periods, political unrest was a constant factor in both countries. Now, a National revolution has become a thing unthinkable in Argentina; while it grows every day less likely for responsible or influential men in Uruguay to instigate or encourage aught that might impede her triumphal march to rivalry with the prosperity of the great sister Republic on the Southern bank of the River Plate.

The recent death of Dr. Saenz Peña, an Argentine President whose high personal character and statesmanlike rule fully entitled him to the respect he received from all parties and classes throughout the Republic, is a serious loss to his country. Fortunately, however, the Presidential office is now held by Dr. Victorino de la Plaza, formerly Vice-President, a man of acknowledged soundness of judgment and tact and of very many years’ experience in Ministerial, Diplomatic and Parliamentary life.

As for Uruguay, her chief reliance must be on the deep patriotism of her leading men and on their good sense to keep a peace which is the only true road to the general prosperity of a country the rich natural endowments of which cannot develop if men and horses are taken from the plough, as they constantly were in the past by one party or the other, to partake in the mutual destruction of civil war.

As is insisted on very often in these pages, the chief need of these new countries is population; an end most surely defeated by conditions which not only repelled all immigration but killed off a large proportion of the men[35] already there. There is good reason to believe that all this and more is now fully appreciated by every responsible man in Uruguay; and, once convinced of the right course to be followed for the country’s good, there is not a Uruguayan who will not follow it with all the patriotic doggedness which formerly caused the lamentable continuance of civil war.

Both Argentine and Uruguayan financial policies and methods are now sound. Argentina is prosperous with great future increase of prosperity before her, and Uruguay is now well on the high road to similar prosperity and as brilliant a future. Both are at peace with one another and their neighbouring Republics; all of whom are much too busy with their own interests and too democratic in spirit to dream of aggressive war. Added to which only Uruguay and Paraguay are small enough to need ever to covet further territory.

Brazil does not: Argentina has more than once already in the past refused to take Uruguay into her Federation: Paraguay, except as a constant nuisance to herself and everyone near her, is, and will be for many years to come, a negligible quantity in South American politics. The Andine frontier now fixed between Chile and Argentine is never again likely to be disturbed by either. Uruguay may possibly cast longing eyes one day at the rich grazing lands of Southern Brazil; but she is more than unlikely ever to attempt to acquire these by force. Their annexation by her could only occur on the initiative of the inhabitants of those regions; who, unless Brazil is able in the future to keep her financial and fiscal house in better order than at present, might very conceivably prefer to be under the Government of Montevideo rather than that of Rio de Janeiro. Even then, the question of different languages would present a difficulty to the assimilation of the State of Rio Grande del Sul by its Southern neighbour.

One great step in the democratic progress of the Argentine[36] Republic was made three years ago on the initiative of Dr. Roque Saenz Peña. This was the passing of a law which introduced the ballot and made the exercise of the franchise obligatory on a universal male suffrage of native-born Argentines and foreigners of two years’ residence.

It was a great reform made necessary by many considerations. The chief of which were the public indifference to all matters political which did not immediately concern Industry or Commerce and the profound discredit into which elections, parliamentary and municipal, had fallen as a consequence of that indifference; the whole effect of which was to leave the internal government of the country entirely in the hands of a mostly mercenary caste of professional politicians. This caste was habitually guilty of electoral corruption and malpractices which, in the absence of any interested public opinion, continued to work in a vicious circle by causing complete abstention from any exercise of the vote on the part of all citizens of the Republic except those forming the small gangs which were under the orders of the “Caudillo” or political manager of each district. These gangs went to the poll, at so much per head in cash and many illicit privileges, in order that there should be any voting at all to declare the due re-election of the men who wielded the political power in the National or Provincial Legislatures or in the Councils of the various Municipalities.

The substitution, under the new Law, of genuine for fictitious elections has also operated as another, and, probably, final blow struck at the Provincial Oligarchies, reference to which has been made in another chapter.

No one outside South America would really credit the depths of corrupt absurdity in which elections in Argentina were permitted to remain so late in these days of her general enlightenment and prosperity. That reform in this highly important respect was so long a-coming was due to individual preoccupation with their own affairs of the people of a[37] country the material development of which was being accomplished with bewildering rapidity.

Men had no time to occupy themselves with such a tough, and rather dangerous, job as the dethronement of the professional politician; who, in the higher spheres of Provincial Government, usually belonged to one of the widely influential groups of the historically dominant native families. Public morality had sunk to a strangely low level in comparison with the ever-increasing commercial rectitude of the country, when the most startling tale of electoral fraud or administrative corruption would be received with only a shrug of the shoulders and an indulgent smile, as of wonder why the narrator was making so much ado about such a very ordinary occurrence.

The management of elections in the Federal Capital and in the Provinces differed only in method; the results were uniform triumphs for the party in power. In the Capital the authorities went to the trouble of collecting the certificates of citizenship (the deposit of which at the polling booths was the form of voting under the old system) of dead and absent men and sometimes of hiring others, and with filling in blank forms of these with fictitious names, in sufficient quantities to swamp any attempted voting by an opposition. In the Provinces, the elections were always stage-managed by the district commissary of Police. He led up the necessary gang of peon voters, to whom he served out a dinner of carne con cuero, wine and a $5 bill each, to celebrate the occasion and to indemnify them for any trouble they might have been put to by their attendance. Furthermore, the faithful electors knew that in the case of their getting into any scrape in the future which might otherwise cause trouble between themselves and the police, they would stand every possible chance of dismissal with a friendly caution; while were the case one of assaulting an enemy that enemy would stand a better chance of imprisonment than they. These are not traveller’s tales, but facts[38] well known to every resident in Argentina and, I suspect, similar facts are within the experience of everyone living in one or other of most of the Latin American Republics. So that the quantity of ink spilt in the European papers over the accusations brought against ex-President Huerta, to the effect that he had improperly influenced the late Mexican Presidential Election, reads comically to most South Americans.

Now, in Argentina, all qualified persons must vote, or be mulcted in a penalty for not so doing. And it must be your own fault if anyone else knows which way you have voted. Even the innate native conviction that elections are rites instituted for the exclusive benefit of the already elect must have suffered severe shock from Dr. Saenz Peña’s Law. It will now be difficult to obtain a price for a mere promise the fulfilment or otherwise of which cannot be ascertained by the purchaser.

The passing of the new Law really seems a miracle when its interference with long-established custom is considered. It has perhaps crowned the patrician caste with the glory of heroically complete self-sacrifice. Certainly it heralds the twilight of the gods who have guided the country’s destinies since their ancestors led its rough armies to victory under the autumnal sun of May, 1810 (the sun which is blazoned in gold on the blue and white of the National banner), who fought for or opposed Rozas and Artígas and upheld the National prestige in the wearisome conflict with Paraguay.

In the old days of musket or rifle and bandolier, the Argentine patricians freely gave their lives and fortunes for the PATRIA. Now in frock-coats and silk hats, they have given up for her the right to all power not derived from individual merit or capacity. In doing so they have made an offering to democratic Liberty greater by far than any attained during the sixty years of Rebellion and Civil War which began with the dawn of the nineteenth century.

The immediate results of this unchaining of the power of[39] a proletariat which has not yet attained a very high educational or intellectual level will nevertheless be watched with interest not unmingled with anxiety by all concerned with political economy in the abstract and the progress and peaceful welfare of Argentina in particular.

In this connection it is perhaps remarkable that whereas the choice of each New President has for many years been a foregone conclusion during at least the last year or so of his predecessor’s term of office, no such lengthy period of predestination was anywhere observable in the case of the successor to Dr. Victorino de la Plaza, who vacates the Presidential chair this year.



What will be the result some generations hence of the enormous influx of immigration from all parts of Europe to Argentina and in, as yet, a much less degree to Uruguay? What manner of man will the Argentine of the future be when he has completed his development as a national type? This is a question often asked, but as to which only the most shadowy answer can yet be given. The elements which are going to his formation are so many and the qualities of those elements so difficult to reckon in regard to their respectively possible likelihood of survival in the settled type. The most that can be done here is to enumerate the chief of such elements in their approximate quantitative values.

The true Argentine of the past is the descendant of the Spanish conquerors with usually some admixture of native Indian blood derived from a remote ancestress, while another less remote has perhaps given him a tinge of black blood in remembrance of the days when African slave labour tended his great-grandfather’s sugar canes and maize.

But Spanish blood is predominant and Spanish qualities distinguish most of the Argentine, and all of the Uruguayan, leading families of to-day. Ceremoniously courteous to a fault—the fault of deeming it rude ever to refuse a favour asked; regarding it as a strange lack of savoir vivre on the part of the suppliant should the latter not understand the granting as a mere polite formality, in no way to be taken as a serious engagement.


An Argentine will ask a favour of another as a mere hint that he would be very glad if the latter granted it; a stranger ignorant of Argentine manners and ways might ask it really expecting to receive a substantial response to his request. Both would be met with a charming if vague assertion that nothing would give the person asked greater pleasure than to do anything the asker desired. Each might attain his object or not, as other considerations dictated; but whereas the demand would be credited to the former as finesse, contempt for boorishness would be the lot of the latter did he present himself expectant of the immediate fulfilment of the promise. Almost as well might he turn up unexpectedly to lunch at the home of an Argentine who on first receiving him had said with a graciously comprehensive wave of his hand, “This house is yours.”

As a matter of fact an Argentine’s home is a very difficult castle for a stranger to enter.

This probably for two chief reasons. For the first of these we must trace racial elements back to the Moorish civilization of Spain and the jealous seclusion of women from all male eyes but those of close relations. The second is a general lack of orderliness (also an Oriental characteristic) usually prevailing in even the richest Argentine households; which makes it inconvenient to receive except on special and specially prepared occasions.

We must follow up the Arab-Semitic blood brought in the veins of the Spaniard to the new world through mingling with Native Indian and Negro blood before we come to the heroes who fought for and won independence from Spanish rule now over a century ago. Since then what intermarryings, mostly with natives of Italy but also with British, French, German, Scandinavian and Belgian men and women.

Guthries, Dumas, Murphys, Schneidewinds, Christophersens, De Bruyns, Bunges, not to mention bearers of the historic patronymics of Brown and O’Higgins, are now among the landed aristocracy of Argentina; though, still, the[42] crème de la crème consists of the descendants of the Spanish families of Colonial days. Among the middle and lower classes, especially in the towns, the Italianate element is now overwhelming; though recently again Spanish immigration has begun to exceed Italian. All this goes to make a strange racial mixture; of which the first generation born on Argentine soil knows little about and cares nothing for the language of its parents, but grows up with a pride, comical to the detached observer, in the glorious Wars of Independence (fought at a period when its own ancestry were, as likely as not, peasants in one or another corner of Europe, and wholly ignorant of the fact of the existence of the River Plate) and patriotically devoted to the blue and white Banner and National Anthem (an Italian composition, by the by) of the land of their parents’ adoption.

Everyone born on Argentine or Uruguayan soil is Argentine or Uruguayan of his own very decided will as well as legally; furiously so with the exclusive fervour of the convert. He cannot or will not speak English, French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or Flemish as the case may be; nothing but Spanish, River Plate Spanish, that is to say, is worthy of his tongue, and he has a truly Galician contempt for the lisping Spanish of Castile.

Contrarily to a generally accepted but quite superficial view, an Uruguayan differs from an Argentine almost if not quite as much as a Portuguese does from a Spaniard; the reason being that the early immigration to the two countries was drawn from different parts of Spain. The first settlement of what is now Uruguay was chiefly drawn from the Canary Islands and the Basque Provinces; the latter origin being easily perceptible from a glance at any list of the names of prominent Uruguayans, past or present. To this fact of early settlement and because Uruguay has, until quite recently, offered much less attraction to the stream of European Emigration which flowed past Montevideo to Buenos Aires, is due the possession of the high degree of[43] many sterling qualities which distinguishes Uruguayans from their cousins of the other shore of the River Plate. These qualities have sustained the National and individual financial credit of Uruguay throughout all troubles and political vicissitudes. She as a Nation and her individual traders have always paid 100 cents gold to each dollar and her commercial community has successfully negatived any attempt on the part of her Governments to depart from the strictly gold basis of her monetary system. The Uruguayan dollar is worth slightly more than that of the United States. This significant fact is due to the uncontaminated preservation of racial qualities derived through the old Colonists from the Northern parts of Spain; especially from the Basques, than whom no honester, nor perhaps more obstinate, people exist.


Everyone knows that Spanish is the language of the River Plate Republics; but, while the written Spanish of South America is one with literary Spanish all the world over, the spoken language of Argentina and Uruguay differs from Castilian in many respects.

The first of these, and probably the most interesting, is the survival in South America of words in common use in the days of the early conquistadores and colonists but which have long ago fallen into disuse in Spain.

These words gave a deal of trouble a few years ago to certain Argentine amateur philologists who made more or less ingenious endeavours to derive them from the aboriginal Quichúa or Guaraní.

It was reserved for Mr. Paul Groussac, a Frenchman and the custodian of the Argentine National Library, to inform these derivation hunters, in a coldly sarcastic little pamphlet, that they would find all the words that were puzzling them intact in the works of Cervantes and other old Spanish authors.


So it is with many Britons not learned in philology. There are many words and expressions commonly regarded as Americanisms which in truth went to New England in the Mayflower.

There are also several striking differences between the pronunciation of Spanish on the River Plate and in Spain. Thus the “ll” which is liquid in pure Castilian is given in South America a sound very much like the French “j” in je. This, I believe to have come to the New World with the Galician immigration.[11]

In the beginning of historical times the various Galician dialects prevailed over the whole Peninsula; Galician subsequently developing into modern Portuguese and the Castilian dialect, with much more widely divergent steps of development, becoming the accepted language of Spain.

Also the Argentine and Uruguayan disdain the lisping “θ” sound given by Spaniards to the letter “z” and in a lighter degree to “c.” In South American Spanish “z,” soft “c” and “s” are indistinguishable to the ear; all three being given the same sound as an English “s.” There is also, as might be expected, a distinct difference of intonation between Spanish as she is spoken in South America and in Spain. Everyone who has learned to speak Spanish in a South American country ever afterwards carries with him oral evidence of the place of origin of that linguistic acquirement; just as does a foreigner who has learned English in the United States. So it is with South African Dutch; and (may it be said?) Australian English. And all Colonists of either English, Dutch or Spanish origin are consciously proud of their own particular fashion of speaking and, either secretly or openly, regard the intonation of the older country as rather effeminately affected. De gustibus, etc.

Really, I suppose, there is no good or bad “accent,” as these differences of intonation are commonly called. It is[45] like flavour, chiefly, if not entirely, a matter of custom and taste. Pronunciation, however, seems more frequently a matter of fashion, recurrent as are other fashions in easily dated periods.

Probably the South American pronunciation of Spanish mostly dates back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; with, perhaps, an added blunt plainness born of generations of free rough life on the vast expanses of the Pampa.

Modern innovations in the written or spoken language of Argentina and Uruguay can usually be traced to the great stream of immigration constantly flowing to these countries, chiefly from Italy and Spain.


The inhabitants of the two Republics of Argentina and Uruguay are only similar in appearance and natural characteristics to the superficial or hasty observer. There are several points in which they really differ fundamentally, the difference being due, as has just been observed, to the fact that the original settlements of the two parts of the River Plate Territories were drawn from different parts of Spain and that the later cosmopolitan stream of immigration passed by Montevideo, on account of the constantly politically disturbed condition of Uruguay, and disembarked only at Buenos Aires. Therefore the Uruguayan has retained the characteristics of his Spanish ancestors in far greater purity than has the Argentine.

It is therefore impossible to club the two peoples together in any attempt at a description or even indication of their leading characteristics.

By way of rough comparison it may be said that while the Argentine has gained in polish and versatility by interbreeding with immigrants from many European countries, chiefly from all parts of Italy, the Uruguayan has retained a very large share of the dogged honesty, obstinacy and[46] capacity for sustained effort in hard work of his Basque and Galician ancestors.

In passing from comparison to particular analysis one is at once confronted with the difficult question, “What is an Argentine?”

According to Argentine Law, all children born on Argentine soil are ipso facto Argentines, but to attempt classification of the offspring of mixed marriages in several degrees of remoteness of parentage would immediately become a complex impossibility. Certain influences, however, imposed by the life and surroundings in Argentina, affect all individuals brought up there, no matter what may be or have been the nationality of their immediate or remoter ancestry.

But, with this exception, any description or setting forth of the leading characteristics of “Argentines” can only safely be submitted in regard to the direct descendants of the Spanish Conquistadores and early settlers and of the mixed unions between these and the aboriginal Indian women. The further but much rarer admixture of African blood introduced by slave labour, is almost a negligible quantity in the upper classes, though of considerable and noticeable influence in the lower, especially in the Northern Provinces, in which the mixture of Indian and Negro blood is very considerable.

Nevertheless, these elements of Spanish, Indian and Negro became fused into a national type the picturesqueness of which is now (alas!) being rapidly absorbed and transformed in the melting-pot in which it meets strange elements from every part of civilized Europe.

Still, the chivalrous and courteous Argentine to be found to-day not only in the National Senate (and in the Presidential chair), but also in the maize fields and sugar plantations of the far Western and Northern Provinces cannot be overlooked either as very important prime material for the coming race or as possessing many qualities the dilution of[47] which can only be viewed with a sincere, if partly sentimental, regret.

Are you a travelling stranger? The gaucho will offer you of the very best his humble ranch affords with the same native charm and dignity of manner which will strike you on your arrival and welcome on the estancia of his ancestral overlord.

There are still corners of Argentina where the patriarchal system has not yet died out, where every peon and vaquero considers himself a child of the great house whose señora sees to the creature comforts and small luxuries of his wife and children on feast-days and in the time of need.

No stately old-world courtesy could ever have surpassed that of an Argentine host of the old school. Truly, on his estancia, all is yours, and he will frequently make you a daily offering of fruit, chosen by him, picked with his own hand, especially and exclusively for you, his guest. The aristocratic Argentine of the old school is a very dignified gentleman indeed, notwithstanding a century of democratic profession. I say “profession,” for though I believe the leading families of the Republic are quite sincere in a conviction that they rank among the world’s most advanced democrats, the government of the country has remained almost exclusively in their truly patrician hands since the days of the Declaration of Independence. What may happen in the present newly commenced era of compulsory exercise of a universal franchise no one can well say, but most of the landed influence still belongs to the great historic Argentine families; who, moreover, form a caste which keeps even the plutocracy of more recently foreign origin at a quite respectful distance. It will be a long time, at any rate, before the prestige of these families ceases to make its influence felt in the capital as well as in the districts over which they have ruled for, practically, at least a century. The apparent familiarity which exists between them and their dependants or humbler provincial neighbours is the[48] outcome of the loyal affection which at one time existed in England between squire and farmer or villager. A feeling born of and sustained by the patriarchal system and very widely different to the “I am as good as you are” pretensions of new democracy.

The true Argentine, be he patrician, estanciero or gaucho peon is never boorish even when he seeks to pick a quarrel with studied insult; and if his humour and language would, at times, severely shock European ears polite, he is studiously careful to keep that sort of talk for the intimacy of his own household and associates. If you are admitted to that intimacy, well, so much the worse for you, if you are of a prudish disposition, but you can console yourself that your privilege is a very special and rare one; bestowed on you by virtue of some exceptionally sympathetic quality with which your host’s kindly imagination has endowed you. He is a kindly, charitable man, the real Argentine: an odd mixture of infantile vanity and strong common sense, hospitable to anyone arriving at his house through force of circumstance or if he can find a reasonable excuse to himself for breaking through the rule of almost hareem-like privacy of his home and intimate family affairs. Courteous himself, he expects courtesy, and will not brook clumsiness of speech or manner. Leisurely in his ways, he will not be hustled over any business. Try to hurry him, and he not only resents your lack of good manners but also suspects that you are endeavouring to lead him into some kind of sharp-dealing trap. Anyway, he not only will not budge an inch from his own deliberate attitude but most probably will oppose the inertia of a closed front door to all your further endeavours to approach him. This Argentine characteristic is a rock on which many a Yankee hustler has seen his best thought-out propositions founder.

In any business or other intercourse with a true Argentine you must not expect him to keep verbally made appointments nor to apologize subsequently for not having done so.[49] Usually you need not trouble to keep them yourself. Whatever you have in hand with him will prosper better and progress just as, or even more, quickly if you are content to take the matter up where you left it at your last interview, the next time you happen to meet him by chance at any at all convenient place or time. Do not talk him to death about it, he is very quick at understanding your wishes and proposed plans from the merest hint. If not, he will ask you very plain questions.

But he must conduct the negotiations, he must clothe your ideas until they bear a respectable appearance of being of his own originating. That is his vanity; but only then may you venture to strip them of certain new features which on close examination will be seen to be more favourable to his interests than your own.

During the changes which your propositions will inevitably undergo in the course of negotiations, he may, if you are not careful, get the better of you in the deal. That also is his vanity; a vanity to guard against without ever committing the solecism of a too bluntly apparent discovery of his aim. If he finds you always politely firm as a gentleman should be, you will have gained his friendship and respect—often valuable assets even if your original business should not go through.

In a word, in Argentina, as elsewhere, one must respect the native customs and conventionalities unless one wishes to encounter opposition. And the vis inertia of the opposition which an Argentine can and does offer to persons and ideas with which he is out of sympathy is invincible.

Such persons or schemes will be remitted by him to a “Mañana” which never comes.

That is the true inward meaning in Argentina of mañana; a polite excuse for temporarily or definitely postponing matters which have not made a favourable impression. It is not, as is so often thought, a mere lazy pretext for not[50] doing to-day anything that possibly can be put off till to-morrow.

The Argentine is not in the least lazy. On the contrary, he has reserve stores of latent energy the sudden calling into action of which, when he considers such action called for, is apt to astonish those who have formed superficial and hasty judgments on his nature.

It would seem trite to say that the first step to success in a country is intelligent study of the inhabitants were it not so constantly evident that new arrivals, who really ought to know better, seem to bring with them the idea that along with their business, whatever it may be, they have brought a mission to mould Argentine methods on the latest European or North American forms, forms which are the outcome of entirely different racial and climatic conditions. Thus, they, at the outset, impose upon themselves the Sisyphus task of rolling their pet stones up the hill of customs which really are the outcome of the racial and physical necessities of the people and country.

You cannot grow wheat in a swamp nor make much of a retriever out of a pointer, but the swamp may yield good rice and a pointer may be a very good dog in his way.

The sooner an immigrant, be he financier or farmer, realizes such facts the better for his success on the River Plate or elsewhere. By not doing so he fails in his enterprise and blames the failure on to the people or country to which he took projects predoomed only by his own lack of intelligent adaptability.

Another word of didactic advice to the intending emigrant to Argentina. Always be sure, no matter what his appearance and manners may seem to indicate to your first glance at him, that every action of an Argentine is firmly founded on a perfectly common-sense view of circumstances and their influence on his own best interests, although that foundation may lie under, and, for those who do not really know him, be hidden by various strata of personal vanity and easily[51] aroused but ephemeral enthusiasm. He is no fool and most emphatically not a lazy man, but only one who is rather cynically apt to let other people work for him as much and as often as they will. When he cannot get things done for him he can and will do them, very effectively, for himself.

And lest, to some people, the foregoing observations and counsel might seem so much word-embroidery on a canvas composed mostly of the author’s imagination, the reader is humbly asked to compare it with the known facts of Argentine economic history.

In 1810, the beginning of the country’s real development, the great River Plate landowner was a rural patriarch, much after the fashion of the shepherd kings of Palestine.

He ousted the Master-Stranger from his land and only afterwards permitted him and encouraged him to return to it as the servant of himself, the true overlord of the soil. On that soil its patriarchs extended their proprietary rights ever more and more while foreign railways and all kinds of other enterprise constantly enhanced the value of the land held, always almost exclusively, by Argentines. His railway and dock-building servants from overseas got very good wages indeed for their work, as they still do in common with others who have made tramways and constructed water, gas and electrical power works. But he who up to now has had the most durable and the chief profit from all this is the Argentine or Uruguayan; the man who holds and will hold the Government of the two Republics and retains all the appreciated value of the much greater part of the soil of their vast territories. Concessions of land to foreigners made in the past by way of part wages are nowadays secretly regarded as having been errors committed in ignorance of the real value of what was then parted with and with such self-accusation of error goes the resolve not to repeat it. Still it should be stated that at the time of making such grants some such inducement was necessary in a part of the world[52] which had only very recently emerged from half a century of civil war.

It is, of course, self-evident that no new railway enterprise will get a huge grant of land; as did the Central Argentine Company as an inducement to construct. The attitude of the Argentine to-day to all foreigners is that they may come to his country and there enjoy similar rights and liberties with himself coupled with rather less than his own responsibilities. They may keep the profits they make, and very good profits are obtainable by well-conducted, necessary enterprise, after deduction of certain percentage by way of rent for their concessions or licences; but the real property, the value of which is constantly being increased by the activity of foreign industry and commerce, remains in, and even as to formerly alienated parts of it gradually tends to drift more and more into, native hands.

The Argentine is, as I have said, not a fool, even still less is the Uruguayan; on the contrary, he is especially wise in his appreciation of his own natural limitations. He is by long heredity and his own upbringing a farmer, not a commercial man nor a speculator in aught else but land. And to land, therefore as well as for the other good reasons already pointed out, he devotes his best attention.

He cannot, perhaps, build nor manage railways, nor has he generally a genius for banking, but he can and does breed as fine cattle and sheep and grow as good quality maize and wheat as any imported European farm manager. In farming, the special subject which he does thoroughly understand, he gives practical evidence of his judgment in assimilation of the best farming science and of adapting it, or such part of it as is most capable of adaptation, to the conditions and requirements of his own particular lands.

The finest and the most up-to-date model estancias in Argentina and Uruguay belong to and have been brought to their present state of perfection by Argentines and Uruguayans.


Probably these facts dispose of the accusation of dilatory laziness so often brought against him.

In this chapter I have attempted to inform intending emigrants and not to formulate a defence of the Argentine or Uruguayan against the ignorance of his calumniators. He needs none. With a charmingly cynical indifference, which is all his own but which it does not at all times suit his interests to manifest, he goes on piling up colossal fortunes amid surroundings much more congenial to his nature than even the European Grand Hotels or Cafés in which he likes from time to time to disport himself and display his wealth. His estancia always remains his home, in which he spends the best and greatest portion of his life, surrounded by the peons whose great-grandfathers were vassals of his own.

It is rather the fashion among new arrivals in Buenos Aires and Montevideo to laugh at the Argentines and Uruguayans and their ways of managing their affairs, but it appears to me that this is a case of “He laughs best who laughs last.” The native of the River Plate has contrived to get his country developed for him while retaining the entire mastery of it. Men of long residence in these countries have practically adopted their manners and customs simply because experience has taught them that such are best adapted to these countries’ natural conditions. As has been observed earlier in this chapter, the Argentine, especially, is conscious of his own limitations, one of the chief of which is a pretty general incapacity for patient attention to detail in his work. His scientific acquirements are often brilliant as far as study is concerned. He assimilates knowledge rapidly and accurately, but in its application he is often too apt to fail of obtaining satisfactory results just and only because of his lack of patience and appreciation of the value of detail in practice. That is why he prudently abandoned his own past attempts to control certain of his railways which, financial failures under his management, quickly became prosperous concerns in British hands. His hospitals still[54] show many defects due solely to the lack of attention to necessary details on the part of the medical staff. Brilliant exceptions, which unfortunately do not vitiate this rule, are to be found in Mr. Lertora, the Argentine manager of the Western Railway, and Dr. Penna, the President of the National Council of Hygiene and the creator of the magnificently managed Asistencia Publica of Buenos Aires and of all the great sanitary works of that city.

To sum up the average Argentine of the upper classes, in middle age and onward he is a grave and reverend señor; a rather wild and boisterous young gentleman until he has sown a profusion of wild oats.

Throughout his life he shows a childlike pride in his wealth and all it can give to him and his, is lavish in largesse with occasional and seemingly capricious moments of close-fistedness. Courteous to a fault in manner, he has nevertheless ever a keen eye for the main chance in all matter of sufficient magnitude to really interest him.

In fact he has many characteristics which are reminiscent of the less objectionable qualities of mediæval nobility, in common with whom he is quick to resent anything he deems intentional insult to or disparagement of himself. He will forgive anyone for having got the better of him in a deal (though it is fair to him to say that it is not often he finds himself the victim of such an offence), but he will not for any consideration brook clumsily bad manners. He is by no means a puritanical moralist nor severe on the moral peccadillos of his neighbours, and he leaves religion pretty much to his women-folk.

In the lower classes he is still always courteous, expects courtesy from others, and resents, quickly and often fiercely, any defect in that respect in his neighbour’s behaviour.

Neither will he brook pretentious arrogance in any man, his social superior or his equal. Such arrogance meets immediately not only with his quick resentment but his profound and evident disdain. Treat him as he will treat you,[55] and you will find him uniformly pleasant, light-hearted and humorous. Obligatory education is slowly freeing him from the illiteracy which until recently was very general, especially outside the limits of the Capital or one or other of the largest towns. Even now the lower-class Argentine is usually an exceedingly poor scholar. Therefore, and because of his rapidly growing admixture of Italian peasant blood, he is superstitious and still often has a deeper faith in fortune-telling quacks than in qualified medical science. Wise men and women are still much consulted for love-potions and cures and curses of all sorts for man and beast in the country districts, but while mere fortune-tellers are not interfered with by the law, penal restrictions are being more and more stringently enforced against quack doctors; most of whose remedies have come direct from mediæval Spain or Italy.

Argentine women? This is a subject on which one is not only tempted but almost forced to confine oneself to the usual platitudes concerning beauty of the Spanish type: large-eyed and opulent and at its apogee during the decade between 15 and 25 years of age.

It is seldom that an Argentine woman of any class troubles her head with business matters; still less with theories concerning the rights of her sex. She is usually content to do her most apparent duty in the sphere to which it has pleased God to call her.

She manages her household in a quasi-Oriental haphazard way; if of the wealthier classes does little but order that household in such ways as may correspond to her momentary caprice, if of the poorer, naturally, she does the work herself, but in the same capricious fashion.

Saturday is the great day for domestic cleaning up throughout all classes, Sunday a feast day whereon little work is done.

Apart from these general fixtures, household duties may be said never to be begun and never finished. In all houses[56] one may see the servants or the housewife, as the case may be, besom in one hand and mate in the other at any time of day. What is not done to-day is finished to-morrow, that is all; and what can one do more?

To newly arrived Europeans these methods give an idea of continual discomfort, but the sooner such Europeans become accustomed to the ways of the country in this as in other matters the better for their own peace of mind. Of one thing they may be assured from the commencement of their stay on the River Plate, viz. that it is not they who will change those ways by an iota, and that therefore they may as well abandon all notions of what they would consider as reform of good grace to begin with instead of at the end of a more or less lengthy nerve-racking struggle.

The servant difficulty is particularly difficult in these sunny lands where no one need, and very few do, know what it is to suffer the real pinch of want or of hardship other than such as custom sanctions. The European lady who worries her servants with, to them, new ideas of how her household should be conducted will simply cause them to quit her employ with wonderful unanimity and celerity.

They won’t stop, that is all. She may give them sleeping or other accommodation which they may never before have enjoyed nor probably even dreamed of. These attentions strike no sympathetic chord if they be accompanied by what the native Argentine considers silly pettiness of interference with the way in which he or she is accustomed to do his or her work. Any Argentine servant would sooner sleep, as many do, on a mattress thrown down at night in any passage way in the house of a native Argentine family and suffer the alternate friendly familiarity and impassioned scolding of a mistress whose ways they understand and who leaves them to theirs, than occupy the nicest possible servant’s bedroom in a more strictly ordered establishment. The true and main lesson of all which is that the Argentine, to whatever social class he or she may belong, is a child of nature to whom disciplinary[57] fetters of any kind are unbearable and to the freer nature of whom the monotony of much of the punctual regularity which Europeans are apt to consider a necessary factor of real comfort is impossibly burdensome.

On the River Plate one must live as the Rio Platenseans do if one’s stay is not to be one continued struggle for unattainable domestic ideals. In the best hotels, in the millionaire’s palace or the peon’s hut the same happy-go-lucky spirit prevails and dominates domestic, as it also does public, life, in especially, perhaps, Argentina. Everything is muddled through somehow. But it is muddled through to desired results, which, after all, is the chief practical desideratum.

There is much of the Spanish seclusion in the better-class home life of both Argentina and Uruguay, which adds to the obstacles in the way of criticism or appreciation by a foreigner.

That the children are almost universally what we should call spoiled is, however, evident from the most superficial experience of that life. The Argentine theories, if they can be termed such, of bringing up are largely controlled by a fear of crushing the individuality of the child especially if he be a boy. The most usual reply of an Argentine child to any order given to it is “No quiero” (I don’t want to), and there the matter ends. The parents smile indulgently, the child does not do what it did not want to do, and woe betide the governess or tutor who is possessed of too strict disciplinary ideas. Thus, from the cradle to the grave the male Argentine is used to his own sweet way, while his sisters are made to feel few trammels of a purely household kind. These apart, however, Argentine women seldom, if ever, show any symptoms of rebellion against the domestic seclusion which is their accepted lot, especially after marriage.

The Argentine woman is seldom disturbed by intellectual aspirations, likes creature comforts and facilities for the standard of dress pertaining to her station, and she is contented and happy in her home with the theatre as a distraction.[58] At the theatre she only favours performances which demand intellectual effort for their appreciation if and when fashion impels her attendance thereat; so that she may see and be seen in the foyer and hold pleasant receptions in her box, receptions not always confined to the extr’actes.

In a word, she is not intellectual and therefore feels no need for troubling her usually handsome head with intellectuality.

She is a wife and a mother and a lady bountiful to all the feudal dependants of her husband’s house. Childishly fond of dress and admiration but with as little desire for liberty of action as she has for deep thought.

As will have been gathered from the foregoing, much of the Moorish civilization in Spain remains reincarnate in the woman of modern Argentina.

A word may very well be said here for the much-criticized Argentine jeunesse dorée. In the author’s humble opinion the real wonder about him is that his sometimes objectionably intrusive boisterousness in public places does not outstep its actually not very wide limitations.

In any other country, if you had a warm-blooded young scion of a sunny land who had grown up under the almost constantly approving smiles of an indulgent father and mother, possessed of great wealth and traditions of spending freely on amusement and outward display and, lastly, a native police which would almost as soon dare to rebel openly against the Government as to lock up for anything short of serious and unconcealable crime any son of a great ruling family, it appears to me more than possible that you would have much more trouble with such a gilded youth, who, moreover, would probably succumb to early physical and financial ruin instead of developing, as has been said, into a grave and reverend señor, capable in either Chamber of Congress or in a ministerial or diplomatic capacity, as the Argentine fils de famille eventually does. That he does so[59] develop and does not succumb, I attribute to his underlying quality of common sense, coupled with his mainly open-air upbringing in the Camp.

Also, the young Argentine may be and often is, exceedingly fond of sowing a vast quantity of wild oats, but he is very seldom ill-natured or fundamentally bad. His very vices are strongly tempered with redeemingly generous qualities.

As good a comparison as any I can hit on between the upper-class Argentine and his Uruguayan cousin is that of the smart Londoner and the resident in a provincial Cathedral town. The latter is less given to display of such wealth as he may have and much less likely to make any pretence of greater. The Uruguayan is usually unpretentious in his way of living and at the same time gives an impression of greater solidity if more modest dimensions of fortune. Among both there is the same aristocratic assuredness of social position; but whereas each better-class Argentine seeks to outvie his immediate associates in luxurious outward appearance, the Uruguayan is content with a more solid if less showy all-round level of comfort. If one may use so discredited a term, the Uruguayan is the much more “eminently respectable” of the two, a man who derives his greatest pride from the fact that his word always has been and is every bit as good as his bond.

He has some contempt for Argentine showiness; while on the other side of the River Plate estuary he himself is considered as too slow-going to be very interesting. The Argentine is certainly jealous of the sounder general credit enjoyed by Uruguay, a jealousy not soothed by a certain quiet assumption of superiority of a nation which has always turned a deaf ear to any suggestions of convenient financial juggling, however critical or difficult the times.

There can be no doubt but that while the Uruguayan is possessed of common sense in much the same degree as is the Argentine, this quality is in the former tempered by a large quantum of Quixotic obstinacy.


Roughly speaking—very roughly, for generalization is almost as hazardous as prophecy—it may be said that while the Argentine is often apt to be guided rather by opportunism than fixed principle, the Uruguayan will only begin to listen to the voice of opportunity when he feels sure that no one of his inflexible principles is likely to be affected by so doing.

As we have seen, both the White and Red political parties in Uruguay have over and over again racked the whole country with civil war for the defence or assertion of pure principles, in regard to which no compromise seemed possible to one side or the other.

Argentina also had her period of Civil War brought about in a very great measure, no doubt, by similar causes; but her politicians have during the last fifty years learned the pecuniary value of, at least apparent, adaptability.

The Uruguayan of to-day is just as inflexible in his convictions as he was a century ago, and if he now chooses peace rather than civil war it is because he has become sincerely persuaded that peace is the only real way to his country’s best good and prosperity. Peace with honour, that is to say. He would rather commit public or individual suicide than accept any other.

For this reason (and for others) there is no likelihood of the Banda Oriental ever becoming a part of Argentina. Uruguayans could never be peacefully governed by Argentine policy, and Argentina would never wish to be burdened by such a troublesome community as would be the Uruguayans if they should come under her nominal rule. As historical fact, Argentina has already refused Uruguayan territory as a gift, and acted wisely in such refusal.

The lower classes and rural populations of Argentina and Uruguay differ, pari passu, as much and in similar fashion, from one another as do their respective social superiors, though Camp life is in many ways Camp life in both Republics alike. But ruggedly uncompromising staunchness to those[61] principles which he has adopted for his own—which, however, may differ from European standards—is as evident in the Uruguayan peon as in his master.

Once you really know the Argentine or the Uruguayan, it is seldom difficult to forecast what either will do in any given circumstances. Needless, perhaps, to add that your study of them must be sympathetic; as must all such study in order to obtain positive or any at all satisfactory results.



The Constitutions of Argentina and Uruguay differ chiefly in that while the former gives a large measure of autonomy to the Provinces (therein, as in other respects, being closely modelled on that of the United States), the latter does not, the whole legislative power being vested in the National Congress.[12]

Argentina has 14 Provinces and 11 National Territories, including the district of the Federal Capital, the city of Buenos Aires. Each of the Provinces has a Governor and a Parliament of its own, chosen by the local electorate, and possesses, as has been said, a very large measure of autonomy in the management of its own fiscal and other internal affairs. Other large areas which are not yet judged by Congress to have attained sufficient development to be able to support the financial burdens and status of autonomous Provinces have remained National Territories under the direct control of the National Government. The Municipal Council of the Federal Capital has wide administrative powers, always subject, however, to the sanction of the National Executive, and the “Lord Mayor” (Intendente Municipal) of Buenos Aires is appointed by the National Government.

The National Territory likely to be the first promoted to the rank of a Province is that of the Pampa Central; now one of the chief cereal areas of the Republic.


The Argentine Provinces and National Territories are the following:



It should be added that all Public Acts and Judicial Decisions of one Province have legal effect in all the others. Sometimes, however, conflicts of jurisdiction afford matter for the decision of the Federal High Court.

Uruguay is divided into 19 Departments, each of which has a Governor appointed by the National Executive and an administrative Council chosen by local popular vote. The Departments of Uruguay are:


It is perhaps not convenient here to discuss the comparative advantages of the two systems; but it must be said that evidence of the defects inherent to the qualities of both is not lacking. In Argentina the Provinces and in Uruguay the National Governments have frequently shown and still show a disposition to make ells out of the inches given them by their respective constitutions.

In Argentina this disposition was considerably scotched though not killed by the Centralizing policy of Dr. Figueroa Alcorta, the immediate predecessor in the Presidential chair of the recently deceased Dr. Roque Saenz Peña. Dr. Alcorta’s policy was fundamentally good and was carried out by him with, doubtless, the best of motives, if the manner of its execution was rather Gilbertian.

The evils he attacked arose from the fact that each of the more distant Provinces was practically under the almost autocratic domination of a great land-owning family; the descendants, usually, of the lords of the soil in the patriarchal days of the River Plate countries.

In those Provinces these families and their nearer ramifications formed powerful oligarchies; ruling over people who in their turn were the descendants of those who in bygone days had been little else than the vassals of the Great House. The head of the leading family was the Governor of his Province by an almost acknowledged right of inheritance; while his sons, nephews, and sons-in-law occupied the chief posts in the Provincial Government.

It is not too much to say that these people had, in measure as the National Government became more and more perfected in its conduct and outlook, become an insufferable obstacle to uniformity of ordered conduct of public affairs. Especially was this so in financial matters.

The outlying and, mostly, poorer Provinces were always needing, or at any rate wanting, money; and at the same time not over-nice about their lack of unpledged security when they found a European financier, as untrammelled by[65] scruple as they themselves, willing to engineer a further Provincial loan under the independent borrowing powers given by the Constitution to each Province. Some of them also wished to continue and even increase the issue of notes the value of which was shockingly depreciated, and which were only legal tender within the boundaries of the particular Province. Almost in vain, the National Government issued diplomatic and consular circulars to the effect that Provincial loans were not Argentine National loans, and that it, the National Government, would only hold itself responsible for the latter. The financiers who floated new Provincial loans were well aware that the majority of those persons whom they could induce to take up such bonds knew little or nothing of the distinction between National and Provincial. The loan was an Argentine one; puffed with perfectly true statistics of the progress and prosperity of the Argentine Republic—without too much insistence on that of the particular Province concerned. Besides, these financiers and, possibly, some of their clients calculated on the extreme probability of the National Government, if an awkward situation really did arise, not allowing its Provinces to be declared defaulters in Europe, because of the consequent slur which must inevitably, though unjustly, fall on the name of “Argentina”; a name the credit of which the untiring and scrupulous efforts of the National Government have built up since the crisis of 1891.

The Provincial Oligarchies had also other ways of jockeying National Government. They would ask for all sorts of things, and if refused would proceed to rant shamelessly in the Senate. This was blackmail, nothing more nor less; but frequently effective, since Provincial Governors are practically always members of the National Senate; in which the President must, obviously, have a majority if he is to carry on the Government.

Such situations Dr. Figueroa Alcorta determined to take[66] in hand; and the only way of doing this was to break up the offending Oligarchies.

Much of the humour of his doing so lay in the fact that he owed his high post to an original miscalculation of his character as that of a pleasant enough figure-head certain to be docile in the hands of the wire-pullers. Therefore he was appointed Vice-President to be a negligible quantity under the Presidency of Dr. Manuel Quintana. On whose death he, ipso facto, under the Constitution, became acting President for the remainder of Dr. Quintana’s term of office. The developments of Dr. Figueroa Alcorta were as much a surprise to Argentine politicians as were those of Bret Harte’s “Heathen Chinee” to his associates in “the game he did not understand.” And realization came as late in the day in the one case as in the other.

A veritable epidemic of local Revolutions sprang up in one after the other of the oligarchically ruled Provinces. On each occasion an “Interventor” was, as is provided by the Constitution for such cases, sent down by the National Government to enquire into the causes of the disturbance, and particularly to ascertain if the Province concerned were being ruled “in accordance with the Constitution and democratic principles.” If the answer to this last question were found to be in the affirmative, National troops could be sent down to support the existing Provincial Government; if in the negative, the ruling party, including, of course, the Governor, could be deposed and a successor appointed by the National Government in his stead.

As a result it gradually (but not till it was very nearly all over) dawned on the general intelligence of the country that the Governors who had been found to have ruled their Provinces “in accordance with the constitution, etc.,” were faithful supporters of the Presidential policy; whilst those who had been deposed for misrule happened, strangely enough, to be those who had kicked over, or shown an overt disposition to kick over, the Presidential traces.


This appealed to the public sense of humour and “Revolución de arriba” (Revolution from above, i.e. instigated in high quarters[13]) became a catch phrase. Thus were the Oligarchies brought to naught and the central power greatly strengthened thereby.

Dr. Figueroa Alcorta’s crowning coup d’état was, however, his shutting Congress out of its own Palace in consequence of its conspired refusal to pass one of his budgets. One fine day, the National Senators and Deputies on reaching the Congress building found it in possession of troops who refused them admission. Remonstrance was unavailing, and they perforce returned home. Meanwhile, the President passed the Budget himself, as the Constitution gives him power to do “when Congress is not sitting.”

In the result Dr. Figueroa Alcorta’s Budget (which was a perfectly wise and necessary one) remained operative and the officer who had commanded the troops was heavily fined for disrespect shown to the sacred offices of Senator and Deputy. The gallant officer’s plea in defence that the President whose orders he had obeyed on that occasion was, as constitutional Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, his Military Superior, availed him nothing. Nobody else was one penny the worse. Possibly, the payment of Colonel Calazza’s fine came “de arriba” like the Revolutions.

Soon afterwards Dr. Figueroa Alcorta was the courteous and diplomatic host of Personages (including the Infanta Isabella) at the 1910 Centenary Festivities; and, shortly after that again, vacated the Presidential chair in favour of Dr. Saenz Peña, his successor “by consent.” The usual and graceful, though officially unacknowledged, custom in Argentina being that the Presidential Election shall follow a prearranged course.[14]


With the matter of elections Dr. Saenz Peña’s name is, as has been said, intimately and honourably associated, and it may be repeated that by his death the Republic lost one of its most broad-minded and straightforward statesmen.

Up to the passing of his Electoral Reform Law, no self-respecting private citizen ever dreamed of voting: simply because if he favoured the Government policy his doing so would be a mere work of supererogation, while if he held opposition views it would be sheer waste of time and trouble on his part; and if he were a provincial voter he would certainly find himself the object of unpleasant attention by the police, whose really chief duty was to “conduct” elections to the satisfaction of the ruling party. Anyhow, his voting could not influence the preordained result of the election one way or the other. Voting was done by the mere deposit of a “Libreta” or certificate of citizenship, and libretas deposited in favour of the ruling party were subject to little scrutiny as to whether the persons named in them were alive or dead. They were thrown in at the polling stations in bundles. Some were bought; though at a low figure, because there were thousands of blank libretas at Government House ready to be filled in by quick-writing clerks in the very remote event of any booth being reported to have received a disconcerting number of votes adverse to the Government.

In the Provinces the proceedings were rougher and readier; the comparative smallness of the communities enabling the Police Commissary to know the political views of all persons in his district. Did a would-be opponent of the ruling powers heave in sight, he was hustled as if to make room for others who had arrived before him, and if he were still foolish enough to persist in trying to vote he was arrested for making a disturbance, and locked up till the election was over. The Provincial Police Authorities could hardly be blamed for their share in this scandal, because the successful conduct of elections was really a sine qua non condition of[69] their tenure of office. Failure meant for them being almost immediately superseded.

In Uruguay, no matter whether Reds or Whites (the two great political parties) were in power, the rural population, the true backbone of the agricultural country, were perennially in opposition: because they found that the atmosphere of the capital somehow or another always infected their rulers with ideas of government which, however splendid they might be in theory, were more often than not quite out of harmony with, and often contradictory to, practical agricultural needs and conditions.

Thus, to cite an instance often referred to in this regard, it is not long since a German agricultural expert, specially imported with the best of intentions by the Government, showed them that wheat allowed to mature for a while in stacks had a greater commercial value in Europe than that thrashed simultaneously with reaping and shipped immediately. This is, in itself, undeniable fact; from which, however, the Uruguayan Government drew the conclusion that it would be well to pass a law making it obligatory, under penalty for not doing so, on every farmer in the country to stack all his wheat for a certain period before sending it for export. This proposal naturally raised an outcry throughout the country. Because a practice which presents little practical inconvenience and much advantage in an European country, where small wheat fields and a more or less damp climate are the rule, would be monstrously ridiculous in a land where grain is grown by the square league, and where, accidents of weather apart, the standing crops are well dried by the sun. Just imagine the enormous expense involved in stacking wheat over such vast areas as are covered by cereals in the River Plate countries. In which countries, moreover, the greatest of all difficulties in the way of production is the scarcity of labour! The stacking method would cost vastly more than the difference in the value between stacked and unstacked grain.


Needless to say, this brilliantly conceived law was never passed; but the idea of it stands as an example of the doctrinaire tendencies of Montevidean statesmen of which the rural industries complain.

That there is a mysterious something in the air of Montevideo which influences men in the direction of abstract idealism, and at the same time blinds them to facts which their cherished theories will not fit, seems undeniable. But it is unlikely that Uruguay will ever again be plunged into the ruinous throes of Revolution.

Once the leaders of Uruguayan opinion grasped the fact that Revolution is the greatest possible impediment to the best interests of the country, the peaceful future of the Republic was assured; and they now seem to have grasped it clearly and firmly.

State insurance, State railways, State tramways, water and gas works, electrical power stations and, in fact, State everything was Señor Batlle’s[15] plan for holding Uruguay up to the world as a splendid object-lesson in State Socialism. Here again one sees the fire of patriotism gleaming through a mass of practical difficulties (the obtaining of necessary capital for the purpose, and on the necessary conditions of the execution of such splendid plans, for instance) in the way of the accomplishment of the President’s dream.

Equally patriotic were those who endeavoured to keep the brakes well pressed on to the wheels of the “progressive” Presidential car; hoping for the conclusion of Señor Batlle y Ordoñez’s term of office before too much harm were done. But, mark this, not a sign of overt rebellion in a situation over which only a few years ago the whole country would have been engaged in a fratricidal struggle.

Señor Batlle y Ordoñez was an autocratic democrat; desiring and firmly, even obstinately, determined, to rule as[71] absolutely as any Tsar in what he conceived to be the true interests of all classes of the population.

The present writer well remembers hearing him, on the first day of the great general strike of 1911, addressing the strikers from the balcony of Government House at Montevideo.

He told them that were it not for his high office he would be among them and with them; counselled them to stand firmly for their rights; and wound up with a warning that any acts of intimidation or violence on their part would not only injure their just cause, but expose the guilty parties to extremely severe punishment.

By way of underlining this last wholesome admonition, Martial Law was immediately declared, and the next day saw the town filled with Horse, Foot and Artillery. This move (which caused some doubt in the mind of the extreme Labour Party as to which way the Presidential wind was really blowing), and the fact that the flags, illuminations and firework installations were already nailed up for the celebration of the Centenary of Artígas, the National Hero, whose memory has of late years been completely whitewashed by the National Historians, caused the strike to fizzle out and all hands to join, a day or two later, in festivities the brilliance of which confirmed the reputation of the Montevideans as past masters of artistic illumination.

The only net result of the strike appeared to be the fining, in the strict terms of its concession, of the Montevideo Tramways Company for neglecting to run cars according to schedule during a period when it was physically impossible for it to have done so. When no bread was baked and even doctors were forced by the strike leaders to abandon the use of their carriages; when, in fact, the whole city kept a sabbath during which no man might do any manner of work. A state of things enforced by patrols of strikers armed with revolvers—until the troops of their friend the President suddenly appeared upon the scene.


Of both Argentina and Uruguay it may be said that their Constitutions, Laws (National and Provincial) and Municipal by-laws and regulations are as nearly perfect models of what such things should be as can well be imagined. If they were not sometimes honoured in the breach of them and if isolated provisions were not sometimes hauled out to meet cases pretty obviously not exactly contemplated by their framers, all would be even better in lands where, on the whole, Laws and Regulations, as occasionally varied by tacit custom, generally work very well indeed. Such custom, it should be noted here, is not, however, altogether reliable and would be useless as a defence in the frequently recurring event of some Authority or other, perhaps piqued by an ambition to distinguish itself or to be revenged on a torpid liver, suddenly insisting on the observance of the strict letter of the law. In that case, several unsuspecting people get fined; journalists are inspired for paragraphs and even articles; a, say, three days’ wonder is created; and custom resumes her sway until the next temporary upheaval.

The writer once lived in a district of Argentina where, as elsewhere in that country, all dairy farmers must, under penalty, use milk cans duly certified and marked by the Authority appointed for that purpose, as being according to standard measure. A fee is payable on each can so certified. One day, being in a curious mood, one not uncommon in journalists, he asked Authority to show him the standard measures. The latter, a good fellow, was pleased to consider the writer as another; so he laughed and said he had never seen nor asked to have such a thing. He knew that all these milk-cans were turned out accurately enough by the manufacturers. So what was the use of bothering further? He just marked them and took the fee.

Some day, he or his successor or a colleague of some other district, will be caught by some Higher Authority in a fit of zeal and made an example of. Someone will get a profitable contract to furnish Standard milk-cans throughout the[73] Republic, these will duly get lost or be appropriated by Authority’s wife for household purposes, and dairymen’s cans will be certified on sight as before.

It is only just to say that this story is rather illustrative of Argentine life than Uruguayan: the Uruguayan generally takes more strict a view of his duties and obligations than his over-river cousin.

But to return to our subject. Generally speaking, and especially in Argentina with its Provincial Autonomy, the further one journeys from the National Capital the slacker and more irregular one finds the administration of Laws and By-Laws, the greater the resemblance of the manners and methods of Authority to that of the Kadi under a palm tree. And the more one realizes the truth of the proverb that while one man may steal a horse another may not look over a gate. In country districts personal influence is wellnigh everything. If one be on good terms with the Municipal Intendente (Mayor) or the Comisario of Police (it is generally a case of being friendly, if at all, with both and the other members of the official clique; all usually to be found together in the same bar or restaurant), the law looks very indulgently on one, and at a pinch will turn a blind eye to one’s, really only humorous, peccadillos. If not, one must walk carefully like Agag until one has gathered common sense enough to approach Authority in a properly friendly (and acceptable) spirit.

Does the Comisario’s horse go lame, he will ask you to lend him one. You do so, saying at the same time that you have no further need of it. And the next time you have trouble with your peons, or anyone else with less influence than yourself, send for the Comisario, he will soon straighten the matter out for you. Even if your trouble be with an equal or superior in influence, smiling Authority will discover a modus vivendi and drinks all round will seal the friendly compact. It is seldom one meets anyone who is not on good terms with his Authorities. Not to be so would[74] remind one of the story of Carnot, who refused to stand in with Napoleon I. The Emperor told him frankly that he who was not with him was against him, and that he, Carnot, was much too powerful a person with the people to be permitted to be at large in France under the latter condition. He must be exiled, and had better see Fouché on the matter.

Carnot went; and, addressing Fouché, asked sternly, “Where must I go? Traitor!” “Wherever you like. Imbecile!” was Fouché’s cynical retort.

So, in Argentine rural ethics, if you are not friendly with Authority you have only your own folly to thank for the usually inconvenient consequences.

It is wonderful how much money Authority has to spend on amusement when it gets a day or two’s holiday in Buenos Aires; and it is great fun as well as good policy to go round with him, if you also are in funds. Argentine Authority seldom gives or expects anything for nothing; but usually is a pleasant enough fellow withal, if taken the right way.

The Uruguayan, in such regards as in all others, is a less sophisticated and, in country districts, a more primitively minded person; though always hospitable, usually courteous in his manner, and particularly so to strangers.

The most exalted Governmental spheres, those of the National Governments in the Cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, respectively, are nowadays almost entirely free from any suggestion of the mildest form of even technical corruption. It certainly is easier to obtain a personal interview with the President or a Minister if one personally knows one of his intimate friends or subordinate officials; but that is all that influence really amounts to as regards any question affecting overseas Commerce, Concessions or Foreign Affairs. In regard to home politics, doubtless a good deal of intrigue is constantly at work at Government House in Buenos Aires, but those are matters which the foreign settler leaves exclusively to the Argentines themselves. So long as they do[75] nothing which may affect trade or credit, even the representatives of the largest foreign interests are careful to avoid any act or word which might savour of interference in the sole management by the Argentine of purely Argentine affairs. As has been indicated elsewhere in these pages, such interference is the one thing regarding which the Argentine is very jealously suspicious. He may have framed most of his Constitution on that of the United States, but he never would have permitted the States or anyone else to do it for him.

Apart from the transparent incorruptibility, from without, at all events, of all members of the National Governments of both Republics, there is a pleasant free-and-easiness about the manner of Presidential and Ministerial receptions.

The salons in which all-comers are received are large, airy and well lighted; and are furnished with leather-covered sofas, seated on which visitors wait their turn for the President or Minister to grant them a few words of conversation; during which his Excellency sits down on the sofa beside them, cigarette in hand like everyone else in the room.

At a longer, special, conference, coffee also is served, hot in winter and iced in summer, even in the offices of subordinate officials; and rumour has it that it is over this inexhaustible supply of Nationally provided coffee and cigarettes that internal politics are “made.” In Argentina politics of this kind are kaleidoscopic; groups and individuals forming fresh combinations and antagonisms too rapidly and from too deeply underlying motives for anyone not profoundly versed and continually engaged in the game to be able to follow it with anything approaching comprehension.

Much of this has doubtless disappeared under the influence of Dr. Saenz Peña; whose fearlessly honourable nature judged, and judged rightly, that the National Government of Argentina is now in a position to face without apprehension any public opinion of its acts and policy.


Naturally the spirit of intrigue, the love of which, almost for itself, has roots deep down in Argentine human nature, cannot yet be reckoned as dead; but it is certainly in the course of being driven further and further away from the centres of higher civilization by a superior ethical conception of the duties of Government; even as the long-horned native cattle have been ousted to frontier districts by the appreciation by Estancieros of the incomparable advantages, to themselves, of Shorthorns and Herefords.

In Uruguay there always has been much less tendency to intrigue. There, a man was a Red or a White, a conscientious supporter of the Rural or Urban party. While as for Finance the Commercial Community has always and unswervingly seen to it that its realm be kept clean and untarnished by even the breath of scandal. It may here be objected that now and again, foreign concessionaires have made bargains with the National Government strangely profitable to themselves. The true answer to such an observation would be that in such cases the Government has invariably been the quite innocent victim of greater experience and far-sightedness in such matters than its own advisers had ever had opportunity to attain.

Uruguayans would maintain the National credit by emptying their own private pockets if need be and, in fact, have expressed their intention of doing so on more than one occasion when, as is mentioned in another chapter, the Government allowed itself to be frightened into proposals for issues of paper currency not founded on a strictly gold basis. A proceeding which would have spelt repudiation of a portion of the National liabilities; in the manner of the Argentine “Conversion Law.”

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And it is no sign of bias to give Uruguay credit for plain facts which incontrovertibly prove her sense of the sanctity of moral as well as legal obligation.

True, she was never in quite such a financial tangle as[77] that in which Argentina found herself in 1891; but she has often been poverty-stricken, and yet has always paid to the utmost centesimo.

Generally, it may be said that a similar honesty prevails in all branches of Government and fiscal affairs throughout Uruguay.

For a glance at some small ways that are dark and tricks that are vain, before these are entirely swept away, as they now are being, before the healthy wind of moral improvement (healthy even though, as some cynics assert, it has been raised only by perception of the fact that in the long run, honesty is the best policy) one must go to distant parts of Argentina and there grope amid the intricacies of Provincial and Municipal Administration. There, undoubtedly, we may come across semi-obscure corners from which a highly respectable chartered accountant would fly horror-stricken. But we should also recognize that the whole small fabric of intrigue and petty robbery is a Punchinello’s secret; well known to and sympathetically approved by the whole surrounding populace, whose attitude to the robber is that of “Good luck to him! I should do the same if I had his chance.” Of no use to endeavour to stir up public opinion to demand the prosecution or dismissal of Authorities or Officials who are perfectly well known to have been defrauding the public for years.

Not a bit of it. You would only get for an answer, “What? get rid of him now that he’s fat and get a lean one in his place who would be far worse!” Meaning that a needy man would steal more than a rich one. Local opinion would hold that that way lay madness only; and the would-be reformer would be merely regarded with pitying scorn.

No. The change is coming and coming rapidly with the spirit of the age, and cannot be hastened in its inevitable course; and this change will be thorough, for it will only encounter the ineffectual opposition of a quite infantile dishonesty which has never seriously tried to keep secret the[78] practices which its vanity considered as so much evidence of its own admirable cleverness.

Do you think the milk-can inspector did not delight in telling that he had never seen a standard measure? Of course he did; and a Municipal Intendente of a small country town gets just as much pleasure from the knowledge that, while ten men appear on his Municipality’s monthly wage-sheets as road-menders, there are in fact only two and the remaining eight receipts are signed, for a consideration, per signature, by independent persons. A proceeding which, of course, is perfectly well known to and indeed accepted as immemorial custom by the general public. In these cases no one ever gets caught; because those chiefly concerned have always a pull in Provincial politics—otherwise they would never have found themselves occupying the positions they are in.

But, as the reader can see, all these are childish things; already vanishing and soon to be completely put away by the general and swift advance, moral as well as material, of the Republic.



Montevideo, the first discovered point of the River Plate countries, is also the first stopping-place for passenger boats from Europe; and if the traveller from thence be in no immediate hurry to reach Buenos Aires he might do much worse than spend, say a week, in the clean, cool, pleasant capital of La Republica de la Banda Oriental del Uruguay.

Leaving his baggage to be sent for later, he will walk, or take a convenient tram, from the harbour up the fairly steep incline of a narrow street and find himself at a corner of the ancient Plaza of the City; the Plaza with History represented on two of its sides, to his right and left respectively, by the Cathedral and the old Congress buildings. Facing him, he will see modernity embodied in the palatial Club Uruguayo, while immediately on his left hand, at his back, is a little front door and staircase leading to the comfortable and hospitable English club.

The middle of the square is occupied by fine subtropical and other plants surrounding a band-stand from which very sweet music indeed proceeds at night in the summer-time; which, including Spring and Autumn, lasts for nine months of the year.

Afterwards, he will find his way to the Plaza Independencia on one side of which is Government House, and almost behind which is Montevideo’s Opera House, the Soler Theatre. Later he can visit Pocitos, Ramirez and other delightful, white-sanded bathing beaches, with which Montevideo[80] abounds; for this city on a hill occupies a small peninsula which juts out just where the estuary of the River merges into the Atlantic Ocean.

All the streets leading from three sides of the old Plaza go downhill to the sea; and up one parallel set or another of them comes a fresh breeze at all times of the day and night and at all seasons of the year. One seldom or never suffers in Montevideo from the stifling oppression sometimes so painful in the dog-days of Buenos Aires.

With so many natural advantages, it can be readily understood that Montevideo has an ambition and that that ambition should be to become the seaside resort of South America.

Towards the realization of this desire the Government and the Municipality spare no expense at all commensurate with their means. Fine broad motor drives and promenades run, or are being constructed to run, all round the three water-bound sides which, by the test of school geographies, indicate a true peninsula.

Gaily striped bathing tents can be hired by the hour, day, week or season on what have just been said to be delightful soft, warm, sandy beaches. To come out of the water and roll oneself dry in this fine clean sand is an experience not to be missed and certainly to be remembered, apart from its proclaimed virtues as a sovereign cure for rheumatism.

That malady must, however, surely be an imported article; one does not naturally associate it with the bright dry climate of Montevideo.

Municipal bands, good operatic and dramatic companies are added lures for holiday-makers of the wealthier class from neighbouring Republics; while Montevideo sustains the ancient custom of keeping carnival, masked and with illuminations, flower-throwing and costumed corsos, in a fashion which entirely throws into the shade the now moribund carnival of Buenos Aires.


At Montevideo, all is done to please and nothing to annoy,[81] so that the throwing of water which was a leading feature of the old-time carnival is now strictly prohibited by authority enforced by the police; as is also the case in Buenos Aires.

Thousands of people cross each year from Buenos Aires for the Montevideo carnival, the whole available fleet of the company which runs luxurious boats between the two cities are pressed into the service of this occasion and become floating hotels; the normal hotel accommodation of Montevideo being insufficient to meet such an influx of visitors during these few days.

By the way, the origin of this fine steamboat service is an interesting example of the progress made by the two countries and the fortunes which have been amassed in them during existing lifetimes.

Before the building of the present dock system of Buenos Aires, one of the boatmen who used to land and embark passengers from or on the ocean-going ships was a man named Nicolas Mihanovich; evidently a very level-headed and at that time at least, a very frugal and saving person indeed.

With his row-boat he gained sufficient to enable him to purchase a sailing vessel which he used for regular traffic to and fro across the broad mouth of the River Plate. So, his enterprise grew; and only a very few years ago he turned his own private company into a public one with larger aims, in which latter company he nevertheless retains a very large interest. The one-time boatman is now a multi-millionaire. The present service leaves Buenos Aires, or Montevideo as the case may be, at about ten o’clock each evening and lands its passengers, after a good sleep in comfortable beds, on the other side at about seven o’clock the following morning.

Many are the true tales of fortunes amassed, sometimes one may almost say won, in Argentina, especially, within living memory.

Señor Santamarina, now deceased, left on his huge estate at[82] Tandíl, one of his many properties, the original two-wheeled high cart which was his only fortune when he commenced life as what in other countries would be called a transport rider. This cart is, or till recently was, preserved in a glass house erected specially by him to house and exhibit it to all visitors to the estancia.

Another history is that of a millionaire family whose immediate ancestor certainly won fortune by an astuteness which may or may not be considered commendable.

He rented a large—large even for the Argentina of those roomy days—tract of land from a man who foresaw wealth in tree-planting. The latter was right; but his personal calculations did not, as will be seen, turn out as he had planned. He made it a condition that not less than a certain number of trees should be planted on the land within the period of the lease, and that for every tree above that number planted he should, on the termination of the lease, pay the sum of $1 to the outgoing tenant.

The wily lessee immediately set to work to plant trees as fast as ever he could, and at the expiration of his lease had millions of them, over and above the stipulated number, to show for his pains. The unfortunate lessor could not pay so many million dollars, and to end the affair was glad to let his former lessee have full freehold possession of the land and so call quits.

That land, still in the possession of the original lessee’s family, is worth a huge fortune to-day, and its produce represents a very large income indeed—forestry apart.

And now, as these stories have taken us to Argentina, the reader may as well prepare to follow them by embarking on one of the “Mihanovich” boats; as they still are and probably always will be called, in spite of the longer name of the new company, and find himself in Buenos Aires next morning.

By leaving his baggage for further consideration, as he did at Montevideo, he can go on foot in about five minutes from[83] the landing-place across the gardens of the Paseo de Julio, which name is a first reminiscence of the birth of the Republic, round one or the other side of the “Casa Rosada” or pink-coloured Government House, and find himself immediately in the Plaza Victoria with on his right the Stock Exchange lying between the Calles 25 de Mayo and San Martin—further reminiscences of the wars of Liberty. Keeping his back towards the Casa Rosada, he will look straight up the broad Avenida de Mayo with the historic old Cabildo or Town Hall on the left corner of the commencement of the avenue and the fine new Municipality opposite.

At the far end of the avenue rises the splendid edifice of the new Congress Building, the “Palace of Gold” as it is called in quasi-humorous reference to its costliness. This is, however, not a new joke. Formerly it was applied to the Casa Rosada, now become a comparatively humble edifice. Besides, if an Argentine calls one’s attention to the scandalous cost of a public monument or building, it does not necessarily mean that he is really so very angry about it. On the contrary, it may well be that he is proud of belonging to a Nation which can bravely bear such expenditure.

Under the Avenida de Mayo is the “tube” which runs from the Once station (which is situate on the western side of the town and is the terminus of the Buenos Aires Western Railway) to the Docks. The Once marks the point of departure of the first six miles of Railway built on the River Plate.

The new-comer will at once notice that the City of Buenos Aires is laid out on the chessboard pattern with its streets running North and South and East and West, a variation of the pattern being now introduced by the new diagonal avenues converging towards the Plaza Victoria, in course of construction.

Along almost every street, except Calle Florida, the Avenida de Mayo, and the diagonal avenues, runs a tramline on which the cars all go in one direction in one street and in[84] the contrary direction in the next and so on. Ten cents is the fare for a single journey anywhere within the length or breadth of the Federal Capital, but one cannot take tickets entitling one to any change of car; and for that one must buy another ten cents ticket.

This matter of change of car may have been overlooked by the Municipality when the concession was granted to the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company, of which concession the universal 10 cent fare was a sine qua non condition; perhaps, on the other hand, the Company stuck out on that point. Anyhow, if one wishes to get full value for his 10 cents on a Buenos Aires tramline he must stick to the car in which he has begun his ride. By doing so, he can often take a long round trip and come back to his point of departure. This observation also applies to the Tramways in Montevideo, but there, with due knowledge and careful selection, one can practically get all over the place, without changing; owing to the more erratic routes taken by the lines.

For a variety of reasons, the Buenos Aires Tramway system is considered by authorities on such matters to be the best in the world. It is mostly in the hands of the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company.

Another company is the Lacroze, a private company largely interested also in the Buenos Aires Central Railway. Its trams run through the Capital and to the Western suburban districts.

A third company runs trams out of the Capital to the Southern Suburban districts.

It may here be said that a good supply of taxi-cabs is to be found both in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

One advantage, suggested by the mention of taxi-cabs, of visiting Montevideo before Buenos Aires, is that that way one feels richer after the journey between the two than one would if the itinerary had been reversed.


Living is not cheap in Buenos Aires, but its cost is a relief[85] after a sojourn in the Uruguayan Capital; though expense there is again as nothing if one has experienced that of Rio de Janeiro, the dearest place, probably, in the whole world, and the one in which, scenery apart, one gets as little satisfaction for one’s money as anywhere.

In Montevideo one has, it is true, plenty of satisfaction of a quiet, pleasant kind, but those (actually, although founded on a firm gold basis) paper dollars—only four of them and 70 cents worth of mixed change for a British Sovereign—melt quickly into inappreciable small silver and nickel; none of which seems to be worth much, though a 50-cent bit is really worth more than a British florin. For exchange purposes that is; in its native land its purchasing power is strikingly small. After Montevideo, there is some satisfaction about the feel of the bundle of Argentine paper dollars one gets for one’s Uruguayan money. And in Buenos Aires several quite useful things can be got for $1, National (paper) money. Although the purchasing power of this last (its exchange value is 1s. 8¾d.) is not that of one shilling in England.

In neither country does one often see an actual gold coin, in Argentina practically never in ordinary everyday life; most of the gold against which the current paper is issued going, as will be seen in the Chapter on Finance and Commerce, into the “Conversion” strong rooms and staying there.

The passion for amusement must indeed be overpowering in anyone who is not satisfied with what Buenos Aires provides of all kinds in that regard. Two Opera Houses, the older one, stately and comfortable in its interior arrangements, and the new Municipal Opera House, the Colon Theatre, gorgeous in velvet and marble; and powdered, gold-mace bearing lackeys to bow one in at its wide portals.

Great is the rivalry between these two houses to secure the best stars and companies; and between them they certainly get the best that Europe can provide. In some[86] cases they have anticipated Europe, notably in the instances of Caruso and Maria Gay, both of whom appeared in Buenos Aires before Europe had even heard of them. One feature is common to the policy of both Opera Houses, viz., a scale of charges for admission so high that it is impossible for anyone who wishes to be considered somebody not to have his or her box at one or both of them for the season.

After the Opera House comes, in degree of prestige, perhaps, the Odeon Theatre; most frequently devoted to the representation of classic or serious drama. After it come many theatres; the finest among them being the Coliseo in which good companies, chiefly Italian, give first-rate performances of every kind from Grand Guignol to Light Opera. After these, again, come the purely Argentine Theatres; in which drama and comedy faithfully reflecting the true native life are performed.

Such performances should not be missed (as they too often are because they are not fashionable in a country where fashion’s favour is almost exclusively bestowed on imported wares) by anyone having sufficient Argentine Spanish to appreciate the purport and point of their dialogue; which, in true Argentine fashion, includes a liberal use of words and phrases capable of double meanings.

Brilliantly lighted, sumptuously panelled and upholstered cafés with tables spreading over the pavement outside them, tend to keep life in Buenos Aires awake till the wee sma’ hours begin to grow large.

“See Naples and die” runs the Neapolitan saying. “See Buenos Aires and stop there as long as you can” is likely to prove acceptable advice to anyone with a taste for easy gaiety and with a disposition for not doing to-day anything of an irksome or disagreeable nature which can possibly be put off till the morrow. Much native encouragement will be afforded him to postpone it till the Greek Kalends; and then to change his mind about doing it at all.


Till the morrow’s sun shines, that is. Then he will see the[87] City, which overnight he may have thought wholly absorbed by pleasure-seeking, transformed into a quick-moving, alert commercial centre. Surely the Argentine when in Buenos Aires burns his candle at both ends. The well-to-do have, however, their Estancias on which to vary town life with mentally restful, if often physically laborious, days spent in superintending their agricultural interests.

Fine-looking new buildings are ever springing up in Buenos Aires with such surprising suddenness and rapidity as to render any description of the chief edifices of that city out of date almost before it can get into print. Even the palatial home of the Jockey Club, renowned as the most splendidly luxurious Club House in the world, is soon to be abandoned by its members for another more gorgeously wonderful still.

One leaves the City for a few weeks in the Camp wondering what the former will look like on one’s return.

That is one did, until very recently. Just now, the War has called a temporary halt in the commencement of many projected building operations.

One cannot, however, leave Buenos Aires without mention of the beautiful, park-like suburb of Palermo; with the broad Avenida de Alvear leading from the northern part of the City to it. It may here be observed that fashion has not travelled westward in Buenos Aires; the Northern parts of the City being the most fashionable and adorned with the most palatial new dwellings.

A wide palm-bordered avenue leads to others winding round grassy spaces in which backwaters of the Tigre River glint under overhanging trees; amid all of which is a great restaurant, after the fashion of those in the Parisian Bois de Boulogne.

That restaurant is, to the author’s mind, the one great tawdry blot on the picture; but it is only fair to add that every afternoon and evening, during a long season, it is crowded with gaily dressed people who all seem happy and[88] vociferously contented with the refreshments and music it provides.

The Palermo Avenue is the fashionable drive, the Corso of the Élite of Buenos Aires Society; and also of others desirous of attracting attention to their equipages and themselves. Everyone the aspirant to social distinction ought—and ought not—to know is to be seen at Palermo on a fine late afternoon or evening in Spring. In Summer most of them are, naturally, at Mar-del-Plata.

Adjoining the Park is the Palermo race-course, over which the Jockey Club rules absolute. It should be added that the Buenos Aires Jockey Club is not only an association of racing men, but is in reality the hub of social intercourse in Buenos Aires.

Its large and small dining-rooms are available to members, and even to very distinguished strangers, for private dinners; which are exquisitely cooked and served by the numerous and highly expert staff of the Club.

In fact the Jockey Club is a very influential body indeed; quite apart from racing matters.

There can be no manner of doubt that the gambling element in racing is far too popular in Buenos Aires. There is a race meeting on every day in the week, Sundays, of course, included, during a season which lasts nearly all the year round. And these meetings are thronged by youths and other people who most certainly should be, and would much better be, at work.

Whatever may be thought of the system of weekly National Lotteries (these are at least carried on with unimpeachable fairness and 10% of the amounts subscribed to them, in payment for tickets, goes, after paying working expenses, printing, etc., to charity) the totalizer appeals far too sympathetically to the Latin-American natural love of gambling; and that love, as always in a new country where so many fortunes seem to have had their origin in luck, has developed dangerously on the right bank of the River Plate.


Close also to Palermo Park is the scene of the annual Agricultural and Live Stock Show; now a world-renowned Exhibition of as fine cattle and sheep as can be seen anywhere. Horses and Poultry also are splendidly represented at this show; which is perhaps the greatest event in the Argentine Calendar.

Further out from the city, past and beyond Palermo, is Hurlingham; an ever-enlarging group of English red-brick villas inhabited for the most part by English people. These villas surround the ample grounds of the Hurlingham Club, where polo and riding and driving competitions, etc., follow the lines of its English prototype. The Club house is comfortable, the food good, and a huge swimming bath is among its many undoubted attractions. It also has a drag hunt.

Further out again are beautiful reaches of the Tigre River, famous for boating; and on which an annual regatta, the Henley of South America, is held.

The Avenida de Alvear, above referred to, runs through the most fashionable residential quarter of Buenos Aires, a quarter filled with veritable huge palaces which with their gardens surround the Recoleta, the fashionable cemetery. A strange city of the dead in which the coffins are seen on shelves contained in small plate-glass fronted temples, so that all may view the last outward casings of generations.

On “The Day of the Dead” (All Saints’ Day) the Recoleta is a blaze of beautiful wreaths and floral tributes; afterwards too often replaced, alas, by ugly contrivances in porcelain or, worse still, enamelled iron.

Returning to Buenos Aires proper one must not, cannot, forget Calle Florida, “The Bond Street of the South.” So called because in it are situate most of the finest shops in South America for the sale of what are sometimes officially described as articles of luxury; wearing apparel of the best and costliest, for both sexes, jewellery, stationery, etc. It is, in fact, to Buenos Aires all Bond Street once was, and old Bond Street to some extent still is, to London.


Needless, almost, to say, Florida deals exclusively in imported goods and a very great majority of its shopkeepers are foreigners; among whom the purveyors of “Modes,” “Robes” and “Lingerie” are, naturally, mostly French.

No vehicular traffic whatever is now allowed in Calle Florida between certain hours of the afternoon; in order not to incommode the throngs of fashionable shoppers with whom it is usually crowded. It is the only street in which Argentine ladies of high degree are to be seen on foot. In bygone and less crowded times it was the scene of the afternoon Corso; when play was made with fans and gallants ogled from the edges of the pavement.

There is at present still a lack of Hotel accommodation suitable for Europeans of moderate means. There are great numbers of Hotels in Buenos Aires, but the good ones are very expensive while the cheaper ones are not very good. That is to say, one must have got accustomed to the South American haphazard fashion of service and general arrangements before being able to regard the latter as in any way comfortable. Montevideo is still worse off; having few Hotels which can be regarded as good (though there are one or two), while prices, as in everything else, run higher than in Buenos Aires.

A word must be said in defence of the latter City against a prevailing impression, created, goodness knows how, of its intense immorality. This charge simply is not true. Buenos Aires is no more immoral than and certainly not as vicious as are most European Capitals.

True, it is not in South American human nature to be puritanical but the lower classes in Argentina and Uruguay are but non-moral, to use a somewhat fashionable term, with the non-morality of grown-up children, which they are. They have not the faintest idea of the vice which abounds in the great cities of the Northern Hemisphere. Montevideo is more staid than cosmopolitan Buenos Aires; even at Carnival time the former City seems to take its merrymaking[91] seriously. Any real vice which can be found in either Capital is an imported article.

If among the lower classes of both countries the whole advantages of the marriage ceremony seem not to be duly appreciated, this is due, in the vast majority of cases, to motives of economy. A religious marriage service is a costly item in the equipment of a young couple, and a purely civil ceremony is even less favourably looked on by neighbours than a postponement of any ceremony at all. Later, such couples usually do marry with due pomp and circumstance, including the invitation of all and sundry to the humble wedding feast. After that, all is in order in the case of the death of the husband and father; for marriage legitimatizes previously born children. Indeed, the writer was once present at a fiesta in a rural district, not forty minutes’ run by train from the City of Buenos Aires, organized to honour the occasion of the visit of a Priest who in a very short space of time married the parents and christened a whole batch of their children.

An old custom still chiefly prevailing among the humbler classes, both urban and rural, is one which may be called the “waking” of the dead. The news of a bereavement spreads quickly among neighbours; who do not wait to be invited but arrive, in groups organized extemporaneously by themselves, at the house of mourning. There, one of such groups succeeds another, and so on throughout the night after a death; sitting silently and only moving to partake of the necessary refreshment provided in view of their sure coming.

As in most other countries where modernity has not yet suppressed all local colour with its neutral tints, the lower classes in both Argentina and Uruguay are much the most interesting. The free-and-easy Bohemian sort of life in a conventillo[16] is curious. In each of its many rooms lives a family, while the court is common to all for cooking (a[92] charcoal brazier usually stands at the side of each door), washing of clothes and, last but not least, the discussion of mate and gossip. All sorts of people dwell in a single conventillo, artisans, hawkers, washerwomen, milliners, factory hands, poor employees, etc. etc., and all group themselves in the common courtyard of an evening when work is done, frequently to the music of a guitar.

The upper classes, on the other hand, strive chiefly to reflect the latest moods of European fashion in general and of that of Paris in particular—even, since the War, to the extent of making retrenchment in living expenses the fashion. A fashion which, if it last, will not be the least of the good which has come to Argentina from the European upheaval which has forced the River Plate countries to learn to rely on their own resources and individual efforts. Gone, already, are the battalions of motor-cars of very latest pattern with which every wealthy Argentine family has hitherto thought it necessary to its dignity to be provided—one each for father, mother and each son and daughter—economy is now “De Moda” and ostentation therefore become old-fashioned and bad taste. An immense change to have taken place, as it did, in the course of only a few months.

Montevideo had no need of such a volte face of habit. Uruguayans never developed the love of display so characteristic of Argentine aristocracy.

With its some 1½ million inhabitants, Buenos Aires has the largest population of any Capital City in America. Montevideo, with some 400,000 inhabitants, surpasses Washington in this respect.



Owing to their dependence on the Northern Hemisphere for the Capital necessary for the continuance of their development, the River Plate countries, and South American countries generally, are as a barometer, and an extremely sensitive one, in regard to the conditions of the Money markets of the Older World.

Thus already in 1913, the fear of Balkan complications in both Argentina and Uruguay was represented by a general fall in what previously may have been somewhat inflated, or at least too anticipatory, land values.

This fall, coupled with and increased by relatively bad harvests, marked the commencement of rather bad times in both Republics. In this regard it may be well to say that comparatively bad times come easily and swiftly on a country like Argentina, the prosperity of which depends very largely indeed on its cereal production and in which landowners and agriculturists from the largest Estanciero to the smallest Chacrero have long been encouraged by Nature to regard each coming year as inevitably more prosperous than its predecessor. The result of this optimism, usually justified by the event, is that when any set-back, caused, say, by late frosts or early rains, such as farmers in less favoured lands would take as an ordinary risk of their occupation, does occur, the streets of Buenos Aires are immediately filled with men with long faces running to the Banks and anxiously discussing the ruin which, apparently, seems to them to be staring them in the face, notwithstanding[94] that most of them must often have been through similar “crises” before.

One need only go “on ’Change” to be almost convinced that the whole vaunted prosperity of the Republic is tumbling about its ears. Even newspapers, which, by this time at least, ought to know better, join in the panic cry.

At such times people possessed of Capital and common sense make good investments; the Banks tide everyone else over quite comfortably enough not to interfere with the socially obligatory summer gathering at Mar-del-Plata; the following harvest is a bumper; and all is well again in the best and sunniest of all possible Republics.

That is the usual course of happenings after inferior harvests but, as is easy to imagine, the present situation is as unique in South America as it is in all other parts of the world. On the River Plate, indeed, it was, if one may be permitted the expression, aggravated by anticipation consequent on the (almost miraculous for these countries) following of yet another rainy harvest-time.

On the top of all came August with its declarations of European War, the first result of which in the River Plate Republics was intimate realization of the extent to which they had been dependent on Europe since the commencement of their real commercial development.

They were thrown entirely on their own resources and ability with no chance of any immediate help from outside.

It is to the credit of both Republics that they rose to the situation. Seven days of Bank Holiday were at once proclaimed in Argentina; during which time the Ministry of Finance and other Government departments were loyally assisted by both native and foreign bankers and financiers to devise necessary measures.

In the result Laws were summarily passed by Congress to prevent all exportation of gold; outgoing ships might only take with them sufficient coal to last them till they reached the next port in South America (Argentina and Uruguay as[95] yet produce no practically valuable coal, so that they are dependent on import for their stocks of this fuel), and provision was made that cereal exports should be limited to the surplus of such produce after the retention of a liberal allowance for home consumption until the next harvests.

Uruguay adopted similar protective measures.

So far so good, but the Argentine Banks, generally, were faced with the necessity for immediate decision under conditions which, unfortunately, are all too frequently recurrent in rapidly progressing countries. Many of the securities held by them were obviously not worth the value that they had been taken for, in consequence of the previous shrinkage of values above alluded to.

This was a momentous matter for consideration during the seven days’ Bank holiday.

In the result, all Banks adopted the policy of cutting losses even at the risk, amounting to extreme likelihood, of letting their weaker customers drown,[17] while mercy was only extended to those evidently strong enough to keep afloat throughout the crisis and its after effects.

This decision taken, and enforced on the reopening of the Banks, scarcely any credit establishment took any advantage of the Moratorium declared by the Government.

In Uruguay the situation proved easier on account of a comparative absence of the complication of securities based on inflated values. Here again the Uruguayan showed his superiority in the matter of cautiously prudent finance over his more enthusiastically volatile over-river cousin.

This observation notwithstanding, it is now clear that although a severe financial pinch is still felt in both countries, the Argentine and Uruguayan ships of State are both fully trimmed to enable them to ride over bad financial weather,[96] the first shock of which was the most perilous to meet and needed the most prompt and intelligent handling.

In the result neither country will eventually be any worse for the moral effects of having suddenly been left to its own resources.

Meanwhile land, especially, perhaps, in Argentina, offers an opportunity to Capital such as, as has been said elsewhere in these pages, everyone for humanitarian reasons must hope will never occur again.

Given knowledge of just where and what to buy, large fortunes await those with courage and capital to purchase either town lots or agricultural and pastoral land in either Republic; in Argentina preferably for earlier realization.

Once peace is declared, and even before, it needs little imagination to perceive the wealth to be secured by the agricultural and live-stock produce on markets suddenly deprived of much of the usual output of sources of cereal supply as Russia and Canada, through withdrawal of labour for military purposes, and faced with an enormously increased demand for meat and grain caused by the necessary shortage of production over all War-infected areas.

In fact Argentina and Uruguay are likely soon to experience the truth of the proverb, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” and they are among the very few countries of the world about the commercial conditions of which, after the war, it is pretty safe to prophesy in the direction of a prompt return, in an enhanced degree, to their normal course of ever-growing prosperity.

Always with the factor of population and consequent sufficiency of agricultural labour being reserved for consideration after the event. A large and very serious reservation which cannot safely be lost sight of by anyone desirous of land speculation in either of the two countries under discussion.

Let the reader pardon this recurrent insistence on this question of population, made in the hope that it may help to open the eyes of the Authorities concerned, especially[97] Argentine, to the crying necessity in their country’s interests for practically workable inducements to true colonization, as distinguished from mere partial exploitation of necessitous wage-earners. And the eyes not only of the Authorities, but of everyone having a pecuniary interest of any sort in either Republic, so that their Congresses and landowners may be forced to consider the question in the liberal and enlightened spirit which alone can remove the greatest menace to their country’s economic progress.

If the two Governments and great landowners would only devote one-tenth part of the admirable ingenuity and energy with which they, and the Argentine especially, have very successfully combated locust invasions to the attraction of small-holding proprietary agriculturalists, the River Plate Territories would soon break into an irruption of statues of the originators of such measures which would outrival the vast quantity of those erected to the memories of Generals San Martin, Artígas and Urquíza. (One could travel far in Argentina without discovering a town which does not possess a statue of the first-named deliverer of his country. Uruguay has also many San Martin statues, but runs preferably, as is natural, to Urquíza and, lately, in consequence of the whitewashing efforts of modern historians, Artígas.)

In view of the actual situation, financial and commercial statistics relating to the ante-war era necessarily seem to savour mustily of the back-number. This savour is, however, more due to imagination than to actual fact, since such statistics are just as interesting as ever they were and really show the normal trend of things economic to be resumed and likely to be followed in even a more favourable course, as far at least as Export is concerned. As for the Import of manufactured goods an attempt to deal with some of the probabilities or possibilities of this question in its future aspects is made later in this chapter.



The “Caja de Conversión” (A term for which “Conversion Chest” is the usual clumsy translation, though “Conversion Box” stands as a triumph of the translator’s art. Perhaps “Conversion Office” sounds best, though it does not convey a true idea of vaults filled with sacks of golden coin and therefore “Conversion Bank” is here preferred) is an Argentine Government Institution under the control of the National Ministry of Finance created for the purpose of dealing with the issue, exchange, and conversion of the currency of the country. It issues the paper currency and must hold in reserve sufficient gold to meet the circulating paper money; it also mints the nickel and copper coinage of the country.

Under the Conversion Law a fixed ratio was assigned as between gold and paper. A paper dollar, instead of being theoretically equivalent in value to a gold dollar, was declared to be worth only 44 cents gold; thus with 44 cents gold as the fixed equivalent of one dollar paper and, conversely, 2·27 paper dollars that of one dollar gold, and the smallest gold coin minted the equivalent of 2½ dollars gold, the use of paper in all the odd amounts of everyday transactions is inevitable and consequently the major portion of the gold which reaches the country is forced by the public need of the more convenient currency into the “Caja de Conversión.”

The accumulation of gold in the “Caja” on December 31st, 1915, was well over 61 millions sterling, and it must be noted that these accumulations cannot leave the “Caja” under any consideration (unless by special sanction of Congress), except in exchange for paper currency, until the time when the currency shall be placed on a logically complete metallic basis. The provisions of the Conversion Law in this regard are exceptionally stringent; under them every official of the “Caja,” from the highest to the lowest,[99] is personally responsible for their observance, and they cannot be overruled by any power in the land. So, until Congress approves what is commonly referred to as the conversion, the store of gold in the “Caja” will continue practically intact and will increase.

The misuse of this term “Conversion” has given rise to much confusion of ideas, even in Argentina. The actual conversion took place with the above-mentioned assignment of the fixed ratio of value between gold and paper.

It is obvious that the present is not the moment for the change in the form of the currency, but it should be added that apart from the immediate effects of the war the time for that change has not yet arrived. Irresponsible projects for the change have been put forward from time to time during recent years, but official declarations in that regard have never yet gone further than complacent platitudes to the effect that the time for it was fast approaching; without, however, the faintest indications of any schemes for carrying the change out in practice. Besides, under the Law it cannot be accomplished until a fund or deposit in the Bank of the Nation, and to which the National Government makes contributions out of revenue, has reached the amount necessary to form a reserve against the paper currency in circulation prior to the passing of the Conversion Law. For a long while past, the amount of that fund stood at six millions sterling, but this amount (then still insufficient for such reserve) became reduced in August last to two millions sterling in consequence of special financial measures adopted by the Argentine Government at the outbreak of the war and referred to more fully in the chapter on “The War.”

On the 31st of December, 1914, the Argentine Government held gold accumulations to the value in round figures of 63 millions sterling, of which, as has been seen, 2 millions pertain to the Conversion Fund at the Bank of the Nation. This fund must not be confused with the amounts in the “Caja,” the uses of the former (apart from its constituting, as[100] has been said, a reserve against the paper currency in circulation previously to the passing of the Conversion Law) being limited to the purposes of foreign exchange, the benefit of the Fund itself and to aid the control of the market; while the accumulations in the “Caja” can only, in normal circumstances, leave it in exchange for paper currency.

Besides the actual gold in the “Caja” this Institution held at the end of 1915 gold and bonds to the value of over 14 millions sterling which had been deposited at the various Argentine Legations. These deposits have naturally increased largely since. Besides all this the Bank of the Nation, the Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires and the private banks held large amounts of gold.

Uruguay has not introduced, and has always resisted the temptation to introduce, any such complications of her currency; which is on a thorough gold basis.

The Argentine Conversion Law was passed in 1899 and abrogated in 1901-2 by Congress (in consequence of the anticipation of possible war with Chile, over the frontier question, the payment by the Nation of Provincial debts and the closing of Argentine ports because of an outbreak of bubonic plague).

Therefore the present solid financial status of the Argentine Republic dates from only twelve, or, on the most liberal reckoning, fifteen years ago.

Uruguay’s first surplus (of $453,110) accrued in 1905-6; though an increased surplus has figured in each Uruguayan National Budget since that date.

Equivalent Values.
Argentine $1, gold = 3s. 11½d.
$1, paper = 1s. 8¾d.
Uruguayan $1 = 4s. 3⅟₁₆d. ($1·3½ cents U.S.A.).
£1 = $5·05 gold, Argentine.
£1 = $11·45 paper, Argentine.
£1 = $4·70, Uruguayan.



Is controlled by the Conversion law, above referred to, which fixed a ratio between the value of the paper and gold currencies and made these interchangeable at that ratio until the time should be judged to have arrived for the substitution of metallic coinage for paper.

The law was passed as the only available though drastic remedy for the state of financial chaos, nothing less, in which Argentina found herself for some years after the crisis of 1891. For the coming of this chaos Argentines blame the European Bankers who, at least, looked on whilst the country floundered into it. For this view they have considerable reason. The Bankers were men of great experience in Finance; of which the Argentines of that day had little or none. Argentina relied on the men who had taken her Finances in hand for the development of her vast natural resources. She awoke to find herself in a financial condition which would have spelt a century of ruin to any less nature-favoured land. And it was an Argentine, Señor Ricardo Pillado, now Director-General of the Division of Commerce and Industry in the Ministry of Agriculture, who devised the Law which, though it in effect involved a partial repudiation of the country’s liabilities, at any rate made possible the financial renaissance on which her present great prosperity was founded.

As has been seen, the Conversion Law said that a paper dollar should be equivalent to 44 cents gold and that conversely a gold dollar should be worth 2·27 paper dollars. This ratio was supposed to have been fixed by taking the average ratio of value between paper and gold over a certain period immediately prior to the passing of the Law.

This basis is now believed to have been fictitious, it being found that, had such an average of values been struck, a paper dollar would have become the equivalent to something much more like 60 cents gold. So that in fact a repudiation[102] of 40 cents liability on every paper dollar in circulation was made to become one of 56 cents.

That, however, is past history; and the existing Law appears likely to remain in operation for an indefinite time to come.

It has its inconveniences. Institutions and traders are obliged by Law to keep their books in both currencies. There is no gold coin available as an equivalent to 1 paper dollar. One needs to have a clear 50 dollars’ worth of notes before one can get gold out of the Conversion Bank; so that all transactions involving odd amounts must be carried through with the aid of paper. In point of fact gold is only seen in the course of important transactions. Still, the gold is there, in the country, in the Conversion Bank; and cannot be withdrawn from the coffers of that Institution except as against paper dollars, nor can paper dollars be issued except as against gold actually in the Conversion Bank. For the absolutely strict observance of these rules everyone concerned, from the President of the Republic down to the humblest employee of the Caja is personally responsible under the law. By the operation of the law the Republic holds a usually ever-increasing stock of gold; the accumulation of which is aided by the inconvenience for practical exchange of the figures ·44 and 2·27.

There is no doubt but that the object which the framers of the Conversion Law originally had in view, the rehabilitation of the country’s Finance and credit, has been fulfilled long ago; and it is for other reasons that Foreign Capitalists and Banks, to whom Argentina must still look for the means of her fuller development, prefer to let the dual monetary system, with its several practical inconveniences, continue instead of encouraging Congress to declare the purpose of the Law fulfilled, by which declaration it would, by its terms, lapse ipso facto. On that happening there would be a period, momentary only, in all probability, but still a period, during which the coffers of the Conversion Bank would be open[103] through the automatic lapse of the Law of its creation. And Capitalists and Bankers, grown very prudent indeed in their generation, prefer that those coffers should remain closed and safeguarded as they are; even at the cost of some few extra clerks to cope with a system which otherwise works very satisfactorily.

Shin-plasters, as the paper dollars are called by Anglo-Argentines, fulfil all the purposes of daily life as well as would silver or other metallic tokens. Paper dollars, guaranteed by gold, have also other advantages over a metal coinage which might not be so fully guaranteed.

Therefore the Conversion Law remains a live letter on the Argentine Statute Book.

It is, however, a vulgar error to refer to the time when other tokens might be substituted for paper as the time for “Conversion.” Conversion really took place with the coming into operation of the law which converted a fluctuating ratio into a fixed one.

The speculation in gold, referred to elsewhere, which had attained disastrous dimensions just prior to the passing of the Law, was another evil to which that Law put an end. Then as now all everyday transactions were carried out in paper; but, then, no man could tell from hour to hour what the paper he held was worth. Everyone was by force of circumstances practically a gambler whether he wished to be one or not. The paper tokens for which he had sold his wares one day might be worth much more or less the next. Everyone had to make his own forecast of probabilities before he could make or give a price for anything; and therefore became a constant speculator, a gambler in futures, in fact. The bad moral effects of such a state of things is obvious. Many other financial evils were rife at this time, which now have only historic interest, among them may be mentioned the Banks of Issue for which authority appears practically to have been given by the State to anyone able to procure and furnish offices. Stacks of the notes of these precious[104] Institutions still occupy space as curious lumber somewhere in the cellars and garrets of Government House. Valueless and best forgotten by a prosperous and enlightened nation which no longer needs any such awful examples to deter it from lapse into irregular finance.

Uruguay has a gold, silver and nickel coinage, but, as in Argentina, notes are the most common tokens, especially for amounts of $1 and upwards. As will have been understood, Uruguay has no Caja de Conversión, her currency being and always having been on a direct gold basis.


One of the immediately world-wide effects of the great War has been the practically total elimination of German trade competition, an elimination which may not unreasonably be calculated to last for some time to come.

This therefore is the golden opportunity for other competitors to capture the large bulk of export trade which had gradually been absorbed and was in course of constantly increasing absorption in the countries under discussion by German firms.

Many Consular Reports and publications of the “Bureau of American Republics” have respectively dealt with the consequent loss of trade to Great Britain and the comparatively slow advance in that respect made by the United States and these documents have insistently pointed out the whys and wherefores of German commercial success over their chief rivals.

The writer cannot therefore lay claim to originality in the present observations, but does claim that his persistence in the reiteration of what he, and many greater than he, have continually urged on every possible occasion during the past decade has been and is in what appears to him to be the best interests of those most concerned.

Of the two nations the British still has the better opportunity to extend its commerce in both Argentina and[105] Uruguay. The reasons (apart from the actual kaleidoscopic financial and industrial situation) for this opinion are that the English (as all people hailing from the British Isles are commonly called in South America) have already acquired in both countries a firm reputation for straightforward dealing, founded on many years’ experience and untainted by any suspicion of underlying political motives, whereas the South American Republics generally harbour a latent but constant resentment of what they rightly or wrongly consider to be the tendency of the United States to assume a dominating influence over both Americas. In fact to construe the Monroe doctrine as meaning, to cite the catch-phrase which to the innermost South American mind embodies something very closely resembling an unpleasant truth, “America for the North Americans.”

Therefore, pushing United States’ commerce is immediately met by a seemingly dull indifference to the merits of the wares it offers, praise it those wares never so loudly. And this observation suggests another of almost equal truth and importance, viz. that the loud and strenuous vaunting of an article and the hustling methods so much admired in the great Republic of the North are worse than useless in Spanish South America. “Why so much talk and so much hurry to strike a bargain if the thing is really good?” is the mental attitude of the average Spanish American towards the vociferous North American traveller who usually makes the further mistake of appearing to wish to teach his listener the latter’s own business. This, as has been said elsewhere in these pages, is a thing no Argentine or Uruguayan will stand. No one is a more severe critic of himself, his methods and Institutions, no one is most enamoured of progress and improvement than he. But he must be the discoverer and chooser of the remedies for his own defects, he and he alone must be the arbiter of his own destinies and set his own house in order. In such matters he will brook no interference. And least of all from the United States.


It is surprising that the commercial ability of the latter country should not long ago have discovered and acted in harmony with this feature of South American psychology. It seems, however, to have escaped appreciation by “Yankee” cuteness.

Accordingly, we find, in the present writer’s opinion, two existing obstacles (apart, as has been indicated above, from the present financial situation) to the extension of the trade of the United States in Argentina and Uruguay. One of these, the inappropriate method of approach usually pursued by travellers and the other a strong and jealous suspicion of the ulterior motives of the United States in endeavouring to strengthen her commercial foothold in the Southern Hemisphere. The first of these obstacles should be easily removable, unless, indeed, it be too firmly rooted in the North American mentality. The second is a matter for extremely delicate state diplomacy, and equally delicate behaviour of the United States’ delegates at each future “Congress of American Republics.”

Having thus glanced at seemingly obvious defects in United States methods we may turn to those of British manufacturers.

In their regard one can scarcely restrain the question, “Do they really want the South American trade at all?” Because, if they do, they set about getting it in the strangest possible ways. Their apparent attitude can be summed up by saying that they point-blank refuse to give a customer what he thinks he wants unless his ideas on that subject entirely coincide with what they think is best for themselves and, incidentally, it would seem, for him.

South American governments insist on the metrical system of weights and measures for Customs purposes: the British manufacturer persists in a firm refusal to contemplate anything but British Tons and Feet. This may seem a trifling matter to anyone not engaged in the Import trade of a metrical-system country, but in practice the rendering[107] of British weights and measures into their metrical equivalents involves not only a large amount of clerical labour, but is also a frequent source of error in the results.

A most actively patriotic Briton who is the head of a large Importing firm in Montevideo told the present writer not long ago that in spite of his patriotism he had been driven to deal with German firms because, for one reason, of the constant inflictions on him of $80 fines by the Customs Authorities, that sum being the statutory fine in Uruguay for any misstatement of weight or bulk on a declaration.

He, in common with the generality of Importers in Argentina or Uruguay, had found himself confronted by several very weighty reasons for necessarily transferring the bulk of his orders from British to German firms, the chief of which was that above summed up; namely, that British manufacturers would not adapt themselves to his customers’ requirements.

“We are making this, that, or the other pattern” of whatever the article in question may be, and “if you don’t like that you must go elsewhere” is the gist of the average British manufacturer’s last word in the discussion. And, as the Importer is not running a Commercial Museum of articles of the highest quality or best British taste, but has to sell what he imports to customers who have lamentably independent ideas of what they want, he does go elsewhere, that is to say he did, and, most frequently, to Germany. To Germany, where most things were at all events cheaper, and where, if qualities were not so good as in the United Kingdom, manufacturers were adaptable, and their travelling representatives spoke Spanish and understood the ways and wishes and even the foibles of South American customers.

As a rule, commercial travellers from either Great Britain or the United States do not speak anything like fluent Spanish. Therefore, they are obliged to engage interpreters to accompany them on their business calls, while they were quite unable to take advantage of the opportunities sought[108] for by their Spanish-speaking German competitors of mingling in the semi-social life of their customers. In the bar or restaurant the German traveller was a jolly good fellow always ready to pay his share of the wine bill and with his pockets filled with more than passable cigars and he could enjoy and respond to the local humour and generally take part in all the fun of a jovial evening-out; for which the Argentine, especially, is always ready and willing to find an excuse.

Now, doing persuasive business through an interpreter is by no means an invariably satisfactory proceeding, because the interpreter’s own mentality inevitably intervenes and unconsciously colours both sides of the argument with tinges of his own individuality. He says what he thinks you wish to say, and often enough replies with the best rendering he can make, not always an entirely accurate one, of what he conceives to be the meaning of the other party to the discussion. As for the evening-out! One has only to imagine the effects of a laborious translation of always very allusive wit; the point of which in Argentina most frequently hinges on double-meaning.

The German studied the language, and, as far as he could, the tastes and ways of the people of the country he intended visiting before he set out on his commercial travels.

Travellers of other nationalities should do likewise if they wish to secure a substantial share of the trade now left open to their bidding.[18]

And British manufacturers, if so be that (I repeat the question) they do want the South American markets for their goods, must make up their minds to suit the requirements of those markets whatever may be their own private opinion of South American tastes and ways. They must still remember that although German competition has ceased and may continue non-existent for even a very long time to come, and while Belgium is, for the time being, hopelessly crippled, there are other nations who desire to rise, and may succeed[109] in rising, to an occasion which, for the awful cause of it, one can only hope will never occur again.

It is a truly great opportunity for both British and United States Commerce, in which, as has been pointed out, the former has a very considerable start in the political and commercial sympathies and prejudices of South Americans. Nothing which British manufacturers cannot remedy appears to exist to prevent them from taking extremely profitable advantage of that start, not only for the recovery of lost ground, but for grasping a very large share of new openings. Will they? Do they really care enough about extending their businesses to do so?

That is the only question, and it is one which they alone can, and soon, we hope, must answer; one way or the other. If they do not want new business or wish that old business should come back to them, there is no more to be said. And no more grumbling to be indulged in about the proportionate falling back of British trade in South America.

It may be objected that the United States, the full manufacturing activities of which remain unimpaired by the withdrawal of labour for military purposes and the output of which is not absorbed to so great an extent as it is with us for war material, have for that reason already a great start of Great Britain in all foreign markets. To this objection I would reply that the time for the struggle for the Argentine and Uruguayan markets is hardly yet; because climatic accident still recently produced results which, coupled with the falling on them of the shadow of the Great Terror, suspended their purchasing power. Two very lean years of cereal production due to weather, the occurrence of two consecutive seasons of which is without parallel in these countries’ history, were followed by another perilously rainy harvest time complicated by shortage of harvest labour due to war risks, and imagined risks, of the transport of the usual army of Italian harvesters who (like the Golondrinas—swallows—after which they are nicknamed in South[110] America) annually go to Argentina and Uruguay[19] and return to Italy after the harvest has been got in. These causes temporarily paralysed Argentine and Uruguayan commercial activity by, as has been said, suspending the purchasing powers of both.

But with the productive recovery[20] of these countries with their enormous natural endowments and producing as they do all the foodstuffs that the populations of poor war-trampled Europe need most, what a call for all kinds of agricultural machinery will come from them in return for their meat and cereals and in order that more and more land may be laid under contribution for the production of these primarily necessary supplies! Failing other labour sources, an augmented stream of Italian “swallow” and permanent emigration will set out for the River Plate, wealth will develop on both shores of that river, and with wealth the demand for all the manufactured things to the desire for which wealth gives rise. Hardware, cutlery, cotton and woollen cloths, electrical appliances and material; the host of things which Britain makes and Germany once sold will come into increasing demand in South America with the spring of the new era on which the whole civilized world will enter when the blackness of devastation shall have passed and the evil which created it be rendered powerless for further ruinous crime.

Would that the millions of able-bodied men murdered by this war could have been utilized instead as an agricultural expeditionary force on the shores of the River Plate! They and their children and the world would have been the richer for their labour carried out under conditions as happy as their present, and for many (alas!) past, task is terrible. They would have supplied that in which Argentina and Uruguay are lacking, namely, the human element, for the[111] development of their natural resources. Countries in which vast areas of land yet await the plough for cereal cultivation and the improvement of their natural rough pasturage and other vast areas of rich alluvial soil need only irrigation to turn them into a terrestrial paradise.

Capital never is and never will be wanting for good investment, but the fund of human labour cannot be drawn upon by a mere signature. And the daily waste of thousands of lives for the full activity of which there is ample room and urgent need on behalf of the millions remaining is, sentiment apart and from a commercial point of view alone, the saddest thing in War.

Europe needs bread and meat not only to fulfil her normal needs but also to replace her own interrupted production of these prime necessities of life. The River Plate countries can produce both in practically unlimited quantities; provided only that they can obtain the necessary labour a ghastly wastage of which is going on daily in Europe, some parts of which are consequently threatened with famine.

Surely if civilization be anything but a mere theoretic expression there will never be another great war!

With this pious hope we may pass to a more concrete subject, namely, commercial credit on both sides of the River Plate.

As has been indicated in another chapter, Uruguay enjoys a more literally creditable reputation than her bigger sister. The causes of this have also been already dealt with.

In practice one can but advise anyone approached by firms in either country to do what it may be taken that any ordinarily prudent man of business would do, viz. to make due enquiry as to his proposed new customer. His means of doing this are really even better than if the latter were established in London or New York, since the commercial community in either Argentina or Uruguay is comparatively small and consequently, to use a current phrase, almost everyone there knows everyone else and a good deal about him and his business.


Several of the chief banks in Buenos Aires and Montevideo have their head offices in London and all have branches or accredited correspondents in the principal European and North American capitals and commercial centres.[21]

The wholesale importing houses in Argentina and Uruguay usually give ninety days’ acceptances for imported goods and in their turn give six months’ credit to their retail customers. This arrangement has now the sanction of long usage based on its practically being a division of the burden of credit given to the storekeeper by the Importer between the latter and the Exporter.

The system of banking in both Argentina and Uruguay differs little from that obtaining in England except for a certain amount of good single-name paper being taken on account of the usually intimate acquaintance with the business and standing of all leading firms possessed by the commercial community generally.

Rents and working expenses, including special traders’ taxes, in the Capitals of both Republics are high, but the scale of profits when calculated on anything like a reasonable turnover will in most cases be found to leave a balance in favour of both wholesale and retail traders which would be regarded as highly satisfactory by their European and North American brethren. In fact, it may fairly be said that if a man in either country does any appreciable bulk of business in any branch of commerce or trade he is doing what elsewhere would be considered as very good business indeed. When rumour assigns shakiness to any established firm it may be taken as certain that such rumour is founded on tales of speculation outside the lines on which that firm’s true business has been built up. There seems a temptation inherent in new countries for men who have earned money in businesses they understand to risk it in other speculations of which they have next door to no experience. This is, of[113] course, a phase of the “get rich quick” fever which frequently attacks the young inheritors of stable businesses which seem to them too slow and sure to be interesting or indeed to require much looking after.

At one time the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange was responsible for a large number of victims among all classes of the public, but of late years the public has fought very shy of it indeed; so shy in fact as now to be practically unrepresented in the share ring of that Institution. As a consequence of this abstention the few brokers and professional speculators who daily do what courtesy perhaps demands that one should call business there suggests the tale of the island the inhabitants of which lived simply by taking in each other’s washing.

Joking apart, however, the share ring in the Buenos Aires Temple of Mammon were best avoided by the uninitiate. In this ring there is always one, sometimes two (its strength does not run to more), media of pure speculation in course of manipulation by one speculative group or another. The names or nature of these media do not really seem to matter. They vary. Sometimes they may be the shares of the Dock Company of an inchoate Port, sometimes those of an Industrial Company with vague expectations. Indeed, vagueness which may be tinged by rumour and imagination with a hue dimly resembling that of impending rich surprise is almost essential to the initiation of this kind of gamble.

The shares are bulled out of all proportion to their even possible value for a little while and then no more is heard of them; and other very similar ones reign in their stead in the sensational place on the blackboard, on which all bargains during each day are chalked up as they are called out by the parties making them.

The end of these really stillborn booms is mystery. Who are the unfortunate last in? Strangers, doubtless, when there are any. But if there be none, as is the case more frequently than not? One hears vague talk of Paris and other European capitals and then silence for ever more.


Anyhow, the stranger, for whom this book is chiefly written, would, if he took a hand in any one of these games, soon find out that though he might see the price of the shares he had purchased mounting gaily up on the blackboard like mercury in the tropics he could never realize to any appreciable extent. Did he start to sell, then all the weak little bulls of whom his co-speculators would be composed, people to whom ten dollars a day one way or the other makes all the difference in their domestic budget, would rush to sell also out of sheer fright, and down would go the market on him like a guillotine. At the finish he would be left with a very large proportion of his probably not over-valuable holding; of which he would have little further news than notices regarding proposed reconstruction schemes, etc.

It must not, however, be imagined that the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange is by any means exclusively devoted to such work as that just indicated. On the contrary, many Bank and Industrial shares are also quoted and the other, the Securities, ring is just as genuinely serious as the gambling part of the share ring is meretricious. The chief securities dealt in in the former are the Bonds of the National Cedulas, as “gilt edged” a security as could well be wished for.

These Cedulas are Bonds issued by the National Hypothecary Bank, an Institution of the National Government, as against mortgages of freehold property in the Republic; the method of their issue being, shortly, as follows.

An intending Mortgagor lodges a proposal with the Bank; on which his title is examined and the property offered valued by Government experts appointed for each purpose.

The result of the examination of title being satisfactory, the Bank states the amount for which on its valuation, fixed after leaving ample margin for possible depreciation, it will accept the mortgage.

But the Bank has no cash funds, and therefore issues[115] Bonds, carrying interest at 6%, and subject to annual amortization, for the amount agreed to be granted to the Mortgagor. The latter, if he require cash, as is usually the case (most of such borrowings being actually effected with the objects for which the Bank was founded, viz. improvements of the property mortgaged, extension of holding, or purchase of stock and implements), must take his bonds to the Stock Exchange for sale. For them there is always a free and open market, the price obtainable usually varying only according to ordinary accidents of supply and demand.

Many brokers hold standing orders for these Bonds, at a price, for Europe (before the War Antwerp was always a buyer at a certain level). The only really appreciable downward fluctuations of this security are of very short duration, an hour or two at most, and are due to what can only be condemned as the inconsiderate action of the Directors of the Hypothecary Bank. That is to say, the Bank’s acceptances of Mortgages are sometimes allowed to accumulate and then, all of a sudden, the Directors seem to get to work and sign and issue huge batches of Bonds. Not only do most of these find their way to the Stock Exchange, in consequence of anticipatory orders lodged with brokers by absent or upcountry mortgagors, but many such people leave selling orders with the Bank itself.

The result of all this frequently is that one fine morning or afternoon cartloads of these Bonds arrive on the Stock Exchange and flood the market, in spite of all the market can do with the best intention of sustaining prices.

Soon, however, the mass is absorbed by the home and foreign demand, and the little crisis which could never have occurred except through the bad management above described, is over and normal prices rule again.

All this relates to the current issues of these Bonds, the “Cedula Argentina” as they are now called.

Formerly they were issued in series, each of which was distinguished by an alphabetical letter. The last of these[116] lettered series was “L.” This system of series had inconveniences, inasmuch as the regulations under which they were issued prescribed redemption in Bonds of the same series, which interfered with entirely free dealing; some of the earlier series being now only obtainable at a high premium on account of the buyer’s need of them to make up a parcel.

The Securities ring also deals in debenture and other Bonds—National, Provincial and Municipal. The only speculation in which it usually indulges being of the very safest kind; in regard to which, indeed, the term investment would better apply.

The side of the large Hall of the Exchange opposite to that occupied by the Stock and Share rings is now tenanted by the “Bolsa de Cereales,” an institution the recent creation of which was due to the necessity, arising chiefly from the rapid developments of the milling industry, for dealing in “futures” in cereal production.

On the old Once Corn Exchange such dealings were and still are tabu, as savouring dangerously of the Chicago “Pit,” and much heated discussion took place before the new Exchange was at length authorized to register transactions in futures. The discussion was useful inasmuch as it brought about the framing of stringent regulations against the more ruinous forms of gambling in grain. In the result, the new Institution works very well and fulfils its ostensible purpose of assuring the miller against produce being held against him at times when he is under obligation to deliver flour. Thus, it has prevented instead of encouraging at least one vicious class of operations. Formerly, when all dealing in grain futures was illegal, the miller was continually at the mercy of operators in the cereal markets.

The Institution of the new Market was imperatively needed on account of the huge development and value of the milling industry.

For ordinary dealings the Once cereal market still holds its own.



One needs some courage to write candidly about this institution, the more especially if one hopes to enter it again.

The building itself is the property of a company from which the members rent it. Part of it is now, as has been indicated, sublet to the members of the new Cereal Exchange.

One side of the rotunda—the great inner Hall of the “Bolza”—is therefore now tenanted by the dealers in stocks and shares, and the other, facing it, by those occupied with grain. Each exchange has two large blackboards on which prices are chalked up by attendants as deals are called by the parties making them. These prices then become official; and their genuineness is vouched by the fact of their having been called by members of the Exchange, who are held responsible by the Committee for the bona fides of these announcements.

The rules are now very strict on the question of calling of bona fide dealings only. At one time the announcement and consequent chalking up of fictitious deals (called “gatos,” or, as we might say, “wild cats”) became so scandalously frequent and unblushing that a stop had to be put to a malpractice which deceived the public, since all prices chalked up are published in the daily papers.

The first, usually, in regard to both the magnitude and importance of the dealings recorded on it, of these blackboards or “slates,” as they are called, is that reserved for transactions in Government and other important stocks; the second being that devoted to shares.

Thus the first board is mostly filled with records of the numbers and prices of National Cedulas dealt in, and the second with those of whatever one or two kinds of shares may for the time being be in fashion for what one may bluntly call gambling. For gambling, simply, is the end of[118] almost everything in the shape of speculation in the ephemerally chosen media. It is in regard to this gambling that the note of warning to the stranger already sounded may be repeated here. The really Argentine public has long ago had its fingers sufficiently often and severely burnt to have decided to give all Bolza speculation a wide berth. And here one is brought face to face with a mystery which the present writer has as yet been wholly unable to explain in any fully satisfactory way.

This mystery is that, given the fact that the contributions of the public to Bolza gambling have since long ago become a negligible quantity, it seems clear that such speculation must be confined to a limited group of Bolza operators.

How, therefore, is it worth the while of any of these operators to survive for long as such? They are mostly, if not all, men of small capital, very small in many cases, yet there they are, day after day, busily occupied in attributing usually fictitious values to the shares of one, or at most two (for the time being) companies. Up go the prices of such shares, rising each day to giddier heights, till at last like balloons they disappear from sight and another set of shares takes their place as material for a boom. Who is the last man or men left with shares at top price? And what on earth does he do with them? These be questions the answers to which are hidden by a secrecy the completeness and continuity of which do credit to the initiate few whose common interest it is to maintain it.

The only protection of these people is a mutual defence against the common enemy, similar to that adopted by professional buyers at an ordinary auction against any innocent amateur who may stray into their midst. On the other hand, the mere presence of a known “bear” among these folk, completely paralyses all action on their part until his back is turned again. The writer now has in his mind’s eye a well-known figure, that of a powerful bear who was the terror of the speculative markets in the golden days when the public[119] still played the game and all went merrily except for his malevolent influence. He alone could frown all prices down; and he once held them down against the whole of the furious remainder of the Exchange. It was a never-to-be-forgotten conflict, from which he emerged victorious and with a name at which even the puny bulls of to-day still tremble. Though be it said, he now does little but lend money to those whom circumstances, or still, occasionally, he himself, have forced to carry over. Few Bolza members will fail to identify him from even this slight reference to his fame. The heyday of the Buenos Stock Exchange was that immediately preceding the passing of the “Conversion” law which fixed a ratio between gold and paper and thus ended the speculation in gold which had grown all too vigorous on wide fluctuations. After that, wild cats, resorted to as the next best stimulant, quickly undermined the constitution of the Bolza and frightened the public; permanently, it would still seem, from its precincts as far as gambling speculation is concerned. Such speculation, in any magnitude, has been dead since 1906; in consequence of the collapse at that time of a gold fever boom of which a shoal of doomed alluvial dredging Companies were part cause and part effect.

Nowadays, the real business, of which there is a large and constant volume, done on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange is in National “Cedulas.” This business has gradually gravitated into the hands of a few large brokers. The only drawback to these Bonds is their name, which might lead the ignorant in matters South American to confuse them with the Provincial (Province of Buenos Aires) Cedulas, the corrupt mismanagement of which caused a great scandal some years ago. Still “Cedula” means a “Bond,” and it would, after all, be idle to wish to abolish the latter word only because some English Bonds may have proved unworthy of the prestige usually attaching to that designation.

The question has often been raised as to whether, on the wording of the guarantee endorsed on National Cedulas, the[120] National Government is responsible for repayment of the principal as well as the interest on them. This, however, amounts almost to a quibble; of little, if any, more than abstract interest. The amortization of these Bonds is certainly guaranteed in like manner as is the interest on them, and only some tremendous crisis, now unimaginable, could so wreck the whole territory of the Republic that land values throughout that territory would simultaneously fall to an extent which could render impossible the redemption of mortgages granted in the first place with a very liberal margin between the actual market value of the land and the amounts of the Bonds issued on its security. For, it should be noted in this connection, a Cedula is not issued by the Bank on the Security of such or such designated property, it is issued on the security, guaranteed by the Bank after due investigation, of all the mortgages held by it. So that, in effect, even if the whole of a Province were to be engulfed by an earthquake, the security of none of the Bank’s Cedulas would be affected by the loss since, at the margin reserved by the Bank, all the remainder of the lands on which it holds mortgages would still be ample security for all its bonds.

The reader who is already well acquainted with these matters must forgive me for thus setting them out in so obvious a way. I ask him to believe that there are still very many holders of Argentine National Cedulas possessed of only the vaguest ideas of how their Bonds came into existence, and practically none as to the real nature of the security for them, except a general sort of notion that they are Argentine Government Bonds.

As will be seen, the facts justify my dictum of a few pages back that these Bonds really offer as gilt-edged a security as anyone could wish for.

Other securities most commonly dealt in in the Securities side of the Market are “Credito Argentino,” National Internal debt, the “Premier Security” of the Country, as it has been called; and some Provincial and Municipal[121] Bonds. On the share side, the shares of the various Banks are usually the subject of the most really important quotations on the slate.

Many first-class Argentine securities and shares seldom come on the market.




It is often said that the foreign, mostly British, railway community on the River Plate constitutes an Imperium in Imperio.

There is no denying the great influence of that community, but that influence has been rendered inevitable and is wholly justified by the very large amount of capital which the railway companies have at stake in these countries; amounting in Argentina to some £200,000,000 and in Uruguay some £12,000,000, making a total of some 212 millions sterling. Of this total a very large proportion in Argentina and the whole in Uruguay is British.

The total length of railway lines in Argentina is close on 21,000 miles, and in Uruguay close on 1050 miles.

The predominant gauge in Argentina is that in use by the four “great” railway companies of that country, viz. the Buenos Aires Western, the Central Argentine, the Buenos Aires Great Southern and the Buenos Aires Pacific, that is to say, the broad, 5 feet 6 inches, while in Uruguay the great railway company of that country, the Central Uruguay of Montevideo, and its subsidiary companies use the Standard Gauge, 4 feet 8½ inches.


Until 1909 each of the Argentine railway companies was (as the Uruguayan still are) controlled by the terms of its particular concession or concessions. In that year, however, a Law was passed, usually called the “Mitre Law,” after its initiator, the late Señor Emilio Mitre (an eminent[123] Argentine statesman and son of the famous General Mitre, perhaps Argentina’s greatest President and Historian), by which all then existing companies agreeing to be bound by its provisions should be exempt from all National, Provincial and Municipal taxation and Import Duties on material until the year 1947; they, on their part, to pay to the National Government a single tax of 3% on their net earnings, the amount of such earnings to be ascertained by deducting 10% (for working expenses) from their gross receipts.

Only one Company was then enjoying even more favourable terms under its original concession than those given by the Mitre Law; but as that concession was approaching the time of its expiration it would have been ill-judged on the part of the Company to have shown itself recalcitrant to the evident wishes of the Argentine Government.

Therefore it exercised its option in favour of the Mitre Law, as did all the other Companies.

Though the Argentine and Uruguayan Railway Companies rely for their usually very handsome profits much more on haulage of Cereals and Live Stock than on their passenger traffic, it must not be supposed that the latter is in any way neglected by them. Quite the contrary is the case. Possibly nowhere else in the world (except, perhaps, in Russia) is railway travelling as comfortable as on the River Plate, either as regards day or night accommodation or catering, the latter at moderate prices. All is roomy, well arranged and extremely comfortable; but the trains de luxe of the River Plate are those which the Buenos Aires Great Southern Company runs to and from Mar-del-Plata in the season, with Pullman Drawing-room and Dining Cars. The permanent way is good and the running smooth over almost the whole of the two Republics. Trains going to the hotter regions are provided with baths.

Besides British, considerable French and Belgian capital is invested in Argentine railways. The “Province of Santa[124] Fé” and the “Province of Buenos Aires” railways are controlled by French Companies.

Incidentally it may be mentioned that in recent years most of the shares of the “Anglo-Argentine” Tramways Company (which owns the principal tramway system of the Capital) had found their way to Belgium.

A short while ago a United States Syndicate, deemed powerful and feared as menacing a monopoly, obtained control of some of the River Plate lines, notably those of the Central Córdoba, Santa Fé and Entre Rios Companies, under certain arrangements. This Syndicate has since, however, been unable to command the capital necessary to fulfil its part of those arrangements, and, practically, the control of the lines has now reverted to the original Companies, the first and last named of which are British.

The Argentine National Government has during the past few years built and has under construction several lines intended to develop districts which as yet do not offer sufficient temptation to private Companies.

No fresh construction has been begun in either country since the outbreak of the War, the Government and various Companies confining themselves only to such construction work as is absolutely necessary for the completion of extensions already commenced.

Railway construction in these countries does not usually offer any great difficulties. The triumphs of River Plate railway engineering were the line of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway up and through the Andes and some parts of the lines of the Entre Rios Railway Company in parts of that Province in which for long it seemed impossible to discover a route amid the marshy or spongy soil. Another such triumph will probably occur when the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway penetrates the Andes, as it no doubt will do one day, much further south than the Buenos Aires Pacific line.



The River Plate Republics are very accessible to foreign Commerce; possessing Atlantic Coasts, the River Plate and its two great navigable tributaries, the Uruguay and the Paraná.

The Port of Buenos Aires ranks seventh among the ports of the world in respect of the value of merchandise which enters and leaves it, and second in America, that is to say, coming immediately after New York. The next most important Argentine ports are those of Rosario, Bahia Blanca and La Plata; after which come Santa Fé, San Nicholás, Campana and Zárate, and many others on the Paraná and Rio Gallegos, Puerto Madryn, San Antonio and others on the South Atlantic. A new Port is in course of construction at Mar-del-Plata.

Montevideo only ranks in point of cargo values just before Bahia Blanca; that is to say, with some £15,000,000 as against the £115,500,000 trade of the Port of Buenos Aires.[22] Uruguay is, however, preparing in this regard for her further development by large new port works which have been under construction for some years past. On the Uruguay she has Fray Bentos, Paysandú (both largely concerned with meat extract and preserved meats export), Salto and Santa Rosa; and on the River Plate, besides Montevideo, Colonia and Maldonado; besides several relatively unimportant ports having as yet but scanty or no effective accommodation for vessels. This could also have been said of many of Argentina’s minor ports not so very long ago. Port accommodation in Uruguay will follow the increase and demands of her export produce and the requirements of her consequently enhanced prosperity.



As has been noticed under the heading “Racial Elements,” most of the immigration to the River Plate has hitherto passed Montevideo and landed at Buenos Aires. Over 300,000 immigrants landed in Argentina in 1913; composed chiefly, and in point of numerical importance, in the following order, of Spaniards, Italians, “Turcos” (Syrians or Levantines), Russians (mostly Jewish), French, Germans, Austrians, Portuguese and British. British arrivals on the River Plate consist chiefly of the salaried classes; who, not being classed as immigrants, do not appear on the Government returns from which the above figures are taken. The only other noteworthy point about Argentine immigration is that now the Spanish element largely predominates instead of, as formerly, the Italian.




During the past twenty years the foreign trade of Argentina and Uruguay (especially that of the former country) has developed very largely and rapidly; its increase during the decade 1904-1913 being, in the case of Argentina, 108½% and in that of Uruguay 104%. The increase in both cases is considerably greater than that of the trade of any other South American country; as will be seen from the following figures:—

Argentina. 1913 996,215,998
1904 477,985,737
gold 518,230,261 108·5% increase.
Uruguay. 1913 119,500,000
1904 58,481,343
Uruguayan 61,018,657 104%
Chile. 1913 725,828,254
1904 370,149,864
Chilian 355,678,390 94·5%
Brazil. 1913 1,976,733,388
1904 1,288,955,306
milreis 687,778,082 54%

The figure $996,215,998 gold if divided by 7,731,257, representing the population of Argentina, gives $129 gold, or £25 11s. 10d., value of trade per inhabitant of that country; a very high figure indeed. The value of the trade of Uruguay per head of her population is £21 3s. 6d.

In 1913 Argentina alone provided the markets of the[128] United Kingdom with cereals and meat to the value of £34,500,000 of a total of £92,300,000, or nearly 37½% of its total supplies. During the same year Uruguay sent meat to the United Kingdom to the value of some £202,000 sterling.


Wheat £ £
1. From United States 13,953,072
2. Canada 8,803,949
3. British East Indies 7,998,552
4. Argentine Republic 6,149,195
5. Australia 4,426,629
6. Russia 1,984,964
Other countries 544,539 43,860,900
1. From Argentine Republic 10,851,874
2. United States 1,923,321
3. Russia 489,993
4. Roumania 286,600
5. Canada 64,773
Other countries 153,781 13,770,342
1. From Argentine Republic 2,398,629
2. British East Indies 1,564,428
3. Russia 228,167
4. United States 98,366
Other countries 2,905,803 7,195,393
Chilled and Frozen Meat
1. From Argentine Republic 12,815,002
2. Australia 2,133,951
3. Uruguay 706,816
4. New Zealand 393,429
5. United States 3,119
Other countries 11,914 16,064,231
Frozen Mutton
1. From New Zealand 4,965,310
2. Australia 3,128,439
3. Argentine Republic 1,908,255
4. Uruguay 303,528
Other countries 293,133 10,598,665
Sundry Meats Frozen
1. From Argentine Republic 455,561
2. United States 155,966
Other countries 216,526 828,053
Total 92,317,584

The value of the U.K. Imports from Argentine and Uruguay was considerably increased during 1915.


In 1913 values of the exports of the United Kingdom to the four most commercially important countries of South America were:—

£ sterling.
To the Argentine Republic 23,430,246
Brazil 13,015,769
Chile 6,366,944
Uruguay 3,027,568

Of the total value of the sales of the United Kingdom in the whole of South America, Argentina received 45%, amounting to £52,033,764 sterling.


Value of exports from Great Britain to: £
1 East Indies 71,738,755
2 Germany 60,573,457
3 United States 59,536,352
4 France 40,876,731
5 Australasia 37,852,929
6 Russia 27,705,660
7 Canada 27,235,355
8 South Africa 24,373,018
9 Argentina 23,430,246
10 Belgium 20,667,519
11 Holland 20,605,137
12 Italy 15,620,393
13 China 15,016,023
14 Japan 14,837,948
15 Brazil 13,015,769
16 New Zealand 11,776,261
17 Egypt 9,966,948
18 Sweden 9,241,874
19 Spain 8,655,196
20 Turkey 7,992,712
21 West Africa 7,166,222
22 Norway 6,669,089
23 Chile 6,366,946
24 Denmark 6,340,773
25 Austria-Hungary 5,786,077
26 Switzerland 5,106,764
27 Portugal 3,935,802
28 Uruguay 3,027,568
29 West Indies 2,716,545
30 Greece 2,597,227
31 Mexico 2,549,265
32 East Africa 1,443,859
33 Costa Rica 247,093
Total including other countries £635,117,134
Population. Per
capita £
1 New Zealand 1,028,160 11·45
2 Australasia 4,802,174 7·88
3 South Africa 5,973,394 4·08
4 Canada 7,758,000 3·51
5 Holland 6,114,302 3·37
6 Argentina 7,731,257 3·03
7 Belgium 7,571,387 2·73
8 Norway 2,437,646 2·73
9 Uruguay 1,112,000 2·72
10 Denmark 2,775,076 2·29
11 Chile 3,505,317 1·90
12 Sweden 5,638,583 1·62
13 West Indies 1,709,732 1·59
14 Switzerland 3,781,430 1·30
15 France 39,601,509 1·03
16 Greece 2,666,000 0·97
17 Germany 64,925,993 0·93
18 Egypt 11,287,359 0·88
19 Portugal 5,960,056 0·66
20 United States 91,972,266 0·65
21 Costa Rica 388,266 0·63
22 Brazil 23,070,969 0·55
23 East Africa 2,651,892 0·54
24 Italy 34,671,377 0·45
25 Spain 19,639,000 0·44
26 Turkey 21,273,900 0·38
27 West Africa 20,176,635 0·35
28 Japan 52,985,423 0·28
29 East Indies 315,156,396 0·23
30 Russia 171,059,900 0·16
31 Mexico 15,063,207 0·16
32 Austria-Hungary 49,458,421 0·12
33 China 320,650,000 0·05


During the five years 1908-1912 48½% of the whole maize imported by the United Kingdom came from Argentina; or only a little less than the total quantity of that imported from the United States, Roumania, Russia, India, Natal, Canada, Bulgaria and the Cape of Good Hope.

In respect of the total issue of Capital in the United Kingdom during the first six months of 1914, Argentina ranked first (with £12,809,200 as against £12,244,100 which went to Russia) among the foreign countries for which such issues were destined; and third if British Possessions are included in the comparison.





In favour of
Argentine Republic 26,863,732 52,894,834 26,031,102
Uruguay 2,450,697 7,522,145 5,071,448
Guiana (British) 105,933 1,813,745 1,707,812
Bolivia 350 940,744 940,394
Guiana (French) 86,386 337,714 251,328
Paraguay 58,285 187,867 129,582
Falkland Islands 725 725
Brazil 120,155,855 42,638,467 77,517,388
Chile 27,655,420 16,076,763 11,578,657
Columbia 15,992,321 7,397,696 8,594,625
Venezuela 10,852,331 5,737,118 5,115,213
Peru 9,666,579 7,341,903 2,324,676
Ecuador 3,037,689 2,553,785 483,904
Guiana (Dutch) 821,460 704,487 116,973
217,747,038 146,147,993 34,132,391 105,731,436



To the Argentine Republic $52,894,834
Brazil $42,638,467
Uruguay 7,522,145
Ecuador 2,553,785
Paraguay 187,867 52,902,264
Chile 16,076,763
Columbia 7,397,696
Peru 7,341,903
Venezuela 5,737,118
Guiana (British) 1,813,745
Bolivia 940,744
Guiana (Dutch) 704,487
Guiana (French) 337,714
Falkland Islands 725 40,350,895
Total value of sales to South America. Dollars 146,147,993

The Argentine Republic received 36·2% of total.

Argentina and Brazil divide practically between them the South American export trade of the United States, Argentina taking by far the larger share, and well over one-third of the whole received by all the South American countries put together. The value of the Argentine imports from the United States in 1913 amounted to $52,894,834 (U.S.A.), while Uruguay took U.S.A. goods to the value of $6,531,626 (U.S.A.).


During the year 1913 the Argentine Republic purchased in Europe the following amounts:—

$ gold.
In the United Kingdom 130,886,587
Germany 71,311,628
France 38,075,811
Italy 34,789,741
Belgium 21,953,910
Spain 12,389,607
[132] Austria-Hungary 5,933,444
Holland 4,074,104
Sweden 3,123,889
Switzerland 2,749,682
Portugal 585,975
Russia 447,845
Denmark 204,106
Turkey 127,026
Roumania, Bulgaria and Greece 119,989
£64,835,981 = gold $326,773,344
Purchased in other
parts of the world
£18,765,714 = $94,579,199
Total £83,601,695 = $421,352,543

Where will these purchases be made in the future?

GOLD (Argentina)

Years. Imports. Exports. Balance.
1904 24,917,951 1,604,292 23,313,659
1905 32,559,540 819,375 31,740,165
1906 18,212,323 1,545,622 16,666,701
1907 23,552,726 3,133,886 20,418,840
1908 28,651,215 44,817 28,606,398
1909 67,453,816 1,247,831 66,205,985
1910 37,027,936 1,669,892 35,358,044
1911 12,764,236 3,008,597 9,755,639
1912 36,077,807 585,621 35,492,186
1913 47,941,425 43,417,484 4,523,941
$ gold 329,158,975 57,077,417 272,081,558
= £65,309,320 11,324,884 53,984,436

It is regrettable, from several points of view, that the National Statistics of Uruguay are not kept and published with the same promptitude and regularity as those of Argentina, to say nothing of the admirable clearness of the forms in which the latter are issued. The Uruguayan authorities should really know that the absence of any complete scheme of statistical information regarding their country is more than apt to preserve a very common though erroneous impression that Uruguay can be of but little account since so little is known or heard of it. Little indeed is known with any accuracy of its production, outside the circle of persons directly interested in its trade; but this obscurity is due only to indifference to and negligence of the art of self-assertion.


International Trade of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay


In point of fact Uruguay might well be proud of the[135] statistics of her productivity; for, in reality, she has more cattle than and nearly as many sheep as the Argentine Province of Buenos Aires while her superficial area is only some two-thirds of that of that Province. Uruguay exports wool to the average value of some £4,000,000, hides £1,500,000, frozen and chilled meat £1,110,000, and animals on the hoof £230,000 annually. The value of its wheat exports for the five years ending 1910 has been stated at £730,000; flour £234,000, maize £82,000 and linseed £460,000 during the same period. As we have seen, the value of Uruguayan trade for the year 1913 was £23,900,000, and this figure, as well as those representing Cereal production and exports, are likely to be rapidly increased under normal conditions.


1904. $ gold. 1913. $ gold.
Wheat 66,947,891 102,631,143
Maize 44,391,196 112,292,394
Linseed 28,359,923 49,910,201
Oats 541,973 20,447,278
140,240,983 285,281,016


1885. $ gold. 1913. $ gold.
Live stock: cattle 2,345,313 6,848,830
sheep 58,552 311,991
Chilled and frozen beef 1,680 36,622,889
Frozen mutton 75,323 3,674,206
Sundry meats frozen 910,311
preserved 1,257,391
Extract of meat 1,598,136
Powdered meat 1,097,566
Preserved tongues 131,952
Condensed soup 375,392
Jerked beef 4,204,077 658,097
$ gold 6,684,945 53,486,761
1,326,378 10,612,452



$ gold.
1904: Total exports 264,157,525
1913: 483,504,547
Increase 219,347,022


During 1905 $ (Uruguayan) 30,774,247
1912 51,000,000
Increase, say, $20,226,000 = £4,303,000

Wool constitutes about nine-tenths of the exports of Uruguay.

Up to and including 1907 the Imports of Uruguay were in excess of her Exports. In 1908, however, the balance went the other way and is likely to remain there.

The excess of Exports over Imports in 1908 was valued at $2,840,206 (Uruguayan) and in 1909 at $7,966,658. In 1912 the Imports appear to have risen to $49,380,000 as against exports $51,000,000. Probably these last figures are roughly accurate; but the last year for which any full official Statistics appear to have been published was 1911.

As has already been seen, the chief countries of destination of Argentine Exports prior to the War were (generally in the following order): The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil, the United States, Holland and Italy. Those of Uruguay went chiefly to France, Belgium, Germany, Argentina and the United Kingdom. While Argentina Imported principally from the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, France, Italy, Belgium and Spain; and Uruguay from the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, France, Italy, Belgium and Argentina.

The Surplus of Revenue over Expenditure in both Republics may appear to remain always so small as only just to have avoided conversion into deficits. It should, however, be recollected that these countries are constantly[137] engaged in carrying out Public Works which are necessary to the fuller development of their natural resources; such, for instance, as the very important new Port Works of Buenos Aires and Montevideo and the great Argentine systems of irrigation. Were the excess of Revenue greater it would still be spent, and wisely spent, on National Public Works and Improvements; which are the best assurance of its future which either country could make.

An instance of the rapid Commercial progress of the River Plate Countries is the fact that whereas in 1872 there were but four Banks in Argentina, in 1913 there were 143.

The latest (1914) Commercial and Industrial Census of the City of Buenos Aires shows that the number of Commercial (chiefly wholesale and retail trading) establishments in that City has increased from 17,985, as shown by the previous Census of 1904, to 29,600—an increase of 65%—while the number of Factories and Manufacturing establishments which in 1904 was 8,877 was in 1914 11,132—an increase of 25%. The motive power employed in these last-mentioned establishments has increased during the same period from 19,458 h.p. to 194,411 h.p.—an increase of 900%—while the number of persons employed has increased 112%.

An amusing but characteristic note is struck by comparison of the figures representing the annual sales of flour and tobacco respectively, the former being nearly $48,000,000 (paper) and the latter nearly £44,000,000 (paper).

Not such a great difference between the money spent in Buenos Aires on flour, much of which is exported, and on tobacco, which is all home consumed! Another is that nearly 1% of the whole population of the City consists of Medical Men; Brokers and Commission Agents (clubbed together and classed as professional men by the Census) run them very close, with Builders a good third, and the rest, in the sporting sense, nowhere.


Most of the wholesale and retail traders are Italians, Spaniards and Argentines, in this order; the Italians being in both cases nearly three times and the Spaniards nearly twice as numerous as the Argentines. After them come French, Russians (chiefly Jewish), Levantines and Egyptians (locally known as “Turcos”), Uruguayans, German, British and other nationalities in commerce; and French, Russians, Levantines and Egyptians, Belgians, Danes and Portuguese and other nationalities as Manufacturers.

A good many establishments of both classes are, however, shown to belong to Argentines and foreigners in partnership.

It is due to the compilers of the Census to remark that they have treated “Jews” as pertaining to a separate nationality, though therefore there is possibly some confusion under the heading “Russians.”




This is the largest and most densely populated and the most uniformly prosperous Province of the Republic.[23] It is bounded on the North by the Provinces of Santa Fé and Córdoba, on the West by the Territories of the Pampa Central and Rio Negro and on the East and South by the Paraná and Plate Rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital, La Plata, is of a somewhat sadly monumental aspect. It is indeed as yet but a monument to the still unrealized dreams of its modern founders and architects. It was to have been a great city with a busy port; it is now a place where Provincial parliamentarians, lawyers, university students and Law Court and Police officials spend some hours each day, coming each morning and returning each evening from and to the superior activity and attractions of the Federal Capital.

Nevertheless, La Plata has long, wide, eucalyptus-planted avenues; its chief Plaza, in which are the Municipality and the Cathedral, is not much smaller than Trafalgar Square; its Museum is world-renowned for its palæontological collections; and its Law Courts, University, Theatre, Police Offices and the above-mentioned Municipality are[140] huge, magnificently solid-looking buildings. But the lack of all perceptible movement in La Plata leads one to imagine that if its broad avenues and noble Plazas are not grass-grown the fact is due much more to the action of street cleaners than to that of traffic. Truly, one may often gaze down a very long vista of pavement between tall eucalyptus trees for many minutes without seeing one single other human being.

The Port works of Buenos Aires have drained its only source of commerce from La Plata. Still, some day the trade of the Republic may need it also.

At the same time it is only just to add that La Plata makes out a claim to nearly 100,000 inhabitants. Where they all get to when one visits it is mystery. Perhaps they in their turn spend their days in Buenos Aires; returning home to sleep in the deep stillness of the Provincial Capital.

The real chief port of the Province of Buenos Aires is Bahia Blanca. First of all, in 1896, the National Government decided to build the naval port and arsenal now in existence there: subsequently the Buenos Aires Great Southern and the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway Companies realized the conveniences and situation of Bahia Blanca as a place of export for the produce of their great and ever-increasing southern and south-western zones and each company constructed a port for the almost exclusive purposes of its own traffic.

The Great Southern Railway’s port is called Ingeniero White and that of the Pacific Railway Puerto Galvan. Besides these, separate and distinct constructions, Bahia Blanca has a fourth port, Cuatreros, at the interior end of the bay, which exports large and increasing quantities of frozen and chilled meat.

The great railway ports of Bahia Blanca are fitted with every modern mechanical appliance, huge cranes, electric endless belts for loading loose grain, and immense grain warehouses and elevators. The town of Bahia Blanca is[141] rapidly growing in importance and influence. Its municipal administration is largely in the hands of British exporters and merchants.

On the Atlantic coast, between Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires and some 400 kilometres from the latter city, is the famous seaside resort of Mar-del-Plata, the Argentine Monte Carlo—Trouville-Biarritz-cum-Ostend (before the War!).

During the season there (at all other times of the year it is deserted) vast Hotels and Restaurants charge famine prices for accommodation and food and there is always more demand than available supply of either. Wealthy Argentine families have, of course, their palatial “Chalets,” and the Rambla, as the great promenade by the sea is called, is a very brilliant scene at all times during the weeks in which it is fashionable.

Music and dancing contribute to the nights’ amusement at the Casino, large Hotels and private houses; and at the Club members can indulge in those games in which chance plays a greater rôle than skill.

As one young gentleman, who had failed to get a bed at any of the Hotels he thought worthy of his patronage, once remarked, “No matter, one can always play Baccarat till it is bathing time again.”

The air of Mar-del-Plata, that of the wide Atlantic, would doubtless be a powerful restorative to anyone who could resist the temptations of amusement sufficiently to give it a chance. Some people possibly do, but if so keep very silent about it.

Mar-del-Plata is, however, destined to show a more serious side of its possibilities in consequence of the building of a commercial port; the construction of which has been entrusted to a French firm, also the constructors of the new port works of Montevideo. Potatoes which are deemed the best in the Republic come from near Mar-del-Plata.

Other chief towns of the Province of Buenos Aires are Avellaneda (situate on the Provincial side of the boundary[142] line between the Province and the Federal City of Buenos Aires, but to all intents and purposes a district of the latter with which it is connected by unbroken lines of streets and houses), Chivilcoy, Pergamino, Tres Arroyos, Nueve de Julio, Azul, the residential suburbs (of Buenos Aires), Temperley and Lomas de Zamorra and many smaller “camp” towns.

All these minor camp towns of the Province of Buenos Aires look much alike and none of them are very interesting in appearance. Their stores, however, do good business in supplying the needs of large surrounding rural districts, and some of these towns have periodical cattle shows and sales which are well worth visiting.

Temperley and Lomas de Zamorra consist chiefly of Villa residences, of all sizes and styles of architecture, and some shops.

The Province of Buenos Aires, half as large again as the whole Republic of Uruguay, possesses some of the best land in Argentina, and in it farming has reached the highest developments as yet attained in either Republic. In it intensive farming has already made its first appearance in South America—as needs must when high land-values drive. The surface of this Province is one almost unbroken level plain.

It at present produces one-third of the whole output of wheat, nearly a similar proportion of maize, one-fifth that of linseed, 87% of that of oats, and also contains about 37% of the live stock of the whole Republic.

Good water is obtainable nearly everywhere in practically close proximity to the surface. This fact, combined with the comparatively few running streams and the tendency of these to dry up in hot weather, causes some parts of this Province to have the appearance of a forest of tall skeleton iron windmills. These are set up over artificially sunk wells, to draw water for animals and domestic purposes.

A detailed description of the Province of Buenos Aires[143] would extend to a very great length indeed; as this Province is, as far as its climatic conditions permit, a compendium of the industrial activity, at its best, of the whole Republic. That it is so is due to its situation on, or always in relatively close proximity to, the estuary of the River Plate; the cradle of the civilization and progress of the countries under discussion.

Farming and most other industries find their highest expression within easy reach of and in the Federal Capital.

As far as its physical aspect is concerned, the Province of Buenos Aires has been accused with considerable justice of being generally uninteresting. Certainly its surface is one huge flat plain, until one gets south to the ranges of the Sierra de la Ventana and the Tandíl hills. Past them, nothing but monotonous plain again till its southernmost boundary, the Rio Colorado, is reached.

Its only romantic scenery, though that is delightful indeed, is on its north-eastern frontier, along the small River Tigre and the majestic Paraná; the banks and innumerable islands of which are clad with useful osiers, flowering reeds, peach trees and a large riot of other beautiful and luxuriant vegetation. Many a spring day can be passed in idyllic enjoyment among the islands of the Tigre.

At Tandíl, on the south-eastern side of the Province, there are quarries of fine marble and building stone, and until a year or so ago there was a famous rocking-stone perched on another rock, the surface of which is inclined at an angle of something like 45 degrees. To all appearances a mere gust of wind would have toppled the upper stone down into a hollow beneath; but the tale goes that Señor Benito Villanueva, a wealthy and sportsmanlike Argentine, once tied a rope round the rocking-stone and attached the other end to a double span of oxen on the plain below. The oxen pulled; but without any other effect on the rocking-stone than temporarily to cant it just as many centimetres as it could be moved by a good push from a man’s hand.[144] Now, alas for Tandíl, someone has succeeded in dislodging the rocking-stone from its uncanny-looking eminence, so that it has, literally, fallen from its high celebrity.

Buenos Aires is, naturally, the Province of palatial estancia houses surrounded by model farms. The Queen Province. The most densely populated and cultivated and the one with the largest revenues.


This Province ranks next to that of Buenos Aires in respect of area and population, while its output of both maize and linseed is slightly greater than that of the Queen Province; in regard to wheat it stands third among the Argentine Provinces, Córdoba coming immediately after Buenos Aires, and in respect of oats it again comes second. In point of live stock it comes only fifth, after Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, Corrientes and Córdoba.

It is bounded on the North by the Territory of the Chaco, on the West by the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and Córdoba, on the South by the Province of Buenos Aires and on the East by the River Paraná.

The northern part of Santa Fé is covered with vast forests, continuations of those of the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and the Territory of the Chaco. These forests are rich in Quebracho wood, and from them also come large supplies of firewood and charcoal.

The other parts of Santa Fé are devoted to stock and agriculture.

The streams of this Province, although more numerous than those of Buenos Aires, have (with the exception of the great River Paraná) the same tendency to dry up as have those of the Queen Province, and, therefore, water-drawing windmills are in proportionate evidence.

Its Capital, the city from which it takes its name, is one of the oldest in the River Plate countries. Its movement[145] is, however, little else than that of a merely political capital; the town of Rosario, with its port, being the centre of most of the commercial activity of this part of the Republic. Until the rise of Bahia Blanca, Rosario held the undisputed rank of the second commercial centre of Argentina.

The City of Santa Fé nevertheless possesses an old-world beauty and charm, with its palm avenues and spacious Plazas, its many churches and its large one-storied residences. Rosario, on the other hand, is as unsightly and uninteresting a place to the eye as could well—or, rather badly—be conceived. It has, however, a large share of the cereal export trade. This Province has also other important ports on the Paraná, viz. the port of Santa Fé itself, Villa Constitution, Colastiné and several minor ones, all of which are available for ocean-going ships.

After Buenos Aires, Santa Fé is the Province with by far the greatest and most conveniently situated railway mileage.

Mixed agriculture and stock farming is practised in many districts; though Santa Fé has not yet felt the economic need of other than extensive farming. Still, land values have, until recent events prejudicially, if only temporarily, affected all such values, followed those in Buenos Aires on an upward course. Santa Fé sends large quantities of potatoes to the Buenos Aires and local markets.

The milling industry of this Province ranks not only next in importance to that of Buenos Aires, but its output of flour is very much greater than that of Entre Rios, the next most important Province in this regard. The Department of Reconquista, in the North of the Province, has sugar mills, and other industries are the production of ground-nut oil, dairy produce, tanneries, preserved meats and maize alcohol.


This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Santiago del Estero, on the North-West by the Province[146] of Catamarca, on the West by the Province of La Rioja and San Luis, on the South by the Territory of the Pampa Central and the Province of Buenos Aires, and on the East by the Province of Santa Fé.

Córdoba is the second Province of the Republic in point of wheat and linseed production, being not far behind Buenos Aires in this regard. Its maize production, however, does not amount to one-third of that of either Buenos Aires or Santa Fé, while in oats it about ties with the latter. In live stock it ranks fourth among the Argentine Provinces, though it has less than half the number possessed by Entre Rios and only about half of that of Corrientes. In the matter of population it ranks fourth among the Provinces of the Republic, with about one-third that of Buenos Aires.

As one travels towards the ancient capital of this Province one begins to realize that the cosmopolitan delights of the city of Buenos Aires do not reflect the soul of the Republic: the soul that fought for its liberty under the blue sky and warm sun of 25th of May, now over a hundred years ago. One begins involuntarily to dream of the Gaucho Wars and to feel the atmosphere of wilder bygone times amid the steep water-cut and cacti-crowned banks of the five great rivers which traverse the land from west to east. And when one gets to “The Learned City” the illusion is not dispelled. Only one extremely modern-looking Hotel in a corner of the Plaza jars; the rest of old Córdoba exhales the magnolia-scented atmosphere of Old Colonial days. The Cathedral, the University (founded in 1613) and the innumerable churches, the bells of which all clang incessantly on Feast-days, all help to preserve in the old part of the City of Córdoba an atmosphere of the Middle Ages, when monasteries and learning were indissolubly connected. And of monks and nuns, brown-robed, black-robed, white-robed and blue-robed, many there be in Córdoba. Wherever one looks, across the Plaza, up one street or down another, one sees them walking in twos or small groups with a uniformly[147] measured step which, as one instinctively feels, nothing could hurry nor retard. And the black-coated citizens of Córdoba walk silently with eyes downcast. But there is fierceness behind those cast-down eyes and quick hot blood in the veins of those men in black; as anyone would soon find out to his cost were he suspected of too close enquiry into local political ways and means.

The writer speaks feelingly on this subject since when, a few years ago, he was visiting Córdoba with a quite natural but equally innocent curiosity for the old-world corners of the City, he unfortunately disclosed in conversation with an eminently respectable-looking, immaculately dressed gentleman that he, the present author, was a journalist.

Soon afterwards his adventures began. He was molested in indirect ways, and finally invited to pay a visit to the Central Police Station. There he was given cigarettes and coffee by the Comisario, who floridly apologized and expressed his deep regret and shame for the treatment an honourable stranger had received. It was, however, but a series of regrettable accidents arising from unfortunate error of certain bad characters who were now in durance vile in consequence.

Here he rang a bell and ordered the answering policeman to bring in the culprits. They were duly brought in and recognized.

“Now,” said the Comisario, “you will have no more trouble. Besides,” he added, “one of our plain-clothes men will accompany you in future wherever you go—for your better protection.”

The plain-clothes man certainly obeyed orders; so persistently that the whole why and wherefore at last dawned on my confused brain.

The intention was to worry me so much in a polite quasi-legitimate fashion that I could have no ostensible cause of complaint; but, at the same time, so that I should incontinently quit the ancient City of Córdoba in disgust.[148] The reason for all this was the fact that, having nothing better to do on the evening of my arrival, I had wandered into the basement of my Hotel and there found a person who looked like, and indeed was, a leading local politician running a roulette to catch the nickels of a crowd of working men. At that time the roulette was the scarcely concealed vice of the town, rife in the back room of every bar.

It is an illegal game in Argentina, as elsewhere except Monte Carlo, and shortly after my visit it was the cause of a great outcry and scandal in which several Provincial High Officials were involved.

I was a journalist and, therefore, dangerous. So a course of delicate hints to me to get out had been planned and executed.

Following the gambling scandal, a leading Opposition politician was shot dead in his carriage on the high road a short way outside the city. When I read this news I was glad that I had not persisted in seeming to pry into cupboards containing Córdoba’s official skeletons, and for similar reasons I am still somewhat shy of Córdobese gentlemen with downcast eyes and soft, measured tread.

All that, however, belongs to Old Córdoba. The parts of the city called New Córdoba and Alta Córdoba are replete with palatial residences as fine and as new as residential palaces need be.

The City of Córdoba is not only the traditional seat of learning par excellence of the Republic, it is also, as a consequence of old-time associations no doubt, its chief centre of clerical influence.

Córdoba is intensely and, if one may be permitted to say it, intolerantly Catholic. Were it not subject to the democratic laws of a modern and very go-ahead Republic one would hardly be surprised to find disciplinary institutions of an Inquisitorial type still in full swing in this old-world city of South America. As it is, there is no doubt of the[149] predominance of priestly influence in Provincial politics. Much of the best freehold property in the city is owned by Monastic Orders or by the Society of Jesus.

Most of the Province consists of a large plain; which, naturally, is the chief productive area. But Córdoba has hills famous for the purity of their air and great resorts for consumptive patients. Alta Gracia, with its fine hotel, golf links, etc., has of late years acquired a very favourable reputation as a place in which anyone may spend a very pleasant and healthful week or so.

In the North-West of the Province are great salt marshes, in and around which only a very scanty and meagre vegetation flourishes, and in the North-East is the Mar Chiquita, a large and, in parts, very deep lake, the waters of which are salty like those of the sea. Hence its name.

Córdoba also possesses large forests, as yet chiefly exploited for building timber and firewood.

Rio Cuarto, on the river of that name, is the next largest town in the Province in point of population, but it is likely soon to be altogether surpassed in importance by Bell Ville, on the Central Argentine Railway, a rapidly advancing centre of the cereal trade, and some day also, probably, by Marcos Juarez, comparatively close to it on the same line.

Goats abound in the North of Córdoba. Land values have increased and are increasing; especially in the most fertile regions in the South-Eastern parts of the Province.

Córdoba has given and continues to give much attention to irrigation and possesses one of the largest semi-natural reservoirs in the world, certainly in South America, in the Dique San Roque, which is formed by means of a wall of masonry placed across the mouth of a mountain gorge. Its capacity is 260,000,000 cubic metres, and its operation is completed by a basin situated some fifteen miles from and below it, from which the water flows through two great primary canals. The area so irrigated is some 130,000[150] hectares. Other large irrigation works are in course of construction, and more still are under consideration.

Córdoba has also a large share of industrial enterprise, of which the chief are lime and cement works, ornamental and other tile manufactories, potteries, sawmills and butter factories.

The hills of this Province have some practically unexploited mineral deposits. The area between the city of Córdoba and the Provinces of Santa Fé and Buenos Aires is covered with a close network of railway lines, in great contrast (as may be seen by a glance at the railway map) in this respect with the more Northern parts of the Province.

There has for a long time been talk of a canal to run from near the city of Córdoba to a point close to the port of Rosario, utilizing the surplus waters of the Primero, Segundo and Tercero Rivers.

There is something almost incongruously prosaic about the naming, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, of the rivers which traverse a Province in which so much of the old romantic atmosphere lingers.

The Alfalfa fields of Córdoba are in extent second only to those of Buenos Aires, covering an area equal to more than half that devoted to this forage in the latter Province.


This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Corrientes, on the West and East by, respectively, the Rivers Paraná and Uruguay (hence its name “Between Rivers”) and on the extreme South by the River Plate, which is formed by the conjunction of the Paraná and Uruguay.

As has been seen, Entre Rios comes second among the Argentine Provinces for production of oats; but in respect of other cereal crops it is still far behind Buenos Aires, Santa Fé and Córdoba. It is, however, rich in live stock,[151] having nearly three times the quantity possessed by Córdoba. In point of population it ranks fourth among the Argentine Provinces.

Until the accomplishment of the Entre Rios railway this Province was known as the “Poor Sister” of Buenos Aires and Santa Fé. Now, this disparagement cannot be thrown on her; for her prosperity is advancing literally by leaps and bounds. This is very largely owing to the communication and transport afforded by the Railway and its train-carrying Ferry Boats which run between Zárate on the Buenos Aires side of the River Paraná and Ibicuy on the Entre Rios side, thus permitting of traffic without change of car between the Federal City and the Entre Rios system—and, in fact, also, onward through the Province of Corrientes and the Republic of Paraguay to Brazil, by several links in the chain of railway lines one day to run the whole length from North and South of the two Americas.

The journey by rail from Buenos Aires to Paraná, the capital of Entre Rios, is a delightful one, not the least pleasant part of it being the voyage in the well-appointed Ferry Boats up and across beautiful winding reaches of the Paraná River.

From the Provincial capital one can again take a train through interesting country across the Province to Concórdia, on the River Uruguay, and so back to Buenos Aires by one of the fine and comfortable River Boats. That is, if one does not first of all go further North to the famous falls of Iguazú, further mention of which will be made when writing of the National Territory of Misiones.

The City of Paraná is a quiet, pleasant Capital, redolent of the memory of General Urquíza, the one-time “Tyrant” of these parts of the River Plate Territories. One sees the old large low building which was the head-quarters of his government, and where, as history hath it, he contrived to have many of his political enemies put to death. On the other hand, there is much evidence of his enlightenment in[152] the shape of schools, first established by him and later fostered by “The School Master President” Sarmiento. The fact is that Urquíza, like Rozas, whom he supplanted, and Artígas, the national hero of Uruguay, were all strong men of good purpose according to their lights and times; times which were turbulent and in which it was necessary for him who would govern to kill first if he would not himself die by an assassin’s hand.

Opposition politicians had short shrift in those days. They were caught, convicted and executed almost before the plots of which they were found guilty had been fully formed.

Each of these tyrants had a far-reaching and minutely penetrating police system, from which nothing was hid of the movements and meetings of other people in those sparsely populated days; days when no man’s business was a secret to his neighbour. As a result, order sprang out of disorder and was maintained by iron rule.

Looking back from this distance of time one can perceive the great and good work done by these men for their country. Their methods were of the time; necessary.

On the cliff-like bank of the river is the really charming Urquíza Park. The chief Plaza, “Primero de Mayo,” is gay o’ nights with electric light shining on the tables outside the Cafés, whilst a band plays in the midst of the garden in its centre. Paraná has trams and a theatre, and altogether is quite a busy commercial centre. Still it is, as has been said, quiet with the distinctive quiet of really Provincial towns all the world over.

But the most charming place of all (to the writer’s mind, one of the most charming in the Republic) is Concórdia. Its cobbled streets and orange-scented gardens, its pure air, bright sun and cool breezes combine to give one the feeling of having at last reached a true haven of rest from the turmoil of the outer world; a haven in which one might dream the remainder of one’s life away happy and passing rich on the Argentine equivalent to forty pounds a year.


Yet Concórdia is busy, busy in its old Colonial way with sending produce down the broad River Uruguay to the great noisy port of Buenos Aires.

The Entre Rios farmers do good business in cattle fattening; for which their usually well-watered and rich pasturage is peculiarly fitted. Yet, at times, Entre Rios has suffered from severe drought, and more frequently from locust invasion, a plague which, however, is now already fairly well held in check by the measures adopted and strictly carried out by Government for the gradual elimination, as it is hoped, of these insects from the Republic.

Entre Rios, still only just, so to speak, opened up by the railway, is still conservative in respect of the maintenance of large land holdings. These are, however, slowly but surely being divided up owing to demand and in accordance with the more utilitarian spirit of the times.

Entre Rios is a chief centre of the jerked-beef industry, and the Liebig factories are an economic feature which cannot go unmentioned. Grease factories, for which large quantities of mares are slaughtered annually, also constitute one of the chief industries of this Province.

Entre Rios has a very considerable acreage under barley.


Corrientes may be regarded, economically, as well as geographically, as still being one of the outlying Provinces, inasmuch as its population and cereal production are much less than those of the Provinces already dealt with.

It is, however, numerically richer in Live Stock than either Córdoba or Santa Fé[24] and has large areas under maize cultivation.


Corrientes is bounded on the North by the River Paraná, which forms the boundary between it and the Republic of Paraguay. This river is also its Western boundary, while on the East it is bounded by the National Territory of Misiones and the River Uruguay, and on the South by Entre Rios.

It is served by the Argentine North-Eastern Railway system, which links up and is in every way closely connected with the Entre Rios Railway: and by a small narrow-gauge industrial railway which runs through a large area of Quebracho forest and also serves some sugar mills.

Other communication is by old-world diligences. Another railway is, however, projected to run almost along the north boundary of the Province from the City of Corrientes to Posadas in Misiones.

The inhabitants of Corrientes, like their Paraguayan neighbours, from whom, especially in the more Northern parts of this Province, they differ but slightly in racial characteristics, are the true lineal descendants of Spanish soldiery and their native Guaraní Indian wives. They are as a rule a pleasant enough people, good-humoured and somewhat indolent. As to the latter quality one must, however, remember that in Corrientes one is already among subtropical vegetation (Palms begin to rear their tufted heads in the North of Entre Rios). One of the most beautiful examples of this vegetation is the Lapacho with its great branches of pink flowers.

One must not delay long, however, if one wish to still catch the old-world flavour of Corrientes. Its capital, founded in 1588 with one of the long names in which the Spanish conquerors appear to have delighted, namely, San Juan de la Vera de las siete Corrientes (St. John of Vera of the Seven Streams), is already provided with modern waterworks and electric trams. Still, one yet finds many mysterious looking low houses with vertically barred windows, and covered verandahs lining long narrow streets. Modern[155] buildings, however, are rapidly spoiling the attraction of the place for those who appreciate the charm of more leisurely, spacious times. That charm yet lingers in the city of Corrientes, but, as has been said, is already being startled into flight by modernity.

The latter and Corrientes are, nevertheless, still fairly far apart. It would be curious to know how many inhabitants of the Federal Capital have even the faintest notion of what City of the Seven Streams is like (?). Very few indeed; except those who have or have had direct interests in the latter place. The notions of the rest would be similar to those of the average European regarding the Pampa.

Corrientes is for the most part well watered, and has immense tracts of excellent pasturage.

Besides its Capital, Corrientes possesses as its, even more commercially important, centres the towns of Goya, famous for its cheeses, Ituzaingó, Bella Vista, and Empedrado, all ports or rather possible ports on the Paraná, Mercedes, the centre of prosperous sheep-farming districts, and Curuzú Cuatia and Monte Caseros, with good railroad facilities.

With the necessary expenditure on wharves, etc., Corrientes could be brought into a much greater economic activity than it shows signs of as yet; by utilizing its great natural riparian means of communication, although the River Uruguay is at this height difficult of navigation, owing chiefly to the rapidity of its current and frequent floods.

The Correntino has not yet, however, developed much commercial enterprise. His cattle still show the native long horned and limbed characteristics of wilder days and he himself seems to find it less trouble to get tobacco, mate, sugar, coffee and many other things from Brazil or Paraguay than to grow and manufacture them himself; as he could do easily and profitably. Much of his nature is Indian; to be modified in time by the overwhelming forces of civilization.


One cannot leave Corrientes without mention of the lake Iberá in the North of the Province, a vast natural hollow filled with water, the surface of which is in many parts covered so solidly with interlaced bamboos, grasses and aquatic plants as to enable one to walk on it as if on a huge raft. There has been much talk of reclaiming the land by draining Lake Iberá, a task which owing to the gradients of the surrounding lands would not present great difficulties; if so be that the lake is not connected by subterranean channels with the Rivers Paraná and Upper Uruguay, as there are several reasons to suppose it may be.

The islands of this lake form a perfect zoological garden of animals and reptiles long since practically extinct in the surrounding country; among which are Jaguars, Alligators and Boa Constrictors.

The present writer remembers an interesting if somewhat terrifying collection of such and other wild specimens being cast up a little more than a decade ago on the river shores of the Province of Buenos Aires, near to the Federal Capital, by the swollen waters of the Paraná during extraordinary floods. These creatures were washed down clinging to trunks of trees and islets of intertwined vegetation which had been torn away by the force of the waters. It is safe to assume that they were much more terrified than were even the peaceable inhabitants of the places where they involuntarily landed.

The illustrious General San Martin was a Correntino, born in what was once called Yapeyú, now an important Live Stock centre and renamed after him.

A monument has also been erected there to his memory, a patriotic embellishment which no Argentine township, however, is without.


This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of La Rioja, on the West by the Provinces of San Juan and[157] Mendoza, on the East by the Province of Córdoba and on the South by the Territory of the Pampa Central.

Until the coming of Alfalfa, San Luis was chiefly interesting for its mineral possibilities. Even now, after Salta and Jujuy, it is the most sparsely populated of the Argentine Provinces. Nevertheless, it now has large areas under wheat; and sandy salty tracts which not long ago, in common with similar tracts in the West of the Province of Buenos Aires and in the Territory of the Pampa Central, were looked on as useless deserts, are covered with an extraordinarily luxuriant growth of lucerne. The salty nature of the soil is favourable to this valuable forage plant, and its tap roots find their way easily through the sandy surface to the closely adjacent damp subsoil and surface waters.

Irrigation is destined to play an important rôle in other parts of San Luis.

At present this Province runs Santa Fé very close in point of number of Live Stock; though the general average of quality is a good way behind that found in the “home” Provinces or Córdoba.

San Luis cultivates an appreciable quantity of good table grapes, and, as is noticed in another chapter, also produces some wine.

The Province is intersected in its North and Central parts by four lines of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway and in the South by two of the Buenos Aires Western Railway.

It is evident that the mineral deposits of San Luis were worked in the prehistoric days prior to the Spanish Conquest, but little has been done to exploit them in modern times except as regards the beautiful green marble, commonly called Brazilian Onyx, large quantities of which are exported. Gold mining has been attempted in modern times, but without as yet any very appreciable results. San Luis, however, produces a certain regular supply of Wolfram.

The people of San Luis are frequently accused of indolence.[158] Certainly the Province is not a wealthy one, nor do its inhabitants appear over alert to seize the opportunities which nature and modern methods combined now offer them.


This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Salta and the National Territory of Formosa, on the West by the Province of Tucumán and Catamarca, on the East by the National Territory of the Chaco and the Province of Santa Fé and on the South by the Province of Córdoba.

Irrigation has led to a considerable development of wheat-growing in this Province and to irrigation it must chiefly owe its future progress; for, in its almost tropical climate, rain only falls in the summer months and usually is absorbed almost as soon as it falls by a sandy and dusty soil.

The average temperature of Santiago del Estero is highly favourable to maize, but, here again, the question of water supply arises, only to be met by artificial means. Already principal and subsidiary irrigation canals have been constructed in the areas through which pass the two rivers of the Province, the Dulce and the Saladillo, and further works of the kind are in active contemplation.

The salt sandy soil of much of this Province has been found as favourable to Alfalfa as such soil is elsewhere when there is water not far down or at least a damp subsoil. So that Santiago boasts of an already large and an increasing number of Alfalfares, as lucerne-bearing lands are called. The chief industries of the North of this Province are in connection with its forestal products, the cutting and rough trimming of Quebracho wood, firewood and charcoal burning. The people engaged in these occupations are mostly totally uneducated and are unacquainted with any of the higher developments of civilization. They are indeed in some respects similar to the stock-riding Gaucho of the past in other provinces, but without the intelligence he displayed[159] within the limits of his punctilious observance of custom.

Dancing, card-playing and drinking are the only amenities of life known to the wood-cutters of Santiago del Estero, unless fighting be added as a pendant to, and consequence of, the last-named pastime of alcoholic indulgence. Like all Gauchos, however, they are really only dangerous to one another in this regard, a stranger being treated by them with all the good-humoured courtesy at their command.

The Santagueños of the forests have been singled out by one very observant and reliable writer on South American countries, Monsieur Paul Walle,[25] as having superstitious faith in “Curanderos” or quack doctors, people of their own class. They do indeed show a perfectly childlike faith in quack nostrums; but in this, leave must be taken to say, they are by no means alone among the rural populations of the River Plate. The present writer has known the queerest kinds of remedies believed in implicitly and practised even in that hub of progress, the Province of Buenos Aires.

Active official efforts have for some time been devoted to the weeding out of Curanderos and Curanderas; but, as in the mediæval days of England, they are still sought out, more or less secretly, by neighbours who have infinitely more faith in their “cures” than they would have in the treatment of whole Colleges of Physicians.

Possibly these quacks often do cure by suggestion. The writer has, for instance, heard strong oral evidence of the efficacy for toothache of expectorating into the mouth of a frog, caught at a certain hour of the night. There could be no doubt about it. Many people have been entirely relieved from pain by that simple expedient. The rather revolting rite performed, the frog must be set at liberty and carries away the pain with it!

Much of this quackery is relatively harmless, but much of it is also highly dangerous, not only to the actual patient,[160] but to the community in general; as preventing the former from seeking orthodox treatment which, while really curing him, would at the same time prevent the spread of infectious and contagious disease.

To sum up, Santiago del Estero undoubtedly has a rich future before it, dependent chiefly on irrigation.


This Province is bounded on the North by the Province of Salta, on the West and South by the Province of Catamarca and on the East by the Province of Santiago del Estero.

It has the smallest superficial area of all the Argentine Provinces; being less than one-eleventh the size of Buenos Aires and less than one-fifth that of Santiago del Estero.

It, however, is a very important Province, because it produces over 90% of the whole sugar output of the Republic. It also grows an appreciable quantity of maize, but when, in Argentina, one says Tucumán one is almost invariably thought to be about to speak of sugar.

It always has been the sugar-producing area of the River Plate Territories; from the time of the Jesuit Missionaries, say, about the middle of the eighteenth century. The first modern sugar-manufacturing machinery was set up in Tucumán in 1879.

The whole matter of the Argentine Sugar industry was for long hedged about with fiscal and other questions and a great sensitiveness on the part of the growers and refiners in regard to their discussion. That a certain number of companies divided the whole of the industry between them was undoubted fact, as was the equally obvious one that they carried on business in accordance rather with their ideas of their own commercial interests than in any larger or more philanthropic spirit. Sugar is still much dearer for the Argentine consumer than there seems any good reason for. Special legislature has operated until recently as an exceptional[161] protection to this industry, thus maintaining, as was vehemently urged in many quarters, a monopoly, to the extent of being relieved of any foreign competition, in the hands of the Tucumán Companies who conducted their affairs in a mutually friendly fashion.

Their opponents throughout the country said that Tucumán (the sugar interests there are still inseparably connected with Provincial politics and politicians) not only waxed fat at the public expense, but did so by means and methods opposed to the public interest. Certainly legislature offered temptation to artificial limitation of output, and it was chiefly in regard to this—burning of productive cane-fields and so forth—that the sugar companies long stood accused.

On whichever side the balance of the arguments for or against the doings of the Tucumán sugar industry may have lain it may be safely asserted that no political influence can nowadays continue to bolster up commercial malpractices of any magnitude in Argentina. The National Government has already seen and will see to it that no hole-in-the-corner Provincial politics shall interfere with the National welfare and credit. Influence, although still powerful in minor matters, can no longer suffice to avoid any matter of public importance being exposed to examination by the full light of day.

Tucumán is well aware of this, and therefore can be relied on, and indeed must be, to trim her sails to the healthy wind by which the course of the Republic is now determined.

It is only fair to add that the Tucumán Sugar Companies’ argument in their own defence to the suggestion of an inequitable monopoly exercised by them is, in effect, “Well, supposing that we have been making very large profits of late years, we have borne the brunt of hard times for many more, before the industry had developed to its present extent and before we were able to obtain assistance or even practical encouragement from the State. And besides, were we wrong in making hay whilst the sun shone? Any day may bring[162] us competition in the shape of the rise of new cane-fields in other Northern districts of this fertile Republic.”

This is at least sympathetic if not strictly legitimate reasoning.

In the meantime the Province of Tucumán has grown prosperous, and the employment of more enlightened methods of conducting all branches of its sugar industry has recently resulted in enhanced prosperity coupled with a largely increased output. The City of Tucumán, its Capital, one of the pleasantest and most progressive towns in Argentina, has no less than five different railway stations pertaining to lines connecting it with Buenos Aires (of which the Central Argentine is the most direct) and local systems.

The vegetation of the Plazas and Boulevards of the City is subtropical and social demands have provided Tucumán with an ornate Casino connected with a vast modern Hotel and theatre. Electric light and tramways abound in its orange-flower scented streets and public places, among which must now be counted a huge Park designed to celebrate the 1910 centenary. A special building enshrines the historic room in which the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Buildings of the Colonial period still exist in Tucumán and its outskirts, but the dominant tendency is towards modernity in architecture and all else. The City is picturesquely situated in a valley among hills which appear to surround it and give it a curious appearance of having, with its Casino, brilliantly lit avenues and gardens and its luxuriant vegetation, sprung into existence as a scene on some vast stage.

It has a winter season of ever-growing social importance; during which the great Sugar Families occupy their palatial villas and display dark beauty and grace to the music of the band in the Plaza Independencia and at the Casino and Theatre.

Irrigation is easily attained over the most part of this[163] Province, from the Dulce River and its many tributaries as well as from several other streams.

Tucumán grows some wheat, but not much, its principal crops (after, of course, sugar) being maize and alfalfa.

It has comparatively little live stock, owing largely to the general humidity of its soil. It has, however, an exceptionally large aggregate of population for its size in comparison with other Provinces.

Parts of Tucumán are forest, part mountainous with peaks clad in everlasting snow from which accumulate innumerable turbulent mountain streams. For picturesque and varied scenery of almost every kind Tucumán is perhaps preeminent in the Republic. Its valleys are with very few exceptions fertile and well watered.

This Province has several fairly important towns situated on the railways which traverse its central and southern districts.


This Province is bounded on the North by that of Salta and the National Territory of Los Andes, on the West by Chile, on the South by the Provinces of La Rioja and Córdoba and on the East by those of Santiago del Estero and Tucumán. As can be imagined from its geographical situation, it produces a certain quantity of maize and, given advantages, to be mentioned later, undoubtedly could produce a great deal more. As yet it is sparsely populated, and the influence of progress is only just being forced upon it by a paternal National Government which not only has irrigation schemes in hand, but has already constructed a railway—the North Argentina—one of the new Government lines, to afford transport for the future wealth of this hitherto dormant Province. Irrigation, transport and fresh elements and methods of labour are the three requisites for Catamarca’s advancement. She has plenty of what is easily convertible into fertile soil; and, without doubt, rich mineral deposits.[164] Both of these resources would long ago have been advantageously exploited had the population of the Argentine Republic attained larger figures than as yet represent it.

Catamarca is mountainous over a large portion of its area, but this area is interspersed with very fertile valleys and possesses a vast tableland, called the Campo del Pucara. In a hollow of this tableland is the capital city of Catamarca.

There are plenty of mountain streams from which to irrigate the greater portion of the soil of this Province, and also a water bed not far from the surface from which irrigation could be obtained. At present—most of the surface soil being extremely loose and porous—the water brought down by the mountain streams is immediately absorbed, and the climate generally is dry. The mean temperature naturally varies according to altitude, but the lower valleys are very hot in summer-time.

The City of Catamarca is still a veritable sleepy hollow, poor and indolent, but picturesque with the gardens and orange and other orchards of Colonial times.

The population of this Province is mostly of mixed Spanish and Indian origin; as indeed is that of practically all the northern outlying Provinces and Territories of the Republic.

The needs of these people are few, and they continue in a lethargic condition of conservative content. One district, however, of Catamarca—Andalgalá—boasts of an aristocracy of pure Spanish blood, resident since the early days of the Conquest.

At present all the best brains of Catamarca find their way to Buenos Aires; in despair of the small scope, and even opposition to any suggestion of innovation, offered by their native Province. Still, Nature in Catamarca, as elsewhere throughout Argentina, only awaits the call of man to respond with rich gifts.

There is no doubt about the existence of valuable mineral[165] deposits, silver, copper and especially tin, in Catamarca. The chief obstacle to the due exploitation of these up to the present has been the difficulty and cost of transport. The railway should soon, however, render the working of these mines profitable on a much larger scale than hitherto has been commercially possible.


This Province is bounded on the North and North-East by the Province of Catamarca, on the West and South-West by Chile and the Province of San Juan, on the South by the Province of San Luis, and on the East by Catamarca, again, and the Province of Córdoba.

La Rioja is another outlying Province of which can be said, as of so many as yet comparatively unproductive parts of Argentina, that water, labour and transport alone are needed to make them rich far beyond any dreams of avarice which have yet occupied the minds of their few and easy-going inhabitants. Maize flourishes in this hot, dry climate, as do all manner of subtropical and even tropical fruits, including dates, wherever water is available. Even wheat grows splendidly in some districts, given irrigation. And, as in many other salty and saltpetre-impregnated soils, there are large areas in La Rioja highly favourable to the growth of Alfalfa.

At present this Province is more sparsely populated than any other in the Republic except Jujuy, but it boasts of a fair number of (mostly native) cattle. As in all the Andine Provinces and Territories there is a relatively considerable export trade of cattle on the hoof to Chile.

La Rioja produces some wine, and at some future date will, no doubt, produce more, in view of the advantages for vine culture of its soil in many parts and its warm, dry climate. At present the wine of La Rioja is mostly consumed in the province itself and the immediately neighbouring Provinces.


Large irrigating works are in progress, and more are under consideration by the National Government for the development of the agricultural industries of this Province.

Contemporaneously with or possibly before such development will have been able, on account of lack of population, to assume any very notable progress, one may reasonably expect to see a largely increased activity in the exploitation of La Rioja’s mineral wealth (apparently much greater than that of Catamarca) by reason of the enormously increased facilities for transport afforded by the National North Argentine Railway. La Rioja has rich deposits of silver, copper, nickel, tin, cobalt, topaz and many beautiful kinds of marble.

The mining district best known at present is that of La Famatina; from which a cable-way of 35 kilometres in length was constructed by the National Government some years ago to connect the hillside mines with the rail-head at Chilecito.

La Rioja has, however, many other evidently rich mineral areas, including some containing quartz and alluvial gold. The unsystematic exploitation of these has as yet given but small satisfactory results.

The city of La Rioja, the Capital, is still in a state of arrested development, similarly with Catamarca, only even more so. It has not yet experienced sufficient prosperity to enable it to recover from the paralysing effects of the civil disturbances which raged in and around it for very many years after the overthrow of the Spanish rule. The people, the great majority of whom have a large admixture of native Indian blood, are, however, of a rather more lively and energetic disposition than their Catamarcan neighbours. This is no doubt due to a difference in their racial origin; the Indian ancestors of the natives of La Rioja having apparently belonged to tribes which in bygone times inhabited, or were in close relations with those which inhabited, Peru[167] and thus possibly absorbed something of the Inca civilization.

The surface of La Rioja has two general aspects; one part is broken and mountainous and the other an immense plain, needing, as has been said, only labour and irrigation to yield rich agricultural results. The one important river of the Province is the Bermejo. The mineral wealth of this Province lies almost if not entirely exclusively, in its mountainous districts.


Jujuy has its very special interest for the Anglo-Saxon race, since it affords, in the history of the Leach family, a striking example of the colonizing enterprise and patience of that race.

Look at the position of Jujuy on the map and imagine what colonizing must have been like in the middle of last century when the brothers Leach first settled in what has since become a Province, but then was a wild district inhabited by native Indians.

One of the brothers, especially, Mr. Walter Leach, seems to have exercised a peculiar and highly beneficial influence over these people, and managed to introduce ideas of industry and gradual civilization to tribes whose former lives had been mostly occupied with warfare one with another.

Now we may almost say that “Leach” is synonymous with “Jujuy” and vice versa, and enterprises initiated by this family now embrace all branches of industry of which the Province is yet capable, including large sugar plantations and machinery. Now, the National Central Northern Argentine Railway connects Jujuy with the outer world, but before its advent it was indeed a far-off land to be reached only after many weeks’ arduous journeying. Jujuy is the most distant and, after Tucumán, the smallest Province of the Republic.

It is bounded on the North and North-West by Bolivia,[168] on the West by the National Territory of Los Andes and on the South and East by the Province of Salta.

Jujuy produces not inconsiderable quantities of wheat, maize, barley and alfalfa and, as has been said, sugar.

In the North it has a number of salt lakes, which are exploited commercially, as also are some deposits of borax.

The climate of Jujuy is very varied, according to altitude, but in general is much more temperate than the actual latitude of the Province would lead one to suppose. There is always a considerable rainfall during hot weather. Its chief river is the Rio Grande de Humahuaca, a tributary of the Bermejo, which coming from the North curves in a semicircle through the Central and South-Eastern parts of the Province.

Jujuy, with its broken surface, claims rivalry with Tucumán as the most picturesque of the Argentine Provinces. In some of its southern districts the vegetation is tropical. In the North-West there is a high tableland much of which is dry and practically desert, interspersed with fertile valleys.

In the South of the Province the population is of mixed racial origin with a very large element of native Indian blood. In the North it is practically pure Indian. The native Humahuaca dialect is preponderant everywhere, even in Spanish as spoken there. In the North there is little or no pretension to speak anything but Humahuaca.

The Capital, however, the City of Jujuy, was, strangely enough, the first Argentine town to have its streets paved. It was the scene of the assassination of General Lavalle, one of the heroes of the Wars of Independence, and possesses the original flag of General Belgrano, the blue and white chosen by him for the nascent Republic, and ever since retained by it. Later the National Colours and those of Uruguay (a slightly different arrangement of the same blue and white) were officially emblazoned with the golden “Sun of May”; the 25th of May, 1810, being the date of the Declaration of Independence from the rule of Spain.


As has been mentioned above, most of such prosperity as Jujuy as yet possesses is due to the patient energy of the Leach family. Such administrative and fiscal discredit as attaches to the Province is, on the other hand, due to the native element among its politicians. These evils inevitably must soon be swept away by the advance of civilized ideas and necessity for better management by public authority. The mass of the population will, no doubt, continue to live in its own long-accustomed primitive fashion.

It hardly contains the racial elements of rapid advance towards a much higher civilization.

Future immigration must be relied on to do much to develop Jujuy’s natural resources.

At present a certain amount of rather primitive, and some contraband, export and import trade is done with Bolivia in the Northern parts of the Province.

Jujuy is poor in Live Stock even of the native kinds.


With Salta we complete the list of the less important outlying Argentine Provinces.

Like Jujuy, it is bounded on the North by Bolivia, on the West by Jujuy and the National Territory of Los Andes, on the South by Tucumán and Santiago del Estero, and on the East by the National Territory of Formosa.

Salta is indeed historic ground; so full of reminiscence of the Wars of Independence that it may almost be called the cradle of the Republic. It was also in Salta that Jabez Balfour was at length taken into custody, after a long struggle for an extradition treaty between Great Britain and Argentina.

The writer is well acquainted with a gentleman, since then become a prominent figure in the railway world of the River Plate, who “specially” drove the engine of the train which brought Balfour down to civilization and captivity. The[170] prisoner had money which he had spent freely among his new neighbours, and attempts at rescue were expected. So the train rushed on its downward course with a velocity to which the then permanent way and rails were totally unaccustomed, but, as all the world was soon made aware, arrived at its destination without accident.

The prisoner had been the victim of his own luxurious habits, for he had grown so fat that it was impossible to convey him through frontier mountain passes into Bolivia, as his friends had intended and as would have been possible, in point of time, to do before the expected warrant for his arrest could have found its way into the not too willing hands of the local authorities.

Until his recent death, the present generation had scarcely heard of Jabez Balfour. Yet he was widely celebrated in contemporaneous popular song as “The man who broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.”

In Salta is still to be found a much more really interesting personage in the Gaucho, the Cavaliere Rusticano of the River Plate and the hero of all its earlier poetry and romance. He of the guitar-accompanied improvised verse, of the quick flashing knife and equally quick Rebenque.[26] He was no small element in the victories won over the Spanish soldiery nor in the long years of civil war which followed Independence. He is still in Salta; one of the last parts of the Republic in which he can be found. Comparatively uncontaminated by the encroachments of the drab uniformity of civilization.

He remains romantic and brutal, chivalrous and treacherous, hospitable and quick to resent the mere implication of an insult. Still a cattle herd adept with lazo or boleadora,[27] a nomad ever seeking fresh fields and pastures[171] new within the limits of his native territory. Give him a uniform he is a very useful soldier, and a fair military policeman, save for his rather erratic fits of truculence. For the rest no good at all outside of the few spheres mapped out for him by the limitation of his own strongly marked individuality. But he will always know again an animal he has once seen, and will track out a lost sheep across a very maze of confused spoor.

Mr. Herbert Gibson[28] has written of the gaucho with true feeling and appreciation in the following words:—

Skilled in horsemanship, quick of hand and of eye; in his beginnings the Arab and nomad of the plains; indifferent of his neighbour’s life, for his own he carried in his hand to risk at the first hazard, yet “loyal to his own law” even in his most lawless exploits—the gaucho of the Pampa constitutes the genuine emblem of the Argentine genius. He is the materialized expression of the spirit of the vast and lonely plain. “Bearing allegiance to neither King nor thing,” as Azara writes, he followed the fate of the live stock of the colony; when the cattle escaped control he too declared himself free, running wild and beyond the pale of even nominal domestication. The Pampa was his home, and in his ears the breeze moving over the plains whispered to him of liberty. To colonial rule succeeded the new order of Independence, and the gaucho, inured by his style of living to the stress of weather and to the struggle with savage animals, became the right hand of the petty chiefs of party faction, ever joining the side in conflict with the ruling power. The words law and order signified for him oppression and servitude, and he became the declared enemy of all authority. But with all his faults the gaucho, in his own element, mounted on his beloved horse, with lazo secured to the back of his saddle and his boleadora hanging from his waist, was the henchman beyond price for the work of the old estancia, knowing how to dominate and domesticate the savage herds and droves of wild mares. In all that he has seemingly been modified by the progress of the times, he has remained unmodified in his spirit which is the essential manifestation of his climate and of his habit. The nomad gaucho of the colonial period converted into the loyal[172] gaucho of the estancia, the man with no other belongings than his horses and the silver clasp and buttons hanging at his belt to whom the breeder entrusted all his herds, and the grazier the money wherewith to buy the droves of bullocks, without for one moment thinking, either the one or the other, that he would neglect his charges or fail to render account to the uttermost farthing committed to his care. Alike loyal and venturesome in the fulfilment of his duties, and kindly and hospitable in his lowly home life, he is the hero of the rural romance of the Pampa. Not without regret and tender reminiscences must we take farewell of a period of pastoral life, from whose remembrance all the hardships and bitterness have disappeared, only leaving to us the recollection of that patriarchal and wholesome life which the late Hernandez has so skilfully depicted in the picturesque language of the gaucho who tells his story by the fitful light of the fire on the kitchen hearth while his fingers caress the melancholy strings of the guitar.

And now approaches the new era of railways, of fenced-in paddocks, of ingenious drafting gates and all the mechanical entourage of the modern pastoral industry. The gaucho, like Othello, is without an occupation, but the spirit which in divers forms and epochs has characterized him shall not die. It is the native spirit of the Argentine genius which enters the immigrant ere for long he has settled in the land and which inspires the sons born to him in this country; it is the instinct of independence and individuality engendered by the free air of a rural life, and which is the antithesis of the dependent spirit symbolized in city life by socialism.

Salta is a large, sparsely populated Province, the inhabitants of which outside the circle of its aristocratic families, are composed of our friend the Gaucho and his families and the Coya Indians. These last, cowboys and shepherds, are much more unpleasant people; morose, avaricious in their necessarily small way, and full of sullen duplicity. Their only obvious virtue is their devoted attachment to the small allotments of land they can call their own. This solitary virtue does not, however, make them any the pleasanter to strangers; all of whom indiscriminately they regard as possible enemies come to[173] rob them of their rights in some mysterious way or other.

Naturally, with such a population and on account of its distance from the great commercial centres of the Republic, Salta is not yet very far on the road to any great or settled prosperity.

It has some sugar plantations, cultivates some tobacco and makes some wine, but with its many generally well-watered and easily irrigable large areas of rich soil it could easily, and of course eventually will, progress.

It could grow a great deal more maize and alfalfa than it does, and could carry much more and better live stock than it yet troubles to do.

It produces some fruit and could produce all sorts of much choicer kinds in great variety; also potatoes, cotton and, as experts affirm, excellent coffee.

Of course there are here the old difficulties of irrigation, in some places, cost of transport and lack of intelligent labour. The first two are rapidly being overcome by the National Government, the last must be looked for overseas. The Gaucho and the Coya not only are not sufficiently numerous for Salta’s future needs, but (alas for the romance of the former!) they must be classed amongst the doomed unfit; to be merged in or overwhelmed by the march of modernity.

The aspect of Salta, like that of most of the northern Provinces and Territories, is varied. Mountain and low valley, broad plain and forest, deep river and rushing stream all alternate and give picturesqueness and diversity of climate. Goats, mules and sufficient horses for existing local needs are to be found here as in the neighbouring Provinces; all of which are justly famous for products, the mention of which must on no account be overlooked, the native cloths and PONCHOS, hand-woven of vicuna and guanaco wool. Soft, warm and durable, these cloths are highly and justly valued in the more civilized regions of the River Plate.


The manufacture of them dates from times which are prehistoric in America.

The forests of Salta contain a great quantity of Quebracho of excellent quality, and there are several indigenous creepers of caoutchouc-bearing kinds. This latter has as yet been little exploited, and then only in an extremely primitive manner.

Salta boasts a large hydropathic establishment in connection with the hot mineral springs of Rosario de la Frontera.

Salta, the Capital, is another of the old Colonial cities, amid the low houses of which fine new public buildings occur incongruously; iconoclastic. It has also a zoological garden which, wisely, contains many interesting specimens of local fauna, fine, luxuriantly planted public gardens and Plazas and an excellent Police Band.

In the oligarchic days of only a very few years ago the police forces of these outlying Provinces were extremely important political instruments. Under the Constitution the Provinces cannot raise or maintain independent soldiery; but who could say them nay if the exigencies of an uncultured population necessitated a large police force armed with Mausers?—to ensure due obedience to the orders of and agreement with the policy of the Provincial powers that were.

There are few commercial centres in Salta having populations sufficient to give them importance as towns. Metan is the largest, and after it come Cafayate, Campo Santo and Rosario de la Frontera, which, as has been said, is noted for its hot springs.



This is one of the richer Provinces on account of its vines and the large wine-making industry. Similarly with Tucumán and Sugar, one may say that Mendoza and Wine are in Argentina practically synonymous; this observation[175] also applies to its neighbour, San Juan, the second great wine-producing Province. Indeed it is quite common—very common indeed, in fact—to say of a person who shows signs of being under alcoholic influence that he is “Entre San Juan y Mendoza” (between San Juan and Mendoza).

Besides those of its vines, the greatest agricultural products of Mendoza are alfalfa, grown over very considerable areas of salt-impregnated soil, and a much smaller proportion of maize.

The population of Mendoza is small and the number of its live stock very little larger: although in point of superficial area Mendoza ranks third (after Buenos Aires and Córdoba) among the Argentine Provinces. It is only fair, however, to add that much of the Western Area of Mendoza is very mountainous, since it includes a long stretch of the Eastern side of the Andes.

This Province is bounded on the North by that of San Juan, on the West by Chile, on the South by the National Territories of Neuquen and the Pampa Central, and on the East by the Province of San Luis.

Its department of San Rafael is a very large one, larger indeed than the whole of the rest of the Province put together; in it is found the greatest agricultural activity, including the great alfalfa fields. The Mendoza cattle are of all kinds and varieties, little attention having been yet, generally, given to the science of cross-breeding. It, however, exports numbers of cattle to Chile, either by way of mountain passes or the Transandine Railway; but a great many of these have been bred in neighbouring Provinces and sent to Mendoza for a fattening period before exportation.

Irrigation is a great feature of Mendoza, which was the first Province to receive any notable attention in this regard. Now, if we except, perhaps, the great irrigation works and schemes already well advanced in the National Territories[176] of Neuquen and the Rio Negro, Mendoza has, with San Juan, the largest and most comprehensive systems (both existing and in advanced stages of consideration) in the whole Republic.

The fall of the mountain rivers and the eastward drop of the whole surface of the Province makes irrigation here a comparatively easy task, while the natural fertility of the soil quickly and richly repays the initial cost and upkeep of reservoirs and canals. One menace there is which hangs ever over Mendoza, that of volcanic eruptions. The whole of its Capital was completely destroyed as recently as 1861. The city has, however, been rebuilt on its former site, a sort of shelf of land situated on the spring of the great Andine range. Gradually the loosely built low adobe houses have been and are still being replaced in the New Town by several-storied buildings of solid masonry; courage growing as the date of the last great earthquake grows more remote. Still slight shocks are of frequent occurrence in the Capital and elsewhere in this Province.

The City of Mendoza is rich in public gardens and avenues filled with luxuriantly umbrageous vegetation and has, of course (what self-respecting Argentine town has them not?), electric light and trams; but its just pride is the great West Park, situate on another level shelf of land projecting from the foot of the Cordillera on a higher level than that on which the City is built.

This Park has a sheet of water of almost a mile in length by some seventy-five yards broad, in which are ornamental islets and on which regattas are held. For these festal occasions there is a huge stone grand stand at one end of the water. The Park has many magnificent electric-lighted avenues lined with trees of majestic proportions, and all over it are gardens of subtropical shrubs and plants. Within its great bronze gates are also a zoological and a, specifically, botanical garden.



With all this, if Mendoza has drawn somewhat on the[177] future to foot the bill of its many embellishments, it has done no more than many other cities of the still new South American countries, and with more immediate prospect of justification for its expenditure than have several others. What Mendoza has got to do now is to create an export trade for its wines, on the condition precedent that it manufacture wines that will keep and will improve with keeping. Otherwise with increased irrigation it may run the risk of over-production, since the home consumption is as yet a limited one. The increase of the population of the River Plate countries is, as we have seen, still slow, and outside the towns very little wine is drunk by the majority of the people except on special and rare occasions; mate sufficing for their habits and needs.

Mendoza sends large quantities of table-grapes and other fruit to Buenos Aires, and hopes one day to send them overseas. This latter consideration depends greatly on the adoption of improved methods of picking and packing, matters to which the management of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway has given much practical attention. Care in such details is, however, but little in the Argentine nature generally, and even in a less degree in that of the strong mixture of Indian blood which marks the working classes of Mendoza, as it does in all except the littoral Provinces. Very good canned peaches come from the Mendoza factories and are in large demand throughout the Republic.

Coal and petroleum have both been found in the Province, but further working tests are needed before their probable commercial value can be ascertained.

From the City of Mendoza the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway (familiarly B.A.P.) strikes upward to where it passes through the Transandine tunnel; on the Mendoza side of which is the famous Puente del Inca (the Inca’s bridge), a vast block of stone which, lying across a ravine, makes a natural bridge, recalling the giant-built palace of the old Norse Gods. Here are also some hot mineral springs[178] celebrated for treatment of rheumatism; to which treatment the dry, rarefied mountain air perhaps contributes its less recognized quota.


This Province is bounded on the North and East by the Province of La Rioja, on the West by Chile, and on the South and South-East by the Provinces of Mendoza and San Luis respectively.

Of all the Argentine Provinces San Juan has shown itself, until very recent times indeed, probably the most recalcitrant towards financial orderliness. A repeated non possumus was the only answer its inertness returned to the many periodical fulminations and menaces of the National Government in respect of its treasury bonds or depreciated Provincial paper money. So depreciated, in fact, that it was worth nothing at all outside the Province itself, and was by no means welcome, although legal, tender within its boundaries.

San Juan pleaded that it could not call this paper in since it had nothing with which to replace it—all the little National money it got for its wines and other produce went immediately back to Buenos Aires again for necessary purchases.

The National Government insisted that San Juan must remove the disgrace from its financial escutcheon or all sorts of things would happen. San Juan regretted deeply and asked for time. In the meanwhile it contrived to raise another of those loans, without much more than a shadow of adequate security or provision, which long have been the nightmare of the National Government, and it still kept on using its depreciated notes. So, and in many other ways for long, very long, did San Juan wrestle, successfully according to its lights, with the spirit of progress until irrigation, fostered by the National Government, came to the aid of the latter in a way there was no denying.



San Juan had to become more prosperous and to begin to pay its way in respectable fashion. It evidently did not in the least want to do so, but it could not any longer see any way by which it could avoid recognition of its just liabilities. Thus are the good old times of this Province vanishing; the good old times which made sufficient provision for an aristocratic oligarchy and in which vassals had no opportunity of acquiring luxurious tastes.

First the railway, slow in this case, however, in its usually tonic effects and then irrigation, which poured water on to a naturally very fertile soil, brought it about that one day San Juan woke up to find itself faced with financial responsibility.

People from the littoral and even from overseas came and bought land and paid good prices in hard cash for it and then planted vines of new, productive kinds; trimmed them in new, productive ways; and made better wine out of them than San Juan had ever deemed at all necessary. Other people planted wheat and alfalfa, and even troubled to grow more maize than there had been before. In fact, if ever a Province had greatness thrust upon it in a bewilderingly short space of time it was San Juan. People are even prospecting and actually exploiting its long-latent mineral wealth, looking for and finding deposits of gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, lead, sulphur, alum, mica, rock salt, lignite and marble.

The exploitation of many of these has not yet attained any very great commercial importance,[29] but that of others has already done so, and all the companies concerned have brought money into the Province and pay wages to many native workers. All this troublesomeness tends to curtail the daily siesta, but a consequent bundle of full-value national dollars operates as a consolation to even the most conscientious observer of traditional custom. The next[180] generation of San Juan inhabitants will doubtless be as wide awake as their neighbours, and strikes may take the place of old-time rebellion to the orders of patriarchal overlords; while the latter will be put to it to work their ancestral lands intelligently in order to maintain the due measure of their proper dignity.

Not only has the National Government fostered large systems of irrigation in and given irrigation to this Province, but it has also run a railway connecting the City of San Juan with the Federal Capital; thus providing another outlet for its grapes, wines and other produce.

An instance of the former commercial apathy of San Juan, and of its neighbour Mendoza for that matter, was, not long ago, to be found in the manner in which the growers of table-grapes allowed themselves to be continually and methodically jockeyed by the fruit ring of Buenos Aires.

The worthies composing this ring were low-class, ignorant men, who could only grasp the possibilities of monopoly and market rigging on a very small scale. Their simple method was to put only a certain limited quantity of fruit each week on the retail markets of the Federal Capital and to charge exorbitant prices therefor. To the poor, three-quarter Indian, ignorant people of the islands of the Paraná they said that Buenos Aires did not care much for peaches, and so they only went there once a week or so to fetch a few, at miserable prices, for market. The rest of huge crops were left to rot on the trees. San Juan (and Mendoza) were evidently given to understand that a similar situation existed in regard to grapes.

How this could have been so is hard to understand, except on the ground of extreme apathy on the part of the Provinces concerned, for lots of vineyard owners live at least half the year in Buenos Aires, and could have told of the scarcity and high price of fruit in that city.

However this may have been, the fact remained that so many kilos of table-grapes, and no more, went down to[181] Buenos Aires in specially constructed trucks placed on the B.A.P. trains three days per week. Until the General Manager, Mr. J. A. Goudge, decided to act in the better interests of the Provinces concerned and, incidentally, also in those of his company, by running grape trains six days a week.

He thought, perhaps, that the Buenos Aires fruit merchants would call at his offices with illuminated testimonials. If he did so he was entirely mistaken. They did call, but it was to curse not bless. He would ruin them all, they said; they had comfortably arranged for such and such supplies of grapes, but more would upset their plans and businesses completely! They left Mr. Goudge unconvinced. So much so, indeed, that considering the menace of the ring to boycott his new trains, he hit on the simple but adequate expedient of running three grape trains per week from San Juan, non-stopping at Mendoza, and three starting from the latter place. San Juan needed its three trains, so did Mendoza, and therefore no one could boycott either service. Result, the arrival at Buenos Aires of six grape trains per week. The ring soon accommodated itself to the extra supply and went on robbing the busy, light-hearted Porteños (as people born in Buenos Aires are called) till the continued efforts of a paternally wise Municipality at last, after a long and bitter struggle, crushed the power of all the food rings in that formerly ring-ridden city.

This little piece of economic history is here intended to show the depths of somnolence and blindness to their own interests in which the grape growers of San Juan and Mendoza reposed till, so to speak, only the other day.

San Juan is capable of producing good quality cotton and tobacco. Its general climate is warm, hot in summer, and in parts very dry; though the humidity of the soil and atmosphere of the chief vine areas are greater than in those of Mendoza. Hence the relative general superiority and freedom from insect pests of the Mendoza vineyards.


The city of San Juan is Colonial in almost all its aspects, and its public and private gardens, filled with mingled tropical and temperate zone trees, shrubs and flowers, exhale the lazy atmosphere of days the memory of which is so constantly recurrent in all distant Argentine towns. Sleepy hollow; maybe, but its charm! A charm which will not nor can ever be “reconstructed,” try all those of us who are afflicted with unhappy artistic temperaments, never so hard. But that charm is still in San Juan, in Misiones (the one-time “Jesuit Empire”), Salta and Jujuy; in spite of new Government and Municipal Buildings, electric light and trams.

Later, we will go to the Falls of Iguazú, greater and more magnificent than Niagara or the Victoria Falls. These wonderful Falls are in the great up-to-date, go-ahead Argentine Republic. What proportion of our “Man-in-the-street” has ever heard of them? And how many good intelligent inhabitants of Buenos Aires have any clear idea of what they are really like?



The name of the Pampa is also redolent of romance; of memories of vast herds of wild cattle and horses, picturesque gauchos and raiding Indians; but the Pampa Central of to-day is a great and ever-growing cereal area, soon, no doubt, to become in its own right the fifteenth Province of the Republic. A Province probably destined to outstrip rapidly many of its older compeers in the race for wealth and very modern in its utilitarian progressiveness.

Its superficial area is approximately equal to that of Mendoza, and though as yet it lacks population, that will come to it sooner than to many other parts of the Republic,[183] since it already grows much more than double as much wheat as all the rest of the Republic put together, after exception made of the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé and Córdoba, and more than double as much linseed after exception made of the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba and Entre Rios. It also produces more maize than any Province or other Territory with the exception of the last-mentioned four.

Its development has been the most rapid of any part of quick-moving Argentina. No just comparison of progress can be made with Uruguay; the conditions under which the latter country has until so recently struggled having been adverse to rapidity of material development, whereas the Pampa Central was freed from its only, though great, disturbing element, nomadic hordes of native Indians, as long ago as 1884.

This Territory is bounded on the North by the Provinces of Mendoza, San Luis and Córdoba, on the West by Mendoza and the National Territory of Neuquen, on the South by the National Territory of Rio Negro, and on the East by the Province of Buenos Aires.

Some parts of the Pampa Central are hilly and wooded and, as in some parts of the Province of Buenos Aires, ever-moving sand-hills vary the monotony of other portions of its surface, but the greater part of it is the continuation of a vast plain, begun in the Province of Buenos Aires, the Pampa of the Indians, from which it takes its name. It is, in fact, the Central Pampa; the Eastern being in the Province of Buenos Aires and the Southern extending into Patagonia.

Though the Pampa Central boasts only two great rivers, the Rio Colorado and the Rio Negro, the latter of which forms its southern boundary, it has many both fresh-water and saline lakes, and water is seldom to seek far from its surface.

The chief products of the Pampa Central are wheat,[184] linseed, maize and oats, but with the growth of its alfalfa fields and the planting of good grasses in lieu of the native hard pasturage, it has also become a great centre of the Live Stock fattening industry, especially during the winter months.

The sandy, salty soil of much of this territory, with water near the surface, provides, as has been said of similar tracts elsewhere, just the conditions most favourable to lucerne; while in other parts the soil is extremely rich in humus.

Three of the great railway systems serve the Pampa Central; viz. the Buenos Aires Western, the Buenos Aires Pacific, and the Buenos Aires Great Southern, carrying its produce to the ports of both Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca.

Santa Rosa de Toay is the Capital of this Territory; a purely commercial town which by its rapidly grown importance supplanted the old Capital, General Acha.

The Pampa Central has also numerous other active centres of the cereal trade and general commerce.

On the question of its becoming a Province of the Republic there is considerable local difference of opinion; a good many of its business men holding that honour dear at the price of having to maintain a Provincial Congress and various Ministries and the rest of the appanages of autonomy. In this they are right. Direct National Government is certainly the cheapest and it is also very far from being the worst.

The Pampa Central now exports large quantities of high-class wool and hides. It also has some copper mines, the present output of which, however, is not of great importance.

This territory would already, no doubt, have been much more populous than it is had it not been the scene of one of the most glaring of the labour-exploiting scandals referred to elsewhere in these pages.

Here the cases were sufficiently numerous and contemporaneous to render a menace of serious disturbance possible to and partially effective by people who had been cajoled into developing virgin land only to be threatened with[185] expulsion (as soon as that work had been done and before they had been able to derive any profit from it) by owners who only revealed their existence at what seemed to them the propitious moment for their appearance on the scene of other people’s labours. Compromises were arrived at by which the farmers consented to pay rent for their holdings, but the scandal undoubtedly kept many others away from the Territory, and even now an evil result of it continues in the shape of almost every tenant being obviously only anxious to get the most he can out of the land while it is his to work. Few tenant farmers in the Pampa spend much money in buildings or other improvements.

The Pampa Central is a crying case for the adoption and insistence by the National Government on the real practical working out of a true colonization policy. A policy by which the small farmer could obtain the indisputable freehold of land which he develops and on which he lives, be he Argentine or foreigner.

In all else the foreigner actually enjoys under the Constitution the same privileges (except eligibility for high Government office, etc.) as a born Argentine. But land! It must go hard with an Argentine ere he part with his ultimate rights in that. Yet, I repeat, he must make up his mind to do so on a large scale or he will find his whole progress arrested as surely as if the Antarctic zone had suddenly extended its icy influence over half of his Republic. If he will not give them land the class of colonist he most needs—the real settler—will continue to give the country a wide berth and its output must remain stationary at the point at which it fully occupies all available labour.


This is one of the least generally known parts of Argentina. Misiones figures in the history of the Spanish Conquest and that of the Jesuit Missionaries,[30] from which it[186] takes its present name; the Territory of the Rio Negro has of late years become prominent by reason of great schemes of irrigation (these, however, also affect the Eastern portions of Neuquen); Chubut came into notice in connection with the not over-successful establishment of a Welsh colony; the Chaco is vaguely associated in the general mind with Indian Reservations and occasional real or reported disturbances caused by the aborigines confined therein; but the Territories of Santa Cruz, Formosa, Los Andes and Neuquen are still little more than geographical expressions to even the vast majority of the inhabitants of the rest of the Republic.

A principal cause of this is that most of the inhabitants of Neuquen are to be found on the Western and most distant side of it (in which the most fertile, and almost the only really fertile parts of it, until irrigation is an accomplished fact, are situated) and because they not only do all their trading with Chile, but, to all intents and purposes, are Chileans.

It is quicker and easier to get backward and forward through well-known Andine passes between Neuquen and Chile than to accomplish the journey between the rail-head at Senillosa, a little to the West of the township of Neuquen, and the productive and well-watered Andine valleys. The Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway, which serves this Territory, now, however, has under construction an extension of the Neuquen line to far up the Andes; from whence it is intended to connect with the Chilean Railway system.

Therefore the richest parts of Neuquen are as yet practically Chilean colonies; from which cattle and agricultural produce find their way, some paying and much contriving to escape payment of duty to the neighbouring Republic, which in return sends such manufactured articles as the colonist’s somewhat humble needs demand.


This Territory is bounded on the North by the Province[187] of Mendoza, on the West by Chile, on the South by the Territory of the Rio Negro, and on the East by the Territory of the Pampa Central.

Neuquen, though Argentina at large knows little of it, grows more wheat than any other National Territory, except the Pampa Central, and more alfalfa than any except the last named and the Territory of the Rio Negro. It also sends small quantities of potatoes and other table vegetables to Chile. Its chief exports to that country consist of cattle and sheep on the hoof.

The whole of the Andine side of Neuquen is extremely picturesque, and abounds in fertile valleys well watered by mountain streams. These streams, after their arrival at the foot of the Andine range, form a network of ultimate tributaries of the great rivers Colorado and Negro; after having formed a whole system of lakes of which Nahuel Huapí is the largest. The scenery of this lake, with the great snow-covered volcanic mountain Tronador (the Thunderer) on its Southern end, is Scandinavian in its tree-clad magnificence. The superficial area of this lake is some 1000 square miles and its depth in some parts is over 700 feet.

On one of its islands, Victoria, the enormously wealthy Argentine family of Anchorena have founded a colony to work its wealth of virgin timber, on a 99 years’ lease from the National Government.

A number of small steam and sailing boats ply on this lake, gathering the wood, hides and other produce of the farms on its borders and bringing to the farmers their necessary supplies.

Neuquen is credited with alluvial goldfields and has some copper. Its mineral wealth is as yet, however, really unascertained; the prospecting and tentative exploitation of it having been up to the present only done by syndicates or small companies whose resources have been too limited for the tasks they have set themselves in, from the point of view of transport, such inaccessible regions.


The Western and South-Western parts of this Territory are rich in timber, and its Eastern plains should, with irrigation, repeat the prosperous history of the Pampa Central.

It has many hot and other mineral springs, the medicinal and other virtues of which are already known in Chile; from which country they attract many sufferers from rheumatism and stomachic and other ailments.

In dealing with all the yet little known outlying parts of the vast Argentine Republic one is apt to become wearisomely tautological in one’s endeavours to give some true idea of their enormous latent natural wealth. Yet if one set out, ever so modestly, to bring some conception of them home to the Northern Hemisphere, one must tell the truth even at the risk of reiteration. And the truth is that for the future wealth of all these regions there is only one word, Incalculable.

The Territories of Neuquen and the Rio Negro will soon have irrigation on a vast scale and of most modern design. This work is being carried out for the National Government by the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway Company and is already far advanced.

The virgin soil of the plains of these Territories is almost incredibly rich in humus and alluvial deposit; and they have a wealthy Railway Company ready to afford all necessary means of transport to deep-water ports which nature has already provided on the Atlantic Ocean at, comparatively, no great distance from any of, and in many instances close to, what will be their chief centres of agricultural production (in the widest sense of that term).



The most important of the general observations applicable to this Territory have already been made immediately above; remains in their connection only to be said that the[189] Northern side of the valley of the Rio Negro itself contains some of the naturally richest soil to be found anywhere in the Republic. Anyone armed with a watering-pot can grow any temperate-zone crop, fruit or plant and be astounded by the brobdingnagian proportions of its yield, accomplished in a space of time suggestive of Jack’s Beanstalk.

And this anywhere in the midst of what now is an arid desert, on which the only vegetation is sparse, stunted, scrubby, useless bush.

The reasons for this are that these eastern regions of the South have practically no rainfall at all and that all the water running from the Andes to the Sea has already found its way, farther west, into one or other of the great Rivers Colorado and Negro.

The huge irrigation scheme now being carried out will utilize an enormous natural hollow formerly known as the Cuenca Vidal, now rechristened Lago Pellegrini (after a once prominent Argentine statesman) as a natural storage reservoir. The surplus water from the lake and river system, which makes a network over the whole of the western part of the territories of Neuquen and the Rio Negro, at the base of the Andes, will be utilized for the irrigation of their eastern plains. This system is also destined to serve another necessary purpose: namely, to regulate the flow of the Rio Negro.

This is very necessary indeed; for this river, swollen by the melting of Andine snow and ice, which has in some years taken place in an exceptional degree, comes down suddenly with overpowering violence, headed by what is like a huge tidal wave, and sweeps everything within miles of its normal, deep-cut, banks before it.

Several times during the past fifty years have settlers been tempted by the rich alluvial soil, brought down by centuries of just such floodings, to establish themselves near enough to the actual river to irrigate by some one or other rough lift system, and remained there year in year[190] out, in the false security enjoyed by peasants on the slopes of a volcano, till one day a thunderous roar has been the only warning of the immediate approach of a torrential flood. Lucky the man who could catch and mount his horse in time to gallop away and thus save his life. All the rest, cattle, house and crops, were swept away in a second by the great head wave and following floods of the river suddenly swollen by the simultaneous overflowing of its innumerable tributary lakes.

Now all this will be guarded against, and, incidentally, the Rio Negro may be rendered really navigable for a very considerable distance by other engineering works for the removal and control of its bar.

However, and when, this last may be, there can be no doubt about the magic change that the first partial irrigation of these present desert plains will quickly create. Trees will soon grow on the irrigated portions, and these trees and other vegetation will arrest the clouds which now fly on unheedingly to the superior attractions of the Andes or the southern hills of the Province of Buenos Aires. The very southernmost portion of that Province is now in the same sad case as the rest of the valley of the Rio Negro, of which it forms a part.

As the result, smiling verdure will replace arid desert; in a short space of time, because of the natural fertility of the soil on which the transformation will take place.

Already two dotted lines on the railway map, one between Bahia Blanca and Carmen de Patagones, near the mouth of the Rio Negro, and the other branching from it to San Blas, show where the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway intends to run its first two lines through the southernmost strip of the Province of Buenos Aires which lies between the Rios Colorado and Negro, and other two dotted lines, one running southwards from the township of Rio Colorado to the bay of San Antonio, in the San Matias Gulf, and the other from the centre of the first to a junction, near Choele Choel, with[191] the main line to Neuquen, show the first intentions of the Buenos Aires Great Southern line towards that portion of the valley of the Rio Negro which falls within its agreed sphere of influence.

In agreeing to a division between them of the productive and prospectively productive areas of the southern parts of the Republic, these two great Railway Companies not only removed from their own paths the disastrous temptation to cut each other’s throats by tariff war, but also to a considerable extent precluded profitable competition by outside enterprise.

The National Government has now a line running from the port of San Antonio running East and West right across the Territory. The construction of this line will soon reach Lake Nahuel Huapí.

San Blas deserves special mention as the probable future chief port of the Rio Negro valley. On a long inlet of the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of which is a large projecting island and having deep water right up to its shores, San Blas has been described by high British authority to be the finest natural port, after Rio de Janeiro, on the Atlantic coast, both for commercial and strategic purposes.

It formed part of a concession made many years ago by the National Government to the late Mr. E. T. Mulhall, the Editor and, with his brother, Mr. Michael Mulhall, the eminent statistician of his time, joint founder of The Buenos Aires Standard, in recognition of services done for the development of the Republic; which in those days of its obscurity and distress was much aided towards a better and truer knowledge of its possibilities in Europe by the efforts of what now is the oldest established newspaper in America. The Standard is printed, as it always has been, in the English language.

The Rio Negro Territory already grows a good deal of wheat and oats and has the largest area under alfalfa of any National Territory except the Pampa Central; it also has[192] some vineyards and many European fruit trees grow in the fertile valleys at the foot of the Andes.

The minerals of this Territory are as yet an almost unknown quantity, except some copper and salt. Petroleum has also been found at Bariloche, but its commercial value is not fully ascertained.

The climate of the Rio Negro is temperate and, as has been indicated, for the most part very dry. One disadvantage to agriculture in the flat parts of these southern Territories is the furious winds which frequently sweep over them. The force of these will, it is reasonably hoped, be broken by trees in the days to come.

This reminds one of the tragi-comic history of the contemplated exploitation of certain great salt marshes situate not very distant from San Blas.

The brine from these was to be, and indeed on a great inaugural occasion was, run through pipes into immense shallow basins, where it was to lie until its moisture had been evaporated by the sun and wind. Afterwards the salt was to be shipped at the port of San Blas to Buenos Aires or elsewhere.

All seemed very well with this plan. The brine was duly accumulated in the drying basins, the sun shone fiercely on it—and, then, the wind blew and blew. So hard that it emptied the basins and distributed the brine they had contained over the rest of the Universe. Thus was a good scheme brought to naught by the miscalculations of its initiators. These, however, were wealthy enough to take the matter in good part. Indeed, it was from one of them that the present writer had the story. Still there is plenty of good salt in the Territory.

The Rio Negro has as yet only townships of rough-and-ready architecture, the centres of its nascent commerce. Viedma, its capital, is in a fertile tract of land at the mouth of the Rio Negro; it was, however, almost completely destroyed by a great flood in 1899. Its communication[193] with the Federal Capital is maintained by the steamers which call at Carmen de Patagones, on the opposite bank of the river, and by ferry thereto and coach to the head of the above-mentioned new line of the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway which already reaches half-way between it and Bahia Blanca. The completion of this line will greatly affect Viedma for the better, while the regulation of the current of the Rio Negro will protect it from repeated destruction by flood. This Territory has a fair stock of sheep, but few cattle.


Chubut has struck oil, literally. Petroleum was discovered there only a few years ago (1907), and since the first discovery many more wells have been sunk in greater or less proximity to the first find in the district of Comodoro Rivadavia, situate almost on the southern boundary of this Territory and on the Gulf of San Jorge. On this gulf of the Atlantic Ocean, the new oil-fields enjoy an admirable commercial situation. Remains only to prove fully their commercial value; of which the great Argentine Railway Companies are evidently not yet fully persuaded as far as fuel for their purposes is concerned, since they still use imported coal.

A long continuance of this present European war might, however, give stimulus to experiment with Chubut petroleum, which evidently has some value, even if it need more preparation for use than the North American and European kinds.

These oil-fields were, as has often been the case in such matters, discovered by accident, but the discovery was made by the National Hydrological Department in the course of a search for an available water supply for the then new Comodoro Rivadavia port.

On these fields claims have been allotted to Companies and private individuals and a certain area has been reserved[194] to itself by the National Government. Most brilliant results of tests of all kinds are announced, the Government line of railroad from the Rio Negro port of San Antonio to Lake Nahuel Huapí “uses no other” (fuel); and yet, and yet, Comodoro Rivadavia petroleum is slow to make history in the markets of the world.[31]

Still, time must be given for proof, especially in Chubut, the general appearance of which Territory suggests that it was the last word of creation, in one sense, after, of course, utterly desolate Tierra del Fuego. It is only about two decades since the Argentine authorities themselves seem to have grasped the idea that such a place did exist in their dominions. It is only so long ago, anyhow, that the National Government thought fit to send the first resident Government officials to Chubut to look after whatever might need to be looked after there. Before that, a small part of it was under the absolute control of a Colony of Welsh people who first settled there in 1856-66. The rest of it was, and to a great degree still is, almost exclusively inhabited by native Patagonians.

The capital of the Territory, Rawson, was founded by the Welsh colonists at the place of their first landing on the South Atlantic coast. It has twice been destroyed by the flooding of the Chubut River, at the mouth of which it stood; but it has now been rebuilt more solidly than before and on a site rather more out of harm’s way.

The original Welsh colonists seem to have been a strangely puritanical and narrow-minded set of persons to find themselves in such an out-of-the-way corner of the earth as Chubut then was. So, however, it may be observed, were certain other persons who landed in North America a much longer while ago from a ship called the Mayflower. Anyhow, the Welsh built and their descendants still maintain Protestant[195] churches and a stern religious spirit in their town of Rawson, a somewhat bigoted spirit, be it added, since it forbade the inter-marriage of its flock with anyone not of their own, or at any rate British, nationality; nor would it, until very recently, permit their acceptance of the most tempting offer to sell any part of the land within the colonised areas to a “foreigner,” Argentine or otherwise. And this last restriction does not seem to have been so much due to foresight of a future increase in land value as to a simple objection to the admission of any stranger within the fold.

Time will change this no doubt, and change it as soon as Chubut begins really to advance, but all that time has as yet done for the Welsh colony appears to have been to sap the energy of its forefathers; the men who in the face of discouragement and deaf official ears turned to their just grievances, struggled on, themselves constructing irrigation canals, and changed disaster into comparative prosperity. The Chubut “Welshman” of to-day seems as lazy as his forebears were energetic. A fresh strain of blood is possibly needed for his case.

The superficial area of Chubut is very large. After the Territory of Santa Cruz (to which would seem to have been allotted all that was left over of the Republic except the Argentine half of Tierra del Fuego, after the Government of the more populated parts had been arranged for) it is the largest National Territory of Argentina, and much larger than any Province except that of Buenos Aires.

Its estimated population averages scarcely more than one per ten square miles, so that there is plenty of elbow room in Chubut. With a superficial area approximately equal to that of Italy, the total estimated number of its inhabitants is but 31,000.

However, no doubt there are good times coming for Chubut as elsewhere in Argentina, though, petroleum and its general effects apart, there is relatively little in Chubut to hasten their coming, except its fertile Andine valleys. Sheep certainly thrive on its rough, scanty vegetation, and[196] seem to find just sufficient shelter on its wind-swept plains; but Chubut has little rainfall and its available fresh waters are few and far between at any practicable distance beneath the surface. It has only one great river, the Chubut, from which it takes its name, and this runs very shallow in the summer, while many of the lakes dry up altogether. In the West, the Andine region, however, there is ample rainfall, and this is as yet the only really productive part.

Chubut grows and exports some alfalfa and sends some cattle to Chile, but its chief product is wool. Its wheat, however, though still small in quantity, fetches very good prices. A railway is projected to run East and West across this Territory. It already reaches from Puerto Madryn to Gainam, on the River Chubut, a little west of Rawson.


This Territory is bounded on the North by Chubut, on the West and South by Chile, and on the East by the Atlantic Ocean.

Santa Cruz is not by any means so desolate, on the whole, as Chubut. It is the land of the sheep, and its large, very large, estancias, either on the Andine side of it or on the banks of its rivers, mostly belong to British settlers, who have brought their own architecture, orchards and gardens with them to this really out-of-the-way spot. Anyone weary of the crowded world and its busy ways might live and die under the shadow of the ever-lessening, as one gets south, heights of the Andine range, in some snug, sheltered valley through which a rippling stream runs close to where he would sit on a green sward in the shade of his own orchard.

This is no fancy picture. As has been indicated elsewhere in these pages, nothing is so English, temperature, vegetation, the very breeds of sheep (Romeny March largely predominating), in America than some favoured spots in Santa Cruz. Only the climate is different in being drier, the rain mostly falling in blustering showers.


There is, of course, a contrast when one emerges from among the Andine valleys, rivers and lakes out on to the dry, wind-swept, desert-looking plains. Still, even there one comes at times to oases, on the banks of one or other of the several considerable rivers. Shelter from the furious winds which seem to blow eternally over Patagonia is the one necessity for man, beast and crops in Santa Cruz. Transport also is lacking. Even the railway which the National Government has partly constructed to run from Puerto Deseado, and for the rest has under advanced consideration, is apparently to strike almost immediately Northwards up into Chubut; leaving Santa Cruz, as it is now; almost a world of itself apart, as far at least as communication with the rest of Argentina is concerned. Its most fertile parts, like those of all these western and southern territories, are much more get-at-able from Chile than from their Atlantic sides.

However, a cold-storage establishment has been built at Gallegos, the chief port and the capital of this Territory; so that Santa Cruz may become a centre of the frozen and chilled mutton industry instead of, as formerly, exporting only wool and slaughtering sheep merely for their fat and skins. It is a good sheep country in the regions at all suitable for grazing, since disease is extremely rare in, if not entirely absent from, flocks reared in its cold dry climate. In respect of cattle and cereals the outlook is not so promising. Still, one cannot have everything even in Argentina. And one can grow wheat, oats and alfalfa, besides apples and pears in Santa Cruz.


First of all it may be said that there are no active volcanoes in Tierra del Fuego nor have been within the memory of man. Mr. Paul Walle, in his excellent work, already mentioned, L’Argentine telle qu’elle est, suggests that its[198] name may have been given it by early explorers who observed burning on it grass fires lit by the natives for the purpose of improving the growth of certain shrubs the leaves of which they use for food.

Be this as it may, the name “Fire Land,” as my friend the Government official translator naively has it in the English edition of the Monographs attached to the latest Argentine agricultural census, is anything but a warm spot; as certain demagogues who long troubled the industrial peace of Buenos Aires have shown that they are well aware.

These people were at one time periodically deported for inciting to commit or committing overt violence in connection with labour strikes. They were mostly anarchists of the type which tyrannical Governments all the world over persist in regarding as criminal. These men were put on board boats bound for their native countries, the police of which were telegraphically advised of their departure and intended destination. Needless to say, the anarchists took good care to contrive to leave the boat before she reached what was for them a danger zone. Usually they got out at Montevideo and soon were back again at their old work of stirring up strife in Buenos Aires.

At last the National Government had enough of this procedure and Congress passed a law whereby any person having been sentenced to deportation is, on being subsequently found in the Republic, liable to a term of penal servitude; and the fact that Tierra del Fuego would be the penal settlement to which recalcitrant anarchists would be sent was duly and insistently made public. This had a very beneficial effect for the Government and peaceable citizens at large. Dangerous anarchists thenceforth ceased to return to Argentina after deportation. They knew, or at least had read or heard, what the climate of Tierra del Fuego is; and that for people like them, used to fairly comfortable living, confinement there most likely meant burial there also.

Not quite half of this charming island, over which the[199] winds blow straight from the South Pole, belongs to Argentina and forms the National Territory under discussion. The other half of it belongs to Chile. Geologically most of this island is a prolongation of the Andes. On the Atlantic side of its forest-clad hills are sloping plains, the continuation of the Pampean formation. On these a peculiarly hardy breed of sheep graze, finding some shelter in valleys and hollows, and give a wool which fetches a good price in European markets. Grazing of a rough kind does also maintain cattle and horses on the Northern parts of the island. Fish and shell-fish of a multitude of kinds and good quality abound on the coast and afford material for a profitable industry, as also do the seal and whale fisheries, and penguins are hunted for their oil. All these fisheries are supposed to be under Government supervision, regulated by special laws; but, in fact, the practical difficulties of adequate supervision result in an enormous amount of highly destructive poaching.

The official estimate of the total cultivated area of Argentine Tierra del Fuego is 110 hectares, of which 90 are stated to be planted with potatoes and other table vegetables. The number of sheep is given by the same authority (Señor Emilio Lahitte, Director of the Department of Rural Economy and Statistics in the National Ministry of Agriculture) as over 2,500,000 and cattle at about 15,000.

The Roman Catholic Silesian Brothers have a mission, schools and an estancia on the island; and a Protestant clergyman, the late Mr. Bridges, during his lifetime did a great deal towards civilizing and bettering the condition of the native Indians and also kept a self-supporting refuge home for the victims of the shipwrecks of small craft which are still too numerous on this wild storm-beaten coast. This good work is now being carried on by his son, the first child of European parentage born in Tierra del Fuego.

Ushuaia, the Capital, is chiefly notable for the penal gaol above alluded to. Formerly convicts were kept, but not[200] often for long before death overtook them, on an island which forms the very southernmost point of South America. It is a terribly cold, damp region where rain falls on an average 280 days in the year. On consideration, perhaps it is the reputation of this place which has so effectually damped the ardour of deported anarchists; as the Ushuaia gaol is a modern structure, said to be furnished with all the latest requirements for the well-being of prisoners. Still, even it, in Tierra del Fuego, can provide but uncomfortably cold lodging.

Tierra del Fuego is not lonely for it has many fishing ports and all navigation must pass it on the way through the Magellan Straits. For all that, one cannot but wonder why any but prisoners and prison and other officials go there (except, of course, fishermen and the adventurous spirits who are ever hunting in every accessible nook and cranny of it for alluvial gold) when there are so many much pleasanter and more profitable places, with, between them, all varieties of climates to choose from in the wide latitudes of the River Plate Republics. De gustibus, etc., one must suppose—and yield obedience to the final words of the saying.


If one has sufficient Spanish, one should read Leopoldo Lugones’ Imperio Jesuitico, and also the same author’s Guerras Gauchas, before going to Misiones. If not, one should go there all the same.

This territory is bounded on the North-East and South by Brazil, and on the West by Paraguay and the Province of Corrientes. It is sandwiched in between the rivers Paraná and Uruguay, but a very much smaller Paraná and Uruguay than we have seen further south.

Many parts of Argentina have been described as “The Garden of the Republic,” and many as its most picturesque region, but the latter description can surely only truthfully[201] apply to Misiones. If not sufficiently trim and cultivated to be called a garden, its superlative beauty and its crowning marvel the Iguazú Falls must leave even the most callous visitor pleasurably astounded; and not a little awestruck with its ruins and reminiscences of the dawn of South American civilization, which was heralded in these parts by the Jesuit Fathers. These Missionaries made most practical Christians of the surrounding tribes; teaching them the arts of architecture, carpentry, and such-like; not forgetting humility and obedience.

If one wants proof of all this one need but look on the ruins of monastery and church now half hidden amid an ever-encroaching luxuriant vegetation.

The descendants of those same Indians can hardly be got to do as much work in a lifetime now as they must have done in a week under the mild but very firm rule of the Jesuit Fathers. Eventually, the power these Missionaries had attained over the surrounding tribes became such as to label them dangerous to even Catholic Spain; and an order was given, and enforced, for their expulsion. They were scattered: and but the ruins of their solid, sculptured masonry, gardens and orange and olive groves now mark the places where once white-clad natives kept fast and feast days with as much solemn orderliness as ever so many timid monastic novices could do.

Nowadays, one can get from Buenos Aires to Misiones either by rail (North-East Argentine Railway) or by the Mihanovich company’s boats. Both ways furnish delightful travelling through interesting and picturesque country, though for pure scenery the river way is the best. The best of all, however, is to go up by rail and down again by boat and to see all there is, and there is a very great deal worth seeing, to be seen.

By either route one can stop at Posadas, the capital, evidently from its name an ancient resting-place for travellers (Posada being Spanish for an inn).


But people who are bent on reaching San Ignacio, a small river port, or rather clearance on the Upper Paraná, near which are the chief of the ruined Jesuit Missions, and the Iguazú Falls will probably leave Posadas for closer inspection if need be, on the return journey.

Once again we board a Mihanovich boat and go up a seeming river of fairyland.

An adequate description of the majestic splendour and beauty of the Iguazú Falls is far beyond the pen of the present writer. One is gradually prepared for the great sight by a series of smaller cascades and cataracts of other converging rivers which one passes on the way to where the Iguazú hurls its large volume of water in downward jumps or in one horseshoe-shaped, thundering, frothy mass. Where it falls one is face to face with the greatest waterfalls in the whole world,[32] as the following comparative figures will show:

Volume cubic
per minute.[33]
Breadth. Height.
Iguazú 28,000 ft. 13,133 ft. 196 to 220 ft.
Victoria (S. Africa) 18,000 ft. 5,580 ft. 350 to 360 ft.
Niagara 18,000 ft. 5,249 ft. 150 to 164 ft.

The only point of advantage of the Victoria Falls is their height.

The present chief source of wealth in Misiones is the various kinds of timber and valuable cabinet-maker’s woods found in its virgin forests. One day Misiones will doubtless export its rosewood and other beautiful and valuable products of its forests, which also produce pine and other building timber of superior quality to that which Argentina now imports from Europe. Transport of timber is effected by means of tying it into huge rafts which go down river as far as Corrientes. The timber supply of Misiones will long continue rich, since the tendency of the forest is ever to encroach on the surrounding land.

A growing industry on which great expectations are based is the cultivation of the Ilex Paraguayensis, or mate shrub.[203] The consumption of mate or Paraguayan tea, as it is sometimes called in Europe, is enormous throughout both of the River Plate Republics, which now import very large quantities annually from Paraguay and Brazil, while no sort of good reason seems to exist why the northern districts of Argentina should not grow sufficient to meet the home consumption.

The Jesuits evidently appreciated and cultivated this shrub, but they had the secret of growing it from seed, a secret the true re-discovery of which by modern horticulturists is not yet quite proved.[34]

Up till quite recently all Misiones mate yerba has been gathered from the abundant virgin growth of the shrub. Once Misiones produced larger quantities of sugar than it does now; and there is no reason why this industry should not revive from the almost total paralysis which it at present suffers; nor why one day the wine output of Misiones should not be improved in both quality and quantity.

Maize naturally grows well (it yields in six months) in Misiones; which Territory with the general warmth of its climate, sufficient rainfall and heavy dews, is most favourable to tropical and subtropical vegetation. Oranges, of course, bananas, pineapples, and guavas grow practically, if not quite, wild and ground nuts and the castor-oil plant are among its many valuable products. The whole of Misiones is well watered by a network of very numerous streams, and if its atmosphere by day is rather reminiscent of a hothouse, the nights are usually cool and refreshing.

The unevenness of its surface, while precluding much idea of extensive cultivation, is admirably suited for the shelter and care of the best natural produce of this exotically picturesque region.

Misiones has quarries of valuable granite at San Ignacio; close to the river as if they had been placed there for facility[204] of transport. These quarries furnished the Jesuits with the material for their famous buildings; though that they persuaded the natives, who before their coming had little ambition for anything save inter-tribal warfare, to quarry, transport and build up solid masonry is nothing short of marvellous. Truly Jesuit “influence” was a very real and concrete thing in the Misiones of those days.

One must not forget tobacco, or cotton, as other of Misiones’ hitherto greatly neglected industries.

One cannot insist too much upon the fact that no one who does not himself visit the River Plate Republics in all their length and breadth can really grasp even a faint idea of their diversified latent wealth. One is apt to suppose that because Misiones, for instance, does not produce much tobacco or sugar,[35] there is some pretty solid obstacle at the bottom of its relative non-productiveness. People naturally think, “Well, it’s all very well to chant dithyrambics of the marvellous might be’s of what evidently are your pet countries, but why does all this wonderful wealth of them continue latent, why does not one see, or at least hear, a great deal more about it, if all you say is true?”

The reply for this is, “Give me sufficient capital and sufficient suitable labour (especially the latter) and I will very speedily prove my every word.”

The River Plate Republics have not yet (again I say it) sufficient population to exploit even a part of their possible cereal industry, the one which naturally gets first attention because it combines the attractions of rich profit and comparatively little care or labour, under the almost primitive conditions under which most of it is still carried on.

When there is a surplus of labour after grain and cattle have been duly provided for, all sorts of other things will be attended to. But it is no good expecting ordinary people, without the many more or less occult advantages of early Jesuit Fathers, to get any constantly careful work, such as[205] cotton, tobacco and many other valuable crops require, out of native South American Indians. They can’t or won’t do it, anyway, they don’t; and it is probably easier to rediscover how to grow mate yerba from seed than how to rediscipline for practical purposes the race which built and gardened in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The North Argentine Railway has in project a branch from its Santo Tomé-Posadas line to run through the centre of Misiones to the North-West corner where the frontiers of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay join.


This, the northernmost of the Argentine National Territories, does not merit the superlative of its name; especially it does not do so when compared with Misiones. Geographically and in its general superficial characteristics Formosa is a continuation of the Chaco, by which it is bounded on the South. On the North and East it is bounded by Paraguay except at its South-Eastern corner, where its boundary is the river Paraguay, with the Province of Corrientes on the other bank. On the West it is bounded by the Province of Salta.

Much of Formosa is almost unknown land as far as really scientific exploration is concerned; and some tribes of its Toba Indians still appear to have an inconveniently violent dislike of official explorers, several having been murdered by natives in recent times.

The real exploration of the interior of Formosa is done by squatters who, when turned off one holding, move on to a new one further from the civilisation which, such as it is, is mostly to be found on the River Paraguay, or near to it on the banks of its chief affluents, the Pilcolmayo (which forms the Northern boundary between this territory and Paraguay) and the Bermejo. The clearance of the rocks, sunken logs and masses of vegetation from the beds of these rivers as a preliminary to the carrying out of other works for the purpose[206] of making them navigable is under consideration by the National Government, which also proposes to build a railway line from Embarcación, in the Province of Salta, across the centre, almost, of Formosa, in a South-Easterly direction, to its capital, a town of the same name and, doubtless, the first to bear it. At present Formosa has no railroad at all.

This Territory has several other considerable rivers and streams all running nearly parallel to one another and to the Pilcolmayo and Bermejo, in South-Easterly direction, to the River Paraguay.

Almost the whole of its surface is a vast plain gently inclined; its South-Eastern part is largely covered with forests and dotted with many shallow swamp-like lakes—“Esteros,” as they are called.

The forests are very rich in various valuable woods; of which the chief object of present commerce is the Quebracho, which here, as elsewhere in the Republic, is found in two varieties, the red and the white. The former is the richest in tannin. Quebracho extract (for tanning purposes) will be seen to figure prominently in the tables relating to Argentine exports.[36] Quebracho logs are in constant demand for railway sleepers.

The wide glades and open spaces in the forest afford excellent pasturage, and are all eminently suitable for agriculture. Some parts of this territory are destined to become rich alfalfa fields, and already relatively considerable areas are under this forage. There is plenty of salt, sandy soil with water near the surface. Maize also, on account of climatic conditions and the nature of the soil in parts (where a rich layer of humus is superimposed on a moist, sandy subsoil), should form a valuable crop in this Territory.

Formosa, with its Northern situation and therefore almost tropical climate, has few sheep; but cattle, still of the native breed, thrive well in many parts.


Also, in Formosa, and in Misiones, a large proportion of traction bullocks must be reckoned among the numerical value of their cattle.

In Formosa the summer or rainy season lasts for about seven months of the year; little or no rain falls in the winter or dry season—as in the tropics. In the wet season many of the rivers overflow their banks and such, likely, inundations should be taken into account by any would-be purchaser of land in Formosa.

He should also keep his eyes open for dangers other than floods; for if scientific exploration cannot yet be said to have obtained any firm grasp of Formosa, how much less can measurements and boundaries be hoped to be in order. They are not so in most of this Territory, and a purchasing settler might eventually find himself with little for his trouble and money but the costs of a lawsuit forced upon him by some owner of an historic grant made by a grateful Republic in bygone days to the grandfather of such owner for distinguished service of one kind or another.

Latifundíos, these low-lying Argentine landowners are called; and it is not too much to say, as has been indicated elsewhere in these pages, that their existence is a pest and a menace to proper colonisation.

Every such absentee landlord should be forced by law to declare himself and his claims, and to furnish measurements and situation of the land, the subject of the latter to be checked by the Government surveyors and lawyers; and to do this within a fixed reasonable period from the date of the passing of such laws. His claim to lapse absolutely ipso facto in default of his doing so.

Then the National Government should proceed to allot fiscal lands to all desirable comers, and afford these the aids to starting their farms and plantations usual in other countries having unoccupied land awaiting development, as still is by far the greater part of the territory of the Argentine Republic.


Every educated Argentine is just as well aware of all this as the writer or you, the reader; but just think what a flutter in aristocratic dovecotes on the mere suggestion of the putting in practice of such Laws (they or drafts of them probably exist in the pigeon-holes of Government House in Buenos Aires)! What a fluttering in those dovecotes there was a few years ago when the discovery was made, and most imprudently revealed, that vast tracts of land supposed to belong to the Nation had in fact got, in one way or another, into the possession of private individuals.

The then President, Dr. Figueroa Alcorta, declared vehemently (and caused the declaration to be published far and wide) that whomsoever were found to be responsible for such a scandalous state of things would be dealt with without mercy, whoever he or they might be.

That was all.

The sentence was like those of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. No one really ever was executed. Nor, as far as the public ever knew, even called to account. Possibly someone was told not to do it again; it must be hoped so.

In Formosa, latent absentee landlord and squatter would almost appear to work on a mutually beneficial, if tacit, understanding. The former does not in the least mind his land being developed by the latter (there is no foolish worry about such things as prescriptive rights) and generally lets him be; until such time as he, the landlord, wants to occupy himself or sell.

Meanwhile the squatter has accumulated cattle and money by selling stock (contraband, if possible, or covered by a few duty-paying animals) in Paraguay, and need only move on a few leagues or so, when told to, with his herds. His house and furniture are usually negligible quantities.

Formosa does as much trade as the total of its general products (except timber, which goes South) allows of, because Paraguay is generally too much overrun by revolutionary,[209] or momentarily constitutional, forces to have much time or space free for industrial occupations. At the same time Paraguay does manage to produce large quantities of tobacco and mate yerba which Argentina takes, although, as has already been observed, her own lands could perfectly well produce them, given suitable labour.

As has been rather more than hinted at, the official Returns of Imports and Exports as between Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil and Argentina give but a faint idea of the actual trade between the last-named and her northern neighbours; and the present writer would be much surprised to learn that the upper reaches of the River Uruguay could tell no tales of systematic smuggling between the two River Plate Republics, or the Andes none of similar practices between Argentina and Chile.

The fact is that adequate guard of these enormous and sparsely populated lengths of upcountry frontier would cost more than the results of it would pay for. And why make a fuss while such prime necessities of life as mate and cigarettes are comparatively so cheap?

Formosa produces tobacco and sugar; the latter, as in Misiones, being chiefly used for the production of alcohol.

A great deal of foreign capital is now invested in timber cutting and exporting companies. Native labour is suitable for this work, but it is desirable in the interests of the companies concerned that the native overseers or gangers be controlled by whites conversant with native ways and also having the gift of forest topography.

This last consideration is suggested by the undoubted fact that many a pile of logs has been solemnly measured up and the felling paid for several times over by the white gentleman who has failed—in consequence of a slight rearrangement of the pile, no doubt—to recognise them on successive visits to glades and clearings which all look very much alike except to particularly experienced eyes.


Thus does the untutored Indian or half-caste sometimes laugh at civilization.

Formosa, although sparsely inhabited, boasts a large proportion of pure whites of various nationalities among its settlers and the timber companies’ employees. There are several Franciscan Mission Stations in the Territory.

This hasty run over the Argentine Republic has stirred many pleasant memories in the heart of the writer, and set him hoping that, perchance, some one reader may be tempted to take passage to the River Plate; at less cost than, and quite as luxuriously as, if he made his usual sojourn on the Mediterranean Riviera.

Would I could take him—an intelligently enthusiastic person he, of course, would be—on a personally conducted tour of my own designing.

We would go first to Buenos Aires, reserving the restful charm of Montevideo for after our journeyings. Then down South; where I should quite disabuse my gentle companion of any ideas he might have that the owners of square miles of wheat and thousands of cattle live in top boots and shirt sleeves in one-storied, corrugated-iron verandahed houses in the foreground of threshing machines. I would get him invited—and myself as well—to stay a day or two at an English estancia; the large, well-appointed two or three storied red-brick house of which, surrounded by lawns and spreading cedar trees, would make him rub his eyes several times before he were convinced that he had sailed out of England. He would surely find a house party from Buenos Aires or neighbouring—a wide term meaning, probably, many leagues away—estancias in possession; all the members of which would retain their old habits of dressing for dinner and breakfasting off a choice of several hot dishes and a tempting array of cold things on the sideboard. An English country house, in fact, with hall and magazines and illustrated papers complete.


Then we should make plans for the following, and, probably, many other morrows; plans which would almost inevitably include a neighbourly race meeting or polo match.

Amid all this he could dree his own weird for as long as might please him. I should not disturb any of his promised projects.

But one day I should take him North again; and still further North, to Córdoba, “The Learned City,” show him the Cathedral, the University and its Library, and let him breathe the monastically mediæval atmosphere of it all. And, outside the city, the wildness of cactus growth and gaucho life.

Back eastward to Rosario, merely to change train for Santa Fé, and across the Uruguay to Paraná. From thence to Concórdia; where at least one tranquil orange-scented morning must be spent before one crossed the Province of Entre Rios to where the Argentine North-East Railway should take us to Misiones.

After San Ignacio, the Iguazú Falls and the trip thereto and therefrom up and down the Upper Paraná, I should ask him if he ever wanted to go anywhere else again? Whether he has ever even dreamed of anything so beautiful? Then by river all the way back to Buenos Aires; and, one night, across to Montevideo. There we would sit awhile in the evening and listen to the band in the square where the little coloured lamps swing in the fresh sea breeze; and bathe next morning and roll ourselves in the hot dry sand of Pocitos or Ramirez.

Then we would take railway trips in Uruguay. Over billowy pasturage and through waves of wheat; not flat expanses such as those we shall have seen on the Pampa, but seas of corn-covered, undulating ground.

Then he could go back to Europe, if he liked. I should stay.



If a detailed sketch of each of the Departments of Uruguay be not given here it is not because they are altogether uniform in their landscapes; but rather because, apart from the hilly rockiness of some of the northern parts, the scenery of Uruguay does repeat itself. While the climatic differences are relatively slight in a country which barely extends over, from the point of its extreme northern angle to its most southerly point, five degrees of latitude; in comparison with those of Argentina, which extends over thirty-five degrees.

Uruguay, therefore, has no striking variety of climates; and except that the surface of the Northern Provinces is more broken with jagged mountain ranges and that in the neighbourhood of the River Uruguay and its affluents the country is more thickly wooded, there is not much change to be noted anywhere from its general character of an undulating grassy plain, with here and there a mount, or clump of low wood and brushwood, and an abundance of running streams.

Its indigenous flora comprises a rich wealth of rosemary, acacia, myrtle, laurel, mimosa, and the scarlet-flowered CEIBO; while its natural pasturage is gay with red and white verbena and other brilliantly coloured wild flowers. The best natural grasses are to be found in the Departments of Soriano and Durazno and in parts of Paysandú and Tacuarembó. That is to say where what is known as the “Pampa mud” of the soil is mingled with calcareous and siliceous matter and contains less aluminium, which last ingredient imparts cold and damp qualities.


It should not be assumed from the above short general description that the scenery of Uruguay is monotonously uninteresting. It is not; on the contrary, it is often very beautiful indeed, with sudden and delightfully surprising changes as the train speeds along. But these changes are[213] on a small scale, if one may so express oneself, compared with those which one experiences when passing from one distant Argentine Province or National Territory to another.

Indeed, as a glance at the map will show, geographically, Uruguay and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul can almost be considered as parts of Argentina; as, politically, they once very nearly were.

The real great division of the nature of the surface of Uruguay is practically formed by the course of its Rio Negro; on each side of which are vast rolling plains, the northern of which, however, are, as has been said, traversed by ranges of indented rocky hills.

The whole of Uruguay is subject to abrupt changes of temperature and frequent strong winds of which the Pampero, from the South-West, is the most violent.

Generally, the climate is pleasantly mild. For while the summer suns are hot, especially in the North, sea breezes and winds from the snow-capped Andes modify the temperature. It is, however, from these conflicting elements of sun and wind that Uruguay gets her quick changes of temperature and frequent storms. The whole country is subject to alternate overflowing of its rivers and drought.

Uruguay is rich in table fruits. Grapes, oranges, lemons, apples, pears, quinces, melons, passion-flower fruit, peaches, apricots, cherries, medlars, figs, chestnuts, almonds and, in the North, olives, dates and bananas, grow in abundance. The list of her flora also includes sarsaparilla (very abundant), quinine, camomile and many other valuable medicinal plants. Uruguayans have also given themselves the trouble to produce relatively much larger quantities, and, generally speaking, better qualities of ordinary table vegetables than have the, perhaps busier, inhabitants of the larger Republic across the river; to which, however, Uruguay daily sends large quantities of such produce.

Uruguay has several large flour mills and exports flour, chiefly to Brazil.


Most of the soil consists of one composition or another of the Pampa mud before alluded to. This mud is really ancient alluvial deposit.

Of the latent mineral wealth of Uruguay there can be little doubt. The Department of Minas, as its name indicates, is one of the richest in this respect. Gold, in quartz formation, silver, copper, iron, lead, some coal, marble of various kinds, slate, rock crystal, agates, jasper, graphite, alabaster, black limestone and other minerals of commercial and industrial value are to be found in this Department and in other parts of the Republic. Fine building limestone is found in the Department of Maldonado. The Department of Colonia is rich in granite and other building stone, as well as other minerals. Rocha, Soriano, San José, Florida and Canelones are other Departments rich in mineral wealth.

This wealth has, however, as yet been little exploited. The old trouble here, as in Argentina, being that of insufficient labour to attend to more than the primary industries of Live Stock and Cereal production. Also the Uruguayan Mining Laws, though steps have recently been taken to amend them, have hitherto proved but a poor protection for capital.

Note.—The wealth of the Argentine National Territories of The Chaco and Los Andes is, as to the former still practically confined to the valuable forestal products, full mention of which has been made elsewhere in these pages. The future of Los Andes can only be concerned with the exploitation of its, probably rich, mineral deposits; this Mountainous Territory being so cold and arid as to be almost uninhabitable.



The figures representing the progress of Agriculture in the River Plate Republics, especially in Argentina, which has had the advantage of freedom from Civil War during by far the longer period, during the last few decades are truly astounding.

In 1875 the value of the principal Argentine Agricultural Exports was but 114,557 gold dollars; in 1913 the value of these exports was 307,520,854 gold dollars. In 1892 the total of the cultivated areas of the Republic was only 580,008 hectares; in 1912 there were 22,987,726 hectares under cultivation, this figure not including the pasturage improved with foreign grasses. The first ten kilometres of railway line in the River Plate Territories were laid in Argentina in 1857, now the extent of lines in that Republic is over 21,000 miles, and that in Uruguay over 1590 miles, making a total for both Republics of over 22,500 miles, or rather less than the total length (23,350 miles) of the lines in Great Britain. And new lines and extensions are projected in all directions and will prove profitable.

It must not, however, be taken for granted by the above juxtaposition that the railroad has been the whole and direct cause of agricultural extension. That many other causes have been at work is evident since River Plate agriculture and export flourished long before the railway was dreamed of anywhere. During the early years of its life in the River Plate Republics the railroad was busily enough occupied in the endeavour to serve districts already under cultivation;[216] and it is only in very recent times that one of the great English Companies adopted the, even then much criticized, policy of extensions to secure in advance a sphere of future cultivation. It may be added that no adverse criticism of this policy (but only approving admiration) came from anyone practically capable of forming an opinion of the agricultural prospects on which it was soundly based.

Still, Argentine railway enterprise in general is conservative in that it rather waits on than seeks to create a demand for its services; so that the rule in these matters on the River Plate continues to be that the railway very cautiously follows the lead of other progress and enterprise, and much rich land in the more distant Provinces and National Territories lies fallow waiting for the railway, while the railway is waiting till actual production guarantees the immediate profit of new lines at handsome rates.

Time will solve this sort of deadlock as it does other things; but to most people, other than railway directors, its existence seems to indicate a lack of commercial courage and energy. They manage some of these things, in some respects, better in the United States.

At the same time it must be owned that the existing railway policy protects the countries now under discussion from many of the greater evils of local land booms and speculation in Town lots; which in early North American days often left little but disillusionment as the share of inexperienced speculators and paved the way for equally disastrous railway competition.

In Argentina and Uruguay, particularly in the former Republic, the great Railway Companies form something really very like the Imperium in Imperio that the Argentines say they do. Their General Managers are quite as much diplomatic Ministers Plenipotentiary as they are actual Managers of railroads; and, consequently, require qualifications of which the chiefs of even our greatest British systems have no need. The work of a General Manager of[217] a great River Plate railway system lies a good deal at Government House and with the leading men and politicians of the country. He must know how best to protect the vested interests of his Company and to pave the way for new developments in competition with newly arrived applicants and existing competitors. For such purposes he must combine firmness, serenity in protest if need be, with urbanity and the power to be all pleasant things to all men whose good-will is or may possibly be of use to his Company. The slight diversion of a projected new line is a small price to pay for the easy passage through Congress of the scheme of a whole important extension. A scheme which may menace the aspirations of an existing competitor or an expectant rival concessionnaire; either of whom may also command some “influence.”

All this, however, however true, is a digression from the question under immediate discussion, namely, to what extent the railway has been a cause or an effect of the spread of agriculture in the River Plate. The real answer to this question appears to be that both the railway in these countries and the agriculture have inter-aided and are inter-dependent on one another in the inevitable development of a prosperity fore-ordained by a prodigality of natural endowment.

Comparing the figures representing the cultivable area of these Republics with those relating to the parts already under cultivation, one can see why extensive farming is only just now giving way to intensive systems in those districts the situation of which, in relatively close proximity to the great port of Buenos Aires, combined with the natural fertility of their soil, has rendered them the most valuable of all the lands in the Argentine and Uruguayan Republics. The capital valuation of these lands is now so high, especially in the Province of Buenos Aires, that all means must be adopted which will enhance their annual productivity. In other parts it is often cheaper to put more land under[218] cultivation than to lay out capital in improved working of that already in hand. As facilities for transport and the population grow, so will the need for intensive farming, in gradually increasing complexity, be more and more felt and complied with throughout both Republics.

Contemporaneous with such advance will be the gradual development of those products, other than wheat, linseed, maize and alfalfa (to which the whole available agricultural energies of these countries have till now been almost exclusively confined), for which the natural conditions of one part or another of the two Republics are eminently favourable—such as Cotton, Tobacco, Timber, Rice, Sugar and, perhaps, Coffee.

To quote a pamphlet recently issued by the Argentine Government:—

There are vast tracts of land available for the cultivation of sugar cane. … With the investment of large amounts of money and an increase in the area cultivated this industry will no doubt in a few years be able to supply fully the demand and have a surplus of 50 per cent over for exportation.

This statement, notwithstanding the rather quaint English of the official translator, has already nearly been proved true, and might have become so in actual practice several years ago. To quote again from the same pamphlet and with a similar endorsement of its statements:—

In the extensive regions existing in Salta, Jujuy, the Chaco, Formosa, Misiones, Corrientes and Tucumán (the last-named with 300,000 hectares admirably adapted for sowing sugar cane) the area cultivated will gradually increase.

It should and certainly will do so at some future time. When, depends chiefly, as do many, if not most, other agricultural developments on the River Plate, on increase of population.

In the meantime the Argentine National Ministry of Agriculture has done much good work towards stimulating interest in the undoubtedly great possibilities of cotton,[219] tobacco and rice cultivation. The cultivation of cotton is no new idea on the River Plate. It could hardly be so when there are large districts so evidently and admirably adapted for this crop. The reasons why several former well-meant attempts at cotton growing in Argentina were unsuccessful were the difficulties of obtaining and keeping adequate labour, and a too great reliance on the bounty of nature unaided by much human science. Selection and just appreciation of the time for gathering were matters which did not receive sufficient attention, and a great obstacle certainly was the difficulty of obtaining labour in sparsely populated districts, in which the necessities of life are procurable by all with a minimum of effort. The natives fancied they were being exploited if they did not get commercially impossible rates of wages for what appeared to them extremely arduous and unwontedly continuous and careful work. Work of the satisfactory execution of which, moreover, their primitive mentality was not really capable.

Even now River Plate cotton growing will need to be largely aided by imported or colonist labour. Given that and due scientific management and care, applied in the first place to the selection of the seed most suitable to the soil and climate, there is no sort of reason why River Plate cotton should not occupy a highly remunerative place in the world’s markets, where cotton is always in increasingly large demand.

Many districts in the Argentine Provinces of Corrientes, Santa Fé, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca and La Rioja and in the National Territories of Misiones, Formosa and the Chaco are eminently suited for cotton cultivation.

It will be observed that Argentina alone is almost always here referred to in connection with these secondary (as they still are) products of the River Plate countries. The reason for this is that, while many parts of Uruguay are equally well suited for their growth, the latter Republic is, owing to her later continuance of civil disturbance, in a less advanced[220] condition than Argentina in regard to extensive development of the great primary industries of cereal cultivation and stock breeding.

Tentative and apparently successful cultivation of better classes of tobacco has already been commenced in the Province of Buenos Aires and official drying sheds have been erected in each of the Provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Corrientes and the National Territory of Misiones. These facilities should greatly stimulate the increase of production and improvement of quality of the leaf in those, the most climatically appropriate, districts. Even if they should not confer on the growers the “moral and intellectual” benefits explicitly expected from them by the aforementioned translator.

As for rice, even if the question of export be reserved for future consideration, there is an enormous local demand which could very well and profitably be supplied locally.

Experimental cultivation of this crop in large and suitably watered areas of the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Entre Rios and Córdoba has proved the ease with which it could be grown in them.

Another crop in universal demand in both Argentina and Uruguay is MATE, or “Paraguayan Tea,” the leaf of the Ilex Paraguayensis. This shrub grows wild in the Territory of Misiones and in the Republics of Paraguay and Brazil; and Argentina and Uruguay import it from the latter countries to annual values of several millions of gold dollars. The cultivation of mate yerba only presents difficulty and risk of loss during the very earliest periods of its growth; but study has now shown how to avoid most, at any rate, of such risks, so that it has become an absurdity that such an article of universal daily, indeed hourly, consumption in both of the countries under consideration should not be grown by them in districts so suited for the cultivation of this shrub that they have become its home in a perfectly wild condition.


Wherever one goes in Argentina and Uruguay the MATE (as the small gourd in which the infusion of the dust-like YERBA—“herb”—is made, and from which it is sucked up through a special tube called the “bombilla” from its perforated, bulb-shaped end) is omnipresent and usually in working evidence in the hands of one or other member of the household throughout the livelong day.

Mate is a stimulant of great sustaining and stomachic qualities; and its use is not followed by the depression which follows excessive tea and coffee drinking. A River Plate peon will go from daybreak to midday, riding or doing physically hard work the whole while, on nothing more than a hunch of bread or a “biscuit” (a hard, dry maize-flour roll) and a few small mates. With sugar, mate is very palatable and the taste soon develops into a habit, but in the camp it is usually drunk “bitter,” that is, without sugar, both from motives of economy and because it is popularly supposed to be healthier and more sustaining when taken in that way.

At any rate, there can be no doubt that mate growing must one day become a very large and profitable industry in the Northern parts, where the climate is suitably mild, of the two Republics.

The Jesuit Fathers, from whom the Territory of Misiones derives its name, were well aware of the wholesome qualities of mate yerba, and it is possible that the now wild growth of the shrub in that Territory owes its existence to their cultivation.

In connection with their primarily great agricultural industries, the wheat, maize and linseed crops which will always remain a chief pillar of their prosperity (even if stock-raising on the present huge scale should be reduced by the encroachment of agricultural or, as is most likely, mixed farming; or if the Andine regions prove as rich in minerals as some people would have us believe), the River Plate Republics must always occupy positions of ever-increasing[222] weight and importance on the cereal markets of the world.

The world wants meat, but it must have bread, the true staff of human life. Signs are not wanting of the coming of a day when the majority of the human race will be forced into vegetarianism by the growing scarcity of meat; but the time when wheat shall be no longer obtainable by the multitude is so much farther off on the speculative horizon as to be a negligible factor in any but abstract contemplation. As for live stock, most middle-aged people to-day can retrace in their own memories the decline of the meat exports of the United States; where a rapid growth of population and spread of agriculture have so increased the local consumption and diminished the supply that the States not only now eat all their own meat, but already import from Argentina and Uruguay.

When the latter countries arrive at a similar stage of their development, as they must do one day, from whence will they and the rest of the world get meat supplies? Even the greatest and most terrible war the world has ever known has not reduced the population of the globe to an extent which will do more than very temporarily, if practically at all, affect the question of its future food supplies.

Recently the reproductive capacities of the existing Argentine and Uruguayan flocks and herds were brought almost to a standstill in respect of the increase of their numerical value; chiefly on account of the ever-increasing demands and high prices paid by the Cold Storage Export Companies.[37] And purely economic reasons cause more and more land each year to be put under cereal cultivation while numerically large flocks and herds are pushed further into less accessible regions of the Republics, on the boundaries of which vast quantities of finely bred animals already graze.


More transport (and labour), more cereals; more cereals, less live stock: will be the rule of these Countries’ progress, following that of the great Northern Republic. A rule which mixed and intensive farming will only modify in a degree quite incommensurate with the experiences of an ever and rapidly increasing demand.

The future of both Argentina and (later on) Uruguay appears to be bound up in their cereal production (of which wheat, maize, linseed and oats are now the chief elements).

I say appears, because the Andes may yet yield marvellous mineral treasure; good coal may yet be discovered; it and the petroleum deposits of Comodoro Rivadavia and elsewhere may yet provide fuel for manufacturing industry; and the River Plate Republics may yet become the great pig-producing countries of the world, as a United States expert once prophesied to the present writer that one day they would be. But all these things, even if the future do hold them in store, are beyond the perceptibly practical horizon; while the already preponderating influence of cereal production on the destinies of Argentina is immediately evident. Argentina practically supplies the world with linseed.

Uruguay is still in the infancy of its agriculture. It has as yet but some two million acres of cultivated land as against some thirty million acres of pasturage. But the world’s demands will doubtless lead it on the same course as that imposed on the United States and Argentina; modified, perhaps, to some extent by the more undulating nature of its lands as compared with the flat Pampa. Again, Uruguay is much richer in running streams than is Argentina; which latter country is but sparsely provided with water courses, especially in dry weather.

During the course of the last decade the value of the cereals exported from the River Plate tripled.

The great areas of cereal cultivation are the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba and Entre Rios and the[224] National Territory of the Pampa Central. Cereal growing in Uruguay is still chiefly confined to the Southern Departments of that country.

Nevertheless, Uruguayan wheat has received special quotations as the highest quality of any in the European markets; and “Montevideo wheat,” as it is called, is much purchased by Argentine exporters to mix with their own grain. The cultivation of alfalfa (lucerne) is also increasing with enormous rapidity, both for home consumption and export; and is likely to show still greater proportionate increase as mixed and intensive farming grow in favour.

Economic necessity may also soon increase the cultivation of this valuable plant as an alternate crop on, and restorative for, the exhausted soil of many districts where wheat has been grown on wheat since, one might almost say, time immemorial.

Wheat, as all the agricultural world knows, absorbs the nitrogen from the soil on which it is grown; while alfalfa, on the other hand, absorbs nitrogen from the air and deposits it in the soil. These two crops are therefore, as was found out long ago in North America, naturally complementary. And a course of alfalfa prepares ground for the replanting of wheat in a way unequalled by the most expensive artificial fertilizers. The time will therefore doubtless come when Argentine farmers will plough up such of their alfalfa as may be on suitable ground and plant wheat thereon; and, contrariwise, will plough up their wheat and give the ground two or three years of alfalfa before putting wheat on it again.

But this is still, to the vast majority of Argentine farmers, an absurdly impracticable counsel of perfection. Since, does one think, he asks, that he is going to spoil his alfalfa fields, soon after seeing them pass through the critical stage of their tap-roots reaching water, and break his ploughs into the bargain by cutting those thick, tough roots up again? Not he. Alfalfa it is now and alfalfa it is going to remain;[225] to yield him four or even more cuttings annually. Only time and ever-growing land values will force this kind of reasoning out of his mind. He, in the more distant parts of the country at all events, is still in the stage of mentality when what were good enough methods for his forefathers are good enough for him. Nature has been kind to him. He has always reaped much benefit from little labour or capital outlay; and this state of things suits his nature so well that he is altogether disinclined to vary it by following theories which do not appeal to him, be they preached never so wisely by the ambulant Agricultural Instructors employed by the Government to travel about the country and teach improved methods to its rural inhabitants. The deaf ear which even the very well-to-do among what may be called the peasant proprietors, the little-educated rural classes, that is to say, turn to the teachings of modern science is due to the fact that these people have long been too much spoilt by nature’s gifts of highly fertile soil and favourable climate to perceive any very pressing need to bestir themselves to unaccustomed expenditure of energy or money.

Thus, as is told elsewhere in these pages, thousands of head of cattle and sheep die each time a drought occurs simply because their owners will not go to the trouble and expense of boring for water (seldom far from the surface) and putting up windmills to draw it.

Education and economic pressure will in due course end this era of dolce far niente; which is doomed to disappear from even the most outlying of rural districts as surely as the traditional Mañana has from the business communities of the great cities. Nowadays, a denizen of Buenos Aires who scents a good stroke of business will pursue and capture it with a rapidity and real vigour which would not shame a citizen of the United States. Only, the Argentine will always conceal his haste under an affected outburst of boisterous humour or an equally assumed dilatoriness of manner. He will, in fact, be politer about it than the[226] Northerner. But he will get there all the same. So will the agriculturist, comparatively untutored as he still often is, once he realizes his own advantage in the matter; as circumstances eventually will force him to do.

Just now the River Plate countries are faced with an exceptionally acute phase of the problem of their increased agricultural expansion; the governing factor of that problem, indeed the whole cause of it, being their lack of adequate rural population.

To appreciate this inadequacy one must realize that the Argentine Republic alone is only a very little smaller than Germany, Austro-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland put together; while her population is only some 7,500,000. Of this over a million is in the city of Buenos Aires; and the other cities such as Rosario, Bahia Blanca and the Provincial capitals account for another.

Even were the whole 7,500,000 equally spread over the Republic, we should only get an average of 6·5 per square mile, as against some 193 per square mile as the average of the other countries named above for comparison of area. Uruguay has a considerably larger population (and, it may be added, railway mileage), to the square mile than Argentina; but even then it has only some 1,200,000 inhabitants, or about half the number possessed by the Province of Buenos Aires.

Unless this state of things be remedied, it would appear as if the hitherto rapid advance of both agriculture and stock-breeding in these countries must soon reach a point beyond which they can no further go for want of hands to sow, reap and carry crops and rear and tend cattle and sheep! This situation is not a perfectly new one in modern economic history; but it may safely be called new in degree when it is found in countries where all other natural conditions are normally so entirely favourable to uninterrupted rural production. In countries not (as yet at all events) directly[227] involved in Armageddon; and while so much of the rest of the world urgently needs every grain of wheat and every ounce of meat they can possibly send out.

Great irrigation works now in progress will open up further vast and almost unprecedentedly fertile areas for cultivation; which areas railway lines are practically ready and waiting to serve with transport and for which new ports are in course of construction while existing ones are being enlarged and improved. New agricultural laws have been passed to meet difficulties which have arisen with already increased production and land values; everything in fact has been done and is being done to second and enhance nature’s gifts.

But the question, “Where are the human beings necessary to an advantageous result of and to benefit by all these preparations?” still remains unanswered; except by the apparently very stubborn fact that they have not yet appeared on the River Plate and show no signs of doing so.

At the present moment the outlook from this state of things reveals only a tangled problem, in view of the awful wastage of human life now going on in Europe. But for its occurrence and continuance before the war the Governments of Argentina and Uruguay are almost wholly to blame, and that of the former country in much the greater degree. This because, while Uruguay may be said to have only just emerged from a long period of internal political disturbance which necessarily absorbed all the time and energies of her statesmen, Argentine politics long ago reached their destined haven of sunlit, calm waters.

Argentina has spent much trouble and money in propaganda; in all sorts of publications giving true and therefore favourable statistics of her ever-increasing rural industries, trade and prosperity. But—and this cannot be insisted on too often for her own good and for Uruguay’s example—she has never even seemed to trouble herself about suitable people who might be attracted by the perusal of her statistics[228] and pamphlets to wish to know more of her and of their exact individual prospects did they decide to set sail for her shores.

Like so many of the good laws and schemes in which this country abounds, everything concerning prospective colonists is excellently arranged and set down on paper; but nothing is yet in really practical working order for the reception and assignment of land to the real colonist, the man most needed in new countries, bringing with him a small capital which he wishes to invest in a holding which will be the future home of himself and his family.

It seems a hard saying, but I hold it truth that the only provision yet made has been, and is, for the reception and despatch upcountry of the very poorest class of immigrants; glad to get a job at manual labour of any kind, and therefore at the mercy of the landowners who still really govern this pretendedly ultra-democratic Republic.

It is—whether accidentally or of set purpose is needless to discuss here—in point of fact through the influence of landed proprietors, and through their influence alone, that the elaboration and putting into practice of existing colonization schemes and laws lie fallow; while poor immigrants, by a seemingly cynical courtesy, called “Colonists,” are granted the privilege of a share in any immediate profits to be derived from breaking up virgin soil from which they will be turned off practically as soon as it begins to yield—to commence a similar operation elsewhere if they care to—under conditions which leave them little choice.

Congress and the National Provincial Governments are to blame for this, really suicidal, scandal; resulting from a condition of things so patent that the Italian labourers who come for the harvest return back home again to an existence of probably considerable hardship in Italy, in preference to remaining as “Colonists” under the blue and white banner of Liberty.

The root of all this is that the Argentine cannot bring himself[229] to part with the ownership in land, and the fact of his having done so in the past still rankles bitterly in his mind; forgetful of the fact that then that was the only way to interest foreign capital in the development of his country.

The conclusion is that, if he will not and does not give land to colonists, he will find that his prosperity has reached sticking point for want of labour to advance it any further.

That is to say, the agricultural production of Argentina has almost, if not quite, reached the limits of the power of the Republic’s seven million inhabitants.

“The case for the Colonist” has been put with such admirable accuracy by Mr. Herbert Gibson, in a recent pamphlet by him called The Land we Live on, that the present writer has been unable to resist the temptation to cite some passages from it at length. A temptation enhanced by Mr. Gibson’s faculty for hitting exactly the right nails on the head coupled with his command of a vividly virile style.

Mr. Gibson is a member of a family of very large landowners in Argentina; a man of exceptionally high moral and intellectual qualities, and an accepted and respected authority on all matters concerning Argentine rural industry; the best interests of which he has done much to advance, often at his own considerable pecuniary cost.

A born Argentine, he can lay bare to the public eye the weaknesses and faults of the agricultural systems of the Republic in a way and to an extent impossible to a foreigner without a strong likelihood of the latter doing much more harm than good to the cause of reform by what would probably be deemed by Argentines a gratuitously offensive advocacy.

It should rather befall the man who cries to the shoeblacks and hotel waiters of the city, than to us who are of the land, to plead the cause of the colonist. But let us state his case for him.

An examination of the meteorological conditions, the constitution of the soil, the economy of inland collection, and the[230] average proximity of the radial point of export to the site of production has usually convinced the intelligent traveller, very especially if his intelligence is engaged in ocean or land transport, that the Argentine is the garden of the world.

A closer examination of the abruptness of the thermographical curves and their relation to soil foods and the growth and harvest of its products; the difficulty of collecting from units of large area, and at the precise moment of their maximum yield and maturity, the seeds of annuals; the yet unbridged gulf between the field of production and the main channels of its collection;—might well lead the intelligent traveller to a contrary conclusion. When he ceased to generalize he would find the lot of the agriculturist was not as easy as it looked.

Burmeister no doubt overstated the case if he said that wheat would never prosper in the Pampa soil. If he said that wheat cultivation would not prosper in the Pampa except under skilled husbandry we could find it easy, after twenty years’ experience, to agree with him.

Meantime the best has been done to make it unsuccessful. The agriculturist, if we are to call him one, is let loose on a five hundred acre pitch of the prairie. In so many cases that one is entitled to generalize, he set out on borrowed land with borrowed implements to scratch the soil for three, four or five years and sow wheat on it.

If he is asked whether he sows winter or spring wheat he does not know. If he is asked how many tons of straw he harvests, he neither knows nor cares. If he is asked what calcium carbonate and nitrate are, he thinks they are sheep dips, but is not quite sure. If he is questioned on rotation, he waves his hand to the rolling Russian thistle that gathers like a snowdrift against every obstacle.

His house is, at best, an enlarged sardine tin. He has neither barn, byre nor pigsty. He has no enclosures for cattle, sheep or poultry. He has no garden. He has not a single tree to shelter him from the sun. With land suited for every form of live stock and field farming he is enslaved to the deadly monotony of wheat growing.

There may be countries with a soil and climate such that white straw crops can be grown for a large number of years in succession without exhausting the land or setting up soil sickness. We know it is done at experimental farms such as Rothamsted. But we know too that the efficiency of soil culture in pursuit of[231] these experiments is beyond the practical ability of the colonist; nor is the economy of the farm an item that is taken into consideration. We know, because we have witnessed it, that in this country after the colonist’s term of four or five years, during which he has collected an average crop of eight bushels per acre, is ended, what remains is a five hundred acre field of weeds.

We can grow weeds. Whatever other merits may be denied to us we have achieved the production of a garden of weeds without equal in the world. Some of them are good plants for animal food, but out of place, for the colonist has not the means to make use of them for that purpose. Others are weeds of the most useless and noxious description. If it be true that the scabby Argentine sheep has been a source of wealth to European chemical manufacturers, the day must surely come when still greater fortunes will be made out of weed-spraying nostrums.

Until this agricultural arab whom we call a colonist is replaced by an occupant with permanent or sufficiently long fixity of tenure; until he has adequate barns, byres, sties, water sweet and cheap, a garden and a homestead; and until he is possessed of cattle, sheep, swine and poultry he will remain as economically lean and weak as the muzzled ox. We have talked much of rural banks to enable him to borrow more money; but we have not begun to put into practice the rural economy that will be followed by the rural bank as sure as summer follows spring. When the agriculturist profits, instead of loses, on the year’s overturn, he will build up the bank on his own thrift.

Within the economy of soil cultivation there is room for two alternatives only. Either the landowner must himself farm his land, or he must lease it with sufficient fixity of tenure and farming equipment to secure to his tenant the prospect of being able to pay a fair rent.

Agriculture in this country has very largely failed through an attempt to drive a middle course between these two alternatives. The landowner, usually one possessing a large area and hitherto a pastoralist, has seen, or has thought he saw, a larger profit to be earned by turning his soil to agriculture. Instead of putting it to the test by turning agriculturist, he has paid his intelligence the sorry compliment of believing that an illiterate Italian, spewed up on our shores may be a year since, could earn this large profit if he were let loose upon the prairie without[232] further capital or assistance than the right to plough the soil, in exchange for a share of the harvest, to be delivered threshed and bagged to his landlord.

The benefits the landlord has derived from this, in a great majority of cases, have been to collect a smaller rent than he could have earned if he had depastured or farmed the land himself; and to receive back at the end of three or four years his pasture land converted into a garden of weeds. The process is termed “improving the land by the plough.” Not long since properties in the market were advertised as especially attractive if they were “all under agriculture.”

Having sowed the wind the landlord is reaping the whirlwind. He has not only failed to profit by agriculture, but he has pledged the land and squandered the proceeds. The matter is not that such silly methods of rack-renting, bonanza farming, land gutting and money lending have wrought their own confusion. It is the loss to the industrial community, to the rural population, and to the national thrift that lays bare the defects of the system. These are the fruits. We have to look into the ordering of our agricultural industry, not as determined by a “good year” or “bad year,” a “dry” or “wet” year, but by such a readjustment of our rural economy that the soil shall be no longer cultivated at a loss. It is necessary to unmuzzle the ox. Without the aid of domestic live stock the colonist can neither profit from the by-products and fallow of the land, nor can he restore to the soil the factors necessary to yield crops that are of themselves profitable.

Neither have we been careful to conserve and stimulate the settlement of a truly agricultural population on the land. We have exported the cult of sterility from the old world to the new. We have measured in this new world a field of production, not for the labourers, but for their European mandatories. It was said in the days of the Spanish dominion that America was the “factoria” of the mother country. She has seemingly not yet ceased to be regarded as a “factoria.”

We take pride that we export so much and need so little. We call it a favourable “balance of trade.” We spread abroad pamphlets and graphic charts and dreary columns of ciphers to show how successfully we have gutted the land we live on to fill alien mouths. We display pictures of train loads of labour-saving machinery, glorying in the fact that one man aided by Pittsburg steel and Cardiff coal can fend off twenty families[233] from a thousand acres, and garner the yield for the contentment of fat-handed brokers eating lobsters in a distant city.

Had the matter been understood rightly by the “estanciero” of a generation or two ago, nay, even by this present generation, he would have put a premium on fecundity. His business was to encourage population; but while he drowsed in siesta hour over the newspaper proclaiming the arrival of alien immigration and smiling unctuously at the intelligence, he condemned his own men to celibacy, unwilling to spend the price of five bullocks on a mud hut to cradle the generation on his own land of a race of lusty yeomen. He took pride in the number of calves and lambs born on his estate. It would have beseemed him better to take pride in the number of babies born there.

Such a consummation would be vastly upsetting to Malthusian economists who view with jealousy the peopling of new fields of production. They would have us believe that it is only here by the overflowing of the Nile, and there by the discovery of the New World, that the human race has been saved from famine. If we can no longer send 350,000 tons of meat and five million tons of cereals to the Old World our usefulness has passed away and our mission ended.

Fiddlesticks! Had the Pampas of South America, the pasture lands of Australia, and the wheat fields of Canada remained virgin there would have been ere now thousands of acres in Great Britain under glass and harnessing the solar spectrum and the electric currents of air to manufacture food for the people. Feminists, instead of rending other people’s garments to bewail the departure of their mankind, would be conjuring out of four-inch potsherds fruit rich and rare for the household. If among the social economists of the present generation there is a disposition to revert to the Malthusian creed; in this spacious country, and as far as the vegetative population is concerned, there is no need to raise the voice of alarm. National progress and thrift will be soonest achieved by the increase of the national population; and, without closing the doors to useful alien immigration, the welfare of the community should be dependent rather upon the increase of the family than upon the overflow population from other lands. … Under our present system of agriculture the domestic requirements of the country are sacrificed to foreign demand. We measure our progress by our export trade of raw produce. When we speak of agriculture what[234] we really mean is the production of maize, wheat and linseed for shipment abroad.

It is to this end that so much has been heard of warrants, elevators and other devices to enable the farmer to dispose of his crop. They are in some degree devices for his own security; but they are in a much greater degree devices to secure for the export of cereals a more regular flow from the sources that supply it. The time is no doubt distant when this country shall have a population sufficient to consume the raw produce of its soil; but by turning our eyes constantly to its export trade as the sole source of its production we have not only limited the lines of our agricultural production, but we have neglected complementary lines that would have increased that export trade by maintaining soil values.

The cereal that gives the best return from a large area of our Pampa soil and climate is barley. Being shallow-rooted our indifferent tilth suffices for its seed bed; and being short lived it can be sown late and harvested early, reducing the risks from frost and drought. The “chacarero” who produces 8 fanegas of wheat could produce on averages from the same soil and with no better husbandry 18 fanegas of barley per hectare. In food equivalents that is equal to 280 kilogrammes of pork.

The “chacarero” does not grow barley for the same reason that he neglects or ignores almost every branch of agriculture except wheat, maize and linseed. For the same reason that he neglects rotation, fallow and weeds; vegetables and small fruits; live-stock breeding and feeding; poultry, dairy, and bee-hiving, tree planting; and the greatest of all cultures—home culture. He has no fixity of tenure. There is no other reason.

It is said of the Argentine “chacarero” that he is ignorant and incapable of good husbandry. When he first began, of course, he was ignorant. The gold medallist from an Agricultural College is ignorant when he begins to practise farming. Though the farmer’s craft engages the whole cyclopædia of science, and there is no limit to the knowledge it demands, its practice is essentially one of observation and local experience. To those the “chacarero” comes as well equipped as another. His ignorance is but the reflection of his environment.

It is also said of him that he is greedy, and undertakes a larger area than he can cultivate. Again, his greed is but the reflection of the landowner’s. He is called to the land on terms that exclude all fixity of tenure, maintenance of soil values, small[235] farming, rotation or live-stock values; terms that merely bind him to plough as best he can a given area, to seed it in cereals that will enable his landlord to collect without inconvenience his rent in kind, delivered “dry, sound and bagged” at the foot of the threshing mill; to continue this process for three or more years; and at the end of his term to go to the devil if his unsuccess has not already landed him in that quarter.

In a scheme of agriculture that was to take no heed of the permanent thrift of the land and the man who tilled it we have failed; as we deserved to fail, most miserably. We have built upon this most uncertain apex as a base, an inverted pyramid by which ocean and land carriers, merchants, brokers, speculators, and every branch of parasite commerce were to wax lustily. We may devise as we will rural credits, schools of agriculture, prophets of agrarian science, bellowing from the tail-end of peripatetic railway coaches, grants of seed, warrants, elevators, labour-saving machinery, and every other panacea to nurse the sick field labourer. Until we give him fixity of tenure he will continue to be a sick man. There has been no other solution to agricultural problems of the past. There can be no other solution. Our present rural population, concentrated on less than the present area they are engaged in cultivating, with continuity of usufruct or compensation for improvements secured to them, would produce a larger cereal harvest than they now do, and add to the wealth of our animal produce, and still more to the accumulation of our national thrift.

In Uruguay progress is still possible to the existing population; since the consequences of the civil disturbances which until recently paralysed the production of this country, by the constant commandeering of men, horses and supplies by one or other of the combatant parties, have not yet been overcome by the existing settlers who, therefore, still have work ready to their hands. Nevertheless, for Uruguay also it is a case of the more the merrier; more available labour, more rapidly increased agricultural output. Once means are found for an appreciable and constant increase of the population of these countries, immediate results of such increase may be expected not only from their production of Cereals, Live Stock and the “Secondary” products already enumerated,[236] but also from coffee, chicory, tea, arrowroot, sugar-beet, sweet sorghum, hops, cinnamon, vanilla and very many others, for the cultivation of all of which favourable conditions are to be found in one or other of the various climates found between the many degrees of latitude traversed by the length of Argentina and the various altitudes between the Argentine Andine frontier line and the sea.

At the same time much could be done for their own comfort and prosperity by farmers, in the ample time which their chief occupations necessarily leave them, by the cultivation of some of these secondary products for their and their neighbours’ use. At present their almost unaccountable neglect to do so justifies an obiter dictum of the great Argentine statistician, Dr. Francisco Latzina, in a Monograph by him attached to the last Argentine agricultural Census.

“It seems to me,” Dr. Latzina says, “that the Ministry of Agriculture ought to take a decided initiative in encouraging horticulture which, as we see, does not supply the National demand. To add to the climax, even eggs are imported in this year of grace. If this goes on, the day will come, perhaps, when bread and milk shall be imported in order to be able to export all the wheat, flour and butter produced in the country.” (By “horticulture” Dr. Latzina means, in this connection, the produce of the Kitchen garden.)

It is a fact that, as he says elsewhere in the same Monograph, garlic and onions, peas and beans figure among the imports of a country possessing millions of acres of fertile land! While the farmer frequently buys his potatoes at the Store. This neglect on his part of everything which does not savour of export is one of the factors of dear living in Argentina. Uruguay is on a somewhat different footing in this regard, her rural population having, as has already been indicated, still about as much as it can do in making good the ravages of past Revolutions.

Still Uruguay sends vegetables to Buenos Aires, and[237] Uruguayan housewives complain of the high prices of Kitchen stuff which, consequently, now rule in the Montevidean markets.

A very large proportion indeed of the whole of the Republic of Uruguay may be considered as cultivable. In Argentina the question of how much of the whole area of that country may be so considered is yet without exact solution.

In this regard therefore it may be well again to quote Dr. Latzina, who says:—[38]

It is difficult to determine even approximately the cultivable area of Argentina, because hitherto, and yet for some time to come, the extent covered by mountains, deserts, salt marshes, sand-hills, swamps, moors and lagoons, and the Patagonian table-lands, which are almost entirely uncultivable—not so much so on account of the poor soil, but on account of the want of water and the boisterous and continuous winds which blow incessantly day and night in those parts. A calculation such as I wish to make can only be roughly made, and I may say that I doubt if the cultivatable area of Argentina be greater than half its total area—in round numbers, 150,000,000 hectares.

Dr. Latzina then suggests the reservation of two-thirds of that area for stock-breeding, leaving only 50,000,000 hectares for pure agriculture.

However, hardly one-half of this last-mentioned area is as yet under cultivation; leaving plenty of room for the present for the extension of agriculture.

This fact of very large areas within the Territory of the Argentine Republic being, chiefly for climatic reasons (e.g. the more southern and the mountainous parts of Patagonia), unfit for either cultivation or pasturage, except in the latter regard for goats and perhaps the very roughest kinds of sheep, should not be lost sight of when comparing Argentina with Uruguayan statistics. One eminent Uruguayan Agricultural[238] Authority, for instance, has triumphantly referred (in, it must be considered, a more patriotic than strictly scientific spirit) to the fact, as stated by him, that the value of the Exports of Uruguay, per square mile of that Republic’s territory, are double those, similarly reckoned, of Argentina. Even accepting his figures as correct, which Argentine statisticians do not, the deduction he obviously suggests is certainly based on fallacious reasoning; indeed, the very comparison itself is misleading.

Uruguay is a small, compact country not two-thirds the size of the Province of Buenos Aires, containing practically no exclusively mountainous or arid or otherwise desert large areas and none of the obstacles, of distance, or other kinds, encountered by transport in Argentina.

Truly some statistics suggest that their compilers believe that “Figures can be made to prove anything.”

In connection with Agriculture, locusts still unfortunately succeed in not letting themselves be forgotten. From time to time vast swarms of these rapacious insects appear, covering and darkening the sky for leagues. They come from their breeding centres, undoubtedly somewhere in the huge virgin tracts in the western tropical regions of Brazil. Many well-meaning persons have counselled measures for their extermination there. A counsel of perfection, alas! Those who have preached have never been even on the frontiers of the thousands of square leagues of tropical forest and undergrowth which yet have scarcely ever heard the voice of man. To dream of exterminating locusts there is as if one proposed to empty a running stream with a bucket. An impossibility.

All that can be done is to attack and destroy the swarms when they have arrived. For this purpose special and, it should at once be said, very successful organization have been brought into existence by the Argentine National Government with the loyal concurrence and aid of the Provincial Governments and by the Uruguayan Government.


At first the Defensa Agricola, as this organization is called, encountered a good deal of passive resistance from rural landowners who, doubting its efficacy and seeing in it or affecting to see in it, rather a means of affording remunerative jobs for Government hangers-on, declared that its officials who pervaded the country requisitioning labour and supplies were a worse nuisance than the locusts themselves.

The Defensa Agricola continued its work, however, unheeding of such protests; and now, for some time past, may be said to have fully justified its existence and its methods by results in both countries.

It has its centres of observation, like any other force prepared to repel invasion, and, on the coming of a swarm being signalled, every human being in its course is called upon to aid in the defence.

The plan of this defence consists, briefly, in driving and sweeping the insects into trenches backed with long lines of sheets of corrugated iron, placed together end to end. Once gathered into these trenches the locusts are burned; and by the untiring continuance of this process they are gradually destroyed before much damage (very small indeed compared with the ravages of pre-Defensa Agricola days) has been done.

The sweeping-up process can be usefully employed for the extermination of settled swarms otherwise its members will quickly proceed to deposit eggs which later would hatch into young “hoppers” born with infinitely more voracious appetites than even their parents had.[39]

Locusts, as has been seen, come from the North and in the normal course of their nature would disappear again in that direction, leaving bare fields and their hungry young behind them in memory of their visit. Still in recent years, before[240] the full development of the Defensa Agricola, it appeared that locusts had actually become acclimatized in some regions of both Republics, notably in the Southern part of the Province of Buenos Aires and in the Territory of the Rio Negro, and therefore did not return North but managed to survive frost.

This last menace may now, however, be considered as past.

The Defensa Agricola does not only devote its attention to locusts. It possesses a highly trained scientific staff which combats the invasions of all the other insect pests which from time to time threaten the crops, vines or fruit and other trees and useful vegetation. It issues clear instructions as to the treatment to be applied in each case and punishes noncompliance with its orders by fines which it is empowered to inflict.

Agriculture has much for which to thank this Institution in respect of protection against pests; the danger from which was increasing with the importation of vines and fruit trees from other countries.

The Argentine organization is under the direct control of the Ministry of Agriculture[40]; an indefatigable Government Department the immensely wide sphere of whose work is ever increasing; Division being added to Division as need arises from the ever-increasing number of the branches of National Industry, whether agricultural or not. For instance, it is only quite lately that anything like complete official statistics have been obtainable in relation to internal manufactures. The country regarded itself, as it was regarded abroad, as purely agricultural in the broad sense including Live Stock production. Now these statistics are regularly issued by the “Division of Commerce and Industry” so admirably directed and watched over by Señor Ricardo Pillado; a veteran the list of whose valuable economic services to the State dates from the financial[241] renaissance which followed the disastrous year 1891; in which renaissance he played a very leading part.

Señor Pillado was largely instrumental in the devising and carrying into execution of the drastic financial remedies rendered necessary by the culminating abuses of the Juarez Celman regime; and it is to his practical and patriotic genius that the Argentine statistical diagrams and many other statistics of that country reproduced in this book owe their existence and annual reappearances in the simple and striking forms which is their very salient feature.



Years. Wheat. Linseed. Maize. Lucerne. Other
1896 2,500,000 360,000 1,400,000 800,000 510,000 5,570,000
1897 2,600,000 350,000 1,000,000 900,000 522,000 5,372,000
1898 3,200,000 332,788 850,000 1,067,983 533,000 5,983,771
1899 3,250,000 355,329 1,009,000 1,268,088 545,000 6,427,417
1900 3,379,749 607,352 1,255,346 1,511,601 557,000 7,311,048
1901 3,296,066 782,880 1,405,796 1,631,733 567,000 7,638,475
1902 3,695,343 1,307,196 1,801,644 1,730,163 580,270 9,114,616
1903 4,320,000 1,487,000 2,100,000 2,172,511 606,000 10,685,511
1904 4,903,124 1,082,890 2,287,040 2,503,384 648,000 11,424,438
1905 5,675,293 1,022,782 2,717,300 2,983,643 682,443 13,081,461
1906 5,692,268 1,020,715 2,851,300 3,537,211 796,099 13,897,593
1907 5,759,987 1,391,467 2,719,260 3,612,000 1,129,078 14,612,792
1908 6,063,100 1,534,300 2,973,900 3,687,200 1,572,063 15,830,563
1909 5,836,500 1,455,600 3,005,000 4,706,530 3,772,042 18,775,672
1910 6,253,180 1,503,820 3,215,350 5,400,580 3,994,152 20,367,082
1911 5,897,000 1,630,000 3,422,000 5,630,100 4,304,589 21,883,689
1912 6,918,450 1,733,330 3,830,000 5,955,000 4,550,946 22,987,726
1913 6,573,540 1,779,350 4,152,000 6,690,100 4,896,736 24,091,726



$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
Wheat Flour.
$ gold.
$ gold.
Quebracho. Totals.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
1875 3,714 107,517 1,188 2,138 114,557
1876 136,986 105,496 997 33,069 4,928 281,476
1877 166,889 219,570 7,335 20,419 414,213
1878 7,107 290,088 130,648 105,350 300,282 63,802 897,277
1879 20,338 501,857 105,625 1,328,692 160,304 58,070 2,174,886
1880 95,485 288,275 184,695 46,747 100,695 44,353 10,121 770,371
1881 604,387 541,058 37,283 11,111 105,832 37,439 11,016 1,348,126
1882 1,650,043 2,141,135 132,683 66,864 39,188 28,320 4,058,233
1883 1,153,087 372,804 137,531 2,430,184 343,099 43,647 4,480,352
1884 1,699,582 2,274,201 142,153 4,339,970 261,406 58,948 8,776,260
1885 3,471,305 3,957,191 165,587 3,139,736 521,295 87,482 11,342,596
1886 1,825,199 4,653,421 149,414 1,510,378 362,807 40,105 8,541,324
1887 4,066,409 7,236,886 148,506 9,514,635 378,076 62,921 5,095 21,412,528
1888 2,131,813 5,444,464 238,308 8,248,614 639,244 33,132 172,700 16,908,275
1889 1,607,162 12,977,721 572,153 1,596,446 510,853 69,082 485,357 17,818,774
1890 1,228,825 14,145,639 198,866 9,836,824 600,894 28,337 826,508 26,865,893
1891 732,798 1,384,088 420,058 23,733,312 361,230 110,929 1,245,628 27,988,043
1892 2,546,220 8,561,231 374,428 14,696,089 1,024,041 290,849 617,811 28,110,669
1893 19,504 2,887,975 1,578,545 638,640 23,459,926 1,318,590 243,403 1,265,942 31,412,525
1894 29,489 3,583,459 1,046,007 456,386 27,118,142 1,019,931 211,551 962,687 34,427,652
1895 228,875 8,287,112 10,193,338 432,657 19,471,652 1,882,366 249,830 40,167 1,778,814 42,564,811
1896 38,389 6,856,106 15,994,556 899,781 12,830,027 1,949,556 708,738 68,419 832,718 40,178,290
1897 18,110 4,996,288 5,478,718 933,716 3,470,351 2,411,719 747,551 120,474 1,356,744 19,533,671
1898 20,929 5,420,031 9,274,197 1,246,849 22,368,900 1,592,495 767,972 119,224 1,882,604 42,693,201
1899 88,493 7,402,488 13,042,983 1,158,825 38,078,343 1,938,281 922,916 317,156 1,593,761 64,543,246
1900 127,249 10,674,011 11,933,747 1,282,620 48,627,653 1,718,085 1,163,120 595,701 2,398,362 78,520,548
1901 47,139 16,513,263 18,887,397 961,576 26,240,733 2,711,298 1,454,428 431,004 1,989,195 69,236,033
1902 503,465 17,840,952 22,994,060 1,004,133 18,584,894 1,603,568 1,726,562 909,904 2,477,233 67,644,771
1903 514,267 21,239,894 33,147,249 1,033,244 41,323,099 3,128,525 1,894,693 1,204,049 2,002,010 105,487,030
1904 541,973 28,359,923 44,391,196 616,287 66,947,891 4,757,248 2,409,250 2,011,130 2,527,227 152,562,125
1905 334,349 26,233,851 46,536,402 801,219 85,883,141 5,373,699 3,051,155 2,427,772 4,275,164 174,916,752
1906 1,117,184 25,915,861 53,365,687 1,169,089 66,561,181 4,477,964 3,249,888 2,162,949 3,425,101 161,444,904
1907 3,593,397 36,081,221 29,653,979 769,505 82,727,747 4,696,934 4,552,332 1,811,878 3,132,493 167,019,486
1908 9,697,716 49,004,704 41,556,865 599,937 128,842,610 5,133,335 4,698,879 2,994,922 2,962,184 245,491,152
1909 10,115,161 43,713,358 58,374,430 580,853 106,038,940 5,594,852 4,483,317 4,226,333 4,380,033 237,507,277
1910 8,142,575 44,604,395 60,260,804 478,228 72,202,260 4,947,137 4,521,783 4,429,357 5,604,430 205,190,969
1911 11,666,291 33,579,990 2,766,597 679,425 80,675,066 4,739,421 4,612,292 4,980,027 6,897,435 150,596,544
1912 21,858,517 34,213,565 108,908,193 307,112 97,835,174 6,926,280 5,940,579 4,836,860 3,568,557 284,394,837
1913 20,447,278 49,910,201 112,292,394 312,590 102,631,143 7,224,029 4,740,184 4,974,686 4,988,349 307,520,854
Totals 89,150,350 500,158,408 766,754,992 19,933,193 1,252,532,157 80,909,235 53,414,905 38,662,012 63,675,279 2,865,190,531
£ 17,688,561 99,237,780 152,133,927 3,955,000 248,518,285 16,053,419 10,598,195 7,671,034 12,633,983 568,490,184




The total value of the Agricultural Exports during 1914 was some $200,000,000 (gold), but recovery was made in 1915 to some $320,000,000 (gold) during the latter year.

The Argentine harvests of 1915-16 are estimated in round figures at:

Wheat 5,500,000 tons
Linseed 1,300,000
Oats 1,360,000

The Maize crop is as yet unascertained at the time of writing.

The corresponding Uruguayan figures are as yet unobtainable. The Statistical Department of this Republic was reorganized in 1912, but, no doubt, has had to cope with enormous arrears. Still it is regrettable that authoritative statistics regarding this country are difficult, when not impossible, to obtain.

In 1913 Uruguay exported agricultural products of the value of $(Uruguayan) 1,857,000. 400,000 hectares in Uruguay were under wheat, a slightly less area under maize; the cultivation of oats was increasing rapidly, and that of barley slowly.

As has already been mentioned, the present (1915-16) harvests are reported as generally splendid in both countries though labour presents a serious problem, as do freights and scarcity of ships for export. Such complications have been prevalent and are likely to prevail throughout the war.


Naturally, the soil of such a vast area as that covered by the two Republics of Argentina and Uruguay is varied to an extent with which a book like the present cannot attempt to deal adequately. The greatest feature is, however, the celebrated Pampean formation which obtains over the whole of the Province of Buenos Aires, the greater parts of the Provinces of Santa Fé, Córdoba, San Luis and Mendoza, the National Territory of the Pampa Central, the Republic of[247] Uruguay, and extends southwards beyond the Argentine Rio Negro. In many places on this formation there are also later alluvial deposits.

The lightest soils, those with the smallest proportion of clay and consequently the loosest, are found in the West, near the Andes.

Starting from the most sandy western region, the soil grows more and more compact towards the east, along the River Paraná, the South of the Province of Santa Fé and most of the Republic of Uruguay, the Northern part of the Province of Buenos Aires (where rather heavy soils predominate); while in the South and South-West, that is to say the southern portion of the Province of Córdoba, the National Territory of the Pampa Central and the central and southern part of the Province of Buenos Aires, the soil is of lighter, though firmer consistency, than that of the western part.

The generally salient qualities of the Pampean soil are richness in humus, deficiency in lime and good proportions of nitrogen and phosphoric acid. A characteristic feature of the subsoil is stratified layers of more or less calcareous concretions known as TOSCA (tufa or tophos stone). This layer is sometimes deep down; but in the southern region of the Province of Buenos Aires, beginning at Tandíl and Azul, it reaches nearly to the surface, so as to appear immediately under the soil, thus forming a waterproof subsoil impenetrable by roots.

The present writer has seen wheat growing on less than an inch of soil above the tosca; the roots spreading out at right angles to the stalks.

These layers of tosca or, in other parts, clay, are of great importance for holding water; seldom at any great distance from the surface.

On low and level plains when the soil is light or loose, chains of sand-hills are formed by the prevailing winds. Some of these are kept stationary by quick-growing vegetation,[248] while others are constantly shifting. The shifting sandhill is, however, fast disappearing in consequence of the advances of pastoral industry; for, and by, which they are becoming fixed by herbaceous growth.

The tosca and clay subsoils have in many parts occasioned the formation of lagoons and swamps; the waters of which are, usually, at least brackish and often salt. A white or grey efflorescence seen in these swamps is locally called saltpetre, but in fact it only contains slight traces of nitre.

Towards the extreme North of the Province of Entre Rios and the Republic of Uruguay red soil heralds one’s approach to subtropical or tropical vegetation.



General Mitre, in his History of Belgrano, has said of the River Plate Territories:—

The natural pastures invited the inhabitants to the pastoral industry. The vast littoral placed the country in contact with the rest of the world by means of fluvial and maritime navigation. Its salubrious and temperate climate rendered life more pleasant and work more reproductive. It was indeed a territory prepared for live-stock breeding, constituted for commercial prosperity, and predestined by acclimatization to be peopled by all the races of the earth. Thus we see that the profitable occupation of its soil commences to be realized by means of live stock brought overland from Peru and from Brazil; that the commercial currents of the interior converge little by little towards the River Plate; that abundance and well-being are spread by this means; and that the first external act of the colonists after the foundation of Buenos Aires in 1580 is the exportation of a shipload of the fruits of their own work (hides and sugar), which awakens immigration and the commerce of importation.

This reference to the “commerce of importation” is an indication of the limitations under which the colonists laboured under Spanish rule. They might import from Spain as much as they could, but a very jealous guard was put on their exports lest these might compete with the industries of the Mother Country.

Seventy-two horses and mares were landed by Pedro de Mendoza when he founded the first settlement of Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires in 1535. Many of his followers were killed by the native Indians, but when Juan de Garay coming[250] down through Paraguay laid the real foundations of the present capital of the Argentine Republic, he and those with him were surprised to find wild horses grazing on the Pampa. These were the descendants of those brought by Mendoza and the ancestors of the present equine stock of the River Plate countries, a stock which has, however, in common with all the live stock of these countries, been improved out of all recognition in the course of the last half-century by imported European strains. Still the wild descendants of Mendoza’s animals, acclimatized through countless generations and become hardy in their free life, were no bad raw material to improve upon.

The first appearance of cattle on the River Plate Pampa is, as has already been mentioned, credited to seven cows and a bull said to have been brought from Brazil, through Paraguay, by two Portuguese, the brothers Cipriano and Vicente Goes, early in the last half of the sixteenth century, but other cattle were introduced in far larger quantities about the same time or a little later under the conditions of the appointment of Juan de Galazary Espinoza as Treasurer of the River Plate. To Nunflo de Chaves is credited the honour of the introduction of the first goats and sheep in 1550.

Evidently large numbers of horses, cattle and sheep afterwards strayed in a semi-wild condition down south from Peru and Brazil, attracted by the wealth of pasturage.

The early history of the export trade of the River Plate colonists in hides, tallow, wool and jerked beef, is one of smuggling and bribery of officials. Nevertheless, even under such difficult circumstances and costly methods many settlers contrived, by also trading in European merchandise, to amass great wealth, the fortunes of many of them, says Mr. Gibson, amounting to over £60,000 sterling.

Meanwhile the increase of cattle was astounding if one did not consider the difficulties in the way of its utilization. In the middle of the seventeenth century anyone could take all[251] he wanted from the wild herds up to 10,000 or 12,000 head, or more by obtaining licence to do so from the Governor.

The rights of free export of animal produce from Buenos Aires to Spain and open trade with the interior were first granted to the River Plate Colonies in 1778, under the Vice-Regal rule. But it was the Independence of the Colonies in 1810 which freed them from all commercial trammels and was the real commencement of their present agricultural and pastoral prosperity. Since then no events (except, of course, the advent of the railway in 1857) in the annals of the export commerce of the River Plate have been of greater importance than the founding of the Argentine Rural Society in 1866, and the discovery by Tellier of the preservation of meat at freezing point submitted to the Paris Academy of Science in 1872, and of Ferdinand Carré’s improvements for the transport of chilled meat.

The first freezing establishment in the River Plate was that erected by Señor Eugenio Terrasson at San Nicolás, in the Province of Buenos Aires, in 1883, and in the following year the legislature exempted frozen and chilled meat from the payment of export duty.

Over 99% of the whole exports of frozen and chilled meat from Argentina comes direct to the United Kingdom,[42] and we get quite one-half of the whole of our overseas meat and grain supplies from the two River Plate Republics.

The past half-century has seen amazing changes on the vast pasture lands of Argentina and Uruguay. The first of these was the invasion of what had formerly been the exclusive domains of cattle and sheep by agriculture. Little by little, wheat, especially, ousted the flocks and herds from an ever-increasing radius from the port of Buenos Aires. Land values increased as agriculture flourished till the time came when stock-breeders found themselves outbidden by wheat-growers[252] or, rather, landowners found it more profitable to grow wheat or maize on lands which were economically accessible to transport. As the railways grew so did this almost exclusively cereal area.

This tendency continued until what may almost be termed the “discovery” in the River Plate Territories of the qualities of Alfalfa (Lucerne).

The double value of this crop as fodder and for improving the land by collecting and depositing atmospheric nitrogen, caused it to be planted by every intelligent estanciero, and brought back much of the cattle to properties which had seemed for ever given over to wheat-growing. Other contemporary reasons for the reappearance of cattle on the home lands were the increased demand for good slaughter animals initiated by the newly established cold-storage and export business and dawning appreciation of the fact that one cannot for ever go on growing immediately successive crops of wheat on the same land.

Thus were laid some foundations of scientific farming on more civilized lines, in which stock-raising and agriculture combine for the profit of the farmer. The cattle industry and horse-breeding also, gained fresh impetus from the abundance of alfalfa now grown everywhere on a large scale and on brackish land formerly considered valueless.

Sheep only, with their nomadic nature which demands large areas on which to roam, their close-cropping manner of grazing and their faculty for quickly ruining alfalfa fields on which they may be allowed to graze, are still only found in comparatively small numbers on the high-priced lands of the East-Central parts of Argentina and the South of Uruguay, being chiefly relegated to outlying districts in which land is still of comparatively small value and particularly, in Argentina, to those parts of Patagonia the inclement climate of which suits them as it does little else.

Nevertheless, the finest breeds of sheep are chiefly to be[253] found on the “model” estancias, where as good live stock as any in the world is bred and intensive farming has begun to be appreciated for its own sake and on account of the normally ever-increasing value of land in all the most fertile and accessible rural districts of the River Plate Republics.

Durhams and Lincolns are the favourite breeds of cattle and sheep, though many fine strains of Herefords, Polled Angus, Merinos, Romney Marsh and Shropshires abound. No price is too high for the Argentine estanciero to pay for imported animals for the still greater perfection of his stock, and the great Show held under the auspices of the Rural Society at Palermo, a park-like suburb of the city of Buenos Aires, comes as a revelation to each expert breeder who travels, as many do every year, from Europe to the River Plate to see it. Money and care can do no better anywhere in the production of animals of the very highest quality. It may be noted that the prizes (always awarded by impartial foreign, usually British, judges) are more frequently gained by native Argentine breeders.

River Plate live stock suffers very little indeed from any of the diseases which are the breeder’s dread in most other countries; with the exception of sheep and pigs, the former being greatly subject to “fluke” and the latter to fever. Horse-breeding is carried on very successfully. The carriage horses exported by Señor Martinez de Hoz and others are now well known in Europe and the race-courses of Argentina and Uruguay are the constant scenes of the display of very fine horse-flesh indeed. That Argentine-bred race-horses are more successful in South America than freshly imported ones is no doubt due to climatic causes. Argentine race-horses are here specified because horse-breeding has been brought to a higher pitch of perfection in Argentina than has yet been attained in Uruguay.

Poultry and pig farming may yet be said to be in their infancy in both Republics, simply because both countries are[254] still quite fully occupied with the two great established industries of producing grain and meat for export.

Given adequate population (how often must one ring the changes on this phrase!) very many rich sources of prosperity would quickly be disclosed to now almost unsuspecting European eyes. Poultry and pigs are two of the richest, and the most obvious for mention, in this chapter, of such almost latent sources.

The cold-storage establishment at Zárate, in the Province of Buenos Aires, some years ago erected a scientifically equipped plant for the curing of hams and bacon. But the difficulty is yet to obtain sufficient pigs of first quality to make the curing industry a success. Throughout the temperate zone of South America the climatic conditions are quite favourable to pig-raising; and food in the shape of maize and alfalfa is abundant at relatively small cost. When pigs and poultry receive the care which is now acknowledged to be necessary to, and given for, the best results from cattle, horses and sheep, River Plate poultry and pig produce will loom large on the markets of the world, besides supplying a daily increasing local demand.

What has been called the Alfalfa region because of the astounding yield of that forage given by its brackish, saltpetre-impregnated waters and sandy soil, lies to the West of the Province of Buenos Aires. Almost the whole of the two Republics are now, however, largely planted with alfalfa, the spread of which has grown rapidly since the several valuable qualities of that crop have come to be understood.

In many districts wheat has been sown on wheat year after year ever since the booming times of South American cereal export began. So that in many parts of such districts the soil can do no more, and in consequence the wheat yield has become unsatisfactory.

When these districts cease entirely to be able to yield any wheat at all, someone will lay down alfalfa as an alternate[255] crop and will find the cost of having done so, and of reploughing, say, three years afterwards, insignificant compared with the value of the quantity and quality of wheat the same land will yield after that process of alternation; not to mention the value of the three years’ three or quite likely four, annual crops of alfalfa taken off it during that period.

This form of intensive farming will probably be the first to become obligatory, for economic reasons, on the generality of owners of land situated in the chief cereal areas.

Till to-day, landowners in these large favoured tracts have grown wealthy with little trouble and no thought as far as purely agricultural enterprise, as apart from stock-breeding, is concerned.

All this is, however, a digression from our present consideration of stock-raising, except as regards the increasingly intimate connection between stock-raising and agriculture in the most thickly populated districts; for the Argentine Rural Statistics (more availably complete than those of Uruguay) show that the much greater proportion of cattle is in the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba and Entre Rios which are four of the chief cereal areas. And though there are more cattle in the province of Corrientes than in either of the three last-named Provinces, the vast herds of one of the largest meat-extract companies account for much of this. So that it may be taken that the Provinces of Buenos Aires (represented by a long way by the highest figures), Santa Fé, Córdoba and Entre Rios, with the Territory of the Pampa Central in respect of cereals, are the regions which, together, are the richest in Live Stock and cereals in Argentina.[43]


The following interesting table of the difference in numbers of cattle, sheep, and horses in 1895 and 1908 is taken from the Argentine National Census taken in the latter year, the latest census of the kind taken throughout the Republic.


More (+), less (-) in 1908

Federal Capital and the Island of M. García - 11,538 - 7,072 + 7,367
Buenos Aires + 2,605,339 - 18,025,479 + 844,568
Santa Fé + 1,098,439 - 1,019,371 + 509,609
Corrientes + 1,382,639 + 1,733,462 + 187,039
Córdoba + 754,554 - 602,552 + 579,080
San Luis - 98,925 + 314,439 + 67,290
Tucumán - 23,058 + 25,134 + 57,151
Entre Rios + 360,829 + 795,284 + 132,510
Salta + 9,398 + 63,670 + 26,115
Catamarca - 7,357 + 28,899 + 19,050
Jujuy - 16,337 - 62,830 + 8,673
Mendoza + 61,252 + 120,186 + 51,268
La Rioja + 170,603 + 60,025 + 22,986
Santiago del Estero + 37,350 + 316,978 + 96,668
San Juan + 12,629 + 37,237 + 3,458
Central Pampa + 65,517 - 486,100 + 52,534
Rio Negro + 197,409 + 3,715,067 + 142,875
Neuquen + 20,022 + 315,528 + 47,680
Chubut + 305,051 + 2,076,322 + 152,925
Santa Cruz + 14,778 + 2,018,302 + 28,524
Fireland + 11,055 + 1,335,186 + 9,910
Chaco + 181,327 + 2,318 + 13,163
Misiones + 24,102 + 3,382 + 10,895
Formosa + 192,300 + 20,044 + 13,058
The Andes + 905 + 54,133 + 121
Republic at large + 7,415,099 - 7,167,808 + 3,084,517

The result of the comparison is to show that in the provinces and territories of the Republic, the number of cattle has increased by 7,415,099 head, and that of horses by 3,084,517 head, whereas sheep have fallen off by 7,167,808.

The following are the figures for Cattle and Sheep respectively as calculated by Señor Emilio Lahitte, Director of the Division of Rural Economy and Statistics in the[257] Argentine National Ministry of Agriculture, existing in each Province and Territory of that Republic on the 31st December, 1911.

Federal Capital 14,338 1,222
Province of Buenos Aires 7,045,523 28,934,475
Santa Fé 4,055,624 1,612,799
Córdoba 2,251,744 2,753,773
Entre Rios 2,260,078 6,721,976
Corrientes 5,030,396 5,937,432
San Luis 861,831 1,565,326
Santiago del Estero 1,121,374 1,344,024
Mendoza 395,327 745,701
San Juan 174,835 191,752
La Rioja 600,582 234,587
Catamarca 382,108 230,201
Tucumán 653,458 234,591
Salta 892,248 630,681
Jujuy 172,387 1,128,321
National Territory of Pampa Central 399,460 5,751,856
Misiones 154,328 24,761
Formosa 359,139 46,397
Chaco 562,412 25,052
Los Andes 2,057 108,523
Rio Negro 379,312 8,476,993
Neuquen 295,770 1,099,161
Chubut 651,511 5,091,132
Santa Cruz 55,442 4,946,677
Tierra del Fuego 14,726 2,564,073
Isla Martín García 218
Totals 28,786,168 80,401,486

The 1908 Census showed that more than one-fourth of the whole cattle of the Republic were Durhams, rather less than one-sixth Herefords and the remainder made up of very much smaller quantities of Polled Angus, Dutch, Red Polled, Jerseys, Flemish and Swiss, their numerical importance being according to the order in which they are here stated, from a total of 125,829 Polled Angus to 3401 Swiss.

As has been said, Lincolns are still in most favour among sheep, followed by Romney Marsh and other long-wool breeds, Shropshire, Hampshire and Oxford Downs, Southdowns and Rambouillets and Merinos.


The reason for the great preference shown for Durhams is their reputation for combined meat-carrying and milking qualities, in which latter Herefords are relatively deficient. The dairy industries are already developing on an important scale.

There are practically no parts of the River Plate Territories except their forests, mountains and certain as yet unirrigated tracts, such as the Valley of the Rio Negro, which are not naturally adapted to cattle or sheep raising, or both, and at present Live Stock is to be found in almost exclusive occupation of close on 96,000,000 hectares out of the calculated total of 300 million hectares of cultivable land in the Argentine Republic. These figures are taken from the 1908 Argentine Census, above referred to.

The parallel figures for Uruguay are not available in such exact form of statement, but it may be taken that there are very few parts of that country in which cattle or sheep or both are not found.

Diseases of live stock are, as has been said, very conspicuous by their relative total absence in both Republics, and farmers in both Argentina and Uruguay are very sore about the sustained attitude of the British Government which refuses to permit the entrance of River Plate live stock on the hoof into British ports. The farmers are convinced that this refusal is due to the influence of British breeders who, while thus preventing what would otherwise be a serious menace to their own industry, yet benefit by the South American acceptance of very high priced animals imported from Great Britain for stud purposes. The weak point of this argument is, of course, that such importation of prize animals is in no way authoritatively enforced on the Argentine or Uruguayan, his obligation to purchase such animals arising only from his necessity to do so in his own best interests. The danger on his side arises from the possibility of latent tuberculosis and other disease, but this he now guards very effectually against, often at much[259] pecuniary loss to himself, by severe tests carried out by competent veterinary surgeons on all imported animals and the unhesitating sacrifice of any found to be infected.

The present writer is inclined to venture the opinion that the British Government might rely with safety on the certificates of Argentine and Uruguayan Government experts of the immunity of all cattle and sheep leaving either Republic on the hoof. It does, in effect, accept such certificates in regard to the condition of frozen or chilled carcases; and, morality apart, it may safely be taken that every Argentine and Uruguayan interested is much too fully aware of the importance to himself individually of the countries’ export trade to risk the slightest laxity in connection with the sure ascertainment of perfect immunity from disease or contagion of all animals shipped from his Ports.

As this matter now stands, the British authorities refuse to permit the importation of live cattle or sheep until such time as the Argentine or Uruguayan Governments can give assurance of the total absence of disease in every part of their Republics.

It can easily be understood that this practically postpones such permission to the Millennium, since it is most highly improbable that the whole of such vast areas of pasturage and the millions of head of live stock in Argentina and Uruguay should ever be without one beast affected in more or less degree by any contagious disease. One day, probably (before the Millennium), other counsels will prevail with the British Government and the whole people of Great Britain, as well as Argentine and Uruguayan estancieros benefit by the removal of the present comprehensive prohibition.

For his stock, the Argentine and Uruguayan farmer does not fear disease, that he and his Governments can and do very efficiently guard against, but he does fear drought which he yet has only inadequate means to combat.

The streams of the huge Pampean flat are few and far between, and are apt to dry up in exceptionally dry seasons.[260] Almost everywhere now the sky-line is dotted with corrugated-iron windmills which draw water from surface or artesian wells. But vast and costly irrigation (and drainage) works are needed before the whole available pasturage of the two Republics can defy the recurrence of times of drought which sometimes much more than decimate the live stock of enormous districts. Uruguay is, however, infinitely better provided with running rivers and streams than Argentina.

It was a long time before the native Argentine small farmer could be got to see the real economy of outlay on artesian wells and still in the more illiterate outlying Provinces are to be found men as yet unconvinced in that regard.

One of the agricultural instructors which the Argentine Government keeps travelling all over the country to give advice and instruction to farmers told the present writer not so very long ago that he had tried very hard but without success to persuade a man in a remote corner of Argentina, whose stock was daily dying of drought, to sink at least one artesian well on his property, and even offered to erect a windmill for him free of all cost except that of the actual mill.

At last, one evening, the farmer consented to this proposal, but the following morning brought a cloudy sky. Pointing dramatically to this he said, “Why should I sink wells? See! Rain is coming.” After that, my friend, the expert, gave the matter up in disgust. It was of no use telling the farmer that drought might come again. Sufficient for the day had been the evil thereof; and, as for future troubles, why meet them half-way?

Uruguay is relatively very rich in sheep, which thrive well on her undulating lands, and exports wool to the annual value of well over £4,000,000.

The value of Argentine annual wool exports now totals over £9,000,000.

The real commencement of the pastoral as well as the agricultural industries of the River Plate in systematized[261] form was the introduction of fences by a landowner named Olivera, in 1838. As may be conjectured, the erection of boundaries where none had ever been before, on properties the titles to and limits of which were of the vaguest description, mostly partook of the nature of an arbitrary proceeding. So evidently thought Manuel Rozas, the tyrant; who summarily prevented Olivera from continuing the fencing the latter had begun on his estancia “Los Remedios,” although Olivera’s new boundaries were but ditches crowned with quick-set hedges of “Añapinday” (Acacias affinis).

After the death of Rozas, however, in 1844, an English estanciero, Richard Newton, first employed iron wire for some of the enclosures of his property; and, later, another landowner, named Halbach, completely enclosed the whole of his estancia.

The founder of the Argentine Rural Society, Dr. Eduardo Olivera, says in one of his agricultural essays:—

To these three men (Olivera, Newton and Halbach) the Republic owes the transformation of its pastoral and agricultural industries.

It was only after the enclosing of lands that refining of stock became possible. Previously, a stock-owner was always subject to invasion by stray animals (often in large numbers) belonging to his neighbours.

Thus, as we have seen, the first step, the introduction of wire fencing, towards the present development of the Live Stock industry of the River Plate was initiated by an Englishman, and it was another Englishman, Mr. John Miller, who, in 1848, imported from England, for a Mr. White, the owner of the estancia “La Campana,” Tarquin, the first shorthorn bull ever seen on the River Plate.

Therefore the River Plate Territories really owe their pastoral development as well as their railways to the Anglo-Saxon race.

Some ten years later it became the fashion to import[262] stallions of the carriage and riding kinds; it not being foreseen that the heavier breeds would also prove useful.

Then came the turn of sheep-breeding; first from imported Merinos. Later, Rambouillets were introduced and a little later again the Lincoln began to assert its right to the predominance it has since attained.

In 1866 the Argentine Rural Society was founded by a few leading estancieros. Still a private society, its admirable and constantly progressive efforts, usually crowned with success, have given it a status which is practically official.

The Society has a Registration Office which keeps authoritative Herd and Flock Books in which are entered the pedigrees of all the pure-breed cattle, sheep and horses in the country whose owners have applied for such registration; except thoroughbred horses and merino sheep, the breeders of which last have not yet arrived at the definition of the purity of that class of sheep. The walls of this Office are lined with the Herd and Flock Books of the Breeding Societies of Great Britain and her Colonies, and, as Mr. Herbert Gibson, himself a prominent member of the Society, tells us, “there is not in the whole world an analogous office which covers so diverse and numerous a registration.”

The latest (1908) official Argentine live stock Census gives the following tables of, respectively, the importation of pedigree bulls and cows and pedigree rams and ewes, from 1880 to 1907.


No. of
$ gold.
From the United Kingdom 14,624 3,770,031
France 583 120,724
Belgium 325 75,235
the United States 169 41,200
Germany 153 27,770
Chile 113 27,034
Italy 62 9,553
Holland 50 5,300
Spain 40 5,700
Other countries 40 13,870
16,156 4,492,372



No. of
$ gold.
From the United Kingdom 65,724 3,141,971
Germany 3,327 207,833
France 1,184 60,154
the United States 502 33,250
British Possessions 223 15,500
Belgium 209 19,829
Australia 125 5,100
Spain 128 8,165
Italy 56 540
Holland 10 30
71,488 3,492,372

Total value of cattle and sheep imported for breeding purposes during the above indicated period $7,588,780 gold—£1,517,756. These animals have proved worth vastly more than the prices paid for them.

Prior to this, in 1858, the first Rural Show was organized at Palermo. It was not a success. As Dr. Zeballos has written, “It was held in the midst of public indifference and passed utterly unnoticed by the press.” However, it seems to have only been a sort of fair at which all kinds of other wares jostled some rural produce. In face of this fiasco it is not surprising that no other Rural Show was held until thirteen years later; when a really Rural Show was held in the City of Córdoba. This appears to have had as much success as was to be expected after taking difficulties of transport into consideration.

The real commencement, however, of the series of great annual shows now held at Palermo was made by the Rural Society in 1875.

The chief live stock exhibits at these shows consists of—


Horses. “Criollos” (native breed).
Saddle and race horses.
Light draught.
Heavy draught (now in the majority).
Cattle. Shorthorn (in a very large majority).
Polled Angus.
Dairy breeds.
Sheep. Merino.
Lincoln-Merino crossbreds.
Romney Marsh.
Shropshire Down.
Oxford Down.
Hampshire Down.

The majority of the sheep exhibits are Lincolns and Merinos.

Fine Pigs and Poultry of all kinds are also to be seen at these shows, but they are chiefly contributed by the wealthier estancieros. As has been indicated, the day of pig and poultry farming on a large practical scale has not yet dawned on the River Plate.

Mr. Herbert Gibson shows us, in his valuable Monograph attached to the Argentine National Agricultural and Live Stock Census of 1908, that the coming of Cold Storage establishments, as well as the increase of the export trade for animals on the hoof, was very largely instrumental in securing the predominance of the Lincoln breed, most frequently crossed with merino.

Merino for wool and Lincoln for mutton; and the cross which preserves the best qualities of both is in effect the guiding rule of the River Plate sheep-breeder of to-day.[265] However, with the coming of alfalfa came also the various black-faced or Down breeds which mature quickly into fine meat carcases.

It may be said that barbed wire, iron water-drawing windmills and cold storage establishments are the chief inanimate supports of the River Plate Live Stock industries. Another should be trees; the prime necessity of which to afford shade for animals which know no other roof but the heavens, from which a very hot sun shines on the Pampa in summer time, is not yet as generally appreciated as it should be. Still the planting of trees on pasture lands began some years ago, and only could be wished to spread more quickly and universally than it has yet done.

One is all too apt in dealing with the River Plate Republics to confine one’s ideas regarding them to industries of a magnitude commensurate with the huge extent of their Territories; but with the coming of the real colonist, when he does come, the mixed farming which, necessarily for his own comfort, he will bring with him will greatly enhance the importance of milch breeds of cattle, pigs, poultry and the produce of the kitchen garden in the rural economy of the River Plate.


Number of
Official Valuation.
$ currency. Equivalent in £.
Cattle 29,116,625 938,685,834 81,981,295
Sheep 67,211,758 287,359,076 25,096,863
Horses 7,531,376 205,826,834 17,976,143
Mules 465,037 22,561,075 1,970,399
Swine 1,403,591 15,672,637 1,368,789
Goats 3,945,086 8,321,839 726,798
Asses 285,088 2,854,950 249,341
1,481,282,245 129,369,628



YEARS. Salted Horse Hides.
$ gold.
Dry Horse Hides.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
Salted Ox and Cow Hides.
$ gold.
Dry Ox and Cow Hides.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
Horse hair.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
$ gold.
1885 682,260 65,651 1,081,762 641,050 4,488,204 7,511,919 6,267,377 35,950,111 1,004,649 3,489,169 61,182,152
1886 587,271 86,178 306,577 502,040 3,649,287 6,267,592 6,350,671 31,711,604 775,977 1,715,158 51,952,355
1887 523,128 231,236 460,140 699,569 3,639,095 8,408,742 6,698,408 32,749,315 998,643 788,777 55,187,053
1888 815,840 84,745 585,478 864,111 4,584,728 10,046,281 5,610,923 44,858,606 1,257,970 2,140,393 70,849,074
1889 759,588 77,487 821,590 598,677 5,260,945 8,448,069 11,386,593 56,709,774 1,157,525 3,297,471 1,618 88,519,337
1890 519,483 82,074 1,023,478 754,295 5,171,473 5,759,745 6,787,108 35,521,681 929,686 1,996,629 9,608 58,555,260
1891 908,912 146,275 676,329 687,851 3,782,143 5,049,556 4,833,991 36,037,518 936,470 2,391,388 660 55,451,093
1892 380,274 142,278 493,647 593,111 3,901,454 6,056,865 9,618,175 44,326,060 790,227 2,263,729 3,045 68,568,865
1893 673,936 205,186 392,958 607,019 3,073,310 5,869,157 4,158,777 25,006,348 829,762 2,549,763 8,347 43,374,563
1894 758,393 287,769 588,458 819,045 3,553,198 7,045,877 4,915,384 28,948,933 996,468 2,809,450 5,850 50,728,825
1895 1,381,719 203,652 648,600 765,702 6,332,204 8,940,950 3,711,966 31,029,522 1,070,770 3,807,751 123,600 58,016,456
1896 360,109 141,847 689,031 687,928 4,598,515 6,600,005 4,061,055 33,516,049 902,441 3,179,326 225,771 54,962,077
1897 515,708 240,763 779,750 652,331 4,605,572 8,596,344 4,094,640 37,450,244 980,650 2,656,048 249,928 60,721,978
1898 522,368 288,734 1,282,816 439,546 5,171,440 6,887,596 6,194,267 45,584,603 1,099,465 2,862,512 231,626 70,564,973
1899 459,824 233,484 1,211,087 541,632 4,334,832 8,001,132 9,308,535 71,283,619 1,129,912 2,205,593 294,872 100,004,524
1900 389,625 274,428 770,499 260,119 5,285,819 8,159,542 7,472,988 27,991,561 1,136,107 2,803,327 263,939 54,809,954
1901 390,826 293,405 791,745 304,494 5,281,756 8,848,438 7,339,811 44,666,483 1,004,677 3,902,715 377,545 73,201,895
1902 406,794 460,906 823,328 292,704 6,384,955 8,822,302 8,487,078 45,810,749 1,064,646 6,209,038 1,277,969 80,040,469
1903 453,237 424,616 847,465 221,996 5,360,748 7,787,819 10,132,065 50,424,168 1,147,879 4,755,579 2,132,056 83,687,628
1904 507,450 368,450 1,078,196 285,630 5,367,610 8,256,351 8,676,025 48,355,002 1,025,580 4,012,083 2,117,761 80,050,138
1905 160,799 444,027 1,080,305 264,462 9,147,153 9,929,391 9,483,396 64,312,927 1,245,788 5,321,099 2,157,294 103,546,641
1906 68,933 507,738 1,116,762 256,976 8,458,664 10,570,124 8,513,910 58,402,771 1,243,812 3,482,526 1,762,130 94,384,346
1907 51,691 261,721 574,204 237,055 8,345,410 8,175,722 8,458,030 59,252,948 1,280,122 4,806,835 1,214,173 92,657,911
1908 18,740 248,077 934,174 184,276 7,232,842 8,452,819 5,626,416 47,246,183 1,143,615 6,030,601 1,419,867 78,537,610
1909 28,026 657,009 1,124,524 335,735 14,214,746 14,763,693 8,483,993 59,921,151 1,368,724 7,573,230 2,597,089 111,067,920
1910 15,526 484,893 1,001,824 310,694 16,953,372 13,758,036 8,623,922 58,847,699 1,335,160 9,536,681 1,150,610 112,018,417
1911 33,374 591,748 998,631 285,114 19,642,362 14,797,653 7,724,872 50,494,027 1,581,710 11,768,900 558,253 108,476,644
1912 23,112 356,305 1,231,906 228,604 24,844,075 17,285,501 7,657,157 58,148,664 2,111,177 11,314,728 1,470,682 124,671,911
1913 20,394 375,253 1,162,878 270,857 24,543,795 13,988,905 5,586,253 45,270,016 2,681,723 9,944,642 1,513,758 105,358,474
Totals 12,417,340 8,265,934 24,578,142 13,592,623 228,209,707 263,086,126 206,263,786 1,309,828,336 34,221,335 129,617,141 21,068,053 2,251,148,523
= £ 2,463,757 1,640,066 4,876,615 2,696,954 45,279,703 52,199,628 40,925,354 259,886,575 6,789,947 25,717,686 4,180,169 £446,656,453

The average annual value of the Live Stock products of Uruguay during the five years ending 1913 was $39,682,850 (Uruguayan) = £8,443,315. Similarly with Cereal Exports, Live Stock Exports dropped in 1914, but have more than recovered during 1915. Evidently, however, no War-time Export Statistics can be taken as indications of the true productiveness of the countries concerned.



The export of Meat from the River Plate Territories is no new thing; the first of such exports being authorized by Philip III of Spain in 1602.

The export under this edict was entirely confined to jerked beef; the salting industry only obtaining important development considerably later. It was not until 1793 that we find another Royal Edict which granted freedom from Export and Import duties for the salted meat and tallow of Buenos Aires.

About three-fourths of the exports under these Edicts usually went to Havana and the remainder to Spain.

The next development of this industry was begun when in 1841 a certain Hipolito Doinnel established a salting factory at the foot of the Cerro at Montevideo; at which he also manufactured soap, candles and sulphuric acid.

During all this period the export of hides was constantly much greater than that of meat.

The first mention of the export of horse hair relates to the year 1585, when from 300 to 400 mares were ordered to be killed so that their tails might be sent to the Guinea coast to be bartered for slaves.

The first privilege or patent granted in the now already independent River Plate Territories for meat preservation was granted by the Congress at Paraná, in 1854, to one Samuel Laffone Quevedo for the exclusive use of a machine invented by him for the preparation and pressing of salted beef.

Further experiment in preservation, by either heat, cold or in a vacuum, led to many local patents being granted for various processes from the year 1867 onward, to the present day in fact; in respect of alternative systems or suggested improvements of those generally in use.

The historic beginning, however, of the present River Plate Meat Industry was made in the year 1877 in the spring of which La Frigorifique and in the autumn of which La Paraguay, specially fitted boats, sailed from Buenos Aires[269] with cargoes of meat preserved by the freezing and chilling systems discovered by Mr. Charles Tellier.

Thus, while in the past the River Plate Territories exported only sun-dried meat for the slaves on the Brazilian and Havana sugar plantations, now they supply meat to the most highly civilized and exacting countries of the world.

The free export of frozen meat was sanctioned by the Argentine Congress in 1884, two years after the first of the existing cold storage establishments in Argentina had been started by Mr. Alfred Drabble. An establishment which still continues to carry on business successfully under the control of “The River Plate Fresh Meat Company.”

Other large companies which exploit this industry are the Sansinena “La Negra” (est. 1883), the “Las Palmas Produce Co.” (est. 1892), the “La Plata Cold Storage Co.” (est. 1902), the “La Blanca” Cold Storage (est. 1902), the Sansinena “Cuatreros” (est. 1903), “The Smithfield and Argentine Meat Co.” (est. 1905), and the “Frigorifico” (est. 1905).

The Meat Trade recognizes an average difference of weight between Argentine and Uruguayan beef and between Argentine, Uruguayan and “Patagonian” mutton. Argentine quarters of beef run about 12 to the ton and Uruguayan about 14 to the ton. Argentine mutton carcases run about 40, Uruguayan about 45 to the ton, and mutton carcases from Patagonia (in Argentina) some 2 or 3 lbs. lighter than Uruguayan.

Already in March, 1915, British Trade Reports showed that the meat trade in Great Britain was particularly dull on account of the extremely high prices ruling and the impossibility of retailers being able to get an equivalent in their shops. Since then, through the fact of the Governments of the belligerent powers being, as they are and are expected to be, large buyers, the conditions of the British Trade have been completely, if temporarily, changed by the War.[44]



YEARS Frozen & chilled beef
$ gold
Frozen mutton
$ gold
Sundry frozen meats
$ gold
Preserved meats
$ gold
Extract of beef
$ gold
Powder of meat
$ gold
Preserved tongues
$ gold
LIVE STOCK Condensed soup
$ gold
Jerked beef
$ gold
$ gold
$ gold
$ gold
1885 1,680 75,323 2,345,313 58,552 4,204,077 6,684,945
1886 12,800 360,508 1,876 169,991 27,267 2,203,150 41,557 3,738,820 6,555,969
1887 963,112 8,837 75,888 15,250 20,990 1,415,625 42,884 8,257 2,398,424 4,949,267
1888 3,326 1,459,839 38,343 13,809 128,080 117,457 56,668 1,798 251 34,685 3,456,787 7,107,245
1889 58,742 1,322,604 17,930 101,714 105,668 19,830 58,706 3,194,113 66,526 6,889 6,139,875 11,092,597
1890 53,029 1,633,105 42,661 375,132 19,175 185,412 3,579,456 159,428 10,547 3,913,304 9,971,249
1891 5,902 1,862,247 31,211 258,926 389,454 62,116 195,753 3,997,270 387,545 7,728 3,566,854 10,765,006
1892 22,695 2,034,898 49,217 633,601 520,892 226,288 198,813 2,264,675 170,422 6,455 4,100,488 10,589,044
1893 222,279 2,003,254 34,324 196,080 198,070 75,497 171,584 4,433,944 362,904 4,115,134 11,813,070
1894 12,400 1,864,110 59,645 65,250 134,393 21,562 266,144 4,540,160 448,678 4,564,447 11,976,789
1895 63,482 1,675,273 16,120 92,325 208,399 21,217 158,911 7,003,230 1,292,527 12,069 4,225,419 14,768,972
1896 119,863 1,804,205 24,204 204,315 683,487 13,551 127,980 6,543,550 1,536,056 61,964 3,217,541 14,336,716
1897 169,644 2,035,778 27,903 115,127 257,772 5,582 112,270 5,018,222 1,512,684 22,941 2,466,313 11,744,236
1898 234,681 2,393,358 38,839 162,294 605,522 58,034 112,044 7,690,450 1,733,963 32,447 2,116,468 15,178,100
1899 363,141 2,265,069 36,863 181,600 765,504 116,439 6,824,010 1,631,041 29,342 2,038,413 14,251,422
1900 2,458,957 4,512,973 70,797 140,480 230,416 204,196 3,678,150 594,675 24,005 1,979,557 13,894,206
1901 4,490,447 5,041,023 91,648 94,717 433,590 205,525 1,980,372 78,248 16,217 2,879,455 15,311,242
1902 7,001,833 6,405,804 163,820 164,404 592,696 167,854 2,848,445 368,656 11,769 2,647,450 20,372,731
1903 8,151,956 6,251,959 203,973 374,154 693,174 142,170 4,437,420 503,241 100,599 1,542,018 22,400,664
1904 9,774,354 7,089,287 272,308 242,861 414,188 4,885 189,400 2,852,820 85,219 114,044 1,391,931 22,431,297
1905 15,285,693 6,268,059 356,299 248,826 870,950 599,460 155,615 5,160,483 364,209 122,066 3,738,444 33,170,104
1906 15,380,897 5,391,055 400,275 125,908 842,142 959,203 91,200 1,676,145 315,359 70,614 596,643 25,849,441
1907 13,822,162 5,582,781 450,198 159,477 1,791,574 1,536,828 227,119 2,062,390 331,701 107,789 1,178,056 27,250,075
1908 18,081,443 6,307,688 740,421 178,057 1,379,952 1,239,918 262,058 1,876,820 311,376 115,822 772,819 31,266,374
1909 21,065,747 5,319,612 649,206 639,013 2,702,988 1,057,675 360,444 4,087,820 265,908 188,735 1,325,053 37,662,201
1910 25,370,815 6,008,133 721,618 1,215,370 3,046,680 1,267,964 284,352 4,056,450 231,540 204,293 1,033,020 43,440,235
1911 31,283,396 6,873,285 946,859 1,541,333 1,031,154 904,730 214,150 8,202,750 332,070 175,744 1,661,615 53,167,086
1912 34,285,076 5,613,971 1,017,992 1,769,882 1,223,860 1,349,557 189,523 9,140,089 314,694 197,433 1,400,748 56,502,816
1913 36,622,889 3,674,206 910,311 1,257,391 1,598,136 1,097,566 131,952 6,848,830 311,991 375,392 658,097 53,486,761
Totals 244,419,329 104,092,519 7,381,037 10,219,575 21,469,752 10,673,945 4,634,539 122,120,394 13,888,339 2,023,161 77,067,270 617,989,860
= £ 48,495,900 20,653,277 1,464,480 2,027,693 4,259,871 2,117,846 919,551 24,230,236 2,755,622 401,421 15,291,125 122,617,022


During 1914 the meat producers and importers were alarmed by the purchase of most of the chief River Plate cold storage establishments by United States companies, who were credited with the intention of forming a “combine” to monopolize the industry. Certainly at the commencement of 1914 they were paying high prices to estancieros and selling considerably increased exports at low prices in the British markets. It would appear, however, as if matters were in the course of adjustment between all the River Plate Cold Storage companies when the War came and, as has just been indicated, altered all the conditions of the meat markets.

For all the above causes it is difficult to assign a value[45] to recent River Plate Meat Exports. Exports which it must be remembered leave no record as having paid ad valorem export duty, since they are duty-free exports.

As for the future of this trade there can be little doubt but that it will continue to increase commensurately with the available quantity of live stock of high quality. The Cold Storage Companies will buy no other and thus have constantly encouraged and advanced scientific breeding on the River Plate. It may safely be assumed that this trade is not likely to lose by the occurrence or effects of the War.

Recently, in view of what seemed a threatened shortage of cattle for export demands, producers commenced breeding from one-year-old cows; instead of beginning only at two years of age, as formerly was the South American custom.

Not only do the Cold Storage Companies export Meat but they also work up into marketable forms the various by-products of the animals they slaughter.



Progress of Exports in the last 26 years

Note.—As will be noticed from the subjoined tables, the decrease for 1913 was due to a falling off of the exports of frozen mutton and of cattle on the hoof.




Progress of Argentine Exports compared with the principal exporting countries




Did anyone ever hear of Argentine timber? Few people indeed; though a good many more know that both of the River Plate Republics are large importers of wood from the North of Europe. That they need not be so, because they have all they, and a good many other countries besides, can possibly need already growing in their own territories (and as much more as may be wanted, only for the trouble of planting under highly favourable natural conditions), will come as a surprise even to some Argentines and Uruguayans; so accustomed are they to import all their building timber and furniture. Yet the above are facts.[46]

The only well-known forestal products of the River Plate are the logs of and extract from the Quebracho (Aspidosperma Quebracho, Schlet). The wood of this tree is very hard—hence its name quebra-hacha, break-axe—and is valuable for cabinet-making, fine carving, and engraving, etc.; but it rots quickly when exposed to the influences of weather. Notwithstanding this, on account of its hardness, it is in large demand for railway sleepers. The extract is very largely used for tanning.

The following lists and descriptions given by Señor Fernando Mauduit in his erudite Monograph on “Arboriculture in Argentina,” attached to the Argentine National Census, 1908, cannot, certainly, be improved on by the present author. These lists, although confined to the enumeration of the chief classes of trees only, are at the same time[278] fully indicative of the general nature of forest vegetation not only in Argentina but also in Uruguay.

A glance at the map of both Republics will show that, from geographic and climatic distribution, they may practically be reckoned as one country in this regard. Indeed, as will be seen, Señor Mauduit specifically includes Uruguay in what he terms the Riparian Region. He says that the configuration of the different zones and the fertility of their soil allow of the cultivation of every product of the two Americas, Asia, Europe and Australia, with the exception of those of the torrid zone.

The following enumeration of “regions” and of the chief kinds of trees found and capable of being grown in the River Plate countries, with the respective descriptions, are taken from the Monograph above referred to:—

1. Subtropical, comprising the plains of Santiago del Estero and the Chaco, the lowlands of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy, North Corrientes and Misiones.

2. Northern Andean, stretching along the Andes, from San Juan to the Bolivian frontier, comprising Catamarca, Salta, Jujuy, Los Andes and part of Tucumán.

3. Southern Andean, from San Juan to Neuquen.

4. Northern Pampean, from Santiago del Estero to Buenos Aires, wherein the eucalyptus trees do not suffer from frost, and comprising Córdoba, San Luis, part of Santa Fé and Buenos Aires.

5. Southern Pampean, comprising Córdoba and San Luis, where the eucalyptus freezes, Southern Buenos Aires and the Pampas.

6. Austral, composed of the territories of Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz.

7. Riparian, comprising the islands of the Paraná, Entre Rios and the shores of the rivers Plate, Paraná and Uruguay.

8. Maritime, stretching along the Atlantic coast in a belt three leagues wide, more or less, according to the configuration of the soil.

9. Straits, consisting of the shores of the Straits of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego.


The confines of all these regions cross and merge into one another, at times, on account of the altitude in their different zones. The vegetation typical of one zone is often scattered through one or more neighbouring ones, so that they cannot be exactly defined. The greater or lesser altitude of a place often goes towards modifying the uniform character of the vegetation.

In the first region the forests contain the best timber in the Republic, cedar or hardwood, so-called (cedrela) quebracho white and red, lapacho, algarrobo (carob), acacia, ibirá, molle, ñandubay, different woods, Misiones pine, Brazilian araucaria, tarco, urunday, aguaribay, cebil, timbó, palm trees, etc., and the fruit trees of the region, orange, lemon, pomegranate, guava, chirimoyas (custard apple) and pantas.

Fruit tree planting, though seldom, is more carefully done than formerly, and its products inundate the markets of Buenos Aires, Rosario and Santa Fé.

The Paraguayan tea tree, or rather bush (mate), is grown in many places and cultivated rationally. Mr. Thays’ experiments give room for hoping that this precious bush may become a certain source of future wealth, whereas the old system of cultivation was bound to entail, early or late, the total extinction of the product.

All kinds of eucalyptus trees grow well, and the extensive planting of these trees in the Chaco, Misiones, in Tucumán, Corrientes and Santiago del Estero is a consummation devoutly to be wished for.

The same trees are found in the second region, but fewer in number and smaller in size, orange, lemon, fig, plum, peach and pomegranate trees, also the vine can be successfully grown, and in the valleys guayavos, chirimoyas, pantas, avocados and persimmons. Plantations of mate and eucalyptus could also be tried.

The third region is warmer and partly covered with vineyards. Here the vine is in its native element.

On the slopes of the Andes the soil is admirably suited for the planting of forest trees, such as pines, firs, beeches, and all others peculiar to mild, dry climates; as well as for that of fruit trees, such as the walnut, chestnut, apple, cherry, pear and peach trees … the vine where late frosts are not very frequent.

In the Northern Pampas, or the fourth region, all kinds of fruit trees can be grown, soil permitting, orange, fig, persimmon, vines, mulberry, almond, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, walnut,[280] chestnut, pear and quince trees. This is the forest tree region of the plains: hardwood, native willows, the paradise tree, ombú, laurel, sequoia, cypress, sycamore, maple and many others. The caldén tree covers immense stretches, likewise the carob tree.

The fifth or Southern Pampean region differs from the preceding one in the cooler and even colder climate in its southern part. Apart from the trees which suffer from frosts this is the most favourable zone for tree cultivation in general. All forest trees which resist 10° below zero grow well here, the oak, beech, ash, maple, pine, fir, spruce, poplar, elm, sycamore and such fruit trees as the peach, cherry, plum, apricot, quince, pear and apple tree.

These two regions are those containing the largest plantations of trees of all kinds, millions of eucalyptus trees, farms, parks and gardens, richly stocked, representing millions of dollars, and ever-increasing and multiplying orchards and groves which bring in thousands, but whose output could be increased tenfold without succeeding in ousting the preserved fruit imported from Europe and North America.

The sixth or Austral region, as its name indicates, is exposed to the south winds. It is the cold region which excludes the eucalyptus, the Californian pine, and peach tree, the vine, etc., but where in sheltered spots the cherry, plum, pear and apple tree can be grown, the last especially. This, once known, would make the fortune of this region. Cider manufacture would furnish a wholesome, pleasant beverage, much cheaper than wine.

Moreover, the preparation of apple preserves of every kind will one day be like that of North America. The man who plants apple trees, beginning from 38° S. latitude to the south, secures for himself and his children returns proportionate to the outlay made.

The seventh region is very fertile and suited for the planting of willows, poplars, alders, cryptomerias, cypresses, sycamores, magnolias, palm trees, orange trees, tangerines, persimmons, etc. Peach and quince trees are grown here on a large scale to supply the markets of the capital. It has been the cradle of fruit-growing, and as it has been endowed with a mild climate and a generally humid soil everything grows luxuriantly and produces abundantly, though the general quality of its products is not equal to that of the fruit grown in the fifth region.

The eighth region is arid in certain places, and always exposed[281] to the winds and sea fogs which are so harmful to the growth of the trees. The winds from the south blow throughout the year on nearly all our sea coast. The only trees that can be grown successfully are the eucalyptus (E. globulus), the Canadian and other poplars, the tamarisk, cypress, lambertiana, maritime pine, Pinus insignis, and all must be planted very thickly in order to resist the impetuous attack of the winds and the fogs.

In the ninth and last region we have included the shores of the Straits of Magellan as far as Gallegos, and inland as far as the hills; and on the other shore Fireland (Tierra del Fuego). Fruit tree planting cannot be thought of there for the present, the only thing to be done is to propagate largely the native growths, and where the climate permits it to plant spruces, pines, firs, birches, beeches, hazels, currant bushes, yews, all of which are sturdy growths of the colder countries.

Chief Indigenous Species of Forest Trees

Quebracho, Aspidosperma Quebracho, Schlet.—A tree 20 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with very hard wood, greatly valued for certain purposes. Does not resist exposure to the elements, however, and rots easily. Greatly prized for engraving and cabinet-making and for fine wood carving, etc. The bark and leaves are rich in tannin. It appears that there are some varieties which do not possess so large a percentage of tannin.

It grows easily from seed which is sown in beds when ripe, where it must be nursed before sowing in beds. Its growth is slow at first, but once the roots have taken well in a soil rich in humus it attains a great size. It multiplies naturally from its seeds and should form a third as a stock tree in the afforestation of the subtropical regions.

Boldu, Boldu chilanum, Nees.—Grows to a height of 15 metres in the Andean regions, where its timber is used for various purposes. It multiplies from seed and should be sown in beds in holes. Can be utilized as an auxiliary in afforestation of its native region.

Lignum Vitæ (Palo Santo), Bulnesia Sarmienti, Grisb.—20 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter. Grows plentifully in the Chaco and Misiones, Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy, gives a timber, heavier than water, which is used for cabinet-making[282] and various ornaments. Multiplies easily from seed as an auxiliary in subtropical woods.

Palo Blanco, Calycophyllum multiflorum, Grisb.—About 15 metres in height, gives very fine timber, yellow in colour, used for different joinery purposes. Multiplies from seed like the preceding tree and used also as an auxiliary in the same regions.

Horco Molle, Bumelia obtusiolia, Roem and Schlet.—12 metres in height by O·50 metre in diameter. Furnishes excellent timber for cabinet-making and coach-building. Multiplies from seed sown in rows as soon as ripe. In mixed subtropical woods, it serves as an auxiliary for afforestation and reafforestation.

Guaicum, Cesalpina melanocarpa, Grisb.—From 10 to 15 metres in height. Gives nice veined timber, used for cabinet-making and ornaments. Its bark, as well as the seed pods, contains a large percentage of tannin. It multiplies from seed and is a secondary tree throughout the subtropical zone.

Red Cedar, Cedrela brasiliensis, A. Juss.—30 metres in height by O·75 metre in diameter, and sometimes more. Furnishes very fine light timber of a nice colour and easy to work. Much used for joinery work. One of the best stock trees in the subtropical zone, where it should be used for reafforestation in the existing woods, and afforestation throughout the subtropical region. To be sown in rows as far as possible and with seeds in layers.

Tala, Celtis tola, Gill, Celtis sellowiana, Miq.—From 10 to 15 metres in height. This tree is of slight importance for afforestation, although its timber is good for posts, cart-trees, handles for tools, etc. Grows in the first, second and third regions. Multiplies from seeds in layers as an auxiliary in mixed woods and woodlands.

Palo de Lanza Amarilla (Yellow Lancewood), Chuncoa trifolia, Grisb.—Same height and regions as the preceding tree. To be planted in the same woods. The timber is useful for joinery work.

Laurel, Emmotum apogon, Grisb.—One of the finest trees of the subtropical region; over 25 metres in height by O·50 metre in diameter. The timber is very fine and good, and is useful for carpentry work. One of the best kinds for reafforestation and as stock for afforestation. Sown in rows in little holes with seeds in layers as far as possible.


White or Yellow Laurel, Oreodaphne suaveolens, Meissn.—30 metres in height by 0·50 metre in diameter. Furnishes light timber, aromatic, easily worked and suitable for joinery. Is a good auxiliary for reafforestation and for afforestation in the first region. Sown like the preceding one.

Black Laurel or Mountain Laurel, Nectandra porphyria, Grisb.—Same height as the preceding trees and 1 metre in diameter. Gives fine yellow timber with a black grain like walnut, but requiring a long time to become seasoned, and splitting when worked before being quite seasoned. Employed in hydraulic works, as it keeps well in water. A good auxiliary kind for afforestation in the first, second and fourth regions, the seed to be sown in little holes, in rows and in layers.

Timbó Pacará, Enterolobium timbouva, Mart.—A very leafy tree of the subtropical region, from 15 to 25 metres in height by 1 to 1·50 metres in diameter. Furnishes timber used for carpentry and different household purposes, for boats, casks, etc. The bark contains tannin, and the sawdust of the dry wood causes sneezing. This is a good auxiliary kind for woods in the first, second and fourth regions. Multiplies from seeds sown in holes in rows. It can also be grown from twigs to be planted at the end of May, a metre apart, in rows of from 1 to 3 metres apart.

Beech, Fagus antarctica, Mirb., F. betuloides, Mirb., F. oblicua, Mirb.—A tree of 20 to 30 metres in height, peculiar to the austral regions, where it forms forests and woods. Its timber does not resist damp greatly, but is much prized for box-making and internal woodwork. Multiplies easily from its seeds, which grow naturally in its shade. When they are gathered to be used for afforestation they must be sown at once in layers, or in little holes, as their germinative power is soon lost. Is one of the best kinds of stock trees for afforestation in the 6th and 9th regions and for reafforestation where it already grows.

Larch, Fitz-roya patagonica, Hook.—This conifer of the woods of the south attains a height of 30 metres, and the timber given by it is equal to pinewood and used for similar purposes. Is very suitable for afforestation intermingled with wild pines in the austral region, and with spruce in that of the straits. It might also be added to the araucaria in the extreme south of the Southern Andean region.

Quillay (Soap Bark), Garugandra amorphoides, Grisb.—This[284] is a very thorny tree and can be used as a protective belt round large orchards or plantations for industrial purposes, in places where animals trespass, and there is no other way to prevent it. It attains a height of 15 metres by 0·75 metre in diameter and multiplies naturally from seed. Its timber seems to be of good quality, and its bark is used as soap in cleaning woollen and cotton fabrics.

It can be planted as indicated above in regions first, second and third; and, should it become a nuisance, it may be rooted out when the plantations are strong against trespass.

Chañar, Gourlien decorticans, Gill.—Whole woods of these trees are to be found in regions 1, 2, 3 and 4. Its fruit is edible and animals crave for it. Its timber is used for various household purposes.

Walnut (Cayuri), Juglans australis, Grisb.—15 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with timber equal to European walnut. This valuable tree, which ought to be cultivated on a large scale, is gradually vanishing from our woods without any attempt at reafforestation. We shall become aware of its industrial value only when it has completely disappeared. It is suitable as a stock tree in afforestation and as an auxiliary in reafforestation.

Red Quebracho, Loxopterigium Lorentzii, Grisb.—A valuable tree, 15 metres in height by 2 metres in diameter, its timber is greatly prized for building purposes, and possesses so much tannin that it is largely exploited in the Chaco forests. It is slow of growth, and, therefore, measures for its multiplication are indispensable, so as to avoid exhausting this source of wealth. It is one of the best stock kinds for reafforestation, a third being planted with species of a more rapid growth. It multiplies naturally if care is taken to prevent forest fires and to leave always a few full-grown trees standing. Red Quebracho timber is hard, heavy, and not easily worked. It is used especially for railway sleepers, posts, columns, frames, etc. It is nicely veined, and heavy furniture can be made from it. Buried or in water it keeps for many years.

Tipa (Hardwood), Machærium Tipa, Benth.—A tree from 20 to 25 metres in height, very leafy. Its timber is used for different household purposes. A splendid avenue tree, but very third-rate as a forest tree. The seeds are sown in rows, once ripe: 1st and 4th regions.


Mora (Mulberry), Maclura Mora, Grisb.—From 15 to 20 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Furnishes yellowish, fine-grained timber, which is used for the manufacture of elegant furniture. Well seasoned, the wood is the colour of mahogany. An excellent auxiliary tree in the subtropical, Pampean and Northern Andean regions. In mixed woods it may be stock or prevailing tree, according to the kinds grown with it. It may also be used for woodland cutting. It is sown in rows, or grown in nurseries for two years, when the young plants are transplanted.

Palo de San Antonio, Myrsine floribunda.—15 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter, with a straight trunk and springy wood, which is used principally for making staves. To be sown in rows as an auxiliary, in mixed woods, in the 1st, 2nd and 4th regions.

Cebil, Piptadenia Cebil, Grisb., P. communis, Benth.—A tree of 20 to 25 metres in height by over 1 metre in diameter. Grows in the subtropical Andean and Northern Pampean regions. Excellent timber, but can only be utilized when quite seasoned, and is used principally for joinery. To be sown as stock trees in furrows or small holes.

Algarrobo (Carob Tree), Prosopis alba, Grisb.—From 15 to 20 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with timber much used in carpentry, and bark possessing a large percentage of tannin. A good kind for afforestation in regions 1, 2 and 4; to be sown as stock trees in furrows or small holes.

Ñandubay, Prosopis algarrobilo, Grisb.—About 10 metres in height, with hard timber, generally used for large stakes and posts. Grows well throughout the northern and even in the third region. To be sown as an auxiliary in mixed woods.

Irirarú, Virarú, Palo de Lanza (Lancewood), Ruprechtia excelsa, Grisb.—10 to 15 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter; giving excellent timber for various household purposes. To be sown as an auxiliary in woods of the northern regions, predominating among timber for cutting.

Lapacho, Tabebuia Avellanedæ, Lorentz, Tabebuia flavescens, Benth.—This beautiful tree is covered with blossoms in spring time, the former with pinky mauve and the latter with yellow blossoms. In the northern forests it grows to a height of 25 metres, its wood is very fine-grained and very much prized for all sorts of fine carpentry. Two excellent kinds for stock in tall[286] mixed woods, 1st and 2nd regions. To be sown in rows, in furrows or small holes.

Coco (Cocoanut Tree), Zanthoxylum Coco, Gill.—From 10 to 12 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter. The wood is very pretty and fine, valued for elegant furniture. To be sown in rows, furrows or small holes as an auxiliary in mixed woods and plantations in the 1st and 2nd regions.

Urunday, Astronium juglandifolium, Grisb.—A splendid tree from 25 to 30 metres in height by 1·50 metres in diameter, common in the Chaco. Its timber is very hard and richly coloured, it is used for furniture, ship-building, etc. One of the best kinds for stock and reafforestation in the first region. Multiplies naturally from seed if care be taken to leave a few trees standing at suitable distances for producing seeds, which scatter easily. In the warm valleys of the 4th region, as well as in the 2nd, to be sown in furrows with other auxiliary species for afforestation.

Alder Tree, Alnus ferruginea, Kth.—From the Northern Andean region, where it grows to a height of 15 metres by 0·75 metre in diameter. Gives white, very easily worked, damp-resisting timber, used for joinery work. A good auxiliary kind for afforestation in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th regions. To be sown in rows, in furrows or in plots with other species, one being the stock tree.

Native or Red Willow, Salix Humboldtiana, Witti.—15 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Grows well in all regions where the eucalyptus does not freeze, gives timber for carpentry and multiplies from seed. A good auxiliary in mixed woods and timber for cutting, and for reafforestation on damp soil, where it is planted from twigs towards the end of the winter. For afforestation it is sown in plots when the seeds are ripe, in regions 4 and 7 and the more temperate part of region 3.

Southern Pine, Araucaria imbricata, R. and P.—A tree 50 metres in height of our southern forests. Its timber is equal to the best pine, and it is one of the best stock kinds in the 6th region. To be sown in rows or in little holes when the seeds drop naturally in the 5th and 6th regions.

Misiones Pine, Araucaria brasiliensis, A. Rich.—This conifer grows to a height of 50 metres by 1 metre in diameter in certain valleys of the northern regions 1, 2, and part of 3, 4, 7 and 8, as far as Mar del Plata. Its timber is equal to that of the[287] pine, it is used for joinery and building. Sown like the preceding tree.

Cypress, Libocedras chilensis, Endl.—From the Andes, where it grows to a height of 25 to 30 metres by 0·70 metre in diameter. Its wood is fine and excels for furniture and veneering. A good auxiliary kind for the dense woods of the south.

Chief Species of Exotic Forest Trees Grown in the Country

Fir, Abies Nordmanniana, Spach.—From Asia Minor, where it grows to a height of 40 metres by 1·50 metres in diameter at least, 5th and 6th regions, in tall woods consisting of firs alone.

Acacia Olive, Acacia melanoxylon, R. Br.—From Australia, where it attains a height of 15 to 20 metres by 1 metre in diameter; very branchy, and giving very hard wood known as iron wood. A good stock kind in acacia, mimosa and laurel groves in regions 4, 5, 7 and 8, as far as Mar del Plata. To be sown in rows or in furrows.

French Mimosa, Acacia dealbata, Link.—Likewise from Australia; it attains a height of 20 metres by 0·50 metre in diameter, but breaks easily. A good predominating species and for reafforestation of timber for cutting, in regions 4, 5, 7 and 8, as far as 38° S. latitude.

Maple Tree, Acer pseudo platanus, L.—A European tree 20 to 30 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter, growing as rapidly as the sycamore maple. An excellent auxiliary kind for tall woods of trees with deciduous leaves, in regions 4, 5, 6 and 7. To be sown in rows, in furrows or one-year-old saplings 2 metres apart.

Heavenly Tree, Ailanthus glandulosa, Desf.—From China, from 25 to 30 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter; very sturdy, and multiplying on all sides from the numberless saplings which grow from its roots; furnishes fine, hard, well-veined timber. A good kind for mixed woods and for stock timber in regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. To be sown in rows or planted from saplings.

Alder Tree, Alnus glutinosa, Gaertn.—From Europe and Western Asia. From 20 to 30 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Grows well in the riparian region, and its wood is useful for carpentry. Sown in rows, in furrows or in plots.


Spanish Chestnut, Castanea vesca, Gaertn.—From Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. It grows here as a fruit tree, but may be grown also as a forest stock tree in tall and mixed woods, and as an auxiliary in timber for cutting in regions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Its wood is principally used for staves, casks, etc. To be sown in rows as soon as it falls, as the germinative power is of short duration. It may also be sown in nursery beds, for transplanting when two or three years old.

Casuarina (She Oak).—Various species are grown here, chief are C. quadrivalvis, Labill., C. equisetifolia, Forst., and C. glauca, Sieb. Herb. We ignore the height to which they may grow, but many specimens we have are from 20 to 30 metres high. The mode of reproduction and cultivation is the same as for eucalyptus. The wood is excellent. Suitable for high woods in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th regions.

Cedars.—Although not yet grown on a very large scale, the specimens we have of C. Atlantica, C. libani and C. deodara, natives of Mounts Atlas, Lebanon and the Himalayas, are hardy, cold-resisting, and everything points to our being able to grow them well in high woods intermingled with cypresses, in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th regions. Its timber is first class, and useful for many purposes.

Sweet Cherry, Cerasus avium, Moench.—From Europe, where it grows to a height of 20 to 25 metres, gives splendid wood, greatly prized for furniture. The few specimens we have scattered through the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th regions. To be sown in nursery beds after gathering the seeds, or in layers in furrows or small holes. The nurslings are transplanted when a year or two old.

Cryptomeria Japonica, Don.—From Japan. Grows very well here, easily attaining the same height as in its native land, which varies from 30 to 40 metres. A good kind for tall woods on rich soil. Multiplication and cultivation like that of the eucalyptus in the 4th, 5th and 7th regions. Trials in the 8th.

Dammara Australis, Lumb.—From New Zealand. The few specimens we have in the environs of Buenos Aires show a species quite as hardy as in its native land, where it attains a height of 50 metres by 2 metres in diameter. Grown like the eucalyptus in compact groves and in the same region.

Eucalyptus.—Native of Australia. We reckon our specimens of this gigantic tree by the thousand, of several different kinds.[289] The first known specimens of E. globulus were planted more than half a century ago, and now it would take a long time to enumerate all our progressive citizens who have devoted large tracts of land to forming dense groves of these trees, which, besides giving them good returns in the sums represented by the present eucalyptus groves, have also contributed to increase the value of the land, directly or indirectly. Directly, thanks to the amount of vegetable mould which these trees originate, and indirectly for the shelter afforded by them for growing certain kinds of plants and rearing delicate breeds of cattle which would not have thriven in the open country. It would be difficult to estimate the share of the eucalyptus in the increased value of the lands, flocks and herds. In order to form an idea on the subject one must imagine what estancias were sixty years ago, with the sheltering ombú and the peach grove, enclosed by paradise trees and willows. How long it took to grow a tiny grove of willows, paradise tree and black wattle, which barely furnished sufficient wood to heat the water for brewing mate or Paraguayan tea. Different kinds of Eucalyptus are grown under apocryphal specific designations, and therefore we abstain from giving them lest we lead planters into temptation.

The best among them are the following:—

E. Amygdalina, Labill.—From Australia and Tasmania, 140 metres in height by 4 or 5 metres in diameter.

E. Botrioydes, Smith.—From Southern Queensland, where it attains a height of 60 metres by 2 metres in diameter.

E. diversicolor, F. v. M.—From Southern Australia, 140 metres in height, over 2 metres in diameter.

E. cornuta, Labill.—From the same place as the preceding one, 60 metres in height by 2 metres in diameter.

E. hemiphloia, F. v. M.—From New South Wales, where it attains a height of 60 metres by 2 metres in diameter. The best wood of all.

E. leucoxylon, F. v. M.—From New South Wales and Victoria. This is the famous “iron bark”; it is only 30 metres in height by 2 metres in diameter.

E. melliodora, Cunningh.—New South Wales and Victoria. Gives very fine timber and grows to a height of 60 metres by 1·50 metres in diameter. Its blossoms are much visited by bees.


E. occidentalis, Smith.—From Western Australia. Like E. globulus, can be grown near the sea coast. Generally it does not exceed 40 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter.

E. pauciflora, Sieb.—Southern Australia and Tasmania. From 50 to 60 metres in height by 2 metres in diameter, wood of excellent quality. One of the best cold-resisting species.

E. Pilularis, Smith.—Southern Queensland and New South Wales, 100 metres in height and 4 metres in diameter; wood of excellent quality.

E. viminalis, Labill.—Southern Australia, where it grows to a height of 100 metres by 3 or 4 metres in diameter.

All these species have been imported and planted in different places. Some, on the one hand, and others, on the other, probably have been lost, the remainder are mixed to such a degree that at present no information can be given about them without falling into error.

All the species mentioned and some others were planted in “3 de Febrero” Park, about the year 1875-76, in the clump which shaded the guanacos’ corral. At first they bore distinguishing numbers, but now nothing remains to designate them. Another nursery had been started on the other side of the railway to the Tigre, beside the avenue of palms, of which also we believe not a vestige remains. There also was a nursery of ombús, one of hardwood trees and a collection of American grape vines.

Ash Tree, Fraxinus excelsior, L.—Europe. From 25 to 30 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Gives very elastic, white or yellow timber, greatly prized in carriage-building. Grows well in the 5th, 6th and 7th regions. The seeds are laid down as they ripen, sometimes they take two years to germinate, but when they fall naturally to the ground and are covered over by leaves in autumn they sprout well. On this account and that of its intrinsic value this tree is one of the best kinds for stocking tall and mixed woods. The best plan for afforestation is to sow the seeds in nursery beds and plant out the following year.

Black Acacia, Gleditschia triacanthos.—A thorny North American tree; here growing to a height of 25 metres by 0·70 metre in diameter. Its wood is excellent for cabinet-making. Sown in rows as an auxiliary—on account of its thorns. It gives a quantity of edible pods like that of the carob tree. It grows well in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th regions.


Walnut, Juglans regia, L.—From Europe and Asia. Does not exceed 25 metres in height, but is a metre and more in diameter. Grows as a forest tree, but is very suitable for stocking mixed woods in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th regions. To be sown in rows, in holes or in nursery beds and planted out when a year old. As the seeds keep their germinative power for a month only, they must be sown immediately or placed in layers. The wood, which is greatly prized, is one of the best known and valued.

Paradise Tree, Melia azedarach, L.—Southern Asia. 15 metres in height by 0·60 metre in diameter. A good auxiliary species for mixed woods and timber for cutting in the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th regions, where the eucalyptus does not freeze.

Negundo Fraxinifolium, Nutt.—From North America, growing well in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th regions, where it attains a height of 10 to 15 metres by 0·50 metre in diameter. It is a good kind for mixed woods and timber for cutting. The seeds are sown immediately on ripening. It is also grown from grafting twigs.

Fir, Picea excelsa, Linck.—From Europe, where it attains a height of 40 metres. The few specimens we know do not allow of our expressing any opinion, based on practical experience, about the possible merit of this splendid tree in our woods in the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 9th regions, though its origin and growth give reason for hope. In Europe, in all the plantations we know of in Germany, England and France, the fir is one of the best cold, storm and drought-resisting trees.

It is sown in rows, in furrows 2·50 to 3 metres apart, according to the soil. It may be planted alone or alternately with birch trees.

Pines.—The kind best known and cultivated here are the Pinus austriaca, P. insignis and P. Pinaster. Without questioning the specific designation applied to certain kinds of pine trees, we may say that P. insignis grows luxuriantly in the 4th, 5th and 7th regions, forming dense woods; the P. Canariensis, not quite so hardy, does not flourish so far south, the other kinds may be grown in those as well as in the Riparian austral and maritime regions, where they may prove very useful, as well as the varieties P. maritima, P. laricio, etc.

Plane Tree, Platanus orientalis, L.—From Europe and Asia Minor. It grows to 40 metres in height by 1 or 2 metres in diameter.[292] It is the favourite for avenues; grows taller in the woods, but its foliage is not so luxuriant. Propagated from grafting twigs to be planted 50 centimetres apart in rows 2·50 metres apart. To be thinned out when two years old, leaving the latter distance between them and filling up the gaps with those taken out. Its wood is useful for many purposes, though not first class.

Poplar, Populus.—We have many large plantations of the Lombardy poplar, P. Nigra, L., Canadian poplar, O. Canadensis, Michx., and the Swiss, Virginian and some of the Carolina poplar, which is the male plant of the same species. Some plantations of the silver poplar, P. alba, P. euphratica and P. simoni, have also been planted.

All may be utilized as auxiliaries in planting mixed woods and timber for cutting. They are very hardy, and the wood is used for packing-cases, boxes, etc. They are planted from grafting twigs 50 centimetres apart, in rows of 2 metres, to be thinned out when necessary.

White Acacia, Robinia pseudo-acacia.—North American. Grows to a height of 25 metres by 0·60 metre in diameter; when dry, the wood is excellent, and is used for coach-building, cabinet-making, etc. It grows well, especially in mixed woods, as the saplings are utilized. In timber plantations it must be planted singly as it overruns the ground in a short time. To be sown in rows 25 or 30 kilogs. to the hectare, without any mixture. From the strongest and straightest specimens stock trees are chosen, the others are cut down to the ground every two, twelve or eighteen years.

Willow, Salix.—The willow is very useful for planting woods in damp or low-lying places in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th regions. It is grown from grafting twigs, a metre apart, anywhere. The weeping willow, S. babylonica, gives fuel which sells well. The osier willow, S. purpurea, S. rubra, S. vitellina, S. viminalis and S. amygdalina, furnish fine and common osiers, which are so much used in basket-making of every kind, and for light wicker furniture for the garden and the beach. It is one of the chief products of the Paraná Islands and others.

Elm Tree, Ulmus.—The elms we possess belong to the species U. campestris, L., and U. montana, Burch, both from Europe. They attain a height of 40 metres by 1 metre in diameter, and grow well on cool gravelly soil. The elm in general is more suited to the hills or declivities than to the plains. It is very[293] hardy and long-lived. Its timber is excellent for coach-building, and some parts of it for cabinet-making. It is a good species for stock, in suitable places, in the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th and some parts of the 9th region. It is sown as soon as the seeds ripen on well-tilled soil, either in furrows or plots.

Exotic Forest Trees which it would be well to Introduce

Fir Tree.—The most interesting species are:—

A. amabilis and A. balsamea, from North America, grows from 30 to 40 metres high by 1 to 1·50 metres in diameter. Suitable for the 3rd, 5th and 6th regions.

A. bifida, A. brachyphylla, from Japan, attain a height of 40 or 50 metres, 4th, 5th and 7th regions.

A. bracteata, Hook and Arn.—From the mountains of Santa Lucia. 50 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter.

A. concolor, Lindl.—From the Rocky Mountains, where they grow to 30 or 40 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. These two species should be tried in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th regions.

A. grandis, Lindl.—From the northern states of the Union. Attains a height of 90 metres by 1 or 2 metres in diameter, 3rd, 4th and 6th.

A. magnifice, Murr., and A. mobilis, Lindl.—From California and Oregon, where it grows to a height of 70 to 80 metres by 2 or 3 metres in diameter; 2nd and 3rd regions, and the hills in the 4th and 5th.

A. pectinata, D. C.—From Europe. 40 metres in height by 1 metre and sometimes more in diameter; 3rd, 5th, 6th and 9th regions.

A. religiosa, Lindl.—From Mexico. Attains 40 to 50 metres in height by 1 or 2 metres in diameter; 2nd and 3rd regions.

All fir trees require hilly ground already stocked with trees. It is useless to plant them on the open plain. Other conifers, known also as firs, belong to the genera Picea and Tsuga.

Maple Tree.—The Acer campestre and A. platanoides.—From Europe, appear to be suited for our 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th regions, the latter as a stock species. Thirty feet high.

The A. eriocarpum, Michx., and A. rubrum, Michx., are two[294] handsome species from North America, where they grow to a height of 20 to 35 metres by 1 metre in diameter.

To be essayed in the same regions as the preceding trees. They require deep soil and are cultivated like the sycamore maple.

Alders. The Alnus cordifolia, Ten.—From Europe, and A. orientalis, Dcne., from Asia. Would grow well in the 7th region and on the shores of the 5th, 6th and 9th.

Araucarias. The Araucaria Bidwilli, Hook, and A. Cunninghami, Ait., both from Eastern Australia. Grow to a height of 50 to 60 metres and give excellent timber; 2nd, 3rd and 4th regions.

A. excelsa, R. Br.—From Norfolk Island. Attains a height of 70 metres by 1 metre and over in diameter; 2nd, 3rd and 4th regions.

A. Cookii, E. Br., and A. mulleri, R. Br.—From New Caledonia; 40 metres in height; 1st, 2nd and 4th regions.

All grow on deep, humid soil, rich in vegetable mould, like certain parts of the Chaco and of the 1st and 2nd regions.

Birches.—Valuable trees for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th regions. Do not exceed 30 metres in height on the best soil, but very hardy and reach a metre in diameter. The best species are Betula alba, B. nigra, B. lenta and B. pubescens.

American Walnut Trees.—All give excellent timber, strong and hardier than the European kinds. Could be planted and sown in regions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The best species for woods are Carya alba, Nut., and C. amara, from Canada. C. olivæformis and C. porcina from the central states of North America. C. tomentosa, Nutt., is popularly known in North America as Hickory.

Tall trees, generally very leafy, and suitable for stock in mixed woods and for special wood planting, together with European and Asiatic species, cultivated like the common walnut, J. regia.

Cedars.—All cedars give very fine wood known as cedar-wood, whence the confusion with real cedar belonging to the conifera family.

The Red Cedar of Australia, Cedrela australis, Muell., grows to 60 metres in height. May be planted in the 1st and 2nd regions together with the one we have, C. brasiliensis. C. sinensis, A. Juss, seems more suitable for the 3rd and 5th regions.


Chamæyparis.—This resinous tree gives excellent timber in the United States, where it grows to a height of 25 to 30 metres by 0·60 metre in diameter. The species C. Lawsoniana and C. Nutkænsis, from North America, as well as C. obtusa, Endl., from Japan, appear to be suitable for dense woods in regions 4, 5 and 6.

Dacrydium.—Indigenous to Tasmania and New Zealand. The forest species furnish good carpentry timber. From some descriptions of Chilian conifers it would seem that some of these are very like Dacrydium.

The most interesting species are D. cupressinum, Soland, D. Franklinii and D. Kirkii, F. v. M.

These trees grow to a height of 40 to 60 metres and require very generous soil, rather damp and warm, like that of the 1st and 2nd regions in our country. To be cultivated as the Araucaria brasiliensis or Misiones pine.

Diospyros.—The D. lotus, from Italy, and D. Virginiana furnish valuable timber know as ebony. They do not exceed 20 to 25 metres in height. A trial might be made in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th regions.

Drimys, D. Winter, Forst.—A Chilian tree 15 to 20 metres in height, gives winter bark, used in medicine. To be tried for mixed woods in the 3rd, 4th and 5th regions.

Beech, Fagus sylvatica, L.—A European tree 30 metres in height by half a metre in diameter; gives excellent wood for boxes and wooden partitions or anything not exposed to the weather. A first-class species for the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 9th regions as a stock tree in tall woods.

Ash Tree.—The Fraxinus americana, L., F. quadrangularis, Michx., F. sambucifolia, Lam.—From North America, are trees of 30 to 35 metres in height by 0·60 to 1 metre in diameter. The timber is highly prized for coach-building and other special work. It appears suitable for mixed woods in 5th, 6th and 7th regions, where it may be grown like the common ash tree.

Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra, L.—From North America, where it attains 40 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Though its wood is not so valuable as common walnut, it is very pretty and fine-grained. It might be planted and grown in the same regions as the other kinds of walnut.

Juniper Tree, Juniperus virginiana, L.—From 25 to 30 metres high by 1 metre in diameter, growing in North American[296] forests. The wood is very nice, and used by cabinet-makers, etc. This conifer appears suitable for dense woods in the 3rd, 5th and 6th regions, with Lambertiana and other cypresses, and is grown in the same way.

Larch Tree.—The European Larix europea, L., and the American L. microcarpa are hardy species of 25 to 40 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with deciduous leaves, which makes its transport easy; 5th, 6th and 8th regions; in tall woods with other conifers. Grown like the Spruce.

Spruces.—Great conifers of the cold regions of North America. The most suitable species for woods, besides the P. excelsa, Linck., which we already grow, are the P. alba, Linck., from Canada, P. Engelmanii, Car., from the Rocky Mountains, P. morinda, Linck., from the Himalayas, and P. nigra, Linck., from Northern America. The latter species is suitable for the 6th and 9th regions; the others for the 5th and 6th, grown as firs.

Libocedrus Decurrens, Torr.—From California, where it grows to 40 metres in height, over a metre in diameter, is very strong and gives excellent timber. Appears suitable for afforestation together with the Chilian variety in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th regions.

To be sown and cultivated like the Lambertiana cypress.

Tulip Tree, or Whitewood, Liriodendrum tulipifera, L.—From North America, where it attains a height of 60 metres by 3 and 4 metres in diameter. Gives good wood and appears suitable for growing in tall woods on deep and humid soil in regions 4, 5, 6 and 7.

To be sown thickly in furrows or in beds for transplanting when a year old.

Pine Trees.—We already have different kinds of pine trees which flourish in woods. It would be well to introduce the better species, because we lack such as Pinus australis, Michx., from Carolina and Florida, where it grows to 35 to 40 metres in height. This is the species which gives the timber known as pitchpine.

P. Benthamiana, Hartw.—From California. 70 metres in height by 2 metres in diameter. Good timber.

P. excelsa, Wall.—From the Himalayas. 40 metres in height.

P. Jeffreyana, V. H.; P. Lambertiana, Doug.; P. Sabiniana, Doug.; and P. Torreyana, all from California.


P. Strobus, L.—From North America. A hardy tree 40 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter.

The Californian species might be tried in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th regions. The Himalayan species on the mountain ranges of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, and the last-named species in the 5th, 6th and 8th. That from the Carolinas might be grown together with P. insignis.

To be grown in woods of the same kind in the same regions and in the same way as those we have.

Planera Crenata, Desf.—A tree from the Caucasians; excellent timber and very hardy.

Grown like the elm and in the same regions.

Caucasian Walnut Tree, Pterocarya caucasica and P. Spachiand.—Trees 20 metres in height, magnificent timber and suitable for intermingling with other walnut trees, especially Carya species.

Sequoia.—From California, where it grows to 80 or 100 metres in height by 5 or 6 metres in diameter. The species S. gigantea is that which attains the greatest size; the S. sempervirens is more modest and less exacting about the nature of the soil and its situation. The former requires porous, deep and rather clayey soil, situated on hills or in ravines. To be tried in the 3rd and 6th regions and on the mountains in the 4th and 5th. Grown as the pine.

Lime Tree.—The different European and North American species, Tilia argentea, Desf., T. nigra, Burk, and T. silvestris from Europe, might be planted in the 5th, 6th and 7th regions in heavy, porous, clay soil.

Tsuga douglasi (Fir).—From Colorado State, North America. Attains a height of 50 metres and furnishes excellent timber. Suitable for planting woods together with spruces and firs, and grown in the same way.

American Elm Tree, Ulmus americanus, L.—This is a very hardy species at least 30 metres high. Its timber, though not so very good, is yet used in carriage-building and the like. Grown like other elm species and in the same regions.

Lest it should be thought that a disproportionate amount of space has been allotted here to this matter of forestry it must be pointed out that timber of all kinds constitutes one[298] of the greatest of the still latent treasures of the River Plate. A treasure which could be easily realized but which has hitherto been extraordinarily neglected not only in practice but even by most writers on the countries in question.

Argentina will one day export timber and ornamental woods instead of importing them as she has done hitherto; and perhaps the present difficulties of maritime transport will help to turn the eyes of both Republics to the wealth of building and other timber and fine woods they have at hand.

A visit to the coach-making works of those of the River Plate Railway Companies which manufacture their own luxurious saloon and sleeping cars, would alone suffice to astonish many people by the beauty and value of the native woods there used, both in the cabinet-maker’s art and in the most solid portions of construction destined to resist exceptional strain.

Señor Mauduit has already been quoted on the subject of the need of shade for cattle. A need which estancieros now pretty fully appreciate.



As in most young countries, the Muses have in Argentina and Uruguay had to be content chiefly with the imported offerings of foreign writers, artists and composers; while native science has principally been confined to medicine and surgery and various branches of rural productiveness. Still the River Plate Territories have always had their historians and poets, and recent generations have produced some painters, sculptors and composers.

The Histories of Mitre and Araújo are admirable literary monuments to the glory of the River Plate Territories and the memory of their authors. The poetry of the lately deceased Guido y Spano and of the still living Zorrilla de San Martin occupies a deservedly high place in modern literature; while the names of Juan Cruz Varela, José Mármol and José Hernandez (the author of the Lyrics of Gaucho life published under the title of “Martin Fierro”) will ever remain household words on the River Plate.

Godofredo Daireaux and Leopoldo Lugones are typical and delightful writers whose sketches are faithful vignettes of the manners and customs, landscapes and sentiment of a century and half a century ago, of times of heroic battles and early peaceful progress. For the rest, one must, with the Muses, wait with such patience as one may for the appearance of National types of literature and art; types probably only to be formed when the National types of men and women have reached their fully distinct development out of existing cosmopolitan chaos.[300] At present Argentine and Uruguayan Art and Literature[47] are chiefly imitative; music, painting and novels being mostly exaggerations of, often not the best, ephemeral European taste and fashions, while architecture usually alternates fidelity to stucco with trivially fantastic French “Villa” and “Château” styles.

Novelists seek to make one’s flesh creep; Painters to outvie either incomprehensibility or banality; Architects achieve futility and Musicians are reminiscent of everything except the sad charm of melody which is their natural inheritance, through the Payadores, from Moorish Spain. The old intervals and harmonies are carefully eschewed in favour of anything, no matter what, which may seem to have a piquant flavour of “art nouveau.”

Nevertheless, nature sometimes will out and the old-time moods now and again penetrate the covering of pseudo-Viennese melody and modern Italian harmonies under which the composer has sought to hide his natural gifts and atavistic inspiration.

It is only in the theatre that the true native genius is allowed full play. Some of the real Argentine dramas and comedies are refreshingly delightful in their truth of characterization, sentiment and humour. All is of the soil, true to type and racy. But such things are only played at minor houses and in rural districts. Fashion knows them not, nor desires to know them, while Italian and French operatic and dramatic companies hold the boards of the leading theatres at prices which make it quite obligatory for all the best people to be seen frequently in their boxes or stalls. Still the minor theatre is the casket of the one true jewel in Argentine Art which shines with its inherent native brilliance.

Unless, perhaps, florid oratory may be termed an Art. If so, it is one which has a wide vogue throughout South America. Few events are there allowed to pass without[301] lengthy and vigorous “Discursos”; the real or simulated passion of which rings strangely false in Anglo-Saxon ears. Much virtue, however, lies in accepted convention, and the South American sees nothing comic or discordant in a frock-coated orator doing his best to turn over a sheaf of manuscript with one hand whilst he indulges in what to us is painfully exaggerated gesticulation with the rest of his body. On the contrary, the bravas of the audience which punctuate the barn-storming enunciation of the most high-flown sentiments are evidently and whole-heartedly sincere expressions of admiration for, at least, the speaker’s mastery of the declamatory art. Discursos are, in South America, the inevitable accompaniment of every event of any mark, from a funeral to the announcement of a dividend.

It is part of the Hero Worship which has so large a place in the Latin nature. A worship none the less fervent because the enjoyment of it by its living object is frequently as brief as it must be sweet. Once dead, of course, a hero is one for ever if he have attained his niche at some prominent period of his country’s history. Great Presidents live perennially in the knowledge of every school child, and one bad one is still honoured by reference to his name and attributes in the comic journals whenever an unflattering comparison to a living politician is sought. Rozas and Artígas have their true meed of mingled praise and blame.

But all this digresses from the heading of this chapter; through, perhaps, an unconscious effort on the author’s part to eke out an as yet somewhat barren subject.

The truth is that no country nor individual has ever produced much art of any account during its or his infancy. And Argentina and Uruguay are still in the barely adolescent stage of their economic and political development. The many sympathetic, though often contrasted, characteristics of the true Argentine and Uruguayan hold out, however, good hope for artistic achievement in the future. The facts that Argentina has already one truly native sculptress of[302] more than mediocre talent in Lola Mora, and one master of the art of word-painting in illustration of the old-world charm of some of the people and scenery of various distant parts of the Republic in Leopoldo Lugunes must not be lost sight of. Nor must the further one that the poetic spirit of the past which still broods over the wide Pampa has been caught and crystallized by Godofredo Daireaux in his Tipos y Paisages Argentinos and other delicate allegories and sketches. The River Plate awaits a native W. C. Cable to write a rosary of tales of the Old Colonial Days of the Puerto de Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires, of Vice-Regal balls, of high-combed, mantilla-coifed and beflounced belles in seringa and orange blossom scented gardens; of sighs and vows breathed between window bars; of times the politely veneered roughness of which has been softened for us by the haze of remoteness; a haze which soon will have produced complete obliteration if some living, understanding brain does not quickly record their outlines and fill these in with appropriate tints.

Someone will, must, do this. But no stranger. Only a native genius, daintily contemplative, can, as a labour of love, bring back to life the dolce far niente days of South America before its Colonists awakened to the shrill call of Liberty and Independence.



[1] Tipos y Paisajes Argentinos, by Godofredo Daireaux.

[2] Though see Mr. Herbert Gibson’s opinion, quoted later.

[3] Still the following words, which occur in an anonymous work on Uruguay issued by authority of the Consulate-General of that country in London in 1883, are as essentially true to-day as they were then.

“It cannot too often be repeated that only two classes of emigrants are fitted for the New World: those who are accustomed to manual labour … and those who have capital to invest. Clerks and penmen should know to whom and in what capacity they are going.”

Argentines and Uruguayans can themselves supply all the book-learning and clerkly devices as yet needed on the River Plate.

[4] The chiripá, or primitive native substitute for trousers, is formed of a shawl-like blanket. This is wrapped round the loins, kilt-fashion; after which it is brought up between the legs, from back to front, and the end tucked through the girdle, to hang again down in front.

[5] The first cattle on the River Plate Territories were seven cows and a bull, brought down through Paraguay from Brazil by two Portuguese, the brothers Cipriano and Vicente Goes.

[6] The crop has been a good one as regards wheat. As regards maize, it is uncertain at the time of writing owing to some early rains.

[7] In the case of each of these items Mr. Tornquist gives the facts and reasons on which his calculation has been based.

[8] With the commencement of 1916, however, capital is flowing into both countries from the United States for both public works and private enterprise.

[9] The 1915-16 harvests are reported excellent.

[10] Who concluded his term of office as President of the Republic in March, 1915.

[11] See, e.g. Spanish, Llegar: Portuguese, Chegar.

[12] In both countries Congress consists of a Senate and Chamber of Deputies. In Argentina the term of office of the President of the Republic is six years, in Uruguay four years.

[13] Dr. Leopoldo del Campo, a high authority on Argentine Constitutional Law, once publicly stated that Provincial revolutions were sometimes stimulated by superior influences, with the idea of provoking the Presidential intervention.

[14] A present breach of this custom has already been referred to.

[15] Señor Batlle has now been succeeded in the Presidential chair by Dr. Viera, formerly his very able Minister of Finance.

[16] A long, narrow, stone-paved court with the doors of single dwelling-rooms leading into it and a portal opening on to the street.

[17] One immediate result of this in Argentina was a crop of private failures. The occurrence of these has since, however, steadily decreased in number. None at all were recorded during December, 1915. The year 1916 has begun in both countries with a good financial situation and a promising outlook.

[18] The substance of this advice has recently been embodied in a Foreign Office Report.

[19] The entry of Italy into the war has stopped this.

[20] Already well begun. As will be seen from the latest statistics, given in another chapter.

[21] United States Banks have recently opened and are opening branches in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

[22] These approximate figures relate to the three years immediately preceding the commencement of the war.

[23] If the Province has lately found difficulty in paying the interest on its debt, this has been on account of large expenditure on Public Works; coupled with mismanagement of its large revenues.

[24] In regard to the outlying Provinces it should always be borne in mind that the number of head of Live Stock possessed by them need not and usually does not afford any indication of value, for the farther one gets from Buenos Aires the less careful breeding one finds, and therefore the greater predominance of native cattle and sheep.

[25] L’Argentine telle qu’elle est.

[26] Native riding whip of solid hide, straight and tapering.

[27] The boleadora consists of two or of three round stones encased in hide and attached, each by an independent thong, to the end of a lasso. The thongs with the stones are swung round the head and, suddenly released, twine themselves round the legs of the animal to be caught; which is thrown down by the jerk of the tightened lasso.

[28] Monograph attached to Argentine Agricultural and Live Stock Census, 1908.

[29] This is largely due to the heavy cost of transport even from the mines to the railway head at the City of San Juan.

[30] The Jesuits also had settlements in Neuquen.

[31] The National Government is now taking active steps to put Rivadavia petroleum on a sound commercial footing and has recently issued 5% Bonds to the value of 1¼ millions sterling for that purpose.

[32] Those of Guayra, in Brazil, are rather rapids than falls.

[33] This volume is subject to great fluctuations.

[34] Mate seed must either be picked while it is very young and soft or else be chemically treated to soften it before planting.

[35] Most of the sugar produced in these Northern Territories goes to make CAÑA, or native rum.

[36] Prior to the War, Germany imported large quantities of Quebracho logs for extract-manufacturing and other tanning purposes.

[37] The alarm caused by the realization of this menace has been fruitful of measures taken by breeders to maintain the increase of stock: and it is just to add that these measures are already showing good results.

[38] Monograph attached to National Census, 1909.

[39] It is to these newly born “hoppers” that the most rigorous sweeping and burning is usually applied. They present the greater facilities for this treatment, and are, as has been indicated, more destructive than their parents, who may be said to be at the end of life’s span when they arrive.

[40] In Uruguay, the Ministry of Industries is concerned with all agricultural matters.

[41] 1000 hectares = 3861 square miles, and 1 hectare = 2·4711 (or a little less than 2½) acres.

[42] At present most of these supplies go direct to Havre for the use of the allied troops.

[43] Uruguay can still be roughly divided into two parts by drawing an almost straight line from, say, Mercedes on the River Uruguay to San Vicente on the Atlantic, the chief cereal areas lying south of this line, while the land north of it chiefly carries live stock.

[44] At the moment of writing (February, 1916) the demand by the Allied Governments has become less.

[45] A letter, received by the author during the preparation of this book, from one of the great Cold Storage Companies, says: “Much regret that we cannot give you any reliable information in regard to the Export Value (for 1914), and do not even care about hazarding a guess.”

[46] It is only fair to add that lack of transport from the chief forestal areas at present offers economic difficulties.

[47] Uruguayan literature is the less open to adverse criticism in this regard.



Transcriber’s Note

List of changes made to the text to correct suspected printing errors:

Page 5 “Is there a good bargain to be made” changed to “If there is a good bargain to be made”

Page 17 “the latter is still” changed to “the former is still”

Page 43 “certain Argentine amateur philogists” changed to “certain Argentine amateur philologists”

Page 65 “would proceed to rat shamelessly” changed to “would proceed to rant shamelessly”

Page 79 “take convenient tram” changed to “take a convenient tram”

Page 151 “take train” changed to “take a train”

Page 221 “the Adine regions” changed to “the Andine regions”

Page 255 “Buenos Aires, Sante Fé, Córdoba” changed to “Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba”

Page 270 (table header) “Power of meat” changed to “Powder of meat”

Page 294C. sineusis” changed to “C. sinensis

Page 295 “A first-cless species” changed to “A first-class species”

Page 297 “especially Csrya species” changed to “especially Carya species”

Page 297Tsuga doglasi” changed to “Tsuga douglasi

Page 302 “Godefredo Daireaux” changed to “Godofredo Daireaux”

Page 308 (index entry) “Spanish-speaking commercial travvellers” changed to “Spanish-speaking commercial travellers”

Corrections to accents, punctuation and the publisher’s catalogue which follows have been made without note.




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Blue Bird, The. Maurice Maeterlinck.

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Charmides, and other Poems. Oscar Wilde.

Chitràl: The Story of a Minor Siege. Sir G. S. Robertson.

Condition of England, The. G. F. G. Masterman.

De Profundis. Oscar Wilde.

Famous Wits, A Book of. W. Jerrold.

From Midshipman to Field-Marshal. Sir Evelyn Wood, F.M., V.C.

Harvest Home. E. V. Lucas.

Hills and the Sea. Hilaire Belloc.

Home Life in France. M. Betham-Edwards.

Huxley, Thomas Henry. P. Chalmers-Mitchell.

Ideal Husband, An. Oscar Wilde.

Importance of being Earnest, The. Oscar Wilde.

Intentions. Oscar Wilde.

John Boyes, King of the Wa-Kikuyu. John Boyes.

Lady Windermere’s Fan. Oscar Wilde.

Letters from a Self-made Merchant to his Son. George Horace Lorimer.

Life of John Ruskin, The. W. G. Collingwood.

Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, The. Graham Balfour.

Little of Everything, A. E. V. Lucas.

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime. Oscar Wilde.

Lore of the Honey-Bee, The. Tickner Edwardes.

Man and the Universe. Sir Oliver Lodge.

Mary Magdalene. Maurice Maeterlinck.

Mirror of the Sea, The. J. Conrad.

Old Country Life. S. Baring-Gould.

Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study. Arthur Ransome.

Parish Clerk, The. P. H. Ditchfield.

Picked Company, A. Hilaire Belloc.

Reason and Belief. Sir Oliver Lodge.

Selected Poems. Oscar Wilde.

Sevastopol, and Other Stories. Leo Tolstoy.

Social Evils and their Remedy. Leo Tolstoy.

Some Letters of R. L. Stevenson. Selected by Lloyd Osbourne.

Substance of Faith, The. Sir Oliver Lodge.

Tennyson. A. C. Benson.

Tower of London, The. K. Davey.

Two Admirals. Admiral John Moresby.

Under Five Reigns. Lady Dorothy Nevill.

Vailima Letters. Robert Louis Stevenson.

Vicar of Morwenstow, The. S. Baring-Gould.


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Avon and Shakespeare’s Country, The. A. G. Bradley.

Black Forest, A Book of the. C. E. Hughes.

Bretons at Home, The. F. M. Gostling.

Cities of Lombardy, The. Edward Hutton.

Cities of Romagna and the Marches, The. Edward Hutton.

Cities of Spain, The. Edward Hutton.

Cities of Umbria, The. Edward Hutton.

Days in Cornwall. C. Lewis Hind.

Egypt, By the Waters of. N. Lorimer.

Florence and Northern Tuscany, with Genoa. Edward Hutton.

Land of Pardons, The (Brittany). Anatole Le Braz.

Naples. Arthur H. Norway.

Naples Riviera, The. H. M. Vaughan.

New Forest, The. Horace G. Hutchinson.

Norfolk Broads, The. W. A. Dutt.

Norway and its Fjords. M. A. Wyllie.

Rhine, A Book of the. S. Baring-Gould.

Rome. Edward Hutton.

Round about Wiltshire. A. G. Bradley.

Scotland of To-day. T. F. Henderson and Francis Watt.

Siena and Southern Tuscany. Edward Hutton.

Skirts of the Great City, The. Mrs. A. G. Bell.

Through East Anglia in a Motor Car. J. E. Vincent.

Venice and Venetia. Edward Hutton.

Wanderer in Florence, A. E. V. Lucas.

Wanderer in Paris, A. E. V. Lucas.

Wanderer in Holland, A. E. V. Lucas.

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Wanderer in Venice, A. E. V. Lucas.

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Little Books on Art.See page 17.


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Part III.—A Selection of Works of Fiction

Albanesi (E. Maria). SUSANNAH AND ONE OTHER. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

I KNOW A MAIDEN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE INVINCIBLE AMELIA; or, The Polite Adventuress. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

THE GLAD HEART. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

OLIVIA MARY. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE BELOVED ENEMY. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Bagot (Richard). A ROMAN MYSTERY. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE PASSPORT. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

ANTHONY CUTHBERT. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

LOVE’S PROXY. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HOUSE OF SERRAVALLE. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

DARNELEY PLACE. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Bailey (H. C.). THE LONELY QUEEN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE SEA CAPTAIN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HIGHWAYMAN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Baring-Gould (S.). THE BROOM-SQUIRE. Illustrated. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

PABO THE PRIEST. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

WINEFRED. Illustrated. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Barr (Robert). IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE COUNTESS TEKLA. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE MUTABLE MANY. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Begbis (Harold). THE CURIOUS AND DIVERTING ADVENTURES OF SIR JOHN SPARROW, Bart.; or, The Progress of an Open Mind. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Belloc (H.). EMMANUEL BURDEN, MERCHANT. Illustrated. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A CHANGE IN THE CABINET. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Bennett (Arnold). CLAYHANGER. Twelfth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

HILDA LESSWAYS. Eighth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

*THESE TWAIN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE CARD. Thirteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

BURIED ALIVE. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A MAN FROM THE NORTH. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE MATADOR OF THE FIVE TOWNS. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE REGENT: A Five Towns Story of Adventure in London. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE PRICE OF LOVE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

WHOM GOD HATH JOINED. A New Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A GREAT MAN: A Frolic. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Benson (E. F.). DODO: A Detail of the Day. Seventeenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Birmingham (George A.). SPANISH GOLD. Seventeenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE SEARCH PARTY. Tenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


LALAGE’S LOVERS. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE ADVENTURES OF DR. WHITTY. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

GOSSAMER. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Bowen (Marjorie). I WILL MAINTAIN. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A KNIGHT OF SPAIN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE QUEST OF GLORY. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

GOD AND THE KING. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE GOVERNOR OF ENGLAND. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

PRINCE AND HERETIC. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE CARNIVAL OF FLORENCE. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

MR. WASHINGTON. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Castle (Agnes and Egerton). THE GOLDEN BARRIER. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

FORLORN ADVENTURERS. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Chesterton (G. K.). THE FLYING INN. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Conrad (Joseph). THE SECRET AGENT: A Simple Tale. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A SET OF SIX. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

UNDER WESTERN EYES. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

VICTORY: An Island Tale. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

CHANCE. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Conyers (Dorothea). SALLY. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

SANDY MARRIED. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

OLD ANDY. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Corelli (Marie). A ROMANCE OF TWO WORLDS. Thirty-Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

VENDETTA: or, The Story of one Forgotten. Thirty-second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THELMA: A Norwegian Princess. Forty-sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

ARDATH: The Story of a Dead Self. Twenty-second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE SOUL OF LILITH. Eighteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

WORMWOOD: A Drama of Paris. Twentieth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

BARABBAS: A Dream of the World’s Tragedy. Forty-eighth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE SORROWS OF SATAN. Sixtieth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE MASTER-CHRISTIAN. Fifteenth Edition. 181st Thousand. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

TEMPORAL POWER: A Study in Supremacy. Second Edition. 150th Thousand. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

GOD’S GOOD MAN: A Simple Love Story. Seventeenth Edition. 156th Thousand. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

HOLY ORDERS: The Tragedy of a Quiet Life. Second Edition. 120th Thousand. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

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BOY: A Sketch. Thirteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

CAMEOS. Fifteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE LIFE EVERLASTING. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Crockett (S. R.). LOCHINVAR. Illustrated. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE STANDARD BEARER. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Doyle (Sir A. Conan). ROUND THE RED LAMP. Twelfth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Findlater (J. H.). THE GREEN GRAVES OF BALGOWRIE. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Fry (B. and C. B.). A MOTHER’S SON. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Harraden (Beatrice). IN VARYING MOODS. Fourteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

HILDA STRAFFORD and THE REMITTANCE MAN. Twelfth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

INTERPLAY. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


Hichens (Robert). THE PROPHET OF BERKELEY SQUARE. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

TONGUES OF CONSCIENCE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

FELIX: Three Years in a Life. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE WOMAN WITH THE FAN. Eighth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

BYEWAYS. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH. Twenty-fifth Edition. Illustrated. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE CALL OF THE BLOOD. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

BARBARY SHEEP. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.


THE WAY OF AMBITION. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Hope (Anthony). A CHANGE OF AIR. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A MAN OF MARK. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT ANTONIO. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

PHROSO. Illustrated. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

SIMON DALE. Illustrated. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE KING’S MIRROR. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

QUISANTÉ. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


TALES OF TWO PEOPLE. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A SERVANT OF THE PUBLIC. Illustrated. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE GREAT MISS DRIVER. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

MRS. MAXON PROTESTS. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A YOUNG MAN’S YEAR. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Jacobs (W. W.). MANY CARGOES. Thirty-third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d. Also Illustrated in colour. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net.

SEA URCHINS. Seventeenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

A MASTER OF CRAFT. Illustrated. Tenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

LIGHT FREIGHTS. Illustrated. Eleventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

THE SKIPPER’S WOOING. Twelfth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

AT SUNWICH PORT. Illustrated. Eleventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

DIALSTONE LANE. Illustrated. Eighth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

ODD CRAFT. Illustrated. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

THE LADY OF THE BARGE. Illustrated. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

SALTHAVEN. Illustrated. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

SAILORS’ KNOTS. Illustrated. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

SHORT CRUISES. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

King (Basil). THE WILD OLIVE. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE STREET CALLED STRAIGHT. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE WAY HOME. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


London (Jack). WHITE FANG. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Lowndes (Mrs. Belloc). MARY PECHELL. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

STUDIES IN LOVE AND IN TERROR. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE END OF HER HONEYMOON. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE LODGER. Third Edition. Crown 8vo. 6s.

Lucas (E. V.). LISTENER’S LURE: An Oblique Narration. Tenth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. 5s.

OVER BEMERTON’S: An Easy-going Chronicle. Twelfth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. 5s.

MR. INGLESIDE. Tenth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. 5s.

LONDON LAVENDER. Eighth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. 5s.

LANDMARKS. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


Lyall (Edna). DERRICK VAUGHAN, NOVELIST. 44th Thousand. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

Macnaughtan (S.). THE FORTUNE OF CHRISTINA M’NAB. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

PETER AND JANE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Malet (Lucas). A COUNSEL OF PERFECTION. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

COLONEL ENDERBY’S WIFE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HISTORY OF SIR RICHARD CALMADY: A Romance. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE WAGES OF SIN. Sixteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE CARISSIMA. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE GATELESS BARRIER. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Mason (A. E. W.). CLEMENTINA. Illustrated. Ninth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Maxwell (W. B.). THE RAGGED MESSENGER. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

VIVIEN. Thirteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE GUARDED FLAME. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

ODD LENGTHS. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

HILL RISE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE COUNTESS OF MAYBURY: Between You and I. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE REST CURE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Milne (A. A.). THE DAY’S PLAY. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HOLIDAY ROUND. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

ONCE A WEEK. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Montague (C. E.). A HIND LET LOOSE. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE MORNING’S WAR. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Morrison (Arthur). TALES OF MEAN STREETS. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A CHILD OF THE JAGO. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HOLE IN THE WALL. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


Ollivant (Alfred). OWD BOB, THE GREY DOG OF KENMUIR. With a Frontispiece. Twelfth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE TAMING OF JOHN BLUNT. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE ROYAL ROAD. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Oppenheim (E. Phillips). MASTER OF MEN. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE MISSING DELORA. Illustrated. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE WAY OF THESE WOMEN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MR. ALFRED BURTON. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

A PEOPLE’S MAN. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

MR. GREX OF MONTE CARLO. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

*THE VANISHED MESSENGER. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Oxenham (John). A WEAVER OF WEBS. Illustrated. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

PROFIT AND LOSS. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE LONG ROAD. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE SONG OF HYACINTH, and Other Stories. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

MY LADY OF SHADOWS. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

LAURISTONS. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE COIL OF CARNE. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN ROSE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

MARY ALL-ALONE. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

BROKEN SHACKLES. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Parker (Gilbert). PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

MRS. FALCHION. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.


THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD. Illustrated. Tenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

WHEN VALMOND CAME TO PONTIAC: The Story of a Lost Napoleon. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH: The Last Adventures of ‘Pretty Pierre.’ Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY. Illustrated. Nineteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE BATTLE OF THE STRONG: A Romance of Two Kingdoms. Illustrated. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE POMP OF THE LAVILETTES. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d.

NORTHERN LIGHTS. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE JUDGMENT HOUSE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Pemberton (Max). THE FOOTSTEPS OF A THRONE. Illustrated. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

I CROWN THEE KING. Illustrated. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Perrin (Alice). THE CHARM. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE ANGLO-INDIANS. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HAPPY HUNTING GROUND. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

Phillpotts (Eden). LYING PROPHETS. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

CHILDREN OF THE MIST. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE HUMAN BOY. With a Frontispiece. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

SONS OF THE MORNING. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE RIVER. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE AMERICAN PRISONER. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE PORTREEVE. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

THE STRIKING HOURS. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

DEMETER’S DAUGHTER. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s.

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