The Project Gutenberg EBook of Argentina, by W. A. Hirst

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Title: Argentina

Author: W. A. Hirst

Release Date: June 24, 2012 [EBook #40069]

Language: English

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First Edition1910
Second Impression1911
Third Impression1912
Fourth Impression1914

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In establishing the commercial and industrial greatness of Argentina my countrymen have co-operated with her people for a longer time and more efficiently than any other foreign nation. The land and the people are therefore a subject of lively interest to Englishmen, and it is hoped that this sketch, however inadequate, will help towards a closer knowledge of Argentina. I have received much valuable assistance from many sources, but I do not indicate them, because I do not wish to shift the blame for any inaccuracies that may be found in these pages. For all such mistakes I am solely responsible.

April 22, 1910.






Photo kindly lent by the Proprietors of La Argentina
Photo kindly lent by the Buenos Aires Central Railway
Photo kindly lent by the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway
Photo kindly lent by the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway
Photo kindly lent by the South American Missionary Society
La Argentina photo
Photo kindly lent by Bovril, Ltd.
Bovril, Ltd. photo
S. A. M. S. photo
Photo kindly lent by Lemco & Oxo
La Argentina photo
La Argentina photo
[xii]La Argentina photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
B. A. P. R. photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
La Argentina photo
B. A. C. R. photo
B. A. P. R. photo
Photo kindly lent by Mr. Clarence Hailey, High-street, Newmarket
Mr. Clarence Hailey's photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
La Argentina photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
B. A. C. R. photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
B. A. C. R. photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
[xiii]La Argentina photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
Lemco and Oxo photo
Lemco and Oxo photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
B. A. C. R. photo
B. A. C. R. photo
B. A. P. R. photo
B. A. P. R. photo
S. A. M. S. photo
Bovril, Ltd. photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
B. A. G. S. R. photo
Photo kindly lent by the Chubut Railway
S. A. M. S. photo
S. A. M. S. photo
[xiv]S. A. M. S. photo
La Argentina photo
La Argentina photo
B. A. P. R. photo
B. A. P. R. photo
B. A. P. R. photo
B. A. C. R. photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
Lemco & Oxo photo
La Argentina photo
La Argentina photo
La Argentina photo
S. A. M. S. photo
S. A. M. S. photo
La Argentina photo
Photo kindly lent by the Pacific Steam Navigation Co.



The most stupendous achievement ever attained by a nation in so short a time was the discovery, conquest, and settlement of Mexico and South America by Spain within the compass of a century. To fix indelibly and for ever upon the peoples of a vast continent the language, religion, customs, polity, and laws of a nation on the other side of the globe called for qualities which could only be temporarily evoked by an irresistible common sentiment. The sentiment which gave to Spain for a time the potency to carry through simultaneously the tasks of imposing religious orthodoxy upon Christendom and founding her great colonial empire was pride: pride of religion, race, and person, deliberately fostered by rulers for political ends. This origin of the delusive strength that carried the Conquistadores through an untracked continent regardless of perils and sufferings, and made South America Spanish, rendered inevitable that the rewards, national and individual, should disappoint the recipients. For pride and its concomitant covetousness are never satisfied; and the frenzied thirst for rapid riches and distinction that spurred the Spanish explorers and conquerors onward rarely ended in the idle luxurious dignity that was their goal, and it ultimately brought to the mother country nought but penury and degradation.


It was ignorance of economic truth that led Spaniards in the sixteenth century to regard the possession of the precious metals as wealth, regardless of circumstances: and the error coloured the whole domination of Spain in the New World. That the nation and the individual should hope to become permanently powerful and rich by obtaining vast stores of the metallic medium whilst discouraging productive industry appears to modern ideas ridiculous, but to the discoverers of America it was regarded as quite the natural course of events. The effect is seen in the rapid subjection and development of the regions believed to be rich in the precious metals, and the comparative neglect of the vast territories where patience and the labour of man were needed to win nature's abundant bounty from the fertile soil.

The west side of the South American Continent, though furthest from Europe, therefore took precedence of the eastern coast in the efforts and regards of the conquerors. When the piled-up riches of the Incas and the inexhaustible mines of the Peruvian Andes beckoned to the greedy adventurers from the mother country, the endless alluvial pampas and dense primeval forests of the east might call in vain. From Panama down the Pacific Coast, therefore, the main tide of conquest and empire flowed, drawn by the magnet gold; and on the northern continent a similar course was taken. The Aztec empire with its accumulated treasures absorbed an ever-increasing stream of Spaniards, whilst the more northern territories now included in the United States were left later to English settlers, whose hopes were not centred upon wringing yellow metal from the earth, but upon founding a free new agricultural England across the sea.

Thus it happened that to navigators in search of the short cut to Asia rather than to the typical Conquistador[xvii] was left the first exploration of what we now know is the coming emporium of the South American Continent and its permanent centre of productive prosperity. Domingo de Solis, chief pilot of Spain, was sent by Charles V. to South America not as a settler, or primarily as a gold-seeker, but as an explorer; and when in 1508 he entered the noble Bay of Rio Janeiro it seemed at last that the object of his quest was gained, and that here was the coveted waterway to the East. But he soon found out his mistake, and when, sailing further south, he crossed the wide estuary of the River Plate, his hopes again rose that this tremendous volume of water, a hundred and fifty miles wide at the mouth, was not a river merely, but the ocean channel to the Pacific. Returning home with his hopes still high Solis, was authorised by his sovereign to explore his important discovery, and in 1516 he sailed into the delta of the great network of streams that have brought down upon their bosoms from the far Andes in the course of ages a large portion of the continent as we now know it.

To the Spaniard's eyes the land was not inviting. Far stretching plains of waving grasses, great expanses of marsh and swamp, league after league. No palaces and temples of hewn stone, like those of Peru and Mexico, met the eye here; no promise of gold in the fat alluvial soil; no cities where the arts were practised and treasure accumulated. Such Indians as there were differed vastly from the mild serfs of the Incas. Nomad savages were these; robust, stout, and hardy, elusive of pursuit and impossible of subjection in their wandering disunity. For three hundred miles through the endless pampa-country Solis sailed onward up the stream, his hopes that this way led to the Indies gradually fading as he progressed, until he and his men fell into a trap laid for them by the pampa Indians and were slaughtered.


Four years afterwards Magellan on his epoch-making voyage sailed up the great river; but he too fell a victim to the perils of the way in the Asiatic seas, and never returned to Spain to tell of his discoveries in the heart of South America. Then Sebastian Cabot, the Englishman in the service of Spain, was sent to explore, and if possible to take possession of the land for Charles V.; for the Portuguese claimed indefinite territory in this direction under the convention of Tordesillas, and it behoved Spain to assert ownership before it was too late. High up the river Paraguay Cabot found a country with different features and peopled by another race. Silver ornaments, too, he found in plenty amongst these Guaranies, to whom distant echoes of Inca influence had reached across the wastes and mountains to the west. But here, many hundreds of miles from the ocean and far from any base of supplies, it was impracticable for Cabot with the resources at his disposal to effect a settlement, and he also returned to Spain with his story of silver as an incentive for further expeditions.

This was in 1527, and in the following year the first attempt to establish a permanent footing on the Plate was made by the building of a fort at Rosario, but this was soon abandoned for a site on the sea coast of what is now a part of Brazil to the north of the river. In the meantime the Portuguese were busy advancing their posts to the north of the delta in order to assert their claims; and in face of this, rather than because remunerative metallic treasure from the new territory was to be expected, Charles V. authorised an extensive colonising experiment to be made and the great waterway and its banks claimed for Spain. The stirring history of Mendoza's attempts to found a settlement on the Paraná, the establishment of Buenos Aires and its abandonment again and again, the fateful colonisation of Asuncion,[xix] far up the river in the heart of the continent, the heroic adventures of Irala, Ayolas, and Cabeza de Vaca, and the reconquest of the river territories down to the sea from the isolated Spanish post of Asuncion eight hundred miles up stream, is adequately told in Mr. Hirst's pages, and need not be related here.

The permanent fixing of the flag of Spain on the territory east of the Andes was not less heroic an achievement than the more showy conquests of Peru and Mexico; for in the former case the incentive of easily won gold was absent, and the object was more purely national than was the case elsewhere. But, though it was necessary for Spain to assert her ownership over these endless pampas and the unexplored wastes beyond, the new territory was always subordinated to the gold-producing viceroyalty of Peru across the Andes. A glance at the map will show the almost incredible obstacles wilfully interposed by the home authorities upon the River Plate colonies in forcing the latter not only to be subject in government to the Viceroy of Peru, but to carry on most of their commercial communications with the mother country across the wide continent from the Pacific coast by way of Panama and Peru. The law was, of course, extensively evaded, and the luxuriant fertility of the pampa both for agriculture and grazing made the River Plate colonies prosperous in spite of Government restrictions.

The English slave-traders and adventurers made no scruple of braving the King of Spain's edicts; and the estuary of the Plate, within a few weeks' sail of Europe, saw many a cargo welcomed upon a mere pretence of force by the colonists whose lives were rendered doubly hard by the obstacles placed in their way by their own Government. In 1586 the Earl of Cumberland's ships on a privateering expedition to capture every Spanish[xx] and Portuguese vessel they encountered sailed into the River Plate and learnt some interesting particulars of the settlements from one of the unfortunate shipmasters they had plundered. These give a good idea of the difficulties under which traffic was then carried on. "He told me that the town of Buenos Aires is from the Green island about seventy leagues' standing on the south side of the river, and from thence to Santa Fé is one hundred leagues, standing on the same side also. At which town their ships do discharge all their goods into small barks, which row and tow up the river to another town called Asuncion, which is from Santa Fé a hundred and fifty leagues, where the boats discharge on shore, and so pass all their goods by carts and horses to Tucuman, which is in Peru." The commerce here referred to was probably the contraband trade done in spite of the Spanish regulations, for it was found that even to the far distant towns in the interior, like Tucuman and Mendoza, it was easier and cheaper thus to convey goods from Europe by the eastern coast than from the Pacific across the almost impassable Andes.

The Earl of Cumberland's factor gives also an account of the Spanish settlements then (1586) existing on the River Plate.[1] "There are in the river five towns, some of seventy households, some of more. The first town was about fifty leagues up the river and called Buenos Aires, the rest some forty or fifty leagues from one another, so that the uppermost town, called Tucuman, is two hundred and thirty leagues from the entrance to the river.[2] In[xxi] these towns is great store of corn, cattle, wine and sundry fruits, but no money of gold or silver. They make a certain kind of slight cloth, which they give in truck for sugar, rice, marmalade, and sucket, which were the commodities this ship (i.e., the prize) had."

Thus with everything against it except its irrepressible natural advantages of soil and climate and its lack of mineral wealth, the colony grew in prosperity in spite of man's shortsightedness. There was no temptation here, even if it had been possible, for the Spaniards to exterminate the aborigines by forced work in unhealthy mines. The innumerable herds of cattle and horses that in a very few years peopled the pampa from the few animals brought from Europe and abandoned by the first settlers provided sustenance, even wealth, with comparatively easy labour to the mixed race of Indians and Spaniards, which took kindly to the half-wild pastoral life in harmony with the nomadic traditions of the natives; and thus with much less hardship and cruelty than in other South American regions the Argentines gradually grew into a homogeneous people, whose pastoral and agricultural pursuits brought them to a higher level of general well-being than populations elsewhere in South America.


But great as is the actual and potential wealth of the Argentine from its favoured soil, it is not that alone that has made its capital the greatest in South America, and has brought to the development of the Republic citizens and resources from all the progressive nations of the world. It is also as the main highway to the remote recesses of the vast continent that the Argentine region has appealed to the imaginations of men. The noble waterways, navigable far into the interior, provide cheap and easy transport for the products of distant provinces possessing infinite possibilities as yet hardly known.[xxii] The unbroken plains, extending from the Atlantic sea-board to the foot of the Andes eight hundred miles away, offer unrivalled facilities for the construction of railways to convey to the ports food supplies for the Old World from this, the greatest undeveloped grain and pasture region in temperate climes. It is this character of a thoroughfare offering easy access to the coming continent that ensures for Buenos Aires its future position as a world emporium, and to the States of the Argentine Republic readily accessible markets for their abundant and varied natural products. And to add to this advantage the opening of the Transandine tunnel, now at last an accomplished fact, makes the Argentine the natural highway for passengers and fine goods to the cities of Chile and the Pacific Coast, saving the tedious and costly voyage round Cape Horn or through the Straits of Magellan.

The greatest admirers of the old Spanish colonial system will hardly deny that the prodigious development effected since the declaration of Argentine independence, of the resources of the country, thanks largely to the influx of foreign immigrants and capital, would have been impossible under the Spanish domination. That a new people, unaccustomed to, and perhaps as yet unprepared for, self-government and political emancipation should have had to work out its own problems during a period of turbulence was inevitable. It is no reproach to the Argentine people that this natural process, necessary to fit them for a stable political existence, has in the past caused violence and lawlessness. The constant introduction of men of other races into the Argentine is giving to the population new features and qualities which will render the racial stock of the future one of the most interesting ethnological problems in the world; and this abundant admixture of foreign blood,[xxiii] readily assimilated as it is by the native stock, certainly makes for increasing stability.

The same may be said of the large amount of foreign capital invested in Argentine enterprises. Argentine statesmen, taught by experience as they have been, and keenly awake to the need for foreign aid in developing their country, are not in the least likely in future to frighten away capital by dishonest finance or revolutionary methods. Responsibility has already brought sobriety into Argentine politics, and although the official procedure and Governmental ethics of the Spanish races vary from those usually prevalent in Anglo-Saxon countries, they are in most cases better suited to the character of the people than those that commend themselves to us. When we for our own purposes go to a foreign country, it is unreasonable to expect, as many Englishmen do, that we can carry with us and impose upon our hosts our own traditions and standards.

No country known to me impresses upon a visitor from Europe so forcibly as the Argentine the unlimited possibilities of its soil. Travelling hour after hour by a railway straight as a line over gently undulating or perfectly flat plains, stretching on all sides as far as the eye can reach, the observer is struck by the regular ripple of the rich grass, like the waves of the sea, as the breeze blows over it. Here and there little clumps of eucalyptus slightly break the monotony of the landscape, and a gleam of a bright green alfalfa field occasionally relieves the eye. Far away at rare intervals gleaming white walls and turrets surrounded by eucalyptus groves mark the position of an estancia, and innumerable herds of cattle, sheep, and almost wild troops of horses everywhere testify to the richness of the pasture.


From Buenos Aires to Mendoza, almost at the foot[xxiv] of the Andes, some six hundred miles away, the scene hardly changes. Far to the south the pampa is poorer and more sparse, but still splendid pasture for certain sorts of cattle, whilst in Entre Rios, the great tract between the rivers Paraná and Uruguay, the country is wilder and more broken, especially towards the north. Scattered amongst the vast flocks of sheep upon the open veldt are many ostriches, now a profitable investment, whilst great numbers of running partridges seek cover in the pampa grass from the dreaded hawks that hover above them. The native grass is flesh-forming but not fattening, and, to an English grazier, looks poor food enough for the millions of head of cattle that thrive upon it. It does not, as does the best English pasture, entirely cover the surface, but grows in distinct tufts. The native grass, however, is now rapidly being supplanted in the rich plains of Central Argentina by new forms of pasture, mostly English, infinitely richer, perennial in its luxuriance, and forming upon this favoured soil the best cattle-grazing in the world.


Of late years, as Mr. Hirst shows in his book, enormous tracts of land, especially to the south of Buenos Aires and high up the Paraná, are being broken up for wheat-growing, and Bahia Blanca, the ambitious port south of Buenos Aires, bids fair soon to become a great centre of grain export. Vast quantities of maize are also raised in the country on the banks of the Paraná, and are mainly exported from Rosario. Whichever way one turns fresh evidences of fertility are forced upon the attention. Cattle standing knee-deep in pasture, sheep growing fat at fifty to the acre, leagues of ripening corn, equal to any on earth, growing upon virgin soil; flowers to which we are accustomed in England as tender shrubs developing here into robust blossoming trees; and fruit orchards flourishing, solid[xxv] miles of them, prolific beyond belief, within a short distance of Buenos Aires, where only a few years ago nothing but wild scrub and tangled forest existed.

The extension of railways in every direction has now to a great extent destroyed or modified the old free life upon the pampas of Argentina. The estancias, except in remote districts, are often large establishments where all the comforts and some of the luxuries of life are to be found, instead of the walled semi-fortresses of olden times. The white-domed well, with its shady ombú-tree, still stands near the principal entrance to the courtyard, and the high palenque, the hitching-post for horses, still flanks the gateway, but the picturesque gaucho who goes loping over the plain, his lasso at his saddle-bow, his naked feet thrust into his big leather horseskin brogues, and his poncho fluttering in the breeze, is no longer the monarch of the pampa as he once was, for civilisation has touched even him. The silver ornaments that once covered his accoutrements are less abundant than they used to be; he is fortunately less free with his knife, for he was never much of a hand with a gun, loving the bolas better; and the rural railway station in which he likes to dawdle about in the intervals of his life in the saddle is the symbol of his discipline and decline.

The great waterways that characterise Argentina, although they are now less used for passenger traffic into the hinterland than formerly, must still in the future be a great, if not the principal, highway for the produce of the distant interior. Rosario, some two hundred miles above Buenos Aires on the Paraná, is a progressive and improving port, serving the rich maize and grain-growing expanses of the province of Santa Fé; and far up the stream, almost to the Paraguayan border at Corrientes, river ports are rapidly growing into importance as centres of export as the surrounding country is developed.


But wonderful as is the apparently boundless promise of this country of favoured plains, Argentina is not only pampa. The Gran Chaco, a great country still for the most part a wilderness, is a region of dim tropical forest, where the parrots, birds of paradise, and brilliant butterflies vie with those of the Amazon; a hot, moist region, where the monkey and the land crab flourish exceedingly, and where savage Indians still hunt down with primitive weapons the jaguar and the puma. From this sultry country of forest and flood to the almost treeless, arid steppes of Patagonia is a change rather to another world than to another province of the same Republic, and hardly less difference exists between the rolling plains of the pampa country and the magnificent regions of towering peaks, stern uplands, and vast lakes that form the Andine portions of Argentina.

The change is noticed as the road approaches Mendoza, where the pampa gradually gives way to a country strongly resembling parts of Southern Spain; a land of poplars, willows, and acacias shading endless lines of irrigation channels; for rain falls but seldom on this eastern side of the Sierra, and on all hands, climbing the lower laps of the hills and lining the valleys, are miles of vineyards, which provide a stout red wine for the rest of the Republic. Further west still the land becomes more broken and barren as the hills rise higher and higher, until the ruddy sides, white glaciers, and snow-crested mountains of the Sierra appear, the giant Aconcagua monarch of them all. Further south than this the wonderful series of lakes that are almost inland seas high up in the Andes exist, as yet only partially explored to decide the frontier dispute between the Argentine and Chile, the remote valleys and austere uplands where the giant sloth is still believed by many to linger, a sole survival of the[xxvii] world before the great flood that destroyed life upon the nascent continent unrecorded ages ago.


This marvellous country of Argentina is destined to be one of the great nations of the world. Nature is just, and in giving it a prodigious extent of flat fertile soil has more than compensated it for withholding the gift of abundant gold that has made the history of other portions of South America. With a climate that varies, as does that of Chile, from the tropical to the antarctic, with pasture and arable land unsurpassed in the world, and with facilities for transport by land and water enabling the fruits of the soil to be conveyed easily from remote districts to eager markets for them, no bounds can be set to the wealth that awaits enterprise in the country. As a highway, too, the possibilities of Argentina are immense. The connection of Buenos Aires by rail with Santiago and Valparaiso opens up a new and shorter route to New Zealand and Australia; whilst the rapidly progressing extension of the railway into Bolivia—another link, it is intended, of the line to run eventually from New York to Buenos Aires—will provide a new and welcome outlet for the treasures of her mines to Bolivia, a vast country without a port of its own.

The possession of a temperate climate has made the Argentine and Chile the two South American nations of most promise for the future, owing to the fact that both countries have attracted and assimilated a great admixture of the robust peoples of Europe. The immigrants have been to a large extent drawn from the countries where life is hard and the fare frugal; from North Italy, from Galicia and Russia; whilst in stern Patagonia the Scotsman and the Welshman find an environment after their own hearts. In the second generation the immigrants of all nations usually become sturdy[xxviii] Argentines, and this easy assimilation of new ethnological elements is one of the most striking signs of the energy of the nation as a whole, and the most promising fact as regards the future political stability of the country. That a composite race will result from this admixture, possessing much of the patient laboriousness of the Ligurian and the practical hardheadedness of the Teuton, to temper the keen vehemence of the Ibero-American, may be confidently hoped: and if such be the case the advantages that nature has showered upon the Argentine will be complete, and a splendid future for the country secure.





The attempt to present a bird's-eye view of Argentina may well be called presumptuous, for the country is larger than Russia in Europe and offers every variety of climate—"hot, cold, moist, and dry." Nor would the utmost industry of the traveller suffice to glean anything like complete information, for large tracts, owing to the inhospitality of nature or man, are unexplored, and both north and south he would be checked by impenetrable forests, or rugged barriers of rock, or by savage Indians who are saved from extinction by the inaccessibility of their habitations. Further, even as regards the settled parts of those districts which, however desolate, are practicable to the traveller, there is more to be learnt (and the conditions are ever changing) than could well be absorbed in a lifetime, for Argentina is not, like several South American countries, a mere gigantic mass of potential riches, but is rapidly assuming a leading position among the commercial states of the world. From Buenos Aires to Mendoza, from Bahia Blanca to Tucuman, are to be seen all the signs of wealth and[2] prosperity, all the unmistakable portents of coming potency usually apparent in a new country that has emerged from the stage of childhood and weakness and feels the vigour of lusty youth in its veins, impelling it to take its place in the system of world politics.

If a single volume is all too short to represent Argentina in its manifold aspects, still less adequate is a single chapter to sketch its physical characteristics. In fact, its interest is at present more physical than moral, rather in its vast capacities for producing wealth and distributing it by means of magnificent waterways and ever-extending railroads, than in anything which Argentinians have done to ennoble life by arts or other services.

Before, however, proceeding to the study of a country the learner must endeavour to set before himself its principal geographical features, and as those of Argentina are well defined and comparatively simple they lend themselves to broad and clear classification. Geographically Argentina falls into four divisions. Firstly, Patagonia, which stretches from the Rio Colorado to Cape Horn. Secondly, the Andine region, which runs from the southern frontier of Bolivia right along the Chilian border. Thirdly, the Gran Chaco, which embraces the whole of the north of Argentina except the Andine strip. Fourthly, the Pampa, which comprises the central and best known region.

Patagonia received its name, patagon, or large paw, from the enormous footprints which the Spanish explorers remarked in the sand. Till recently it was almost a terra incognita, roamed by Indians and herds of guanacos, but of late years the beginnings of settlement have been made, and sheep-farming has become a considerable industry. The southern portion is cold and inclement all the year round, but in the north the[3] summers are hot. The country is well watered by six considerable rivers—the Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, Deseado, Coyly, and Gallegos—but scarcity of rain has caused it to be neglected by agriculturists. The whole of the plateau, indeed, has been called the Great Shingle Desert; it is of Tertiary formation, and the endless waste of sand and gravel was chiefly contributed by glacial action. This inhospitable desert is arranged in terraces which slope gently eastward, first from heights of 2,000 feet to 500, and then from this lower elevation to the sea-level.

In old days wonderful tales were told about the Patagonian giants—their enormous size, strength, and ferocity, but here it need only be said that the accounts were at least exaggerated. "In height, although very much above the average—some, indeed, reaching the height of 6 feet 4 inches, and all being broad and muscular—they have been greatly exaggerated, for, being very long in the body, they seem to tower above the European while sitting on horseback. They are short in the legs, and when standing on the ground do not on an average come over about 5 feet 11 inches."[3]

The Andine region, which in some of the South American States is the overwhelming characteristic, does not set a distinctive mark upon Argentina—essentially a plain country—but the western frontier of the Republic is guarded by a colossal range of mountains. These begin with Cerro de las Granadas in the extreme north, and extend beyond the Upper Colorado basin, where the Sierra Auco Mahinda of 16,000 feet is one of the most southerly of the important peaks. After this, although there is still a chain of moderate height, the mountains are not distinctively Andine. The[4] highest of all the Argentine mountains is probably the Nevado de Famatina.


In general this region is excessively dry and the mountains are almost bare of vegetation. The annual rainfall at Mendoza is but 6 inches and at San Juan it is only 3.

The Gran Chaco may be taken as a rough denomination for the whole of the Republic lying north of the Pampa, excluding the Andine fringe. This is a land of luxuriant vegetation with a warm and moist climate and, as might be expected, the products vary greatly from those of the temperate plains. Rice and the sugar-cane, castor-oil, sesame, and the poppy are all cultivated, but this part of the country is as yet scantily populated and quite undeveloped; there are therefore few surplus products to export. It is a region of great beauty, and travellers praise the silent tropical nights, whose darkness is relieved by myriads of fireflies, the primeval forests, and the magnificent rivers. But it is mostly virgin land and in many parts is peopled by savage inhabitants who make travel dangerous.


The real Argentina is the Pampa; it is that vast and fertile champaign which makes the great Republic what she is, and to which she owes all her wealth and prosperity. Erroneous as is the popular idea that Argentina is merely a land of grassy steppes and rich cornfields, this is due to the fact that all except specialists have confined their travels to the Pampa. It extends from Cordoba to the Rios Negro or Colorado. In it are contained the great and growing towns, and from it these towns draw their prosperity. It is a country to delight the heart of the agriculturist. In many countries of South America the traveller passes through interminable jungles sparingly scattered with patches of cultivation where a few bony cattle scour for a livelihood. In the Pampa there is rich tilth and fine pasture; magnificent red and white beasts graze and fatten, standing knee-deep in the fresh grass, and sheep innumerable are raised. The dead level of the land is not quite unbroken, for south of the Plate estuary there are two small mountain ranges, the Tandil and Ventana. They never exceed 2,800 feet. In the east the rainfall is generally satisfactory, but it becomes scanty in the western districts. The winter is cold, the summer decidedly hot, but the climate is not intemperate, and might be called pleasant but for the fierce hot and cold winds which disturb enjoyment and are in some cases prejudicial to health. This brief summary must, for the present, suffice for the four regions; as we survey the country more in detail, we shall have opportunities of describing their characteristics more fully. It remains, however, to take a brief survey of several features which can better be described while we look at the country as a whole. The geology of Argentina greatly interested Darwin. He says:[4] "The geology of Patagonia is interesting. Differently from Europe, where the Tertiary formations appear to have accumulated in bays, here along hundreds of miles of coast we have one great deposit, including many Tertiary shells, all apparently extinct. The most common shell is a massive, gigantic oyster, sometimes even a foot in diameter. These beds are covered by others of a peculiar soft, white stone, including much gypsum, and resembling chalk, but really of a pumiceous nature. It is highly remarkable, from being composed, to at least one-tenth part of its bulk, of infusoria: Professor Ehrenberg has already ascertained in it thirty oceanic forms. This bed extends for 500 miles along the coast, and probably for a considerably greater distance. At Port St. Julian its thickness is more than 800 feet![5]
These white beds are everywhere capped by a mass of gravel, forming probably one of the largest beds of shingle in the world: it certainly extends from near the Rio Colorado to between 600 and 700 nautical miles southward; at Santa Cruz (a river a little south of St. Julian) it reaches to the foot of the Cordillera; half-way up the river its thickness is more than 200 feet; it probably everywhere extends to this great chain, whence the well-rounded pebbles of porphyry have been derived: we may consider its average breadth as 200 miles, and its average thickness as about 50 feet. If this great bed of pebbles, without including the mud necessarily derived from their attrition, was piled into a mound, it would form a great mountain chain! When we consider that all these pebbles, countless as the grains of sand in the desert, have been derived from the slow-falling masses of rock on the old coast-lines and banks of rivers, and that these fragments have been dashed into smaller pieces, and that each of them has since been slowly rolled, rounded, and far transported, the mind is stupefied in thinking over the long, absolutely necessary lapse of years. Yet all this gravel has been transported, and probably rounded, subsequently to the deposition of the white beds, and long subsequently to the underlying beds with their Tertiary shells." His observations upon the Cordillera are equally noteworthy. He says:[5] "No one fact in the geology of South America interested me more than these terraces of rudely stratified shingle. They precisely resemble in composition the matter which the torrents in each valley would deposit if they were checked in their course by any cause, such as entering a lake or arm of the sea; but the torrents, instead of depositing matter, are now steadily at work wearing away both the solid rock and these alluvial deposits, along the whole[7] line of every main valley and side valley. It is impossible here to give the reasons, but I am convinced that the shingle terraces were accumulated during the gradual elevation of the Cordillera by the torrents delivering, at successive levels, their detritus on the beach-heads of long, narrow arms of the sea, first high up the valleys, then lower and lower down as the land slowly rose. If this be so, and I cannot doubt it, the grand and broken chain of the Cordillera, instead of having been suddenly thrown up, as was till lately the universal, and still is the common opinion of geologists, has been slowly upheaved in mass, in the same gradual manner as the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific have risen within the recent period. A multitude of facts in the structure of the Cordillera, on this view, receive a simple explanation." His conclusion is: "Daily it is forced home on the mind of the geologist that nothing, not even the wind that blows, is so unstable as the level of the crust of this earth."


The geological character of Argentina is tolerably uniform. The surface is a coating of sandy soil, not usually more than 2 feet thick, which is alluvial and, from a geological point of view, quite modern. In the western districts it is usually bare of vegetation, but in the east it is covered with green herbage more or less thick. Underneath this superficial covering, however, lies the true geological formation, and this consists of argillaceous earth or mud of a reddish colour and interspersed with marly rock called by the inhabitants Tosca rock. It extends to latitude 38° or thereabouts, and is the famous Pampean formation, which Darwin calls Pampean mud. The thickness of this stratum varies considerably; it may average about 40 feet, and geologically it belongs to the Quaternary epoch, otherwise called Diluvian or Post-Pliocene. Its most remarkable feature is the enormous number of mammiferous remains which[8] are to be found embedded in this Pampean mud, and naturalists believe that it would be impossible to dig a deep trench in any direction without disinterring some of these extinct giants. Frequently perfect skeletons are discovered. These ossiferous remains are richest in the province of Buenos Aires and become somewhat less frequent in the north and west. Some observers have marvelled that such huge creatures in such vast numbers were ever able to find nourishment, but that question is not a serious difficulty, for the largest animals are by no means the most voracious, and doubtless, like elephants of to-day, their struggle for existence was not so much against hunger as against the depredations of other animals or natural catastrophes. A much greater puzzle is their disappearance. It has been suggested that they were killed off by the Glacial cold, but it is not obvious, as has been pointed out, why this visitation carried off the mastodons and spared the parrots and hummingbirds. Another theory, put forward by a savant named M. Bravard, opines that a vast simoon overwhelmed them, but such a belief, inadequate and full of difficulties, is refuted by the fact that most of the skeletons are mutilated. Had they been overwhelmed by sand storms, they would have been preserved in almost perfect condition. The notion of drought is also inadequate. Darwin remarks that it is absurd to suppose that the most terrible calamity of this sort could destroy every species from Patagonia to Behring Straits. It is impossible to suppose that prehistoric man hunted down and slew these great creatures. The simplest hypothesis and the one which surmounts the greatest number of difficulties is that a mighty deluge overwhelmed man and beast in common ruin. A great geologist"[6] says: "I argue that this destruction was caused by an invasion of the continent by water—a view which is completely en rapport with the facts presented by the great Pampean deposit, which was clearly laid down by water. How otherwise can we account for this complete destruction and the homogeneousness of the Pampas deposits containing bones? I find an evident proof of this in the immense number of bones and of entire animals whose numbers are greatest at the outlets of the valleys, as Mr. Darwin shows. He found the greatest number of the remains at Bahia Blanca, at Bajada, also on the coast, and on the affluents of the Rio Negro, also at the outlet of the valley. This proves that the animals were floated, and hence were chiefly carried to the coast."

But D'Orbigny seems to have erred in attempting to push his theory too far, for he insists that the great deluge not only destroyed the mammoths but at the same time created the Pampean plain. Nothing, however, can be more certain than that the lapse of countless ages was necessary to accumulate "the dust of continents to be." It is incredible that a great fragment of a continent was created per saltum. Darwin believes (and, it appears, rightly), "that the Pampean formation was slowly accumulated at the mouth of the former estuary of the Plata and in the sea adjoining it."[7] As we shall see, when we come to deal with Patagonia, the country was once a lake or sea, and the water system of South America was very different from what it now is, nor is there any difficulty in believing that the stupendous volume of the Parana waters (then even mightier than now) was able to wash down an accumulation of mud capable of making the sea into dry land.

So much, then, for the Quaternary Pampean mud interlaced with the bones of giant animals.


The Patagonian plain, however, is, in appearance at any rate, a different and much older formation, namely the Tertiary, an extensive gravel bed which possibly extends under the whole Quaternary deposit of the Pampa. But exposures occur of both varieties of this formation, i.e., the Patagonian and the Guaraman, in the banks of the Parana and elsewhere. It is supposed to have been contributed chiefly by Glacial action.


The river system of Argentina, which is perhaps the most remarkable physical feature of the country, next demands our attention. All the Argentine rivers find their way into the Atlantic, but all are insignificant compared with the marvellous confluence of mighty streams in the Plate estuary. The Parana rises in far-away Brazilian mountains, and is already a noble stream when it reaches the north-eastern confines of Paraguay. Flowing southward it then, for more than 100 miles, serves as the boundary between Paraguay and Brazil, and from the point where it is joined by the Iguazu River it becomes an Argentine stream, and, inclining more and more to the west, it is now the boundary between Argentine and Paraguay. At Corrientes it unites with the Paraguay River and flows almost due south, running into the Plate estuary at the same point as the Uruguay. Few rivers can match the Parana in majesty; at Rosario it is 20 miles wide, and would give the impression of the broad sea were it not for the cluster of poplar-clad islands which intercept the view. In thus tracing the course of the Parana we have mentioned only a few of the innumerable streams of the system in which it takes the most conspicuous part; the waters drain the south of Brazil, the whole of Uruguay and Paraguay, the fertile districts of Argentina, and even portions of Bolivia. The Parana—the Nile of the West—debouches through fourteen channels; it has a drainage[11] area of 1,198,000 square miles, and the discharge of each twenty-four hours is sufficient to create a lake a mile square and 1,650 feet deep.[8] Subordinate to the Parana are several Argentine systems which deserve mention. The provinces of Corrientes and Entre Rios, called the Argentine Mesopotamia, are drained by the Corrientes, the Saranai, and the Gualeguay, which last falls eventually not into the Parana but the Pavon, a curious channel which runs parallel with the lower course of the great river for a considerable distance.


The northernmost part of the country is drained by the Pilcomayo and the Vermejo, which both fall into the Paraguay. The Vermejo has a course of 1,300 miles. The Salado meanders through the Gran Chaco, and is the only perennial river in that region. Owing to the western dryness and the curious contour of the Gran Chaco and the Pampa, many of the rivers are unable to make headway and find a channel to carry them to the sea. Thus the Rio Dulce which, with innumerable small tributaries, drains a large area round about Tucuman, ends in a morass named Porongos, which is connected in flood-time with the great lake of Mar Chiquita—Little Sea. In like manner the Mendoza river loses itself in arid country.

Having dealt with the giant, we now turn to the pygmies; for pygmies are the Patagonian and South Argentine streams in comparison with the Parana of the upper region. The Colorado basin presents a very curious phenomenon, in that it has lost the whole of its upper tributaries. One of these is the aforesaid errant Mendoza, which, with the Salado (the second river of that name) fail to reach the parent stream and end in[12] the Laguna Amarga, a group of salt lakes situated at no great distance from the Rio Colorado. It is certain that, like Central Asia, Patagonia has experienced an immense increase of aridity—probably in comparatively recent times. The Colorado proper is perennial, and when swollen by melting snows from the Andes it is as broad as the Thames at London Bridge.


South of the Colorado we have the Rio Negro. It runs a solitary course through the desert unaided by any tributaries. It is formed by two other streams, the Neuquen and the Rio Limaz, which has its source in the picturesque lake of Nahuelhuapi. Patagonia, it may be added, has numerous lakes, some of great beauty. Other solitary streams, wholly dependent upon the Andes, may be enumerated—the Chubut, the Desire, the Chico, the Santa Cruz, and the Gallegos. On these rivers Burmeister[9] confesses that his information is very imperfect. They are now somewhat better known, but they are still difficult to explore. His remarks upon the Rio de Santa Cruz, concerning which he had gathered more facts than the others, may be given. He says: "Near the ocean it has a breadth of from 5 to 10 English miles, and is bordered by terraces in flights which rise on either side to a height of 500 feet. The surface of these terraces is occupied by broad plains covered with dry pebbles, and among them grow stunted plants and thorny bushes. It is a savage and gloomy land. Further inland, near the source, basaltic rocks appear which approach close to the river, and its bed is strewn with their fragments, which are about the size of a man's head. Huge blocks of granite and palæologic schists are met with only in the neighbourhood of the Cordillera." Darwin made an adventurous voyage of 140 miles up this river in 1834, and describes it with his accustomed acuteness and accuracy.[10]

When we come to deal with Patagonia we shall have another opportunity of reverting to its scanty and little-known river system.

The climate of Argentina varies greatly, as might be expected in a country with a length of nearly 2,300 miles from north to south. In the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, San Luis, Mendoza, parts of Cordoba, and parts of one or two adjoining provinces, the climate is temperate with mild winters and moderately hot summers, while in the north the climate is hot and moist. Towards the south the cold becomes more and more severe, and the winters last from May to the beginning of October. Snow frequently falls. In Buenos Aires the spring begins in September and lasts to mid-December, followed by summer, which extends into March. Autumn lasts till the end of May, and winter occupies the rest of the year. The following table will show that in the city of Buenos Aires itself the extremes are not rigorous:—

 At 2 p.m.At 9 p.m.

The annual rainfall is about 34 inches. But the above table gives only the average temperature. The thermometer in Buenos Aires often rises as high as 100, and in the early mornings of June and July sometimes touches freezing-point. In Mendoza, Cordoba, and Tucuman, and many other places, the mercury frequently falls below 32, while in Patagonia the cold of winter is intense.

The following figures will give a rough idea of the general climate of the Republic:—

 Mean Temperature.Maximum.Rainfall.
Ushwiya (Fuegia)4281120 inches
Bahia Blanca6010519     "   
Buenos Aires6410034     "   
San Luis6110324     "   
Rosario6310140     "   
Mendoza601006     "   
San Juan651083     "   
Cordoba6111126     "   
La Rioja6710912     "   
Catamarca6910910     "   
Santiago del Estero7011319     "   
Tucuman6810439     "   
Salta6310923     "   

On the whole, the climate of Buenos Aires is good, and does not interfere with the comfort or pursuits of a healthy and vigorous man. Its worst feature is the sonda, or north wind, which blows tempestuously chiefly in the winter, and causes rapid fluctuations in the temperature. The winds from the north are always considered unhealthy. In the summer the heat is greatly aggravated by the pamperos—the strong winds from the south-west. But the general climate of the country is dry and invigorating.

It will be noticed that the rainfall is scanty. Unfortunately, nearly all the valuable parts of Argentina have barely sufficient rain, and Mendoza is almost rainless. Irrigation, therefore, is largely used, and when it is extended over the south many millions of additional acres will be brought under the plough. Droughts are by far the most formidable foe of the agriculturist. The Gran Seco of 1827-1832, during which period scarcely any rain fell in the Pampa, destroyed all the vegetation down to the thistles, and caused enormous loss.[11] It is feared that the dry area is extending; but it is fortunate that the magnificent rivers of Argentina would suffice to irrigate every part of the country, and even arid Patagonia has perennial streams. In general, it may be said that the climate of Argentina is far from disagreeable, and highly favourable to health and work.



Scanty beyond all belief is our information about the people of the River Plate before the coming of the Spaniards. Mexico and Peru had goodly hoards of gold and silver, and were therefore objects of eager curiosity to the invaders whose chroniclers deigned to inquire into the traditions and mythology of their subjects; but the Silvery River—the Rio Plata—washed no treasure regions, and the settlements in that part of the continent were despised and neglected. Accordingly anthropologists have been obliged to work backwards; they can only infer the character of the prehistoric races by examining their descendants and such scanty traces as have survived from ancient days. And they are able to glean very little.

The European belief[12] in a western land beyond the Pillars of Hercules was deep-rooted in classical antiquity. Beginning with a vague legend of a wonderful world in the west, it hardened into a semi-scientific hypothesis. The pseudo-Aristotle[13] seems to have been the first to treat this subject in a practical manner. He says: "Popular speech divides our inhabited world into islands and continents, but it ignores the fact that the[17] whole is but a single island surrounded by the sea named the Atlantic. It is probable that there are other lands far away, some of which are larger, some smaller, than the world we know." He conjectured that on the other side of the Atlantic there was a great Terra Australis corresponding to Africa. Strabo opined that it would be possible to make a westward voyage to India were it not for the immense extent of the Atlantic, and if circumstances had been favourable there would probably have been an early discovery of America. It is believed that the Carthaginians visited Madeira and the Canaries. But the two maritime nations, Greece and Carthage, fell before Rome, and the triumphs of Rome were on land. Roman poets and panegyrists often indulged in vague and magnificent predictions of nations both in the remotest East and the remotest West who should come under the sway of Rome, and Seneca's[14] language is particularly precise, but they found the ocean an insuperable barrier. With the downfall of the Empire and the influx of barbarians progress was checked, but it is certain that about a thousand years after the birth of Christ some hardy Norsemen reached Greenland, and it is even conjectured that they penetrated into North America. Then, in the later Middle Ages, as the trading spirit grew stronger and the demand for slaves increased, the Portuguese began to make voyages down the African coast. But discovery became no longer a mere profitable adventure, it was imperatively demanded as the salvation of Christendom from ruin, when the Turks obtained possession of Constantinople and the caravan routes. Unless the rich[18] Indian trade could be continued, two-thirds of the wealth of Europe would be destroyed, and thus the work of discovery was stimulated. The Portuguese found an easy route to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope; but the unsuccessful attempts to reach India by a western voyage brought even more fruit, and at last the great island in the Atlantic was discovered.

Anthropologists have found much difficulty in determining the origin of the various peoples who were found in the New World. The supposition now is that the human race migrated into the continent from Europe by way of Greenland and Labrador, and from Asia by way of the Behring Straits, and proof is afforded by the discovery in the Pampas of Argentina and many other places both of the long-headed Afro-European and the round-headed Asiatic skull. The Europeans were probably the first arrivals, and they appear early to have found their way into Argentina, whither they were afterwards followed by the Asiatics. It should be noticed that the whole primitive civilisation of South America was concentrated into a comparatively narrow strip of mountainous country between Chile and Colombia, but this imperfect civilisation probably came into existence in quite recent times.

The Spaniards themselves, doubtless relying on native, traditions, believed that the establishment of the Inca dominion was an event of no great antiquity.[15] But it appears certain that this itself was preceded by a civilisation of "white and bearded men" round about Lake Titicaca, and Prescott declines to hazard a con[19]jecture as to the antiquity of South American civilisation. The long-headed race (its origin is uncertain) kept to the east, the round-headed (usually held to be Mongolian) kept to the west, and they met in Patagonia. However, some savants consider that all the American races are veritable aborigines and have no Asiatic or European origin, and although this theory seems hardly borne out by the little evidence we possess, there is no reason to question the belief of Ehrenreich and many others that the South American Indians have been so long isolated that they form a distinct type.

Evidence as to the date of their migration or the length of time they may have been settled in Argentina we have none, but there is a theory of considerable plausibility to the effect that there was a break in the continuity of the human race in South America. It has already been shown that the bones of huge extinct animals appear very frequently in Argentina; indeed, as Darwin remarks, "the whole area of the Pampas is one wide sepulchre for these extinct animals." Now, mingled with them have often been found human bones and the tools and weapons of man in his pleistocene stage. Near Buenos Aires,[16] for example, a discovery was made of bones of the mastodon, machairodus, and other extinct animals, and together with them were mingled human bones and tools in stone and bone. These facts help to strengthen the hypothesis that at a remote period of antiquity there occurred some gigantic natural cataclysm which swept away alike man and the vast animals with which he lived in these regions. Little as we know about the origin of South American man we can, of course, classify the races which are known to exist in South America or which[20] existed when the Spaniards appeared.[17] The aborigines may be divided into three great races—the Ando-Peruvian, the Pampean, and the Brasilio-Guaranian. The Ando-Peruvian has three branches, known as the Peruvian proper, the Antisian, and the Araucanian. The Pampean likewise has three branches—the Pampean proper, the Chiquitean, the Moxean; while the Brasilio-Guaranian has no ramifications. The Peruvians, who do not concern us here, include, of course, the whole of the Inca race. The Antisians are so called because they lived in the mountains east of Cuzco, which the Incas called Antis (hence Andes), and they now inhabit the hot and moist forest-lands of Bolivia and Peru. They are, and always have been, savages, with clear olive complexions and slight, somewhat effeminate figures. The Tacana is their most important tribe. The Araucanians (who include the Fuegians) are more important for our purpose, and are a very hardy race, who fought for hundreds of years on equal terms with the Spaniards and were finally subdued rather by the subtle blight of civilisation than by arms. A Frenchman[18] who visited the River Plate in the middle of the eighteenth century describes them in the following terms: "The Indians who inhabit this part of America, north and south of the river de la Plata, are of that race called by the Spaniards Indios bravos. They are middle-sized, very ugly, and afflicted with the itch. They are of a deep tawny colour, which they blacken still more by continually rubbing themselves with grease. They have no other dress than a great cloak of roe-deer skins hanging down to their heels, in which they wrap themselves up. These skins are very well dressed; they turn the hairy side inwards and paint the outside with[21] various colours. The distinguishing mark of their cacique is a band or strap of leather, which is tied round his forehead; it is formed into a diadem or crown and adorned with plates of copper. Their arms are bows and arrows; and they likewise make use of nooses and of balls.... Sometimes they come in bodies of two or three hundred men, to carry off the cattle from the lands of the Spaniards or to attack the caravans of the travellers. They plunder and murder or carry them into slavery. This evil cannot be remedied; for how is it possible to conquer a nomadic nation in an immense uncultivated country, where it would be difficult even to find them? Besides, these Indians are brave and inured to hardships, and those times exist no longer when one Spaniard could put a thousand Indians to flight." D'Orbigny says that in character and religion the Araucanians have strong affinities to the Patagonians and Puelches, but physically they are very different, and they undoubtedly belong to the Peruvian or mountain race.

The Pampean race spread over the whole of modern Argentina and beyond. They include the Patagonians and Puelches of the south and many tribes, such as the Charruas, in the river regions of the north. These all belong to the branch of the Pampean proper.

The Chiquitean branch is of less importance, comprising the foreign Indians of Paraguay—the unfortunate people who were so cruelly harried by the Paulistas in the seventeenth century. The Moxeans are an interesting branch, but they do not properly belong to our subject, for they inhabit the unexplored forest tracts on the confines of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.

The Brasilio-Guaranian race is very extensive, spreading from the north of Argentina over the whole of[22] Brazil. They are a rude race, civilised by the Jesuits, but probably the paternal form of government was the highest to which they were adapted, and when their protectors departed they retrograded. Their physical characteristics are described as follows:[19] "The traits of the Guaranies can be distinguished at the first glance from those of the Pampean tribes; their head is round and not compressed sideways, nor does their forehead recede; it is, on the contrary, high, and its flatness in some of the tribes is due to artificial causes. Their face is almost circular, the nose short and rather large with nostrils far less open than those of the plain races. Their mouth is of moderate size, but slightly projecting; their lips are somewhat thin, their eyes small and expressive, ... their chin is round, very short, and it never advances as far as the line of the mouth; their cheekbones are not prominent in their youth, but in later life they project somewhat; their eyebrows are well arched and very narrow. Their hair is long, straight, coarse, and black, and their beard, among the tribes of Paraguay and the Missions, is reduced merely to a few short bristles, straight and scanty, growing on the chin and upper lip." The Guaranies were more important in the earlier days when both their subjection and protection were grave problems. Those who still live in their original state are to be found in the primitive forests of the north, where it is difficult to disturb them.

The religion of these rude tribes was tolerably uniform and, as might have been expected, was on a much lower grade than that of the Incas, who worshipped the invisible God Pachacamac, the creator of all things. In general they believed in Quecubu, an evil spirit, but (what is curious) they did not think it necessary to[23] propitiate him in any way, nor, again, did they worship or supplicate the Creator of the world in which they had a shadowy belief. They believed that man was perfectly free in his actions and that neither good deeds nor evil deeds would affect the action either of the Creator or the evil spirit. This Epicurean apathy was tempered by a belief in a future life—the translation to a paradise of delight beyond the seas. Such ritual and religious observances as they had appear to have centred in their medicine-men, who interpreted dreams and omens and the like. If we consider their extreme barbarism, we may judge that their religion was singularly free from the taint of cruel rites and gross superstitions, but it seems to have been weak and cold. The majority of the tribes, even the most savage, have now nominally embraced Christianity.

It is thus possible to form some idea of the condition of the aborigines at the time of the appearance of the Spaniards, but to obtain any knowledge of the events in South America during the centuries immediately preceding that event is a flat impossibility, and it is probably safe to say that the veil will never be uplifted, for the relics we have are of prehistoric not of modern man. Nor, in all probability, do we lose much by our ignorance, for judging by the actual state of the inhabitants of the extra-Andine regions of South America, when the Spaniards found them, we may repeat the disparaging verdict of Thucydides upon ancient Greece—that looking back as far as we can we are inclined to believe that the ancients were not distinguished, either in war or in anything else.

The history of Argentina may be held to begin with the advent of the Spaniards.



Compared with Mexico and Peru the southern portions of the New World at first excited little interest, because they produced neither gold nor silver. Yet even here the discoverer was very early at work, and achievements less showy but on an almost equally grand scale have to be recorded. In 1515 Juan Diaz de Solis was sent out on a voyage of discovery by the King of Castile, who wished to counteract Portuguese influence on the east coast of South America, and Solis was the first European to sail up the River Plate, which he named after himself. But he trusted to the natives, who proved treacherous. They invited him to land, and when he had accepted their invitation they attacked and killed him and every man in the boat-crew, and afterwards roasted and devoured them in the sight of their companions. It was long before the Spaniards touched on that coast again, and the name of Solis had no permanence in the land which he discovered.

Some ten years later a more fortunate expedition was made by the Englishman Cabot. In the service of the King of Spain he left Seville with four ships, intending to make a search for the islands of Tarsis, Ophir, and Eastern Cathay by the newly discovered Straits of Magellan. The little fleet touched at Pernambuco and remained there for three months. The Spaniards still appear to have had a design to check the Portuguese in[25] Brazil, but Cabot evidently found them too strong in that quarter, so, says Purchas,[20] "he thought good to busy himself in something that might be profitable; and entered the year 29 discovering the River of Plate, where he was almost three years; and not being seconded, with relation of that which he had found, returned to Castile, having gone many leagues up the River. He found plate or silver among the Indians of those countries, for in the wars which these Indians had with those of the kingdoms of Peru they took it, and from it is called the River of Plate, of which the country hath taken the name."

Here Purchas makes two mistakes. The discovery was not made in 1529, but several years earlier, and the river derived its name not from any metallic booty but from its silvery colour. Cabot went some distance up the Paraguay River, where he met with many adventures and lost many of his followers, and he made a serious endeavour to lay the foundations of Spanish power in Argentina, but the natives were unfriendly and he found the enterprise too formidable for his limited means. It is not surprising that he failed to secure the goodwill of the Indians. Cabot was a skilful and daring navigator and less ruthless than most of the Spanish adventurers, but he was rough in his methods and tainted by the prevailing inhumanity of the time. At San Vincente, for example, he bought fifty or sixty slaves of both sexes for the benefit of his partners in Seville. He had, in fact, disobeyed his instructions, which were to make for the Pacific, and when he returned to Seville in 1530 he was at once prosecuted and punished on various charges, though his disgrace was but temporary. His expedition has merely a geographical importance.

Charles V. had too many anxious concerns in Europe[26] to take an active part in organising expeditions to the New World, and he found it convenient to commit the task to wealthy nobles. Pedro de Mendoza had enriched himself at the sack of Rome and had dreams of still greater wealth. Accordingly he obtained a grant of the whole country from the River Plate to the Straits of Magellan, with a salary of 2,000 ducats a year as Governor, a similar sum as an official allowance, and valuable privileges as to ransom and booty. In return, he engaged to take out an adequate force and to open up a land route from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In August, 1534, he set sail from Cadiz with eleven ships and 800 men. This was the largest expedition which had ever sailed from Europe to the New World. Mendoza seems to have been an enterprising leader, but his lack of experience brought many unnecessary hardships upon his followers. The fleet entered the River Plate in January, 1535, and Mendoza landed on the right bank and founded the city of Buenos Aires, "so named in regard of the freshness of the air, and the healthfulness of his men, during their abode there."[21] The Adelantado, or Governor, was eager to push up the great rivers and discover a land fabulously rich in gold, such as was then enriching many of his more fortunate countrymen. But still the difficulties were insuperable; the Indians were implacably hostile and cut off all foraging parties; the Spaniards had come with inadequate provisions and were frequently in danger of starvation. Many died of their privations, and the site of Buenos Aires was abandoned within a year of its foundation. Mendoza's lieutenants made many adventurous expeditions up the vast waterways and the ill-fated Azolas founded Asuncion in 1536.[22] But their deeds belong[27] more to the history of Spanish conquest than to Argentina proper. The estuary of the Plate was subject to sudden storms, and Mendoza, having lost eight ships and being thoroughly wearied by his misfortunes, decided to return home. On the voyage he fell ill and died, and of his large force not more than one hundred and fifty survived their privations and dangers. A highly interesting and important matter should here be mentioned. The Spaniards brought only thirty mares and seven stallions for breeding purposes, but a Portuguese mariner states thirty years later the country near the coast was full of horses.


As successor to Mendoza the Spanish Government appointed Cabeza de Vaca, an experienced adventurer, who sailed from Spain in 1540 with four hundred men. He landed at Santa Catherina in Brazil, and thence made a most adventurous march to Asuncion. He set out on October 18, 1541, and did not arrive till March 11, 1542, after suffering extraordinary hardships. At Asuncion he found that the Spanish settlers had chosen Domingo Irala as their chief. The two rivals, however, had enough work for both, and Cabeza de Vaca sailed down to the River Plate where the Spaniards had practically abandoned their settlements, and the few survivors were in great danger of destruction by the Indians. He refounded Buenos Aires towards the end of 1542; but the time was not yet ripe for the planting of colonies, and not many months later the city was abandoned for the second time. Nor was Cabeza de Vaca fortunate in his undertakings in Paraguay. His attempts to reform abuses made him unpopular with the settlers, who preferred Irala, and in 1544 Cabeza de Vaca was seized and sent a prisoner to Spain where, after the law's long delays, he was acquitted, but never compensated.


Irala, who was an able and daring leader, contrived to maintain his authority till his death, which occurred in 1557, and credit is due to him for keeping the Spanish flag flying in the isolated post of Asuncion, which was rapidly growing in importance, and in 1547 was made the seat of a Bishop by Pope Paul III. All this time, however, it should be remembered that we are dealing rather with the history of what is now Paraguay than Argentina, for the southern settlements on the River Plate were once more in the hands of the Indians. It was at this time that another important town was established in territory which now belongs to Argentina. Peru had been conquered by Pizarro, parts of Chile by Almagro, and in 1559 Hurtado de Mendoza passed over the Andes from the west and founded the pleasant city which bears his name. This work of building cities on the eastern side of the Andes was carried on by other Spaniards from Peru, and they founded Tucuman in 1565 and Cordoba in 1573.

In the meantime the Guaranies of Paraguay steadily resisted every advance of the Spaniards, but in 1560 they were defeated in a great battle at Acari, and the Spaniards began to push southwards with the determination of again colonising the Parana country—a step, indeed, which was almost essential to their safety, since it would secure their communication with the Atlantic. The necessary exploit was achieved by a man who deserves an honoured place among Spanish-American worthies—Juan de Garay.[23] He advanced slowly towards the south from Asuncion, and in 1573 founded Santa Fé at the junction of the Parana and the Paraguay. In 1580 he took the still more important step of re-establishing Buenos Aires for the third time. With a true statesman's instinct he recognised that a mere military post would not be sufficient for the security of the rapidly growing colonies, and he took with him, besides Creoles and Spaniards, two hundred Indian settlers, and he laid out a town on a considerable scale, while farms and ranches were established in the neighbourhood. There was sharp fighting with the Indians, and Garay was unfortunately killed in a skirmish, but his work remained behind him. "The city," says Southey,[24] "immediately began to prosper, and the ship which sailed for Castile with tidings of its refoundation, took home a cargo of sugar, and the first hides with which Europe was supplied from the wild cattle which now began to over-spread the open country, and soon produced a total change in the manners of all the adjoining tribes."

In 1588 Corrientes had been founded, and the people began to acquire pastoral wealth, although the advantages which they drew from the rapidly increasing herds of horses and cattle were seriously discounted by the exactions and restrictions of officials. It was a piece of great good fortune for both settlers and Indians that neither gold nor silver was to be found in the River Plate country, and thus European marauders, whether Spanish or English, were without one great temptation to harry them. The next generation was one of steady progress, and by the year 1620 the city of Buenos Aires contained three thousand inhabitants. The indefatigable Jesuits established themselves in the country in 1590, and though their history properly belongs to Paraguay, they did much good in Argentina by protecting the Indians and spreading civilisation.

In 1620 a step of extreme importance was taken. The office of Adelantado, or Governor, was abolished, and the[29]
River Plate country was formed into two separate provinces. Thus we get a rough beginning of Argentina, which now consisted of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Entre Rios, Corrientes, and the tract now called Uruguay. This last, however, was still uninhabited. Buenos Aires became the seat of a bishop. But the whole of the settlements remained under the Viceroyalty of Peru.

More important than any measure of partition was the personality of Hernan Darias de Saavedra, the ruler at that time. Of pure Spanish blood, he was born in South America in 1561, early distinguished himself in wars with the Indians, and took as his model the able Garay. In 1602 he was appointed to act as Governor of Buenos Aires, and during his term of authority, which did not really end when a new Spanish Governor was placed over his head, he distinguished himself at once by his severity to refractory Indians and his energetic measures to protect those who followed peaceful pursuits. In 1615 he became substantive Governor, and it was by his advice that the division of 1620 was made.

His whole heart was in the peaceful development of the country; he encouraged the Jesuits to teach industries to the natives and to settle virgin tracts, and at the same time he set his face against all forms of slavery. Few Spanish Americans have exercised more beneficent rule, and he was the founder of Argentine prosperity—a tradition which the country never wholly lost in the worst days, and which in recent times it has renewed in a wonderful manner. Not long after the partition this noble-minded statesman died, full, as the historian says, of glory and virtues. Funes[25] remarks: "From tender years he performed military service, earning fame for valour. His valour was rendered the more illustrious by that consummate prudence which in war gives glory to[31] warriors. He distinguished himself by his ability both in the arts of peace and war. He was a staunch protector of the Indians and, in fine, being one of the heroes to whom the New World has given birth, he deserved to have his portrait placed in the Chamber of Commerce in Cadiz. We regret that time has destroyed the records which might have enabled us to draw a more accurate likeness."

With his death it may be said that the history of Argentina as a Spanish colony has fairly begun. It is true that the Governorship of Buenos Aires was both smaller and larger than the present Argentine Republic—larger as comprising Uruguay, and considerably smaller in the absence of Patagonia and much other territory. In fact, there were three Governorships—Buenos Aires, Paraguay, and Tucuman—and these were looked upon as a single colony, although each one was an administrative entity, dependent upon the Crown and independent of its neighbours. Our narrative will necessarily ignore the interesting history of Paraguay and embrace the other two provinces. The above narrative has few of the exciting episodes which marked the history of the conquest of Mexico or Peru, but the history, though less dazzling, is less sullied by crimes, and the two figures of Garay and Hernan Darias afford examples of disinterested toil for the common welfare which in that age was rare indeed except among a small proportion of the clergy. And as the earlier years of Argentina were less turbulent, so have the latter years been more blessed with prosperity than has been the case with other South American States.

The colonisation of South America proceeded upon lines very different from those pursued in the northern continent. The latter was the objective of men who belonged, for the most part, to the Anglo-Saxon race,[32] and who came not for adventure or any kind of gain, but to escape from uncongenial institutions and live their own life. As far as possible they avoided contact with the natives, and neither desired, nor, in fact, maintained, intimate relations with the mother country. But in spite of the circumstances of their exile, they carried with them most of the institutions of their own land, and continued to develop on the lines of their brothers on the other side of the Atlantic. The Spaniards did not, indeed, treat the natives in South America with humanity; on the contrary, in the mining regions their cruelty was notorious, and they were frequently at war with the old inhabitants. But in Argentina and many other places they showed no disinclination to intermarry; they made, as we have seen, systematic settlements of Indians, which assumed that the conquered race was an integral part of their own body politic, and in some respects their policy was statesmanlike and even humane according to the standards of the time. The result was a fusion of races, and the various nations which sprang up were as much Indian as Spanish. How the Argentine nation was evolved it will be the business of the succeeding historical chapters to show, as it will be that of the remainder of this volume to display the country and the people as they actually are after four centuries of growth.



The subsequent history of Argentina during the Spanish dominion does not present much incident, and indeed it is not an uncommon practice for historians of Latin-American countries to make a single leap from the Conquest to the Revolution. But to the real student of history there is much that is of interest in the record of the attempt of Spain to govern a mighty empire and the rapid decay of her power. In the next chapter the Spanish colonial system will be examined; in the present it will be observed in operation. Much will be said about the illiberal restrictions which here receive only incidental notice, but however short-sighted they may have been, at least they could not prevent Argentina from thriving. A considerable trade sprang up between Cordoba and the Andine territories now known as Chile and Bolivia; nor was it only in material well-being that progress was made. At Cordoba, also, a university was founded in 1613, and the town became a seat of learning and a centre of Jesuit influence. For some years peace reigned, but in the second quarter of the seventeenth century it received two serious disturbances. The first was a dangerous Indian war with the powerful nation of the Calchaquies.

This people had lived from time immemorial in the valleys of Rioja and Catamarca, and had been under[34] the suzerainty of the Incas. As the Spaniards around the River Plate became more powerful they made aggressions upon the Calchaquies, and by the end of the sixteenth century had partly subdued them. Many of these Indians were sold into slavery, and many more were forced to settle about Santa Fé and Rosario, but the spirit of the remainder was still unsubdued, and they awaited an opportunity of recovering their independence. It was about the middle of the century that they made their expiring effort. A leader named Bohorquez came forward and claimed to be the descendant and heir of the Inca kings. He is said to have been a mere impostor of humble Andalusian origin, but it is seldom easy to find out the exact truth about pretenders. Funes doubts whether he was in his right mind. "But the light of reason appeared when he took his first steps in deceit, an art to which he was naturally inclined."[26] He and his wife were greeted with the honours due to the Inca kings, the revolt spread, and he caused the Spaniards endless trouble. The Calchaquies, whom he claimed to represent, were a hardy race, and down to modern times have shown good fighting qualities, and they were inflamed by resentment against the intruding Spaniards, who had undoubtedly oppressed them. Bohorquez first came forward in 1656, and though he appears to have possessed nothing better than the showy qualities of a bold charlatan, he brought about a dangerous war. Don Alonso Mercado, who had been appointed Governor of Tucuman the year before, was obstinate and overbearing, and, strangely enough, began by patronising and encouraging the impostor. The Jesuits, who were always anxious to redress Indian grievances, also supported him, and the revolt assumed such serious proportions that the Governor soon had to abandon his[35] former attitude and took up arms against him. The Indians, who, with simple credulity, accepted all the claims of Bohorquez, made a long and heroic resistance, but the Spanish power was too great. The pretender was defeated, and the Spaniards, aware that there could be no safety for the northern provinces as long as Bohorquez was alive, spared no effort to track him down, and were eventually successful. Bohorquez was taken to Lima and put to death, and the Calchaquies were placed under a military Deputy-Governor, who was subordinate to Tucuman. Their martial spirit, however, did not die out, and in the nineteenth century they proved themselves one of the most spirited of the warlike races of South America.

The other trouble of the seventeenth century was more serious and involved more bloodshed. We have seen that there was considerable jealousy between the Spanish and Portuguese in South America. In 1580 Portugal had been united to Spain, but this change did not make the relations any more harmonious, for there was a standing cause of quarrel between the two nations. The Portuguese had founded in the temperate Brazilian uplands the city of São Paulo, and the inhabitants known as Paulistas, were a turbulent people and had an intense hatred of the Jesuits. The Jesuits, supported by the Spanish Government, protected the Indians and devoted themselves to their general welfare, but the chief business of the Paulistas was to capture Indians and sell them into slavery. They looked with covetous eyes upon the Reductions, as the Jesuit settlements were called, for here was the raw material of their industry in the shape of hundreds of thousands of submissive Indians. Accordingly, in 1629 they picked a quarrel with the Jesuits and attacked the Reduction of San Antonio, where they committed great ravages, killing[36] and capturing multitudes of the helpless Indians. The Jesuits, who were not loved by the Governor of Paraguay, were compelled to evacuate Guayra and the scope of their benevolent labours was largely curtailed. This cruel and devastating war continued for many years and caused widespread ruin and loss of life until, in 1638, the Jesuits appealed to the Court of Spain, requesting that their wrongs might be redressed and that they might arm their helpless converts against the oppressor. The appeal was successful. "The King," says Southey,[27] "confirmed all the former laws in favour of the Indians: he declared the conduct of the Paulistas, who had carried away more than thirty thousand slaves from Guayra, and had begun the same work of devastation in the Tapé and on the Uruguay, to be contrary to all laws, human and divine, and cognisable by the Holy Office. The enslaved Indians were ordered to be set at liberty, and directions given to punish those who should commit these crimes in future, as guilty of high treason. A more important edict, because more easily carried into effect, provided that all Indians converted by the Jesuits in the province of Guayra, Tapé, Parana, and Uruguay, should be considered as immediate vassals of the Crown, and not on any pretext consigned to any person for personal service. Their tribute was fixed, but not to commence till the year 1649, by which time, it was presumed, they might be capable of discharging it. And the King not only granted permission to the Jesuits to arm their converts, but sent out positive orders to the Governors of Paraguay and the Plata to exert themselves for the protection of the Reductions." But in 1640 Portugal regained her independence and the marauding Paulistas left a lasting mark on the map of South America. Undoubtedly but for their incursions the whole valley[37] of the Parana would have been Spanish instead of Portuguese, but, as it was, the Spaniards had to retire behind the river Iguazu.

Emboldened by this success, the Portuguese ever kept in view the design of extending their dominions still further southward. In 1680 the Governor of Rio de Janeiro sent an expedition by sea and built a fort, which he named Nova Colonia, opposite the city of Buenos Aires. Thus the disputed territory of Uruguay was for the first time occupied by Europeans. The establishment of this hostile post caused great annoyance to the Governor of Buenos Aires, and he succeeded in capturing it upon several occasions, but the Home Government, in view of European politics, had no wish to offend Portugal, nor did it consider that the possession of almost uninhabited tracts was worth the risk of complications. It thus happened that Nova Colonia was always restored to the Portuguese eventually. It became a most prosperous port, for it was the seat of the contraband trade, and by its means the Argentines were able to export hides to Brazil. Doubtless it was beneficial to them, however much it may have interfered with the illicit gains of Spanish Governors. It remained in the possession of the Portuguese until 1777.

The contraband trade was indeed the chief feature of the domestic history of Argentina in the sixteenth century, and its tendency was to raise important international questions. The fight against the Spanish monopoly became every year keener as the various countries of Europe became more settled and secure and began to devote their energies to trade. In 1616 the monopoly received a heavy blow by the discovery of a way into the Pacific without passing through the guarded Straits of Magellan. This was made by the[38] Dutchman, Schouten,[28] who named Cape Horn after Hoorn, his birthplace. Immediately numerous Dutch and English ships took advantage of the new route and a great trade sprang up. As we have seen, the Governors of Buenos Aires played a prominent part in this trade, and no earthly power was able to prevent the economic law from taking effect. The case of Villacorta, a Governor who was discovered to have sent away three million dollars' worth of prohibited goods to Flanders, illustrates the helplessness of the artificial law. He was dismissed at the moment, but not long after he reappears as Governor of Tucuman. But, however illegally, trade went on and Argentina flourished. A traveller[29] who visited Buenos Aires in 1769 says that its chief trade was with Chile and Peru, and that it sent to them "cotton, mules, some skins, and about 400,000 Spanish pounds' weight of the Paraguay herb, or South Sea tea, every year." In fact Argentina, like the other Spanish colonies, advanced steadily in wealth and population during the eighteenth century, until progress was abruptly checked by the Revolution. But her history from the founding of Nova Colonia to the appearance of the English before Buenos Aires is remarkably barren in incident.

It was, of course, the fate of colonies to be pawns in the wars between powerful European States. Spain was a principal in the great war of the Spanish Succession, which was ended in 1713 by the Peace of Utrecht. Two of the articles were of importance to the Spanish possessions. By the Asiento de Negros England obtained the[39] right to send yearly to the Spanish colonies twelve hundred negro slaves, and Buenos Aires was named as one of the establishments for that traffic, while by the Navio de Permiso she was permitted to send out yearly to the South Seas a ship with 650 tons of merchandise. These concessions, of course, greatly stimulated the contraband trade, for the colonists were as eager to buy as the English merchants were to sell, nor had the Spanish officials the will or the power to prevent many interlopers following in the wake of the privileged ships. Parish[30] remarks that it was "a trade which supplied the most pressing wants of the colony, and the profits of which were shared by the native capitalists. If they (the officials) did occasionally make a show of exercising their right to visit the ships, it was an empty threat, little heeded by men who were looked upon with almost as much dread as the buccaneers who had so long been the terror of all that part of the world."

Under the Bourbons and under the skilful administration of Alberoni, the fortune of Spain revived, and the colonies benefited in a corresponding degree.

In 1726 the Spaniards seized and fortified Montevideo which had been founded by the Portuguese a few years previously; this was an important step, for it declared that, in spite of Nova Colonia, the territory now known as Uruguay should be Spanish. The new town rapidly became wealthy and second only to Buenos Aires.

There can be little doubt that historians have considerably exaggerated the weakness and decay of Spain during the eighteenth century. Her comparative strength is proved by the fact that she maintained her trade regulations which were only contravened surreptitiously. The attempt of England to overthrow them by force shows how great was the resistive power of this unenter[40]prising but still formidable empire. The War of Jenkins's Ear may be considered as a rehearsal of the struggle for the New World which occupied a great part of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and which is still unfinished.

Therefore, although the war is in itself trivial and ineffective, its purport is not so; it was the battle of the new spirit against the old, of the trader against the official, of the active against the passive. If here and elsewhere the latter had conquered, we might have had, in place of our modern hives of industry, vast thinly populated regions dotted with little, self-sufficient villages, which possibly were destined to be overrun by a more restless and energetic yellow race.[31]

Undoubtedly the English had not a shadow of right on their side; they were encouraging the breaking of treaties and flagrant political dishonesty. But under the brutal economic codes of the time there was no law but the law of the stronger; England might take if she had the power and Spain might keep if she could. The turbulent English mobs, clamouring for war, were shrewder than Walpole, shrewder than Burke, for they knew that to an island and trading people outlets for their commerce were matters of sheer necessity.

The Spaniards strongly disliked the Asiento Treaty, and,[41] as is well known, English merchants, under cover of the privilege, carried on extensive smuggling operations against which the Spanish guarda costas retaliated vigorously. It was in 1731 that they perpetrated upon Captain Jenkins the outrage which was to make so great a stir some years later. It may be added that Jenkins did really lose his ear on the high seas, and that the insinuations that the whole affair was a fabrication are themselves quite without foundation.[32] However, not for nearly seven years was there any attempt to make political capital out of it, although the smuggling question remained a constant source of irritation between the two countries. It was at the beginning of 1738 that circumstances were favourable for an outbreak, for a powerful opposition was longing to bring about the fall of Walpole, and his position was weakened by the death of Queen Caroline. No weapon could be more effectual than the accusation of being insensible to the claims of national honour and of tamely suffering insults from Spain. On March 30th Carteret, in the House of Commons, carried an address against the right of search, and Walpole, who was anxious on all grounds to settle the matter, expedited the negotiations which had been for some time proceeding with Spain on the subject of compensation. In January, 1739, the terms of the agreement were published to the following effect. The Spaniards were willing that damages against themselves should be assessed to the amount of £200,000, but, on the other hand, the English Government acknowledged a counterclaim of £60,000, on account of the destruction of the Spanish fleet by Byng in 1718. With this and other possible deductions and abatements, the compensation seemed rather meagre, and the whole question of right of search being left to a Commission's decision, there was[42] nothing in the findings that could be agreeable to Englishmen. A storm at once rose. The Prince of Wales voted against the Government. Young Pitt thundered against Walpole. The Prime Minister had to give way. His colleagues were in favour of war, and, as often happened in such struggles, Admiral Vernon was despatched, long before a declaration of war, "to destroy the Spanish settlements and to distress their shipping." The national feeling continued to rise, and great were the manifestations of popular joy on the occasion of the formal declaration of war on October 23rd. "They now ring the bells," said Walpole, "they will soon ring their hands."

Meanwhile Vernon, though his force was small, lost no time, and having appeared off Porto Bello with six ships on November 20th, he captured it the next day, and the news of this success (which did not reach London till March, 1740), was received with extravagant demonstrations of rejoicing. In the spring Vernon was menacing Cartagena, and on March 24, 1740, captured Chagre. The home authorities appear to have been extremely dilatory, for it took them a whole year to send effectual reinforcements, and then their value was seriously discounted by the fact that General Wentworth had succeeded to the command of the land forces. This officer was thoroughly incompetent, and no exhortations of Vernon could rouse him to energy, and owing to his mismanagement the assault upon Cartagena of April 9th was a complete failure. The armament departed about a week later, having lost at least eight thousand men, and in July an attempt upon Santiago in Cuba failed likewise, owing to Wentworth's incompetence. Little more of note occurred on that side, and it is here proper to mention that Vernon was in nowise to blame for the unfortunate results, and that, with an efficient colleague, there seems no reason to doubt that he would have made a great name for himself in the annals of the British Navy. Nor should Smollett, because he happens to be a famous novelist, be accepted as a judge of the strategy of the expedition. He had, in fact, infinitely less materials for forming a judgment than a private at Waterloo had for criticising Wellington's dispositions.

The haphazard general management is well illustrated by the only brilliant achievement of the war—the Anson circumnavigation. Anson, with six ships manned by Chelsea pensioners and raw recruits, was ordered to the Pacific, and set sail on September 18, 1740. Although his little squadron dwindled to three, he rounded the Horn, and subsequently burnt Paita in Peru, and played havoc with Spanish commerce. He crossed the Pacific, captured a great treasure-ship, and returned by the Cape of Good Hope to England, which he reached June 15, 1744. He brought home treasure amounting to £500,000, and this was paraded through the streets of London in thirty-two wagons.

It would be difficult to say when the War of Jenkins's Ear ended, or what were its results. Carlyle[33] says: "What became subsequently of the Spanish War, we in vain inquire of History-Books. The War did not die for many years to come, but neither did it publicly live; it disappears at this point: a River Niger, seen once flowing broad enough, but issuing—Does it issue nowhere, then? Where does it issue?... Forgotten by official people; left to the dumb English Nation." Doubtless it was not forgotten by the people; they soon showed once more their eagerness to break down the monopoly, and this curious war is noteworthy both as striking the real keynote of a long series of vast struggles, and also as showing the great vis inertiæ of Spain. Southey[34] remarks[43]
that the history of the War of Jenkins's Ear proves the strength of Spain in South America, and points out that an event in the war contributed indirectly to the prosperity of the River Plate settlement. When it was known that Anson was fitting out his celebrated squadron, the Spanish Government for its part also despatched six ships and three thousand five hundred men to protect the settlement. They delayed a long time there and, it is said, eventually not more than one hundred of the crews returned home, the greater part remaining to settle in the country.

Not less important than these hostilities against English and Portuguese (who from their near neighbourhood were almost equally dangerous in the contraband trade) was the loss to South America of that body which had been the conscience of Spanish America, which had protected the Indians, instructed the ignorant, and turned the wilderness into fertile fields. For a long time the civil power in Roman Catholic countries had been jealous of the influence wielded by the Jesuits. As their object was to suppress everything opposed to the Roman Catholic system as they understood it, so every element that felt itself menaced naturally rose in self-defence, and the Jesuits found themselves friendless in Europe. Their downfall was principally due to the able and astute Pombal, the Prime Minister of Portugal, who considered that his country was depressed by a too powerful hierarchy, and his machinations were greatly assisted by circumstances in the River Plate settlements.

Colonia had long been a trouble to the Spaniards, diminishing their trade and insulting them by its propinquity, and in 1750 they made overtures for an exchange. The offending port was to be surrendered and the Portuguese were to receive in exchange a large portion of the Jesuit Missions, i.e., the territory called La[45] Guayra and about 20,000 square miles to the east of the Uruguay River. This included seven Jesuit Reductions, and the Society and the Indians strenuously resisted the transference. Although the story of the Jesuits belongs rather to Paraguay than Argentina, it is for many reasons necessary to refer to that wonderful and benevolent despotism which they exercised in the Parana settlements, and also to relate the circumstances of their expulsion from South America—a matter of great importance to all the colonies.

The Jesuits did not commence effective work in Paraguay earlier than the beginning of the seventeenth century. In the days of the conquest attempts had been made by them to convert the natives and to further general missionary work, but the circumstances had not been favourable. It was in 1610 that two members of the Order, Cataldino and Mazeta, founded the settlement of Loreto on the Upper Parana. An unfriendly critic[35] remarks: "They began by gathering together about one hundred and fifty wandering families, whom they persuaded to settle, and they united them into a little township. This was the slight foundation upon which they have built a superstructure which has amazed the world, and added so much power at the same time, that it has brought so much envy and jealousy upon their society. For when they had made this beginning, they laboured with such indefatigable pains, and with such masterly policy that, by degrees, they mollified the minds of the most savage nations,[36] fixed the most ram[46]bling, and subdued the most averse to government. They prevailed upon thousands of various dispersed tribes of people to embrace their religion, and to submit to their government; and when they had submitted, the Jesuits left nothing undone that could conduce to their remaining in this subjection, or that could tend to increase their number to the degree requisite for a well-ordered and potent society, and their labours were attended with amazing success."

The Jesuit establishments are one of the many meritorious acts of Saavedra who, seeing with concern the depression of the Indians and recognising their value to the Spanish Crown, appealed to the King, whereupon Phillip III., in 1609, issued royal letters patent to the Order of Jesuits for the conversion of the Indians. It is true that the Jesuits drew considerable wealth from their obedient subjects. They exported hides in large quantities and had a monopoly of the production of maté. Their method of government also would have been unsuitable to a race of harder fibre,[37] for they jealously excluded their Reductions from the external world, allowing no European to enter, and the Indians were kept constantly at work at the agricultural pursuits which the Jesuits themselves had greatly improved. But in those days it was rare indeed for any settlers to pay any regard to the welfare of the uncivilised races whom they encountered, and it must be remembered that the Jesuits were practically the only Christian missionaries in the period between the Reformation and the middle of the eighteenth century. All honour, then, is due to them for their devotion and philanthropy.

When the peaceful Indians heard of the great disaster[47] that had overtaken them in their abandonment to their old enemies the Portuguese, there was consternation, but they were remorselessly driven from their homes. However, the Jesuits protested strongly, and in the end the Spanish Government was induced to annul the treaty. Nevertheless, the Indians never recovered their losses and the West of Rio Grande became permanently Portuguese, in spite of the abrogation of the treaty. The result would, no doubt, have been different had their powerful protectors remained in the country.

The officials at Buenos Aires cared much about Colonia and little for the Reductions or the fate of the Indians, and the Jesuits were accused of having brought about the recision of the treaty. Any pretext was now welcome, for their destruction was contemplated. As we have seen, the able Pombal had resolved to expel them from Portugal, and in 1759 he trumped up against them a charge of attempting to assassinate the King, and issued a decree for their deportation from Portugal. France eventually followed this example, and in 1767 even the Spanish King was induced to do the same, while in 1773 Pope Clement XIV. decreed the entire suppression of the Order.

In Argentina the Jesuits were seized and deported. It was expected that the Indians, who were armed, would make a serious resistance, but they were as sheep having no shepherd, and rather than remain in their old abodes to be harried by new masters they migrated to Entre Rios and Uruguay. But the work of the Jesuits has not perished, for they and the conventual orders were the first to give an example of humanity in the treatment of inferior races.

This great change was quickly followed by another. In 1776 the Vice-royalty of Buenos Aires was created, that is, the four countries now known as Argentina,[48] Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, were detached from the Vice-royalty of Peru, under Don Pedro Cevallos, sometime Governor of Buenos Aires. This step was a recognition of the importance of Buenos Aires, to which all observers testify. All the efforts of the Spaniards to force the trade of Europe over the Isthmus of Panama and the Andes had failed, and Buenos Aires was now to fulfil its destiny as the metropolis of Spanish America. The new Governor brought a large force, for there had been serious trouble with Portugal. As the latter was too weak to resist, and as the news of peace between the two countries followed almost immediately, there was no difficulty in coming to terms, and Colonia was finally made over to Spain. The result of this important treaty was that Spain was left in undisputed possession of Uruguay and Portugal of Brazil in its present form, for she recovered Rio Grande and Santa Catharina. Free trade was established between Buenos Aires and Spain, and Argentina made wonderful industrial advances. The rest of the century was uneventfully prosperous, but great events were in the wind, and they were destined to have a powerful influence on Spanish America. The easygoing paternal rule was to come to an end, and a long period of bloodshed and turbulence was to succeed. As was the case in every other part of the world, the motive power was supplied by the French Revolution.



Colonies were one of the many new things which were introduced to Europe at the end of the fifteenth century. Of them mediæval Europe had known nothing since the dissolution of the Roman Empire; the means of communication were too bad, the Asiatic races were too powerful, and the Western world itself was too thinly populated to allow of distant excursions. The planting of settlements was familiar to both Greece and Rome. The Greek system was the simpler of the two, for the city state merely propagated itself by colonies as a plant propagates itself by seeds, and two cities existed instead of one, each independent of the other. But a Roman colony was incorporated as a subordinate and inferior part of the mother state. Greek history and literature were almost unknown in the Middle Ages, and even after the Renaissance they remained much less familiar than Latin. On the other hand, many European States, and especially Spain, inherited their law and their municipal systems from Rome, Latin was the international language, and the Church, by far the most powerful mediæval institution, was Roman. It is, therefore, not surprising that Spain followed the Roman colonial system, but all the circumstances were so different that beyond the mere incorporation and inferiority of the new dominions there was little other resemblance.


The main difference and the main characteristic of the Spanish colonial system was this—the colonies were the private property of the King of Spain. This, then, is the keystone of the edifice—that the dominions were vested in the Crown, not in the nation. The derivation of this theory is doubtless from the fact that in the early exploring days the Spanish and Portuguese kings were, really or apparently, private adventurers, and, in fact, the adventurers always assumed that they were stewards of royal estates rather than officers of a kingdom. Thus the colonies were the property of the King of Spain for the time being. Ferdinand had, in 1511, established a tribunal to manage his new property. This was the Council of the Indies, which made laws for the colonies and distributed all the appointments and acted as a Court of Appeal from the Audiencia in America. The King made all grants of land, and allowed the colonists only local liberties; the Spanish nation had no concern whatever in the matter. A modern parallel is the Congo Free State as it was a year or two ago. It is probable that the New World had little to complain of except in the matter of trade and commerce, but here the system was illiberal and short-sighted. The fifth share of the King in the produce of all the gold and silver mines was a small matter in comparison with the multitude of harassing restrictions,[38] which Spain never had the wisdom to cancel till it was too late. No colony was allowed to trade with any country except Spain; all the exports, whatever their destination, had first to go to the mother country, and the[51] navigation laws were conceived in a similar spirit. The most glaring instance of stupidity was the prohibition of import trade laid upon Buenos Aires. No Atlantic colonial port might receive goods from Spain except Nombre de Dios. When Argentina purchased goods from Spain they were despatched across the Atlantic to Nombre de Dios, carried by mule across the Isthmus, transhipped to Callao, and then taken over innumerable mountains into the River Plate country. Merely to state such a system is to condemn it, but there was no possibility of altering it, because the whole shipping trade of Spain was in the hands of a syndicate of Cadiz merchants, and they were all-powerful.

As is well known, no foreign State was allowed to trade with Spanish America, nor was any foreigner even allowed to enter it without special permission. Various manufactures were forbidden, and even the cultivation of the vine and olive was placed under restrictions, as it was feared that their produce might compete with the produce of Spain. In fact, the ideal of the home-staying Spaniard was that the colonies should be mere mining-camps. Gold and silver were regarded as the whole of wealth, and it was considered the height of commercial wisdom to drain the whole produce of the mines of America into Spanish ports without allowing a fraction to be diverted elsewhere.

Thus legitimate trade was made extremely difficult, for the Spaniards even discouraged colonial exports from the fear that precious metals might be concealed among them. Accordingly, in 1599, the Governor of Buenos Aires was commanded to forbid exportation and importation alike under penalty of death. But the stringency of the various laws and regulations defeated their own objects, a gigantic contraband trade grew up, and all the officials, from the Governor downward,[52] were implicated in it. Bribes accompanied almost every business transaction.[39] The manufactures of Europe were surreptitiously landed at Buenos Aires, and of course ruined the sale of the goods that had come over oceans, Isthmus, and mountains. This contraband trade was chiefly carried on by the English and the Dutch, and, as Professor Seeley has frequently pointed out, the power to trade with the New World formed for some two hundred years the chief bone of contention in the foreign politics of European countries. The practice of smuggling has had two marked and very pernicious effects upon Spanish-American character; it has fostered contempt of law and the preference of Government service to profitable industry. As the Argentines despised the laws of contraband, so they came to despise all laws, and during their independent history the shackles of the law have been cobwebs light as air to restrain individuals or communities from disturbing the public peace. In a word, out of the contraband trade sprang one of the worst features of South America—lawlessness and turbulence. It is obvious that it also fostered an almost equally injurious spirit—the craving of office. It was easier and more profitable to take bribes from the smugglers than to engage actively in smuggling, and so the tradition has descended to prefer the certain emoluments (direct and indirect) of office to the uncertain gains of trade. In Spanish America it is better to be the nephew of a President than of a successful trader. Of course, it[53] would be absurd to attribute these two evils solely to the contraband trade, but the first has been undoubtedly encouraged, and the second, to a considerable extent, caused by the practice which was forced upon the Spanish colonies by an absurd fiscal system. The economic condition, therefore, of these countries appears to us very sombre. It must, however, be remembered that such treatment of "plantations" was the accepted policy of the age, and probably the reason why Spain was more unfortunate with her foreign possessions than other nations is rather to be found in the indolent character of her sons and her foreign embarrassments than in any particular set of restrictions.

Till the middle of the eighteenth century the principles of the Spanish colonial system were considered the last words of commercial policy by all nations and practically all individuals.[40] That great statesman, Lord Chatham, was fully convinced of the wisdom of these principles. He remarked: "Let the sovereign authority of this country over the colonies be asserted in as strong terms as can be devised, and be made to extend to every point of legislation whatsoever. That we may bind their trade, confine their manufactures, and exercise every power whatsoever, except that of taking money out of their pocket without their consent."[41] Indeed, the general commercial and colonial policy of Spain was at least as liberal as that of England, and was, during the half century preceding the Revolution, infinitely more liberal, and if we make allowance for the enlargement of the human mind in a hundred and fifty years, it must be[54] admitted that the present commercial policy of the South American Republics compares unfavourably with the Spanish system. There was at least material prosperity. Adam Smith,[42] while censuring the Spanish system of government and considering it inferior to that obtaining in English colonies, recognised that great progress was being made. He says: "The Spanish colonies are under a government in many respects less favourable to agriculture, improvement, and population, than that of the English colonies. They seem, however, to be advancing in all these much more rapidly than any country in Europe. In a fertile soil and happy climate the great abundance and cheapness of land, a circumstance common to all new colonies, is, it seems, so great an advantage as to compensate many defects in civil government." It is impossible to put down the failure of Spain to anything but defect of character—the grand defect of mañana, of putting off every exertion till to-morrow, or rather for ever. But it cannot be denied that a hundred years ago the ill-starred country had to face a series of misfortunes which might well have disheartened a more energetic people. The revolutionary spirit which had spread all over the globe was at first wonderfully impotent in the Spanish settlements owing to the rigid disciplinary system which had been in force for upwards of two hundred years. Yet that of itself would have been enough to have taxed all the energies of an ancient and absolute monarchy. Further, Spain contrived to change sides in such a way during the war as to get all the hardships of defeat and none of the fruits of victory. When she was in alliance with France her fleet was destroyed by the English, and when she was in alliance with England her territory was overrun by the French. At this crisis also she was afflicted by[55] the feeblest king of a feeble line and probably the worst queen and minister that ever lived. Under these circumstances it can hardly be a matter for wonder that she lost her colonies.

And yet if her general policy towards them be considered, it must be acknowledged that she deserved her fate less than any colonial power then existing. The Spanish merchants did indeed greatly hamper the development of South America, but they acted in obedience to a theory which was considered axiomatic and which was rigorously put into practice by every other nation. The King and the high officials always exerted their influence in favour of humane treatment of the Indians. Irala was conspicuous for his humanity, and the protective regulations which he put forward on their behalf and at the beginning of the seventeenth century, when reports reached Spain that the Indians in Tucuman were being ill-treated, it was ordered that Don Francisco de Alfaro, Auditor of the Supreme Court of Peru, should go to Paraguay and investigate the whole matter. The result was the Ordinances of Alfaro in 1612, which abolished both the forcible subjection of Indians and slavery, and substituted a small capitation tax. As we have seen, the Court of Madrid warmly seconded the early efforts of the Jesuits. The treatment, then, of subject races was as benevolent as circumstances and theories would permit, nor were the colonists in practice subject to any considerable severity. The commercial regulations were easily evaded, and the Argentina steadily advanced in prosperity.

The latter days of Spanish rule were extremely creditable to the sagacity and liberality of the Crown and its advisers. In 1764 a line of vessels was established to run between Corunna and various South American ports, with permission to carry Spanish merchandise[56] and bring back in return the products of the colonies, and in 1774 the colonies were allowed intercommunication and trade. In 1778 a new commercial code was drawn up for the benefit of the Spanish Indies, and this was surprisingly liberal for those days. Nine ports in Spain and twenty-four in the colonies were declared "ports of entry," and goods, for the most part, were allowed to pass in and out freely. The general duty was nominally 3 per cent. on Spanish goods and 7 per cent. on foreign goods; but as the latter had to be shipped from Spain, the duty upon them was really 40 or 50 per cent. If we compare this scale with that now in force, we shall see how greatly South America has retrograded since the removal of the control of Spain. It is interesting to remember that these beneficent regulations were framed while Smith was publishing the "Wealth of Nations," and that therefore backward Spain anticipated both Pitt and Huskisson.

After this Argentina advanced by leaps and bounds. The average export of hides had been 150,000; they soon rose to 800,000, and in one particular year the figure was 1,400,000. At least seventy ships sailed to Spain every year, and the population of Buenos Aires rose from 37,000 in 1778, to 72,000 in 1800. Buenos Aires became openly what she had long been struggling to be—the entrepôt for wine and brandy from Cuzo, hides from Tucuman, tobacco, yerba maté, and wood from Paraguay, and gold, silver, copper, rice, sugar, and cocoa from the distant interior. Had the fate of Spain been happier, and the character of her sons stronger, South America would have had a very different destiny, for everything pointed to a period of peaceful development, and the people had a government which was exactly suited to them. The Revolution substituted for the mild rule of Spain a preposterous democracy which was only[57] effective or tolerable when metamorphosed into a dictatorship, and for more than two centuries of comparative peace an indefinitely long period of disorder and bloodshed.

Before closing this brief sketch of a period which has been both neglected and misunderstood (for it is usually passed over with a few reflections upon the perversity and tyranny of Spanish rule) it is desirable to indicate briefly the machinery of government, which underwent substantial alteration only in the last generation of the Spanish dominion. The King had a special body of advisers to help him in the administration of his oversea territory, and this was called the Council of the Indies. There were only two Viceroys—who, of course, were subject to the home authorities—they were the Viceroy of Mexico and the Viceroy of Peru. The latter ruled over the whole of South America. When a new colony was founded it was put under the charge of an Adelantado, or Governor, who was nominally subject to the Viceroy, but in practice he was independent and answerable only to the King. When he vacated office his acts were subject to a review, and he was liable to punishment if found guilty of misconduct, but in the nature of things there was little effective check upon him by the Home Government, and he was really a military ruler with almost despotic powers. However, the Spaniards, following the Roman tradition, always strongly favoured municipal government, and provisions were made which modified the arbitrary character of the system, although, as was inevitable, there were loud complaints that the claims of the Creoles—those born in the country—were neglected, and that the good posts were given to Spaniards from over the seas. Even to the last this grievance remained.[58][43]

The system of local government, which modified this exclusiveness and gave the children of the soil a considerable share in the management of their own affairs, is a most important feature in the history of Argentina.

To begin with, the Governor made grants of land to each white settler. The recipients of the grants became Encomenderos, who received also in fief several Indian villages and took tribute from the inhabitants in return for protection and Christian teaching. The Encomenderos swore "to defend, enrich, and ennoble the kingdom and care for the Indians," and they appear to have discharged their trust with tolerable fidelity.

But the Spaniards are city-dwelling people, and the history of Argentina chiefly centres in the towns where the governing body was the Cabildo, or town council. The Cabildo consisted of from six to twelve members, and although they had bought their offices of the King and held them for life, they imparted no insignificant popular element into the system of government, and when the Revolution came the Cabildos had sufficient vitality to act as the rallying-point for the revolutionists in every district. In Buenos Aires the Cabildo had great power, and the Governor could not easily override it, while in every city in the provinces the little town councils represented Creole and local interests. This system lent itself to particularism and was unfavourable to representative government, which accordingly has not been a success in Argentina, partly owing to this cause and partly to the natural incapacity of the people. It has been always very difficult to obtain a national[59] assembly even for the decision of the most momentous questions and legislation, elections and administrations are controlled by functionaries rather than by electors and deputies. Under Spanish rule the Cabildo system worked extremely well. In the thinly populated districts the great proprietors ruled in patriarchal fashion.

Inefficiency and indolence were the chief grievances which the inhabitants of the Plate district could have reasonably urged against their rulers. The commercial regulations, as we have seen, were so bad that they were perpetually evaded, and the Governor and other officials took bribes and connived at the evasions. Thus grew up the evil tradition that official and political careers are above all others desirable, and that the productive classes are fair game for every kind of official exaction. But, in spite of all defects, the settlements steadily prospered, there were few serious Indian wars, comparatively little fighting even with the Portuguese or other foreign nations, and civil tumults were few and far between. If we make allowance for the natural progress that all nations must make in the face of all adverse circumstances, we cannot deny that even Argentina has lost ground in the nineteenth century, as compared with her position in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Another institution which exerted great influence upon the history of Spanish America was the Consulado, or Chamber of Commerce. In 1543 the first of these bodies was founded at Seville, and its principal object was to regulate trade with the Indies. The Consulado of Cadiz became eventually by far the most influential and gained an unenviable notoriety for its commerce-destroying enactments; but it was following the accepted commercial principles of the age, and there can be no doubt that the Consulados at Mexico and Lima were beneficial. Their business was to adjudge commercial[60] suits and carry on the entire trade in their respective Viceroyalties, and in general they undertook the commercial development of the settlements. Their policy was cautious and conservative.

Such, then, were the institutions which tempered the rigours of personal or despotic rule, modifying either the unlimited power of the Crown or the absolute military sway of the Governor. But in theory the royal authority was as complete as that of the Roman Emperor. Just as in later days Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India as the successor of the Mogul Emperor, so the King of Spain was Emperor of the Indies in succession to Montezuma in Mexico and the Incas in Peru. The King's will was the source of law; legislation was carried out by means of Cédulas Reales, or Royal Decrees, which were issued by the Council of the Indies in his name, and, as was natural, the attempt was made at regulation on far too complete a scale, and matters which ought to have been settled by local authorities were the subject of decrees, and thus these enactments increased with alarming rapidity. The principles of these Cédulas soon fell into confusion; it is said that their codification, ordered in 1635, was not carried into effect until 1680, by which time it had become obsolete. It does not appear, however, that the rulers troubled themselves much about the confusion of the law; they would probably have been much more uneasy had all the decrees become effective, for it was obviously impossible to carry on all legislation at such a distance, and travellers and annalists agreed that the Governors and their subordinates usually neglected the law and governed according to equity. The result was not unsatisfactory.

Current ideas about history are very often wrong; they are often the repetition at third or fourth hand of an extremely indifferent authority. An American[61] traveller may have come with the preconceived belief that all republics are free and all monarchies grinding tyrannies, and having accordingly stated that the condition of South America under Spanish rule was miserable, his statement has been echoed by all his successors. Or, again, another writer notices that the commercial regulations were absurd and vexatious, and he declares that the colonies were paralysed by the blight of Spanish rule. A third has no difficulty in discovering instances of atrocities committed against the Indians who worked in the Peruvian mines, and he enlarges upon the greed and inhumanity of the Spaniards. Thus the whole history, which possesses few striking incidents to tempt investigators, is distorted by prejudice and the three hundred years of Spanish rule are summarily dismissed as a barren period, fruitful in nothing but misery.

In fact, from first to last the Spanish colonies enjoyed a more liberal trade policy than did those of England. The reason that the abuses of the Spanish colonies were so much more prominent was that the Spanish trade was incomparably more valuable than the North American. Again, apart from the mines, the Spanish treatment of the Indians was considerably in advance of the standards of the time in humanity, nor would it be easy to find any body of men in the three centuries who pursued a wiser and juster policy towards inferior and conquered races. And, further, such cruelty as was perpetrated was the work of private exploiters or, at worst, of disobedient officials. The King of Spain and the ecclesiastics of Spain made every effort to redress the instances of ill-treatment which came to their ears. It was Charles III. who encouraged the Jesuits to proceed upon their mission of mercy, and if he had had the power he would have restrained the cruelty of the Portuguese Paulistas. The condition of the River Plate settlements under[62] Spanish rule compares favourably with that of most civilised nations during the same period.

A recent writer,[44] summing up the general subject, makes some remarks which deserve quotation: "In discussing the often-repeated accusation of Spanish oppression, it is necessary to define what sort of oppression is meant: whether oppression of the Indians by the whites, or oppression of the whites by the Spanish Government. If the former is meant, then the Creoles were as guilty as the Europeans, and both were more guilty than the Spanish Government and its immediate representatives. If the latter, the restraint of the whites was in fact the measure of protection enjoyed by the natives; free immigration and large autonomy granted to European settlers would have meant extermination or enslavement. But the theory of a universal control which should foster both 'commonwealths' and protect the weaker was largely ineffective; and in this failure lay the troubles of the Indians....

"The usual exclusion of Creoles from the highest posts was a grievance; but both its extent and its significance were much exaggerated during the struggle for independence, since a very large number of subordinate posts, some of them commanding large influence and dignity, were usually held by Creoles. In fact, almost all the revolutionary leaders were connected with the royal service through posts held either by themselves or by their fathers....

"Here was an empire which, by the testimony of its own administrators, was honeycombed with continuous decay in all directions; yet this empire survived repeated external shocks, continually extended its influence, and after three centuries evoked the admiration of foreign observers. This vitality is not explained by the theoretic[63] system of administration, nor yet by the practical neglect of that system. Perhaps the explanation may partly be found in personal character.... Examples constantly recur of admirable and loyal service, which has something Oriental in its simplicity and self-abandonment; in emergencies the presence of one capable leader counterbalances all vices. Again, the undefinable Spanish quality of hidalguía, which animated the better part of the community, especially in New Spain, showed itself in a noble charity and hospitality, a liberal and careless use of wealth, indifference to material results, and an old-fashioned, uncalculating loyalty, sometimes almost fantastic."

The Spaniards had not the constructive genius of the Romans, and both in the mechanical contrivances of civilisation and in the moral force which founds laws and institutions they were far inferior. But they played very much the same part in South America which the Romans did in Europe. France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy are not more distinctively Roman than Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Colombia are Spanish. As Spain was in language and institutions the most completely Romanised of all European countries, so she has left her mark upon the West more distinctively than any other colonising Power. For good or evil, Buenos Aires, Lima, and the rest are Spanish cities, and there seems no reason to believe that they will ever be anything else, and the Spanish influence seems likely to be as permanent as the Roman in Southern Europe. Nor will any candid student of the history of the continent be unwilling to acknowledge that it was no small achievement for a nation to build up and administer such an empire, and he will regret that ignorance and prejudice have prevented the world from giving the praise due to a vast political and religious experiment which, in spite[64] of extraordinary difficulties, was successful as far as its own character was concerned, and which, when it broke down by reason of the weakness of the mother country, left behind it all its institutions, political, religious, and social. Governors became Dictators or Presidents, but everything remains substantially Spanish.



In the early years of the nineteenth century England was engaged in a life and death struggle with Napoleon, and Spain and Holland, two of the chief colonial Powers, were in alliance with the Corsican. At Trafalgar, in 1805, the naval power of France and Spain had been shattered, but Napoleon was master of practically the whole of Europe, and he was devising weapons against his enemies which he hoped would be more potent than fleets or armies. England's trade and industries were advancing rapidly, but the long-continued war tended to spoil her markets, and Napoleon was attempting to prevent his subject allies from engaging in any trade whatever with the enemy. Consequently there was throughout the war frequent distress, especially in the North of England, and the manufacturing interest was urgent upon the Government to find new markets. Possibly in some cases the effective fighting strength of England was dissipated in distant expeditions, but in these years some of the most valuable additions were made to our Empire, and if the expedition which is to be related had been in competent hands, the history of South America would have been changed and England would have had vast dominions in every continent of the world.

One such was acquired in South Africa in January, 1806, when Cape Town was rapidly and easily taken[66] from the Dutch. Sir Home Popham commanded the naval forces while Sir David Baird was Commander-in-Chief. Popham was an able and restless man, and hearing a few months later from an American sea-captain that the people of Buenos Aires and Montevideo were oppressed by the Spanish Government and would welcome the English as liberators, he resolved to make an attempt in that quarter and persuaded Baird to lend him a brigade.[45] The flotilla consisted of five ships of war and five transports, and the little army numbered 1,635 men under the command of that fine soldier, General Beresford. Popham was disobeying his orders and leaving Cape Town defenceless, but he knew that the acquisition of a new trade opening would atone for any technical disobedience in the eyes of the Home Government. The expedition left Table Bay on the 13th of April, 1806, and reached the River Plate on June 10th. Very wisely Popham proceeded to Buenos Aires instead of Montevideo, and on June 25th anchored off Quilmes, which is 15 miles south of the capital, and disembarked the same evening. The Spanish Viceroy made a very feeble resistance, and the next day the English force was encamped in the suburb of Barracas. On the 27th of June Beresford hoisted the English flag on the fort and a city of 72,000 inhabitants had been captured by a weak brigade. The Viceroy fled to Cordoba, and undoubtedly the feebleness displayed by the Spanish officials on that occasion helped to prepare the ground[67] for the subsequent Revolution. The Argentines, indeed, had lost the qualities of self-help and initiative under the paternal rule of Spain, but they were ashamed of the surrender to so small a force, and under their nonchalant attitude there was an eager desire to expel the foreigners if an opportunity should arise. All that was needed was a leader, and a leader was found in Jacques Liniers. He was a Frenchman who had been thirty years in the service of Spain, and at the time of the invasion he was Governor of Misiones. Seeing that the people were ripe for an attempt upon the English he made his way to Montevideo and asked for help from the General in command. This was readily given, and with a small force he marched to Colonia and thence passed over by boats to Conchas, 21 miles north of Buenos Aires. Meanwhile Puirredon, a Creole patriot, had been skirmishing in the neighbourhood, and had succeeded in capturing a gun from the English. This success, which was won by Gauchos, greatly emboldened Liniers and gave him confidence in the abilities of his followers for partisan warfare. His force amounted to 1,124 men with two large guns and four small pieces. On August 10th he suddenly entered the northern suburb of Buenos Aires. The next day he summoned Beresford to surrender, and on his refusal the attack began. On the 12th the enemy forced their way to the Cathedral which overlooks the square where the English had their headquarters, and soon, by annoying street-fighting, compelled them to abandon all the neighbouring streets. From the square itself Beresford was forced by artillery fire to retreat, and the situation was soon seen to be untenable. After 165 had been killed or wounded, the English force, which had attempted an enterprise for which its numbers were altogether inadequate, surrendered to General Liniers. He honourably desired to[68] keep the terms, which were that the soldiers should be embarked for England and not serve again until exchanged, but the Spanish authorities maintained that they had surrendered at discretion and marched them up-country as prisoners of war. Beresford, it may be added, contrived to escape six months later. The people of Buenos Aires had learned the lesson that if they desired security they must depend upon themselves rather than upon Spain. The first step they took was to depose their faint-hearted Viceroy and set up Liniers in his place.

Popham had sent home a glowing account of the commercial possibilities of the new conquest, and English traders made immense preparations to take advantage of the opportunity which was indeed sufficiently great. Sir David Baird had sent reinforcements of 1,400 men from the Cape, which arrived after the surrender, but of course Popham was too weak to retake the capital. He landed at Maldonado on the left bank and awaited reinforcements which were soon forthcoming, for the Cabinet had been greatly elated by the easy initial victory. On October 11th Admiral Sterling sailed from England in charge of a military force of 4,350 and a month later an expedition of equal strength under General Crauford followed for Chile. When the news of the disaster to Beresford reached England a swift ship was despatched after Crauford, ordering him to sail to the River Plate. Finally there followed General Whitelocke with additional troops and orders to take command of the whole expedition. The total armament amounted to twelve thousand men, eighteen ships of war, and eighty transports—a force amply sufficient to command success if it were well handled, but unfortunately it was placed in incompetent hands. The Ministry of All the Talents failed to justify its title in the planning of expeditions and the allocation of commanders.


John Whitelocke,[46] the new commander, had served with moderate success in the West Indies, but he owed his advancement (chiefly in pacific appointments) to his brother-in-law, Matthew Lewis, the Deputy Secretary at War, and father of the well-known "Monk" Lewis. But his appointment to this important command remains a mystery. It appears from Windham's Diary that he wished to give the command to Sir John Stuart, while Leveson-Gower was in favour of Whitelocke, and the annotator to the Diary declares that the Duke of York decided in favour of Whitelocke. This does not seem very probable, and though Lord Holland, who was a member of the not very competent Cabinet, suggests more plausibly that Whitelocke as Inspector-General of Recruiting was opposed to an important scheme of Windham, who therefore wished to get rid of him, still this view seems untenable in face of Windham's positive statement. The appointment can only be considered as one of the many blunders which sometimes counteract England's usual good luck; and on this occasion the effect was complete.

However, until he arrived matters proceeded in brilliant fashion. The first officer of high rank to appear was Sir Samuel Auchmuty, a loyal American who had served the King, for whose sake his family had suffered ruin, in America, India, and Egypt. Although he had expected merely to assist in the task of completing the conquest of Argentina, he was not dismayed when he found that the work had to be begun over again. He promptly began the bombardment of Montevideo and[70] within a few days, February 3, 1807, the breach was found to be practicable. The town, strongly fortified as it was, taken by storm with a loss to the English of six hundred men, and the General acting humanely and prudently, conciliated the inhabitants and established civil rule. Many adventurous English merchantmen, whose owners anticipated a boom, arrived and unloaded, and necessaries and luxuries were sold at prices hitherto unknown in Argentina.

Whitelocke arrived on May 10th and Crauford on June 15th. It was on June 28th that the expedition left Montevideo. It consisted of four brigades, of which three were commanded by Generals Crauford, Auchmuty, and Lumley, the fourth by Colonel Mahon. The transports left amidst the cheers of the fleet, and success might well have been anticipated, for an enterprise was being attempted which a year earlier had been easily accomplished by less than one-sixth of Whitelocke's army, which was ten thousand strong. But these proportions hardly represented the difference between the brother-in-law of Matthew Lewis and the future victor of Albuera, and, moreover, the spirit of the colonists had risen, and they rejected both the feeble restrictions of Spain and the new prosperity offered by England. The first mistake was made in landing at Ensenada, 48 miles south of Buenos Aires, and the troops had to make long marches through deep swamps. But Whitelocke arrived at Quilmes (where he ought to have landed) on July 1st without having seen an enemy, and all promised to go well.

On that day Liniers attempted to oppose the invaders in force, but Crauford, with a vigorous charge, beat down all resistance and pursued the enemy to the suburbs. There is little doubt that Crauford was correct in his belief that if he had been supported by the[71] main body, Buenos Aires would have fallen on that very day. But Leveson-Gower, the second in command, who was as incompetent as Whitelocke and who was the moving spirit in the whole disaster, recalled the troops and gave the discouraged Spaniards a welcome delay. On July 2nd Whitelocke called upon them to surrender, and they refused. He himself was well aware of the difficulties of an assault. As soon as Crauford arrived at Montevideo the Commander-in-Chief had taken him round the works, pointed out the peculiar facilities which the flat-roofed South American houses afforded for street-fighting, and declared that he would never expose his troops to the risk of a general assault. In this resolve Crauford heartily concurred.

The General had two easy and certain means of attaining his object. He might blockade the town and so starve it into surrender, or he might bombard it. But unfortunately he was too unstable to persevere in his previous resolution, and he allowed Leveson-Gower to persuade him to adopt a preposterous scheme of assault. It was decided that on July 5th the troops should be divided into eight columns, and orders were actually issued that they should advance with their muskets unloaded, lest they should be tempted to waste time in returning the enemy's fire. The columns were to march through the town until each had arrived at the square nearest the river. Then they were to halt and, apparently, do nothing, for no further orders were issued.

The attack began at half-past six in the morning. When the English had entered the town a withering fire was poured upon them from innumerable houses. But they pushed gallantly on. Auchmuty, who was on the left, made his way to the Retiro and the Plaza de[72] Toros, where he captured thirty-two guns and six hundred prisoners. The troops on the right seized the Residencia. But these successes were of no avail through lack of a competent guiding mind; the column leaders did not even know the whereabouts of the Commander-in-Chief, much less what he wished them to do, and further, the ill-judged scheme had borne its natural fruit in several serious disasters.

Crauford had seized the Convent of San Domingo, but he was surrounded by a very large force of the enemy who kept up a deadly fire of musketry and artillery, and by half-past four in the afternoon he was compelled to surrender. The same fate befell columns under Colonel Cadogan and Colonel Duff. In this day's fighting the English lost 70 officers and 1,130 men, killed and wounded, while prisoners amounted to 120 and 1,500.

Whitelocke and Auchmuty were now besieged in the Retiro. Their army had suffered severely, but they had still a large and efficient force, they had command of the sea, and the knowledge that the English Government would support them with all its available strength. Even if ordinary skill were out of the question, ordinary resolution would quickly have retrieved the initial reverses. But it was not to be.

Flushed by his success, General Liniers the next day sent a flag of truce to Whitelocke proposing to surrender all his prisoners if the English would evacuate Buenos Aires. He probably hardly expected anything but rejection of such terms, but the civilian Alzaga seemed to have had a better appreciation of the character of Whitelocke and insisted that Montevideo should be added to Buenos Aires. Nothing could be lost by making extravagant demands. The panic-stricken Whitelocke agreed to everything. At first he seems to have hesitated a little, but Liniers had added the menace that he could not be responsible for the safety of the prisoners if the attack were renewed. In any case such a threat should have been treated with contempt, but it was, as it happened, perfectly empty, for the life and property of every inhabitant of Montevideo were in Whitelocke's power.

Finally, he accepted the terms of surrender without raising the slightest objection to the inclusion of Montevideo, and taking great credit to himself for his humanity in yielding to Linier's threat, he wrote complacently: "Influenced by this consideration, which I knew to be founded in fact, and reflecting of how little advantage would be the possession of a country the inhabitants of which were so absolutely hostile, I resolved to forego the advantages which the bravery of the troops had obtained, and acceded to a treaty, which I trust will meet the approbation of his Majesty."

He had signified his willingness to withdraw from Buenos Aires in forty-eight hours and from Montevideo in two months. As the Judge-Advocate remarked at the subsequent trial: "He is his own accuser: he has furnished the strongest testimony against himself." The English army sailed from Buenos Aires on July 12th, from Montevideo on September 9, 1807.

Seldom has there been such a fine army and such splendid officers under such a pusillanimous commander. A young officer[47] on the staff remarks that on many of the street corners in Montevideo was written: "General Whitelocke is either a coward or a traitor! Perhaps both!" He also tells us: "All the English merchants are in an uproar. They say the losses will be immense; that upwards of three millions worth of property is on its way to this country, and that, if it is[73]
given up, half the merchants in England will be ruined. God knows what will be the result of this unfortunate affair. It appears to me one of the most severe blows that England has ever received." Whittingham adds, with some penetration, that "the period of a revolution" was "not far distant."

It is some small consolation that the court-martials administered even-handed justice. The most important tribunal adjudged "that the said Lieutenant-General Whitelocke be cashiered, and declared totally unfit and unworthy to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatever." On the other hand Popham, who had disobeyed his orders in initiating the whole scheme, was severely reprimanded, but received a sword of honour from the City of London and a few months later was given an important command.

Sir David Baird, who had sanctioned Popham's adventure, was censured and recalled from the Cape, but he also was given the chief command of the very same expedition as Popham—that against Copenhagen. It is certain that public opinion would not have sanctioned any severe measures against officers who had been zealous in the South American attempt.

The most noticeable point throughout the whole affair is the eagerness of the English commercial world, which was dreading the loss of the Continental markets and was rightly convinced that the discovery of new outlets was a matter of life and death.

The remarks of the Judge-Advocate condense the whole case: "By this most unfortunate event all the hopes have been defeated which had been justly and generally entertained, of discovering new markets for our manufactures, of giving a wider scope to the spirit and enterprise of our merchants, of opening new sources of treasure, and new fields for exertion in supplying either the rude wants of[75] countries emerging from barbarism, or the artificial and increasing demands of luxury and refinement, in those remote quarters of the globe. Important as these objects must be at all times to this country, the state of Europe, and the attempts that have been daily making to exclude us from our accustomed intercourse with the Continent, have added to the importance of these objects, and to the disappointment of these hopes." It is, perhaps, doubtful whether England could have held any considerable territory in Argentina, for a revolutionary spirit was rapidly being wafted into South America from Europe, and though the population was small the country was vast, and if the population had continued hostile the difficulty of either conciliating or conquering them would have been immense. But, doubtless, the retention of Montevideo and the territory now called Uruguay would have been feasible, and would have been highly beneficial both to England and South America. To have had one country in South America governed upon liberal and conservative principles, with an enlightened system of commerce and complete security for life and property, would have been an incalculable benefit, and would undoubtedly been a salutary check upon the wars and revolutions which have devastated South America since the overthrow of the Spanish dominion.



When the English retired from Buenos Aires and Montevideo there seemed no reason to expect any change in the relations between Argentina and the mother country. The Spanish rule was not rigorous, and, from a financial point of view, its policy was now highly favourable to the colonists. They also warmly sympathised with their European kinsmen in the apparently hopeless struggle against the oppression of Napoleon. When Charles IV. abdicated in 1808, all the Spanish-American dependencies hailed Ferdinand VII. as their King with enthusiasm. Nothing seemed less likely than any kind of disloyalty. And yet a very few years saw the beginning of a struggle which ended in an old and haughty nation being stripped of every one of the dominions she possessed on the American continent, and sinking into a state of lethargy and decay from which, after the lapse of a century, there seems little prospect of a "Roman recovery." The causes of this strange phenomenon certainly do not seem adequate. It is, of course, obvious that the weakness of the Home Government and their own successful repulse of the English showed the Argentines that if they had the will to be independent there was no doubt about the power. Again, their sense of importance could not but be increased by the eagerness with which foreigners sought[77] for a share in their trade, and Cisneros, the Viceroy, had strengthened this impression by admitting neutrals unreservedly to the South American trade—a step which he took with great reluctance. But neither of these circumstances could have had any effect if goodwill and loyalty had remained unimpaired. These had probably been undermined by the jealousy between Creole and Spaniard, by the pride of caste shown by the latter towards the former, and by the preference always given to Spaniards in the matter of official appointments. As the people of Argentina increased in consciousness of worth and power, they would be the less willing to brook this assumption of superiority, and doubtless hot-headed young men had frequently discussed the possibility of the step for which the cant term is now "cutting the painter." There is a further circumstance which may have had influence on the course of events. Able and ambitious men could not but see that in the turmoil of revolution, followed by independence, there was a prospect of unbounded riches, and power, which, however speculative, is always more attractive to such minds than to be seated in the mean. Indeed a certain Francisco Miranda from Caracas, ex-volunteer in Washington's army, had, at the close of the war, discussed Spanish emancipation with Washington himself. He then visited Europe, fought in the French revolutionary army, and actually attained to the rank of general. His efforts subsequently to induce Pitt or President Adams to initiate a war of liberation in South America were, however, unsuccessful, but his constant intrigues with Spanish Americans show that the project was undoubtedly in the air.

Yet when we have gone over the meagre list of possible causes, we cannot but attribute the chief place to one which strengthened all the circumstances favourable to[78] change and neutralised or reversed those which were unfavourable. This was the doctrine of the Rights of Man or, to be plain, the revolutionary spirit itself. Its influence was felt by all classes, and it caused ferment and bloodshed in such widely different places as Ireland and the West Indies. It had already invaded England, and afterwards attacked her ancient rival and overthrew the French monarchy and trampled down the French Church. Thus, this purely moral cause must be taken as the efficient factor of the Spanish-American Revolution; the others could have effected nothing had not the seemingly barren dogma of equality provided an atmosphere and a soil ready to foster any revolutionary seed that might find its way to South America.

Ferdinand VII. was proclaimed King in 1808. The heroic Liniers was then Viceroy at Buenos Aires, but doubtless his French nationality gave rise to suspicions, and as soon as the news came that Joseph, the puppet of Napoleon, had been imposed upon Spain, the Frenchman was deposed, and on July 19, 1809, Cisneros became Viceroy in the name of Ferdinand. As stated above, he threw open the ports with startling results, for the customs revenue was immediately quadrupled. And yet this wise measure revealed to the people their strength and self-sufficiency, and may have predisposed them to revolution.[48]

On the 13th of May, 1810, news came from Spain that the mother country was now under the heel of France and had no longer any power to help or control them. Cisneros was in a very difficult situation. On May 25th he consented to the formation of a Council under the[79] title of the Provisional Government of the Provinces of Rio de la Plata, and this date has been generally regarded by historians as the beginning of the Revolution. Prominent among those who desired change were Moreno, Belgrano, Saavedra, and Castelli. Moreno, who was secretary to the new Council, was a man of large views, irresistible enthusiasm, and full of daring. Belgrano was equally fervent in the cause and was devoted to Moreno, content to serve him without reward for the liberation of Spanish America, and he was one of the few men in the Province who, by business aptitude and coolness of character, was qualified to direct the movement. The Council acted with considerable adroitness. Professing to be acting for Ferdinand and thus conciliating all classes, they worked steadily in the direction of depressing and discrediting all Spanish officials, and at last, on June 1st, Moreno ordered Cisneros and other high functionaries to be seized and deported. A merchant brig conveyed them to the Canaries and they vanish from history.

Moreno anticipated trouble from Cordoba; but even there his opponents were losing ground. Liniers had retired thither, but despairing of success he, with several loyal Spaniards, collected a force of about four hundred men and marched in the direction of Peru. They were pursued, overwhelmed, and captured. The liberator of La Plata and five of his colleagues were thereupon shot. This outrage, equally remarkable as an instance of atrocity and ingratitude, was a fitting prelude to Spanish-American history. Before the end of the year the whole of the north was in the hands of the revolutionists, and about the same time they experienced an equally valuable success. The loyalists still held Montevideo and their fleet blockaded Buenos Aires. Moreno took advantage of the English anxiety for open markets,[80] and appealed to the English Minister at Madrid. He received the reply that the British Government could not recognise the blockade, as it desired to maintain a position of perfect neutrality, and thus a potent Spanish weapon was rendered innoxious.

However, it was very early evident that unity and federation would not characterise the Revolution; that each Province would aim at its own particular independence; that Buenos Aires would not be the New York of a single new nation. An expedition sent to Paraguay, with the object of extirpating the Spanish partisans, failed altogether to attach that country to Argentina. Paraguay, like its neighbours, preferred independence.

At the same time jealousies broke out between the leaders. Moreno was worsted in a personal dispute with Saavedra, and at the beginning of the year 1811 was glad to accept an important mission to England. He died on the voyage thither. But the revolutionists were reminded that internal dissensions were out of place by the arrival at Montevideo of the able and energetic Elio, who had been appointed Viceroy by the Home Government. Although he was speedily forced to content himself with holding the town only, he was a source of great trouble to the Council and formed a valuable rallying-point for the loyalists. The Peruvian partisans also harassed them in the north, but Belgrano, by the victory of Tucuman on September 25th, laid the foundations of Argentine independence. The triumphant general wrote to Buenos Aires: "Our country may celebrate with just pride the complete victory obtained on the 25th of September, the anniversary of Our Lady of Mercy, whose protection we had invoked. We have captured seven guns, three flags, one standard, fifty officers, four chaplains, two curés, and six hundred men,[81] besides four hundred wounded prisoners, the stores belonging to the infantry and the artillery, the largest part of the baggage. Such is the day's result. Officers and soldiers have behaved gloriously and bravely. We are pursuing the routed enemy." This victory freed the north from all fear of invasion in the future.

There is no need to give details of the skirmishes with the royal forces or the skirmishes between intriguing leaders which occupied the next eighteen months. It is sufficient to say that during this time the influence of the soldier San Martin was growing rapidly, and towards the close of the year 1813 he replaced Belgrano as commander of the northern army. Hitherto power had been in the hands of two or three men, among whom Alvear was now the most prominent; but in January, 1814, a Congress assembled at Buenos Aires, and on the 31st of that month it chose Posadas, a relation of Alvear, to be Dictator of the so-called United Provinces. In June Alvear captured Montevideo, and the hopes of Spain in the Plate district were for ever quenched; but Uruguay refused to be subordinate to Buenos Aires, and Posadas was in no position to coerce her. Uruguay, therefore, finally severed the connection with Argentina, and passes out of our history.

Meanwhile San Martin, who had become Governor of Mendoza, was carrying on that campaign for the liberation of South America which was to make his name immortal; but in Buenos Aires affairs were going by no means well—in fact, anarchy reigned. The appointment of Puirredon as Dictator brought about some improvement, and on July 9, 1816, the separation from Spain was formally announced.

The next year San Martin, with an efficient army of four thousand men, moved to help the Chilians, and[82] gained a glorious victory over the Spaniards at Chacabuco, not far from Santiago. A year later he won a no less decisive triumph at Maipu (April 5, 1818), which secured the independence of Chile, and by his victories he also strengthened the position of Puirredon and the Government at Buenos Aires.

It was now time for constructive work. A Congress assembled once more at Buenos Aires, and, on May 25, 1819, promulgated a federal Constitution on the pattern of the United States of North America. At the same time Puirredon was glad to resign his difficult position, and, in his stead, General Rondeau became Dictator, or President. He was incapable, and the system of government by Juntas or Dictators, which had distracted the country for ten years, came to an end, and seemed likely to be succeeded by even worse conditions, for all the "United Provinces" flew back to particularism and anarchy. But in 1821 the able and honest Rivadavia intervened, and reduced affairs to some semblance of order. In that year also San Martin entered Lima in triumph, and it was clearly necessary to organise the new and sovereign States of South America. In 1822 Lord Londonderry declared for the part of the English Government that "so large a portion of the world could not long continue without some recognised and established relations, and that the State, which neither by its councils nor by its arms could effectually assert its own rights over its dependencies so as to enforce obedience, and thus make itself responsible for maintaining their relations with other Powers, must sooner or later be prepared to see those relations established by the overruling necessity of the case in some other form." The United States had recognised the independence of Argentina, and in 1823 the complicated state of world politics made decisive action necessary. Spain was once more in the grip of France, and it was the object of England to counteract her influence. Accordingly it was intimated to France that England considered the separation of the colonies from Spain as complete, and in the December of that year the United States put forward the celebrated Munroe Doctrine to serve as a warning to France or any other European Power that might cherish transatlantic designs.

It was on January 23, 1825, that the inevitable result was brought about. With the countenance of Sir Woodbine Parish, the English Minister, whose name is preserved by a meritorious work upon the country where he played so conspicuous a part, the federal States assembled and decreed the fundamental law of the Constitution. Here we may date the true commencement of the Republic of Argentina. The Revolution was at an end. True to the general character of her history Argentina displayed, in this important struggle, fewer striking events than any of the other young nations. The battles in her territory were few, and even the city feuds and inevitable executions were comparatively mild and infrequent. And yet that Argentina had the leading share in the Revolution no one can doubt, for, first of all, she gave to Spanish America that disinterested patriot San Martin, who was the George Washington of South America; and, in the next place, the victory of Belgrano at Tucuman went far towards paralysing loyalist activity in Peru, and finally Buenos Aires was even then regarded as the capital of the continent, on which were fixed the eyes of all South American revolutionists, and towards which all the plans of European statecraft and private intrigue were directed. Argentina was the leader and organiser of victory.

And what good came of it all? It may be regarded as a regrettable necessity due to the weakness of Spain.[83]
Spain was too feeble and the other Powers were too alien in every way to control this great Empire. It was necessary to act; but who will say that the consequences of the action were wholly beneficial? Argentina exchanged a benevolent, if unenterprising, Government for a long period of anarchy, alternating with despotism, but she was less unfortunate than most of the sister Republics. The men who fought and laboured for the cause of South American independence had no illusion on the subject. General Bolivar, the Liberator, when his task was over, said: "This country will inevitably fall into the hands of the unbridled rabble, and little by little become a prey to petty tyrants of all colours and races. If it were possible for any part of the world to return to a state of primitive chaos, that would be the fate of South America."

South America was in every respect most unfortunate. The weakness and misfortunes of Spain followed closely upon the growth of the revolutionary spirit which disturbed the whole world, and though the Continent was for a long time comparatively little affected by it, vigorous intrigues in Europe kept it alive, and when the time was ripe the revolutionists set to work. Equally unfortunate was it that the Revolution took place at a time when unchecked democracy was considered a practicable form of government. Experience has shown that it is beset with difficulties in all States; but where a portion of the people have political instincts and capacity, public affairs may go on, even if to some extent hampered by professions of a belief in ochlocracy, without serious disaster. Few people in the world could have been found less suited to direct democratic institutions than the Spanish Creole was at the time of the War of Independence. Little town communities, paternally governed groups of villages, all with complete local self-government and[85] united only by common loyalty to a King or Viceroy—such was the form of government under which the Indo-Spaniards might have lived and prospered; but the constitutions which they attempted to formulate were altogether incongruous under the circumstances. Political theorising has cost South America very dear.

Canning's oft-quoted sentence about the "New World which was called into existence to redress the balance of the Old" is, in the sense in which it is often quoted, a piece of cheap rhetoric. But, in fact, he was arguing that it was not worth while to go to war with France on account of the marching of French troops into Spain; the present Spain, he said, was not the country of which our ancestors were jealous; the Spain over the waters is independent, and the fact has entirely changed the balance of power.

To suppose, as those who quote the phrase often suppose, that South America was initiating a happy age in contrast to the wrongs and oppressions of the Old World, is too extravagant a belief to require refutation. In the nineteenth century the countries of Europe made steady progress, and even their internal troubles were generally fruitful in improved conditions. In South America most of the countries retrograded, and the whole continent was drenched with blood uselessly shed. Comparative tranquillity now prevails, but this is due to the general progress of the peoples—a progress which it would be rash to say was furthered by their political institutions. The heroics which have been uttered over the Spanish-America War of Independence are discounted by the facts of South American history. For a long time bloodshed and tyranny were its results; the people were as yet unfitted for full emancipation, and so little advantage has been taken of the experiences of three-quarters of a century that[86] the promise of the future is by no means serene, and its chief hope is that material prosperity may counterbalance defective political conditions. These are still unsound, and until rulers and subjects advance in civic capacity the good of Argentina will be the effects rather of the industry and enterprise of private individuals than of assemblies and statesmen.



The rule of Rivadavia was of great value to the country. He reformed the laws and administration, introduced wide and somewhat drastic ecclesiastical changes, established the University of Buenos Aires, and, in general, pursued an enlightened and progressive policy.[49] But the country was divided into two hostile parties, and neither being prepared to tolerate the triumph of the opposing system, the position of Rivadavia was rendered very difficult. He belonged to the Unitarian party, and its members have succeeded in maintaining their system, which aimed at a Republic with merely municipal local government. Buenos Aires was to be the administrative centre and to control every province, and thus to hold the position which Paris occupied in France. But the propertied classes in the interior belonged chiefly to the Federalist party. They viewed with suspicion the oligarchy of office at the capital, and advocated a federation on the model of the United States. At first Rivadavia held his ground against his active opponents, led by Manuel Dorrego, who were eagerly looking for an occasion against him; and this was speedily found in a foreign war.

Uruguay has been united to Brazil, but in 1825 it[88] revolted against the Emperor, and, as might have been expected, Argentina took the part of her neighbour, and Brazil declared war. Assisted by Admiral Brown, an Irishman, the Argentines inflicted great loss upon Brazilian shipping, and Alvear took command of a large army, which invaded Rio Grande do Sul and completely defeated the Brazilians at Ituzaingo on February 20, 1827. This blow was decisive, and a treaty was made by which Rivadavia, distracted by domestic troubles and anxious to secure peace at any price, agreed that Uruguay should still remain a part of Brazil. His enemies had already spared no efforts to rouse prejudice and inflame public resentment against him. Appeals had been made to provincial jealousies, the issue of paper-money was alleged to be draining the country of the precious metals, and even his statesmanlike efforts to encourage immigration and the hospitality he offered to foreigners were matters of accusation against him. The treaty raised a storm of indignation, and had to be annulled. Rivadavia was so completely discredited by this transaction that on July 7, 1827, he was forced to resign, and thus the country lost probably the best constructive statesman she has produced—a loss which she could ill afford.

Dorrego succeeded him, but in reality the Republic was showing a strong tendency to split up, and Lopez in Santa Fé, Ibarra in Santiago, Bustos in Cordoba, and Quiroga in Cuyo, possessed almost as much power as Dorrego at Buenos Aires. However, with the help of several of these men, he succeeded in ending the war by a compromise which left Uruguay an independent state. Argentina was thus free to devote herself to domestic warfare.

Lavalle was now the head of the Unitarians, and he succeeded in expelling Dorrego from Buenos Aires.[89] The latter fled to his estates and raised a body of adherents, but was captured and shot by Lavalle. The death of Dorrego cleared the way for a man who was destined to have a much longer political life than is usual in South America, and also to fill a much larger space in the eyes of the world. That man was Juan Manuel Rosas.

Darwin records that he and the well-wishers of Argentina were looking with satisfaction and hope at the vigorous measures and rapid advances of this remarkable man, and he also adds in a note written years afterwards that these hopes had been miserably disappointed. Rosas was a rich man, and from his earliest days had been engaged in cattle-raising on the southern Pampas. In this hardy open-air life he had greatly distinguished himself by his boldness and skill in riding, and was the idol of hundreds of half-savage Gauchos. He was not endowed with signal abilities, but he was a hard, practical man, full of audacity and little troubled by scruples. He was now the chief of the Federalists, but at first there seemed little prospect that he would be able to make head against Lavalle. The latter led an army to attack his enemies in Santa Fé, while General Paz marched upon Cordoba, and at the same time they sent some veteran troops to operate against Rosas in the south. But these were overthrown by the hardy horsemen of Rosas, and he came to the rescue of the Federalists. General Paz had captured Cordoba, and defeated Quiroga with heavy slaughter, but Rosas' weight turned the scale. He marched to Buenos Aires, and in June, 1829, Lavalle, who had become involved in a dispute with the French Minister, was glad to resign and leave the country. His successor, Viamont, was a puppet of Rosas.

On December 8, 1829, Rosas was elected Captain-[90]General in the interests of the Federalists, but he had no intention of allowing Federalist principles to stand in the way of his supreme rule. Lopez was despatched against Paz, who had the misfortune to be accidentally taken prisoner. Showing unusual magnanimity, Lopez spared his life. The troops of the Unitarians never recovered from the loss of their brave leader, and being attacked by the ferocious Quiroga and driven to Tucuman, they were in a hopeless position. Quiroga butchered five hundred prisoners in cold blood, and few of the remnants of Paz's army escaped to Bolivia.

Rosas then employed himself in consolidating his power at Buenos Aires, and with this object he repealed several of the Liberal laws of Rivadavia. In this task he was assisted by a clever and crafty man named Anchorena, with whose collaboration he passed a rigorous law of "suspects" directed against the Unitarians. Severe as he was against that party, and detested as he was by the late holders of office in the capital, who resented the dominion of a rustic, he was really, by his masterful measures, advancing the principle against which he posed as the nominal antagonist.[50] At the end of 1832 his term of office came to an end, and he was re-elected. But as his extraordinary powers were not renewed he haughtily refused office, and left Buenos Aires to reduce the Indians of the Pampa, who had taken advantage of the civil discords of Argentina. Again a man of straw was put at the helm. His name was Balcarce.

In the Indian war Rosas was successful, penetrating as far as the Rio Negro and destroying, according to his own computation, twenty thousand of the enemy. It is not[91] necessary to describe the manœuvres and hesitations which preceded his return to nominal as well as real power. In 1835 he accepted the title of Governor and Captain-General, and henceforth ruled as a military Dictator. Never was there a more ruthless tyrant. The two most prominent soldiers and possible rivals left in Buenos Aires were Quiroga and Lopez. Quiroga had seen the elevation of Rosas with ill-concealed disgust, and the new Dictator resolved to make away with him. Rosas, therefore, commissioned him to go to pacify Salta and Tucuman, and on his way thither caused him and his suite to be assassinated. Shortly afterwards Lopez died, and it is only necessary to say that his physician was handsomely rewarded by Rosas. He established a reign of terror, and formed a club of ruffians called the Massorca, whose business it was to murder his enemies. One Maza attempted a Parliamentary resistance to him, and the crafty Dictator, after the plan had failed, first lulled him into security by vague promises of safety and then sent four men to stab him to death. His death was followed by an extensive proscription; in fact, the history at this period is distinctly Tacitean.

The power of Rosas was the greater because he had the help of a skilful general named Urquiza, against whom none of the Dictator's many enemies could make head. For a long time his power was unassailable, for the poignards of the Massorca were ready to repress any opposition, and even the Church was powerless against him. He expelled the Jesuits, paying a tribute at the same time to "their Christian and moral virtues," but declaring that they were opposed to the principles of government. Undoubtedly they were to the principles of his Government.

One of the main features of his policy was jealousy of[92] foreign influence. He decided that all children born in Argentina were ipso facto citizens and liable to military service, and this decision remains in force at the present day. It led, however, to endless trouble with France. It is probable that if he had been able Rosas would have closed the country to all foreign nations, as his brother-tyrant, Francia, did in Paraguay.

But the old Greek saying that the worst disease of tyranny is the impossibility of reposing trust in its friends was to be justified, and Urquiza, his right-hand man, who had crushed the invaders from Uruguay at the battle of India Muerta and who had overawed all opposition, was at last to prove faithless. He had long been established as Governor of Entre Rios, where he had acted with remorseless cruelty in stamping out disaffection. His first attempts to subvert the authority of Rosas were unsuccessful, but in 1851 he made an alliance with Brazil and one of the Uruguayan factions, and in the December of that year he assembled a force of twenty-four thousand men, crossed the Parana, and marched into Santa Fé. On February 3, 1852, Rosas was overwhelmed at the battle of Casseros near the capital and he fled to Europe. Twenty-five years later he died in Hampshire.

Rosas disappeared unregretted. Although it is possible that at the time he came to the front a military dictatorship was the only possible form of government, yet he was one of the worst of the long list of South American tyrants, and it is probably impossible to find any redeeming feature about him except the fact that he encouraged agriculture—a service which was largely neutralised by his hatred of foreigners and foreign commerce. Undoubtedly he stopped the progress of a promising country, not only for the twenty years of his remorseless tyranny but for the long years which were required to[93] recover from the effects of his sanguinary and soulless domination.[51]

Anxious as all were for peace and constitutional government, there was some civil warfare and much dissension before the position of Urquiza could be secured. Finally, on May 1, 1853, the Constituent Congress drew up a Federal constitution, and this is practically still in force.[52] Hardly less important was the treaty of the 10th of July following, made with England, France, and the United States, which declared that the Parana and other rivers should be for ever open to navigation.

Urquiza was elected the first President under the new constitution for a period of six years, and the country[94] began to recuperate. The port of Rosario sprang into being, and the other river cities rapidly doubled in population. But towards the end of Urquiza's term civil troubles were renewed. The Province of Buenos Aires had been left outside the Confederation and was in a position of antagonism to the other Provinces. The party of the capital was called the Porteños—the men of the Port—and they took the place of the old Unitarian party. In 1859 Buenos Aires actually declared war upon the Federal Government, but Urquiza defeated its forces. Before a settlement could be made his term of office expired and he was succeeded by Dr. Durqui. Fortunately, the Governor of Buenos Aires, Bartolemo Mitre, was a true patriot, and though he was obliged to make war upon the President his efforts were directed to settling the Federal question, and they were, for the time, successful. Urquiza evacuated the capital and retired southwards. Mitre followed him with a large army, and in October, 1861, defeated him at Pavon and himself became President.

It would have been well if the energies of Mitre had been left unhampered to settle the thorny question of the respective claims of the Porteños and the provincials, but it was the misfortune of Argentina to be suddenly involved in the most serious foreign war of its history. This was the great Paraguayan war.

The occasion of the hostilities was Uruguay. That country had long been distracted by the savage political strife of the Colorados and Blancos, and in 1864 the Blancos, having got the upper hand, elected Dr. Aguirre to the Presidency, who, by his rigorous measures against all suspected of disaffection, excited the resentment of both Argentina and Brazil. Both of these countries had important stock-raising interests on the Uruguay frontiers, and in the civil turmoil their subjects were[95] frequently subjected to extortion and plunder. Having incurred the hostility of its too-powerful neighbours, Uruguay looked about for an ally, and found one in General Lopez, the Dictator of Paraguay.

Lopez in his youth had visited Europe, admired the great armies of the Continent, and returned convinced that he might play the part of Napoleon in South America. He had still hardly reached middle age and was able, cruel, and obstinate. He devoted all his efforts to raising and equipping an army by which he hoped to make himself the arbiter of South American politics. Accordingly he welcomed the appeal of Uruguay, and declared that he would regard an invasion of Uruguay by Brazil as an unfriendly act. When Brazil attacked Uruguay he did not, indeed, hasten to fulfil his promise; he cared nothing for the Colorados or Blancos, and the difficulties of invading Brazil were at first insuperable, but he was awaiting a favourable opportunity for his own aggrandisement. As far as Uruguay was concerned the Brazilians soon settled the matter; they beat down all resistance, set up Flores as President in February, 1865, and having established good relations with Montevideo, withdrew their army. But Lopez was a more difficult problem.

Lopez had already declared war; he had attacked Brazilian ships and made preparations to invade Rio Grande do Sul. His main object was to crush the Brazilian troops in the Plate district before they could be reinforced. His plans were bold, but there appeared no reason why they should not be successful. He had forty-five thousand infantry, ten thousand cavalry, and adequate artillery. Another fact in his favour was the friendship of Urquiza, now Governor of Corrientes, who was the enemy of Mitre. Both Brazil and Paraguay requested permission from Mitre to march their army[96] through Misiones, but the President wished to remain neutral and refused both requests. Lopez, however, was dismayed by no obstacle, and directed General Robles with twenty-five thousand men to invade Corrientes. They soon overran the province. Argentina was in an awkward position, for her regular army amounted to six thousand men only, but she had the support of Brazil and Uruguay. On June 2, 1865, the defeat of the Paraguayan fleet by Brazil at Riachuelo baulked Lopez's schemes of an offensive war, and the allies prepared to invade Corrientes. Lopez was further hampered by the defection of Urquiza, who finally refused to assist him.

The plan for the invasion of Rio Grande had not been abandoned, but the Paraguayan force was opposed by that of Brazil and Uruguay on August 17th, and suffered defeat. A month later the defeated army under Ertigarribia surrendered. Before the end of the year Lopez was compelled to evacuate the Argentine territory.

But his position was less unfavourable than might be supposed upon a comparison of the resources of the contending countries, for he had an excellent army and the country between the Parana and the Paraguay was admirably adapted to defensive operations. It was densely wooded and liable to floods which often made it impassable. As long as he could hold Humaita, where he had erected batteries to stop the Brazilian fleet, it would be impossible for the allies to make an effective advance. They had an army of forty thousand men concentrated near the town of Corrientes, and by April, 1866, they had forced the passage of the Parana and were in Paraguay. On May 24th they were attacked by twenty-five thousand Paraguayans and a desperate battle ensued, which ended in the victory of the allies. The Paraguayans lost five thousand killed and wounded, and their opponents, who lost about two thousand, were so[97] severely crippled that they could not advance upon Humaita—a movement which might have ended the war.

The army was devoted to Lopez and the Paraguayan made a fine soldier, while the allies, encamped in unhealthy swamps, lost heavily from disease. Mitre at last began an onward movement, but on September 22nd he was repulsed with great slaughter at Curupaiti, and the war came to a standstill. There was a long pause, for the difficulties of the allies were enormous and cholera broke out in their camp. It was not till November, 1867, that the Brazilian army succeeded in crossing the Paraguay north of Humaita, and this clever movement of the Brazilian Marshal Caxias decided the fate of the war. The allied armies began to close round Humaita and Brazilian warships forced their way beyond Curupaiti. Lopez fought with remarkable determination and skill, but his embarrassments rapidly increased, and on February 18, 1868, the Brazilian fleet ran the batteries at Humaita, and this entirely disorganised the transport system of Lopez, who relied chiefly upon his waterways. All through the year fighting continued, but on December 27, 1868, Lopez received a crushing defeat at Angostura, south of Asuncion, and he was compelled to fly into the interior. A few days later the Brazilians occupied Asuncion. But the irrepressible Lopez proclaimed a new capital at Peribebuy and made desperate efforts to carry on the war. After much fighting the allies succeeded in capturing the town in August, 1869, and pursuing Lopez, defeated him at Campo Grande, the last pitched battle of the war. He fled into the forest with his mistress, Madame Lynch, his children, and numerous faithful followers. Even in this extremity he still kept the field, until at last, on March 1, 1870, while he was encamped far to the north on the river[98] Aquidaban, his men were thrown into a panic by the approach of the enemy. In the confusion Lopez and his staff attempted to escape, but the General's horse stuck in a swamp; he refused to surrender, and was killed by a spear-thrust. Thus died this extraordinary man, who had wantonly led his country into a war in which five-sixths of her population perished.

During this long war the domestic history of Argentina was uneventful. Brazil was far more prominent in the war than Argentina, for General Mitre was several times distracted by rebellions in the north-west which called him from Paraguay. The rebels were easily driven across the Andes. But the constitutional question had never been settled, and hostility to the Porteños became stronger. The influence of Mitre had waned, and in 1868 Sarmiento was quietly elected in his place.

The close of the Paraguayan war is also the close of the anarchical period of Argentina's history. Hereafter, though she was often to be unwisely governed, the worst of the wars and revolutions were at an end, and the people were to devote themselves to developing the natural wealth of the country. Since the Revolution, her history had been almost as bloodstained and turbulent as the worst of her neighbours, but henceforward peace and prosperity, though not uninterrupted, are to distinguish her from the other South American Republics.



The era of modern Argentina is inaugurated by the Presidency of Sarmiento in 1868. Hitherto her business had been to work out her destiny with much waste of human life and wealth, now her task was to create both. Population[53] began to increase and industries flourished. Railways were extended and the administration was improved. It was a season of prosperity in almost every part of the world, and in this Argentina fully shared. Brazil had suffered much during the war, and Argentina profited by supplying its needs and also made up for her own losses by developing the vast pastoral and agricultural resources. The only political event of importance during Sarmiento's term of office was an insurrection in Entre Rios, where the veteran Urquiza was still Governor. One Lopez Jordan was leader of the revolt, and he succeeded in capturing and murdering Urquiza. The old man deserved a more peaceful end, for, though cruel, he had aimed at the public welfare, and he was one of those who did good service in establishing the Republic on a firm basis.[100] After much bloodshed the rebellion was suppressed by young Julio Roca, a rising soldier.

Sarmiento's term of office came to an end in 1874. Mitre, favoured by the Porteños, and Dr. Avellaneda were rivals for the succession, and the latter became President, greatly to the annoyance of the Porteños. He introduced a more economical policy, and the country continued to prosper, but by far the most important event of the time was the reduction of Patagonia—an event the magnitude of which cannot even yet be estimated. It was less than a hundred years ago since the first small attempts at settlement had been made there, and Patagonia was still practically an enormous waste, a no-man's land, unmapped and roamed over by savage Indians. General Roca, now Minister of War, began to peg out claims for posterity. After Rosas had fallen from power the Indians had recovered most of the territory which he had taken from them, but now that Argentina was at peace the Government was more than able to hold its own, and in 1878 Roca employed the whole power of the country to subjugate Patagonia. He succeeded in making the Rio Negro the southern boundary. The Province of Buenos Aires claimed the whole of this new territory, but the other members of the Federation were naturally unwilling to see her thus augmented, and she had to be content with an addition of 63,000 square miles. The rest of the new land was divided into Gobernaciones, or Territories, as they would be called in the United States.

But he was to attain more notoriety in a less useful struggle. The perennial source of discord—the Provinces against Buenos Aires or the Federalists against the Unitarians—which ought to have been settled on the downfall of Rosas, was once more to convulse the Republic. Avellaneda, who was favourable to the Pro[101]vinces, was determined to choose his successor, and the opposition candidate was Dr. Tejedor, who had the support of Mitre. Roca was the nominee of the outgoing President. The situation rapidly became strained, and in June and July, 1880, the partisans of either side took up arms and there was considerable bloodshed in Buenos Aires. The advantage rested with Roca's party; the Porteños were compelled to ask for terms of peace, and at last the difficult constitutional question was settled. Without delay Buenos Aires was declared the Federal capital, and although the Porteños were nominally defeated, their principles triumphed in reality. The result was the establishment of a strong central Government, and this was of the happiest effect in consolidating the Confederacy and in binding together its hitherto disjointed members.

This was a time of great material prosperity. Other opportunities will be taken of dwelling on this subject; here it is sufficient to say that industry and commerce expanded very rapidly. There was a huge boom; men seemed to be growing rich rapidly; it was a period of inflation and the President's attempt to establish the currency on a gold basis was unpopular and unsuccessful. But under his rule, and with the assistance of the able Pellegrini, the credit of Argentina improved and a loan of £8,000,000 was negotiated. On the whole, Roca's administration did him credit, although undoubtedly he might have taken more advantage of the exceptionally favourable circumstances, and introduced sounder and more honest principles of administration.

His successor, Dr. Juarez Celman, was a person of altogether inferior stamp. The fever for speculation grew rapidly, large additions were made to the national indebtedness, and the premium on gold doubled. The[102] Government, as is usually the case with South American Governments, was below rather than above the public standard of conduct. Government, Provinces, and municipalities, led the way in wasteful expenditure, the inflation reached its height. The time of the inevitable crash drew near.

In 1889 public opinion, wiser than the Government, grew apprehensive, and the Civic Union was formed with the object of overthrowing the President and reforming the finances and administration. Roca and Mitre, sincerely anxious for the good of their country, were the leading spirits in the opposition, and in July, 1890, the Revolution began. Some fighting took place, but the spirit of faction was less ferocious than it had been a generation ago, and most men seemed to consider that the desperate financial condition needed radical measures. The resistance of the Government was half-hearted, and on July 30th Celman resigned.

Pellegrini, the Vice-President, succeeded him, and it was time for the national affairs to be placed in more capable hands. The treasury was empty, and there was a great burden of debt. The whole financial and monetary system was in confusion, and in September Pellegrini was obliged to issue notes for $50,000,000. This step provided money for the immediate necessities of administration, but it helped to precipitate the crash which came in March, 1891. This vast monetary convulsion will be long remembered in England, and it has served as a salutary warning both to European investors and to speculators in the country itself, who now recognise that credit and the reputation for honesty is one of the chief factors in a country's prosperity. The Banco Nacional, in spite of all efforts on the part of the Government to save it, was submerged, and the same fate met every other bank except the London and River[103] Plate. As a matter of course, political trouble followed industrial trouble, and in February while Roca was driving in a carriage he was fired at and slightly wounded. It was, however, to him and Mitre that the people looked to extricate them from their troubles, and the Porteños nominated Mitre as candidate for the Presidency amidst great enthusiasm, but the Cordoba section was indignant, and Mitre was induced to withdraw on condition that the new candidate should be non-party and that the election should be impartial. At the beginning of 1892 Saenz Peña, the candidate favoured by Mitre and Roca, was elected, and Alem, the leader of the new Radical party, known as the Civic Union, was banished. Pellegrini's term of office had disappointed his supporters and few regretted his retirement.

The task of Peña was hardly less difficult than that of Pellegrini. The improvement in the finances and administration came very slowly, but the chief troubles were political, for Argentina had not yet adapted herself to the smooth working of federal institutions. Alem, who had returned from exile, was still preaching disaffection and taking advantage of the turbulent disposition of the various Provinces. In 1893 Costa, the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires, who had a strong military force, planned the overthrow of the central Government, and his example was followed by Santa Fé and several other Provinces. In August Costa was forcibly deposed, but the movement in Santa Fé was fostered by Alem, and the Radicals were eager to overthrow Peña and his friends. Matters grew extremely serious, for there was disaffection in the navy, but on September 25th General Roca took command of the army, and on October 1st he rescued Rosario from the hands of the revolutionists. Alem and other leaders[104] were imprisoned and the power of the Radicals vanished, but public affairs remained in a threatening condition.

Evidence was found of widespread corruption, and that there was no public feeling against it is shown by the following incident. Costa had left the affairs of Buenos Aires in confusion, and the central Government appointed Dr. Lopez to administer them. He found evidence of malpractices against one Colonel Sarmiento and charged him, but failed to secure a conviction. Thereupon Sarmiento provoked Lopez to a duel, in which the latter was mortally wounded, but Sarmiento received a merely nominal punishment. The Government was thoroughly distrusted; it seemed powerless to reform abuses, and there was little likelihood that if the ruling Ministers were removed their successors would do any better. Such progress as the country made was due to the efforts of private citizens and the improvement in the trade conditions of the world.

The detachment of Peña from political parties had been expected to prove advantageous, but in practice this was not the case, for the President, having no party, had no supporters in the Congress, and matters approached a deadlock. At the beginning of 1895 the President found it impossible to induce the Congress to vote the Budget, and there was also a split in the Cabinet about the fate of two naval officers condemned for participation in the Santa Fé outbreak. Peña wished to confirm the death sentence; there was strong opposition, and Peña was probably glad of the excuse to resign and disappear from political life. This took place on January 21, 1895. The sentence upon the two officers was commuted to one of imprisonment.

He was succeeded by the Vice-President Uriburu, who had also been chosen on account of his neutrality; but he was more successful, and he had the powerful support[105] of Roca and Pellegrini. During his first year of office it seemed probable that a foreign war would be added to all the other troubles of the Republic, for the boundary dispute with Chile was assuming a threatening attitude and continued to disturb public tranquillity for seven years. This subject can be treated more conveniently in the history of the next administration, when it was settled. In this year a boundary dispute with Brazil about the Misiones was settled by the arbitration of President Cleveland in favour of the latter country.[54]

Little progress in settling the nation's difficulties was made under Uriburu, but internal and external peace was maintained. In 1898 General Roca succeeded him as President, and it was generally felt that a man had appeared who was competent to steer the ship of State into smoother waters. He had been of great service during the troubles which had attended the resignation of Celman, and had kept the disorderly elements in check. He had, all through the troubles of ten years, been on the side of law and order, and he was practically the leader of a national party.

In May, 1898, the President in his message to Congress denounced judicial corruption, and the publicity which he gave to these abuses resulted in several improvements; but there is still much matter for adverse criticism in the administration of justice in Argentina. The improvements in Government methods led to gradual general improvement, which, however, was also the result of natural causes, and Argentina became undoubtedly the most prosperous country in South America. The fear[106] of political disintegration has become a thing of the past, owing to the preponderance of the capital in wealth and influence, but neither Roca himself nor any other successor has been able to banish a serious evil from which Argentina suffers, and which, though not causing civil war on a large scale, brings about disquieting strikes and riots. This is due to defective methods of government. The President may be said to have been the "saviour of his country" in the sense that a weaker or dishonest man would probably have plunged the country into both domestic and foreign war, and neutralised all the progress of a generation. But he could not bequeath political capacity to his colleagues, nor could he eradicate many bad traditions of long standing.

His last work was the settlement of the boundary dispute with Chile. It is not necessary to go into the history of the subject previous to the Treaty of 1881. In the old Spanish days there had been uncertainty about the boundary, and during the existence of the two Republics the quarrel had never slept. "During the whole of its progress the Argentine Republic contended that her western boundary from north to south was the Cordillera de los Andes, and that, in consequence, she had dominion over all the territory eastward of the crest of the Cordillera, the greater part of the Straits of Magellan, and the whole of Tierra del Fuego. Chile on her part accepted the natural boundary of the Cordillera, to a great extent, but maintained that this boundary did not rule in the southern part of the continent; that in Patagonia the territory on both sides of the Andes were Chilian, from the Pacific to the Atlantic; that the Straits of Magellan were Chilian; and that Tierra del Fuego was also Chilian."[55]

The two Republics made a Treaty in 1881. They[107] agreed that down to 52° S., i.e., to the Straits of Magellan, the boundary was to be the Cordilleras de los Andes. The line was to pass over the highest points of the watershed. The southern boundary was also determined. The Treaty represents a concession on the part of Chile, who gave up her extravagant claims to the east of Patagonia. But she still claimed that the line should follow the highest points in the watershed, while the Argentine Government insisted that the line should run from highest peak to highest peak.

This Treaty was ratified, but not carried out. In 1883 the Argentine Government informed its Ambassador at Santiago that the time had come to trace the boundary line. But procrastination is a South American characteristic, and the affair drifted on until, in 1888, a Convention was made. In accordance with the Treaty of 1881, this Convention appointed experts to trace the line. The matter, in fact, was one of great difficulty, for unfortunately it turned out that the watersheds and the highest summits did not coincide, and the experts disagreed hopelessly.

The question of the rivers had raised fresh obstacles, and the experts had brought matters to such a tangle that it was necessary in 1893 to draw up a Protocol to explain them further. The main principle which it fixed was that in case the high peaks of the Cordillera should be crossed by any river, that river should be cut by the boundary line. The experts continued their work, which was extremely arduous, for the boundary line ran through unexplored forests and mountains. But in 1895 feelings ran to a dangerous height in both countries, and the people of Argentina declared that the Chilians were assuming an aggressive attitude and were likely to attack them. They were made the more uneasy by the discovery that the army and stores had, like everything else,[108] suffered from long years of misrule, and Congress voted fifty million gold dollars for military preparations. In July, 1898, a further controversy arose. The Puna de Atacama is a great salt waste of rugged tableland, volcanic, grassless, and inhospitable. Working from the north, the experts had found no great difficulty until they reached this savage territory. Here there was a deadlock, and the Chilians claimed the whole district. Possibly the belief that the disputed territory contained considerable borax deposits accentuated the quarrel, but the main source of it was national pride, for the majority of the Andine territory was of small value. The experts south of the Atacama waste proceeded more smoothly till they reached Patagonia. "Here,[56] indeed, the fundamental condition of identity between the "highest crest" and the "water parting" (or "divide," as it is called in North America), existed in full force, and no ground for dispute presented itself, the "main range" of the Andes being exceptionally well adapted by position and structure for an international boundary. It was the divergence of these two essential conditions in Patagonia which imperilled the peace of South America. The Patagonian rivers were found to flow from east to west right athwart, or transverse to, the general trend of the Andine mountain system from north to south. They were found to break across the great mountain masses, and to intersperse wide valleys, across which the boundary must either be carried from one mass of peaks to the next or else be made to skirt the indefinite edge of cordillera and pampas, where the two insensibly combine and where the rivers rise. A very little examination proved the incompatibility of "higher crests" with "water parting" as a fixed principle of demarcation in these parts."[57]

With this fruitful field of dispute before them it is not surprising that angry feelings were engendered, especially among the Chilians, who have narrow territory, and were unwilling to give up a square mile without a struggle. In August Chile despatched an ultimatum demanding arbitration, and Roca induced his Cabinet to assent to the demand.


The smaller question—the Atacama territory—was referred to the United States. Mr. Buchanan was appointed arbiter, and he was assisted by one Chilian and one Argentine Commissioner. Mr. Buchanan drew a boundary line which he considered to be just, and by an ingenious device contrived that both the agreement and the disagreement of the Commissioners should preserve its integrity.[58] The dispute was thus happily settled, and not long afterwards Roca met the Chilian President at Punta Arenas, and an agreement to restrict armaments was made.

But the Patagonian boundary was a matter of much greater difficulty. It was referred to Great Britain, and in December, 1899, the Commission in London issued a most exhaustive report. It was necessary to proceed very slowly in such a perplexing matter, and public feeling was greatly excited, both countries appearing to be eager for war. Such a catastrophe seemed to be probable, for Señor Alcorta, the Argentine War Minister, was extremely bellicose, but on January 31, 1902, Sir Thomas Holdich was sent with a small Commission to endeavour to determine the boundary line, and it was intimated to[109]
both Governments that if hostile preparations continued King Edward VII. would be compelled to withdraw from his position as arbiter. The tension was somewhat relieved by the sudden death of Señor Alcorta, and Roca acted a statesmanlike part in working for peace, and it was largely through his exertions that in June, 1902, a Treaty was signed to restrict armaments. When Sir Thomas Holdich's Commission gave its decision a few months later, the award was loyally accepted.

This settlement of a great question is one of the most signal triumphs for the principle of arbitration, for on this occasion neither party was willing to make concessions and the disposition of both was rather to war than to peace. The benefit of the settlement was incalculable, for it preserved the two most flourishing States in South America from a war which would have gone far towards ruining both.[59] This example has been of the utmost value to South America, and arbitration is undoubtedly beginning to replace the appeal to arms.

With this triumph of peace this modern history of Argentina may fitly be closed. President Roca, who had deserved so well of his country, was succeeded in 1904 by Dr. Manuel Quintana, who still holds that post, and his term of office has been one of great material prosperity for the Republic.



Argentina is nominally a Federal Republic and her Constitution closely resembles that of the United States. But, in fact, the federal element is much fainter in the southern Republic, for, as has been shown, the struggles between the two great parties eventually led to the attainment by the central Government at Buenos Aires of that preponderance which was inevitable in view of the vast superiority of the capital to the Provinces in population, civilisation, and geographical position. But the Spanish distaste for centralised administration shows itself in the reluctance to admit the facts, and of this the town of La Plata is an almost comic instance. When, in 1882, it was decided to make this place, which is distant about thirty-five miles from Buenos Aires, the capital of the Province, the authorities spared no effort in planning and building a magnificent city which should be an effectual counterpoise to the federal capital and a standing protest against Unitarian theory. But to build a town is one thing and to people it another; the vast political and commercial interests of Buenos Aires completely overshadowed the upstart city, and it remains a mere lifeless husk, unvitalised by the comparatively insignificant Provincial business. In the United States interference by the Federal Government in State rights is extremely[112] rare and would be liable to cause real civil war; in the Argentina it is common and only brings about a "revolution"—a political phenomenon which has been very mild in type in Argentina during the last decade or two, and indeed public opinion generally seems to applaud the President when he brings an unruly Governor to book.


The President is the outstanding feature of the Constitution. Important as the head of the State is in the North American Republic, in Argentina the President might almost say "L'État c'est moi," for the well-being of Argentina has practically been conditioned by the character of the Presidents. The wickedness of a Rosas or the folly of a Celman formerly made her a byword among nations, while the sagacity and patriotism of a Rivadavia or a Roca have turned imminent disaster into prosperity. The President and Vice-President are elected by Presidential electors who are chosen in each Province by the direct vote of the people, and who, as in the United States, are chosen for that purpose alone. The office of President is held for six years, and the holder of it is Commander-in-Chief and has all the State patronage, including the ecclesiastical. In him, of course, the executive power is embodied. He is assisted by eight Secretaries of State—the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, War, Justice, Agriculture, Marine, and Public Works—but they are appointed by him and may be dismissed at pleasure, so it will be easily understood that his power is enormous.

The Legislature is of the familiar type. The upper house is the Senate with thirty members, two for each of the fourteen Provinces and two for the city of Buenos Aires, and their term of office is for nine years, but one third of them is renewed every three years. The provincial senators are elected by the Legislatures of the[113] Provinces, the two for Buenos Aires by a special body of electors. The House of Deputies, which is the lower branch of the National Congress, consists of 120 members, elected by the people, and there is supposed to be one deputy for every 33,000 inhabitants. Each member of Congress receives the somewhat extravagant allowance of 12,000 dollars, or about £1,060. The Vice-President is Chairman of the Senate—and here it will be noticed how very closely the Argentines follow the northern practice—and it has also sometimes happened that the apparent sinecure of the Vice-Presidency has been the step to the great office. The President now in power, Dr. José Figueroa Alcorta,[60] was Vice-President till March, 1906, when he succeeded on the death of President Quintana. Like our House of Commons, the House of Deputies is the money chamber, and it has the right of impeaching guilty officials before the Senate.

The various Provinces have their own Constitution and in theory have complete local self-government, even to the right of framing their own fiscal policy, but, as hinted above, they have not in practice very great power. There are also a number of Gobernaciones, thinly populated and governed in more or less absolute fashion. For convenience of reference, the list of Provinces and Gobernaciones, with their areas and estimated population, may be given.

 Area in Square Miles. Populations.
Buenos Aires City721,125,693
     "     "      Province117,7771,550,372
Santa Fé50,916751,298
Entre Rios28,784383,816
La Rioja34,54685,388
San Juan33,715110,035
San Luis28,535106,315
Santiago del Estero39,764193,211
El Chaco52,74127,414
Rio Negro75,92428,166
Santa Cruz109,1424,927
Tierra del Fuego8,2991,703
Los Andes21,9892,768

The Supreme Federal Court with its five judges administers justice and is also the Court of Appeal. Trial by jury appears in the Constitution but it is never practised. The administration of justice has long been acknowledged to be in an unsatisfactory state and attempts to improve it have not borne much fruit. Cases are known in which Englishmen have been kept twelve months in prison awaiting trial, and if this is the case with foreigners it may be supposed that natives have much cause for complaint. In his last Message to Congress (May, 1909) the President, while paying a tribute to "the patriotic diligence of our magistrates," remarked that the ordinary Courts of Justice of the capital still leave something to be desired as regards rapidity of action, and he attributes the delay to the fact that the population has outgrown the system, which, he said, "is too cramped to cope with the demands on it,[115] and I think there is urgent and imperious need for reform if we desire to avert a permanent cause for complaint and discredit." Undoubtedly the foreign man of business, whose capital and enterprise is essential to the development of Argentina, will be more deterred by defects in the administration of justice than any other circumstance, for if there is the probability of pecuniary loss in civil cases and discomfort and persecution for his subordinates in the criminal Courts, the advantages of the country as a field for capital must be seriously discounted. It is, however, in far-away, scantily populated districts where the hard cases occur, but it is generally acknowledged that there is considerable room for improvement in the administration of justice.

The position in the world of a great State depends upon the courage and endurance of its people, and these qualities are typified by the efficiency which they demand in the army and navy. Argentina is advancing on the road to greatness, and therefore her military position is a matter of increasing importance. It may be hoped that conditions are now no longer favourable to the unprofitable wars which in the past have been perpetually waged between South American States, for foreign capital has a steadying influence and the sense of kinship between Latin Americans is becoming stronger. However, it must be remembered that the fraternal spirit of the Greeks did not preserve them from internecine wars, and Argentina, flanked by each of the other two powerful South American Republics, cannot afford to neglect her armaments. It may be that the wars nullos habitura triumphos are at an end; it is almost certain that they will be less frequent; but there is now the question of foreign interference, and every Republic, however small and weak, jealously guards its own independence and wishes to be safe from the possibility of[116] dictation from either the United States or Japan. None of the Republics as yet are World States, but South America is a World Power, though not a political entity, and as time goes on it is safe to predict that Pan-Americanism will become a powerful force. Accordingly, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, at least, are busily strengthening their defences.

Military service is compulsory upon all citizens, and, it may be added, every person born in Argentina, whatever his parentage, is liable. At the age of twenty the young recruit has to serve for two years[61] and in some cases he prolongs his term for three years more. Thus the Republic is certain of having a tolerably large amount of disciplined material upon which to draw for an army. The peace strength of the army consists of sixteen thousand or seventeen thousand officers[62] and men, and is made up as follows: There are eighteen batteries of artillery and two mountain batteries, two battalions of chasseurs of the Andes, nine regiments of cavalry, two regiments of gendarmes, five batteries of field artillery, three mountain batteries, and five companies of engineers. For ten years after the first enlistment the Argentine soldier belongs to the active army, and is liable to frequent drill and must attend the annual rifle meeting of his district. Then, for ten years, he passes into the National Guard, and subsequently serves for another five years in the Territorial Guard. In these two forces the drilling is, of course, much less frequent. In war ten divisions of twelve thousand men would be available, but there might be a difficulty in obtaining[117] them in full strength and satisfactory condition. Sir Thomas Holdich speaks of sixty thousand infantry, twenty-five thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand artillery. There is, however, little doubt that Argentina possesses a good army, sufficient for the defence of even her very vulnerable frontier. Upon the Argentine army, at least as regards the cavalry[63] and artillery, favourable judgments have been passed. The cavalry is, to a large extent, ready-made. In England two years of incessant training is required to make an efficient cavalry trooper, but the Gaucho is a horseman from his childhood; he and all his ancestors have passed all their life with horses, and horsemanship is part of his nature. Consequently, although Argentine soldiers, as a rule, have very little service to their credit, they learn their trade in an astonishingly short time. The troops are also well mounted—not on the common Criollo horse, which is grass-fed, and, except under Pampa conditions, not over-hardy. The artillery are armed with 75-millimetre Krupp guns; the infantry have Mauser rifles; the arms and stores are in a high state of efficiency. The infantry some years ago was condemned as untidy and undisciplined, and its officers as ignorant of their duties, but Sir Thomas Holdich considers that there is no ground for sweeping condemnation. It is, however, undoubtedly much inferior to the cavalry, and pains are being taken to improve it. Possibly the training of officers is too short, and there is reason to believe that military service is not popular among Argentines of the highest class. An excellent[118] institution has been started in a technical school for warrant officers (we should call them non-commissioned), which has five hundred pupils, and has already provided 278 corporals to various regiments. At the same time the pay and condition of the sergeants have been improved. As the backbone of the army is the non-commissioned man, these steps will doubtless be most effective. Sir T. Holdich[64] remarks: "The fighting army of South America, generally will, however, never be infantry in the future, unless it be mounted infantry. In Argentina especially, where a horse can readily be found for every man, and where every man knows how to ride, and where there is a large population (diminishing, unfortunately, day by day) which habitually exists on the very scantiest of a meat supply which needs no special transport, caring nothing for those extras which make so large a demand on English commissariat, efficient mounted infantry is almost ready-made. The mobilisation of such a force would be as effective as that of the Boers, and its discipline far superior."

The Argentines are proud of their army, and with reason, for its history is more illustrious than that of any other Latin American people. They twice conquered the English under some of our best (and one of our worst) generals. The exploits of San Martin in Chile are among the most glorious in the history of the continent. The Argentine army also had a large share in the reduction of Paraguay, then the strongest military power in South America, and there seems to be every probability that it will maintain its reputation. It may, however, be reasonably doubted whether it is equal in military efficiency to the army of Chile, and it rests with wealthy and influential Argentines to make the choice of Hercules, and, preferring the national[119] good to luxury and pleasure, encourage by their active example the military traditions of the race.

The naval efficiency of Argentina is a matter of equal moment. Her Atlantic sea-board extends for 1,000 miles and her southern ports are increasing in size and number. In South America sea-power is of vital importance; on the Pacific coast the ocean is the only highway, and on the eastern coast also journeys from north to south must be almost invariably made by sea. If Peru had possessed one or two more efficient warships, she might have defeated Chile, and the Paraguayan war was decided by the fact that the allies commanded the rivers. Indeed, the whole history of South America affords the clearest proof of the capital importance of sea-power. It is, therefore, necessary that Argentina should have a navy; but in forming it there are serious obstacles to be encountered. Her sons are not sea-faring men; they have ever found the vast plains of the interior too tempting, and have avoided the coasts. There are no fishing villages and no natural nurseries of sailors. It seems strange that the Government, which is only too ready to attempt to create industries, suitable or unsuitable, has not attempted to bring into being a maritime population which would serve for defence as well as opulence. There is, in fact, little interest in any such matters on the part of the population, and the President is now lamenting the disinclination to a sea-faring life, and of recent years steps have been taken to obtain more satisfactory results; but the total mercantile marine, as yet, amounts to barely 100,000 tons. There is, however, a College for training officers, and also engineers and stokers for the mercantile marine, and there is a Pilot School, and various measures show that the authorities are alive to the importance of the question. In his last Message to Congress the Presi[120]dent said: "One of the principal reasons for granting privileges to ships flying the Argentine flag is the employment of native crews, so that the nation's sons may find a new path of life, and the navy a fresh source from which to draw sailors in case of an emergency." The Argentine sailor is a land-conscript, laboriously taught an unfamiliar art, which he learns wonderfully well. It is quite possible to create an efficient navy out of landsmen, but the lack of natural seamen will always be a great handicap, which, doubtless, the Government will do its best to remove. It will thus be gathered that Argentina, in spite of her geographical position, is not by nature a sea Power, and indeed she appears to devote attention to the navy only under external pressure. It was apprehension of war with Chile during the boundary dispute that induced the Government to buy the Buenos Aires in 1896, the Garribaldi in 1897, and in 1898 the San Martin, the Puerryedon, and the Belgrano. Again, the present naval programme is due to the activity of the Brazilian naval preparations. The following table gives the strength of the fleet:—

Date.Battleships.Displacement in Tons.Speed in Knots.
1879Almirante Brown4,26714
1889Independencia Libertad2,33614
 Armoured Cruisers.
"San Martin6,84020
Protected Cruisers.
188925 de Maio3,20022
1891de Juilio3,50022·5
1894Buenos Aires4,50024



In 1908 the naval officers numbered 493 and the petty officers and seamen nearly 6,000. There has been constructed at Belgrano, about 27 miles from Bahia Blanca, a naval port which will admit of the docking of vessels of 12,000 tons. In 1908 the cost of the army and fleet was £1,849,300. But in the future Argentina, like most other countries, will have to bear a heavier burden, for a scheme is being carried out which, it is hoped, will be completed in five years and will cost about seven million sterling. The new vessels will consist of three battleships of 15,000 tons each, nine destroyers, and twenty-one torpedo boats, as well as several vessels for harbour defence. In the course of a few years, therefore, Argentina will have a fairly powerful fleet. That there is any risk of a conflict between Brazil and Argentina no one believes. In both countries the same opinion is invariably expressed that as one country is building warships, it is necessary for the other to follow suit, and that though there is some jealousy there is little animosity and no material whatever for quarrel or any probability of war. It may be added that Argentina, at any rate, is well able to bear the extra burden, that it is for many reasons desirable that the principal South American States should possess some naval strength, and that an adequate fleet will add to the weight and dignity of Argentina in the councils of South America. For example, the decision of Argentina in the recent Peruvian-Bolivian arbitration case might have been repudiated by Bolivia and the insult to the Argentine Legation at La Paz might have been condoned, had Argentina been weak; and thus it was proved once more that it is strength and not weakness that preserves peace. In this case, of course, the fleet does not enter into the question, as Bolivia, like Bohemia, has no sea-coast, but the people of[122] Argentina deserve every credit for the efforts and sacrifices which they are making to secure an efficient army and navy, and, in all probability, the money will be handsomely repaid merely in the matter of preservation from costly wars.

In foreign affairs the present policy of the Republic is creditable as, on the whole, the past has been.

The Government has shown itself honourably desirous of resorting to arbitration for the settlement of its disputes and of encouraging the other Republics to do the same. In all external relations a dignified and conciliatory attitude is maintained and every effort is made to encourage foreigners to visit the country and settle, and the statesmen of the Republic are zealous to maintain the Republic in a reputation worthy of her great prospects in the eyes of other nations. It is in domestic politics that the outlook is unsatisfactory, and here it must be acknowledged that although Argentina, owing to her wealth and the energetic character of her inhabitants, does not appear to the world in the same deplorable light as several South American Republics almost habitually exhibit themselves, she is nevertheless an extremely ill-governed country. The subject of South American politics is a commonplace with all writers; the hot-blooded Creole, who for centuries had been subject to a paternal government, was altogether unfitted for Parliamentary institutions.

It has been seen that Argentina, on the whole, shows a considerably better state of affairs in the nineteenth century than most of its neighbours, and had she not fallen under the malign influence of Rosas, the Plate District might have been the one bright spot in Latin America. But all the faults of inexperience, ignorance, and passion marred the political history, and the complaint ever is that the government is carried on in the[123] interests of the official few at the expense of the hard-working many.

The politics are almost entirely personal, and the parties have little discipline; the leaders are full of vague ideas of progress and the megalomania common in the politicians of a new country, and this lack of experience and capability appears very clearly in the finance. Congress is not really competent to consider the budget, and it is usually hurried through in a most unceremonious manner, and the vast increase of expenditure alarms the thoughtful men of the Republic. A recent work[65] on the general financial conditions says: "The increase of national expenditure is a constant, we might almost say fatal, fact, which reproduces itself year by year in the Argentine administration."

It is true that a young country ought not to be criticised on the same principles as ancient, long-established States. It is necessary for the former rapidly to develop its resources and lay foundations upon which future generations may build, and such a process entails great public expense. But there is a conviction that economy and good administration are urgently needed, and that the future is being unduly mortgaged. Resentment at the growth of public burdens is very keen, and political strikes are becoming common. The temptation to squander public funds is almost irresistible, and as elsewhere, economy is unpopular and has utterly inadequate safeguards.

There is reason to fear that little actual improvement is likely in the near future, for the whole system is on an unsound basis—the view that political power is not an honourable privilege but a perquisite. The general national attitude towards this subject is worse in many countries than in Argentina, but an eminent[124] French economist[66] points out the capital vice of South American politics: "Leurs hommes les plus énergiques, au lieu de chercher la richesse dans l'exploitation des agents naturels, l'ont cherché dans l'exploitation du pouvoir. Ils n'ont pas pour force motrice la concurrence économique, mais la concurrence politique. Ils considérent que le moyen le plus prompt et le plus facile de s'enricher est d'être les maîtres du gouvernment."

There is some analogy between the position of Argentina and the United States. In both countries business careers have offered such attractions that the best and strongest men have devoted themselves to the amassing of wealth, and politics have fallen into inferior hands. This is better than the case in many States where those who desire wealth look first of all to a political career, but the United States has of late realised that politics is a pursuit which demands high intelligence and character, and thus the national welfare has been appreciably advanced. In Argentina the race for wealth has been too absorbing to allow devotion of the best energies to politics, but as time goes on professions will become more sharply distinguished and a leisured and, it may be hoped, public-spirited class will grow up, and Argentina may gain a reputation not only for stability but also for good administration.



The Condition of the People question, as Carlyle says, is the most pressing of all. But it is a question almost impossible to answer, and few inquiries are more futile than the attempt to ascertain the comparative well-being of different countries. Two inquirers with equal knowledge of a country will collect statistics and compile elaborate volumes, and one will come to the conclusion that the people are extremely well off and the other that they are in extreme destitution. They will then apply themselves to another country with the same contradictory results. Carlyle complains: "Hitherto, after many tables and statements, one is still left mainly to what he can ascertain by his own eyes, looking at the concrete phenomenon for himself. There is no other method; and yet it is a most imperfect method. Each man expands his own hand-breadth of observation to the limits of the general whole; more or less, each man must take what he himself has seen and ascertained for a sample of all that is seeable and ascertainable. Hence discrepancies, controversies, widespread, long-continued; which there is at present no means or hope of satisfactorily ending." Wages, price of food, rents, and the other weapons of the statistician are of very little use in attacking the problem. The Hindu peasant[126] may be too poor to buy meat, but if he is non-carnivorous, the deprivation is no hardship, and he may enjoy much greater material well-being than many who eat meat daily. But knowledge of the elementary facts about the life of a people seems to have little effect in elucidating the question, for, as just remarked, people with long experience come to diametrically opposite conclusions. Those who have lived all their lives in England or Ireland disagree toto cælo in their opinions as to the well-being of the working classes. Many observers, of course, believing that facts are silent until they are interpreted by theory, use their facts for the sole purpose of making their theory speak, but, as a matter of fact, entirely disinterested persons differ quite as profoundly. One is tempted to believe that in the Condition of the People question there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Probably no one could get an idea of the condition of the poor approaching in any degree to accuracy without living long among them in exactly their way, and even then his conclusions would be warped in every way by reference to his own standards and by the fact that the circumstances, which to him were temporal, were to his associates everlasting. Further, his imperfect knowledge would apply only to one people and so would be useless for the purposes of comparison.

It is not likely, therefore, that a visitor will be able to impart much information upon the subject, but the opinions of the experienced and the testimony of statistics form a rough guide, and these may be given.

In Buenos Aires, of course, wages are higher than elsewhere and the cost of living is also high. The following table shows the rate of wages in some important trades in that city:[127]

Leading handper diem089
Labourersper month about6100
Carversper diem0106
Labourersper month about6176
Head bellowsmanper diem0108
Furniture Makers—
Leading polisher"089
Second polisher"070
Decorating foreman"0140
Mason's mate"070
Mechanical Carpenters—
Leading handper month about17100
Carpenterper diem070
Assistant carpenter"053
Furnishing carpenter"089
Compositorsper month about1200
Litho engravers"          "1900
Foreman"          "1300
Leading handper diem089
Labourerper month about700
Cutters"          "2500
[128]Tailors"          "12100
Turnersper diem089
Leading hand"089
Second hand"070
Labourerper month about700

The above figures, then, give a rough idea of the rewards of the labour market in Argentina. In Rosario also, where there are great railway works which compete with other occupations and so raise the standard of wages, the figures are probably high. But in smaller centres wages are lower and probably the figures before us are somewhat optimistic, for they are compiled with a view to encouraging immigration. It must also be remembered that their advantage is discounted by the cost of living, which is very high everywhere and especially so in Buenos Aires and Rosario. All imported goods are, of course, extremely dear, and in many cases this fact does not affect the labourer, seeing that most of his simple luxuries can be procured in the country, but in the matter of clothes he gets very poor value for his money. Tobacco also is extremely dear. That foreign goods should be expensive is not strange, for not only is it the policy of the Government (hitherto not very successful) to stimulate home manufactures, but also the customs are absolutely necessary for revenue purposes. However, it is surprising that all other articles follow suit. Meat, for example, although Argentina supplies most of the markets of the world in increasing quantities, is nearly as dear as in England, and, in fact, a very tiny sheet of paper would have ample room for a list of the articles that are cheaper in Argentina than in the Old World. The people have not learned to regard the day of small things; they will not take trouble in little matters; in dairy-farming, gardening, cookery, all the little arts that make for comfort, they are extremely negligent; it is too much trouble to put on the market the hundred and one little comforts that are cheap and ever present in England or France. This is, of course, the case with all new countries, but particularly with those of South America.


The poorer classes certainly suffer by it, both in being deprived of numerous conveniences and also in the absence of these industries which, in France for example, give a livelihood to more poor people than are contained in the whole of Argentina. House rent also is extraordinarily high. In Buenos Aires this is always attributed to the vast improvements which were made in the Celman times, and which have certainly transformed Buenos Aires from a very dingy into a very fine city. Complaint is made that the better streets and better buildings have sent up the price of rents, that the ramshackle old tenements which were swept away afforded cheap and central lodgings which the poor now lack, and that in all ways splendour, cleanliness, and health have cost money. But in Rosario, where there is ample room for expansion, the same complaints are made, and at Mendoza, which is almost a garden city, site values are doubling in value every few years. The secret probably is imperfect industrial organisation. Labour is scarce and not very efficient, municipal dues weigh upon all classes, every circumstance contributes towards making building a dear operation. It may be added that any man, still more any woman, who would consent to wait at table, would be assured of a comfortable livelihood. Servants are abnormally scarce and dear; a domestic with six months' character is rare treasure, the subject of eager competition, and mistresses (according to their own account) are quite at their mercy.


It cannot be said that Argentina is a poor man's paradise, in the sense that his interests and general well-being are carefully regarded. Indeed the newspapers are full of complaints of the "oligarchies of office" and the scuffle for power among lucky cliques, who appropriate all the good things and leave the uninitiated multitudes to take care of themselves. An inquiry as to why Mendoza had no tramways elicited the reply, "Oh, the people in power here have carriages. As long as they can get about comfortably themselves, they do not care about the others." The authorities squeeze the poor as much as they can, but the latter yield most reluctantly to the process. A standing subject of wrangle is licences, which are like Sydney Smith's taxes; everything is licensed; the most petty trader or porter has to pay handsomely for the right to live, and this licence question is a perpetual source of friction. Besides the cost to the poor, it is excellent matter for the ingenuities of police persecution. Licence regulations are bulky and complicated, and licence-holders are, of course, liable to the attention of the law of street-traffic and the like; consequently the police have powerful weapons to hold in terrorem over the refractory, for it is easy to awaken a sleeping statute and effect an arrest under it. As might have been expected, there is considerable discontent among the working classes, and strikes are frequent. Trades Unions exist, but it does not appear that they are very well organised, and the South American mind is so permeated with politics that industrial strikes tend to become wholly political. About a year ago the whole of Rosario went on strike against the municipal dues, and the movement was by no means unsuccessful. A few months later there were repeated attempts at a universal strike in Buenos Aires, and a considerable amount of bloodshed resulted from the sharp repressive[131] measures which were taken against it. If the poor complain, they have considerable justification.

But it would convey a very false impression to suggest that the condition of the people was miserable, or even that it was unsatisfactory, as far as an observer can judge. The worker is no doubt harassed by petty officials and exactions, but in the Latin countries, whence he came, he probably suffered as much or more; he was therefore acclimatised before he arrived; and he has now, what he seldom had before—a bellyful of food and some pocket-money, and, if he is enterprising, the chance of rising to competence or wealth. If we make allowance for different standards of comfort, it would be correct to say that any man who is willing to work hard with his hands can live in Argentina in as great comfort as the worker in any country in the world, and infinitely better than in most lands. It is a testimony to the prosperity of Argentine labour, that swarms of reapers come from Spain for every harvest, and return with £30 apiece in their pockets. The evils, from a material point of view, are upon the surface, while it is a fact that the working man in Argentina has, besides a fair livelihood, that hope which is at the same time the main factor in individual happiness and the best security for the economic efficiency of the country.


This subject leads us to one which is the crux of the situation in Argentina—that of immigration. The natural growth of the population[67] is not very considerable; it may be that, apart from immigration, it would remain stationary. Thus the matter is one of great[132] import, and all rulers since Rosas have done everything in their power to encourage the influx from foreign countries. Several different views have been taken about the subject. We have the pessimistic view of Mr. Theodore Child,[68] who, while praising the "urban development" of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, says that: "In the rural districts, however—even in the provincial capitals of the old colonial days, but more especially in the new colonies, where the scum of Spain and Italy has been deposited in ever-increasing numbers during the past twenty years—one sees aspects of humanity that fill one with sadness rather than with satisfaction, or even hope." This extremely superficial work has formed the material for a few contemptuous sentences by M. Gustave Le Bon,[69] in which he dismisses South America as an instance of "the terrible decadence of the Latin race." On such slight foundations do philosophers erect their edifices. Again, there is a natural but perhaps somewhat Chauvinistic view which regards Argentina as a "puissance nouvelle qui suffirait à elle seule à réhabiliter la race latine à laquelle elle appartient et à la relever de cette espèce de dechéance et d'inertie dont elle semble frappée, dans ce dernier quart de siècle, devant la brutale expansion du monde saxon et germanique."[70]

It may be added that these two views well illustrate the power of the human mind, to which reference was made in a previous page, of drawing diametrically opposite conclusions from the same premises. Thirdly, there is the view of the statesman, which is doubtless shared by all Argentines and their well-wishers, and which has been expressed by the veteran statesman M. Charles[133] Pellegrini:[71] "The unity of language strongly encourages this fusion and explains the fact, elsewhere illustrated by the United States, that the descendants of immigrants of races differing in speech, religion, manners, and customs have the power of effecting a complete fusion into a mass of people perfectly homogeneous, with the same mental characteristics and sentiment, and thus making a new nationality, both young, vigorous, and strongly characterised."

The first view may be ignored. To speak of the "scum of Spain and Italy" in connection with immigrants whom the mother-countries would give anything to retain—sturdy peasants who are the life-blood of Argentina—is absurd, and indeed the danger of the country is not that it may become the common sewer of Madrid and of Rome, but rather the tendency of the people to crowd into those examples of "urban development" which the writers regard with so much complacency. As regards the second view, it is natural that Frenchmen should look with satisfaction upon the stately cities and wide plains in which the ageing Latin race is renewing her mighty youth; but people do not emigrate to illustrate theories. The Latin races are no doubt glad to find other Latin races to welcome them across the Atlantic, and also a congenial climate, but they go abroad in search of bread. It is undoubtedly a good thing that the Latin races should flourish in the New World, although hitherto they have been sterile from an intellectual point of view; but the forces that impel them are economic, not racial. The loss to Europe is undoubtedly great, but the third view is naturally that of Argentina, which is every year receiving an abundant stream of white colonists to develop the industries which cry aloud for labour.[134] The figures are indeed remarkable. In 1857 there were 4,000 immigrants, in 1908 there were 255,710. The following table shows the rate of progress:—


It will be noticed that during the eighties, when trade in Europe was indifferent, while the progress of Argentina was rapid, the figures were very high, and that after the crash they fell considerably, though they recovered somewhat before the end of the century. The following are the figures for recent years:—


It will be seen that the influx is now larger than ever.

It is important to observe the nationalities of the new subjects. Between 1857 and 1893 Argentina received peoples in the following proportions:—

Austrians and Hungarians37,953

In 1895 the total population was 4,044,770, and of[135] these 1,005,487 were immigrants who arrived after the age of eighteen. That the people came to settle rather than as pioneers or temporary labourers is shown by the fact that the proportion of men to women was considerably less than two to one. The population is now estimated at over 6,300,000. In 1907 the proportions show considerable variations upon those of former years. The figures were:—

Austrians and Hungarians3,439

The remainder came chiefly from the Balkan States or from other American Republics.

It will be noticed that Italy[72] still leads, but that Spain has nearly caught her up; indeed there is hardly a limit to the migration from Spain except the fertility of the home-staying Spaniard. A moderate increase in Spanish emigration would cause the population returns of that ancient and famous monarchy to show a positive decrease. Greeks and islanders are included under the term Syrian, and it is probable that this head will show rapid increases in the near future. The French are declining in numbers, and indeed that nation has favoured the Argentine Republic as a place of settlement to an unusual degree. It is said that in San Rafael more French is spoken than Spanish. The Germans prefer Brazil. Englishmen do not emi[136]grate to Argentina in large numbers, and they are often warned against so doing, as the environment is not suited to the English working men, though of course mechanics and others find lucrative billets—which, however, should be secured before leaving home. In 1865 a small Welsh colony was founded at Chubut, and, favoured by the climate, it has attained considerable prosperity. Reference will be made to it in the chapter on Patagonia.

The largest class among those who enter the Republic is that of agricultural labourers, while ordinary day labourers are also numerous. Many also are tradesmen and domestic servants, but it is probable that the latter abandon their old calling, for the most part, after landing. The Consular Office in London gives the following advice: "The best chances of employment are, of course, for those who can speak some Spanish, and are farm labourers, dairymen, or stockmen of practical experience; but mechanics are in fair demand, especially in the building and allied trades. Clerks, shop-assistants and others in search of office work, &c., are strongly advised not to emigrate, unless they can count beforehand on a good chance of immediate employment. Persons with some capital, and not burdened by families having many members unable to work, may find good openings even in the towns; but as a rule there is more chance of success in agricultural or pastoral enterprises." All children born in the country are ipso facto Argentine subjects, and the males are liable to military service. This has been made a ground of complaint, but it cannot be seriously maintained that a State must maintain a huge alien population, enjoying all the benefits and few of the burdens of citizenship, who might in course of time actually outnumber the Argentines.


At Buenos Aires there is an Immigration Office, which looks after the welfare of the new arrivals, and the Immigration Law[73] is conceived on liberal and favourable principles. The London Consul-General remarks: "The people who arrived in the year 1908 coincide with the requirements of the country. They were not outcasts or people who were forced to leave their native country; on the contrary, they were sound and healthy people, honest workers, and well disposed to establish themselves, especially up country." This is one of the chief needs of Argentina—a rural population, for the towns are increasing out of all proportion to the countrysides.

This constant stream of workers to the River Plate is one of the most hopeful signs; young, healthy, hard-working people bring prosperity to the country and fill up the vast tracts that require only labour for their development. In the past the settlement of the southern regions has been hindered because the Government imprudently offered great blocks for sale at prices low enough to tempt speculators to buy them up, but now the importance of the matter is thoroughly realised, and[138] every attempt is made to attract immigrants.[74] There are few countries to which immigration is more vital, and settlers of the Latin race are likely to benefit themselves by the change hardly less than they benefit Argentina.



It is not strange that South Americans generally, as well as all Argentines, are proud of Buenos Aires; indeed, as the second Latin city of the world with a population of twelve hundred thousand, it arouses feelings of satisfaction among those who have been watching with anxiety signs of sterility or poverty in the Latin race elsewhere. The political history of the city has been dealt with in former chapters. Its effective foundation dates from the year 1580, and within forty years it was a prosperous town with three thousand inhabitants, and the lower Plate settlements were separated from the Paraguayan Governorship, Buenos Aires, of course, being made the capital of the new Province. Up to the time of the Revolution it continued to make steady progress. In about 1762 it was described as follows:[75] "The houses of this city, which were formerly of mud walls, thatched with straw, and very low, are now much improved, some being of chalk, and others of brick, having one story besides the ground-floor, and most of them tiled. The cathedral is a spacious and elegant structure.... The principal square is very large, and built near a little river; like most towns situated on rivers, its breadth is not proportioned to its length. The front answering to the square is the castle where the[140] Governor constantly resides, and with the other forts has one thousand regular troops. The number of the houses are about four thousand.[76] There is a small church at the farther end of the city for the Indians.... The city is surrounded by a spacious and pleasant country, free from any obstruction to the right; and from those delightful plains the inhabitants are furnished with such plenty of cattle, that there is no place in the universe where meat is better or cheaper. It is also fertile in all sorts of grain and fruits, and would be still more so if duly cultivated; but the people are excessive, indolent, and content themselves with what nature produces without labour."

Another writer (Campbell)[77] of about the same time or a little earlier, speaks of the town's great trade in wool from Peru, copper from Coquimbo, and silver from Potosi. As the trade of Paraguay alone was valued at a million pieces of eight annually, that of Buenos Aires must have been very considerable. As the mines of Peru showed signs of exhaustion, more attention was paid to the trade and industries of the Plate district, and immigrants, attracted by the flourishing cattle trade, began to turn thither. In 1776 Buenos Aires was estimated to have twenty thousand inhabitants, but a quarter of a century of the new and liberal colonial policy doubled that number, and when the English attacked it they appear to have been impressed by its size.

But in the nineteenth century, up to very recent times,[141] it had an evil reputation for dirt and discomfort. A young English officer, who paid it a hurried visit shortly after the Revolution, remarks:[78] "The water is extremely impure, scarce, and consequently expensive. The town is badly paved and dirty, and the houses are the most comfortless abodes I ever entered. The walls, from the climate, are damp, mouldy, and discoloured. The floors are badly paved with bricks, which are generally cracked, and often in holes. The roofs have no ceiling, and the families have no idea of warming themselves except by huddling round a fire of charcoal, which is put outside the door until the carbonic acid gas has rolled away." He also remarked that provisions were very dear and that, in spite of high wages, labourers would be worse off than in England. Beef was sold in such a mangled state that English immigrants often refused to buy it. The lower classes of English and Irish at Buenos Aires were, he thought, in a very bad state and addicted to drink. Altogether the town cannot have been a pleasant place of residence in those days, and it was long before there was much improvement.

Darwin, however, who visited Buenos Aires not long after Head and estimated the population at sixty thousand (Montevideo had then only fifteen thousand inhabitants), describes the outskirts as pretty and the plan of the city as "one of the most regular in the world."[79] Probably the laying out was done during the time of prosperity at the end of the eighteenth century, but the sanitary condition continued bad, and an Englishman[80] who visited it in 1852, says: "Buenos Aires! What a misnomer! The first thing that greeted[142] our eyes on landing was the skinless carcase of a horse lying on the beach on one side of the landing-place; the second, another ditto on the other side; and the 'good air' of the town was the stench thereof.... There is something most delicious about the air of this place, notwithstanding the horrible stenches from the putrid flesh all about the town." He pays a tribute to the hospitality of the inhabitants, but the chief amenity of the modern town was absent, for he remarks: "Urquiza's residence at Palermo is only one room high, and is surrounded with a lot of porticoes. It was built by the wretch Rosas, and lies on a flat close to the river, with a grove of miserable-looking trees between it and the water."

After the Paraguayan war and the commencement of a happier era, Buenos Aires began to improve rapidly, and building was carried on extensively. In 1876 the population was estimated at 220,000. But it was not till the Presidency of Celman that Buenos Aires took upon itself the form worthy of a civilised capital. His term of office was undoubtedly demoralising, and it became necessary to depose him by force, but advantage was taken of the abundance of money to plan and to build, and though this entailed much jobbery and corruption, great substantial good remained behind. Splendid public buildings were erected, a beginning was made of parks, and many of the worst rookeries were cleared out and replaced by good streets. Above all, the Avenida de Mayo was made. These architectural improvements, as is always the case, were most beneficial to public order and safety, for narrow streets and decayed houses are nurseries of crime. In certain places, now safe and pleasant, murders were frequent a generation ago, and respectable citizens never passed through them after nightfall. The Madero Port[143] was completed, and gradually the miseries of landing, upon which matter earlier visitors are right voluble, were removed, and Buenos Aires began to rank as one of the world's pleasure cities. Haussmann, like Celman, does not go down to posterity with an unspotted reputation, but few men in the nineteenth century have had more influence upon the Latin race, for every builder in South America, at least, has his head full of the Parisian boulevards, and every new plan or renovation is on that model.


The city of Buenos Aires is situated on the right bank of the estuary of La Plata in 34° 39´ S. lat. and 58° 18´ W. long. The river is here of great width and the opposite bank is never visible, but though La Plata and the Parana are a magnificent waterway, the harbour has never been very satisfactory, and it is difficult to find channels for vessels drawing 25 feet. The vessels of the Royal Mail Steam Packet used to land their passengers at La Plata, while to this day those of the Pacific Mail Steam Navigation Company only touch at Montevideo and send on their passengers to Buenos Aires by a smaller vessel. The splendid docks and basins, which were completed in 1900, are said to have accommodation for 20,000,000 tons of shipping. In the year 1908 2,027 ocean-going vessels entered the port with an aggregate tonnage of 4,760,316 tons. The approach by sea is by no means prepossessing, for the bank of La Plata is flat and muddy; and indeed the natural scenery round about, with the exception of the ocean-like river, is of the tamest possible description, nor does the land rise sufficiently high from the river to show off the size and splendour of the city to any advantage. Its greatness and magnificence only appear to the traveller when he plunges into the network of the streets. As is generally the case in South America,[144] visitors have little trouble with the customs, for the officials, on receiving an assurance that the articles are "personal baggage," are satisfied with a hasty inspection. But it could be wished that there were better arrangements for landing luggage. Obliging carriers take it with specious promises. The traveller drives to the hotel, the day wears on, but no luggage arrives. Next day he drives to the office, where the carrier very coolly charges extra for a night's storage, and orders the traveller to remove the luggage at his own expense. An agent who arranged to deliver baggage within an hour at a small fixed charge, as is done in the ports of the backward East, would do an enormous business. All books discuss hotels and the other items in the travellers' directory at considerable length. As regards hotels, the usual verdict is unfavourable. They certainly are not cheap, and the bedrooms are usually small and ill-furnished, but some hotels have a very fair cuisine and adequate public rooms. Generally speaking, there is the prevailing characteristic absence of the small comforts which cost so little except trouble, and it may be noted that such tolerable hotels as exist are kept by English, French, Italians, Spaniards, rarely by the native-born. Compared with the hotels of Brazil or Chile, they are very good; compared with those of European provincial towns they are very indifferent. However, in Buenos Aires the visitor can sleep at night without being kept awake by the pangs of hunger or the attacks of insects, and this is a happy condition not to be encountered in all South American hotels.


It is not easy to make the reader realise foreign scenes, even when small towns or glimpses of natural beauty are attempted, and it is probably impossible to give any satisfactory description of a vast city, for the great towns and their crowds have a peculiar spirit and their own harmony of noises which render photographs or lists of streets and buildings inadequate and misleading. Probably few cities are more difficult to describe than Buenos Aires. Its streets are quite as narrow as those of Italian towns, but every one is full of noise and bustle. This absence of wide streets, squares, boulevards, and parks greatly detracts from its magnificence; the wood can never be seen for the trees. As is the case with practically all Spanish-American towns, the streets are perfectly straight and intersect one another at right angles, so that it is very easy to find one's way about, for if a pedestrian desires a cross street, say to the north, he has only to march northwards up any given street and he must eventually reach his designation. The people regret the cramped proportions of the town, and, in the days of the great boom, they cut the handsome Avenida de Mayo through the congested streets, and its fine effect shows what a sumptuous city Buenos Aires would be if the process were extended. But that any more avenues of this kind will be made is very unlikely, for the expense would be prohibitive. Not only is land of immense value, but costly buildings have been erected all along the narrow streets, and the loss entailed by their demolition would be immense. It may be added that during a period of inflation the wisest policy is to spend all available money in bricks and mortar, streets and squares, for when the bubble bursts the buildings remain. Bombay is an excellent instance, as also is Buenos Aires.

It is true that Rio de Janeiro has during the last few years cleared out many acres of narrow streets and rebuilt itself in brave fashion, but the old edifices demolished were insignificant in value compared with those of the great Argentine capital. The Avenida de[145]
Mayo is inferior to the Avenida Central of Rio in length and splendour of appearance, as Buenos Aires must always be inferior to the Brazilian capital in beauty, but this disadvantage is far more than counterbalanced by the prosperity and enterprise of the inhabitants who in these respects leave their neighbours far behind.

Every one admires the buildings of Buenos Aires. The Jockey Club is probably unsurpassed by any Club building in the world, and the Bolsa, or Exchange, is extremely stately. Unfortunately the Congress Hall is built in a poor style and has come in for general condemnation, while the Cathedral is an unimposing brick-and-plaster structure. It has, however, a rich portico with twelve Corinthian pillars, and the work surpasses the material, but South America is not a place for the lovers of church architecture. The shops are large and full of valuable goods tastefully arranged, but Buenos Aires cannot be recommended as a place for making purchases, owing to the abnormal dearness of all articles. But the streets and shoppers present a fine spectacle; the architecture of the buildings is sumptuous and the pavements are full of life; there are long rows of splendid equipages, and beautiful women, daintily attired and bejewelled, flit from shop to shop as in all other capitals, and the pride of wealth and luxury flaunts itself as bravely as in Paris or London. The keen, stimulating air gives vivacity to the inhabitants, the streets hum with gay chatter, and the unbroken prosperity of many years helps to maintain the general good-humour. The only drawback to the pleasure-seeker is the narrowness of the streets. He is perpetually jostled off the tiny pavements and has perpetually to spring back to the kerb-stone to save himself from annihilation by the rapid tramcar. These cars are cheap and also much faster and better than anything of the kind in London. It is thus tolerably easy to get about Buenos Aires under ordinary circumstances, although the suburban railway service is not very good and the cabs are indifferent. The trams penetrate almost everywhere, but probably a system of tubes would be convenient. It is true that cabmen and tram-men have a disconcerting habit of going on strike; nor does their violence appear to surprise any one, the newspapers merely remarking that it is fortunate for tram proprietors that the Argentines are a peaceful and orderly people, unlike the Brazilians who on such occasions burn the cars.


The town was planned with narrow streets to afford shade and mitigate the great heat of summer, but now that its size is so great it may be doubted whether the disadvantages arising from closeness and congestion are not more serious than any that might be caused by the rays of the sun. Indeed, Buenos Aires is, perhaps, too completely a town to charm for long together; it is almost destitute even of squares, and though towards the outskirts some of the streets are more spacious, the general impression is that of being cramped. The Avenida de Mayo runs from north to south, and is met by the best streets which come from the river and railway line and which, as they approach the Avenida, become gradually more fashionable. Among the best are the Calle Maipu, Florida, Cangallo, San Martin, and Bartoleme Mitre. At Palermo there are attractive gardens and recreation grounds, and attempts are being made to establish parks, but as yet they have not borne fruit. Belgrano is an extremely untidy suburb. The multiplication of the amenities of Buenos Aires can only be effected by creating pleasant suburbs, and to effect a reasonable plan for surrounding it with garden-like tracts and giving them good communications would, however expensive, be the greatest benefit that could be conferred upon it.


The people, however, appear well contented with Buenos Aires as it is, and it undoubtedly possesses the usual attractions of great cities. The opera and theatres are said to be very good, and the Argentines are keen musical critics. All kinds of variety entertainments are very popular, but it cannot be said that the ordinary music-halls have much merit, and some of them, if translated to London, would probably have trouble with the County Council. Cafés and restaurants are extremely numerous in Buenos Aires, but, except in the great avenue, the open-air cafés, in which the Latin race delight, are practically unknown. This is explained by the obvious impossibility of finding room for such an establishment in the average street of the capital. Although the Spaniard is not by any means a gourmand, the restaurants are tolerable as a result of the cosmopolitan society; and English, French, Germans, and Italians can get their meals in the styles to which they are accustomed. Indeed, the traveller can, at a price, supply himself with almost everything which he could obtain in London, but he will be wise to bring everything with him. Cigars are not quite as dear as on the Pacific coast, but they are not cheap; the best value is a Brazilian weed, called a Santos, which is considered a marvel of cheapness. It costs about fourpence, which is more than a cigar of similar quality would command in England. But it is hardly necessary to go minutely into these questions of buying and selling, eating and drinking. Any one who has visited any large town in a new country will have a fairly accurate idea of how Buenos Aires treats the traveller. Such towns are bright, interesting, sociable, and expensive; they have many luxuries but few comforts.

The most comfortable thing about Buenos Aires is its hospitality, for both English and Argentines give a[149] cordial welcome to visitors who come in increasing numbers, particularly in February and March. Club life is, as might be supposed, a distinctive feature, and the Jockey Club (entrance £300) is a triumph of luxury. Most of the members are native-born. The two Clubs most favoured by our countrymen are close together in Calle Bartolome Mitre, and are named the Club de Residentes Estranjeros and the English Club respectively. The English Club has a very agreeable suite of rooms and welcomes strangers as temporary members. There is also in the Calle Cangallo a very useful association called the English Literary Society, where a great variety of newspapers can be seen, and the library contains over five thousand books. As there are very many English residents in Buenos Aires, sport and games are prominent in the social life, and to these the Argentines have taken kindly, and cricket, football, lawn tennis, and polo occupy almost as prominent a place as they do in London and its neighbourhood. This is one great advantage of sport, that it enables nations of highly varied habits to mix pleasantly and profitably. These outdoor recreations are valuable on that account, and add greatly to the attractions of Buenos Aires. Polo is very popular and Buenos Aires has its own Hurlingham, and good horseflesh can be obtained more cheaply than at home.

Photo]   [C. Hailey, Newmarket.

Perhaps the favourite amusement of the capital is racing, for it appeals both to the love of horses and the love of gambling, which are two of the strongest predilections of the Argentines. Some men who have acquired large fortunes find a difficulty in disposing of them except by play and betting, thus following the example of the ancient conquistadores who won gold lightly and diced it away as readily. There are two race-courses, one at Belgrano and one at Palermo, but the impression they produce is disappointing, chiefly owing[150] to the Spanish lack of comfort. The actual racing, though marred by inferior jockeyship, is extremely good, for the horses are of high quality and the runners are plentiful. But it would be well if the Jockey Club deputed a small committee to visit England and France with a view to improving the accommodation. Everything at Belgrano is of the most uncomfortable description and the people are cramped in crowded pens. The Palermo course, when completed, will be a considerable improvement, and it is on an ambitious scale, but it is so large that it entails an unnecessary amount of walking about, and the arrangements for paying in and drawing out money and also for refreshments are most inconvenient. Again, there is practically no paddock; the horses are hurried to the post, where they await the time fixed for the start, and consequently it is very difficult to get a view of them. As regards speculation, the Indian plan is the best which allows the bookmakers and the totalisator to work side by side, for a machine is an inadequate substitute for the human element.

Buenos Aires has followed the example of France, which has discarded bookmakers, but has not imitated the excellence of her machine betting, for the totalisators at Palermo are so far from the stands and are so badly served that one might imagine them to have been constructed by the Anti-Gambling League. However, the racing is the thing, and that is, as said before, very good. The rich men of Argentina take great delight in blood-stock and many of the racers are by high-class English sires. This pursuit is often a source to them of pleasure as well as of profit. King Edward's triple crown hero, Diamond Jubilee, was bought for Argentina at a cost of £30,000 and the first season's produce of this stallion sold for a somewhat larger sum. Flotsam and many other well-known animals stood for several years in Argentina.

Photo]   [C. Hailey, Newmarket.

Such a rough sketch of the outward life of Buenos Aires as the above necessarily gives a very inadequate image of the great and busy city, for what is received on hearsay impresses the mind more faintly than what has been seen with the eyes. It is a city of an unusual type, for it is very Spanish, but it is entirely without Spanish sleepiness; indeed, bustle and stir are perhaps its chief characteristics. There is great wealth and the love of display is also great, and doubtless, like Paris, it exercises a dangerous fascination on the people at large, who are apt to think that there is no profit or pleasure anywhere except at Buenos Aires. It occupies in Argentina a more important position than does Paris in France, and probably the development of Rosario and Bahia Blanca will have a good effect in modifying its pretensions. It is a very magnificent city.



Difficult as it may have been to describe Buenos Aires, it is still more difficult to describe the people. Of all the men and women who reside many years in foreign parts few gain more than a superficial knowledge of those with whom they come in daily contact, for the qualities necessary to gain such knowledge are very rare and their exercise is difficult and often inconvenient. If, then, old residents learn little, the hasty visitor is at a much greater disadvantage, and especially in the case of a Spanish nation, for Spain has a touch of Orientalism, which tends to seclusion in family life.

In Argentina, as elsewhere, the ladies of the better-class families do not appear freely in public, although the old-fashioned principles, which did not allow them to go shopping without an escort, have been somewhat relaxed. But the English or North American comradeship between man and woman is quite absent, nor do women attempt to compete with men in business or games. As is well known, the family in Spanish or French nations fills a much larger space in the life of the individual than is the case with England or the United States. The family exercises a more watchful care over its young members, who on reaching maturity do not slip away as easily as is the case with Anglo-Saxons; indeed, they hardly form fresh families, but[153] rather seem to supersede the older members and become themselves the heads. Under such a system it is natural that considerable supervision is exercised over the women, but the marriage usage is less rigorous than in France, and the unions are rather of affection than arrangement; the practice may, perhaps, be described as a mean between that of England and France. South American views as to the ethics of relations between men and women differ very widely from ours, and a discussion of the subject would be unprofitable. The Argentine women have a reputation for beauty and they dress very well, but, though graceful and attractive, they cannot compare in fairness with their sisters of Peru.

The kindness of the elders to children is an admirable trait, and it is rare to see harshness or ill-treatment of the little ones, which are such distressingly common sights in English streets, but, at the same time, the tendency is pushed too far, and the spectacle of tiny children at very late hours supping at restaurants must, at the risk of incurring the reproach of insular prejudice, be pronounced unedifying. It can hardly be beneficial to the children themselves. The young Argentine would certainly be the better for more discipline, and English residents are, for that reason, disposed to make any sacrifice to send their children home to be educated.

The Argentines are fond of festivals and religiously keep the chief holy days. Not long ago the carnival was celebrated with much licence, but it is now becoming insignificant, and it can hardly be regretted that an occasion for much horseplay and even crime is waning.


Dancing, masqued balls, and gaieties of all kinds are, of course, extremely popular, and for the ordinary evening entertainment the cinematograph seems to hold the field almost without a rival. In up-country towns[154] the larger cafés have fine cinematographs, which are viewed free by all who pay for refreshments, and the most exciting adventures are portrayed with wonderful vividness. In Mendoza the enthusiasm is so great that some cafés, which have insufficient accommodation for the plant, stretch a sheet across the principal thoroughfare, and, arranging chairs and tables in front, invite their patrons to see the show. This practice of bringing the show to the spectators to be viewed at their leisure and in comfort certainly appears more reasonable than ours, which is to drive people to uncomfortable music-halls and deny to the public-house, the proper place for recreation and refreshment, all attractions except such as are alcoholic.

It is probable that the life in country towns is somewhat dull. A horse can be bought and kept fairly cheaply and, in general, the country affords good riding, but there is little shooting or hunting. Every considerable town has a nice Club and the English members are numerous, coming in every evening to drink a whiskey-peg after tennis in Anglo-Indian fashion; but there must be considerable lack of variety. It would be desirable for Provincial Governments or private individuals to encourage rational diversions, for, as before remarked, the tendency to concentrate in Buenos Aires is dangerous. Besides physical exercises, such institutions as literary societies, debating clubs, lectures, and the like would be very salutary, both from the valuable training they afford and the opportunity for foreigners and natives to mix together for their common advantage.


It is difficult to avoid feeling that among the English who live in Argentina there is a good deal of discontent. While admiring the country they do not seem very fond of it, and although their relations with the people are friendly, they do not appear to live on such terms of intimacy with them as is the case in Chile, for example. There is probably danger of materialistic views of life growing up; the Argentine is so busy in laying up treasure that he has little time for amassing more important possessions. An Englishman at Mendoza remarked: "These people have nothing to talk about; it's all uva, uva" (grape, which is the staple industry of Mendoza). The fact is that in a new country the population is too small for the manifold interests that are required to make up a rich national life. In some new countries they elect to lounge and eschew all hard work and, in certain cases, the people, though indolent, are cultivated. In Argentina the people are hard workers, but they have neglected the spiritual side of life. At Buenos Aires a beginning is being made to enlarge the circle of interests, and it would be well if humanising efforts were made at all provincial centres.

As happens in all money-making countries, there are many examples of the acquisition of wealth to an amount out of all proportion to the owner's capacity for using it. Some rich Argentines buy palaces and convert them into pigstyes, and at pretentious restaurants it is common to see persons who in appearance and manners are altogether unsuited to their surroundings. On the other hand, the class of rich and refined men, with whom luxury loses half its evil by losing all its grossness, is rapidly increasing, and when time has been found for intellectual culture it will, no doubt, make great advances. Those who have had the privilege of being admitted into Argentine families will bear testimony to their refinement and kindliness.

There is also the life of the Pampa, of which the principal feature is the Gaucho.[81] This picturesque person[155]
has probably more Indian than Spanish blood in his veins, but he is a staunch son of Argentina and supplies his country with excellent cavalry. With a complexion of a light coffee colour, wearing a soft hat, a blanket slit to admit his head, white breeches, and brightly coloured shoes, he has been called by a French writer the Gascon of South America. He will not work in the cities or cultivate the land; he is a horseman and stock-rider. His favourite food is carne cum cuero—meat cooked with the hide—and his delight is in that life of the open plain under the open sky, of which Darwin felt the charm. He, indeed, has given an excellent description of the Gaucho. The Gaucho has played an important part in the building up of Argentina, though he himself cares little for politics and constitutions. Before the Revolution he created the cattle industry, which has always been a main source of wealth to the country, and in the revolutionary wars he shared in the triumphs of the Creoles. Though rather too fond of brawling and gambling, he belongs to that singularly attractive type which is being rapidly pushed into the background with the growth of town industries. He has his own rude poetry and loves to sing his Pampa ballads to the accompaniment of the guitar. He seems to have absorbed the poetry of his surroundings, as was occasionally the case with Australian stock-riders, and in the Pampa the payador—a kind of troubador—is held in great honour. He figures at the fêtes as an improviser, and he and his fellows are, in approved Sicilian fashion, "cantare pares et respondere parati." Many of the ballads are, of course, unwritten, but some payadors leave the Pampas and become authors, and thus a certain number of the wild songs have been translated into print, but it can hardly be said that the cultured payadors have been as successful in their work as Sir Walter Scott was with Border minstrelsy. José[157] Hernandez long ago published an interesting little collection of this kind—"El Gaucho Martin Fierro."


The Gaucho is as hospitable as the Arab of the desert, and, like him, has the sense of humour and the frank, bold courtesy which is generally found in the desert-ranger. The modesty of his dwelling—a mud hut with a few boards for furniture—contrasts with the bravery of his equipment, for besides wearing gay colours he favours silver stirrups and as much of the precious metal as he can obtain for the adornment of his bridle, and though he seldom employs money, he always is able to satisfy his simple wants. It is inevitable that as settlements extend the Gauchos will dwindle, but it would be sad if they disappeared from the Pampas altogether. The greater part of Argentina has been won from the Indians by their efforts; they have borne the burden and heat of the day in making the nation, and they will still be the mainstay of their country when she encounters trouble. The luxuries of town life are already too attractive to the young Argentine, and the Gaucho gives a valuable example of the simple and strenuous life.



Very few writers upon Argentina refer to the subject of religion at all, and those who do give very scanty information. There are in existence several good-sized works which make not the faintest allusion to the Church. And yet one would have thought that the subject possessed some general importance, or, at any rate, that in a daughter State of Spain and one of the great fields of Jesuit labour there was room for a few remarks upon the relations of the Church to the State and people, and also upon the general religious and moral conditions of Argentina.

The Spanish conquerors of South America were zealous crusaders, as eager to add subjects to the Kingdom of Christ as to add territory to the estates of their earthly sovereign. During the process of conquest they displayed few Christian virtues, but in the Plate districts, where they were not demoralised by lust of gold, their proceedings were relatively good, and, in general, when Spanish America was settled, the masters were anxious to do their duty by their servants according to their lights and if they were negligent in attending to the religious and material welfare of the Indians, their negligence was speedily rebuked by the home authorities. One of the conditions of holding land was an undertaking to educate the[159] Indians and teach them Christianity. The wise and good Las Casas laid down on the subject of the conversion and treatment of the Indians Thirty Propositions,[82] two of which may be given in substance: "The means for establishing the Faith in the Indies should be the same as those by which Christ introduced His religion into the world—mild, peaceable, and charitable; humility; good examples of a holy and regular way of living, especially over such docile and easy subjects; and presents bestowed to win them. Attempts by force of arms are impious, like those of Mahometans, Romans, Turks, and Moors; they are tyrannical, and unworthy of Christians, calling out blasphemies; and they have already made the Indians believe that our God is the most unmerciful and cruel of all gods."

The rough Spanish soldiers of fortune, as might have been expected, recked little of such principles, and some of the priests were little better than their flock, for Father Valverde is said to have instigated Pizarro to the treacherous and cruel arrest of Atahuallpa. But the principles adopted both by spiritual and temporal powers were those of justice and mercy, as far as the circumstances permitted, and thus there was implanted in the new settlements something of the crusading spirit which was engendered in Spain by the struggle with the Moors. The pioneer in forest or plain was not merely amassing land and wealth for himself; there was a spiritual harvest, and as he received new lands, he had new duties in religious administration and protection. Thus the Spanish religious fervour was nourished in the overseas dominions.

The religious spirit was handed down unimpaired from father to son until the time of the Revolution. The question as to whether the power of the Church[160] was beneficial or not is a matter of controversy, and travellers have uttered the most various opinions, but few candid men will deny that the Jesuits performed a noble task which could have been carried out by no other human power, and the disparaging remarks which are found in many notebooks are usually due to the cant of irreligion that was common among the Englishmen of the time between the French Revolution and the Oxford Movement. On a subject which does not interest them they say, without having troubled to make inquiries, what they would say about any Roman Catholic country or what some freethinking acquaintance in Buenos Aires has told them.

With the Revolution came a great shock to the faith of the people, and the same principles that undermined their faith undermined their loyalty. The philosophers of France ever urged that the Church must be overthrown before there could be any progress, and the priests ever fought against their doctrines as destructive to all religion. Consequently the male population of Buenos Aires formed habits of mind[83] which they have by no means entirely shaken off at the present day. Apathy towards religion or even absolute hostility is by no means uncommon, and perhaps in well-to-do houses it is generally true that the women go to church and the men stay away. And yet it would not be true to describe the nation as irreligious on the whole. Materialism has, no doubt, to some extent corrupted the upper classes;[161] they devote themselves to business and pleasure and ignore the things of the spirit. But the churches are crowded with men as well as women, and it is certain that the poor love the Church and doubtless find the priests their best friends. Cordoba and Mendoza are looked upon as the cities where the Church is strongest, but its general hold upon the masses is possibly almost as strong as ever. Intellectually it is weak; few of the better-class Argentines will take priests' orders, and nearly all the prelates are foreigners. Beyond a doubt, in Spanish America there is an unexampled field for a devout missionary; the foe is merely apathy, and if a warmer spirit were breathed into the Church in Argentina, and if the clergy paid more attention to the intellectual side of their calling, the results would be remarkable. But if the religious indifference spreads downwards, Argentina, like France, may see her population dwindle, and her army decay, and may be prevented from taking a high position among world Powers.

Statistically, there can be no doubt that Argentina belongs unreservedly to Rome; only the merest fraction, perhaps forty thousand, of the population is outside that Church. In 1895 there were sixty-eight Reformed Churches, but of these twenty-five belonged to the Welsh colonists at Chubut. There were 1,019 Roman Catholic churches, or one to every four thousand inhabitants. The prevailing religion is also the State religion, but all others are tolerated. There is an archbishop at Buenos Aires and eight suffragan bishops, including one for Paraguay.

Education has not made remarkable strides in Argentina, for exactly half of the people over six years of age are illiterate. In 1885 some 25 per cent. of the children of school-going age attended school, and in[162] 1904 the percentage had only risen to 45, and of these only a fraction could read or write. The defects of primary education[84] are comparatively unimportant, for the country needs agriculturists rather than clerks, and when the peasants really desire instruction they will not be long in obtaining it. But indifferent University and secondary education are the curse of Latin America. Beyond anything else Argentina requires a real aristocracy—a large, cultivated, and public-spirited upper class—and this class, owing chiefly to defective education, is now very small. There are at Cordoba and Buenos Aires national Universities, and provincial Universities at La Plata, Santa Fé, and Parana. But the unfortunate materialism is not eradicated by these institutions, which, in Latin America, are too often merely bread-winning concerns, which neglect humane studies because they are "useless." If the Holy See would encourage the foundation of a religious University, the country would benefit in every way.

Secondary education (it is difficult to obtain up-to-date figures) does not appear to have been particularly flourishing in 1905. There were 16 lyceums, 450 professors, and 4,103 pupils. There were also 35 normal schools with 2,011 pupils. It is, of course, a common practice for wealthy parents to send their children to Europe to be educated, and perhaps, under the circumstances, that is the best course. But with a sound and liberal course of studies and good moral and religious discipline, the young might be kept in the country till they had completed their University career, and then sent for a short residence abroad. There is a temptation that besets cultivated Argentines, who are the most necessary to the welfare of their country, to seek diplomatic posts or some duties that will take them abroad. Most of the distinguished authors publish in Madrid or Paris, and thus there is an intellectual and moral drain which would be checked if the system of education were improved.

As regards primary education, there were in 1905, 5,250 schools, 14,118 teachers, and 543,881 pupils. The average attendance was 408,069. Considering that in 1899 about one million sterling was spent upon education, and that for a generation Argentina has spent probably more per head upon each school-child than any other country except Australia, the results are by no means satisfactory, and, like all new nations, the Argentines require to learn the lesson that learning and enlightenment cannot be obtained by money or bricks and mortar.[85]

As regards the journalism of Argentina, it would be difficult to speak too highly of the two principal daily newspapers, La Nacion and La Prensa. La Nacion may perhaps claim the front place. It is the oldest daily journal in Buenos Aires, dating from 1852, and it was long under the influence of General Bartolome Mitre, for, as a French writer[86] remarks, no politician can succeed[163]
without a newspaper, and no newspaper can hope to obtain much influence without the support of a politician. It has a circulation of about ninety thousand. The paper is on a very large scale and full of matter; its tone is admirable, the ability of the leading articles is remarkable, and the literary pages, which are lavishly provided, reach a very high standard indeed. Hardly second to La Nacion is La Prensa, which has offices, situated in the Avenida de Mayo, said to be more splendid than anything of the kind in existence. It is not as old as its rival, dating from about 1872, and it may be described as being of much the same size and scope as the Daily Telegraph, but rather more attention is given to literary style. Sobriety and moderation, as well as great ability, are its characteristics. It is the property of Dr. José C. Paz, who is said to have made a large fortune by it.

El Diario is an enterprising evening paper, and has a very large circulation. The journal possessed of the largest circulation of all (said to approach two hundred thousand) is La Argentina, which appeals more to the man in the street. Other Spanish dailies are El Pais, El Tiempo, La Razon, El Diario de Comercio, and El Correo Español.

There is a French daily, Le Courier de la Plata, and several German and Italian. At the same office as La Argentina is printed the Standard, an old English newspaper of high repute. This was founded in 1861 by the Mulhalls—an honoured name in Buenos Aires—and besides being extensively read by English residents, it has considerable influence with the authorities. Very similar in appearance and scope, but less influential, is the Buenos Aires Herald, another English daily paper, the property of Mr. Thomas Bell.

The provincial towns have also meritorious journals,[165] but they are, of course, overshadowed by those of the capital. The daily press of Argentina is perhaps the most elevating influence in the country. It is a really useful daily help, containing a splendid assortment of foreign telegrams, and news and dissertations to suit the most varying tastes. While conducted with unflagging enterprise and commercially very valuable, as is shown by the interminable columns of closely printed advertisements, it is honourably free from the sensation-mongering and vulgarity which is rampant in the United States and which has, to some extent, infected our own daily newspapers.

Among weekly periodicals the Review of London and the River Plate, which deals principally with industrial and economic subjects, is a high-class publication, and the Standard has a weekly edition. There are several other weekly and monthly journals, and there are numerous comic papers,[87] but few periodicals deal exclusively with literature or special subjects. These matters, however, are treated so generously in the daily organs that it may be supposed that there is little opening for one-subject journals. After all, the circulation of the dailies is very large when we consider the limited population. It is curious to notice how entirely cut off each South American Republic is from the other. In Buenos Aires it is difficult to procure a Brazilian, Uruguayan, or Chilian newspaper, and the commercial intercourse is astonishingly small. For example, the trade of Argentina with Holland is more than twice as large as her trade with Chile.

As is frequently the case with periodical literature, some of its most valuable instances are to be found among the defunct publications. Prominent among[166] these is the Nueva Revista de Buenos Aires, which only lived from 1881-1885. It was edited by Señor V. G. Quesada and Dr. Ernesto Quesada, and, as a monthly review, chiefly literary, but also dealing with politics, history, and philosophy, it was a work of the highest excellence. Nearly all the articles are signed, and most of the eminent Argentine men of letters of those days have either written or been reviewed in its pages. Another good magazine, which lived from 1871-1874 was the Revista del Rio de La Plata. This dealt with the same subjects, but was more historical than literary. In Buenos Aires 189 newspapers are published. Of Spanish there are 154, Italian 14, German 8, English 6, and the others are Scandinavian, French, Basque, and Russian.

The excellent journalism of Argentina has not, as yet, developed into literature of a class correspondingly high. Those who deal with the literature of a new country usually strike an apologetic note, and their main stumbling-block is the absence of originality, for it has to be admitted that the poets and romancers of the young nations are too often mere craftsmen imitating old European models. This admission has to be made in the case of Argentina, but in other respects her literature may well stand forth on its own merits; the artists are not imported but American-born, and though they may not have produced an indigenous literature, yet their creations are European with a difference. They are Spanish American, not Spanish, and those of Argentina are quite distinct in tone from those of their kinsmen on the same continent.

A foreigner has considerable difficulty in dealing with the literature of a country whose publications are little studied in Europe, and apparently little information can be gathered except from the actual writers. It is,[167] therefore, necessary to begin with Dr. Ernesto Quesada, whose Reseñas y Criticas (Buenos Aires, 1893) is a mine of information.

He remarks in the Preface: "In Europe the creations of the mind are kept, polished, revised, accomplished, and completed for publication very slowly and with tender care: in America we look upon writing as a mere incident, and though we may as far as possible do it with the long study and the great love of which the poet spoke, we do not boast ourselves of it, or, perhaps, keep a record. Our life draws us to action and into such strange vicissitudes that it is not possible to see what to-morrow will bring." There is, then, an amateurish air about Argentine literature; it has at present more grace than strength. The writer has been before the public for more than thirty years. "Un Invierno en Russia," a book of travel, was published in 1888, and long before that he produced a youthful work on Juvenal and Persius—an unusual subject, for Latin Americans usually look upon the study of Latin and Greek as waste of time. Dr. Quesada has also written on political and ecclesiastical subjects. In the first-mentioned book of essays he deals with the poetry, history, and jurisprudence of his native land, as well as the Latin-American Congress, the Argentine Universities, the intellectual movement in Argentina, and a number of other subjects which are exactly those upon which a thoughtful observer of a foreign country desires information.

Cultured Argentines have devoted considerable attention to history; their nation has played a great part in the revolutionary wars; they are proud of it and demand chroniclers. Mention must first be made of Dean Funes, who lived in the days of the Revolution and whose "Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos Ayres y Tucuman"[168] is, to one who wants a comprehensive view of Argentine history, the most valuable work upon the subject. Upon the Revolution itself General Bartolome Mitre is the best authority, and D. F. Sarmiento has written well upon the troubled times of the mid-century, but in general English and French works deal with the history of modern Argentina quite as satisfactorily as do her own writers.

Undoubtedly it is in jurisprudence, particularly in International Law, that writers of this country have accomplished most original work. Prominent among her publicists is Carlos Calvo (1824-1893) who lived chiefly abroad in pursuit of his diplomatic career. In 1868 he published in Paris his "Derecho internacional teorico y practico de Europa y America," which was at once translated into French and took place as one of the highest modern authorities on the subject. Calvo observes: "I have called my work 'The International Law of Europe and America in Theory and Practice,' because I am endeavouring in it to make amends for the neglect of my predecessors and contemporaries who have almost entirely omitted to deal with the vast American continent, which nevertheless is growing daily in influence and power and marching side by side with the civilisation of Europe." The book is a minute analysis of the principles and practice of International Law and is specially valuable on account of its historical treatment and copious instances. Calvo also did good service to Argentine history by his collection of documents, but his eminence is in the field of International Law, and he is one of the very few Latin-American authors who have won a world-wide reputation.

While Calvo has surpassed all other South Americans in the importance of his contribution to the theory of[169] International Law, Dr. Luis Maria Drago has done the same as regards the practice. Towards the close of 1902 England, Germany, and Italy had blockaded the coast of Venezuela on account of certain grievances. On December 29, 1902, Dr. Drago, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, despatched a note to the Argentine Minister in Washington. He maintained that no European State was entitled to intervene by force in the affairs of an American nation, still less to occupy its territory, in order to recover a debt due from its Government to the subjects of the intervening State, such intervention being an infringement of the sovereignty of the debtor State and of the principle of the equality of the sovereign States.[88] This doctrine, though never precisely stated, had been foreshadowed by Calvo. It has been pointed out[89] that the blockade of 1902 was not originally instituted on account of Venezuela's failure to pay debts, but to obtain redress for outrages inflicted upon the subjects of the blockading Powers, that Venezuela had refused the suggestion of arbitration, that Dr. Drago misunderstood the Venezuelan question, and that the Powers never intended permanently to occupy any part of Venezuela. Further, Mr. Hay, in his reply to Dr. Drago, said: "The President declared in his Message to Congress, December 3, 1901, that by the Munroe Doctrine 'we do not guarantee any State against punishment if it misconducts itself, provided that punishment does not take the form of the acquisition of territory by any non-American Power.'" Although the practice, against which the Drago Doctrine protests is liable to be abused, it would hardly be prudent on the part of European Powers nor conducive to progress in backward States, if the right of collecting debts were sur[170]rendered altogether; and this view was taken at the Hague Conference of 1907. It adopted the Drago Doctrine in a modified form, providing that force must not be used for the recovery of ordinary public debts originating in contracts, but the prohibition was not to apply if the debtor State refused or ignored an offer of arbitration, obstructed the process, or repudiated the decision. The resolution was adopted by thirty-nine votes. There were five abstentions, including Venezuela, which had no liking for the modifications. This tangible addition to the public law of the world, which was one of the few successes of the Conference, was a great personal triumph for Dr. Drago, who was then the Argentine Delegate to the Conference. There have been many other meritorious Argentine writers on legal subjects of all kinds, as well as commercial and economic, but this account of two great names must suffice.

After the splendid achievements of Argentina in jurisprudence, the work of her writers in more purely literary fields may appear to be eclipsed. But in the charming branch of essay-writing many good authors have appeared, and these were mostly trained in the excellent periodicals of a quarter of a century ago and upwards. Prominent among these is Martin Garcia Mérou, who will also claim notice as a poet. He is an author of long standing, having first appeared before the public in 1880 with a volume of poems which was published at Barcelona. As before remarked, it is a practice of many Argentine writers to publish in Paris or Madrid in preference to Buenos Aires, and indeed the influence of Spain upon Argentine literature is now quite as strong as that of England used to be upon the United States. It was at Madrid that Garcia published, in 1884, an acute critical work, "Estudios Literarios" and also "Impresiones," a book of travel, but since then he has[171] reverted to Buenos Aires. One of his most spirited works appeared there in 1900, "El Brasil Intelectual," which is a rich storehouse of information about a country which is perhaps somewhat neglected by Argentines. Garcia has a deservedly high reputation among his countrymen, and has been warmly praised by Dr. Ernesto Quesada. Among this class of writer J. M. Gutierrez has done valuable editorial and critical work, and some have held that he is the most eminent man of letters, in the ordinary sense of the word, who has appeared in Argentina. M. Daireaux[90] remarks caustically: "He knew no joys but those of literature; he had all the traditional American curiosity, he made researches in the chronicles and caused them to live again, he re-discovered all the thoughts of the greatest men of the world, and illuminated them with the powerful rays of his gigantic intellect. But withal, as he was not a politician with influence at his disposal, nor a lawyer with a numerous group of clients around him, as he had nothing but a great soul, he occupied in society but a humble rank. I used to speak of him with men who appreciated him, and I never drew from them more than a shrug and this word of pity: 'What would you have? He is a literary man!' They did not even say a member of the literary profession; the profession did not exist, was not classed; he was only a literary man—not even, as they say in France, a man of letters." The writer adds that the profession is now recognised in Buenos Aires.

Still, in spite of his capacious intellect, Gutierrez can hardly be looked upon as occupying the first place among the men of letters of Argentina, because he produced little original work.

Prose fiction now fills a very prominent place in the[172] literature of almost every nation, and Argentina is no exception to the rule, but it cannot be said that her writers possess any great distinction. Dr. Quesada considers that José Marmol, distinguished in other branches of literature, was the best of the early novelists. In 1851 he published a spirited romance named "Amalia," somewhat after the style of the elder Dumas. It can hardly be called historical, for the scene is laid in 1840 and the subject is the tyranny of Rosas, but the author declares that he wishes to describe for the benefit of future generations, the Argentine dictatorship, and that therefore he has treated in a historical manner actual living persons. The book was a success, but Marmol does not appear to have followed it up.

In 1884 Carlos Maria Ocantos published a juvenile work, "La Cruz de la Falta," which was recognised as showing considerable promise, and in 1888 appeared "Leon Saldivar," which was hailed as a national novel. This writer, who, like most Argentine authors, is a diplomatist by profession and a man of letters by temperament, does not follow the trend of Argentine fiction, which is towards historical romances. He is a realist, and "Leon Saldivar" is a powerful study of Argentine life, and particularly life at the capital. The more spiritual people of the city were beginning to complain of it as a noisy, overgrown place, devoted to money-grubbing, and indeed its poets and philosophers in general made haste to quit it for a more favourable atmosphere, and often did not even pay it the compliment of allowing it to publish their works. Ocantos strove to elicit the romance of Buenos Aires as Dickens found out the romance of London. He continued this vein with a still more powerful and sombre work, "Quilito," in 1891. The two writers here briefly noticed illustrate the imitative character of the Argen[173]tine novel—the first looks to Dumas, the second to Zola.

Many critics think that the strongest Argentine novel which has yet appeared is "La Gloria de Don Ramiro," published at Madrid in 1908. The author, Sr. Enrique Larreta, lays his plot in the times of Philip II. of Spain, and stirring scenes are described with great verve. The musings of a boy, when his intellect is expanding and his head full of the books he has last read, are always a tempting theme for romancers, and the following passage, in the spirit of "the days of our youth are the days of our glory," reflects the glow of boyish dreams:—

"Fascinated by his books, Ramirio began to imagine himself the hero of the story. He was in turn Julius Cæsar, the Cid, the Great Captain, Cortes, Don Juan of Austria. To take up the Commentaries was to lead the legions across Gaul, but, on the Ides of March, more sagacious than the Dictator, he discovered the treachery of Junius Brutus and, concealing a sword under his toga, he entered the Senate House and slew the conspirators one by one. He conquered the Moors on countless fields, he offered to Spain the kingdom of Naples or the empire of Montezuma, and finally, planting his foot on the prow of a strange ship, he destroyed for ever the whole Turkish fleet, at a new and marvellous Lepanto, which his imagination evoked from the prints. The result was that he began to deem himself chosen by God to carry on the tradition of deathless fame. He put away from his mental view the mediocre, the commonplace, the humdrum. All that was not impulsive and heroic seemed intolerable, for he felt in himself an absolute confidence of winning at a blow the highest honours and becoming, in a short time, one of the foremost knights of the Catholic Faith on earth."

The book is in many ways one of the most remarkable[174] works of the imagination that has been created by an Argentine and Sr. Larreta writes pure and nervous Spanish.

Last comes a branch of literature which is probably the most popular, and certainly the most esteemed, in Spanish America, which takes mediocre poets far more seriously than did Horace, or, indeed, than is the habit of the more stolid East. A somewhat sardonic French traveller[91] lately remarked: "Spanish America has only one thought—love. And love has given to it the one art which it practises, if not in perfection at least in abundance inexhaustible—lyric poetry. It appears that Peru and Colombia and Guatemala possess great poets.... Being a foreigner, I cannot judge about their greatness, but I can see that they are numerous, indeed innumerable. Not a newspaper but contains every morning poems, and their invariable burden is the passion of love. The eyes, the teeth, the lips, the hair, the hands and feet of the American misses are here, one by one, compared to all the beauties of earth and sky. The warmth of sentiment is undoubted, but the expression lacks originality."

There seems, indeed, to be an inexhaustible demand for a kind of verse which a foreigner has a great difficulty in judging, owing to difference in national temperaments and, perhaps still more, differences in national ages. A thousand years makes a great difference in a nation's point of view, and much that seems fresh and beautiful to the younger people is hackneyed and tedious to the older. The poetry of Argentina and, it is said, of all Latin America, appears to be erotic or spasmodic, or both. It is pretty, but it has not sufficient freshness to conquer a hearing in the great world.


But the earliest work with which we need deal is an anonymous anthology, which forms an exception to the general rule. In 1823 some patriot, by a happy inspiration, collected the snatches of song which the revolutionists had composed and by which they marched to victory, and these form a substantial volume—"La Lira Argentina." It consists of a great number of poems, mostly short—"Marcha patriotica," "Oda" (por la victoria de Suipacha), "Cancion patriotica," "Cancion Heroica," "A La Excelentisima Junta," "Marcha Patriotica" ("Long live our country free from chains, and long live her sons to defend her"), "Marcha Nacional Oriental," and the like. They are full of fire and simple art; they are really a noble national memorial and worth a wilderness of love lyrics. But this view has not been developed, although one would suppose that Argentina, with its mountains and Pampas, deserved better local poetry of manhood and adventure than the rude songs of the Gauchos.

Marmol (1818-1873), already referred to as a novelist, in some way carries on the patriotic tradition, for in 1838 he was thrown by Rosas into a dungeon, and inscribed with a burnt stick the following quatrain on the walls of his prison:—

"Wretch! set before me dreadful Death,
And all my limbs in fetters bind;
Thou canst not quench my moral breath,
Nor place a chain upon my mind."

He managed to survive and became a busy man of letters and subsequently Director of the National Library. Marmol wrote a good many love poems, but he is more remarkable for having attempted a field which seems to have little attraction for his countrymen. He wrote at least two poetical dramas, "El Cruzado" and "El Poeta,"[176] the first historical, the second a modern comedy. He is a sound and conscientious literary craftsman, and the literary world of Buenos Aires looks back to him with profound respect. He seems to have approached nearer to the type of the professional man of letters than is common in Argentina.

The other poets are extremely numerous, and it is not necessary to particularise them. With them it is always the hour of night, and the same question always arises: "Why do you come to disturb my calm, image of that being whom I adore, image of that being, for whom alas! I weep, for whom I consume away and die of love?" The quotation in question happens to be from a Colombian poet, but the note is always the same; there is too little distinctiveness about the poets of Argentina to require detailed treatment. The short-lived Adolfo Mitré, who was highly praised for his sincerity and passion, or Sr. Martin Garcia Mérou may stand as types of the rest.

Garcia Mérou, besides being a poet, is an elegant essayist—already noticed—a good historian, and has shown himself highly appreciative of the work of brother poets. It is, perhaps, to the amateurish state of Argentine literature, which does not engender professional jealousy, that the pleasant comradeship and apparent lack of literary squabbles are due. Garcia Mérou published many volumes of poems of the usual type in the eighties. In 1891 appeared a different kind of work, "Cuadros Epicos," short poems dealing with various scenes in Spanish-American history. "El Mar de Balboa" is impressive.

The things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme are still the best part of Argentine literature; in new countries material fruit precedes intellectual blossom. This is inevitable in such cases, for it is necessary to live[177] before it is possible to write, and literature is at every disadvantage owing to the scantiness and preoccupation of the people. Prosperity may probably continue to blunt the literary sense, for national dangers and terrors, such as called forth the Elizabethan literature and the Romantic Revival in England, or the modest "Lira Argentina," are unlikely, and the education system, which despises Latin and Greek—i.e., literature—does not foster good writers. The matter must be left to time and events. The people of Argentina are practical, and their literary wants are well supplied in the shape of all that the practical man wants. There are excellent and useful writings on law, adequate histories, lucid essays, a few novels, and, above all, a most excellent press, which last probably forms his complete substitute for a library. He wants no more. Possibly that absence of wants is the most serious want of all; a life that can be satisfied by craftsman, cook, or groom, is at least incomplete, and it may be that earth has something better to show than fat cattle, corn, grapes, or even dollars. These things have not been the distinguishing products of nations in the past which are now inscribed upon the rolls of fame, and, however materialistic men become, such things will not even now hand a nation on to all futurity. The literature of Argentina, though creditable, is by no means on a scale proportionate to her present position among nations.



Undoubtedly at the present time the main interest of Argentina is industrial. The wonderful rapidity of her expansion is perhaps the most remarkable phenomenon of this generation, and can only be realised by a visit to the country. No nation has more thoroughly appreciated this fact than France, which hails with triumph the rapid progress of a Latin race as a counterbalancing force to industrial degeneration in Europe. If able and eloquent essays and elaborate statistics, written with great literary power to call the attention of French capital and enterprise to the River Plate, were sufficient for the purpose, France would have a very prominent industrial part in that region. But, generally speaking, France is enough for the French, and that country only contributes 10 per cent. of the Argentine imports, and is thus only slightly ahead of Italy. The rulers of the United States have also grasped the importance of this new force, and the Bulletin of the International Bureau of the American Republics, for fulness and clearness of information, puts to shame all English efforts in the same direction. Yet, in spite of all their exertions, the United States do not possess a single bank in Argentina (possibly not in the whole of South America), and England sends to the River Plate two and a half times as much merchandise. Germany also spares no effort, although Brazil attracts still more attention. If gratuitous advertising could command success, Germany would be first without a rival. For some mysterious reason every Englishman, whether at home or abroad, considers it necessary to boom German goods and German enterprise, and a suggestion that the Teuton has left a little trade to the Anglo-Saxon is received with polite incredulity. In their enthusiasm our countrymen are a little forgetful of facts and proportion, and they somehow manage to persuade themselves that Germany is an absolutely irresistible industrial force. In the Argentine her share of the import trade is somewhat less than half that of England.


It is certainly true that our country has very little system in placing information before our traders. The Consular Reports are valuable, but each refers to a comparatively small district, and, apart from the fact that very few steps seem to be taken to bring them to the notice of traders, there is great inconvenience in collecting information piecemeal, nor is the form, in any case, sufficiently stimulating. We ought to take a lesson from the handsomely illustrated publications of the States, and the scientific and literary ability with which the French expound their theme. Our work hitherto has been fruit-bearing, but not light-giving. One of the commonest exclamations of an Englishman when he has spent a few days in Buenos Aires is: "Well! I wish the people at home knew about this." Few people read statistics, fewer still remember them, and fewest of all understand them; and consequently the signs of industrial prosperity are almost stupefying. Still, as railway companies seem to find photographs the most effective advertisements, it[179]
can hardly be doubted that well-illustrated pamphlets setting forth the industrial promise of Argentina would make many people in England realise the true state of affairs. Certainly, the Argentine Government does all in its power by exhibitions and the dissemination of intelligence to attract capital and settlers.

Perhaps, as a prelude to this subject, a word may be said about the British capital invested in the country, for this is one of the most striking features.

Englishmen have from the beginning taken the lead in developing the resources of the country, and this fact is fully appreciated by the people of Argentina, who owe no less their pre-eminent position in South America to the stream of English capital, which has been pouring in for generations, than to their fine climate and immense natural wealth. In the old Spanish days England had a leading share in the contraband trade, and during the Napoleonic war her merchants were almost as welcome guests as her armies and fleets were unwelcome. The English were the pioneers in railway construction, and still own the most important lines; they have founded banks and freezing establishments, lighted the streets, laid down tramways, and built harbours.

Up to May 31, 1908, the amount of English capital invested in Argentina was as follows:—

Sundry enterprises20,910,580

France comes second. Her investments are chiefly in railways and harbours, and amount to about £21,621,000. German capital, principally in banks and[181] tramways, stands at £12,000,000. Belgium has £4,000,000 of capital invested in the Republic.

Among the many marvellous industrial features of Argentina the railways[92] may claim the first position, for they hold in the Plate country the same place as in the United States: they are the arteries which bring life-blood to the system. The travellers of two or three generations ago all remarked upon the wealth of the Pampas and lamented the impossibility of utilising it owing to the absence of transport, and the same lament is made by those who now visit Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. But now Argentina has a splendid railway system, which is being developed with unflagging enterprise. Its mileage is greater than that of Mexico.[93]

The first line was laid down in 1857, but progress was very slow, for Argentina shared the bad reputation of all South American Republics, and there seemed reason to believe that the next quarter of a century would be as barren as the last, for foreign and civil wars appeared to be insuperable barriers to progress. But in the booming times of the eighties construction went on apace, and no temporary checks to the general prosperity availed to circumscribe the growing network of[182] railways. Taken as a whole, they are one of the most brilliant examples of English enterprise in a foreign land.[94]

The oldest of the Argentine railways is the Buenos Aires Western, which in 1857 made a modest beginning with a 6-mile track to Flores. Its early days were full of trouble, and before long it fell into the hands of the State. It was sold to an English company in 1890, and since that time has flourished exceedingly. Although the smallest of the broad-gauge lines, it is a very wealthy concern, and has 1,305 miles of track. Up to Mercedes it competes with the Buenos Aires and Pacific, but thence it bears southward, to Banderalo in one direction and Toay in another, and finally joins the Bahia Blanca and North-Western Railway at Bahia Blanca itself. It serves a very fertile district, and grain forms 60 per cent. of its goods traffic. The lines are well laid, the rolling stock excellent, the management of the best, and it has long paid a dividend of 7 per cent. upon its ordinary stock. Altogether it is a highly meritorious concern, and though it has less scope for development than some of its rivals its future can hardly fail to be one of continuous prosperity.


The largest of all the railways is the Buenos Aires Great Southern. Formed in 1862 to take over a Buenos Aires State line of 71 miles, which was opened in 1865, it has gradually extended over the Province and beyond, and now has 2,745 miles of line and is also the richest railway company in the country. The capital is about forty million sterling, and for ten years interest at the rate of 7 per cent. has been paid upon the ordinary stock. It has the great advantage over all competitors in serving nothing but rich country, and practically all its points are within 200 miles of the ports of Buenos Aires or Bahia Blanca. The policy of the Great Southern, while financially sound, has been one of remarkable enterprise, and the distant future has always been kept in view. Money has been spent lavishly with the object of obtaining all strategical points and access into promising country. At Bahia Blanca a large steel mole and grain wharf have been constructed, with the best machinery for loading and unloading, and accommodation for fourteen ocean steamers. Control has also been obtained of a dock company at La Plata, as well as an important interest in the Buenos Aires Southern Dock Company, where accommodation is provided for twenty steamers. Nothing has been left undone in the way of providing docking facilities, and the rolling stock is in excellent condition and great abundance. This is necessary for grain-carrying lines, because their goods traffic comes with a rush at one time. Congress has sanctioned the construction of additional lines of 1,176 miles, chiefly in the region of the Rios Colorado and Negro. As the irrigation schemes will make this a rich[183]
grain district, the railway may look for large traffic increases. In the future there will be strong competition in the Province of Buenos Aires from several French and State lines, but the history of Argentine railway development has been largely the record of the absorption by a great line of its smaller competitors, and the position of the Great Southern is now so strong and its extensions have been so judiciously planned, that its continued prosperity may be confidently predicted. It works the Buenos Aires Midland and the Buenos Aires, Ensenada, and South Coast.

The Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway looms more largely in the view of the world than its neighbours, and its history presents so many features of interest that it deserves to be described in somewhat fuller detail. Although its present mileage (2,712) is very nearly as large as that of the Great Southern, it is not an old line. The Company was formed in 1882 to construct a broad-gauge line from Mercedes to Villa Mercedes, and this was soon extended to the City of Buenos Aires, which became the headquarters. This, however, was insufficient scope for the enterprising Company, and in 1904 control was obtained over the Bahia Blanca and North-Western Railway, which now has a length of 665 miles, and thus an immense step in advance was taken by securing a terminus at a town which will probably be the chief grain port in South America. Four years earlier a similar, though less important, step was taken to compete with another rival by taking over the Villa Maria and Rufino Railway. This was a short section from the town of Villa Maria between Cordoba and Rosario to Rufino on its own main line, and thus the Buenos Aires Pacific was in a position to make terms with its northern rivals. But a still more important extension than either of the above was to follow. The Argentine Great Western ran from Villa Mercedes to Mendoza, and had also branches to San Rafael, San Juan, and other small places. Thus it had a monopoly of the wine traffic, which is very valuable in itself and doubly so because it comes on at a season in the year when it does not interfere with other traffic. This line has a mileage of 500 miles, and gross receipts of about a million sterling. For a long time the Argentine Great Western stood out, but was in 1907 induced to give way on somewhat extravagant terms, and thus the enterprising Company was not far from its goal of being a real Pacific Railway. In fact, there was included in this deal an arrangement which practically assured this result, for the Great Western had already taken over the Argentine Transandine, which thus became a part of the Buenos Aires Pacific system. This is a small line of 111 miles of metre gauge, which runs from Mendoza to the Chilian frontier, where it joins the Chilian lines at Las Cuevas. Here a great tunnel has been completed under the Andes, and it will be open for traffic by the time this book is published. The magnificent system is the admiration of the whole world. The Buenos Aires and Pacific is the only line in South America which has established through communication between the Atlantic and Pacific, and up to Mendoza the line is well laid, and it carries passengers speedily and with all possible comfort. But it has had to pay for its footing and the expense of acquiring sections, which are valuable rather as rounding off its own system and preventing encroachments by other companies, has been enormous, and it has been obliged to make repeated applications for capital in the London market. The traffic with Valparaiso, although the extension is a showy scheme, is not likely to pay for[185]
many years, and the difficulty of running trains through winter blizzards and snowdrifts will be considerable. The heavy expenditure has had a temporary effect, and the stock has experienced a heavy fall during the last few months. But the Company has placed itself in a position where it has little to fear from competition and where it can secure the full advantages from the future development of Argentina. This railway may be considered one of the most magnificent commercial enterprises in South America.


The Central Argentine is one of the most prosperous of railways. It has the largest gross receipts and makes the most profit per mile and it is also of very long standing. It began in 1864 with a line from Rosario to Cordoba and for a long time met with severe competition from the Buenos Aires and Rosario line, which worked practically the same districts, but in 1902 an amalgamation was effected. But the Mitre Law has been unfavourable to it, and for some years the Government insisted that the two lines should continue to be worked separately, and it was only last year that their complete union was sanctioned. Rosario is the centre of the system, and here the Company owns extensive dockyards, and lines run both to Tucuman and Cordoba. A port, Villa Constitucion, within 32 miles of Rosario, is also being developed, but competition is feared from Santa Fé, where very large extensions are being made, and although the Central Argentine has access to that port, a French company is in a better position for taking advantage of the facilities. In fact, the line is exposed to very severe competition from two French companies, the Cordoba Central, the Buenos Aires Central, and the Rosario and Western, a light railway, but it is large and wealthy and should have little to fear. It has an enormous grain traffic, but it serves the older and more[187] settled districts, and therefore cannot hope to increase its traffic in the immediate future as rapidly as some of the pioneer railways. However, it has been pointed out in another chapter that the development of the Gran Chaco and extensions into Paraguay and Brazil must ultimately vastly add to the wealth and importance of Rosario and hence to that of the Central Argentine. But this is a matter of the distant future. The Central Argentine pursues a conservative policy in finance and has for many years paid 6 per cent. on the ordinary stock. It is in a very sound position, a most comfortable line, and the management is highly efficient. The length of line is 2,392 miles.

There are two competing lines which serve the eastern river district adjacent to Uruguay, namely, the Entre Rios and the Argentine North-Eastern. Both have a gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches. The Entre Rios is a short line of only 656 miles, but it is of some importance on account of its ferry service which connects Zarate with Ibicuy on the left bank of the Parana. The railway then runs north to the important town of Parana, which is the headquarters. No dividend has yet been paid on the ordinary stock, and the cumulative preference is somewhat in arrears, for the district is mainly pastoral and that part of the line which was taken over from the Provincial Government in 1891 is badly laid, but when Entre Rios becomes a large grain-producing region the prospects of the Company will improve, and already it does a good trade in supplying Buenos Aires with fruit and vegetables, while the management is economical. Of its traffic some 17 per cent. is live stock, 15 wheat, and 11 linseed.

The North-Eastern, which has 510 miles of railway, should be assured of a prosperous future, for Posadas, the northern headquarters, is now connected with[188] Asuncion by the Paraguay Central Railway and will get much benefit from the development of that hitherto secluded country. It is still a pioneer line running through swamps and forests and country which is to a great extent unpopulated, and the goods which it carries consist chiefly of cattle and their products. The swampy nature of the country entails considerable expense in construction, but the Company pays a strict regard to economy, and the capitalisation per mile is only £8,680. Since June 30, 1907, the working expenses have been cut down from 65.10 to 57.17 per cent. Although the prospects of this line are fair they would undoubtedly be better if an amalgamation could be effected with the Entre Rios, for the district does not yet possess sufficient traffic for two competing lines. The scheme has long been under consideration, and as the policy of amalgamation has been carried on so extensively in recent years it may be that it will eventually be accomplished.

A small railway of 167 miles, under Argentine management, should here be mentioned. It runs westward from the capital to Rojas, and there is also a very important branch of 27 miles which runs to Zarate and connects with the Entre Rios system by a train ferry. In 1906 this Company took over the Tramway Rural à Vapor from Messrs. Lacroze Bros. The line has a gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches. The Company owns valuable property in Buenos Aires and has a terminal station at the suburb of Chacarita, and it serves a profitable district and is also a link with the Argentine Mesopotamia, but it has been obliged to make heavy outlays upon the permanent way. The line was originally a light railway and therefore in indifferent condition for heavy traffic. The ordinary share capital of the Company, which is exclusively held in Argentina, has been increased to over a million sterling. There were issued also in 1907 £600,000 4½ per cent. First Mortgage Debentures to extend the line from Salto to Rojas. This was subscribed in London. It is a good property.


Of the remaining lines the most important are a group of northern railways. The Cordoba Central Railway is metre gauge and is divided into two sections. The "Original Line" is 128½ miles long and was formed in 1887 to connect Cordoba with San Francisco. The latter is an important town half-way between Cordoba and Santa Fé. Shortly afterwards the Company bought the Central Northern Railway from the Argentine Government at a cost of £3,174,603, and also spent about a million sterling on improving the line which runs from Cordoba to Tucuman and has a length of 550 miles. In 1899 the purchase was effected of the North-Western Argentine Railway, a loop-line from Tucuman to La Madrid, length 87 miles. The "Original Line," after leaving Cordoba, passes through a poor and sparsely inhabited country, and this section could be of little value but for the terminus at San Francisco. However, it is economically managed and shows a profit of £800 per mile. The longer section also, between Cordoba and Tucuman, runs through a poor country, but in compensation it has the valuable sugar traffic of the latter city. Sugar forms a quarter and timber nearly two-fifths of its goods traffic. Closely connected with it is the Cordoba and Rosario Railway, which is also metre gauge and connects Rosario with Frontera on the "Original Line." There is also a branch line to Rafaela, which links up with the Central Argentine and the French lines. In 1895 the capital had to be reorganised, and there can be no doubt that it has not yet seen its best days, for it will have to wait for the development of the auxiliary lines which form the connecting links between Tucuman[189]
and the capital. But in any case they have to face very severe competition from the Argentine Central and the French lines. It is open to doubt whether the connection with Buenos Aires itself is necessary, for there are already a bewildering number of lines serving the district between Buenos Aires and Rosario, and at harvest-time there is immense congestion at the former place. In fact, the trend of commerce seems to be rather towards the diversion of bulky exports from the capital and the directing of them to Rosario and Bahia Blanca. This criticism receives point from the position of the newly opened Cordoba Central Buenos Aires Extension Railway, upon which the up-country allied lines largely depend for their success. This cumbrously named Company was formed in 1905 to acquire a concession granted by Government to the Cordoba Central Railway to build a metre-gauge line of 187 miles. It runs parallel with the Central Argentine system between Buenos Aires and Rosario, and it was only recently opened. Its district is, of course, one of the very richest in the country, consisting of fine agricultural and grazing land in the zone of black soil. But, as already stated, there is strong competition, and this not only from the other lines, but also from the river, which follows it from end to end. Now the dock of this Company at the capital will not be finished till the end of 1910, and the Company is at present renting accommodation and therefore suffering considerable inconvenience. The work of reclaiming land and dock building is being done by the Buenos Aires and Pacific, and the cost will be about a million sterling. The office of the Company also is to cost £225,000, but a large part of this will be let off. Every large company naturally wishes to have its headquarters in Buenos Aires, but in this case the question arises as to whether the game is worth the candle. Few[191] lines have had to pay more heavily for obtaining their extension privileges; the ordinary stock has been watered to a considerable degree and bonds of the value of three and a half million sterling have been issued. To meet the interest upon these bonds alone its profits will have to be £175,000, and thus a profit of £935 per mile is postulated. To obtain such a profit under economical management the gross receipts will have to be £389,000, or nearly £2,100 per mile, and no broad-gauge line in Argentina has yet reached this figure. In 1909 its gross receipts were only £1,613, its net £654 per mile, but as the line is only in its infancy these figures must not be taken as a criterion. However, the payment of a large dividend on the ordinary stock appears to be a remote eventuality.


Numerous small lines, chiefly Government or French, have been incidentally mentioned, but they do not require detailed description.[95]


No account of the railways would be complete without a reference to the important Mitre Law, which was introduced some two years ago. Some of the railway concessions were expiring, and several provincial Governments (which are not always as enlightened as the Federal) were believed to be planning increased taxation. Legislation was accordingly introduced to put matters upon a proper footing. Such companies as accept the Law are granted exception from all kinds of taxation and allowed free importation of all materials till 1947. In return the companies must pay a tax of 3 per cent. upon net receipts, which, however, will be[193] applied by the Government in constructing and maintaining bridges and roads which give access to the lines. Certain rights of tariff revision are given to the Government, and no watered capital is recognised. The Law is most valuable to the railways, and the expenditure on roads and bridges will be highly beneficial. The effect will be to limit working expenses, for when the gross earnings for three consecutive years exceed 17 per cent. of the recognised share and debenture capital, the Government has a right to revise the tariffs. The Law has been accepted by all the English companies except the Entre Rios and the Argentine North-Eastern.

The above account will show that competition is very severe. This tends to bring down profits, and the cost of labour and coal and materials also makes the working expenses high. The extensions of the broad-gauge companies are, it is estimated, to cost £9,000 per mile for track and stations alone. Another fact which adds to the expenses is the necessity of keeping a very large rolling stock for use during harvest-times. This must, in part, stand idle for the rest of the year, and as a corollary to this the great bulk of the traffic is to the sea, and thus many wagons have to return inland empty. Passenger traffic, again, is light, owing to the sparse population. The Government naturally encourages competition; but its attitude has also a very favourable side, for it puts no obstacles in the way of construction, and does not attempt to bleed the companies. Of this the Mitre Law is an example. On the whole, it may be said that the great ability which has hitherto been shown in railway policy will have to be maintained at the highest point if profits and dividends are to be kept up.

On the other hand, it must be remembered that the volume of traffic steadily increases, and that wheat alone will be exported on a scale greater than anything which[194] has yet been seen in any country in the world. The area of cultivation expands yearly, and when a more intensive scheme of tillage is adopted the yield will increase and with it the goods traffic. Pasturage is being driven further afield by the husbandmen, and as more farmers settle within the railway area the import trade will expand in sympathy with their growing wants and purchasing power. There is no reason to doubt that the railways will continue to share in the increasing prosperity of the country, and will be enabled to take advantage of the vast scope for development both north and south.

Manufacturers in Argentina are heavily protected, but they have as yet made no great progress. Writers who deal with the business side of Argentine life usually treat them in a very cursory manner and devote themselves to the vast pastoral and agricultural production and other characteristic industries, but the question of manufactures is worth consideration, for it is a sign of the times that every nation is anxious to supply itself with home-made goods and is straining every nerve to encourage home production. A large proportion, indeed, of the Argentine factories are merely auxiliary to the production of raw material, being creameries, butter factories, freezing establishments, cheese-making factories, and the like.

Brewing and distilling are both important, and there are said to be 130 distilleries and 32 breweries in Argentina. The sugar factories of Tucuman turn out a great quantity of rum. As sugar-planting is being successfully pursued in the Territories of Misiones, Chaco, and Formosa, the manufacture of that article is naturally increasing. The cost of planting one hectare with cane is about £10. It was estimated that the Republic produced about 120,000 tons of sugar annually, and this amount is not quite sufficient for[195] domestic needs, but when the Gran Chaco is opened up there can be no doubt that not only will enough be produced to supply the increasing population but that there will also be a large export.

In 1907 there were 303 flour-mills turning out 699,000 tons of flour. There are also 77 tobacco factories producing an output valued at about 2½ millions sterling. All kinds of textiles are produced, but there are only two cotton-spinning mills and 62 weaving factories. There are also numbers of miscellaneous industries, the most important of which perhaps are paper, matches, glass-ware, tanning, clothing, and building material. In general the factories are fitted up with the very best English machinery, and there is a determination to leave nothing undone to secure success. That they will continue to prosper cannot be doubted, for they have still a much larger home market than they are capable of supplying. A considerable number of the manufacturing industries, notably the sugar factories of Tucuman, are in English hands, and an enterprising Scotch firm has forsaken the United Kingdom and is engaged in manufacturing cheap shoes of imported hemp, which are exported largely to Japan. The high tariff wall is a luxury much appreciated by manufacturers, but not to-day or to-morrow will Argentina compete with Manchester or Bradford in the world's markets. Want of coal is a capital hindrance, and that very protection which confers local prosperity helps to make the establishment and upkeep of factories very costly. In this respect Argentina is but a beginner, and no one can say what her manufacturing future will be.



This is, on the whole, the most striking of the many very remarkable industrial features of Argentina. To begin with, some figures should be given. No doubt they are dry bones, but a body cannot be made without bones, and for the understanding of industrial phenomena it is necessary to have a skeleton map in the form of figures to guide us. If we keep a few round figures before us, we can form an idea of the progress of a country in industrial matters and its position in regard to other nations. It is impossible indeed to carry long tables of statistics in the head, but a few essential figures can be remembered, and along with them the increases and decreases (though of decreases we seldom hear in Argentina) as compared with a period of ten years ago and also the relative production or export of Argentine staples as compared with the figures of other countries in those articles.


Allusion has already been made to the benefit which the Spaniards conferred upon South America by setting down horses and cattle, and how abundantly they increased and multiplied in an astonishingly short time. It has been seen also that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the exportation of hides was a most progressive industry. Later, when the tyranny of Rosas was overpast, the production of cattle made giant strides and has by no means approached its limit.


The following figures represent the number of animals in the Argentine Republic:—


Their total value is 645,000,000 dollars gold.[96] The United States has more cattle (71,267,000), but considerably fewer sheep and goats. Australia has more sheep (87,780,819), but far fewer horses and cattle. Chile, although looked upon as a wool-growing country, is insignificant in comparison with Argentina, possessing probably hardly more than two million sheep. Argentina has fewer hogs, mules, and donkeys than Spain, but, on the whole, it may be said that she equals, if she does not surpass, any other nation in the number and variety of her live stock.


It is of course, to the Camp that the country owes all its wealth. People in Buenos Aires use the term just as people in Calcutta speak of the Mofussil. Without the Camp, or plain, the great Buenos Aires would have no existence. The Camp is covered with estancias which are held by estancieros, or squatters. Immense fortunes have been made by those who have been skilled in the art of getting together the best stock and managing their estates, and probably there are still excellent chances of making a fortune for the competent. The life of the estanciero is free and healthy;[197]
it approaches to that of the receding Gaucho, it is a life of boot and saddle, of early rising and long days in the crisp, sunny air. It is also much more comfortable than the ranching life in most countries; good houses, billiard-tables, plenty of company, and a number of the amenities of civilised life are not unusual, and the splendid railways will swiftly transport the estanciero to Buenos Aires when he desires a change.[97] Still, it is obvious that these luxuries are the result and not the cause of success; and it must not be supposed that an estanciero grows rich by living in fine houses and amusing himself; as is the case everywhere else, the desirable things of wealth are won by hard work and business ability.


In 1864 cattle amounted to 10,215,000, in 1884 to 14,171,000, in 1895 to 21,701,526. It will be seen that the rate of advance has been tolerably rapid. As the country became more settled after the middle of the last century, the increase of pastoral industries was somewhat checked by the realisation of the enormous possibilities of agriculture. In 1857 cattle formed 25 per cent. of the wealth of the country, but in 1884 only 18 per cent.[98] But with the fall in the value[199] of wheat and the increasing demand for meat and wool, and the wonderful ingenuity of the methods of freezing and preserving, the pastoral industry has held its own.

Cattle and sheep are raised all over the Pampas and far to the north and south; but, generally speaking, cattle keep to the eastern side and sheep to the west, while Patagonia is almost exclusively devoted to sheep. The cattle industry is very different from what it was in the memory of men still living. In the old days animals were killed for their hides and the carcase was left to rot on the ground; their flesh was eaten only by those who tended them. In 1873 the export of meat was under 1,500,000 dollars, and little of this found its way to Europe. In 1907 the exports of beef and mutton amounted to 222,273 tons. The prosperity of the meat industry, however, is due not only to improved methods of transport, packing, and preserving, but also to the wisdom of the estancieros in importing valuable bulls. It is said that even the smallest among them are convinced of the value of good blood and insist upon having it. Between 1899 and 1903 Argentina imported 3,005 bulls, principally from England, and in 1907 the value of live animals imported was over 2,000,000 dollars. We have seen the huge prices that rich Argentines give for the best stallions, but, relatively, breeders are quite as eager for the best bovine sires. Uruguay is better known to the world than Argentina as a seat of the meat industry, but, as a matter of fact, the latter has infinitely more stock of every description. However, in 1908, the Uruguayan beef-salting factories slaughtered three times as many cattle as the Argentine.


A great many estancias are in English hands; all over the Pampas are great numbers of young Englishmen managing the estates. A warning note has lately been sounded to the effect that Beef Trusts and other[200] United States Trusts are attempting to acquire land and meat factories and to control the supply of meat. It is needless to say that if these organisations make headway, neither the estancieros, nor our traders, nor the meat consumer, will have any reason to congratulate themselves, and it is to be hoped that the Argentine Government will take energetic measures to keep the country out of the grip of the octopus.

The sheep industry has not maintained its old relative importance. In 1830 Argentina had 2,500,000 sheep and exported 6,000,000 lbs. of wool; in 1883 the figures were 69,000,000 sheep (somewhat more than now) and 261,000,000 lbs. of wool. In 1908 the shipments were 175,538 tons, and Argentina is of great importance in the world's markets, but the conditions of the industry have changed considerably within recent years. In the old days Spain prohibited the export of her valuable merino sheep to foreign countries, but the colonies were fortunate enough not to be included in the prohibition, and in 1550 the first merinos appeared in Tucuman from Peru.[99] Professor Clapham, in his valuable work, "The Woollen and Worsted Industries," says: "There, together with an inferior, long-wooled breed, also of Spanish extraction, they ran wild and deteriorated for over two hundred years; so that eventually the Argentine flocks were as sorely in need of new blood as were those of France, Germany, or Russia, which, until the middle of the eighteenth century, had never had the benefit of a cross with the old Spanish strain. Between 1760 and 1840, thanks to a change in the commercial policy of Spain, such crossing took place in almost every country of Europe and in many European colonies." About the beginning of the nineteenth century pure-bred Spanish rams were brought to Argentina, and others from France and Saxony. By 1846 the wool had so greatly improved that it was exported to England. Forty years ago the exports consisted almost entirely of merino wool, but now seven-eighths is cross-bred. For this change there are two reasons—firstly, the rich, loamy soil does not suit merinos, which are apt to deteriorate in rank pastures, and, secondly, the trade in frozen meat has made such enormous strides that estancieros are anxious to obtain mutton breeds, especially Lincolns. The Lincolnshire breeders drive a flourishing trade with Buenos Aires, and as much as 1,000 guineas is often given for a ram. There used to be a prejudice in Bradford against Argentine wool,[100] but it is disappearing, although the Australian product still fetches a somewhat higher price.


The improvements which of late years have been introduced into sheep-breeding and sheep-farming are very remarkable, and they are partly due to the efforts of immigrants from New Zealand who have introduced effective cures for foot-rot and other diseases. During the last ten years of the nineteenth century breeders pinned their faith almost entirely to Lincolns, and the importations were very large. Up to 1890 the majority of Argentine sheep were weak cross-breds, and such[201]
good blood as remained had been weakened by over-crossing. The hardy Lincoln brought health and energy to the enfeebled mass, and breeders made it their business to rear hardy sheep and obtain a good average without going to extremes in their preference for any particular stock. The breeding of sheep has been greatly benefited by the fact that the estancias have been largely in English hands[101] and the proprietors have thus introduced hardy English breeds and good methods.

All over Argentina the intelligent selection of breeds is receiving great attention. It is now recognised that in an alfafa district a stock-master should keep cattle rather than flocks, and that such sheep as he has should be producers of mutton rather than wool. Again, in the southern districts where the grass is rich and tender, the Lincoln breed is unsuitable and crossings are favoured with the Romney Marsh, which counteracts the tendency towards coarseness, and gives silkiness, closeness, and, to some extent, fineness to the wool. Thus in Tierra del Fuego the hardy Romney Marsh, imported from the Falkland Islands, is being bred, and in this inhospitable climate the sheep keep fat all the year round, even when the snow lies a foot deep on the ground, for the sheep have learned to scrape the snow away with their hoofs and find the grass.


M. Bernandez, to whose valuable work this chapter is indebted, concludes this subject with the following words: "Thus the moral to be learned from all this would be, that there is no reason why either the coarse or fine wools now produced should be abandoned to any great extent. The coarse can afford to give over a large proportion of its flock to the evolution, because they are in an immense majority; but it would not be prudent to go to the other extreme in this reaction, as the coarse long wool will always have its use, not only in rough goods but also in the warp of fine cloths, which in the great mechanical looms has to be extremely strong—a reason that has prevented the decadence of French wools. The merino, on its side, has its strongest defence in the singular fact that our woollen factories import their fine wools in the form of yarn. As soon as spinning-mills are established in the country, and the customs tariff combines the interests of the wool-grower with that of the manufacturer, there will be, in this country alone, more than half a million sterling at hand for the purchase of the wool produced by our Rambouillet flocks. It can thus be seen that there is a field for stock-breeding and industrial art that will cause the development on a colossal scale of all the breeds comprised in our flocks, and that the times are singularly propitious for it, as we have at hand in enormous quantity all the elements tending to good results that can be offered to capital and to the vigorous enterprise of mankind, with greater certainty and more favourable auspices than can be obtained in any other class of business, or in any other part of the world."[102]


The life of the estancia has been described by many pens, and the free, open conditions have always had an attraction for Englishmen. The management is everywhere upon the same principles. The property is divided by wire fences into paddocks varying from 200 to 3,000 acres. Some paddocks are used for breeding, some for fattening, and the head station is situated as nearly in the middle of the Camp as possible. It consists of the houses of the owners[203]
and managers, the labourers' quarters, tool- and store-houses, shearing-sheds, dipping-troughs, and the like. The owner's house is often very large and handsome, and the grounds beautifully laid out. There is generally considerable variety of stock, but where the fattening of steers is the main object few or no sheep are kept. Some estancias have dairies attached. Land was taken up very rapidly by ranchers in the early days of Argentina's prosperity. Now, with the increase of the area of cultivation, the land in the Pampas which is available for grazing is greatly curtailed. It is estimated that nearly a hundred million hectares are still to be disposed of by the State, but this is all far to the north or south, and Chubut and Santa Cruz make up nearly half the total.


The dairy industry is now on a gigantic scale. All arrangements were till very lately most primitive and the traveller, did he not know to the contrary, would still believe them to be so; but it is a peculiarity about Argentina that the people hurry to institute a great export trade long before they think of supplying themselves adequately with an article. As late as 1891 the first butter—a few hundred pounds—was exported. Now the exports amount to 8,000 tons. The dairies are provided with the most up-to-date machinery, and the export trade of butter will, no doubt, rapidly increase. The industry is, however, looked upon with some distrust by estancieros, for it is important not to allow the winning of milk to diminish the young animals, either in quantity or quality, upon which the prosperity of Argentina depends.


Inseparably connected with the pastoral industry are two great English businesses concerned in the extract of meat. It was in 1884 that the Kemmerich Company purchased some estancias and built a factory at Santa Elena in Entre Rios. The Bovril Company had for some years been obtaining material for its meat extract from Santa Elena, and eventually bought the factory and that of San Javier, together with a block of 438,000 acres, and additional land was leased. These were formed into the Argentine Estates of Bovril, Limited, and hence is obtained a large proportion of the raw material of that well-known beverage. The final stages of manufacture take place in the London factory. The estancias support from 130,000 to 160,000 head of cattle, but even this large number does not supply the whole demand, and every year many cattle continue to be sent by the Kemmerich Company to the Bovril factories. The favourite breed is the hardy Durham. Several thousand head of this fine breed are kept by the Company to level up the remainder of the stock. The Durham, or Shorthorn, has been a brilliant success in the Pampa, both as a pure breed and as a means of raising, by crossing the standard of the criollo, or native animal, and no breed equals it for beef-production in districts where the pasture is rich and the climate temperate. The Bovril Company also keeps Polled Angus, but finds the Durhams unequalled for its purpose.

All the best parts of the beef are used to make Bovril, and the preliminary process takes place in the Argentine factories, where 80,000 to 100,000 cattle are slaughtered annually. The hides and tallow are also prepared at Santa Elena, sold at Buenos Aires, and shipped to Europe and the United States. The rapid growth of this business and the skill and enterprise of the Company in importing good stock are very characteristic of English methods in Argentina.

The other Company is considerably older. The Lemco and Oxo Company[103] illustrates the history of an idea[205]
which occurred in 1850 to Baron Justus von Liebig, who suggested that, instead of killing cattle for their hides and tallow and leaving the carcases to rot on the ground, ranchers might do well to devise an economical process of obtaining an extract of meat from the neglected beef. In 1865 the idea was at last put into practice. Baron Liebig says: "In 1862 I received a visit from Herr Giebert, an engineer of Hamburg, who had spent many years in South America and Uruguay, where hundreds of thousands of sheep and oxen are killed solely for the hides and fat. He told me that directly he saw my account of the preparation of this extract he came to Munich with the intention of learning the process and then returning to South America in order to undertake its manufacture on a large scale. I therefore recommended Herr Giebert to Professor Pettenkofer, who willingly made him familiar with every detail of the process. He then returned to Uruguay in the summer of 1863, but, owing to many difficulties which generally hinder the introduction and management of a new business, it was almost a year before he could actually commence the manufacture." It was arranged that the extract should be called Liebig, and in due course the first sample of about 80 lbs. of beef extract arrived at Munich, and was pronounced highly satisfactory, considering that it was "a product from the flesh of half-wild animals."

These pioneer attempts were quickly absorbed by Lemco and Oxo. The beginning was made in Uruguay, but now the Company owns ten estancias in Argentina, nine in Paraguay, and seven in Uruguay.[104] The chief Argentine estancia is at Colon in Entre Rios, about 180 miles north of Buenos Aires, but there are many others, both in that Province and Corrientes, including La Luisa, Jubileo, Chacra, and Curuzu Laurel, as well as numerous hired farms. The total area of the estates very nearly equals that of Kent and Surrey put together. Some of the estancias are larger than the Isle of Wight. The soil is fertile, the climate genial, there is an inexhaustible water supply, and an ample rainfall. All products can be shipped direct from Colon. The great feature of Camp conditions and the main element of success in the meat industry is the splendid open-air and free life which, with abundance of sweet grass, is the deadly enemy of the tubercle bacillus. In the whole of Argentina the cattle that come to the freezing and preserving establishments show usually an average of under 1 per cent. afflicted with tuberculosis. These results are not surprising, seeing that the one known remedy for consumption is the open-air life.


As was seen, the Bovril cattle are Durhams, and this may be attributed to the fact that they are largely fed on lucerne. The stock on the Lemco and Oxo estancias is grass-fed, and therefore a different breed finds favour. In place of the "half-wild animals" of forty-five years ago, the estates are grazed by beautiful herds of almost pure-bred Herefords.[105] Many well-known breeders of[207]
that county, and also H.M. King Edward, have contributed to the Company's stock. The noble, white-faced beasts, standing deep in the rich grass, are a glorious spectacle.


The Hereford is the second favourite in Argentina, but breeders only pay about half as much for them as for good Durham bulls. Where the surroundings do not conduce to early maturity and where lucerne cannot be had, the Hereford is excellent. It is slow in maturing, and at three years of age is said to be 15 per cent. lighter than its rival, but the popularity of the Hereford is steadily increasing.

The factory at Colon is only seven years old and is splendidly equipped. Every process follows the other in geographical order, and each departmental factory duly delivers its produce into the vast shipping wharf. Behind stand the houses of the Company's servants, stores, schools for the children, and a club. Standing by a mighty river, in a green country, the industry presents none of the dingy conditions and ugliness which are associated with European wealth-production. It is rather a palace of health.


The killing season opens in January and ends in June, and usually about a quarter of a million beasts are slain—hecatombs as much exceeding the etymological sense of the word as the Homeric phrase doubtless fell below it. They are a stupendous yearly sacrifice to Æsculapius. It should be added that the factory at Colon is constantly inspected by a representative of the Cattle Inspection Department of the Ministry of the Argentine Republic, and he is required to certify each month that he has not allowed any animal to be killed that was not sound and free from disease. Nothing that the bounty of Nature or the skill of man can achieve is left undone to secure the perfect condition of all the products.

That statesman is proverbially the wisest who can make two blades of corn grow where one grew before. In like manner, the men who can transmute scrubby sheep and big-boned, lean cattle into well-proportioned animals with heavy fleeces and fat stock is a benefactor to the human race. In Argentina, at least, to say nothing of other lands, this work has been most effectually accomplished by private effort, and in reviewing the pastoral industries of Argentina we must admire the enterprise which has scattered plenty over the land. The old poets associated wealth and peace with great herds of cattle and flocks of sheep.

"One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,
From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain."

It is these, created by skill and enterprise and drawing the vigour and virtue from our English counties, that have made Argentina a great country.



In dealing with this subject it will be necessary to make use of a considerable number of statistics, for there is no other way by which to express the unprecedented development of this great Republic. Her genial climate, her fertile soil, her vast waterways, potent alike to fertilise the country and bring produce to the sea, and now her unequalled railways and excellent docks, have caused the trade of Argentina to be surprisingly large in proportion to her population, and, unfortunately, wealth seems likely to multiply more rapidly than men. As has been said before, the importance of Argentina as a world State is purely industrial and commercial; her politics, literature, and people are interesting, but they still belong to the day of small things. Her exports of wheat and pastoral products, her railway share list and her bonds are scrutinised eagerly at every commercial centre, and Buenos Aires is an increasingly important member of the delicate system of international commerce.

In 1908[106] the imports were £54,594,547.
           "          exports           "    73,201,068.[107]

The principal items of import were as follows:—

Railway carriages and vehicles6,140,067
Iron (including manufactures)6,015,096
Building materials4,276,485
Agricultural implements3,167,967
Wine, &c.2,655,956

It is clear from this table that Argentina still relies on the foreigner for most of her manufactures. Her policy of high Protection has not yet enabled her to produce high-class goods, but it would be rash to say that success will never come, when we consider the position of the United States and the enormous advantage which an industrial start of some fifty years gives a country. The imports show a decline from the previous year of some two and a half million sterling, doubtless in sympathy with the prevailing depression, and the principal importing countries all sent slightly smaller quantities. Of the imports England has 34·2 per cent., Germany 13·9, the United States 13·2. The figures are:[211]

United States7,119,400

A remarkable feature in the history of Argentine trade returns is the enormous advance of Germany. In 1874 she sent to Argentina £160,000, in 1882, £920,000. England's figures for those two years are £1,040,000 and £1,480,000. Those of the United States are £380,000 and £580,000. But it should also be remarked that the advance of our own country has been even more rapid, and here, as elsewhere, the absurdity is demonstrated of those who declare that English trade is vanishing. Everything has been done to write down England and to write up Germany, and at the end of it all John Bull can beat Germany with one hand, the United States with the other, and has still an ample margin of strength to beat Belgium as well. We are handsomely above the Two Power standard in the Plate district. France makes steady progress, and Italy shows a large increase, as is only to be expected, because the emigration from Italy has long been very large. It may be added that French goods make their way by sheer merit, for France has in her own land ample scope for her scanty population. Some advantage may be obtained by her as the head of the Latin race, but wherever there are women and luxury there will French trade flourish, and further, in machinery of many kinds France, if equalled by any other nation for excellence, is equalled by England alone.

It is very interesting to see how Argentina has passed from small to great things in matters of trade.

The following table shows in round figures her pro[213]gress during a space of more than a hundred years. They refer to her total foreign trade.


Thus, in eight years, the foreign trade has far more than doubled. In former days the results of feverish development were by no means an unmixed benefit. Immense sums had been invested in railways and other enterprises, and the Mortgage Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires recklessly lent money upon land and credit was inflated. Everybody thought that unbounded riches were either in their possession or within reach, and the inevitable collapse followed. The difficulties were aggravated by the fluctuating state of the currency. At present the paper dollar circulates with a tolerably steady value of about 1s. 9d. There is a scheme for establishing a gold currency, and the gold held by the Conversion Office amounts to 132,769,134 dollars gold. The note circulation is over 500,000,000 dollars paper. In December, 1891, the Banco de La Nacion Argentina was opened with a capital of 50,000,000 dollars, now increased to 90,000,000. The Bank may lend money to the National Government, but the total amount is not to exceed 6,000,000 dollars, and it has no authority to place loans in other quarters.

The exports now demand our consideration. In 1908 the main items were:[214]

Agricultural products£48,013,032
Pastoral products27,023,691
Forest products1,269,446
Fish and Game99,726

A more detailed investigation of the figures shows that of wheat 3,636,294 tons were exported, of maize 1,711,804, of linseed 1,055,650, of oats 440,041. The shipments of wool were 175,538 tons, of frozen beef 180,915, of jerked beef 6,650. Quebracho wood stood at 254,571 tons, quebracho at 48,162, and hay at 32,078. Hides were largely exported.

For 1908 the following is the percentage of imports received by various countries: England, 21·4; Belgium, 9·8; Germany 9·5; France, 7·9; Brazil, 4·1; United States, 3·6.

The following table shows our reciprocal trade with Argentina in 1907[108]:—

Imports into England.
Fresh Mutton2,360,565
Fresh Beef4,308,273
Exports from England.
Iron and Manufactures3,511,803
Railway Carriages1,769,780

The various industries of this Republic, which supply the materials for the rapidly increasing commerce, are dealt with in other chapters. Buenos Aires from very early times has had a brisk trade. Even in the seventeenth century the traffic in hides excited the admiration of travellers, and at the end of the eighteenth century the new and liberal commercial policy pursued by the[215] Home Government resulted in a promising development which was roughly checked by the Revolution. From 1825 to 1842 the foreign trade per inhabitant positively diminished, and by 1850 it was only £4 8s. per head as against £3 12s. in 1795. Now it is some £20. Obviously the slow progress after the Revolution was due to the sinister tyranny of Rosas, which stifled the development of communications and all other progress. A traveller,[109] who visited the Pampas in 1848, says: "The soil is good for agriculture, yet flour is either imported from the United States, or obtained from the northern provinces; and its price is enhanced by the cost of land-carriage several hundred miles." He concludes his interesting work with these words[110]: "But while our own colonies of Australia and New Zealand offer such rich and boundless fields for the profitable employment of capital among our own countrymen, there is less inducement than ever for merchants to risk their capital and energies amongst a race of people where the wealth of nature is wasted by the combined operation of ignorance, unstable government, and interminable warfare."

Very different has been Argentina's commercial history for the last sixty years, and the only check was afforded by the Celman crash. Now[111] "the producing capacity of the country is steadily increasing, and in cereal production its status is evidenced by the fact that as a corn [i.e., maize] exporter the Argentine Republic took first rank in 1908, occupying the place formerly held by the United States. In the production[112] of this foodstuff the country ranks third, and as a wheat-grower fifth. It is[216] first as an exporter of frozen meat, and second as a shipper of wool. In the number of its cattle the Republic holds third place among the nations, being ranked by India and the United States. Russia and the United States exceed it in number of horses, and Australia alone has a greater number of sheep."

As a complement to this description of the commerce, a few words should be said about the industries which directly nourish it. Elsewhere will be found an account of the foreign steamship lines which connect Argentina with the outer world.[113] Here it is necessary to give the figures of her modest mercantile marine as far as they can be ascertained:—

Sailing ships161Tonnage40,581


It has already been said that the Argentines are not a seafaring nation, but no doubt, in course of time, the exigencies of national defence and the growth of her trade will turn the energies of her people to the sea.

There are in Argentina four banks with their offices in London. First comes the London and River Plate Bank, which was the only one of the four doing business in the country at the time of the Celman catastrophes, and this British Bank was the only banking firm of any description that weathered the storm. It has branches in Buenos Aires, Rosario, Mendoza, Concordia, Bahia Blanca, and Barracas. The other three, though younger, are sound and prosperous. The Anglo-South American Bank (formerly Tarapaca) has branches in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Bahia Blanca. The British Bank of South America has branches in Buenos Aires and Rosario, and the same is the case with the London and Brazilian Bank. There are, of course, many foreign and Argentine banks, and of these the Spanish River Plate Bank is said to be the best. It was recently stated that the United States does not possess a single bank in the whole of South America.

The financial position of the Republic may be briefly stated. It is generally believed that the fiscal management is somewhat wasteful, and the competence of Congress to produce a satisfactory budget is questioned. Men of eminent business ability are, of course, found in the pursuits that make wealth rather than in Congress. But the finances are flourishing, as the following figures[114] will show:—



Revenue.Dollars Gold.Revenue.Dollars Paper.
Import duties 51,930,000Public works (in bonds) 5,000,000
Additional duties 3,100,000Spirits and beer 19,800,000
Port dues, &c. 5,230,000Tobacco 17,400,000
Consular dues, fines, &c. 930,000Sanitary works 7,100,000
Buenos Aires Provincial Debt 983,429Stamps 9,450,000
National Bank Service 347,004Posts and telegraphs 9,700,000
  Railways 9,000,000
  Various 12,529,319
 62,520,433 89,979,319

Below are given the figures since 1903:—


In conclusion, the important subject of tariffs demands notice. The Republic has long adopted a highly protective fiscal policy. The object is to create as many industries as possible, and therefore to discourage foreign competition by the imposition of heavy duties. The high cost of living is usually attributed to this system, and undoubtedly many articles would be cheaper if the tariff was lower; but its effect is probably exaggerated, and even under complete Free Trade Argentina would still be a dear country. It is the comparative lack of[219] development and enterprise, and also the unwillingness to take trouble over small things, which are the main causes of dearness; and this is the characteristic of all new countries. That Protection is unpopular it would be rash to affirm. It is the direct imposts, and above all the municipal, that give rise to complaining in the streets. The immigrants come from highly protected countries, and are accustomed to heavy indirect taxes; they would, in all probability, angrily resent direct taxation, even if it were much lower than the present scale of imposts. As the table above shows, the customs are the sheet-anchor of the Exchequer, and Ministers could not possibly dispense with them, nor would manufacturers hear of such a thing. "Every one," says an experienced resident in Buenos Aires, "as soon as he starts a business, looks about for higher tariffs in his line."

A good many among the intellectual classes have academic leanings towards Free Trade, and the opinion is sometimes expressed that in the end the Government would raise more revenue by a general duty of about 20 per cent. But the manufacturing interest, which already complains that it cannot compete with English and French goods, is an insuperable obstacle.

The accomplished Dr. Martin Garcia Mérou remarks: "The situation of the United States is unique in the world. The amazing prosperity of this country is based upon the producing and consuming power of her forty-five independent States, which stretch over an immense continent, and of which some differ in climate and conditions as widely as Spain differs from Norway, but they all have a single system of land and river communication which is without rival and without precedent. The absence of fiscal barriers between those different States is the permanent and fruitful cause of their[220] greatness and prosperity. In this manner a country, which is apparently the most Protectionist in the world, is the very one which demonstrates in the most practical and visible fashion the incalculable benefits of free commerce."

This conviction is gaining ground, and there are many persons, intimately conversant with trade and industry, who wish for changes in a liberal direction. Señor Ricardo Pillado, the able chief of the Agricultural Department, has penned many minutes urging a reduction of tariffs, but it is doubtful whether the opinions of a few men, however accomplished, will ever penetrate among an ill-informed population; and even if their views were understood it is most unlikely that they would have power to eradicate the ingrained protective opinions of the masses and to create a feeling among them powerful enough to overcome the resistance of vast interests whose policy is now in complete accord with the feelings of the masses.

Señor Pillado says[115]: "For a considerable number of years Protection has been a heavy obstacle to the progress and expansion of our country. Most sincerely do I declare that we all ought to use our utmost efforts to reform a financial system which is grounded in such fundamental errors as protective tariffs."

It was in 1883 that the Republic first decided upon Protection. By the tariff of 1884 a duty of 50 per cent. was imposed upon arms, powder, alcohol, cards, perfumery, tobacco, snuff, and wax matches. A duty of 40 per cent. was imposed upon clothing, hats, shoes, harness, carriages, furniture, rockets, and wooden matches. Many articles necessary to production, such as coal, thread, ploughs, wire, agricultural machinery, printing presses, books, sacking, steam engines, iron, lumber,[221] rock-salt, and paper, were taxed only 5 or 10 per cent. Similar articles, which were even less likely to be produced at home or were still more urgently needed as the raw material of industry, were admitted free. Among these were machinery for factories or shipping, live cattle or fish, plants, seeds, railway material, metal pipes of at least 30 inches diameter, blasting powder, and sheep-wash. It will be seen, therefore, that an attempt at a scientific tariff was made, and it has proved so acceptable to the Argentines that it has been greatly elaborated and extended. Nor does the nominal figure of the duty represent the whole of the increased cost, for the customs officials are required to add to the declared value of the articles the freight and other expenses, and to raise the duty in proportion. Consequently the imposts are subject to large and arbitrary enhancements. The following summary will give a rough notion of the present fiscal system:—

Free.—Most industrial materials, such as railway, mining, or electrical plant and most kinds of machinery; also herbs and seeds. Books and magazines are free.

Five per cent. ad valorem.—Other forms of industrial material, as mercury, crude sulphur, china clay, jute, lead, &c. Several kinds of machinery. Jewellery comes under this section.

Ten per cent. ad valorem.—Various chemicals for industrial use.

Fifteen per cent. ad valorem.—Certain kinds of timber.

Twenty per cent. ad valorem.—Steel in bars, plates and sheets; tissues of unbleached cotton or coarse linen cloth.

Twenty-five per cent. ad valorem.—All articles not elsewhere specified or exempted.

Thirty per cent. ad valorem.—Tissues of wool of any kind, pure or mixed.

Thirty-five per cent. ad valorem.—Blankets, jewel cases, iron screws, bolts and nuts.

Forty per cent. ad valorem.—Most fancy articles as trunks, perfumery, furniture, boots, and many kinds of clothes.

Fifty per cent. ad valorem.—Arms and saddlery.


Comestibles are specially dealt with, usually by a duty per kilo. The intention and effect, it is needless to say, are protective—e.g., the duty on fruits in syrup is over 5d., that on bacon over 4d. per kilo, that on refined sugar, polarising over 96 degrees, is a little less than 2d., that on sugar below that grade is nearly a half-penny less. A little more than 5d. is the duty on wines per bottle, that on soda-water is the same per dozen bottles, while that on beer is over 2d. per bottle. But it must not be inferred from these figures that the kindly State does not take good care of vintners, brewers, and the like, for the system of enhancements aforesaid adds handsomely to these and all duties. The case of tobacco will illustrate this. The preliminary duties are as follows:—

Havana cigars in cardboard boxes, about311½per kilo
     "     "       in wooden boxes           "      2"      
Cigarettes                                         "19"      
Tobacco leaf from about 2½d. to12"      

But all tobacco that enters Argentina is "evaluated" at a certain sum, and then 20 per cent. ad valorem duty is charged in addition.

There is also a miscellaneous "per kilo" section, which includes matches, paper, and hats, all heavily taxed.

Export duties are insignificant.

It may be observed that the 40 per cent. section and the miscellaneous section between them include almost all the articles likely to be purchased by the ordinary shopper, and they are extremely dear. But English and French goods appear to monopolise the best shops. The following clause embodies the principle which we know as "the most favoured nation clause":[223] "The import duties established by the present Law shall be deemed to be the minimum tariff, and shall be applicable to products and goods of all countries which apply their minimum tariff to exports from the Argentine Republic, which do not increase the previous duties, which do not establish a duty on exempted articles, which do not exceptionally reduce their present tariff for similar goods of any other origin, and which do not impede by restrictive measures the importation of Argentine products."[116]

As an example of Protection both rigorous and effective the case of sugar may be given. Not long after the first tariff of 1883 the sugar duties were enormously increased with the following effect:—

Import of Sugar.
188324,000 tons
188435,000    "   
188934,400    "   
189029,500    "   
18955,600    "   
1900458    "   

The production of sugar, which was also 24,000 tons in 1884, leaped to 75,000 in 1894. Señor Pillado remarks that this legislation converted Tucuman into an El Dorado. He concludes an able work by quoting the appeal which he made in his minute to the Minister of Agriculture[117]:—

"The trade of the Republic is at present in a condition thus favourable, the wealth hidden in her soil is thus great. She owes this situation to the maintenance of exterior peace, the elimination of fluctuations in paper money, and the establishment of[224] those institutions by which she advances with gigantic strides. We watch her progress, and see her offering to the rest of the world the products of her fertile territories, without restrictions and without preferences that take their rise in grasping tariff laws. Our country thus wins a reputation which corresponds to her pastoral and agricultural wealth and the excellence of her products.

"What, sir, would be our rate of progress if the law of our custom-house, which sets up a prohibitive tariff wall against the goods which our people demand and which act as a stimulus to our great industries, were more lenient, more just, and more in accordance with the principles of liberty which we have inherited with our charter of independence!"

But, in fact, all influences of to-day seem to be on the side of further restrictions in trade as they have long been on the side of further restrictions in social matters. The principles of liberty are considered by most people as very excellent for themselves but hardly suitable to the rest of the world; but from Manchester to Shanghai the ideal of every trader is Free Trade for the whole world and Protection for himself. As all pull one way, the result is almost everywhere the same, and no country seems less likely to abandon Protection than Argentina.



Argentina is now one of the leading agricultural countries of the world, and her importance is likely to be enhanced in the near future, because the United States and other sources of food supply are rapidly diminishing their exportable surplus, while in South America population is unable to keep pace with natural production. Wheat, as is well known, is the most important crop. Unlike the pastoral industry, arable cultivation is comparatively modern. In 1854 there were only 375,000 acres under tillage of all kinds, and the area increased very slowly until the beginning of the present generation. The promise of the country was always recognised, but it was long before foreign capital ventured to trust itself to a land possessing the political reputation of Argentina; and thus, without railway development, the export of agricultural produce was impossible. "All the cereals," says a pamphlet published in the sixties, "do remarkably well, and such is the fertility of the soil that double crops are often taken from the same land. In Santiago del Estero the wheat produced is of the most excellent quality, and although but little care is bestowed in cultivation, it generally yields eightyfold." The encouragement of emigration and the introduction of capital, and thus of improved methods of communication, caused progress[226] to be very rapid; and whereas in 1874 the wheat area was only 271,000 acres, in 1884 it was 1,717,000. By 1899 this had expanded to 5,500,000 acres, and now it is about 14,000,000. The following figures will show the progress of recent years:—

 Production in Tons.Exportation.

It is anticipated that before long the wheat export will amount to 5,000,000, and that Argentina will thus lead the world.[118] This cannot be called a rash estimate, for when we examine the figures we shall find that population is not keeping pace with production. The exportation figures of 1908 were 55 per cent. better than those of 1906, while the figures of production showed a rise of only 42 per cent. This is a satisfactory condition of things for the trader, but less so from a national standpoint. In general, the farmer is not rooted to the soil; he merely pays a percentage of his crops to the landlord as rent, and after a bad season is apt to move elsewhere. It is desirable that a scheme of intensive cultivation should be introduced, which promises much greater national benefit in the future in every way than can be obtained by hasty and slovenly methods. A Government publication, apologising for the present system and remarking that in old countries intensive agriculture is no virtue, while in new countries extensive agriculture is no vice, adds: "Wherever there is much ground with few inhabitants it is impossible that the number of proprietors be very large; and if the comparative figure demonstrates that the number of renters is relatively very large, the investigation of the facts will show that it is here that the qualitative influence of the divisor intervenes. In general, he who seeks his fortune in agricultural work lacks the necessary capital for purchasing land, and it is notorious that the immigrants we can count on to colonise our lands arrive completely destitute of means. At the very best they can hope to rent the land, counting on the shrewd liberality of the landholder who requires of them only a certain share of the crop in pay for the rent, and in this manner by the results of their labour they may finally become proprietors. There are, therefore, two consecutive subdivisions: that of the working of the land by leasing, and that of ownership by the eventual purchase."


It is said that the best lands have been snapped up by speculators, otherwise it might be better for the Government to present capable immigrants with small farms, and if necessary lend them capital. The need of Argentina is men rather than extra tons avoirdupois of exports.

The production of maize has made enormous increases in sympathy with the general vast development which strains the rolling stock of every railway and with which the men and machinery in Argentina are insufficient to cope. In 1902 the production was 2,134,200 tons, now[227]
it is 3,456,000. This crop is peculiarly susceptible to the ravages of locusts, which, however, have a catholic taste for every kind of vegetable and are said to have destroyed half the crops in 1880. One of the most miserable sights in the world is cornfields ravaged by these pests; nothing is left but slender stumps and the sickening odour of rotting locusts. For the locust is itself subject to a parasite which consumes its inside, and it has been suggested that the parasite might be introduced into the winter-breeding grounds of the locusts. But these lie in the most remote part of the Gran Chaco, and it does not appear that the inhabitants of any land have succeeded in tracking the eggs on any large scale; it is therefore probable that the farmers will have to be satisfied with attempts at cure rather than prevention. As in India, trenches are used for the destruction of locusts, and the noxious creatures having been driven into the receptacle are rapidly covered with layers of earth.[119] They are to Argentina what rabbits are to Australia.

Of linseed Argentina is by far the largest exporter in the world. Last year the exports went up with an astonishing leap, but for many years they have been greater than those of India, Russia, and North America combined. In 1902 the production was 1,982,000 tons; in 1908 it was 2,625,000.

It is only about thirty years since alfafa (lucerne) was introduced into Argentina, but there is no more useful crop, and it has been of the utmost benefit to the pastoral industries. During the South African War large[229] fortunes were made by exporting alfafa to South Africa, and, given proper soil, it yields many crops in the year. The Province of Buenos Aires is admirably adapted to its cultivation.

Oats are still a comparatively small crop, but they are making considerable progress. The export of 15,000 tons in 1905 had risen to 440,041 in 1908.

Sugar is an old industry, and, as is pointed out elsewhere, it has become of importance owing to the protective policy of the Argentine Government. In 1884 the production was 55,000 tons. For the last three years it has been—

1906116,287 tons
1907109,445   "    
1908161,662   "    

Tobacco is a prominent manufacture, but it is probable that a great part of the raw material comes from abroad. It is cultivated extensively in the northern region, but owing to its coarseness it is not likely that the native product will ever satisfy the home demand.

Last, but not least, in Argentine agriculture comes the vine. The culture of the vine and wine manufacture have gone forward at a great pace in the Provinces of Mendoza and San Juan. In 1884 there were 63,000 acres under vines, and the production of wine was 5,810,080 gallons. Now it is about 41,580,000. Mendoza is an excellent wine country, and some of its bodegas are among the largest in the world. The vineyards, the mountains, and the rural appearance of the towns give to the wine country an old-world air which is refreshing in a new country. The most popular wines are red and white clarets, the better qualities of which are excellent, but many other kinds are made. The country wine is by no means as cheap as it ought to[230] be owing to the high protection. Although this excellent industry is rapidly increasing, it does not go near to supplying home consumption; indeed, the value of the imports of wines and spirits is slightly in excess of the total national production. The export of wine is of course practically nil, for neighbouring countries follow the example of Argentina in protecting their own vineyards by high tariffs and every kind of fomento. In fact, the wines of Chile are generally considered to be superior to those raised on the eastern slopes of the Andes, but it is not easy to discover any difference. Nearly all the produce of Mendoza goes to Buenos Aires and forms a very valuable article of freight for the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway.


The crops of Argentina are well distributed, and some regions produce great varieties. Buenos Aires, of course, leads in wheat, and produces more than Santa Fé and Cordoba, which occupy the second and third position, combined, while Entre Rios, which comes fourth, nearly equals the total of all the other minor sources of supply. It may be, however, that some day Patagonia will be a serious rival to Buenos Aires, but now, being unirrigated, her chief product is wool. The Province of the capital also supplies most of the maize and practically all the oats, but in linseed is far out-distanced by Santa Fé. Apart from Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Cordoba, and Entre Rios, the grain production, except wheat, is insignificant.

Tucuman is the great sugar district, and tobacco is largely grown there and in several of the other northern Provinces. Mendoza accounts for more than nine-tenths of the wine raised in the country, but San Juan, Salta, Cordoba, and La Rioja are of some importance. La Rioja in Spain, it may be added, has given[231] its name to a special kind of red wine, and we have Peruvian Rioja just as we have Australian Burgundy.

Agriculture in Argentina is carried out on an enormous scale, and the hopes of travellers who visited the country a century ago have been realised. But the country is too new, there is too much virgin soil for settled agricultural conditions, and farmers prefer pushing further afield and taking larger holdings to tilling a farm with care for his son to hold after him. Consequently there is little of that petite culture which beautifies European countries and adds to the comfort of life; and, further, in most parts of Argentina, good as are the means of transporting staples, they are not of the kind which would make minute farming industries profitable. It is not probable that these conditions will change until there has been a large increase of population. As long as the increase is due to immigration—and many of the settlers look forward to returning to their native land when they have obtained a competence—farming methods will be hasty and extensive.

The forest industries of Argentina, though not fully developed, are very valuable. There are said to be 60,000 square miles of timber in the Gran Chaco, and parts of Patagonia are well wooded. Much of the wood is of great value, and the following are among the most useful for commercial purposes. The ñandubay, a kind of acacia, reaches a height of about 25 feet and is used for making fences and rafters. The wood is extremely hard and durable. The algarroba also yields good timber, and its fruit and leaves are used for fattening cattle, while the Indians brew a kind of beer from the pods. The lapacho, of the bignonia species, rises to a height of 100 feet, and its wood is used for cabinet work. The urunday[232] is a tree of similar appearance but larger, and its building wood is said to last two hundred years. The palo amarillo is a mimosa and used for making furniture. There are in the north cedars of excellent quality, both red and white, which attain a height of 160 feet. The Jesuits introduced into the country several varieties of palms, and there are many of the trees known in Europe, such as poplars, willows, and walnuts. But by far the most valuable tree in Argentina is the quebracho,[120] which grows in two varieties, red and white; its full height is 80 feet, and it takes a hundred years to come to maturity; the trunk is about 30 inches in diameter. It is the commercial staple in Argentine timber, and the railways have given a great impetus to the trade, in which the Province of Santiago del Estero seems to have been the pioneer. In 1884 it had five thousand men engaged in cutting railway sleepers, but it was not till 1889 that the export trade began, when 14,000 tons of round logs were shipped from Santa Fé.

In the past few years many companies have been formed for cutting wood in the Gran Chaco and also for extracting tannin. The district of Resistencia is extremely rich in quebracho, and Santiago del Estero continues to produce it in increasing quantities, as well as firewood, which is extensively used by the sugar-mills of Tucuman. Firewood and posts are also largely produced in Cordoba, and Tucuman and Salta provide woods for building and cabinet-making. The timber industry has now been extended to Tierra del Fuego, where saw-mills have also been established; and when internal communications have been improved it will[233] doubtless be developed on a large scale, for the wood is used for sleepers, building, and furniture-making. It has been suggested that the abundant poplars might be employed in making paper pulp; and, indeed, the timber resources of Argentina, although less vast than those of most of her neighbours, are certain to be a source of increasing profit. The export of quebracho logs, which now amounts to 254,571 tons, has been almost stationary for some years; but the figures for the extract, which in 1902 were only 9,099, are now 48,161.[121]

The oldest and most celebrated of the forest products is yerba maté. Pedro Lozano declared that the tree which produced that vegetable surpassed all other trees in utility. "The tree,"[122] he says, "is very high, leafy, and bulky. The leaf is also somewhat bulky, very green, and in shape like a tongue. The yerba is obtained by cutting the branches, and placing them upon brushwood, and roasting them slowly; by hand labour they grind the leaves thus roasted in holes sunk in the ground and lined with skins. In all this process the labour of the Indians is so severe that they sweat profusely, because they work the whole day without intermission and with very little food. They eat nothing all day but such forest fruits as chance gives them, and when they have had their supper at night their repose is brief, for within four hours they are obliged to rise and carry on their shoulders the ground leaves to other places, where they make leather packages to take them to other provinces." Lozano speaks with indignation of this cruelty to the Indians, which had depopulated all that part of the world except the Misiones. He gives an elaborate account of the history and uses of yerba maté. Its popularity has[234] never waned, among the country people at least, for its bitter taste and stimulating properties are invaluable to the tired rider, and it fills the place that tea does to the Australian Bushman or coffee to the South African Boer. The tea is drunk through a bombilla, or tube, which is placed in the maté, or gourd containing the infusion, and it is passed round among the company. Yerba maté is raised more extensively in Paraguay and Brazil than in Argentina; but the value of the crop is well recognised, and recently the Government distributed fifty thousand plants among settlers.

The mineral wealth of Argentina is very much less than that of most South American countries. In every part of the Continent the difficulty of extracting the ore and bringing it to the coast is considerable, and tends to impair the value of even rich mines; but in Argentina, where the mineral veins are usually not very abundant, the difficulties have seemed almost insuperable, and consequently the capital employed in mining is small. As might have been expected, the Andine and sub-Andine regions almost monopolise the mining interest.

The most famous mine is that at Famatina in La Rioja. The fields cover an area of 720 miles, but they are not ancient workings like most of those in Peru and Bolivia. As was said in the earlier chapters, Argentina was fortunate enough to dispel the suspicion of possessing the precious metals, and, as she is the poorest of South American lands in minerals, so she is richest in all else. But unquestionably she would be still richer, and possibly an important manufacturing community, if petroleum or coal could be discovered in great quantities. To return to Famatina, it is said that some Mexican miners passing by in the eighteenth century were struck by the colour of the river and followed it upward to the mountains, where they discovered great treasure. This mine is called the Mexicana, and is situated at an elevation of 16,500 feet, where the men work in the fashion described by Darwin in Chile. Of late the Government has been at pains to improve the communications, but hitherto the ore (gold, silver, and copper) has not been sufficiently rich to yield much profit. In the neighbourhood silver and copper mines have been worked fitfully, and occasionally fortunes have been made; but the unsettled state of the country and the death or disappearance of those who knew the secrets of the hidden ore were unfavourable to enterprise. All over the two continents it is believed that discoveries of fabulous wealth would be made if the Indians told all they knew; but they keep their secrets tenaciously, and make prospecting unsafe.

During the Spanish dominion little was done in the way of mining. Shortly after the Revolution, when it was believed that the South American countries, enjoying the advantage of "freedom," would go ahead, considerable interest was taken in Argentine mines, and Sir Francis Head made an adventurous journey across the Pampas and visited the gold-mines of San Luis and the silver-mines of Uspallata in the interests of the Rio Plata Mining Association, which had been formed in 1824. The Argentine Government did not deal honestly with the company in the matter of concessions, and Head came to the conclusion that there was no probability of obtaining satisfactory results by the importation of Cornish miners. The sum of £60,000 had been spent without any return, and Head's relations with his employers became strained.[123] The unfortunate[235]
company collapsed, and this was also the fate of the Famatina Mines, another English company formed at the same time, whose German manager was shot by the ferocious Quiroga and its capital of 1,000,000 dollars lost.

Under Rosas, of course, mining and all other enterprise languished, but the belief in Argentina's mineral wealth continued, and from time to time attempts were made to develop it. A report published in the sixties states: "Extensive tracts of country are also highly auriferous, and gold-dust makes a considerable figure in the exports of Jujuy. The sierra of Cordova possesses silver, copper, lead, tin, zinc, and iron mines, besides a number of quarries of splendid marbles; and the same may be said of several of the provinces we have named. Petroleum, equal in quality to that of Pennsylvania, has been lately discovered, and, if our information be not altogether inaccurate, there is every reason to believe it will soon become valuable as a source of revenue and national wealth. Little has as yet been done to develop the mineral affluence of the Republic; but it is hoped effective efforts will shortly be made to work some of its already celebrated mines, as well as many more which diligent 'prospecting' would certainly reveal to the knowledge of mankind."

In 1873 the export of metals of gold and copper amounted to 320,000 dollars gold. Progress was probably slow, but it has made considerable positive advance,[237] for the recent average of gold exports alone has been about 382,000 dollars gold. Copper has, of late, remained stationary. Salt is produced in considerable quantities, chiefly in the south of the Province of Buenos Aires, and for a time petroleum borings in several parts of the Andes excited great hopes. Some trains were run by petroleum; but, unfortunately, the yield dwindled, and no fresh discoveries in satisfactory quantities have been made.

The principal mining Provinces are Jujuy, San Juan, La Rioja, Mendoza, Salta, San Luis, and Catarnarca, as well as several parts of Patagonia. Gold, in paying quantities, is almost confined to the Famatina mines in La Rioja; but there are also workings in Jujuy, Salta, and Patagonia. Lead is found in La Rioja, Cordoba, Mendoza, and San Luis. Copper occurs chiefly in La Rioja. Iron has been discovered in Mendoza, Cordoba, La Rioja, and San Juan, but the quality is poor. Coal has been found in small quantities in Mendoza, San Juan, and Neuquen. Petroleum occurs in Salta and Mendoza; while valuable borax deposits have been worked in Salta, Jujuy, and the Territory of Andes.

It is not probable that as long as Argentina offers so many more tempting opportunities to capital any very great attention will be paid to mining; but it may be that when the outlying Provinces, which are the mining districts, become settled and interlaced with roads and railways, it will be possible to apply more economical mining methods, and the task of discovery will be easy. But unless coal and petroleum are discovered it is improbable that the mines of Argentina will be of a value in any way comparable to her agricultural and pastoral industries.



Bahia Blanca is one of the youngest of sea-ports. It only obtained railway communication in 1885, and it was not considered of sufficient importance for a separate article in the tenth edition of the "Encyclopedia Britannica." It has now a population of about forty thousand.

Buenos Aires and Rosario have long been the great wheat ports, but they have now a formidable rival in the new southern city. Much of the best wheat land is in the south of the Province of Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca is the natural outlet for it. There is hardly a limit to the amount of grain that will be sent to this port for shipment when the southern regions are systematically irrigated, and the railways, always alive to the importance of developing the country they serve, are preparing large schemes. Bahia Blanca is indeed one of the most important objectives of railway enterprise in South America. The Great Southern was the first in the field and for many years had a monopoly, but the most enterprising of all the lines, the Buenos Aires and Pacific, has lately been tempted by the splendid prospects of the south and has acquired the management of the Bahia Blanca and North-Western system. It has built moles and warehouses and in every way improved and enlarged the port.

The journey from the capital to Bahia Blanca is not interesting, for the greater part is over a dead level and the country is unrelieved by hedgerows or any of the picturesque landscapes which we in the Old World associate with the countryside. The journey is also rendered disagreeable by the dust which is the invariable concomitant of Argentine railway travelling. In the latter half the monotony is relieved by a low range of green mountains, the Sierra Tandil, which are practically the only break in the plain between Brazil and the extreme south. The town itself is not attractive on first view, for it is white and bare. The shore is low and fringed with lagoons and the glaring white roads are not restful to the eye. This feature is due to tosca, a kind of limestone with which all the roads in the neighbourhood are made. But much has been done by art to improve the tameness of nature.


There are two towns. Eastward is the Puerto Militar, the great naval harbour, and some miles to the west lies the Civil Port, Bahia Blanca proper, which will soon be as familiar a name as Liverpool or Rotterdam. The naval town is the work of the accomplished Italian engineer, Chevalier Luis Luiggi, who has constructed magnificent naval works. The graving dock is very fine and will receive battleships of the largest size, nor was the Italian neglectful of the artistic side of town planning, for he has transformed a desert into a garden, and Puerto Belgrano, as it is called, is likely to be in the future a fashionable watering-place, as well as a naval base. Gums, acacias, and tamarisks have been planted, and numerous gardens have been laid out. On the Civil Port immense sums have been spent, and it has been made thoroughly fit to deal with the portentous grain traffic, large already and which must very soon attain marvellous proportions. The com[239]
petition of two powerful railways assures Bahia Blanca of being well served both in the matter of docks and transport.

Patagonia, which a generation ago was hardly known except by the reports of sailors, who had occasionally explored its coasts, and which was fabled as a land of giants, is now beginning to raise its veil of mystery and to be known as an important seat of the wool trade. But it is still imperfectly explored, and not long ago an expedition was despatched to search for the grypotherium, a strange beast which was rumoured to live in the inaccessible forests. It may be doubted whether it has more reality than the sea serpent.

As we saw in a previous chapter, Patagonia possesses extreme interest for the geologist. It is a recent formation, for at one period, not very far distant from a geological point of view, it formed the vast Pampean sea. The late Colonel Church[124] has treated the subject in an interesting paper of which the opening remarks are a summary: "I shall try to show that the Plata drainage area was, in a recent geological period, much more extensive than it is to-day; that its most northern limit was in 10° 44´ S. lat., and that nearly the entire waters which now unite to form the Madeira River, the main affluent of the Amazon, once flowed southward into a Pampean sea, which penetrated north over the plains of the present Argentine Republic, to about 19° S. lat." It was probably 1,400 miles in length with an average breadth of 400 miles, and perhaps two-thirds the size of the Mediterranean. The Pampean formation is estimated to have an age of seventy thousand years. Between the history of its geological formation and our own time the record of Patagonia, though picturesque, is not important. It was a no-man's land, abandoned as worthless to savages and only visited by the curious or by those who were making their way to more profitable regions. As is well known, the explorer Magellan was the first to set foot in this country, which he called Tierra de Pantagones from the large footprints which he found in the sand, and many of the places at which he touched still bear the names he gave them. Several Spanish navigators and also Drake visited it during the sixteenth century, but Sarmiento de Gamboa, who made useful surveys, was the only one to add much to our knowledge of Patagonia. He also attempted to settle the country, but without success, for Thomas Cavendish (who named Port Desire after his own ship) saw in 1586, twenty-three famished Spaniards, the only survivors of the city of King Philip, founded by Gamboa on the Straits. These poor creatures were trying to return to the Plate district. Cavendish, therefore, named the deserted settlement the Town of Famine, and it retains the name of Port Famine to this day.[125] In 1590 John Davys found a solitary straggler here, and the bold navigator thus describes his barren experiences[126]: "Here we made a boat of the boards of our chests, which, being finished, we sent seven armed men in the same on land on the north shore, being wafted on land by the savages with certain white skins; who, as soon as they came on shore, were presently killed by an hundred of the wild people in the sight of two of our men, which rowed them on shore, which two only escaped back again to us with the boat. After[241]
this traitorous slaughter of our men, we fell back again with our ship to the north-eastward of Port Famine to a certain road, where we refreshed ourselves with mussels, and took in water and wood." The country was long neglected, but in 1670 Sir John Narborough appeared off the coast with several men-of-war, when, after coasting round as far as Valdivia, he found that the Spaniards were too strong and returned to England.

Reference has already been made to the famous voyage of Anson. In his adventurous circumnavigation he spent but a comparatively short time on the Patagonian coast, and he gives little information about the natives, but his account of the country exactly tallies with that of other explorers. It was described as being entirely treeless. "But though this country be so destitute of wood, it abounds with pasture. For the land appears in general to me, made up of downs of a light dry gravelly soil, and produces great quantities of long coarse grass, which grows in tufts interspersed with large barren spots of gravel between them. This grass, in many places, feeds immense herds of cattle; for the Spaniards at Buenos Ayres, having brought over a few black cattle from Europe at their first settlement, they have thriven prodigiously by the plenty of herbage which they have found here, and now increased to that degree, and are extended so far into the country, that they are not considered as private property; but many thousands at a time are slaughtered every year by the hunters, only for their hides and tallow."[127]

In 1764 Byron visited the coast of Patagonia and made friends with the inhabitants, whose vast size greatly impressed him. His scribe calls the chief a "frightful Colossus," and thus describes the surprise[243] which the giants created[128]: "Mr. Cumming came up with the tobacco, and I could not but smile at the astonishment which I saw expressed in his countenance upon perceiving himself, though six feet two inches high, become at once a pigmy among giants; for these people may indeed more properly be called giants than tall men; of the few among us who are six feet high, scarcely any are broad and muscular in proportion to their stature, but look rather like men of the common bulk, run up accidentally to an unusual height; and a man who should measure only six feet two inches, and equally exceed a stout well-set man of the common stature in breadth and muscle, would strike us rather as being of gigantic race, than as an individual accidentally anomalous; our sensations therefore, upon seeing five hundred people, the shortest of whom were at least four inches taller, and bulky in proportion, may be easily imagined." This is a point upon which testimony varies. Sir John Narborough's mate, Mr. Wood, declared that he saw no native who was taller than himself.

In the eighteenth century the Spaniards made several attempts to settle Patagonia, and the English Jesuit, Thomas Falkner, wrote a most valuable account of the country and people. He mentions a voyage of discovery made in 1746, in which, however, the captain neglected to explore the river Deseado. His reasons were "that his orders were only to discover if there was any port fit to make a settlement, near or not very far from the mouth of the Straits, that might afford supplies for ships in their passage to the South Seas; that he had surveyed all from Port Gallegos, without finding one place fit for forming a settlement upon, on account of the barrenness of the soil, and[244] the want of the common necessaries of wood and water; that he had done what was sufficient to quiet the King of Spain, with respect to any jealousies he might have of a certain northern nation's being so foolish as to attempt a settlement in such a country, where as many as were left must perish; that the Bay Sans Fond was at too great a distance from Cape Horn, to come within the circle of his instructions; that his stock of fresh water was scarce sufficient to reach the river of Plata, and he was not certain whether he should be able to get any more at the mouth of the River of Sauces."[129]

Falkner gave a very full account of the Tehuelches, and his work was read with great interest by the Spanish authorities, who began to fear that other nations might make settlements in Patagonia. They accordingly despatched two brothers, named Viedma, with expeditions, and Francisco Viedma founded Carmen at the mouth of the Rio Negro, while Antonio established another colony at Port St. Julian. He also explored the interior and made his way as far as the great inland lake from which flows the Rio Santa Cruz.

In 1827 and for several years after Captain Fitzroy, in command of the Adventure and Beagle explored Patagonia, and wrote a long account of his experiences, but, for information about the interior, he relies chiefly upon Falkner. This valuable expedition added immensely to our geographical and zoological knowledge, and Captain Fitzroy carefully observed such natives as he met and endeavoured to civilise several of them. He remarks[130]: "The moral restraints of these people seem to be very slight. Each man is at liberty to do as much as he feels inclined; and if he does not injure or offend his neighbour, is not interfered with by others. Their social habits are those handed down by their ancestors, and adapted to the life they are compelled to lead. Ideas of improvement do not trouble them. Contented with their fine climate—plenty of wholesome food, and an extensive range of country—they rather pity white people, who seem to them always in want of provisions, and tossed about at sea. These natives have a great dislike to the motion of a ship; yet, for novelty, they will go afloat when opportunity offers." The Patagonians have an inveterate belief in witchcraft; it seems to be their strongest quasi-religious sentiment. They are generally well-behaved and good-tempered, but are liable to gusts of passion, which make them uncertain, and there is a Spanish proverb to the effect that one should never trust an Indian.


The name of Darwin is inseparably associated with that of Fitzroy and his ships. In 1834 the latter in company with the great naturalist made a long voyage up the Rio Santa Cruz. A party of twenty-five started on April 18th, in three whale-boats with provisions for three weeks. The river was several hundred yards broad, and in the middle about 17 feet deep, the water of a fine blue colour, and the current had a velocity of from four to six miles an hour. The boats were towed by relays of the crews. The country was not uninhabited, for the explorers discovered traces of Indians, but Darwin describes it as singularly uninteresting; it was shingle desert dotted with stunted plants. Mice, foxes, guanacos, condors, and pumas were abundant. On May 4th, they were in full view of the Andes. Darwin[131] says: "Everywhere we met with the same productions, and the same dreary landscape. We[245]
were now one hundred and forty miles distant from the Atlantic, and about sixty from the nearest arm of the Pacific. The valley in this upper part expanded into a wide basin, bounded on the north and south by the basaltic platforms, and fronted by the long range of the snow-clad Cordillera. But we viewed these grand mountains with regret, for we were obliged to imagine their nature and productions, instead of standing, as we had hoped, on their summits." Fitzroy was becoming anxious about the supplies, and the party rapidly descended the river, reaching the Beagle by May 8th. In spite of his disappointment, Darwin was well pleased with his excursion, which had given him useful knowledge of the geological formation of Patagonia. In fact, the Darwin-Fitzroy expedition yielded, on the whole, more valuable results than any that has ever been made to that country.

As Chile and Argentina advanced in wealth and became more settled, the unexplored plains of Patagonia were coveted by both, and, as has been seen, a long dispute was at last terminated in a satisfactory manner. As was natural, the lion's share was obtained by Argentina, but the most important parts of Tierra del Fuego are in possession of Chile, and the flourishing harbour of Punta Arenas, which is becoming a great wool depôt, is also Chilian. With prospects of industrial development and greater security of attacks from the Indians, explorers began to show activity. Some forty years ago an adventurous Englishman joined himself to a company of wandering Indians and went all over the interior. He describes the country about the Rio Chico as a barren desert of rocks and all intersected with deep ravines which seemed to have been torn out of the surface by some tremendous explosive force. Near the coast is an inhospitable tract called the Devil's Country,[247] which even the Indians never enter, and they declare that the country near the sea is so rough that an Indian would take two years to march from Santa Cruz to the Rio Negro. This circumstance, he thinks, has caused sailors to describe Patagonia as an entirely arid country. In fact, after the coast barrier has been passed, the country abounds in lagoons, springs, and frequent streams.

It is probable that within a generation Patagonia, which has long been synonymous for an unknown desert, and is still less than half explored, may be a land of much industrial importance. A word may be said on the interesting subject of the alleged gigantic stature of the Patagonians, or Tehuelches, for these are the only race to whom the term Patagonian properly applies. Authorities are practically unanimous as to the fact that they are tall, but as to how tall there is considerable discrepancy.[132] Musters[133] says: "The average[248] height of the Tehuelche male members of the party with which I travelled was rather over than under five feet ten inches. Of course, no other means of measurement besides comparing my own height were available; but this result, noted at the time, coincides with that independently arrived at by Mr. Cunningham. Two others, who were measured carefully by Mr. Clarke, stood six feet four inches each. After joining the Northern Tehuelches, although the Southerners proved generally to be the tallest, I found no reason to alter this average, as any smaller men that were met with in their company were not pure Tehuelches, but half-bred Pampas. The extraordinary muscular development of the arms and chest is in all particularly striking, and as a rule they are well proportioned throughout. This fact calls for especial mention, as others have stated that the development and strength of the legs is inferior to that of the arms. Even Mr. Cunningham alleges this to be the case, but I cannot at all agree with him." Mr. Campbell suggests[134] that as the men have very long bodies they appear much taller than they really are when seated upon horseback, but there is ample evidence to prove that they are the largest race of people in the world.

Most modern travellers give these natives a good character; they are tolerably honest, good-natured, and treat their women well. They have no idols, but worship a good and great spirit; however, as said before, witchcraft seems to be the strongest element in their religion. One writer tells of a Patagonian setting his daughter on a horse naked and galloping after the animal lashing and shouting at it. The explanation was that the girl had a severe attack of measles, and as the devil was known greatly to dislike noise and cold, it was thought that these vigorous measures would[249] induce him to forsake the girl's body. Within recent times they have not been ill-treated, but unfortunately, like most savages, they cannot resist the mysterious, wasting effect of civilisation. A recent traveller[135] says: "Those surviving are all civilised, and there is not the slightest danger for the traveller in associating with them. They often possess fine troops of horses; some of them also own cattle. Many speak Spanish, and once or twice a year they go down to Punta Arenas or to Gallegos to exchange their guanaco mantles and ostrich feathers for different kinds of provisions and implements. But the number of guanacos is diminishing day by day, the land is becoming absorbed, and the Indians impoverished by the white traders; they are getting mixed with the whites, and so the day cannot be far off when the last Patagonian in the old sense shall have ceased to exist."


The most northerly part of Patagonia is the Gobernacion of Rio Negro. The only town of any importance is Patagones, which was founded by Viedema in 1780 under the name of Carmen. That part which is on the north bank of the Rio Negro is still called Carmen de Patagones, and the southern town preserves the name of Viedma. It has a good harbour, some miles from the sea, and has steamboat connection with Buenos Aires, while a coach runs to Bahia Blanca three times a week. There is a large trade in salt and also in fruit. The latter grows in abundance on the small islands of the river,[136] and the peaches and cherries are excellent,[250] while irrigation is creating orchards on the mainland. Far inland, also on the Rio Negro, is Roca, a small military post. This Gobernacion is the most populous part of Patagonia, and when railways and irrigation are seriously applied to it, there will be no limit to its development. On the west it is bounded by the Andean territory of Nequen.


Next comes the Gobernacion of Chubut to the south. Its interest and importance is due to the settlement of plucky Welsh settlers, who now form a most valuable body of colonists. Nearly fifty years ago a philanthropic Welsh gentleman visited the United States and was distressed to find that his countrymen there had begun to lose their nationality. He determined to found a Welsh settlement in Argentina; a grant of land was obtained from the Government, and in 1865 the Welshmen arrived at Port Madryn, and, after undergoing unexampled hardships in the inhospitable valley of Chubut, developed into a flourishing community of pastoralists and agriculturists. There are now four hundred Welsh farms in the district. There is also a colony in the Andes of about five hundred souls. It is nearly 400 miles from Port Madryn. Rawson is the official capital of the colony and lies about 5 miles up the Chubut River. Trelew, the largest town, is 10 miles higher up. Gaiman is 9 miles further inland, and 13 miles from Gaiman is the Anglican Church of St. David. Port Madryn is 42 miles by rail from Trelew.[137] In many of the churches and chapels services are conducted in Welsh. The South American Missionary Society has done noble work in supplying buildings and chaplains, and the courage and enterprise of the hardy colonists is a striking episode in the history of colonisation.


More than 100 miles to the south is Camerones Bay, near which are some fine estancias. There is great promise for sheep-farming in this district, but the coast has a waterless strip about 25 miles broad. Further inland there is excellent water and pasture.

The most desolate Gobernacion of all this desolate country is undoubtedly Santa Cruz itself. It takes its name from that river, the second largest in Patagonia, which Darwin found such difficulty in ascending. It is said that it will be navigable by steamers when its channel is ascertained, and Dr. Moreno has advanced as far as the Lago Argentino. The town of Santa Cruz has only a few hundred inhabitants, but it possesses a fine natural harbour, and may some day be a place of importance. Far to the North the Rio Deseado abounds in wild fowl, and at its mouth is the once famous Port Desire. Almost as far to the south and at no great distance from the Straits of Magellan is the considerable town of Port Gallegos, possessing a bank and a good trade. More than ten years ago a traveller[138] said: "The coasts of the Straits of Magellan and of the Atlantic have long been occupied, but just lately many settlers have taken up their quarters in the Gallegos valley and in the region between Last Hope inlet, and the lakes right away towards the dry Patagonian pampa. Until recently land could be got very cheaply, and there is still a lot of good 'camp' unoccupied, but that state of things will not last long. Most of the settlers are English-speaking people, hailing from England, Scotland, the Falkland Islands, or Australia."

Something should now be said of the lake system[251]
of Patagonia. The northernmost sheet of water of any size is Buenos Aires. Its length is 75 miles, and though it is close to the Andes, it is only 985 feet above the level of the sea. It is the largest of the lakes. Next in position and next in size is Lake Viedma. Its elevation is 828 feet, and it lies in a savage region. Somewhat less in area but consisting of three arms is Lake Argentino at the head of the Rio Santa Cruz. It is connected with Viedma by the Leona. This lake was only discovered in 1868 by Gardiner. In some cases the scenery is very fine; Buenos Aires is a lake of special beauty, and possibly in the future the district will be one of the world's pleasure-grounds. The development of Argentina has been so rapid that there has been no leisure to spare for inaccessible spots, but it may be that at some distant date the wealthy Argentines will be glad to take advantage of their splendid mountains and no longer be content with commonplace seaside resorts.

The fauna of Patagonia are not specially varied. Those who desire the results of keen observation on the subject should turn to Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle." The guanaco and the ostrich are the most notable, and the latter creature is in great favour in Northern Argentina as a destroyer of locusts. Darwin[139] says: "The guanaco, or wild llama, is the characteristic quadruped of the plains of Patagonia; it is the South American representative of the camel of the East. It is an elegant animal in a state of nature, with a long slender neck and fine legs. It is very common over the whole of the temperate parts of the continent, as far south as the islands near Cape Horn. It generally lives in small herds of from half a dozen to thirty in each; but on the banks of the St. Cruz we saw one herd which must have contained at least five hundred." It is a gentle animal and easily domesticated, but, of course, in the plains it is not nearly as useful as the invaluable llama of the Chilian and Peruvian Andes.


Patagonia is almost virgin land, a spacious adjunct to a country whose wealth and scanty population has hitherto prevented the inhabitants from seeking pastures new when the new are less luxuriant than the old. For long years it was considered almost worthless and was abandoned to wandering tribes of Indians. Now it is recognised as having a great future before it, and, promising as have been the settlements already, it can hardly be said that a beginning has yet been made, for Patagonia has hardly any railways, and the abundant rivers have scarcely been tapped for the purposes of irrigation. When iron rails have opened up the fine pasture-lands and when the waters of the great streams shall have been utilised for agriculture, it is safe to predict that the expansion of Argentina will exceed beyond comparison the progress hitherto made—a progress which even now fills the world with astonishment.



The Buenos Aires and Pacific line across the continent from the Argentine capital to Valparaiso is a magnificent achievement in railway enterprise. Perhaps at no great distance of time the Pan-American railway will be completed and the traveller will be able to take the train at New York for Valparaiso and so to Buenos Aires, but as yet that line consists chiefly of missing links, and the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway Company (which, curiously enough, happens to be English, not German), is the first in South America to join the oceans. To Mendoza the journey is easy and pleasant. The train leaves the Retiro station at Buenos Aires at 8 a.m. and reaches Mendoza early the next morning at about 5 a.m. The trains are extremely comfortable; the carriages are on the American plan and restaurant cars are attached; a reasonable amount of luggage is allowed. Only first and second (we should less logically say first and third) carriages are in use and the fares are high. They will doubtless be lowered when traffic increases; at present only three through trains are run a week. Compared with English trains they are not fast, but they are faster than the average of those of Continental Europe. Altogether the Buenos Aires and Pacific is a very fine line and under extremely efficient management.


The journey affords no feature of natural interest, for the country, covered with maize or grass, is extremely flat, but it is pleasant to see the evidences of wealth—noble cattle grazing in the fields, great flocks of sheep, and the heavy crops of grain. The general air of prosperity is the more pleasing to one who has recently passed through Brazil and seen there every sign of wretchedness. There are few towns of importance on the route; indeed, such as there are owe their consequence chiefly to the railway. This is the case with Mercedes, which was founded in 1856 as an outpost against the Indians, and their depredations were for a long time a bar to its prosperity. It is now a great railway junction. San Luis was a small village in 1788, and although it is now the capital of the Province, it has had an unfortunate history. Its sons fought valiantly for the independence of Chile and Peru, but during the civil wars, which were the result of the Rosas tyranny, its sufferings were far greater. Up till recently the female population far exceeded the male, and it was one of the poorest cities in Argentina. The situation is excellent; the town stands high with views of the snow-peaks of the Andes, and the country round about is well wooded. It may one day be a place of remarkable prosperity.

The train reaches Mendoza at an unconscionably early hour, and the cold and gloom prevent the formation of any impression about the beauties of the garden city. For South America, the Province and city of Mendoza are extremely ancient. It was in 1559 that Garcia de Mendoza, the Governor of Chile, sent Pedro Castillo with a small force to annex the district of Cuyo. This included not only Mendoza, but also the Provinces of San Juan and San Luis, and for more than two centuries it formed part of Chile, but the famous Decree of 1776 transferred it to the Viceroyalty of[256] Buenos Aires. During the Revolution it was divided into three provinces. Mendoza, the town, which is as old as the Province, was in the early part of the nineteenth century a beautiful place, extremely prosperous, and its dolce far niente won the hearts of all who visited it.[140] But it was destroyed by one of the most terrible and devastating catastrophes that ever visited a community. It was the evening of Ash Wednesday, March 20, 1861, and the whole of Mendoza was at church. Suddenly a rumbling noise was heard, and in a moment the city was razed to the ground and thirteen thousand people destroyed. Barely two thousand escaped. One of the survivors was a gentleman named Don Jaime Albarracin, who has given a vivid account of the affair.[141] He tells how the weather had been sultry for some days. His family had gone to church and he was sitting at the window of his house talking to M. Bravard, the well-known French geologist, whose researches had led him to predict the destruction of Mendoza by earthquake. Don Jaime heard a crash and immediately found himself buried under the ruins of his house with a broken leg. Fires had broken out and raged all night within a short distance of him. All day long he remained there and for another night. "The horror of my situation was increased by a dreadful thirst; the very air I breathed was thick with dust and smoke. It seemed an interminable night. The second day I heard voices, and summoning all my strength, called out loudly for assistance. All was again silent for a couple of hours, till the afternoon, when I woke from a short sleep to hear footsteps quite close to me. The first man who approached me replied with a coarse insult when I begged him to lift the beam under which I lay. His comrades were no less inhuman, for they were one of the numerous gangs of banditti attracted like birds of prey to the scene of disaster. They had seen the flames afar off on the pampas, and came in scent of booty." Yet another night was passed, but on the following day he bribed a robber with his gold watch to lift him out of the debris, and finally he was taken to a hut. The fires continued to rage and they were followed by an unbearable smell from the decomposing carcases, and the survivors had to be carried away to farmhouses. The Governor perished, as also did the French scientist who made the all too accurate prediction. "So complete was the destruction, that when a new Governor was appointed a year later, and the site marked out for reconstruction, the Government could find no heirs or claimants on behalf of three-fourths of the families of the old city." The only vestige of old Mendoza that remains is the pillars of the Cathedral, to which is affixed the following tablet: "Ruinas del templo de San Augustin destruido por el terremoto del 20 de Marzo de 1861."


The people of Mendoza are still very nervous about earthquake shocks, which occur frequently, but there has been nothing serious since 1861.

It is for this reason that the new Mendoza was laid out with very wide streets and roomy squares and almost all the houses were built of wood. This spaciousness adds greatly to the attractiveness of the[257]
town and is a great relief after Buenos Aires. The town, thus covering a large area, appears to be more considerable than it in reality is, but it is rapidly growing, and its forty thousand population will probably soon be doubled. Land in the outskirts is rapidly rising in value, and great credit is due to the State of Mendoza, which is planning the extensions on a very handsome scale. At the west end a large park and zoological gardens are being made, and at sunset there is a beautiful prospect from their pleasant walks, which seem to be under the very shadow of the Andes. Their grim and jagged forms appear to be within an easy walk. But Mendoza itself is like a large park; conduits of clear water run on each side of the streets and their banks are lined with trees. The principal street, the Calle San Martin, is quite as rustic as the others, and it contains nearly all the shops which are large and good for a provincial town. There is an excellent English Club with a large membership, and as the climate of Mendoza is genial, the town is by no means a bad place of residence. The chief peculiarity of the climate is the almost complete absence of rain. Mendoza stands at an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, and is thus, as might have been expected, temperate. The thermometer rarely touches freezing-point, and seldom or never 100° F., but the rainfall is only a few inches yearly, and this rich district is entirely dependent for its fertility on irrigation. In the industrial chapters something is said about the wine-growing at Mendoza. Here it will be sufficient merely to mention the system which covers the uplands with vine and grain—an ancient system which was bequeathed to the present inhabitants by the Guarpes, the peaceful and industrious people who lived here before the[259] Spaniards came. The Zanjon Canal passes from the river Mendoza, near Luxan, traverses through the city and joins the Tunuyan River, which in turn is united by another canal to the Desaguadero River, far away to the east. The canals and their branches are 1,100 miles in length, and they are said to irrigate a quarter of the Province. Much fruit is raised, also tobacco, and in 1835 the mulberry was introduced, so the silk industry flourishes. As far as its fruit and streams are concerned, Mendoza may compare with Damascus, and in every respect is the only Argentine city, except Cordoba, which possesses any old-world charm. It is an old Spanish City, and the people have the leisurely ways and open-air habits of their forefathers. From the nature of the case it cannot possess fine buildings, because, in case of another earthquake, the inhabitants desire light houses that will either resist the shock, or, if they fall, do the minimum of damage. But the Cathedral, though plain, is an imposing edifice, and it attracts very large congregations of men as well as women. The people of Mendoza are intensely religious. In Spanish towns the charms of the streets are quadrupled on Sundays and Holy Days, for they are full of pretty women in mantillas hurrying to church. Why the ladies do not always give this beautiful headdress preference over ugly imported hats is a mystery to the masculine mind.

Adjacent is the Province of San Juan, and the little capital of the same name is at no great distance and is reached by a railway. Founded by the same Pedro Castillo in 1561, it has few features of interest, but it has a considerable trade and very good wine is manufactured at or near it. A considerable part of the Province is a desert, but fortunately it possesses a useful river, the San Juan, by which parts are irrigated,[260] and this work will doubtless be extended. According to trustworthy figures, the population of this Province decreased from 91,000 in 1883 to 84,251 in 1895. This was doubtless due to the commercial catastrophes of the early nineties.

More interesting is the quiet little town of San Rafael to the south. It is the capital of a department of that name and is connected by rail with Mendoza. In the early days of Rosas it was an important frontier post. Population, owing to Indian wars and the undeveloped nature of the country, increased but slowly, the figures for the whole department being 1,000 in 1857 and 2,000 in 1883. San Rafael is now a flourishing little town, and its prosperity is assisted by industrious French settlers. The French language is to be heard almost as often as Spanish in its streets.

When the traveller has exhausted the attractions of Mendoza and the neighbourhood he will probably wish to pursue his way along the Transandine Railway into Chile. As the start is made very early in the morning his first near view of the Andes will be made under favourable circumstances, for the rising sun will flush them with a glorious crimson.

"Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye."

But the general scenery of the Mendoza Andes is most disappointing. In autumn, at least, even the mighty Aconcagua shows very little snow, and in general the mountains are perfectly bare with the straightest of contours. Their size is their only attraction. In the Province of Mendoza alone the following huge mountains are to be found:—

Aconcagua22,450 feet
Tupungato22,140   "   
San Jose20,130   "   
Iglesia18,000   "   
Cruz de Piedra17,230   "   
San Francisco17,100   "   

Nothing can be more desolate than the appearance of these unlovely monsters. In some places there is enough coarse herbage to afford scanty grazing for ponies, but there is literally nothing else, not a tree, not a blade of real grass, and all forage and supplies of every kind have to be brought up by rail. The valley up which the railway goes is redeemed to some extent by the river Mendoza, which rushes down crystal or foaming, but those who are accustomed to the green forests and boundless snows and rugged precipices of old-world mountains, will say, "The old is better."

At Mendoza it was necessary to change carriages and enter the narrow-gauge train. The locomotive is a modest affair compared with the great trains which climb to much greater heights in the Peruvian Andes, but the gradients are very steep and sometimes the rack and pinion have to be used. After a run of eight or ten hours the famous Puente del Inca is reached.


This, standing at an elevation of 9,100 feet, is one of the dreariest of places, being situated in a desert, and consisting merely of the station and a hotel. Beyond the Bridge there is no object of interest and it is not necessary, perhaps, to speak of the hotel. The Bridge[142] itself has a commonplace appearance,[261]
but it is an extraordinary natural phenomenon. It appears to be a natural dam of earth and rock lying athwart the Cuevas River, which has managed to bore a passage through the barrier. The stones, earth, and shingle which compose the arch have been cemented together by deposits from the hot-springs, and the Bridge is 66 feet high, 120 feet wide, and 20 or 30 feet thick. Underneath the vaulted arch there bubble up springs of very high temperature, and the most striking feature here is the glittering and jagged masses of stalactite which adorn the grotto. The baths are considered to have great medicinal value, and there is a variety called the champagne bath which all arrivals are urged to take. In course of time Puente del Inca will no doubt be a much-frequented health resort, and there would not be the slightest difficulty in obtaining from the perennial river sufficient water to make a pretty town with trees and flowers, but it could never be a place of any natural attractiveness owing to the poverty of the scenery. Nobody seems to know why it should be called the Inca's Bridge; probably the name merely illustrates the tendency of simple people to attribute strange natural phenomena to the most powerful active force with which they are acquainted. Our rustics invariably attribute such things to the Devil.


However, the climate is cold and bracing, and the walk—some 10 miles—to Las Cuevas, up the valley and over the pass, is worth taking. There is, of course,[263] nothing to see on arrival but some tin huts, and there is nothing to do but return on foot or by train to Puente del Inca and long for the train to Valparaiso.

This calls only on alternate days. The journey up the valley is renewed and the train slowly makes its way to Las Cuevas. Here the traveller has the opportunity, which he will soon lose, of riding over the Andes. The line comes to an end at Las Cuevas, until it is linked up with that of Chile by the completion of the permanent way. Here it may be well to advise the traveller to provide himself at Mendoza with a supply of Chilian money, for, though the railway officials are ready and anxious to change English sovereigns into the grimy notes of Chile, their estimate of the Chilian dollar is apt to be of a highly optimistic character, which is rarely borne out by the rate of exchange.

Some people amuse themselves with telling travellers exciting stories of the dizzy precipices to be passed, and advising them to go by carriage, as the slightest false step on the part of the mule would result in certain death. But, in fact, the journey over the pass is perfectly safe and easy; there is no precipice up which a boy of twelve could not easily scramble, and the mule, frequently disdaining the path, shuffles down these dangerous heights at a great pace. This pleasant break in the monotony of the journey is now to be a thing of the past. The enterprise (English) of the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway knows no obstacle, and succeeded in linking the Atlantic and Pacific with hoops of iron. A few months ago the tunnel, nearly 2 miles long, was completed, the rails are now laid down, and it is expected that the line will be open for traffic by the time these lines are printed. Some people, however, doubt whether it will be possible to keep it open all[264] the year round. At present all passenger traffic is at an end from about May to October, for the blizzards and snow-drifts make it dangerous if not impossible, and there is great difficulty in getting even the mail-bags through by hand. It remains to be seen whether snow-ploughs and other implements can be employed which will be sufficient to clear the line and the tunnel. But at least the tunnel will be a great convenience in summer, although some may regret the short ride, breasting the keen air.

The mountain-peaks are, of course, as barren as ever, though a few glittering glaciers can be seen on distant heights, but the bright sun, the lumbering carts, the whistling wind, and the shouts of the mule-drivers are pleasant sights and sounds.

The pleasant open-air conditions keep off the dreaded soroche, or mountain sickness, which will probably attack many of the future passengers through the tunnel, but riding over the pass has merely an exhilarating effect. At the summit there is a board with Argentina on one side and Chile on the other. Here also is a colossal statue of Christ. This boundary line had long been a source of dispute between the two nations. Several times their jealousies had appeared to make the task of delimitation impossible, and the two countries had been on the brink of war. At last, aided by the good offices of King Edward VII., the statesmen on either side composed their differences and averted a fratricidal war by tracing a satisfactory boundary line, and on that line, as a pledge that war and discords from their lands should cease, the people decided to place a visible sign of concord to show to every traveller that the neighbours should wage no more wars one with another. They placed on the summit of the Andes a statue of the Prince of Peace.




The Parana is one of the most magnificent rivers in the world. It was in the earliest times the most valuable route for the Spaniards into the interior, as is shown by the fact that while they were struggling for a foothold at Buenos Aires, and several times abandoned the settlement altogether, they were in possession of a flourishing colony in Asunçion. Up to recent times few immigrants thought of going to Entre Rios or Corrientes because of the difficulties of the journey, but now there is a train-ferry across the Parana, and there will soon be railway connection with the capital of Paraguay. The territory, highly favoured by nature, will in course of time be one of the richest parts of Argentina.


It is impossible accurately to estimate the total course of the river, but its length is between 2,100 and 2,800 miles. In its upper part it receives many large tributaries—the Pardo, Paranahyba, Tiete, Paranapanema, Ivahy, and Iguazu. In the north the falls impede navigation, but it is practicable for vessels of 300 tons as far as the Island of Apipe, which is 150 miles above its junction with the river Parana. Lower down its only important tributary is the Rio Salado. At Rosario its breadth is 20 miles, and it would present the appearance of the sea but for a group of islands which stand[266] in the mid-channel and limit the view. The railways of Argentina are greatly indebted to the Parana, which brought down enormous quantities of quebracho lumber to be used as railway sleepers, and the various lines now take 2,000,000 hard-wood sleepers from the Chaco yearly. At Posadas 8,000 or 10,000 hands are needed to handle the yerba and lumber trade of the Alto Parana, and these are difficult to obtain, for the southern regions have not sufficient labourers to supply their own wants. Since 1902 more than 9,000 Russians and Poles have settled at Apostoles, near Posadas, and arrangements have been made to settle 3,000 Finns in the same neighbourhood. But at present the south attracts most of the European immigrants, and it is difficult to get the native, who inhabits the upper basins, to work, on account of his low standard of living and the exuberant fertility of the soil. Mr. Barclay thinks that this fine country will for an indefinite period be exploited only by traders, and does not expect to see them properly colonised within the limits of the present century. He suggests Chinese or Japanese colonists; but these people are already greatly disliked in Chile, nor is it likely that they would be more welcome in Argentina. It would be infinitely better that the vast forests should continue to be inhabited by savage Indians than that one of the noblest of European races should be tainted with yellow blood. It would be far preferable to imitate the excellent example of the Jesuits, and teach the Indians habits of industry, in which case they would multiply and rapidly become civilised.


Possibly the hasty traveller of to-day loses something by the development of the railways, for he naturally takes the quick train in preference to the slow steamboat. Rosario is only 186 miles from Buenos Aires, and the journey occupies some seven hours on the Central Argentine Railway, which for comfort is all that can be desired. The officials (English) are most obliging; there is good sleeping and dining accommodation, and the managers are most anxious to show the traveller all that is to be seen; nor is this surprising, for everything is of the best. It could only be wished that the railway companies would start terminus hotels in the large towns in order that the passengers might not abandon comfort when they quit the railway carriage; but probably the local caterers would object.

Rosario is the second city in the Republic, and is certainly one of the most remarkable. Founded in 1725 by Don Francisco Godoy as a settlement for the subjugated Calchaqui Indians, it was in 1854 but an insignificant town. It was then made a port of entry by General Urquiza, and has prospered exceedingly. In 1870 it had a population of 21,000, in 1883 of 45,000, while in 1900 it stood at 112,000. At the present time it must contain considerably more than 180,000 inhabitants. In 1900 the imports were valued at £1,913,803 and the exports at £5,851,239, while in 1907 the figures were £6,397,579 and £7,301,398 respectively. It is the chief port for wheat, maize, and linseed,[143] but possibly, as the south is developed, it may be surpassed as a grain port by Bahia Blanca. On the other hand, as the north is colonised Rosario will receive the principal share of the increased trade. The great project now is to bring the noble waterways of the Plate into railway communication with the still more gigantic system of the Amazon. Then Rosario will undoubtedly rival the huge cities in the[267]
northern continent, which have thriven by the trade brought down the Mississippi and the Missouri. Great sums have been spent on the harbour of Rosario and a fine electric lift has been erected, but the navigation of the Parana and its affluents suffers from floods and erosion, and it has been questioned whether elaborate and expensive appliances are necessary.[144] However, Rosario remains a favourite port, and large vessels load and unload there.

In one respect Rosario produces a much more pleasant impression than Buenos Aires, for its streets are wide and it has large parks. The Calle Cordoba is an extremely handsome thoroughfare with good shops. There is a busy Bolsa, many fine public buildings, and much-frequented cafés. Large hotels have sprung up, and, it may be hoped, will in course of time become comfortable. The people of Rosario have taken great pains in the laying out of their town and have provided for plenty of open spaces and boulevards. The new park is very beautiful, and handsome private dwellings are being erected in the vicinity, but although there appears to be no scarcity of sites, rents are said to be ruinously high. Rosario has suffered more than any other town from municipal imposts, and at the beginning of 1909 the traders went on strike, with beneficial results. Complaints are also made that this great provincial town has its interests subordinated to the small provincial capital of Santa Fé.


However, these affairs are mere inconveniences which cannot impair the town's prosperity. Here, as is customary in the Argentine, the English are greatly in evidence and occupy an important place in the business life. They have a pleasant Club and are very hospitable. Rosario has also an advantage over Buenos Aires in being naturally more open and picturesque. It is built on the bank of the Parana, some 300 feet high, and a fine view is obtained of the great waterway and the far-off, poplar-clad islands. The climate is said to be more relaxing than that of the capital, but the difference is not great. When Rosario has got rid of its new and unfinished appearance it will be an extremely pleasant place of residence.

Perhaps the most interesting sight in Rosario and one that best marks its progress on the stage to greatness is the workshop of the Central Argentine Railway. When it is considered that as yet only a beginning has been made with railway communications in South America, and yet here is a great industry engaged in repairing numberless engines and building vast numbers of carriages, imagination can hardly place a limit to the greatness of Rosario as a railway centre when Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia shall have through communica[269]
tion with Buenos Aires and Rosario. These countries, with the greater part of the Argentine Gran Chaco, represent to the Province of Buenos Aires what the West represented to the Eastern States of North America seventy years ago, but instead of being chiefly wheat and cattle countries (all of which Buenos Aires already has in abundance) they contain the priceless tropical products which from time immemorial have been the main objects of trade. And, again, the mines of Bolivia and Brazil, the best of which are unworked, probably unknown, will pour their wealth down the basin of the Parana.[145] It is said that Brazil has coal equal in quality to that of Yorkshire, and if this could be brought cheaply into Argentina one main impediment to her manufacturing efficiency would be removed.

The Central Argentine is an English company, and thus our traders have a great advantage in Argentina, as the English railways naturally buy engines and stores from home. The Rosario workshop turns out carriages and effects every kind of repair, but the locomotives are imported. An engine made at Hunslet in 1875 is still doing good work, whereas American engines go to the scrap-heap in three years. Those of Kitson, of Leeds, are of everlasting wear, and much of the work of Byer,[271] Peacock, Manchester, and of George Stephenson, Darlington, is to be seen at Rosario. Some of the engines and machinery at the forge are American, but Butler and Co., of Halifax, are prominent. Of the carriages some come from Milwaukee, some from Birmingham, but now a very large proportion is made in the workshops. Most of the workmen appear to be Spaniards or Italians, but in better positions Irishmen are numerous; in fact, on St. Patrick's Day hotel accommodation can hardly be obtained at Rosario, and the Irish and Scotch language is spoken with perfect purity by men who have never been outside the boundaries of the Republic.


In another place an account will be given of the Central Argentine Railway, and the other lines by which the town is well served, but it may here be mentioned that the English company, like its rival lines in the country, has been doing its utmost to develop the district with which it is concerned, and a considerable part of the port accommodation is due to its enterprise. It has constructed a wharf which can contain five large steamers in single line, and owns more than a mile and a half of river-front in a convenient position for shipping grain. Besides this the Company possesses the port of Villa Constitucion, 32 miles from Rosario, and it is being rapidly developed. In 1907 this port was entered by British ships with a tonnage of 80,457, and German with a tonnage of 15,838. Much of the prosperity of Rosario—and its advance is very rapid—is due to its excellent railways. The town has every natural advantage and possesses an industrious and enterprising community which would be one of the most favoured in the world if its government were better.

Santa Fé, the capital of the Province, is a comparatively insignificant town with about thirty thousand inhabitants. It is an old place, dating from 1573, and thus is really[272] more ancient than Buenos Aires. Padre Pedro Lozano[146] states: "Garay founded the city of Santa Fé upon a delightful plain and by the same river,[147] three leagues from the Parana. This port afforded admirable shelter to vessels of all kinds and the soil was extremely fertile, rendering with bounteous increase all the seeds entrusted to it. There was abundance of game and fish and there was a large population round about consisting of many nationalities and of widely different languages, but these tribes are now quite extinct, and a genuine Indian of the country is hardly ever to be seen in these days. The latitude of this city was originally 31°, but owing to inconveniences for land trade which afterwards manifested themselves, and to the unfriendly attitude of the heathen, the site was shifted in the year 1660 to a more convenient position on the river Salado, and three leagues distant from the great river Parana. The latitude of the new site was 31° 58´ and its longitude 47°."

Santa Fé is the seat of a Bishop and possesses a Jesuit Church and College, which dates back to 1654. Sixty years ago a traveller described it as a pleasant town with fifteen thousand inhabitants, and the population seems to have increased very little until quite recent years, for it has never had any prominent industries[148] and must always be greatly inferior to Rosario, although the older city is the capital. Like Head at Mendoza, the observer was struck by the practice of promiscuous river-bathing. He thus describes the town[149]: "The city occupies a large[273] space of ground; for, like all the towns in this country, a considerable portion is planted as fruit gardens. The houses are either flat-roofed, or covered with tiles, and only one storey in height. A majority of them were built without any provision for glass windows; the light and air being admitted only through apertures fitted with an open framework of wood, having strong shutters inside; neither are there fireplaces in the houses. There are four large churches, one of which, built in 1834, is remarkable for its solidity and fine proportions. It consists of a nave and aisles, separated by square pillars supporting arches; light is admitted from the windows of a clerestory. It contains a beautiful baptismal font of silver, with four richly carved holy-water fonts. The high altar is in the Gothic style, and enriched with gilding."

As remarked before, Santa Fé is not a city of remarkable prosperity. The building of small river craft is an industry of some importance, but the main occupation of its inhabitants is the export of quebracho wood. In 1907 the shipments were 174,126 tons. The river here gives considerable trouble and requires constant dredging, but a new port is rapidly approaching completion, when it will be possible for vessels with a draught of 20 feet to enter.

The great river country to the north is full of interest, but reference can only be made to one subject—the famous Falls of Iguazu. These Falls were known and described by Padre Lozano, but political troubles and the general backwardness of the north after the expulsion of the Jesuits caused them to be forgotten. Now the Government is alive to the possibilities of using them as a great national "lion," and a commission some years ago was appointed to survey the route and make it more accessible. As yet not much has been done in that[274] direction, but the journey to and from Buenos Aires can be made in less than a fortnight, and a rest-house has been provided. The traveller starts from Buenos Aires in a steamboat and proceeds up the Plate and Uruguay Rivers to Concordia. There he leaves the river and takes train to Corrientes, where he re-embarks in a steamer, and, passing up the Rio Alta Parana to Posadas, makes his way far north to the confines of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, where the Falls are. The Rio Iguazu joins the Parana at the place of disembarkation, and there is a long ride through the forest to the Falls. Twelve miles from the junction with the Parana there is a sudden bend, and the river makes its mighty leap of 210 feet. These are the Brazilian Falls, but lower down there are two other magnificent cascades, each of 100 feet, which fall into a narrow gorge. These are the Argentine Falls and are about 10,000 feet distant from the Brazilian. At the highest point the width of the river is 3,000 feet, but the gorge into which the magnificent columns of water finally discharge themselves is no more than 400 feet wide, and the volume of the discharge is greatly increased in the rainy season. The spectacle is no less magnificent than that of Niagara. As a mere discharge of water in a single sheet the North American fall is more impressive, but the beauty of the Argentine scene is enhanced by the luxuriant forests, and the long-drawn-out course of the foaming stream amid its sylvan scenery is unmatched.

Some day, no doubt, there will be a fashionable watering-place within the sound of the roaring waters, with great hotels and a casino, but now the Falls are, like all the rest of the vast region, an almost unknown place. The great rivers offer the finest waterway, and nothing is required but men and energy to make this borderland a country of fabulous wealth.



The Gran Chaco is the least-known part of Argentina which has the reputation of being a land of Pampas, although these grassy plains cover but one-fourth of the total area of the Republic. In the Chaco are to be found the great majority of the flora and fauna which occur in Argentina, for except in its semi-tropical forests there is no considerable variety of either vegetable or animal life. Concerning the origin of the name, the worthy Padre Lozano says[150]: "The Etymology of the name Chaco indicates the great multitude of tribes which people this region. When the Indians go out hunting and drive together from different quarters the vicunas and guanacos, that vast mob of animals is called Chacu in the Quichoa language which is the common tongue of Peru. Thus, because the land in question contained a number of different tribes, they received by analogy the name Chacu, which the Spaniards have corrupted into Chaco."

Since the early wars of the Spaniards with the various tribes this magnificent territory has not figured much in the history of the country, but in natural interest it surpasses every other part of the Republic, and its potential wealth is enormous. The climate, though tropical, is not[275]
oppressive, and although the country is subject to periodical floods, these greatly increase the natural wealth of the soil, and almost every kind of vegetable product can be grown.

The principal tribes which inhabit this undeveloped region are the Matacos, the Tobas, the Macovies, the Vilelas, the Chinipies, and the Payaguas. Of these the Matacos and the Tobas are the most numerous. The Matacos are tall and bony with strong frames. They have prominent cheek-bones and black, hairy skins. Their teeth are white and far apart, their noses are flat. They cultivate the ground and raise crops of maize. The Tobas, who used to be a warlike race, are more prepossessing in appearance and are slightly more civilised.


In the Chaco there is a considerable variety of fauna. The most savage beast of South America, the jaguar, is found in Riacho Ancho and on the islands of Cerrito. Its ferocity and cunning are well known, and it is very destructive both to men and cattle. The puma also belongs to the feline race, and is also destructive.[151] The wild cat (felis Geoffroyi) is common. A less familiar animal is a large fox (canis jubatus), red in skin and not unlike a hyena in both appearance and habits, for it feeds on carrion. The tapir is one of the ugliest of living creatures. It belongs to the hog family and somewhat resembles the wild boar, but its long snout and ugly dark skin give it an insignificant appearance. It is not savage. There are numerous species of deer and a great variety of small animals. The alligator is very common. The fish of the rivers is good and plentiful, and the chief varieties are the pacu, armado, raya, suruvi, bagre, and palometa.

The natural history of the Gran Chaco has been well described by Felix de Azara. The fauna, though abundant, are not particularly remarkable, and differ in few particulars from those of other South American forest tracts. Vegetation grows in boundless profusion, and the most valuable product is timber, of which a brief description is given in one of the industrial chapters. An Argentine writer[152] remarks: "The forest land or woody portion of the Chaco can be said to occupy a third part of the total area of the territory. The woods of the Chaco are met with on the banks of rivers to which they make a broad fringe; also in clumps or masses of trees more or less extensive; or as brows of brush, as they are called in the neighbourhood—that is to say, narrow strips of trees stretching from one clump to the other—or else scattered in the form that is called thin bush. These varied formations are not capricious. They obey geological laws with that regularity which Nature demands from her handiwork, seeing that the Chaco has no artificially planted trees whatever."

The Gobernacion of the Chaco itself is a comparatively small region, not very much larger than England and Wales, and the population is only 13,937. It is bounded on the north by the Vermejo, on the east by the Parana and Paraguay, and on the west by the Provinces of Santiago del Estero and Salta. The north is marshy, the south is covered with dense forests. The capital is Resistencia, but the only place in the Territory which has any railway communication with the outer world is La Sabana, which is on a narrow-gauge railway to Santa Fé. A line, however, is projected to run through Chaco into Bolivia.

In this work the term Gran Chaco is used, as it was by the old Spaniards, to embrace all the tropical and semi-tropical north, and this opportunity is taken of giving a[277]
brief account of a few of the more interesting places, most of which are, thanks to the railways, now within easy reach of Buenos Aires.

This is the case with the pleasant town of Cordoba, to which the Central Argentine Railway provides a swift and comfortable service. It was founded in 1573 by Don Geronimo de Cabrera, and it soon became the religious and educational headquarters of the La Plata settlements. In the Spanish days it was famed as a seat of intellectual culture, but its importance seemed to have waned during the revolutionary wars. Some eighty years ago a traveller[153] described it as situated in a shallow valley. "The hills around are insignificant in size; but partially wooded, and kept in a state of excellent irrigation. The population, from the best source of information I could obtain, in the absence of correct data, may be from eight to nine thousand, or perhaps ten.... The granite hills in its vicinity afford abundant ores, and they possess the necessaries of wood, water, mules, and pasturage for cattle in abundance. The only impediment is the want of practical miners to teach the unemployed peasants of the country the rudiments of the art." Andrews observed that even at that time, when the people were enraged with priests and bishops on account of their loyal attitude, the ecclesiastical influence was probably more powerful than in any other place in South America. Trade and all prosperous activity was then in a state of stagnation owing to the wars and the traffic in mules with Peru, Cordoba's staple industry, had been completely destroyed. Andrews admired the "fine eyes" and the "symmetry" of the ladies of Cordoba, and describes an excursion to the country house of "the celebrated Dean Funes," the historian, but unfortunately says nothing about his host. He seems to have enjoyed[279] his visit to Cordoba. About twenty years later another traveller[154] estimates the population at fifteen thousand and says: "The city presents an extremely clean and orderly appearance; the streets, which intersect at right angles, are well kept and well lighted. The only manufacture in the place is that of leather. There is no newspaper, although formerly there were two weekly journals published.... The climate is very salubrious, though the rain does not fall in sufficient quantity. There are no foreigners in the town, nor even in the province, except a few French and two or three English: the government architect is a Frenchman, who possesses both wealth and influence." Cordoba must at that time have been a much pleasanter place of residence than Buenos Aires, and possibly is so still. With peace, renewed prosperity has visited the town, and it now has a population of about sixty thousand. It is distant 435 miles from Buenos Aires, and is an important railway centre. In old times it stood on the high road to Peru, and it is now on what will be the trunk line to the central Pacific coast. It is already connected with Bolivia by a line running northwards through Jujuy. Twelve miles from Cordoba are the reservoir and dam (Dique San Roque), on the river Prisnero, which supply the city with water and are the largest works of the kind in South America. The city is lighted by the electric light and has electric trams.


Cordoba with Mendoza has the reputation of being the town in Argentina where the religious spirit is strongest. The number of churches is remarkably large and some of them are handsome.

The University is the oldest in South America with the exception of that at Lima. It was founded in 1613 by the Jesuits, who were always foremost in the encour[280]agement of learning and piety, and in 1621 it was confirmed by the Bull of Pope Gregory XV. In Spanish times it had a high reputation, but it greatly decayed under the tyranny of Rosas, and in 1861 possessed only two faculties—Law and Theology. It was much improved in 1880. Cordoba also is reputed to be a place where culture is highly valued, but provincial seats of learning tend to be overshadowed by Buenos Aires. Dr. Ernesto Quesada remarked: "In Cordoba there is an active literary life, and a band of young men who in society and magazines work with ardour, but their names are hardly known in the capital." However, Cordoba has better than any other town maintained its humanistic position, as Rosario has its commercial, against this overpowering preponderance, and it may be hoped that healthy non-political rivalries will be kept up and strengthened all over the country.

Another large and flourishing city is Tucuman, a town of forty-nine thousand inhabitants, situated on the right bank of the Tala, a sub-tributary of the Salado. It was founded in 1565[155] by Diego de Villaruel, and has always played a prominent part in history. The old house in which the declaration of independence was signed is still preserved. In revolutionary days the communicative Andrews[156] thus describes it: "The city of Tucuman is like most others in South America, of rectangular form. The public edifices and works are in a wretched state. The arts and sciences are almost unknown, literature, of course, included. Music alone seems to be a little[281] cultivated, but a general spirit of liberality, a wish to improve, and a thirst for knowledge, is very observedly diffusing itself, and will not allow this state of things to last. Unfortunately, the channels of information are few and narrow, and I fear the people are without instructors, or have very ill-chosen ones, though perhaps the best they can obtain." He estimates the population at ten or twelve thousand.

Another traveller,[157] who was at Tucuman at the time the overthrow of Rosas was announced, remarks: "If the tide of immigration could only be diverted for a time towards this quarter, it appears to me that this province is capable, in an agricultural point of view, of largely supplying an export commerce. The sugar-cane, coffee, cocoa, cotton, fruits of the most delicious kinds, and an abundance of superior cattle, offer to the enterprising and industrious a certain field of ultimate success. The united provinces of Cordova, Tucuman, and Salta, have already gained a well-merited reputation for their tanned leather, saddlery, and boots, superior to that of other parts of South America." He declares that he left Tucuman with the conviction that it stood unrivalled as the garden of the Argentine Republic.

Like all other up-country towns, it long remained depressed by the political troubles, and in 1875 the population was no more than seventeen thousand. It had increased to twenty-seven thousand by 1884, and has since been making steady progress. The Matriz Church is a fine Doric building, erected in 1856, and there is a large National College. In the suburbs stands the Plaza Belgrano on the site of the village formerly called Cuidadela, where Belgrano gained a great victory over the Spaniards. Like Cordoba, the city is on the trunk line to Bolivia. The Province of Tucuman is famous[282] for the sugar industry, and many of the plantations and factories are near the town.

The Province of Salta one day can hardly fail to be of great importance. It was first settled by one Lerma in 1582, and until 1776 was in the charge of a Lieutenant-Governor under the Governor of Tucuman. During the first half of the nineteenth century it suffered less than its neighbours owing to its remote situation. The forests, hills, and rich pasture make the scenery charming, and the soil is remarkably fertile, maize, wheat, lucerne, and sugar being extensively cultivated. The mineral wealth, though insufficiently exploited, is very great. The town of Salta, which is 935 miles from Buenos Aires, has a population of about twenty thousand. It is well built, but not particularly healthy, owing to malaria and bad water.

The fertile northern region of Argentina has hitherto been somewhat neglected, in spite of the fact that it is the oldest settled part of the country. When communications between Tucuman and Peru were interrupted the country declined, and the easily earned wealth of the Pampas diverted the attention of capital from less accessible parts. On the western side communications are excellent, and on the east they are fast improving. The towns and provinces are gradually increasing in wealth and population and, besides their great fertility in soil and every kind of produce, they will also be important as recipients of trade from places over the frontier. This importance, of course, will depend upon the development of the places in question. Those countries that lie about the upper waters of the Parana will not be trade centres for many years. As regards Bolivia, the case is doubtful. That country has a large mining industry, but her population is scanty and backward, and it is probable that it will still be more economical to despatch the greater part of its products by sea. In fact, the Argentine Government has raised objections to the prolongation of the railway into Bolivia, on the ground that it will not be a commercial success. However that may be, Tucuman, Salta, Cordoba, Parana, and many other towns with their adjacent districts will always have sufficient wealth to be of considerable importance in themselves, and when more immigrants have been attracted thither they will be regarded, in many respects, as the best part of the Republic.




The first information which the traveller seeks is, naturally, how to get to Buenos Aires, and though such information is very accessible, it seldom seems to come his way, for not uncommonly persons are found who appear to have no idea that there is any route except that which they hit on by chance, and if in the course of the journey any change becomes necessary, they usually have considerable difficulty in discovering the means of making the change. Of course any agent will furnish a number of particulars, and any given line will give the fullest information about itself. The ocean voyage is not made as quickly as it might be, for the liners proceed first to Brazil and call at one or two ports, and there are also several stops made in Europe and the islands. The best thing to do is to take one of the fine vessels of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company from Liverpool. The boats call at La Pallice—La Rochelle, Corunna, Vigo, Leixoes (Oporto), Lisbon, St. Vincent, Rio de Janeiro. The only drawback is that the vessels do not go to Buenos Aires, but stop at Montevideo; however, the passengers are speedily transhipped, and the whole voyage lasts about twenty-four days. In comfort and safety the service reaches the highest possible standards, and the traveller can, if he wishes, continue his voyage southward and proceed up the Pacific Coast as far as Panama; this is a charming trip, for the Pacific is usually smooth, and some of the very best boats engage in the coasting service. There are many other English lines—the Royal Mail Steam Packet, Southampton to Buenos Aires, the Lamport and Holt from Liverpool, the Harrison Line, Houlder Bros., the Houston Line, the Allan, the Nelson, the David MacIver, all from Liverpool, the Prince Line from London. The New Zealand Shipping Company's boats, on the homeward voyage only, call at Montevideo.


There are many foreign lines. France is represented by the famous Messageries from Bordeaux, and also by the Soc. Genérale de Transports from Genoa, Marseilles, and Barcelona, and the Chargeurs Réunis from Havre. The Italian boats from Genoa and Barcelona are very numerous. A Spanish line, the Cia Transatlantica de Barcelona, plies between the latter port and Buenos Aires. Germany has the Hamburg-American, the Norddeutscher Lloyd, and the Kosmos. There is also a Dutch line. The Italian boats are large, well-fitted, and fast. If time were an important object, probably the quickest way would be to take an Italian boat to Barcelona, whence London is rapidly reached by rail, but though there is a good accommodation, both British and foreign, it is safe to say that the P.S.N. Co. will be found the most satisfactory.

The traveller ought to carry with him everything he needs, and his needs should be few, because luggage is a great trouble. Unlike some South American lines, the railway companies in Argentina are responsible in that respect, but porters and others are exorbitant, and a piece of luggage rapidly devours its own value in transport charges. Exactly the same clothing should be taken as in England, and ordinary riding kit should be added, also a soft hat, as affording a better protection[285]
against the sun than a hard felt or cap. Revolvers or other weapons are unnecessary; indeed nothing is required but what is constantly used at home.

Banks are to be found everywhere, so there is no difficulty about money. The Argentine dollar, which is in universal use, is worth about 1s. 9d.

The hotels at Buenos Aires, as has been said, are not remarkably good, and they are certainly expensive. All are noisy, for the trams run early and late, and a very high price has to be paid for good rooms. But any one who is prepared to pay handsomely can make himself very comfortable. As regards up-country hotels, it is not possible to give a favourable account. At Rosario there are several good-sized houses of entertainment, but they have no particular merit, except that they are cheaper than in the capital. In this rapidly expanding city a very large hotel is being built, which will certainly supply a long-felt want, and doubtless it will be much superior to anything at present to be found at Rosario. At Mendoza there is a large hotel of very handsome appearance, but probably the best accommodation there is to be afforded by a hotel kept by a genial old Frenchman, who has almost abandoned the Parisian in favour of the tongue of Castile. The courtyard, dotted with fruit-trees, and the low buildings with their screened doors, are strongly reminiscent of an Indian up-country hotel. Hotels in other provincial towns are by no means good. It is from the cooking that the traveller will chiefly suffer, for there is usually little to complain of on the score of cleanliness, and the rooms are large, though bare. The Argentine has a good appetite, but he appears to be content to satisfy it chiefly with meat, and this is more often tough than not. The menu contains an imposing array of dishes, which are served[287] without stint, but they are almost all beef, mutton, or veal in some form or other, and this diet, moderate in quality and cooked without art, is extremely monotonous. The light wines of the country are a valuable help in getting through these indigestible meals, and the white wine is particularly good. The peaches, grapes, and other fruits are of excellent quality, but they are not always easy to obtain.

As regards travelling in Argentina, the traveller will find no difficulty as long as he keeps to the railway lines, which give a splendid service to almost every part of the country except Patagonia. When the railway fails, he will of course have to make his own arrangements for horses and mules and the like. An extremely useful work is the fifth edition of the Mulhalls' "Handbook of the River Plate." A new edition of this book is urgently needed,[158] for the last appeared in 1885, and the extremely full statistical information is quite out of date, and travelling in the country, which the handbook well describes, is much easier than it was in those days. But the writers draw up with great care a number of interesting routes, and the traveller, using them as a foundation, can easily bring the information up to date, and will find an interesting study in noting the wonderful changes which have come over Argentina in exactly a quarter of a century. In the bibliography an attempt has been made to enumerate the important books on the whole subject, and that of Captain Musters on Patagonia may be recommended. A great many wanderers in the early part of the nineteenth century have left highly interesting accounts of their adventurous travels. In those days ferocious Indians, who massacred every small party of white[288] men at sight, revolutionary soldiers, and cruel bandits added greatly to the dangers of such excursions, and a journey across the Pampas was looked upon as almost equivalent to taking leave of the world. A young gentleman in the first edition of his book remarks with gentle melancholy that, being disappointed in his hopes of happiness by a "beloved female," he had decided to travel in the Plate district. His editorial friend appends a note that the gentleman had been last heard of in a remote part of Chile many years ago, and was believed to have perished. However, the traveller happily returned and published a second edition or work in which he accounted for his long silence by a series of hardships, among which a lengthy term of imprisonment was only one item. Among these books that of Head is one of the most entertaining, but Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle," must be held to be probably the best work ever published on Argentina, and he observed the country at a most interesting period. Adventures would be hard to find nowadays in the Pampas, but the greater part of Patagonia is as wild and inaccessible as ever, and in many regions of the Gran Chaco the explorer carries his life in his hands owing to the fierce disposition of the Indians.

Indeed, about Argentina as usually visited by Europeans everything is so simple in the matter of getting there and travelling north, south, or west, that there is very little to say, and no more special information is required than in a journey to the United States. But the pioneer still has ample scope in Argentina without crossing the frontier. The impenetrable forests of the north have formed a rich field of exploration for Mr. W. S. Barclay, of the Royal Geographical Society, and there and in the neighbouring wilds of Paraguay the primitive ravage still wanders. "In 1893," says Mr.[289] Barclay,[159] "a party of 700 native-born Australians took up land in the forests of northern Paraguay. In these new surroundings they deteriorated to such an extent that in 1905 the remnants of the original settlers, with their few descendants, attracted the serious attention of the South American Mission, whose ordinary field of work lies among the Indian aborigines of the Chaco. In the tropic forest a man's moral and mental horizon appears to shrink in direct proportion to the range of his physical vision. No aborigines yet discovered, not even the canoe-dwellers round Cape Horn or the black-fellows of Australia, have sunk to the brutish degradation of the Bootcudo club Indians, who smash their trails through the bamboo-smothered forests at the back of Parana and Sao Paulo states." In fact, from Colombia to Entre Rios there lies a tract which will hardly be fully explored, certainly not settled, by the end of the century. Again there are vast fields in the Andes and Patagonia of which many explorers have taken advantage, but considering their importance, due to their being the actual territory or borderland of two great and flourishing Republics, the mountains and plains of the south may be considered to have been neglected.

In the matter of information for travellers to South America, mention must be made of the South American edition of the Times, published December 28, 1909. This colossal number of 56 pages contains an invaluable store of accurate articles by the best authorities on South America, and Argentina has its full share. It is characteristic of our history in Argentina that this fine piece of work is due to private enterprise.

To celebrate the Centenary of the Revolution of the 25th of May, 1810, there will be held this year a group of exhibitions in Buenos Aires. They will be[290] as follows: The International Exhibition of Railways and Land Transport; the International Exhibition of Agricultural and Pastoral Products; the International Exhibition of Hygiene; the National Exhibition of Industry; the International Exhibition of Art. There will also be held the International Congress of America, and the International Congress of South American Railways.

The Railway Exhibition will have its site in the city itself. English exhibitors have applied for a far larger space than any of their foreign rivals. The Agricultural Exhibition will be held in the suburb of Palermo, and is sure to present splendid stock. Of cattle (excluding dairy cattle) there will be the following classes—Shorthorns (Durhams), Polled Durhams, Herefords, Polled Angus, Red Polled, Red Lincoln, Devon. The classes of sheep will be—Merinos, Lincolns, Leicesters, Romney Marsh, Southdowns, Shropshires, Oxford and Suffolk, Hampshires.

The increased number of English people visiting Buenos Aires this year will add to the interest which the average newspaper reader takes in this country. Our stake in the country is already so large that, well known as Argentina now is compared to most parts of South America, it is surprising that the country does not fill a larger space in the public mind. The English railways are being fast extended by English capital. English farmers and ranchers are busily at work, and English blood is improving the breeds of sheep and cattle. It is certain, therefore, that our relation with Argentina will become yearly closer and still more mutually advantageous, and the more we learn about the country the better. We have to depend almost entirely upon private enterprise, for, as has been shown in an earlier part of this book, our Government does little in the way of[291] collecting information and putting it in an accessible and attractive form. There are many ways in which the Foreign Office could help traders and others without extravagant expense or incurring the suspicion of grand-motherly legislation. However, these defects are balanced by the splendid enterprise and liberal attitude of private companies which have for years been instructing our countrymen in South American affairs. The railway offices, whether in London or Buenos Aires, are ever ready to give facilities to those who wish to study the industries of Argentina and the same is the case with other commercial organisations. The building up and consolidating of our position in Argentina is one of the proudest exploits of English industry.

Argentina is a nation of which the historical continuity was very roughly broken, and within the last half-century she had to begin her life over again with less help from the past than is afforded to most peoples by tradition and historical associations. Kept in subjection by the Spaniards as one of the less important corners of their dominions, and regarded with a certain measure of indifference and even suspicion as being a discordant factor in the Colonial system and its great industry of exporting gold and silver, Argentina owed her spiritual and intellectual progress chiefly to the Jesuits and her material progress chiefly to benevolent Governors and spirited Creoles. The first rude shock was the expulsion of the Jesuits, and this was followed by a much ruder breach of historical continuity in the Revolution. Misfortune and incompetence long paralysed her, and in fifty years she lost most of what was good in the old system and gained little good from the new. Then the revival came. It was a revival in material prosperity, and also in courage and self-reliance, strenuously fostered by one or two great men. She has prospered beyond[292] the utmost expectations of the world, but hitherto has experienced the usual fate of new countries in failing to grow in wealth of ideas in proportion to her increase in material riches.

One good legacy she had from old days—the Spanish love of liberty. This became perverted as years of anarchy and tyranny ran their demoralising course, and now it is somewhat overgrown by abuses which have been described in the earlier chapters.

But it is not extinct, and political theory is certainly better than political practice, and the people themselves are keen and shrewd critics of their system of government. As they gain more political experience and better assimilate their immigrants, they will force reform after reform upon the office-holders. In one respect they have followed Spain too closely. Madrid usurped the rights of the local governments in Spain, Buenos Aires has done the same. As far as political power goes, the preponderance of the Argentine capital is inevitable and probably beneficent, for the various Provinces are small, weak, and thinly populated; they need a strong and intelligent head. But it is unfortunate that the various provincial centres should be neglected, and that Buenos Aires should be the Mecca of every Argentine. The course of trade is tending somewhat towards decentralisation, and Rosario and Bahia Blanca are growing perhaps as rapidly as Buenos Aires. But it would be well if the many picturesque old Spanish towns in remote districts became, instead of seats of somewhat unimportant governments, real centres of light and leading. There is somewhat of a tendency to regard them as mere places of business at which a man must work until he has time or money to spend in the capital.

Another Spanish tradition which Argentina has received is that of religion. This, it may be feared, has[293] been dulled among the intellectual classes, but the numerous, large, and well-kept churches, well attended by reverent worshippers, show that the tradition is not forgotten. In course of time, when the glamour of new wealth is less powerful, the people of Argentina will turn in increasing numbers for teaching from the few who are now keeping alive the intellectual and spiritual life.

It is certain that Argentines are essentially teachable. They welcome foreigners and travel to seats of civilisation to educate their children and to learn new ideas. They are extremely sensitive to foreign opinion, and newspapers constantly argue against this or that course by urging that it would give other nations an unfavourable impression of Argentina. In this they are aided by their Government. It has been necessary to say some hard things about it, but this may be said as a set-off—that the Government, on its bureaucratic side at least, represents the considered intellect of the nation and is intelligent and indefatigable in encouraging the best methods in commerce and industry, in beautifying the cities and raising splendid edifices to serve as homes for useful institutions. It has many methods and many enterprises which England might imitate with advantage. Working in a new country, while lacking in traditions to guide it, the Government has, on the other hand, the less rubbish to impede its progress and can make spacious plans.

England has had a long and close connection with Argentina, and each is deeply interested in the other's prosperity. The country may become as great a political force in the world as she is now an industrial, and England, the peace-preserving nation, will then have a redoubled interest, for Argentina has showed herself above all Latin-American nations ever resolute to main[294]tain peace and submit all reasonable claims to arbitration, and while not abusing her superior strength, she sets an example to other nations of firmness, dignity, and good faith in foreign politics. Her increase, then, in power and population, will be for the good of South America and for the good of the world.

Although within the limits of a single volume it is impossible to make an adequate presentation of a country so vast and varied as Argentina, an attempt has been made to view this wonderful land and people as a whole, and it is hoped that this sketch, though inadequate, may be judged not untrustworthy.



Much information is to be found in small publications too numerous to be specified. Many are issued by the Oficina Meterologica Argentina at Buenos Aires and by other Government Departments, and a large number of pamphlets, newspapers, and periodicals, both current and extinct, may be consulted with advantage. This list aims at giving a catalogue of useful books dealing with the history of Argentina and the country in general.


Akers, C. E. A History of South America (1854-1904). London, 1904.

Angelis, Pedro de. Coleccion de Obras y Documentos. 3 vols. Buenos Aires, 1900.


An account of the Spanish Settlements in South America. London, 1904.

The Argentine Republic, by a Friend of Free Government. London, 1865.

An Authentic Narrative of the ... Expedition ... of ... Gen. Craufurd. London, 1808.

Les Dissensions des Républiques de La Plata. Paris, 1865.

La Doctrina Drago. London, 1908.

Emancipation of South America. Edinburgh Review, January, 1809.

The History of Don Francisco Miranda's Attempt, &c. Boston, 1810.

The Missiones Award. Washington, 1895.

Report ... upon the Differences ... with regard to the Frontier between the Argentine and Chilian Republics. 2 vols. London, 1900.

Arcos, S. La Plata. Étude Historique. Paris, 1865.


Blanchard and Ramsay. The Trial at Large of Lieut-Gen. Whitelocke. London, 1808.

Blanco White, J. El Español. 8 vols. London, 1810-14.

Bonnycastle, R. H. Spanish America. London, 1818.

Brackenridge, H. M. Voyage to South America. 2 vols. Baltimore, 1819.

Brossard, Alfred de. Considérations sur les Républiques de la Plata. Paris, 1850.

Calvo, C. Coleccion Completa de los Tratados de la América Latina. 16 vols. Paris, 1862-7.

Cole. J. W. Memoirs of British Generals. 2 vols. London, 1856.

Dawson, T. C. The South American Republics. 2 vols. London, 1893.

Deberle, Alfred. Histoire de l'Amérique du Sud. Paris, 1897.

Dominguez, Luis, L. Historia Argentina. Buenos Aires, 1870.

Echeverria, Estevan. Insurreccion del Sud. Buenos Aires, 1854.

Estrado, J. M. La Politica Liberal bajo la Tirannia de Rosas. Buenos Aires, 1873.

Funes, G. Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos Aires, y Tucuman. 3 vols. Buenos Aires, 1816-17.

Hernandez, José. El Gaucho Martin Fierro. Buenos Aires, 1874.

Herrera, Antonio de. History of America, Vol. VI. Translated by Captain John Stevens. London, 1726.

Herrera, Antonio de. M. Purchas, His Pilgrimage by Samuel Purchas, B.D., Vol. XIV. Glasgow, 1906.

Kennedy, C. The Drago Doctrine. North American Review, New York, July 31, 1907.

King, Colonel J. A. Twenty-four Years in the Argentine Republic. London, 1846.

Kirkpatrick, F. A. The Spanish Dominions in America. The Establishment of Independence in Spanish America. The Cambridge Modern History, Vol. X., Chaps. VIII. and IX.


Lopez, V. F. Manual de la Historia Argentina. Buenos Aires, 1907.

Mitré, Bartolomé. Historia de Belgrano. 2 vols. Buenos Aires, 1859.

Mitré, Bartolomé. Historia de San Martin. 3 vols. Buenos Aires, 1887-8.

Moses, Benjamin. The Establishment of Spanish Rule in America. New York, 1898.

Mulhall, M. G. The English in South America. Buenos Aires, 1878.

Parish, Sir Woodbine. Buenos Ayres and the Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. London, 1852.

Payne, E. J. History of the New World called America. Oxford, 1892-4.

Pradt, Archbishop M. de. The Colonies and the Present American Revolution. Translated from the French. London, 1817.

Robertson, W. The History of South America. 4 vols. 12th ed. London, 1812.

Rodney and Graham. The Reports ... of South America. London, 1819.

Root, J. W. Spain and its Colonies. London, 1898.

Sarmiento, D. F. Life in the Argentine Republic in the Days of the Tyrants. Translated from the Spanish by Mrs. Horace Mann. New York, 1868.

Sarmiento, D. F. Vida de Facundo Quiroga. Santiago, 1851.

Southey, Robert. History of Brazil. 3 vols. London, 1810-19.

Torrente, D. M. Historia de la Revolucion Hispano-Americana. 3 vols. Madrid, 1829-30.

Watson, R. G. Spanish and Portuguese South America. 2 vols. London, 1884.

Wilcocke, S. H. History of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres. London, 1807.

Winsor, J. History of America. 8 vols. London, 1886-9.

Zinny, A. Biografia Historica. Buenos Aires. 1875.

Zinny, A. Historia de las Provincias Argentinas. 4 vols. Buenos Aires, 1879-82.



Akers, C. E. Argentine, Patagonia, &c. London, 1893.

Akers, C. E. Article in Enc. Brit., Vol. XXV., 10th ed. London, 1902.

Alberdi, J. B. Confederacion Argentina. Valparaiso, 1854.

Alcock, F. Trade and Travel in South America. London, 1903.

Alsina, J. A. La Immigracion Europea en la Republica Argentina. Buenos Aires, 1903.

Ameghino, Florentino. La Antiguëdad del Hombre en La Plata. 2 vols. Paris, 1880.

Andrews, Captain. A Journey from Buenos Ayres, &c. 2 vols. London, 1827.


The River Plate as a Field for Immigration. London.

Azara, Felix de. Essais sur l'Histoire Naturelle. 2 vols. Paris, 1801.

Barclay, W. S. To the Falls of Iguazu. Buenos Aires, 1903.

Barclay, W. S. The Land of Magellanes. Geog. Journ., January, 1904.

Barclay, W. S. The River Parana. Geog. Journ., January, 1909.

Bernandez, M. The Argentine Estancia. Buenos Aires, 1903.

Bonelli, L. Hugh de. Travels in Bolivia, with a Tour across the Pampas to Buenos Aires. London, 1854.

Bougainville, Louis de. Voyage autour du Monde. Paris, 1771.

Bresson, André. Sept Années dans l'Amérique Australe.

Burmeister, H. Description Physique de la République Argentine. Paris, 1876-8.

Campbell, W. D. Through Patagonia. London, 1901.

Caldcleugh, Alexander. Travels in South America. 2 vols. London, 1825.

Carpenter, F. G. South America. New York, 1900.

Child, Theodore. The South American Republics. New York, 1892.

Church, Colonel G. E. South America: An Outline of its Physical Geography. Geog. Journ., April, 1901.

Church, Colonel G. E. Argentine Geography and the Ancient Pampean Sea. Geog. Journ., October, 1898.

Conway, Sir Martin. Aconcagua and Tierra del Fuego. London, 1902.

Cunninghame-Graham, R. B. A Vanished Arcadia. London, 1901.


Daireaux, Émile. La Vie et les Mœurs à la Plata. 2 vols. Paris, 1889.

Darwin, Charles. Journal of Researches during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. London, 1843.

Davie, J. C. Letters from Paraguay, &c. London, 1805.

Davie, J. C. Letters from Buenos Ayres and Chile. 2 vols. London, 1819.

Dixie, Lady Florence (Julius Beerbohm). Across Patagonia. London, 1880.

Dixie, Lady Florence (Julius Beerbohm). Wanderings in Patagonia. London, 1879.

D'Orbigny, Alcide. L'Homme Américaine. Paris, 1839.

D'Orbigny, Alcide. Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale. 4 vols. Paris, 1835-39.

D'Ursel, Charles. Sud Amérique. Paris, 1879.

Evans, Patrick F. From Peru to the Plate Overland. London, 1899.

Falkner, Thomas. A Description of Patagonia. Hereford, 1774.

Farrell, H. W. The Argentine Year Book. London, 1909.

Ford, I. N. Tropical America. London, 1893.

Fitzroy, Admiral R. The Surveying Voyages of H.M.'s ships Adventure and Beagle. London, 1839.

Gallois, Eugéne. En Amérique du Sud. Paris, 1906.

Gibson, Herbert. Sheep Breeding Industry in the Argentine Republic. Buenos Aires, 1893.

Gonnard, René. L'Immigration Européenne au XIXe Siécle. Paris, 1906.

Gonzalez, Meliton. El Gran Chaco Argentino. Buenos Aires, 1890.

Granillo, A. Tucuman. Buenos Aires, 1872.

Guilaine, Louis. La République Argentine. Paris, 1889.

Haigh, S. Sketches of Buenos Aires and Chile. London, 1829.

Harrisse, Henry. John Cabot. London, 1896.

Hawkesworth, John. An Account of the Voyages. 2 vols. Dublin, 1775.

Head, Captain F. B. Reports relating to the Failure of the Rio Plata Mining Association. London, 1827.

Head, Captain F. B. Royal Notes taken during some Rapid Journeys across the Pampas. London, 1826.


Helps, Sir Arthur. The Spanish Conquests in America. London, 1900.

Holdich, Sir T. H. The Countries of the King's Award. London, 1904.

Holdich, Sir T. H. The Patagonian Andes. Geog. Journ., February, 1904.

Hudson, W. H. The Naturalist in La Plata. London, 1903.

Jordan, W. Leighton. Article in Enc. Brit., Vol. II., 9th ed. London, 1875.

Keane, A. H., and Markham, C. R. Central and South America. London, 2nd ed., 1909.

Keltie, J. Scott. The Statesman's Year Book. London, 1909.

Killik, S. H. M. Manual of Argentine Railways. London, 1910.

Koebel, W. H. Modern Argentina. London, 1907.

Latzina, F. L'Agriculture et L'Élevage dans la République Argentine. Buenos Aires, 1891.

Latzina, F. Diccionario Geografico Argentino. Buenos Aires, 1890.

Latzina, F. Géographie de la République Argentine. Paris, 1889.

Leach, Walter. Exploration of the Bermejo River. Geog. Journ., June, 1890.

Le Bon, Gustave. Les Lois Psychologiques de l'Évolutions des Peuples. Paris, 1894.

MacCann, William. Two Thousand Miles' Ride through the Argentine Provinces. London, 1853.

Mangel du Mesnil, E. Notoriedades del Plata. Buenos Aires, 1862.

Mansfield, C. B. Paraguay, Brazil, and the Plate. Cambridge, 1856.

Markwich, W. F., and Smith, W. A. The South American Republics. New York, 1901.

Martin, Percy F. Through Five Republics. London, 1905.

Martinez, A. B., and Lewandowski, M. L'Argentine au XXe Siécle. 3rd. ed. Paris, 1909.

Moncousin, M. P. Notes sur les Tehuelches. Paris, 1900.

Moreno, F. P. Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chubut, y Santa Cruz. La Plata, 1897.


Moreno, F. P. Explorations in Patagonia. Geog. Journ., September and October, 1899.

Moreno, F. P. Patagonia. Article in Enc. Brit., 10th ed. London, 1902.

Mulhall, M. G. and E. T. Handbook of the River Plate. Buenos Aires, 1885.

Mulhall, Mrs. M. G. Between the Amazon and Andes. London, 1881.

Musters, G. C. At Home with the Patagonians. London, 1873.

Napp, Richard. The Argentine Republic. Buenos Aires, 1876.

Nordenskjöld, Otto. A Journey in South Western Patagonia. Geog. Journ., October, 1897.

O'Driscoll, Florence. A Journey to the North of the Argentine Republic. Geog. Journ., October, 1904.

Pearce-Edgcumbe, Sir E. R. Zephyrus. London, 1887.

Pelleschi, Juan. Los Indios Matacos. Buenos Aires, 1897.

Pillado, Ricardo. Politica Comercial Argentina. Buenos Aires, 1906.

Prichard, H. H. Through the Heart of Patagonia. London, 1902.

Quesada, Ernesto. La Iglesia Católica y la Cuestion Social. Buenos Aires, 1895.

Rumbold, Sir H. The Great Silver River. London, 1888.

Scarlett, Hon. P. Campbell. South America and the Pacific. 2 vols. London, 1838.

Sclater, P. L., and Hudson, W. H. Argentine Ornithology. 2 vols. London, 1888-9.

Seeber, Francisco. Great Argentina, &c. Buenos Aires, 1903.

Turner, T. A. Argentina and the Argentines. London, 1892.

Ulloa, Antonio de and G. Juan. A Voyage to South America, translated by John Adams. 2 vols. London, 1807.

Vaulx, M. Henry de. A Travers la Patagonia. Paris, 1898.

Wallace, Professor Robert. Argentine Shows and Live Stock. Edinburgh, 1904.


Walter, Richard. A Voyage round the World. Dublin, 1748.

Webster, H. A. Patagonia. Article in Enc. Brit. London, 1885.

Wiener, Charles. La République Argentine. Paris, 1899.

Zeballos, E. S. Descripcion Amena de la Républica Argentina. 3 vols. Buenos Aires, 1881-8.



[For plants and animals, see Flora and Fauna; and for names of firms and railways, see English Engineers, and Railways.]

Aconcagua, 260

Adams, 77

Aguirre, 94

Akers, 109

Albarracin, 256

Alberoni, 39

Alcorta, 109, 110, 113

Alem, 103

Alfafa, see Lucerne

Alfaro, 55

Almargo, 28

Alvear, 81

Alzaga, 88

Amusements, 183, 184

Anchorena, 90

Andes, 3, 4, 28, 106-108, 258, 260-264

Andrewes, Capt., 160, 278, 280

Anson, 43, 242

Apipe, 265

Apostoles, 266

Arbitration, 109, 110, 121, 122

Arcos, 78

Army, 116-119

Asiento de Negros, 38, 39, 40

Asuncion, 26, 27, 28, 97, 188

Atahualpa, 159

Auchmuty, 69-71

Avellanada, 100

Azara, 276

Azolas, 26

Bahia Blanca, 1, 9, 13, 121, 151, 216, 238-240, 292

Baird, 66, 74

Balcarce, 90

Banks, 180, 286

Barclay, 266, 268, 270, 288

Battle of Acari, 28
Angostura, 97
Campo Grande, 97
Casseros, 92
Chacabuco, 82
Curupaiti, 97
India Muerta, 92
Ituzaingo, 88
Maipu, 82
Riachuelo, 96
Tucuman, 80

Belgium, 181, 212

Belgrano (port), 121, 239
(soldier), 79-81, 83
(suburb), 147, 149, 150

Bell, 164

Beresford, 66-68

Bernandez, 202

Bohorquez, 34, 35

Bolivar, 84

Bolivia, 2, 10, 90, 121, 163, 269, 277, 279, 282

Bonelli, 281

Bovril, 204, 205

Bradford, 201

Bravard, 8, 256

Brazil, 10, 37, 48, 87, 95-98, 105, 116, 163, 187, 269, 274

Brewing, 194

Brossard, 90, 93

Brown, 83

[304]Buchanan, 109

Budget, 104

Buenos Aires, 139-151, and passim

Burke, 40

Byron, 242, 247

Cabot, 24, 25

Calchaquies, 34, 35

Calvo, 168, 169

Camerones Bay, 251

Campbell, 3, 248

Canning, 85

Capital, British, 180

Carlyle, 40, 53, 125

Carmen, 244, 249

Casas, La, 159

Catamarca, 15, 33, 113, 146, 257

Cathedral, 67, 146, 257, 259

Cattle, 140, 156, 196-209

Cavendish, 241

Caxias, 97

Cédulas, 60

Celman, 101, 105, 129, 142, 215

Cerrito, 276

Chaco, El, 114, 138, 187

Charles III., 61

Charles IV., 76

Charles V., 25

Chatham, Lord, 53

Child, 132

Children, Argentine, 153

Chile, 2, 63, 68, 82, 106, 107-110, 116, 118, 163, 165, 230, 246, 255, 263, 264

Chinipies, 276

Chubut, 114, 136, 161, 204, 249

Church, see Religion

Church, Col., 240

Cigars, 148, 222

Cisneros, 77-79

Clarke, 248

Clapham, Prof., 200

Clement XIV., 47

Cleveland, 105

Climate, 13-15

Clubs, 146, 149, 208, 258, 269

Coal, 214, 237

Cole, 69

Colombia, 174

Colonial System, Spanish, 49-64

Commerce, 210-214, and passim

Conchas, 81

Concordia, 274

Congress, 108, 112, 123, 146

Consuls, 179, 268

Cordillera, 6, 7, 12, 106, 107

Cordoba, 4, 13, 14, 28, 33, 66, 79, 89, 103, 161, 185, 230, 232, 259, 277-280, 283

Corrientes, 10, 11, 29, 30, 95, 96, 113, 207, 265

Costa, 103, 104

Cotton, 281

Cotton-spinning, 195

Crawford, 68, 70-72

Credit, 101

Crossbreeds, 201

Cunningham, 247, 248

Currency, 196

Cuzo, 265

Daireaux, 163, 171

Darwin, 5-9, 12, 13, 15, 19, 89, 141, 156, 235, 241, 245, 246, 247, 250, 252, 262

Davis, 241

Dawson, 99

Deputies, House of, 112, 113

Desire, Port, 241

Diamond Jubilee, 150

Distilleries, 194

D'Orbigny, 8, 9, 12, 20-22, 247

Dorrego, 87-89

Drago, 169, 170

Drake, 38, 241, 247

Duff, 72

Durhams, 205, 208, 290

Durqui, 94

Education, 161-163

Edward VII., 110, 150, 208, 264

Ehrenberg, 5

[305]Elio, 80

England, 65-75, and passim

English Engineers, 270, 271
Trade, 211, 212, and passim

Ensenado, 70

Entre Rios, 11, 30, 47, 92, 99, 113, 187, 215, 230

Estancias, 196-209, and passim

Ethnology, 20-23

Exports, 213, 214

Falkner, 243, 244, 247

Falkland Islands, 202

Famatina, 234, 235

Famine, Port, 241

Fauna, 251-253, 276

Federalists, 87, 93, 100

Ferdinand, 50, 76, 79

Finns, 266

Flora, 276

Flores, 95

Flotsam, 150

Flour, 195

Formosa, 95, 114, 194

France, 63, 78, 212, and passim

Francia, 92

Free Trade, 218, 219, 224

French Railways, 191

Funes, 34, 167, 278

Gallegos, Port, 241, 243

Gamboa, 241

Garay, 28-31, 272

Gardiner, 252

Gaucho, 117, 155-157, 198

Germany, 179, 180, 211, 212

Giants, 243

Giebert, 206

Goats, 197

Gobernaciones, 113, 114

Godoy, 267

Gold, 56, 289

Gonnard, 131, 135

Gonzalez, 277

Gran Chaco, 2, 4, 11, 195, 270, 275-277

Gregory XV., 279

Guaranies, 20, 21, 28

Guarpes, 258

Guatemala, 174

Guilaine, 132

Hague Congress, 169, 170

Hawkesworth, 243

Hay, 169

Head, 141, 235, 236, 256, 272, 288

Herefords, 207, 208, 290

Hernan Darias, 31

Hernandez, José, 157

Hides, 46, 56, 206

Hogs, 197

Holditch, Sir T., 109, 110, 117, 118

Holland, Lord, 69

Horn, Cape, 2, 38, 252

Horses, 117, 150, 197, 249

Hotels, 144, 286

Howorth, Sir H. H., 8, 19

Hudson, 249

Humaita, 96, 97

Ibicuy, 187

Iguazu Falls, 273, 274

Immigration, 131-138, 266

Imports, 211, 212

Incas, 22, 60

Industries, 178, and passim

Indians, 2, 100, 159, 253, 275

Irala, 28

Italy, 133-135

Jenkins' Ear, War of, 40-44

Jesuits, 22, 29, 33, 35, 44-47, 61, 91, 160, 266, 279, 289

Jordan, 99

Journalism, 163-166

Jubileo, 207

Justice, 105, 114

Jujuy, 114, 163, 279

Kirkpatrick, 62

La Luis, 207

La Madrid, 189

La Plata, 143, 162

La Quevas, 185

[306]La Rioja, 14, 113

La Sabana, 227

Lakes, 251, 252

Larreta, 173, 174

Lavalle, 88, 89

Laughton, 41

Lebon, 132

Lemco, 205

Lerma, 281

Leveson-Gower, 71

Lewandowski, 198

Lewis, 69

Licences, 130

Liebig, 206

Lincolns, 201

Liniers, 67, 72, 73, 79

Linseed, 228

Literature, 166-177

Locusts, 288

Londonderry, Lord, 82

Lopez, 88, 90, 91, 95-98
Dr., 104

Los Andes, 114

Lozano, 223, 274, 280

Lucerne, 228, 229

Luiggi, 239

Luscan, 259

Lumley, 70

Lynch, 97

MacCann, 215

Macovies, 276

Magellan, 26, 37, 106, 107
Explorer, 241

Mahon, 70

Maize, 214, 227, 228

Mammoth, 19

Mansfield, 141

Marmol, 172, 175

Martinez, 198

Manufacturers, 53

Marriage, 153

Matacos, 276

Maza, 91

Meat, 204-207

Mendoza, 4, 13, 15, 129, 130, 154, 161, 254-261

Mercado, 34

Mérou, M. G., 170, 171, 176, 219

Miranda, 77

Misiones, 14, 67, 96, 105, 114, 194

Mitre, A, 176
General, 94, 95, 97, 103, 167

Moore, 38

Moreno, 79

Mules, 197

Mulhalls, The, 164, 198, 256, 287

Munroe Doctrine, 83, 169

Musters, 247

Mutton, 201

"Nacion, La," and other journals, see Journalism

Napp, 201

Navy, 119-121

Nequen, 114

Nordenskjöld, 249, 251

Nova Colonia, 37, 38, 44, 67

Oats, 229

Ocantos, 172

Officers, Army, 117

Pacific Steam Navigation Company, 143, 284, 285

Palermo, 142, 147, 149

Pampa, 114

Pampas, 2, 4, 5, 11, 15, 90, 155, 199, 204, 205, 275

Pampean mud, 7-9
Sea, 240

Paper, 195

Paraguay, 10, 28, 31, 38, 45, 80, 92, 94-98, 139, 140, 161, 163, 187
River, see Rivers

Parana, river, see Rivers
town, 162

Parish, 39, 83

Patagonia, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 31, 107, 108, 136, 199, 240, 242, 244-253

[307]Patagonians, size of, 2, 3, 100, 247, 248

Paulistas, 21, 35, 36, 61

Pavon, 94

Payaguas, 276

Payne, 18

Paz, General, 89, 90
José C., 164

Pellegrini, 101, 105, 133

Peña, 103, 104

Peribebuy, 97

Peru, 31, 38, 43, 63, 119, 140, 163, 174, 200, 255, 275, 278

Petroleum, 236, 237

Pettenkofer, 206

Philip II., 143

Pigafetta, 247

Pillado, 220, 223

Pitt, 77

Poles, 266

Politics, 122-124

Polled Angus, 205, 290

Polo, 149

Pombal, 44

Popham, 66, 68, 74

Population, 99, 113, 114

Port Madryn, 250

Port St. Julian, 5, 6

Ports and Docks, 180, 183, 216, 239

Porteños, 94, 100, 101, 103

Portuguese, 18, 61

Posadas, 81, 187, 266, 274

President, 112
Vice, 113

Provinces, 113, 114

Puente del Inca, 261-263

Puirredon, 67, 81, 82

Puna de Atacama, 108, 109

Punta Arenas, 249

Purchas, 25

Quesada, Ernesto, 166, 167, 171, 280
V. G., 166

Quilmes, 66

Quiroga, 88-91

Racing, 149, 150

Rafaela, 189

Railways, 178-194

Rain, 5, 14

Rams, 201

Religion, 158-161

Reseñas y Criticas, and other works, see Literature

Resistencia, 277

Rio Negro, see Rivers
Gobernacion, 114, 249, 250

Rivadavia, 82, 88, 90, 110

Rivers, Chico, 12
Chubut, 3, 12
Colorado, 2, 4, 6, 11
Coyly, 3
Desaguerdo, 259
Deseado, 243, 251
Gallegos, 3, 12, 251
Ivahi, 265
Iguazu, 265
Limaz, 12
Mendoza, 11
Nequen, 12
Negro, 4, 9, 90, 100, 244, 249, 250
Paraguay, 25, 28, 29
Parana, 10, 12, 28, 45, 93, 96, 143, 184, 265-272
Paranahybo, 265
Paranapanema, 265
Pardo, 265
Pepiri, 105
Pilcomayo, 11
Salado, 11, 265
San Antonio, 105
Santa Cruz, 3, 6, 12, 244, 252
Saranai, 11
Sauces, 244
Tiete, 245
Tunuyan, 259
Uruguay, passim
Vermejo, 11

Robles, 96

Roca, 100-103, 105, 110, 112, 250

Rojas, 188, 189

Romney Marsh, 201

[308]Rondeau, 82

Rosario, 10, 13, 94, 103, 129, 130, 151, 185, 190, 238, 290

Rosas, 89-93, 100, 112, 122, 132, 142, 175, 255, 279, 281

Rum, 194

Russia, 200, 216, 266

Saavedra, 79, 80

Salta, 14, 91, 114, 189, 232, 277, 281, 282

San Javier, 205
Juan, 13, 14, 113, 185, 230, 255
Luis, 13, 114, 235
Martin, 81, 82, 83, 118
Rafael, 135, 185, 260

Santa Cruz, 114, 204, 249, 251, 252
Elena, 205
Fé 13, 80, 92, 103, 113, 162, 189, 230, 268, 272

Santiago del Ertero, 114, 163, 277

Schouten, 38

Seeber, 117

Seeley, 52

Senate, 112

Seneca, 17

Sheep, 196-209

Shoes, 195

Smith, Adam, 54, 56

Smollett, 43

Solis, de, 34

South American Missionary Society, 250

Southey, 29, 36

Spain, passim

Stallions, 150, 199

Statesmen's Yearbook, 211, 217

Steamship Lines, 284, 285

Sterling, 65

Stuart, 83

Sugar, 4, 194, 223, 229

Tallow, 205

Tanning, 195

Tariff, 218-224

Tehuelches, 244, 247

Thucydides, 23

Tierra del Fuego, 106, 114, 202

Timber, 214, 231-233

Tobas, 276

Tobacco, 56, 229

Tosca, 7

Tramways, 180, 188

Tucuman, 1, 11, 14, 31, 35, 38, 55, 80, 83, 90, 91, 189, 194, 195, 200, 223, 232

United States, 109, 110, 116, 211, 212, 215, 216, 219

Universities, 33, 162, 279, 280

Urquiza, 91, 92-94, 95, 96

Uruguay, 36, 37, 47, 81, 84, 88, 94, 95, 142, 187, 199, 206
river, see Rivers

Ushwiya, 13

Vaca, Cabeza de, 27

Valparaiso, 185, 254

Valverde, 159

Van Noort, 247

Venezuela, 169

Vernon, 42

Viamont, 89

Viedmas, 244, 245, 247, 249

Vilelas, 276

Villa Corta, 38
Mercedes, 196

Villaruel, 280

Wages, 126-129

Waleffe, 174

Wallis, 247

Walpole, 40

Wentworth, 42

Wheat, 225-227, and passim

Whitelocke, 68, 70

Whittingham, 73

Windham, 83

Windsor, 159

Wine, 56

Witchcraft, 248, 249

Women, Argentine, 132, 153, 259

Wool, 214

Yerba Maté, 233, 234

Zarate, 188, 200



  1. Hakluyt.

  2. It need hardly be mentioned that Tucuman, which had been founded by the Spaniards from the Peru side some twenty years before, is not on the river at all, but nearly five hundred miles distant across the still almost unknown Gran Chaco. Tucuman is now reached by railway from the south by way of Cordoba.

  3. W. O. Campbell, "Through Patagonia," p. 6.

  4. "Voyage of the Beagle," chap. viii.

  5. "Voyage of the Beagle," chap. xv.

  6. D'Orbigny apud Howorth, "The Mammoth and the Flood," p. 352.

  7. Darwin, "Geological Observations on South America," p. 99.

  8. It is estimated that during the floods the Parana rolls down 1,650,000 cubic feet per second, while the Uruguay volume amounts to 500,000.

  9. "Description Physique," i. 310-11.

  10. "We found the river course very tortuous, and strewed with immense fragments of various ancient slaty rocks, and of granite. The plain bordering the valley had here attained an elevation of about eleven hundred feet above the river, and its character was much altered. The well-rounded pebbles of porphyry were mingled with many immense angular fragments of basalt and of primary rocks" ("Voyage of the Beagle" chap. ix.).

  11. "Very great numbers of birds, wild animals, cattle, and horses perished from the want of food and water. A man told me that the deer used to come into his courtyard to the well, which he had been obliged to dig to supply his own family with water; and that the partridges had hardly strength to fly away when pursued. The lowest estimation of the loss of cattle in Buenos Ayres alone was taken at one million head" (Darwin, "Voyage of the Beagle," chap. vii.).

  12. For much of the matter in this chapter I am indebted to the late E. J. Payne's valuable "History of the New World called America."

  13. In "De Mundo."

  14. "Venient annis saecula seris
    Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
    Laxet, et ingens pateat tellus,
    Tiphys que novos detegat orbes,
    Nec sit terris ultima Thule."
    ("Medea," ii. 373.)
  15. "Some writers carry back the date five hundred, or even five hundred and fifty, years before the Spanish invasion.... In the Report of the Royal Audience of Peru, the epoch is more modestly fixed at two hundred years before the Conquest" (Prescott, "Conquest of Peru," p. 5, note).

  16. See Sir H. H. Howorth, "The Mammoth and the Flood," chap. xii.

  17. See D'Orbigny, "L'Homme Américain," passim.

  18. De Bougainville, "A Voyage Round the World," pp. 24-5.

  19. D'Orbigny, ii. 295-7.

  20. Purchas, "His Pilgrimage," xiv. 546.

  21. R. Hakluyt, Extra Series, xi. 252.

  22. Or 1537 or 1538, according to various authorities.

  23. "A man of indefatigable courage and a rare prudence, he joined with these qualities the experience of serving in many glorious campaigns" (Funes, i. 287).

  24. "History of Brazil," i. 349.

  25. "Ensayo de la Historia Civil," p. 318.

  26. Funes, vol. iii. 73.

  27. "History of Brazil," ii. 322-3.

  28. Drake in 1578 visited the south of Tierra del Fuego, and discovered that there was a passage round, but he did not himself make the voyage round Cape Horn.

  29. Bourgainville (See J. H. Moore), "Collection of Voyages and Travels," 266.

  30. "Buenos Ayres," 59.

  31. Carlyle has an accurate perception of the gravity of the issue. "The Jenkins's Ear Question, which then looked so mad to everybody, how sane has it now grown to my Constitutional Friend! In abstruse ludicrous form there lay immense questions involved in it; which were serious enough, certain enough, though invisible to everybody. Half the World lay hidden in embryo under it. Colonial-Empire, whose is it to be? Shall Half the World be England's, for industrial purposes; which is innocent, laudable, conformable to the Multiplication-table at least, and other plain Laws? Or shall it be Spain's for arrogant-torpid sham-devotional purposes, contradictory to every Law?" ("History of Frederick the Great," xii. 12, § 3).

  32. See Sir J. K. Laughton, English Historical Review, October, 1889.

  33. See Sir J. K. Laughton, English Historical Review, October, 1889.

  34. "History of Brazil," iii. 300.

  35. "An Account of the Spanish Settlement in America," 340-1.

  36. "They collected them into fixed habitations, gave them laws, introduced useful and polite arts among them; and, in short, of a barbarous nation, without civilised manners, and without religious principles, they made a good-natured and well-governed people, who strictly observed the Christian ceremonies" (De Bougainville, p. 98).

  37. "These Indians live at present in an entire assurance, that whatever their priests advise them to is good, and whatever they reprehend is bad" (Ulloa, ii. 183).

  38. The following is a typical example. "In 1602 a custom-house was established at Cordoba for the purpose of levying duties equivalent to 50 per cent. of the value of all commodities passing between Peru and the River Plate. It was not till 1665 that this irritating restraint on commercial business was relaxed" (C. E. Akers, "A History of South America," p. 11).

  39. "The commerce between Peru and Buenos Aires is chiefly for cattle and mules; such as are concerned in the former, go first to the Governor, and ask his leave to drive a herd of cattle into Peru, which is never refused when backed by a present of some thousand pieces of eight" ("An Account of the Spanish Settlements in America (1762)" 331).

  40. "In the trade to America every nation endeavours to engross as much as possible the whole market of its own colonies, by fairly excluding all other nations from any direct trade to them" (Adam Smith, "Wealth of Nations," ii. 129).

  41. Thackeray, "A History of William Pitt," ii. 73, 74.

  42. "Wealth of Nations," i. 203.

  43. Writing of the time of Galvez, Funes (iii. 225) says: "Civil and military appointments were never before distributed with such complete partiality to the European Spaniards. In general, the native-born were shut out; they were not esteemed worthy to be appointed door-keepers of the offices." He also remarks that there was similar exclusiveness in the distribution of ecclesiastical preferment.

  44. A. F. Kirkpatrick, "Cambridge Modern History," x. 277-9.

  45. "From various informations I have received from different people of the defenceless state of Monte Video, Buenos Ayres, and their dependencies, I have deemed it expedient, with the squadron under my command, assisted by his Majesty's 71st Regiment, to proceed on an expedition against those places, not doubting in the smallest degree of such success as will add lustre to his Majesty's arms, distress our enemies, and open a most beneficial trade for Great Britain" (Popham to Governor of St. Helena, April 13, 1806).

  46. "All future prospects were marred and rendered hopeless by the selection of General Whitelocke for the chief command; a man of most unpopular character, unrecommended by previous services, and void of all claim or pretension beyond powerful interest" (J. W. Cole, "Memoirs of British Generals," i. 224).

  47. See "A Memoir of Sir Samuel Ford Whittingham" 24, 25.

  48. "The Liberal Creoles were delighted, for experience showed them the immense resources of their country, and proved that it could subsist upon its revenues without asking for anything from Peru or Spain" (Arcos, "La Plata," p. 241).

  49. In 1825 he successfully introduced Southdown sheep.

  50. "In fact, for Don Juan Manuel the Federal cause was solely a means of attaining power. This object gained, he proved by his extraordinary concentration of authority that he was more of a Unitarian than any one else" (Brossard, "La Plata," p. 181).

  51. Brossard, who knew him personally, gives Rosas the following character: "A man of the country, Rosas has indeed been the chief of the reaction of men of the country against the predominant influence of the town. Steeped in the prejudices of Castilian pride, he loathes all foreigners alike. Their energy and capital might enrich his country, but he accords them a grudging welcome. Being an agriculturist by birth, by training, and by taste, he is little interested in industry. This preference has inspired several good measures; he sets a good example in his estates, which are perfectly managed and cultivated. He has encouraged the culture of cereals, and thus under his rule he has justified the extremely high custom duty by which he struck a blow at the wheat formerly demanded by Buenos Aires from North America. In other measures he has overshot his mark. Having been brought up in the rigid principles of the Spanish colonial system, he does not understand trade, and only permits it when surrounded by prohibitive tariffs and stringent custom duties. Thus we have stagnation in commerce and industry and complete neglect of objects of material utility" ("Considérations," pp. 458-9).

  52. Although the constitution of Argentina is in form Federal, the logic of facts has been too strong for the intentions of its framers. The immense importance of Buenos Aires has, in effect, forced upon the Republic a centralised form of government, and the Provinces are largely under the direct control of the administration at the capital.

  53. During forty-five years before 1857 the population had only a little more than doubled; during the forty-five years since that date the increase has been 450 per cent. (Dawson, "South American Republics" i. 143).

  54. "The boundary line between the Argentine Republic and the United States of Brazil, in that part submitted to me for arbitration and decision, is constituted and shall be established by and upon the rivers Pepiri (also called Pepiri-guazu) and San Antonio" ("The Misiones Award," Article VI.).

  55. Report, i. 152.

  56. I.e., north of Patagonia.

  57. Sir T. H. Holdich, "The Countries of the King's Award," p. 50.

  58. "Where the boundary was adverse to Chile the Argentine Commissioner voted for it, and Mr. Buchanan siding with him gave a majority against the Chilian representative. Where the conditions were reversed, Mr. Buchanan agreed with the Chilian Commissioner. In this manner the work was concluded in three days" (Akers "A History of South America," p. 114).

  59. "Political combination is now possible between two strong and self-reliant Republics, recognising a common ancestry, bound by the ties of ethnic affinity, owning and revering the same splendid history (which has before now included concerted action in the common cause of South American freedom), and rejoicing in the present possession and future prospect of magnificent material advantages, such as never could possibly be secured, except under conditions of peaceful development, unchecked and unhindered by the recurrent threat of war. It is difficult to overestimate the results of such a combination on the future of South America" ("Holdich," Ibid. pp. 413, 14).

  60. He will be succeeded almost immediately by Dr. Roque Saenz Peña.

  61. But in practice the period does not usually exceed one year, and many are released after three months.

  62. The President, in his last Message, speaks of thirty thousand, but he is referring to a special occasion—the celebration of the Centenary.

  63. "Owing to the conditions of his country life, the Argentine is transformed readily into a good cavalry soldier, and in general he soon learns to shoot, because he has been accustomed to train his eye to the calculation of distances" (F. Seeber, "Argentina," &c., p. 88).

  64. "The Countries of the King's Award," p. 104.

  65. "L'Argentine au XXe Siècle," p. 300.

  66. Yves Guyot, "L'Éspagne," pp. 188-9.

  67. The figures on this subject are striking. In 1904 it was computed that in Argentina 1,000 Italian women gave birth to 175 children, 1,000 Spaniards to 123, 1,000 Germans to 96, 1,000 Uruguayans to 93, 1,000 English to 92, 1,000 Argentines to 85, 1000 French to 74. (See "L'Émigration Européenne," by M. R. Gonnard.)

  68. "The Spanish-American Republics," pp. vi. vii.

  69. "The Psychology of Peoples," p. 152.

  70. L. Guilaine, "La République Argentine," p. xxiii.

  71. "L'Argentine au XXe Siècle," p. xxviii.

  72. "The Argentine is, one may say, Italy's finest colony—a colony 'without a flag,' but prosperous" (R. Gonnard, Ibid. p. 219).

  73. Some particulars as to the law upon this subject may be of interest. Foreigners may obtain naturalisation papers after residing two years in Argentina, or earlier if they can prove service to the State. They are immune from compulsory military service for ten years after naturalisation. After from four to six years naturalisation they are eligible for election as national deputies or senators, but persons not naturalised may hold administrative positions in the executive Government. Article 20 of the National Constitution says: "Foreigners may freely exercise their callings or any profession for which they are qualified, navigate the rivers and coasts, make testamentary dispositions, marry in accordance with the laws of the Republic, own and deal in real estate and exempt from differentiated taxation, travel, associate for lawful purposes petition and do all such things as may be legally done by born citizens of the State."

  74. In the Chaco it is said that there are 13,025,450 hectares of State land for sale or renting.

  75. "An Account," &c., pp. 328-9.

  76. De Bougainville, who visited it in 1767, says the town had twenty thousand inhabitants of all colours. He comments upon the lowness of the houses and says that the houses usually had spacious gardens—a great contrast to the modern city. ("Voyage autour du Monde," p. 33.)

  77. "History of Spanish America," p. 274.

  78. Head, "Rough Notes," p. 30.

  79. "The Voyage of the Beagle," chap. vi.

  80. Mansfield, "Paraguay, Brazil, and the Plate," pp. 128, 136, 138.

  81. A suggested derivation is from the corruption of an Arabic word, i.e., Chaoucho, which in Seville is applied to a cowherd.

  82. See Windsor, "History of America," ii. 322, 3.

  83. "The obligations of religion were undermined, every weapon was directed to the extermination of the unshaken foes of the revolution. The ignorant and depraved set no bounds to their conduct, every thought of religion and morals, of future welfare and its effects upon unborn generations, were out of the question. Many of the youth of this province have, in consequence, been brought up in a neglect of all religion" (Captain Andrews, "Journey" &c., i. 190).

  84. Primary education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of six and fourteen. It is also, unfortunately, secular.

  85. The following table will show that Argentina is more advanced than her neighbours:—

     Percentage to Population of School-going Children.

    Santiago and Jujuy are the most ignorant parts of the Republic, Buenos Aires City the least.

  86. Émile Daireaux, "La Vie et Les Mœurs à La Plata," i. 414.

  87. Caras y Caretas is a sprightly weekly paper of varied interests, which makes a special feature of coloured cartoons.

  88. See the Annual Register of 1907, p. 345.

  89. See the North American Review, July 31, 1907.

  90. "La Vie et les Mœurs à La Plata," i. 408-9.

  91. M. de Waleffe, "Les Paradis de l'Amérique Centrale," p. 213.

  92. Valuable articles appeared on this subject in the Economist, beginning No. 3,457, November 30, 1909.

  93. The following figures show the progress of railway construction:—

    186673 miles
    1874150  "  
    18842,290  "  
    18905,745  "  
    189910,285  "  
    190815,476  "  

    In 1909 the railways carried 50,810,000 passengers. The gross receipts were about £20,715,000, the net profits about £8,200,000.

  94. The following are the principal lines:—

    Argentine Great Western.
    Argentine North-Eastern.
    Bahia Blanca and North-Western.
    Buenos Aires Central.
    Buenos Aires Great Southern.
    Buenos Aires Midland.
    Buenos Aires and Pacific.
    Buenos Aires and Rosario.
    Buenos Aires Western.
    Central Argentine.
    Cordoba Central.
    Cordoba Central Buenos Aires Extension.
    Cordoba and Rosario.
    Entre Rios.
    Villa Maria and Rufino.

    The above are mainly English. There are several smaller private lines and several belonging to Government, while there is an important French line—the Province of Santa Fé Railway. As will be pointed out, several of the above have been practically amalgamated with larger lines.

  95. The following is a directory of the four broad-gauge railways:—

    Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway.


    Jason Rigby (Chairman),
    Sir Henry Bell, Bart.,
    A. E. Bowen,
    Col. Sir C. Euan Smith, K.C.B.,
    Woodbine Parish,
    D. A. Shennan,
    D. Simson.

    Local Committee.

    G. White (Chairman),
    J. P. Clarke,
    Dr. N. R. Fresco,
    F. D. Guerrico.

    Consulting Engineers.

    Livesey, Son, and Henderson.

    General Manager.

    J. P. Clarke.

    London Manager and Secretary.

    H. C. Allen.


    River Plate House, Finsbury Circus, E.C.

    Buenos Aires Western Railway.


    Sir Henry Bell, Bart. (Chairman),
    A. E. Bowen,
    D. Simson,
    Woodbine Parish,
    J. W. Todd.

    Consulting Engineers.

    Livesey, Son, and Henderson.

    Legal Representative in Buenos Aires.

    Santiago Brian.

    General Manager.

    A. F. Lertora.


    E. Eustace Faithfull.


    River Plate House, Finsbury Circus, E.C.

    Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway.


    Rt. Hon. Lord St. Davids (Chairman),
    T. P. Gaskell,
    C. E. Günther,
    E. Norman,
    Hon. A. Stanley, M.P.,
    F. O. Smithers (Managing Director).

    Local Board.

    Dr. Don E. Lamarca (Chairman),
    J. A. Goudge,
    R. S. Zavalia.

    General Manager.

    J. A. Goudge.


    W. R. Cronan.


    Dashwood House. 9, New Broad Street, E.C.

    Central Argentine Railway.


    J. W. Todd (Chairman),
    C. Darbyshire,
    P. Riddock,
    W. Morrison,
    Jason Rigby,
    Col. F. J. G. Murray,
    J. W. Theobald,
    C. P. Ogilvie.

    Local Committee.

    Dr. J. A. Frias (President),
    H. H. Loveday,
    S. H. Pearson,
    Carlos Maschwitz.

    Consulting Engineers.

    Sir Douglas Fox and Partners.
    Livesey, Son, and Henderson.

    General Manager.

    H. H. Loveday.


    F. Fighiera.


    3A, Coleman Street, E.C.

  96. When the term dollar is used, it invariably means the gold dollar at five to the English £1.

  97. "Stables and stalls are replacing the old-fashioned 'corral.' The wealthy proprietor arrives at his estancia from the railway station in a carriage; the old rustic homestead is converted into a veritable country-house, sometimes into a mansion, with park and garden. There are estancias a hundred leagues from Buenos Aires which we once knew as plains deserted and in the hands of the Indians, and where now carriages, equipped in English fashion, pass over the plain and people dine in the evening in sumptuous establishments. The European stock-raisers have made the gaucho retreat to the vast tracts situated on the confines of the desert" (Martinez et Lewandowski, "L'Argentine," p. 132).

  98. The statement of the "Encyclopedia Britannica," that Argentina had a hundred million sheep in 1866 is quite incredible. Mulhall estimates, no doubt accurately, the number in 1870 at forty-one millions.

  99. In 1569 Don Juan Ortiz de Zarate arranged for the importation of four thousand merinos to the River Plate. In 1660 Buenos Aires shipped its first cargo of wool—about a ton. When we condemn Spanish restrictiveness we must remember the enlightened efforts of various Viceroys to improve the industry of wool and hides.

  100. "In some respects we are so backward that our wool cannot compete in the great markets of the world, so far as regards the quality, with any other country which is a great producer. The bad habit of our breeders to separate their sheep into large flocks—sometimes above five thousand heads—is the principal obstacle to the improvement of our wool, because large flocks do not admit of the necessary attentions" (Napp, "The Argentine Republic," p. 303).

  101. "Of every twenty estancias in the South fifteen belong to Englishmen" (Bernandez, "The Argentine Estancia," p. 45).

  102. "The Argentine Estancia," p. 52.

  103. For some of my information I am indebted to an article in the Lancet of October 24, 1908.

  104. The following table shows the progress of the Company:—

     Acreage of Farms.Stock of Cattle.
  105. There are also some fine specimens of Aberdeen Angus. This is a useful breed, for it "nicks" well with Herefords and Durhams, and is a better milker than the Hereford. Its colour, usually black, is unpopular, and Argentines are fastidious in that respect. But they stand the cold well and their beef is of high quality, and some breeders pin their faith to them.

  106. For 1909 the figures were—

  107. I have divided the figures, which are given by all authorities in American gold dollars, by five. It is greatly to be regretted that the splendid private enterprise of Englishmen in Argentina receives so little help from English statisticians or the English Government. The statistics are best set forth by an excellent publication, the Bulletin of the International Bureau of the American Republics, published at Washington. Even the Statesman's Year Book (Macmillan) gives totals in American dollars. We have far more trade in South America than the United States, but we cannot, in view of the approaching completion of the Panama Canal and the intelligent efforts of American statesmen, hope to retain our position indefinitely if our own Government continues to trust to the policy of "muddling through."

  108. According to the Statesman's Year Book, the figures appear to be too high.

  109. MacCann, "Two Thousand Miles' Ride," i. 160.

  110. Ibid. ii. 304.

  111. Bulletin of the American Republics (July, 1909), p. 14.

  112. As opposed to exportation.

  113. The table given below shows the tonnage of the chief ports in 1908:—

    Rio Gallegos41,26642,239
    Bahia Blanca799,198783,272
    Puerto Madryn19,92112,666
    C. de Uruguay603,818646,411
    La Plata855,950840,548
    Santa Fé440,466481,948
    Bella Vista399,667402,235
    Buenos Aires7,555,5747,562,055
  114. The various authorities almost always differ slightly, sometimes considerably, in their figures. Thus the Statesman's Year Book gives the tonnage of Buenos Aires in 1908 as 4,760,316, while the Bulletin states it at 4,888,741.

  115. "Politica Comercial Argentina," p. 42.

  116. Art 74 of the Custom Law of 1905.

  117. "Politica Comercial Argentina," p. 367.

  118. In 1907-8 the world's export of wheat was as follows:—

    United States4,400,000 tons
    Argentina3,540,000    "   
    Russia1,651,000    "   
    Canada1,530,000    "   
    Balkan States623,000    "   
    India533,000    "   

    These figures are reckoned from July 31, 1907.

  119. "All the inhabitants of the Republic, be they citizens or foreigners, between fifteen and fifty years of age are obliged to give personal help for the destruction of the locusts and the use of animals or their property fitted for the work, excepting fine animals which are destined for breeding" (Art. 7 of Locust Law of 1903).

  120. Quebracho means break-axe. Of the red variety Falkner says that "in redness and colour it bears so strong a resemblance to red marble, that it is a difficult matter to distinguish them."

  121. The total value of quebracho exported during the year 1905 amounted to over 7,000,000 dollars gold.

  122. "Coleccion," i. 199.

  123. "I feel it a duty which I owe to the Association shortly to state that, having ridden 6,000 miles in South America—having thrown myself on the feeble resources of the country—having been to the bottom of every mine which has been inspected—having made all the observations I was capable of making—having lived in deserts, and almost in solitude, nearly a year, with no other subject on my mind than the interests of the Association—I deliberately declare upon my honour and upon my character, that it is my humble, but decided opinion—

    "1st. That the working of the mines in the provinces of Rio de la Plate, by an English Association, is politically unsafe; and—

    "2nd. That if there were no such risk, the expense would far exceed the returns." (Head, "Reports," pp. 51-2.)

  124. Geog. Journ., October, 1898.

  125. Darwin remarks of the remains of the Spanish settlement, that "the style in which they were commenced shows the strong and liberal hand of Spain in the old time.... Port Famine expresses by its name the lingering and extreme sufferings of several hundred wretched people, of whom one alone survived to relate their misfortunes" ("Voyage of the Beagle," chap. viii.).

  126. Hakluyt, Extra Series, xi. 383.

  127. Walter, "A Voyage Round the World," p. 55.

  128. Hawkesworth, "An Account of the Voyages," i. 26.

  129. "A Description of Patagonia," pp. 84-5.

  130. "Narrative of the Surveying Voyages," ii. 167-8.

  131. "Voyage of the Beagle," chap. iv.

  132. The following is the testimony of travellers:—

    1520.Pigafetta. The least, taller than the tallest man in Castile.
    1578.Drake. Not taller than some Englishmen.
    1591.Knyvet. Fifteen or sixteen spans high.
    1598.Van Noort. Natives of tall stature.
    1615.Schouten. Human skeletons ten or eleven feet long.
    1669.Narborough. Mr. Wood was taller than any of them.
    1750.Falkner. A cacique seven feet and some inches high.
    1765.Byron. A chief about seven feet high, and few of the others shorter.
    1766.Wallis. Measured some of the tallest: one was six feet seven inches, several six feet five inches; the average height was between five feet ten inches and six feet.
    1783.Viedma. Generally six feet high.
    1829.D'Orbigny. Never found any exceeding five feet eleven inches; average height, five feet four inches.
    1833.Fitzroy and Darwin. Tallest of any people: average height, six feet, some taller and a few shorter.
    1867-8.Cunningham. Rarely less than five feet eleven inches in height, and often exceeding six feet by a few inches. One measured six feet ten inches.
  133. "At Home with the Patagonians," pp. 165-6.

  134. "Through Patagonia," p. 6.

  135. Otto Nordenskjöld, Geog. Journ., October, 1897.

  136. "Never river seemed fairer to look upon, extending away on either hand until it melted and was lost in the blue horizon, its low shores clothed in all the glory of groves and fruit orchards, and vineyards and fields of ripening maize" (Hudson, "Idle Days in Patagonia," p. 17).

  137. This little railway escaped notice in the chapter on railways. It is an English company, the Central Railway of Chubut, which was registered in 1886. Besides the original 42 miles an extension of 10 miles to Gaiman will soon be open. In 1907-8 the net profits on working were £6,629.

  138. O. Nordenskjöld, Geog. Journ., October, 1897.

  139. "Voyage of the Beagle," chap. viii.

  140. "If a man could but bear an indolent life, there can be no spot upon earth where he might be more indolent and more independent than at Mendoza, for he might sleep all day, and eat ices in the evening, until his hour-glass was out. Provisions are cheap, and the people who bring them quiet and civil; the climate is exhausting, and the whole population indolent" (Head, "Rough Notes," pp. 70, 71).

  141. See Mrs. Mulhall's "Between the Amazon and Andes," pp. 127-31.

  142. "When one hears of a natural bridge, one pictures to oneself some deep and narrow ravine, across which a bold mass of rock has fallen; or a great arch hollowed out like the vault of a cavern. Instead of this, the Inca's Bridge consists of a crust of stratified shingle, cemented together by the deposits of the neighbouring hot-springs. It appears as if the stream had scooped out a channel on one side, leaving an overhanging ledge, which was met by earth and stones falling down from the opposite cliff. Certainly an oblique junction, as would happen in such a case, was very distinct on one side. The Bridge of the Incas is by no means worthy of the great monarchs whose name it bears" (Darwin, "Voyage of the Beagle," chap. xv.).

  143. Rosario exported in 1907—

    Wheat2,850,000 tons
    Linseed580,000    "   
    Maize1,400,000    "   
  144. "The new port at Rosario is admittedly no improvement on the old system of delivering wheat by shoots from the barrancas down to vessels moored to wooden stages in deep channel. In a word, the means of access from shore to river are most permanently effective when capable of adaptation to the shifting character of the stream" (W. S. Barclay, Geog. Journ., Jan., 1909).

    "The works at the present time are sufficiently advanced to provide berths for some 15 vessels. A channel of sufficient breadth all along the frontage has been dredged so that large vessels drawing 24 feet or more can now manœuvre without stranding on sand or mud banks, as was formerly the case. The entire port can provide loading berths for about 40 vessels and for 20 to 25 vessels to discharge. The change that has been effected along the river frontage in the short space of four years is remarkable, and when the works are completed Rosario will possess one of the best ports in the country, with excellent storage accommodation attached. The contract price for constructing the port was fixed at 60,000,000 fr., but a much larger sum will have been expended before completion, exclusive of grain elevators and other works which the Company is undertaking estimated at 17,000,000 fr." (Consular Report, July, 1908).

  145. "Now at last in our day progress is being made in the great neglected central zone watered by the Paraná, and here, as has been shown, the main line of advance will still be south and north. For if we accept the statement that mountains are the true frontiers of nations then the reverse also holds true, and the valleys that connect them are their best and natural highways. So when the railroads which already link Patagonia to Paraguay extend further along the great 'llanos' overshadowed by the Andes, right up to a navigable port on the Amazon, they will strengthen, better than any words or treaties, the ties of rational trade and intercourse between the republics whose hinterlands meet in the Paraná watershed" (W. S. Barclay, Ibid.).

  146. "Coleccion de Obras," iii. 121.

  147. The Rio Salado.

  148. "The future of Santa Fé is rather in agriculture, the raising of hogs, and the production of butter and cheese, than in the old-fashioned system of stock-raising, which has already become an employment for which the land gives a scant return, and which, moreover, will become absolutely impossible at no distant date, when the price of land rises still further" (Latzina, "Géographie," p. 239).

  149. MacCann, "Two Thousand Miles' Ride," ii. 32.

  150. "Descripcion Chorographica," p. 1.

  151. South Americans say that it will not harm man under any circumstances.

  152. M. Gonzalez, "El Gran Chaco Argentino," pp. 89, 90.

  153. Captain Andrews, "Journey from Buenos Aires," i. pp. 59, 60.

  154. W. MacCann, "Two Thousand Miles' Ride through the Argentine Provinces," ii. 52, 3.

  155. "The land was rich in wheat, barley, and maize, and had fine pastures to fatten fine cattle. Game was abundant, the trees were of hard wood and of great size, and there was much cotton and flax which was woven into fine linen. There were traces of gold, and above all the climate was the best in the whole governorship" (Pedro de Lozano, "Coleccion," iv. 228).

  156. "Journey from Buenos Aires," i. 241, 2.

  157. Bonelli, "Travels in Bolivia," &c., ii. 247.

  158. The Argentine Year Book supplies useful up-to-date information in small compass.

  159. The Geographical Journal, January, 1909.




Demy 8vo, cloth.

1.CHILE. By G. F. Scott Elliott, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 39 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)
2.PERU. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 72 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)
3.MEXICO. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 64 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)
4.ARGENTINA. By W. A. Hirst. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 64 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)
5.BRAZIL. By Pierre Denis. With a Historical Chapter by Bernard Miall, a Map, and 36 Illustrations.
6.URUGUAY. By W. H. Koebel. With a Map and 55 Illustrations.
7.GUIANA: British, French, and Dutch. By James Rodway. With a Map and 36 Illustrations.
8.VENEZUELA. By Leonard V. Dalton, B.Sc. (Lond.), F.G.S., F.R.G.S. With a Map and 36 Illustrations.
9.LATIN AMERICA: Its Rise and Progress. By F. Garcia Calderon. With a Preface by Raymond Poincare, President of France, a Map, and 34 Illustrations.
10.COLOMBIA. By Phanor James Eder, A.B., LL.B. With 2 Maps and 40 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)
11.ECUADOR. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S.

"The output of the books upon Latin America has in recent years been very large, a proof doubtless of the increasing interest that is felt in the subject. Of these the South American Series edited by Mr. Martin Hume is the most noteworthy."—Times.

"Mr. Unwin is doing good service to commercial men and investors by the production of his 'South American Series.'"—Saturday Review.

"Those who wish to gain some idea of the march of progress in these countries cannot do better than study the admirable 'South American Series.'"—Chamber of Commerce Journal.

Transcriber's Notes

A page of advertisements for other books in the series has been moved from the beginning to the end of the book. Illustrations have been moved next to the text which they illustrate, and so may not match the order in the List of Illustrations. A duplicate heading "ARGENTINA" on the half title page has been removed.

The following were not clearly printed, and have been corrected by reference to a 1910 printing:

The following were inconsistently hyphenated, capitalised or spelled:

Obvious errors in spelling and punctuation have been corrected as follows:

A possible spelling error on p. 156 ("carne cum cuero") has been left unchanged.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Argentina, by W. A. Hirst


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