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Title: A Five Years' Residence in Buenos Ayres
       During the years 1820 to 1825

Author: George Thomas Love

Release Date: April 8, 2013 [EBook #42482]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by René Anderson Benitz, Adrian Mastronardi, and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at






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- iii -


At a time when the rich and fertile provinces of South America are daily becoming increased objects of commercial consideration—when their riches and advantages are constantly forming the bases of fresh speculations—and when, under the security offered to person and property by the liberal institutions of a free and independent government, communication with them is every hour becoming more extended,—an illustration of their local affairs, customs, manners, and people, cannot but be interesting.

Of these provinces, the one which forms the subject of the following Remarks is far from being the least important. Without adverting to the fertility of the soil, and the general healthiness of the climate, the prospects which Buenos Ayres presents in a mercantile point of view, forming, as she does, from her situation, the medium of communication with the whole interior of this vast continent, must ever render her an object of considerable importance to a commercial nation like England. Nor is she less a source of interest to the politician and the philanthropist. To Buenos Ayres is due the credit of setting the- iv - noble example to the other provinces, of bursting asunder the shackles of a despotic mother-country, whose selfish policy had long immured them under the deepest veil of ignorance and degradation, debarring them from any communication with the rest of the world, in order that she might reap the exclusive advantage of those treasures with which Nature had enriched them. Nor has Buenos Ayres confined herself to example merely, but, from the moment of having secured her own independence, she has never ceased to encourage and assist the other states in throwing off the same degrading yoke.

It is true, that preceding works have thrown much light on these countries, and the subjects I have here handled have been treated by abler pens than mine; but, besides the expensiveness of those works, which renders them inaccessible to a great class of readers, the subject is so new, and embraces such a wide field of research, that an abundant harvest still remains for fresh labourers. Having confined myself to one portion of this vast territory, I have been able to enter into a minuter detail of many things that have been cursorily passed over by preceding writers; and, finally, having resided in the country which is the subject of these Remarks during the last five years, my means of observation have been neither few nor limited.

- v -


The Port—Custom-House Regulations 1
Visit of the Health Boat 2
Outer and Inner Roads 3
Pilots 4
Port of Ensenada
Navigation of the River Plate
Balandras, or lighters, for lading and unlading vessels
Carts used for embarking and disembarking
Packets between Buenos Ayres and Monte Video 5
Climate 6
Diseases 9
Environs of the City
Alameda, or Public Walk 10
The Beach, crowded with Sailors
Coffee-Houses and Hotels 11
Public Buildings: The Fort—Consulado—Cabildo—Bank—House of Representatives—Custom-House—Public Library—Botanical Museum—Retiro—Residencia 14 to 16
Squares and Streets 16
Houses 17
Churches 18
Theatre 22
Circus 33
British: Merchants, Shopkeepers, Medical Men, &c. 33 to 35
British Commercial Subscription-Room 37
Establishment of Packets from Falmouth 39
Dispute between Captain Willis and the Government 41
Treaty with England 43
English Females at Buenos Ayres 44
Many Englishmen have married Buenos-Ayrean Wives 45
Death of Mr. Dallas, and of Mr. Rowcroft 47
Death of Jack Hall
Irish Yankies 48
North-American Residents 49
Death of Mr. Rodney 51
Frenchmen 52
Portuguese 53
Germans, Italians, Prussians, &c. 54
Persons, Dispositions, and Manners 55
Compliments of Salutation 57
Practice of giving Flowers to Visitors
Smoking Segars
Politeness 58
Yerba, or Tea of Paraguay 59
Time of Meals
Siesta, or Afternoon Nap
Tertulias, or Public Dances 60
Sweetmeats much eaten 61
Etiquette, when walking in public, and in the ball-room
Dancing 62
Consulado Musical School-Room 63
Philharmonics, a Musical Subscription Society 64
Mothers watch their Daughters with great strictness
Marriages take place early 65
Washerwomen on the Beach 66
Treatment of Slaves 67
Superstition of the Negroes 68
Orderly conduct of the lower orders
Beggars very annoying 69
Savings Bank
Propensity to Gaming 70
Bathing practised by all Classes
Dress 71
Females make their own Clothes 74
Value and description of the Horses 75
Arrival of some English Horses in the Rhoda
Country Waggons 77
Sports and Amusements:—Horse-racing—Sailing—Cock-fighting—Hunting—Shooting—Fishing 78
Throwing the Lasso
Annual Fair near the Recolator 79
Provisions: Beef—Mutton—Poultry—Wines—Beer 81 to 85
Fruit 86
Other Animal and Vegetable Productions
Population 89
Trade and Manufactures
Exports 89
Imports—List of Vessels that arrived in 1821, 2, 3, 4 90
Shops in Buenos Ayres very numerous 92
English Manufactures very cheap 93
Currency, &c.—Notes engraved in England 95- vii -
Average of Exchange 96
Bank of Buenos Ayres—Funds
Education and Literature 97
College School—Academy in the Merced Church
Mrs. Hyne’s Seminary
Many Buenos Ayreans speak and write English 98
College of Stonyhurst, near Liverpool 99
Education of Females
Variedades et Mensagero de Londres 100
Newspapers published in Buenos Ayres 101
Printing Offices
Religion 102
Contrast of the Catholic and Protestant faith
Reception of an Archbishop, who arrived in 1824
Times of Public Worship 103
Oration-Time 104
Music of the Masses
Confession 105
Figures of the Virgin Mary kept in glass cases 106
Priesthood not illiberal
Friars 107
Suppression of the Monasteries
Convents for Nuns 111
Religious Processions: St. Rosario, and St. Nicholas 113
Feast of Corpus Christi 113
Observances during Lent—Passion Week—Holy Thursday—Good Friday—Burning of Judas 113 to 114
Procession of the Holy Ghost 117
Funeral Ceremonies 119
Masses for the repose of the Soul
Protestant Burying-Ground 120
Police, &c. 121
Assassination very frequent among the lower orders 122
Thieves ingenious 123
Boys about the Theatre-door great thieves 124
Modes of Punishment: Shooting—Public Whipping—Imprisonment—Working in the Streets, ironed 126
A great increase of crime in 1824
First execution for forgery 126
Committals before Trial 127
Law proceedings expensive and tardy
Passports required to leave Buenos Ayres 128
Army—Punishment of flogging resorted to 130
Bands of Music
Custom to fire the Fort Guns on the 4th of July, the Anniversary of Whitelock’s Defeat 131
Government, and Public Events 133- viii -
Governor and Public Officers—Junta, or Senate 134
Æra of the Independence of Buenos Ayres—Celebration of its Anniversary—Sports of the day 135
Frequent Political Revolutions in 1820—Rodriguez appointed Governor 138
Administration of Rivadavia 139
Two persons shot for state offences, in October, 1820 141
Attempt at another Revolution—Execution of Garcia
Execution of Colonel Peralto and Urien 142
Carrera shot at Mendoza 143
San Martin embarked for England 144
A day set apart for the Funereal Rites of Gen. Belgrano
Visit of a New-Zealand Chief 145
Dinner on St. Andrew’s Day 146
Camden Packet took home the treaty with England 146
Rejoicings for the Victory of Ayacucho
Arrival of a Brazilian Frigate 148
Opinion of Foreigners with regard to his Majesty George IV. of England 148
Mr. Canning popular in Buenos Ayres 149
A Triumphal Car paraded through the streets 152
Concluding Remarks
Great want of population, and consequent insecurity of the country
Ravages of the Indians—Four officers detained and murdered by them, in 1822—Description of the Indians 154
Very little employment for Clerks in Buenos Ayres
Mechanics and Labourers sure of employment 155
Farming not a profitable concern
Grazing farms more beneficial
Emigrants will not find the same comfort as at home 156
French faction at Buenos Ayres
Contrast between Frenchmen and Englishmen
Inducements to Emigration 158
Colonia del Sacramento 159
Appendix.—Rules of the Port 167
Anchorage Dues 168
Police of the Port
Penalties to which those are subject who destroy the line of Buoys established by Government 169
Instructions for sailing from Buenos Ayres to Monte Video 170
———— from Monte Video to Buenos Ayres 172
Variation of Depth of Water between the Banks Ortiz and Chico 174
Positions of the Ten Buoys in the River Plate 175

- 1 -


THE city of Buenos Ayres, when viewed from the outer roads at a distance of about eight miles, has an imposing appearance. The domes of the numerous churches, the public buildings, &c. give it an air of grandeur, which a nearer approach diminishes. On landing, the dilapidated mole (destroyed by the storm of the 21st August, 1820) and the mean streets near the beach, do not augur well for the beauty of the town: it requires an inspection rightly to appreciate it, for there are edifices worthy of attention. When I landed, in October, 1820, two cannons, forty-two-pounders, in very good condition, were mounted on the mole: they had the Spanish royal arms engraven on them, and inscriptions, purporting, that one was cast at Seville, and the other at Lima, some sixty years since.

A passenger is not exposed to any particular custom-house obstructions when he comes on shore. Should he bring his trunks with him, he is simply requested to open them, and a slight examination takes place. Several obnoxious customs have lately been abolished. Formerly, a sentinel was posted, to prevent any one passing to the- 2 - water-side at the mole without first asking permission at the guard-house on the beach. The system of vessels being obliged to wait, upon their arrival, in the outer roads, for the visit of the health boat from shore, has also undergone reform. Masters may now leave their vessels immediately. It is necessary to go on board the gun-brig, which is now stationed in the inner roads, and there await the visit of the health boat, which comes off by a signal from this brig, and very little delay occurs. Upon the old plan, vessels often remained, through bad weather or neglect, four or five days before they were visited; during which time no communication was allowed with the shore. A manifest of the cargo, the ship’s papers,[1] letters, &c. are given to the visiting officer, provided no consul or agent of the nation whose flag the vessel bears resides in Buenos Ayres.

The removal of the brig of war from the outer roads has taken away the occasion of much offence. Disputes were continually occurring, from her firing at vessels and boats to bring them to. The boat of the Countess of Chichester, the first packet that arrived from Falmouth, had two shots fired at her, when going on shore with Mr. Pousset, the vice-consul. Captain Little, who was on board the packet at the time, not knowing what to make of this firing, ordered the guns to be double-shotted, and the crew to get under arms. A representation was made, and an apology promptly given. Serious misunderstandings, however, I am persuaded, must, some time or other, have occurred,- 3 - had the brig continued outside, and pursued the same system.

It is only since October, 1821, that the health boat has been regularly established. The enforcement of the quarantine laws, and the prevention of smuggling, were the reasons assigned for it; but there were probably other motives, one of which might be, to prevent the boats of British men-of-war from boarding vessels of their own nation before their visit boat. It would, however, be difficult, strictly to enforce the quarantine laws at Buenos Ayres. Vessels have frequently arrived at night, or in a fog, and the captains have come on shore without being visited, not being aware of the regulations.

The outer and inner roads are, in fact, open roadsteads; neither of them possessing good anchorage. A strong wind from the E. or S.E. blowing almost direct on land, is always dangerous; and vessels often drive. In the storm of the 21st August, 1820, in which sixty vessels of all descriptions were lost, the wind was at S.E. The winter season is much better for shipping than the summer; as in the latter, the wind blows fresh nearly every afternoon from the eastward. Good anchors and cables are very necessary in the river Plate; chain cables particularly.

In the outer roads, the average depth of water is 18 feet, in the inner roads, 18: at high tides, there is 25 feet in the outer, and 13 in the inner roads. A Pampero wind, blowing off the land from the W. or W.S.W. causes at times a very low river, leaving not more than 5 feet water in the inner, and 8 in the outer roads. The banks that divide the roads are then dry, and people ride on horseback upon them. This extreme low tide does not often happen. The brig Candidate, salt-laden from the Cape de Verds, was lost, on the 13th June, 1823, near the Ortiz bank, from an occurrence of this sort: the water having suddenly left her, she foundered at her anchors. The state of the tide sometimes causes great delay to vessels- 4 - leaving the inner roads; days, and even a week, being lost at some periods.

Pilots, appointed and paid by the government, conduct vessels to and from the outer and inner roads: two of them are Englishmen, Lee and Robinson; the others are Portuguese and Creolian, who speak a little English. The charge for pilotage is about 10 dollars each way. Masters piloting their own vessels, which is now and then the case, do not thereby save the charges.

The port of Ensenada, situated 30 miles S.E. from Buenos Ayres, has good anchorage; and for vessels drawing much water, it is preferable to go thither. They incur more experience of lighterage, if they require to be hove down; but it is the only place appertaining to Buenos Ayres in which it can be done, and the charge is great. Ensenada is only a small, dull village. Mules are shipped with greater facility there, than at Buenos Ayres.

The Barraccas is a creek on the south of the town, in which schooners and small craft repair their defects.

The river Plate may well be called the “hell of navigators:” a survey of it was made by Captain Heywood, in H.M.S. Nereus, and his chart, though not exactly correct, is considered to be the best. Buoys have been lately placed by the government upon the Ortiz and Chico banks;[2] and they have long had in agitation, the building of a mole, a dock for shipping, and other extensive works. In addition to a French engineer, a Quaker gentleman, named Bevans, is engaged. He arrived from London, with his family, in October, 1822; but, for want of means, nothing of importance has yet been done. Raising moles and docks is no trifling undertaking, in a country so destitute of labourers. To remedy the latter defect, 200 Irishmen, it is said, are coming out under the care of Colonel O’Brien, one of San Martin’s officers. Mr. Bevans has been traveling- 5 - about the country, for the purpose of collecting information of the requisites necessary for his undertaking: he has, however, to encounter many obstacles. A trifling tax on shipping would be cheerfully agreed to for an undertaking so important.

Several pilot boats cruise about the river Plate, from which pilots may be obtained.

In addition to the difficulty of large vessels getting up the river, an adequate freight cannot be procured for them in Buenos Ayres. The Lord Lynedoch, a ship of 550 tons, with a numerous crew of Lascars, remained sixteen months and at last took a cargo of mules to the Isle of France. Vessels of 150 to 200 tons burthen are the most likely to get employed.

Vessels discharge and take in their cargoes by means of lighters, called balandras. An English gentleman, Mr. Cope, has several in his employ, and does the chief part of the English and American business. Should there be the least swell upon the water, these lighters cannot lie alongside; it is only in fine weather that work can be performed.

Boat-hire is dear: to the outer roads, 8 dollars 4 reals, to the inner, in proportion. The boatmen are mostly Englishmen, strong, active fellows.

The landing-place, at what was once the mole, is very bad; heavy boats cannot get near. Carts are used to embark and disembark, for which there is no fixed charge; they get what they can, like our watermen at home. Those whose business leads them often afloat, find it a great tax, and some prefer riding on the backs of their sailors, to paying it. It is seldom there is water sufficient for boats to come close in, and they are at all times liable to damage, from the pieces of rock, wrecks, &c. near the shore.

Buenos Ayres, at the present period, may be said not to possess a navy; neither, indeed, is so expensive an establishment necessary. The captain of the port, Don Batista Azopardo, is an Italian by birth; he is said to be a well-meaning- 6 - man. He commanded an armed vessel in the last war, and has been once or twice a prisoner to the English. There are likewise a number of marine officers in the service of Buenos Ayres. The Aranzazu, national brig of war, so long anchored in the outer roads, has a crew chiefly English; some of them are refractory seamen from the merchant vessels. The marines are black soldiers.

There are three regular packets which run between Buenos Ayres and Monte Video; the Pepa, Dolores, and Mosca, schooners. Seventeen dollars are charged for the passage each way, every thing being provided, except beds. This passage, which is about 150 miles, is sometimes made in 12 or 14 hours; at others, it takes several days. The favourite packet is the Pepa, an American-built schooner, with good accommodations, commanded by Campbell, an Englishman, who, from his skill and attention, is peculiarly fitted for such an employment.

The CLIMATE of Buenos Ayres, taken generally, is decidedly good, and more congenial to English habits than that most places abroad. Its salubrity, however, is overrated: a consumptive person must not think of coming here; many of that class have been obliged to fly to Mendoza and other climes, to escape the vicisitudes of this.

The spring months of September, October, November, and the autumn ones of April and May, are the most agreeable parts of the year. The thermometer, at those seasons, averages about 60; and we have repeated clear and bracing weather, intermingled, however, with inclement days.

The summer is not so hot as the latitude would denote. A sea breeze sets in, at times, towards the afternoon; but this is not regular. December and January are the hottest months. On some days of oppressive heat, the thermometer may average 80, and at others, the pleasing temperature- 7 - of 70 and 75. In January, 1824, for nearly a week it was 96 in the shade: the oldest inhabitant never remembered such a continuance of heat. When the heat is at the greatest, a pampero suddenly comes, with its accompaniment of rain, thunder and lightning, and cools the air. These Pampero winds from the W. and W.S.W. with nothing to impede their progress across the extended Pampas, blow with great violence, raising clouds of dust, and obliging every one to close windows and doors. Being off the land, they are not dangerous to shipping; though vessels at the mouth of the river have been blown in sea hundreds of miles, by a Pampero. The thunder and lightning to an European is terrific: the lightning is often dangerous.

The dust, fleas, and musquitos, render the summer months very disagreeable. The fleas are a great annoyance, the houses being filled with them; the very dust breeds them; and they seem to have a great partiality for foreigners. I don’t observe that the natives heed them. They laugh at the English mode of washing the rooms to get rid of these vermin; their plan is, to strew the room with fennel, sweeping that and the fleas altogether into the street. Musquitos are another of the disagreeables.

A north wind, in summer, is very unpleasant, the heated atmosphere relaxing both mind and body. The combined effects of heat, dust, and wind, make the enjoyment of an evening promenade extremely precarious.

In summer, the pastures frequently catch fire, from the intenseness of the heat. In 1821, Mr. Halsey, an American gentleman, who has a large sheep farm, sustained a considerable loss by an event of this kind, many of his sheep having been burnt. The same heat that occasioned Mr. Halsey’s loss brought on a violent Pampero; and, from the dust and burning ashes that enveloped the city, one might have supposed that the days of Herculaneum and Pompeii were about to return.

- 8 -

The winter is mild, yet there are days of piercing cold in the months of June, July, and August; and thin ice may be seen in the morning, but not any snow. We have here the penetrating rains, mists, and November days of England, without its comforts: from these circumstances, and the heat of the summer, Englishmen feel the cold much more than in England, and cling to their fire-sides, for they have introduced those luxuries, and the natives in some cases follow our example; otherwise, the ladies wrap themselves up in their shawls, and the gentlemen in their capotes, and thus pass the severe days of winter. The thermometer in winter is generally at 40 to 50, sometimes at 35.

The roads, after heavy rains, are nearly impassable, forming pantanas, or mud holes, which are dangerous to travellers; but, on the return of fine weather; they quickly dry again. The dead horses and dogs, that lie about the roads, quickly decay.

The rich pastures afford food to the cattle all the year round. The winter’s general mildness prevents the necessity of housing them.

That Buenos Ayres possesses a fine climate, no one can deny; but not to the extent its panegyrists have stated. I speak as I have found it, having in vain looked for that Italian sky, soul-breathing softness in the air, that some pretend to have found: but it may be defined a healthy, warm climate.

The various and sudden changes to which the British climate is subject, form a fruitful grumbling topic to many Englishmen and foreigners, who can fancy nothing that is not foreign. According to their accounts, even the moon shines better here than at home. I will venture to assert, that we have in England more real fine days in May, June, July, August, and September, than in the best months at Buenos Ayres. Of our delightful summer evenings, they have nothing to compare. To make any contrast of a winter, in latitude 34, and that of 50, is out of the question.

- 9 -

In this part of South America, earthquakes are only heard of; we dread not, here, the catastrophes of Peru, Chili, and Mexico.

The prevalent DISEASES of Buenos Ayres are fevers, sore throats, rheumatism, and others common to Europe. Strangers are subject to rheumatism from the dampness and searching winds. Sore throats, in many instances, have been fatal.

It has often been observed, that we feel the effects of free-drinking here, more than in England. I have experienced this more than once, and thought it peculiar to myself, till others complained of the same.

The country round Buenos Ayres is uninteresting; all is dreary sameness. But where, indeed, shall we find the charming scenery of our dear England,—its hills and dales, parks, thick-set hedges, and splendid mansions? We miss, too, that endless chirping of birds, ever heard in our thick-set hedges. Here, the equestrian takes his ride merely for the sake of exercise, and not from any pleasure the country can afford. I did not expect to find villas, parks, and cultivated grounds; but I thought it would be more diversified.

In a place where horses are so cheap, one might conclude that Englishmen would be continually on horseback, but they soon get tired of a recreation, in which nothing but exercise is concerned. The most frequented ride is to the village of Isidro, fifteen miles from the city, the Richmond of this place. On Sundays and holidays much company resort thither. It has some attractions in point of scenery.

The Barracca road is good—upon a par with those of England. Horse-racing and other sports are practised there, both by Englishmen and natives.

A ride in the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres is not, however,- 10 - entirely devoid of interest; especially in the fruit season, when the quintas, or farm-houses, with the peach trees weighed down by delicious fruit, the orange trees (though this is not their soil), and the wild aloe, so common in this and the opposite continent of Africa, afford an agreeable prospect. But the wild rose, blackberries, and the mass of roots and plants of English fields and hedges, are not to be seen. The trees (if they can be called so) are of a nature so dwarfish, that they seem like apologies for trees, stinted in their growth by bad nursing.

The Alameda, or public walk of Buenos Ayres, is upon the beach, near the mole. It is totally unworthy such a city, and in the neighbourhood of all the rabble of the town. It is only about 200 yards in length, with rows of trees the height of bushes on each side, and brick seats, which are too much honoured by the fair forms that use them. A moderate assemblage frequent this walk on Sunday evenings: the beauty and dress of the females could alone tempt a stranger to visit it. On other days it is deserted, except by some elderly gentlemen, who, as in our St. James’s Park and Kensington Gardens, are glad to escape from the multitude, and commune with themselves.

The beach well deserves its nick-name of Wapping; being crowded with sailors of all nations, grog-shops, stores, &c. The English sailors idling about the beach would man a ship of war. A stranger, seeing so many English faces, might suppose it an English colony. At night, the sailors in the grog-shops dance, to the music of the fiddle and flute, reels, and the College hornpipe in perfection, astonishing the Spanish girls. At one of these pulperias, or grog-shops, on the beach, a large picture was lately hoisted, of H.M.S. Boyne in full sail, flags, signals, &c. streaming. The English sailors mustered in great numbers upon this occasion, and rent the air with their cheers.

- 11 -

The seamen upon the beach are, at times, disorderly; but not more so than in other countries. American sailors have been the most refractory, causing their captains infinite trouble. The captain of an American ship going to sea, lately, made application to the captain of one of our packets, for irons, to punish his mutinous crew; but he replied, that he never had such articles on board his ship.

In no part of the world are masters of vessels subject to such annoyance from the desertion of their crews.[3] Men get into the hands of crimps, who conceal them, and exact their own price from those who are in want of sailors. This has been in some measure rectified lately, especially since the suppression of privateering. Many sailors roam about the country, working as labourers; but they soon get tired of that, and hanker after their old employment, as an old coachman likes to hear the smack of the whip. These “beach-rangers,” as they are called, have often wished to enter for his majesty’s ships that have been lying off Buenos Ayres; but few or none have been accepted. Sailors begin to find there is no service equal to our’s.

There are two English COFFEE-HOUSES, or HOTELS; Faunch’s, and Keen’s. The former is a very superior one, and provides the dinners given upon our national days, such as St. George’s, St. Andrew’s, &c. besides numerous private dinners of Englishmen, Americans, Creolians, &c. It is situated near the Fort. Faunch, the master, and his wife, have had great experience in their profession in London; and the style of his dinners is hardly to be exceeded- 12 - there. The king’s birth-day dinner is kept up with great éclat: the room is surrounded by flags of different nations; and they have both vocal and instrumental music. From 70 to 80 persons generally sit down to table, including the ministers of the country, who are always invited. The government pay us the compliment of hoisting the flag at the Fort, on that day.

Another hotel, kept by a respectable North-American female, Mrs. Thorn, a widow, is much resorted to by the Americans.

In the above coffee-houses, they charge 40 dollars per month for board and lodging. An abatement is made to those who agree to remain a certain period. Dinner for one person, including a pint of wine, is a dollar; breakfast, tea, and supper, from 2 to 4 reals each; and a bed per night, 4 reals.

On the beach, near the Fort, is a tavern, or eating-house, called the Commercial Hotel; the master of which is a Spaniard, but most of the waiters and servants are French: they have, likewise, an English waiter. Dishes of all sorts can be procured there. To dine well, the price amounts to nearly the same as at other taverns. The large dining-room will accommodate from 70 to 80 persons, and is neatly fitted up. Pictures of the battle of Alexandria, the storming of Seringapatam; portraits of the French Marshals, Bertrand, Drouet, Foy, &c.; and views of Paris and other cities, are suspended round the room.

The Café de la Victoria, in Buenos Ayres, is very splendid; we have nothing of the sort in London. It may not perhaps vie with the Mille Colonnes, or other Parisian coffee-houses. There are, likewise, in Buenos Ayres, those of St. Marco, the Catalan, and Café de Martin. They have all large court-yards, or patios, attached to them, and stand upon a great space of ground, more than could be well spared in London for such purposes, where land is so valuable. These patios, in summer, are covered with- 13 - awnings, affording an agreeable retreat from the sun’s heat. They have wells of good water. To each also is attached a billiard table; and, as this is a pastime to which they are much addicted, the tables are always crowded. The coffee-rooms are covered with shewy French paper, representing scenes in India, Otaheite, Don Quixote, and designs from Grecian and Roman history.

A new coffee-house was opened in December, 1824, near the church of St. Michael. The music, illuminations, and fireworks, in front of the establishment, on the evening of its opening, attracted a great concourse of people.

About four miles from town is a public-house called the York Hotel, kept by a native. Creolian masters and mates of vessels, upon their hired horses, at one dollar per afternoon, generally stop there; and the horses are so accustomed to it, that it is with difficulty they will go beyond it.

In the coffee-houses the charges are very moderate: a wine-glass of liqueurs, brandy, or any other cordial, tea, coffee, and bread, half a real; with toast, one real. The waiters do not expect fees, as in England: a capitas, or head waiter, superintends the coffee-room.[4]

In the arrangements and decoration of coffee-houses, the French and Spaniards far outstrip us. The English are not a coffee-house-going people: that time which other nations spend in them, the Englishman passes in business, or with his family.

Many Englishmen, upon their first arrival, reside with- 14 - Spanish families, to improve themselves in the language: forty dollars per month is the charge. The houses of Mrs. Cassamajor and Mrs. Rubio take in boarders; these families are of the highest respectability, and they have several accomplished daughters, whose society is very interesting; but Spanish cookery, with its garlic and grease, no more pleases an English taste, than does that of the French.

Of the Public Buildings, the Fort is the seat of government, the Downing-Street of Buenos Ayres: it is situated near the river, with residences inside. Though surrounded by a ditch, with cannon mounted on the ramparts, drawbridges, &c. it could make but little defence against a serious attack. One would suppose, that those who chose the spot on which the city is built, had in view the prevention of attack by hostile fleets, the shallowness of the water being a defence against any danger of this kind.

The Consulado is a respectable-looking house; it contains a Court of Justice, or Appeals, for persons cited for debt, of which they regulate the payment according to the ability of the party summoned, very similar to our Courts of Request. In cases of debt they are very lenient, seldom committing to prison, except for a flagrant attempt at fraud, and sometimes giving the debtor five years to pay his creditors, which is almost tantamount to a release. Disputes are decided by the magistrates, at the Consulado, with an impartiality that gives universal satisfaction. The English disputants, it has been observed, are very numerous, causing more trouble than those of all the rest of the town put together. The Post-Office is held in this building; and on the first floor (for the house is one story high) is a Music School, in the morning for young ladies, and in the evening for gentlemen.

The Cabildo, or Town-House, has nothing remarkable about it, but the church tower, and a long balcony in front:- 15 - it is built in the Plaza, of which it forms the western boundary. The great powers possessed by the Members of the Cabildo, according to the old Spanish law, have been reformed within these three years. It has a prison for criminal offenders; and the head Police-Office is near it.

The Bank, and the adjoining range of houses, are lofty and handsome.

The House of Representatives has been lately constructed; it follows the model, on a minor scale, of the French Chamber at Paris, and forms a perfect theatre. The members are seated in the pit, the president and secretary on the stage, and the spectators in the boxes. A bell announces the commencement and the close of business. The orators, when speaking, remain seated; so that they have no opportunity to display the graces of action. It is well lighted, by tasteful chandeliers. The armed soldiery, both inside and outside the house, destroys the idea of republicanism.

The Custom-House has no pretensions to notice, on the score of appearance, whatever it may merit for its convenience. It was proposed to build another, in the extensive grounds and gardens of the suppressed monastery of Le Merced; but this, like many other propositions, has been abandoned.

The Public Library is a credit to this infant state; it contains about 21,000 volumes. Every respectable person is allowed admittance, to peruse the books. Mr. Moreno, who speaks English, is the librarian. Some choice drawings of medals from France are in the library.

There is a small Botanical Museum; but the country furnishes few specimens of plants.

The Retiro, occupied as barracks, is on the north extremity of the city, and has nothing worthy of notice about it, but its theatrical appearance, and daubs of paintings on the walls. There is a large space in front, called the Bull Ring, in which bull-fights used to take place. The band- 16 - performs there, for a short time, in the afternoon. It is here that criminals are shot, when the punishment is not for a state offence. Being situated upon high ground, and near the river, the Retiro has a pleasant prospect. In one of the streets near it, is a large brick building, built for a distillery, twelve years since, by Mr. Thwaites, an Englishman. The speculation did not answer, and the house is now in a state of dilapidation. A windmill, west of the town, is a conspicuous object; it is the only one in the country, and was erected by Mr. Stroud, also an Englishman. It had, for some time, the fate of the distillery; but I have heard that it now flourishes.

The Residencia, on the south side of the Fort, is appropriated as an hospital. There are two or three other public hospitals, including one for foundlings.

The Grand Plaza is a large square, environed by buildings: on the east is the Recoba, a piazza with shops; on the west, the Cabildo; on the north, a part of the cathedral; and on the south, a range of shops. There is a pyramid in the centre, which, on festival nights, is illuminated. If paved, it would be an admirable place for the parade of troops; at present, wet weather renders it almost impassable.

A second Plaza has been made, adjoining the other, near the Fort, by the removal of the market-place and some dirty sheds and stabling.

The river, the fort, some neat buildings on the south, the handsome arch, under which there is a passage to the two plazas, the towers of St. Francisco’s church, and the Cabildo, taken in perspective from Faunch’s Hotel, would form a good picture.

At night, the streets are respectably lighted by lamps fastened to the walls, which extend as far as the eye can reach in some of the principal thoroughfares, in St. Francisco Street particularly. A stranger, on viewing this- 17 - street, would imbibe no mean opinion of the city. The lamps do not afford any thing like the illumination of the gas lights of London; they are equal, however, to those used before the introduction of gas.

From the state of the pavements, except in the principal streets, walking at night is very disagreeable—in wet weather, dangerous; and here are no accommodating hackney coaches to jump into.

It is intended to pave all the streets; but, from the scarcity of workmen and materials, it will be some time before this can be effected. Those that have pavements, bating their narrowness, are similar to the streets of London; the unpaved ones are very miserable.

The HOUSES of Buenos Ayres are mostly built of brick, and white-washed. Very few of them are one story high: they are flat-roofed, with a high parapet, and have a court-yard attached. The windows are protected by iron bars placed lengthwise in the front, so that a Londoner might fancy them lock-up houses. They form a complete fortification; and the loss sustained in Whitelock’s attack ceases to excite surprise, recollecting that our troops had to run the gauntlet through an enemy they could not get at.

Many of the houses occupy a large extent of ground. The sala is the principal room. The roofs of the houses, denominated the azotea, are very pleasant, especially near the river; and the party-walls are so low, that a person can traverse whole streets upon the house-tops. The inhabitants do not fear robberies, relying upon the strength of their doors, iron-barred windows, and barking dogs: of the latter, two or three are in a house. The bars in the window fronts are an excellent contrivance, and quite necessary, in a climate requiring so much air, and likewise for security, the street windows being close to the foot-path, and no areas to protect them. They report that this fashion is a remnant of Spanish jealousy; at any rate, it does their invention credit.- 18 - Many of the mansions are specimens of Moorish architecture; those belonging to the richer class are splendidly furnished with carpets, handsome mirrors, &c. So little wood is used in building, there is no fear of fire. Extensive houses, formerly occupied by the first families of the country, are now tenanted by British merchants; and the salas that were once graced by beauty, music, and the dance, are now stored with dry goods, and nothing is heard but the hum of business.

House rent is very high: for a moderate-sized house, from 60 to 80 dollars per month.

Churches.—In Catholic countries, the attention of the Protestant traveller is ever attracted towards the churches. Their gorgeous decorations, music, dress of the priesthood, &c. form so great a contrast to the simplicity of the reformed religion, that we gaze, as if viewing the splendid scenery of some theatrical spectacle, and, for the moment, cease to be astonished at the influence which this imposing church has exercised, and still continues to exercise, over a great portion of the Christian world. If the Spaniards in Europe are supposed to surpass all other Catholic nations in their strict adherence to the rights and ceremonies of “holy church,” they have not neglected to transplant to South America this formidable engine of power. The charms of its music, and its general magnificence, must have bewildered the imagination of the natives, and insured to the Spaniards complete authority.

I have visited most of the churches of Buenos Ayres, with feelings I can scarcely describe. My mind was ever strongly imbued with recollections of those youthful readings of monastic institutions, of cowled monks and nuns, which, in our Protestant land, we only read of; but to have the reality before me, absorbed every faculty—I gave a loose to fancy—every thought was engaged.

- 19 -

I believe the following to be a tolerably correct list of the churches and chapels in Buenos Ayres:—

The Cathedral is a large domed building, built of brick, as indeed they all are. Its outside presents nothing particular, with the exception of its loftiness; and, in common with the rest, it has crosses placed upon every prominent part. A new front is building towards the Plaza; but it gets on very slowly, the scaffolding being so very expensive. The interior is lofty and spacious; it is ornamented with figures of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, in glittering attire. Jesus on the cross, and saints in strict costume, occupy places at the different altars. Flowers, artificial and real, are plentifully bestowed, and relics are strewed in all directions, informing the foreigner that he is in a land where Catholicism once existed in all its pristine grandeur. These emblems of peace, in the body of the church, are shaded by those of war from above. Suspended from the ceiling are about twenty flags, taken from the Spaniards on various occasions, as at Monte Video, Maypu, &c. Fernando VII. is inscribed upon most of them. The grand altar is adorned with costly gems; and when the large and numerous candles are lighted, the effect is grand. The organ and choir are good: the tones of the former vibrating through the aisles, and the kneeling females in black attire, make an impression of no ordinary nature. The government and municipal authorities attend- 20 - at the Cathedral on state and feast days, forming processions to and from the church. The Sunday mass, about twelve o’clock, is attended by most of the fashion and beauty of the town.

Of the churches, that of St. Francisco seems most profusely ornamented. Virgins and saints of all descriptions occupy every altar and nook of the interior, clothed in rich and fanciful attire, which the devotion of the faithful has bestowed. The grand altar is very brilliant; and when fully lighted, it appears a sheet of gold. Some of the ornaments, I should think, are valuable. This edifice is of considerable length, and contains twenty friars of the order of St. Francisco, the only community of the sort now existing in Buenos Ayres. The towers are paved with tiling, which, at a distance, looks like marble. St. Francisco’s church is my favourite, for, child-like, I am attracted by glitter.

The College church is one I rarely visit, from prejudice or revenge at an insult offered to me by one of the servants, who told me Englishmen had no business there, and absolutely took my arm to conduct me out. In any other place I should have chastised him.—It is a gloomy structure, both outside and inside, even with the usual decorations. The Holy Ghost proceeds on its different missions from this church.

St. Domingo church is large, with a spacious dome. It had, until the suppression, in 1822, forty-eight friars of the Dominican order; amongst whom was an Irish priest, Father Burke, who, from motives of kindness, is still allowed to occupy his apartment. He is more than 70 years of age, and much esteemed by the British as well as natives, being divested of those prejudices which so often disgrace his cloth. The rooms of the friars, and the garden, make it a comfortable retreat. The interior of St. Domingo is light and airy, without much decoration; but it contains objects that swell the beating hearts of Englishmen—British- 21 - standards ranged around the dome, the trophies of Beresford’s and Whitelock’s expeditions. Crawford, with part of his division, it will be recollected, took refuge in this church. I have viewed those flags with the most painful recollections, obtained, as they were, not in open fight, but by concealed and inaccessible enemies; and have felt for the fate of my unhappy countrymen, slaughtered, without an opportunity to retaliate, by those who could not have stood one half-hour before them in a fair field of battle. This city is almost the only one in the world that can boast the possession of such prizes.

The church of Le Merced is a very pretty building, with a dome and tower. The interior is compact, and, in splendour, very little inferior to St. Francisco; containing virgins, Madonas, holy pictures, &c. &c. in gorgeous abundance, with the usual quantity of confessional boxes. It is much resorted to. Until lately, it held forty-five friars, of the order of Le Merced; a peculiar order, allowing its professors, it is said, to wear concealed arms. One of the regiments attends divine service, and their band performs, in this church.

The description of one may be said to include a description of all the churches, as they partake of the same general character, excepting only that some are more splendid than others. No impediment is offered to the admission of foreigners into these sacred buildings; and they may roam about ad libitum. The obstruction I received in the College church, I am persuaded, was the unauthorized act of the fellow who offered it. To avoid singularity, it is best to conform to their mode of devotion. The eye of curiosity will, now and then, be directed towards a stranger; but this is to be expected, though some gentlemen express a repugnance to visit their churches for that reason, and a fear of intruding.

The churches, with the buildings attached, gardens, &c. occupy a great extent of ground; particularly those of St.- 22 - Juan and Catalina, which were erected at a time when religious enthusiasm was at its height.

The Theatre, as an edifice, has nothing to boast. The exterior looks like a stable; but the interior is better than the outside promises. It has been much improved since my arrival. They sadly want a new theatre. There is a plot of ground near the Plaza just adapted for it: but unless the government take it in hand, the public spirit of individuals, I fear, will not; and yet, with a people so theatrically inclined, it is somewhat surprising. Almost the first inquiry of a foreigner is of the Theatre: at present, they smile at its insignificance.

The pit is large, extending a considerable length from the stage, with backs to the seats, and partitions to each, which serve as a rest for the arms: they are numbered, and let out under the appellation of “lunetas;” every person proceeding to his own seat; thus the crowding and fighting, for places, so common in our theatres, is avoided. No females are admitted into the pit.

In the dress circle, some blue silk spread over the panels of the boxes is all that distinguishes it from the others.

The dress boxes will contain about eight persons each. As they have not any seats affixed to them, those who engage them send chairs; or the theatre will supply them, by paying a trifle for their use. The price of a box, for a night’s performance, is three dollars. These boxes, and, indeed, places for every other part of the house, may be taken for a certain period called a “function,” which lasts ten nights. Many families engage their boxes this way, which makes them come reasonable.

Under the dress circle, and even with the pit, are boxes called palcos, at 2½ dollars per night.

The cazuela, or gallery, is similar to the one at Astley’s, except that it is not so large. It is appropriated to females alone. The keeping females thus crowded together in- 23 - a theatre, and separated from their natural protectors, seems an abominable practice. A stranger is apt to form erroneous opinions of the fair occupants of the cazuela, and can scarcely believe that the most respectable are to be found there: but it is so; and husbands, brothers, and friends, wait for them at the gallery door. This custom, it is said, they inherit from the Moors. The goddesses of the cazuela behave in the most orderly manner; much more so, I suspect, than my countrywomen would, similarly situated.

Over the stage is inscribed the words—“Es la Comedia Espejo de la Vida.”

The Governor’s box was close to the stage, on what in the London theatres is denominated the Prince’s side of the house; and the cabildo, or box of the chief magistracy, was in front. But now the Governor’s box is removed to what was the cabildo, and the English consul occupies the one lately the Governor’s. The Governor, except on national days, seldom attends the theatre.

That important personage, the prompter, has his little tub, as usual, in the middle of the stage, destroying all the illusion of the scene, and, from necessity, obliging the audience to hear him as well as the performers. Senor Zappucci, an Italian, intent, one evening, upon impressing the audience with the drollery of a comic song, fell through the prompter’s hole; and the spectators began to consider whether this was a part of his song. Fortunately he was not hurt. The superior arrangement, in this respect, of the English theatres, might afford a lesson to the most prejudiced foreigners.

The admittance is two reals to all parts of the house: but this does not include a seat. It is, therefore, necessary to take a whole box, or a single place in the pit (which costs three reals), in addition to the admission.

Soldiers, who constitute every where the police of the city, were formerly stationed both inside and outside of the theatre; but this is no longer the case; and the eye of- 24 - the republican citizen is not offended by their presence at places of public amusement.

No refreshments are sold in the theatre; we never hear the “Choice fruit, ladies and gentlemen, and a bill of the play!” and the spectators in the pit are saved the nuisance of having the peelings of oranges and apples dropped upon them. But then they are not condemned to sit five or six hours, as in our theatres; three hours and a half is the utmost. The pit audience generally walk out between the acts, and reassume their seats without disturbance or difficulty.

Smoking in the theatre is not allowed; but such charms has the segar, that they watch the opportunity of the absence of the police to smoke in the lobbies.

The theatre continues open all the year round, with the exception of Lent; and then music is permitted.

The regular nights of performance are Sundays and Thursdays; though there are sometimes performances on Tuesdays, saints’ days, &c. Sunday nights are the most crowded, as in all Catholic countries. On rainy nights there is no performance.

The usual performances at the theatre consist of a play and farce; with singing, sometimes, between the acts.

Othello” is at times performed—not that of our Shakspeare, but a translation from the French. Its absurdities and tameness no Englishman can endure with common patience; he looks in vain for those bursts that overpower the imagination, and electrify the spectators.

An ingenious English gentleman translated Cumberland’s “Wheel of Fortune,” and “The Jew;” but they are too sentimental to please this audience. “Love laughs at Locksmiths” and “Matrimony,” from the original French, are stock pieces; and “The Scottish Outlaw,” and “Charles Edward Stuart” are very successful.

The performers are about equal to those of our country theatres. Of the females, Doña Trinidad Guevra takes the lead. She has a good figure, a tolerably expressive face,- 25 - and a sweet, plaintive voice. In such parts as Letitia Hardy, and Maria, in “The Citizen,” she excels; and likewise in the sentimental.

Velarde is their first male performer, and plays tragedy, comedy, farce—it would be unkind to say, with Silvester Daggerwood—and “makes nothing of them;” for, in comedy, he has talent: his tragedy is not first-rate. He has the merit of dressing his characters with some regard to costume. I have seen him personate a British officer, with a uniform coat nearly a copy of those worn by our Foot-Guard officers.—The general manner of dress upon the stage, at times, approaches to the burlesque. An English nobleman is always made to wear the order of the Garter, and a star, whether in street, forest, or drawing-room. Señor Rosquellas, in the part of Lord Leicester or Essex (I know not which) in Rossini’s “Queen Elizabeth,” wears the dress of a modern French field-marshal: his taste and experience should reform this.

Señor Culebras (in English, Mr. Snake) is made the butt of the juvenile part of the audience—the Claremont of this theatre. When he appears to give out the play, they vociferate his name. Why they thus make sport of him, I know not, except that he has a peculiarly spare person, and is a sort of deputy manager, the Mr. Lamp of the company. He is said to be a sensible man, speaking the Spanish language very correctly. As an actor, he is both chaste and pleasing.

In low comedy, they have a good actor, named Felipe David, the Liston of the company; and one Señor Vera, who is a useful performer, as well as singer, and has abilities of no mean order. His representation of Colonel Cox, in the play of “Charles Edward Stuart,” founded upon an incident after the battle of Culloden, forcibly brought to my recollection Lovegrove’s Rattan, in the farce of “The Bee-Hive.”

Our English actresses, when they come on the stage,- 26 - “prepared for woe,” have their white pocket-handkerchiefs pinned to their clothes: here they are held in the hands. Both customs are ridiculous; and the constant application they make of them in this theatre renders it more so.

The orchestra consists of twenty-eight instrumental performers. The symphonies between the acts are from Haydn, Mozart, &c. &c. as in the English theatres. The performances are ushered in by an overture, generally selected with great taste.

The musical department has greatly improved; and they get through difficult compositions with considerable spirit: constant practice, and, above all, the great exertions of Señor Rosquellas has effected this. This gentleman, a Spaniard by birth, made his first debût before a Buenos Ayres audience in 1822, as a vocalist. His science has enabled him to surmount the imperfections of a very indifferent voice, and he is always heard with pleasure. Mr. Rosquellas[5] may be called the founder of the Buenos Ayres Opera; for, until he came, the orchestra was very indifferent. Mr. Rosquellas speaks English, and is married to an English lady. He has been in London, and, I believe, sung with Braham there. He was ably seconded by Señor Vacani, also from Rio Janeiro, the best buffo I have seen (Naldi, perhaps, excepted). We had the music of Rossini night after night to delighted audiences: the duet of “Al’ idea di quell metallo,” from “The Barber of Seville,” is as great a favourite here as in Europe.

The departure of Vacani left a blank in the musical world, which has been since, in some degree, compensated- 27 - by the appearance of Doña Angelina Tani. She has a fine tenor voice; the lower tones are of great depth, and some of them she elicits with great effect in a trio from Rossini’s “Elizabeth Queen of England.”

During the Lent of 1824, we had some delightful musical treats, which rendered the representations of their regular drama very dull, particularly to a foreigner.

An English mechanic, by name Waldegrave, was tempted to make a trial upon this stage as a singer. He sung “The Beautiful Maid,” and “The Bewildered Maid;” but he failed to make any impression. His voice was good, but he wanted grace.

In English singing, I doubt whether the inimitable Braham would please them. They smile at the idea of our having a talent for music. The finest compositions of Arne, Storace, Shield, Braham, &c. might stand a chance of being suspected to be stolen from foreign composers; for nothing goes down but Italian or Spanish music. Rosquellas, from being a Spaniard, and singing their popular songs, such as the “Contrabandista,” &c. is just to their taste: for, though no longer owning the Spanish sway, they still cling to that music which charmed them in their youth.

With a people so fond of dancing, one would expect to find a regular corps de ballet at the theatre; but a dance was not to be seen, except, now and then, dancers from the Rio Janeiro Theatre accepted engagements for a limited period, until Monsieur and Madame Touissaint, from the Paris and London Opera, arrived, who meet with great and deserved encouragement.

The bolero, fandango, and the pleasing castanets, seem peculiar only to Spain: I had thought to have found them common here. The Touissaints have introduced the bolero, and dance charmingly.

An Englishman, at a foreign theatre, cannot help being struck with the stillness and order, which form so great a contrast to what he has been accustomed to at home.- 28 - The theatre of Buenos Ayres, in this respect, might serve as an example to those of more polished nations.[6] But, notwithstanding Lord Byron’s remark, that he would never write a play for our winter theatres, whilst the one-shilling gallery was suffered to remain; I prefer their boisterous mirth, and its many inconveniences, to the monotony of the foreign stage. The magnificence and ingenuity of our Christmas pantomime, which every body pretends to despise, and yet which all go to see, with the joyous faces of so many children seated round the boxes, convulsed with laughter at the drolleries of a Grimaldi, are not to be paralleled elsewhere. A London theatre is, indeed, a world within itself.

Sometimes a straggling English sailor will wander into this theatre; but not understanding it, he soon leaves it for the grog shop. A sailor is always a troublesome inmate of a theatre. Two of them were passing their remarks rather loudly, one evening: the audience laughed; but not so the police, for they handed the two poor fellows into the street. Jack swore that he had had many a row at the Liverpool and Portsmouth play-house, without being molested; and damned such liberty as that at Buenos Ayres. I got my weather-beaten countrymen away, seeing them inclined to resist; for unarmed men stand but a poor chance with a police of bayonets and swords.

Managers and actors quarrel in the new as well as in the old world. Velarde has had one or two disputes, and left the theatre. The audience insisted upon his return,- 29 - and the manager was obliged to yield. The actor’s appearance, after these squabbles, is made a triumph by his friends; and the ladies in the cazuela throw bouquets, literally strewing the stage with flowers. These disagreements give rise to formal appeals to the public, from both parties, in the shape of printed addresses. In Velarde’s dispute, the manager had charged him with getting drunk. The actor indignantly denied this; but allowed that, on the 25th of May (the anniversary of their independence), he did get a little merry, broke glasses, and quarrelled with the landlord, in honour of the day, as every good patriot should do; and, in answer to a remark that had been made upon the graces of his person, he stated, that he did not possess Jacob’s ladder, to climb to heaven, and ask God why he was not made an Adonis.

A certain priest, Castañeda, having, in a publication, attacked the character of Doña Trinidad, for wearing upon the stage the portrait of a married gentleman (as he asserted), the lady absented herself from the theatre for some nights. On her re-appearance, she was greeted with applause; the audience reasoning, like our’s in the affair of Mrs. H. Johnstone and Braham, that the public have nothing to do with private character.

Performers, at times, in Buenos Ayres, announce their own benefits—even the females. A lady will address the audience with all the earnestness so important an occasion demands, and will go round the house, delivering bills of the intended performance, couched in high-flown language, “To the immortal and respectable public of Buenos Ayres,” &c. &c. They know how to “bill the town,” as well as any English country manager. Previous to a benefit night, they have a custom of illuminating the front of the theatre, and exhibiting a transparency of the proposed representation;[7] with bonfires, rockets, and a band of - 30 - music at the door. This has been ridiculed by one of the newspapers, but it still continues in a degree.

The British are not great patrons to the theatre: they assign, as a cause, the want of attraction; but business, and their inclination to society among themselves, are perhaps the chief reasons of their neglect. There are, however, a number of Englishmen, who find relief from the cares of business, and are constant attendants at the theatre; some of them, without any fixed object, stroll about, earnestly gazing at the pretty girls, whom they designate by particular names. I have been much amused, when they have pointed out to me the different ladies, under their fixed appellations; as, Imogen, Euphrosyne, Discretion, Corinna, Zenobia, the Greeks, &c. One gentleman, Don Geronimo Salas, they have named the King, from his great likeness to George the Fourth of England. The resemblance is considerable; only that Don Geronimo is not so corpulent as his Majesty. It is not every day we see men with persons so corpulent as his Britannic Majesty and Don Geronimo: the former (national prejudice apart) does indeed look like a king; the latter is a very handsome man.

It is not uncommon to see infants a few months old, in the arms of their mothers, and slaves, at the play.

The ladies attend the boxes in their most brilliant attire, combining neatness with elegance, mostly in white; the neck and bosom partly exposed, just enough to excite admiration, without alarming the most fastidious modesty; a gold chain, or other ornament, is now and then suspended from the neck; the dress, with short sleeves; the hair tastefully arranged; a simple comb, and a few real or artificial flowers braided about the hair.

- 31 -

On a full night, the theatre presents a spectacle of lovely women, that a stranger would hardly expect. I have often contemplated them, with their dark expressive eyes and raven hair, adding, if possible, more beauty to countenances already so beautiful.

I think no city in the world, of the same population, can boast more charming females than Buenos Ayres. Their appearance and brilliancy, at the theatre, is not exceeded either at Paris or London; and I write from a tolerable acquaintance with the theatres of both capitals. It is true, the costly diamonds and waving plumes, that blaze from the persons of the British and French fair, are not to be seen in Buenos Ayres: those appendages, however, in my humble opinion, add not to female loveliness.

The theatre was re-opened on the 16th January, 1825, under the management of Messrs. Rosquellas and others, after having been closed two months for the purpose of repairs and alterations. Great improvements have been made: the seats in the pit are covered with crimson velvet; the whole interior of the house has been cleaned and painted; the stage thrown more forward, and the orchestra enlarged. A new drop-scene is exhibited, with the arms of the country and other devices painted upon it; and, from being better lighted, the theatre has now a neat appearance.

The operatic department constitutes the chief attraction of the theatre: in this they have Rosquellas, Vacani (the renowned buffo), the younger Vacani, Vera, the two Señoras Tanis, and Doña Angelina Tani, who sings as exquisitely as ever. Vacani, upon his re-appearance, after a short absence, was hailed with shouts of approbation, and bouquets of flowers thrown upon the stage.

In the dance, we have Touissaint, his wife, and a corps de ballet, including some Portuguese comic dancers from Rio Janeiro. Regular ballets of action now take place, in lieu of the pas de deux, and pas seul, of one or two principal dancers.

- 32 -

Under the old Spanish regime, the season of Lent was the most gloomy part of the year; it is now the gayest: we have operas and ballets two and three times a week, to delighted audiences; selections from The Barber of Seville, Figaro, Henry IV. &c. the orchestra led by Masoni, the skilful Masoni, whose talent draws forth raptures of applause.

It is in contemplation to get up regular operas, instead of detached pieces: Don Giovanni has been mentioned—Rosquellas to be the hero; he would both look and perform it admirably, at least to those who have not seen Ambrogetti.

At the theatre door, on performance nights, several handsome carriages are now to be seen, with lighted lamps and well-dressed servants, belonging to English and other families. When I arrived, in 1820, scarcely one was in existence. Were a Spaniard to revisit this place, after an absence of a few years, he would feel surprised at the alteration; the rigid fasts of the church laid aside for innocent enjoyments, the hum of business greeting his ear, and European strangers every where meeting his eye. Old Spain’s ancient dominion of Buenos Ayres is gone for ever: a few of the old school may yet cling to the mother country; but the grand mass of the people, especially the younger branches, are decidedly patriots.

An amateur performance took place, on the 21st February, 1825, for the benefit of the widows and orphans of those who had fallen in the revolutionary wars. It was a full house, and profitable—the reverse of Silvester Daggerwood’s. Orders are not admitted to the Buenos Ayres theatre. The play was Virginius; and the different parts were sustained by gentlemen of the city, in a style so creditable, as to put to the blush the regular actors.

A North-American Frenchman, named Stanislaus, last from the Havannah, has given several exhibitions at the theatre upon galvanism, slight-of-hand, &c. aided by machinery, the best I have seen of the sort. His performance- 33 - was more than upon a par with our English professors. The natives declared, he must have dealings with the devil; or how could he transport handkerchiefs from the pockets of individuals in the theatre to the lofty towers of the Cabildo, in the Plaza? and this, they asserted, he had done. Stanislaus was rewarded with good houses. His pronunciation of the Spanish language excited bursts of laughter; it was a mixture of Spanish, French, and English.

A Lecture on Astronomy was attempted; but it did not meet with the success it merited, either from a want of taste for this instructive science, or that the audience conceived the theatre an improper place. The lecturer reading his part, diminished the effect.

An Englishman (Bradley) has a Circus, which is sometimes open on Sunday afternoons, and on saints’ days. Bradley is a decent horseman and clown; but he has to contend with many disadvantages.

British Residents.—Before entering into a detail of the manners and customs of the native or Spanish part of the population, I shall take some notice of the various FOREIGNERS who have become residents in this city. Of these the most numerous are the English: I have heard, that the province of Buenos Ayres contains, of men, women, and children, 3500 British individuals, according to a census taken in 1822.

The British merchants are a respectable body in Buenos Ayres: the commerce of the country is chiefly in their hands; and, taking the clerks, servants, and others employed in their barraccas, or hide warehouses, as well as in their houses, the numbers are very imposing. Most houses have a Spanish clerk, who (as well as his English brethren) generally boards and lodges in the house.

- 34 -

The following is a list of the British mercantile establishments at present existing in Buenos Ayres:—

Most of the above houses have their corresponding firms at Rio Janeiro, Monte Video, Chili, and Peru, forming an immense link, of no mean importance, to the trade of Great Britain.

Our merchants, in Buenos Ayres, are not only land and stock-holders; but, since the establishment of the Bank, they have become Bank Directors. In thus identifying themselves with the country, I am persuaded, they will not forfeit one iota of their independence.

In 1821, the British merchants in Buenos Ayres advanced to the Buenos Ayrean government a sum of money, by way of loan, which was punctually repaid, contrary to the expectations of many; for as this money was lent only a few months after a revolution, when Ramirez and Carrera were in the field, threatening the province, its return was problematical.

The majority of the British merchants are natives of Scotland, proverbial for their talent and activity in trade.- 35 - Without being accused of undue partiality, I may safely assert, that our merchants do honour to the country in which they are domiciled. Quoting the language of Don Valentin Gomez, at the King’s birth-day dinner, of April 23, 1823, “The English citizens have shewn themselves worthy of the distinguished character they have acquired. In Buenos Ayres, they have always been good fathers of families, and good guests. The province owes them every protection.”

The clerks in the mercantile houses are kept pretty closely to business, from eight in the morning till near the same hour at night, holidays excepted, which is fagging work.

Besides the merchants, there are a host of English shopkeepers. The street of La Piedad is full of them; and they retail almost every article that can be mentioned. In all parts of the city, the eye continually meets with English, and their inscriptions in front of the shops; as, Zapatero Ingles (English Shoemaker), Sastre (Tailor), Carpenteria (Carpenter), Roloxero (Watchmaker), &c. &c.; and the quantity of British subjects dispersed all over the country, as collectors of hides, agriculturists, &c. is more than would be believed.

A trifling jealousy is, at times, to be observed amongst the natives, at the numbers of the English resident here; the former supposing that we have a monopoly of business, and drain the country of money. These false reasoners in political economy cannot comprehend that, in trade, obligations are mutual, and that for our goods we buy their produce, often at a ruinous price. All increase of population to a new and thinly-peopled country, like Buenos Ayres, just released from a disgraceful thraldrom, ought to be viewed as a benefit: the well informed know it to be so.

The British medical practitioners at Buenos Ayres are—- 36 -Drs. Leper, Dick, Oughan,[8] Jenkinson, and Whitfield: the two last are apothecaries. Drs. Leper and Dick are surgeons in his majesty’s navy, and are allowed to be men of talent, and have good practice.

A physician here is not so profitable a concern as in England: the guinea fee dwindles to a dollar per visit, though to a favourite doctor they make presents. Once, in London, I remember seeing thirty single guineas, for as many visits, lying upon a doctor’s table, the result of a morning’s work; and this was thought but little, to pay for house expences, carriage, &c.

A Medical Board has been formed here, which, a short time since, examined into the qualifications of the different medical men, propounding questions which, I am told, would have puzzled Esculapius himself to answer. Two unfortunate Irishmen were caught in the trap, and forbidden to practise. Paddy, at no time, likes his talent to be depreciated: accordingly, one of them took up the pen, and wrote a long philippic; the other did not confine himself to this, but made use of language, in the full senate of medical sages, that consigned him to a dungeon for three weeks, and he was afterwards banished the country. A French doctor was suspended, for an error in the accouchement of a lady.

There is a North-American doctor (Bond), and plenty of native ones.

I should think this would be an excellent place for quack doctors; indeed, they are beginning the trade already. A medicine called Panquimagoge, invented by a man named Le Roy, “the immortal Le Roy,” as the papers stated, was puffed up, as being a certain cure for all complaints, equalling the miracles of Prince Hohenlohe. He who doubted the efficacy of Panquimagoge, was rated an- 37 - ignoramus. Its discoverer, it was added, had a statue of gold erected to his memory in the Havannah. During this infatuation, the medicine sold at an enormous price; but the bubble soon burst: several persons became seriously ill, and others absolutely lost their lives, by taking it. The former enthusiasts looked quite “chop-fallen.” Strange to say, several Englishmen were the dupes of this quackery; indeed, the old and young, healthy and infirm, all took Panquimagoge.

Several English have purchased estancias, or farms for breeding of cattle; but, I fear, they will find some difficulty in competing with the natives, who have every advantage over them in this branch of commerce.

The British Commercial Subscription Room, in Buenos Ayres, is a concern entirely British; and none but those of that nation are, by the laws of the room, allowed to subscribe. The present subscribers are about fifty-six; and it is supported at a moderate expence. It has been established since the year 1810, and affords not only a relaxation, but a source of continual information. A constant look-out is kept for vessels arriving and departing; and entries are made of them, and sent home. By means of excellent telescopes, national flags can be discerned at a great distance. They have a constant supply of English newspapers: the Courier, the Times, Morning Chronicle, Bell’s Messenger, Liverpool and other Gazettes, as well as those of Buenos Ayres, Price Currents, Shipping List, Quarterly Review, Edinburgh Review, Navy List, and other publications. The room contains the best maps of Arrowsmith, of the four quarters of the globe; charts of the river Plate; a picture of Nelson’s death, finely executed, and another of the battle of Copenhagen. A committee have the management of the room, but its general superintendence devolves on the secretary. Correct mercantile information can always be obtained there; and every stranger is at perfect liberty to collect the news of the day,- 38 - although, from the nature of the institution, none but British subjects can subscribe. To enjoy the privilege of reading in the rooms, the parties must be regularly introduced by a subscriber.[9] All British residents of respectability are expected to subscribe.

The members dine together once in every quarter, at Faunch’s hotel, and discuss the affairs of the society.

The British Commercial Room is held in the house of Mrs. Clark,[10] Dona Clara; and what person has visited Buenos Ayres without hearing of this lady—the “Lady Bountiful” of the place?

There is a library of English books attached to the room, consisting of 600 volumes, and which is every day increasing. It is a distinct affair; and natives of all countries can subscribe to it. Several Creole gentlemen, who speak English, North Americans, &c. belong to it. The secretary to the Commercial Room acts as librarian.

Some individuals have attributed illiberality to the Commercial Room, in not permitting those of other nations to become members; but, waiving the right which the British have for an establishment of their own, if they like to support it, Great Britain might be involved in war, and it could not then be pleasant to come in daily contact with natives of hostile countries.

Letters arriving by British vessels were, until October,- 39 - 1821, forwarded to the Commercial Room, which collected and paid the government the postage; but this arrangement always caused great jealousy to foreigners, and they are now sent to the Post Office, where every facility is afforded. Many English letters, however, to persons up the country, never reach their destination, from the practice of allowing any one to take letters from the office who will pay for them: mean curiosity has caused the loss of many letters by this mode.

The recent establishment of packets to Buenos Ayres (the first of which, the Countess of Chichester, arrived on the 16th April, 1824) is an event of some consequence. They bring the correspondence for Chili and Peru, opening a direct and speedy communication with regions, which Spanish jealousy, not many years ago, had shut out from the rest of the world. The captains of these packets must not, for the present, expect to find their employments to Buenos Ayres very lucrative: but little specie goes home, and there are few passengers that can afford to pay the packet price, which really is not exorbitant, considering the excellent accommodations and fare provided; viz. For the cabin, £80 sterling; steerage, £40. Their arrival is looked forward to with great anxiety by all classes. At first, they made long passages; latterly, they have improved in this respect: the Lord Hobart packet came out in forty-seven days; the Eclipse brought thirteen passengers, chiefly gentlemen connected with mining affairs. They will soon prove a profitable employment to their commanders; and, certainly, the system altogether reflects the highest credit upon the British government, the only nation which has such an establishment.

The inclination which Englishmen, engaged in business, have, when at home, to live away from the scene of their pursuits, at a short distance from town, is shewn here; and we have the Stockwells, the Kenningtons, the Newingtons, the Camberwells, &c. of Buenos Ayres, with the attached- 40 - farm-yards, orchards, and gardens, similar to those in the vicinity of London, wanting only the stages, and the eighteen-penny ride from the Bank and Gracechurch Street. Their houses may be easily recognized, from the degree of neatness and comfort attached. The house of Mr. Fair, situated upon an eminence near the water-side, southward of the Fort, is a good land-mark. Mr. F. has lately built it at a considerable expence. Mr. Cope’s house, near the Retiro, I think the most pleasantly situated of all.

The British have been engaged in numerous disputes with this government. The last that occurred was in April, 1821, upon the decree ordering all foreigners to take up arms; which the British very properly refused to do, for it could not be expected they would submit to be made parties in their quarrels. Captain O’Brien, of H.M.S. Slaney, then at anchor in the outer roads,[11] was appointed British agent, and a long correspondence took place. The affair was, however, settled by the merchants, and Captain- 41 - O’Brien felt displeased, conceiving that, having been thrust forward officially, every arrangement ought to have come through him. This quarrel caused some stir in Buenos Ayres. One or two members of the Junta threatened us lustily; but those Tybalts were silenced by the moderate party. Since then, Mr. Rivadavia’s administration has made every thing go on amicably and smoothly.

The dispute between Captain Willes, of H.M.S. Brazen, and the government of Buenos Ayres, caused a considerable bustle. Captain W. was ordered, by his instructions, to board all vessels of his nation upon their arrival; in the execution of which, his boat was fired upon by the gun-brig stationed outside. Other disagreements took place; and Captain W. was ordered to quit the shore in two hours. He did so. When on board, fruitless efforts took place to accommodate matters. The boats of H.M. ship took possession of their brig, and sent her to the inner roads. The public mind was inflamed by a string of falsehoods and misrepresentations published in the Centinella newspaper; the doors of one or two English houses had threatening placards stuck upon them; and a list was handed about for signatures, to avenge the insult offered to their flag. I am not aware, if they meant to attack the Brazen; volunteers for such an expedition, I should think, would have been scarce. The British addressed a note to Captain W. soliciting, that, if consistent with his duty, he would leave Buenos Ayres, as the present irritation might lead to extremes. The Brazen sailed for Colonia; her captain stating, that nothing but consideration for his countrymen on shore should have tempted him so to do: and thus the affair ended.

The government had promised protection to British persons and property, the quarrel being a private one; but retaliation would, no doubt, have taken place, had Captain Willes remained, and seized any of their vessels. The Buenos Ayres government were somewhat precipitate- 42 - in their proceedings, and wanting in their respect to the officer of a nation, which, if not in alliance, was on terms of strictest friendship with them. It was regretted by many, that Captain Willes refused to come on shore, when solicited by Mr. Rivadavia. Our captain was sadly hampered by what he conceived to be his duty, and the alarm on shore. Those gentlemen who had been long settled in the country, with their wives and families, wished, I have no doubt, that the Brazen had been a thousand miles off, particularly the female branches; though none, I trust, possessed spirits so mean, as to brook insult for the enjoyment of present comfort.

The outer roads had long been an object of dispute. I regret that, in this instance, it should have deprived us of the society of an officer, whose amiable manners and disposition delight all who have the happiness of knowing him. At Monte Video, Captain Willes was literally adored. I do not think the British would have been seriously molested, for they had numerous friends in the town, and Captain Willes was not without his advocates. A pamphlet, shortly after, appeared, said to be written by an Englishman, exposing the malevolence of the Centinella.

The appointment of consuls will prevent these disputes in future. Our naval officers are not the best diplomatists; they would, as a member in the House of Commons observed, “much rather fight than write.”

Some Germans, in Buenos Ayres, were in a terrible fright, lest they should be taken for Englishmen, when the supposed work of retaliation should begin. In complexion and appearance, they much resemble us, and they nearly all speak English. Germans and Americans are all denominated Englishmen by the natives; they cannot find out the distinction. A Creole boy once told me, that he supposed every body to be my countryman, that could say, How do you do? in English.

In the little disagreements that take place on the beach- 43 - between the sailors and the natives, the term English brute is always applied to the former. These disputes are rare, for our sailors do not mix much amongst them.

Mr. Woodbine Parish, the British consul-general for Buenos Ayres, seems well adapted for the station he fills: his manners are mild and gentlemanly. The two vice-consuls, Messrs. Griffiths and Pousset, share in the same praise; the latter, in countenance and figure, much resembles the royal family; if he were a trifle more portly, one might fancy him the Duke of York.

The different states of this part of South America, such as Entre Rios, Cordova, Santa Fe, Mendoza, &c. sent Members, to attend the congress in Buenos Ayres, empowering the government to act for them in the treaty with England; which, after considerable discussion, has been signed and ratified. Mr. Parish, attended by the vice-consuls and other gentlemen, went in state to pay his respects to the governor upon the occasion. The reception of the consul was, of course, flattering: the flag was hoisted at the fort, and a gun fired. The clause which caused most debate in the congress, was that of religious toleration. Some of the members seemed alarmed. It was, however, allowed, with free liberty for Protestants to build their own places of public worship. This is something gained from ancient prejudices. I have not, however, a high opinion of English devoutness in Buenos Ayres. We have now a sort of prayer, or methodist meeting, held in a private house. A captain of a Liverpool brig brought out some religious tracts, which he circulated, and hoisted the Bethel flag in his vessel: I fear he found Buenos Ayres an uncongenial spot for those subjects.

Another article in this treaty which has given general satisfaction, is, that no British subject shall be compelled to military service. In any disputes upon this topic, the British have been the only foreigners who have stood forward to resist it; the others have remained passive spectators.

- 44 -

On Sundays and holidays, the British and American consuls hoist the flags of their respective nations from the tops of their houses. The Buenos Ayres flag floats by the side of the American: Colonel Forbes, like a skilful manager, studies the taste of the town.

I have noticed, that many of my countrymen, in their desire to visit their native land, still talk of returning to Buenos Ayres. They certainly must feel some attachment to a country in which they have lived happily for a series of years. Eight or ten years of absence from home makes a great alteration amongst our dearest friends; some are dead, and others are absent, or indifferent. In England, too, every one must be content to mix with the crowd.

A great many of the English are perfect masters of the Spanish language, having obtained their knowledge of it by a long residence in the country, and by coming to it at a very early age. I have been surprised at the quickness with which English children learn it: in a few months they are able to carry on a conversation, whilst those of riper age take years to attain it. When a man gets near thirty years of age, he feels little inclination to study languages.

In mentioning any thing of the English females in Buenos Ayres, I feel a delicacy bordering on timidity, and ought to recollect the homely proverb, “The least said is the soonest mended.” Certain, however, it is, that, with some exceptions, they are not a fair specimen of our country. Those placed in the higher circles are few in number, and appear to be amiable women, as are many whom I will take the liberty of calling the second class; but with respect to the lower orders, I can only say, that I have been more than once reminded of the neighbourhood of St. Giles’s. In reply to some remarks of a Spanish lady, I mustered courage to tell her, that, in spite of all the charming women of Buenos Ayres, we had those at home who equalled, if not far surpassed them; of which I would speedily convince her, could I, with Harlequin’s wand, waft her to my country,- 45 - where they may be seen in all their charms of beauty and splendour; and that the few who traversed the ocean, formed no criterion, a voyage to South America being rather a serious undertaking for a lady.

In commenting upon the dowdy appearance which some of the British females make in this country, I am not singular;—all my countrymen converse upon it, and join me in my opinion.

Families should never think of bringing pretty unmarried servant girls with them from Europe; they are almost sure of losing them. Be the girls ever so determined, they will find a difficulty in resisting the offers of marriage from the numerous English bachelor mechanics, who are at a sad loss for wives:—a Spanish wife is not to their taste. Therefore, those who wish to keep their servants, must choose the ugliest they can procure—something that may be an antidote to the warm passions of our English Damons. An importation of British females with tolerable personal charms would answer here, as well as in many other places abroad. I wish some adventurer would beat up for recruits amongst the nursery maids at the west end of the town in London; it would be an excellent speculation, and serve the poor girls into the bargain.

Several Englishmen have married Buenos Ayrean ladies; and, from all accounts, they do not repent having done so. The worst of it is, in marrying into Spanish families, one may be said to marry all the family, for they expect to reside under the same roof. The English resist this, and with success: the good sense of their wives will make them conform to our ideas; yet the parting of a beloved daughter from the paternal roof must be a painful task for parents, whose only consolation is in yielding her to the arms of the man she loves.

Englishmen married to Spanish females have been, in a degree, obliged to conform to the Catholic ceremonies of marriage. The over-scrupulous will start at this; but,- 46 - if they have ever been in love, they will readily conceive that these oaths of form may be swallowed with as much ease as many of the absurd ones of our Custom-House. The difference of religion, in liberal minds, cannot in any way disturb domestic harmony: we differ only in forms.

So great were religious prejudices not many years ago, that a lady would have hesitated, and her family interfered to prevent a marriage with one of “heretic creed.” The alteration is a credit to their understandings; it evinces that they are neither bigots nor fanatics. A generation of children are now springing up, half English, half Creolian, speaking both languages; their fathers teaching them English, their mothers Spanish. Could we look a few years forward, and see these youngsters grown to maturity, loving the land of their birth, and having a yearning towards that of their fathers, what important consequences may not result, in cementing friendships between nations that once regarded each other with a rooted dislike.

Englishmen who have married in this country, I should presume, intend making it their adopted land. It is an alternative that would cause me to pause: I could not consent to lose the hope of again seeing my paternal home. Now, if I could fancy such an event, as taking my Buenos Ayrean wife with me to London, lodging her in some fashionable mansion near Grosvenor Square, or in the Square itself—visiting the Opera and all the Theatres—pointing out to her Rossini, Catalani, our Braham, Stephens, Kean, and Macready, and explaining their different talents, poor Rosquellas, and the Señoras Tani, would be quite forgotten; and, instead of a ride on the Barracca Road, or to San José de Flores, San Isidro, &c. conducting her along the Queen’s Road to Putney, Richmond, or Windsor—taking a stroll with her in Kensington Gardens—Heavens! whither will my imagination lead me? and why cannot I persuade some kind-hearted Creolian- 47 - to give me his daughter, and two hundred thousand dollars, in return for the fond love I should lavish on her?

The marriages of English people have been performed by captains of vessels of war, or in the presence of two or three merchants, whose signatures are said to be sufficient acts of parliament. The residence of a consul will obviate some of these difficulties.

The British community, in Buenos Ayres, lost one of its chief ornaments, by a melancholy suicide, which took place in December, 1824—that of Mr. Dallas, who cut his throat with a razor: disappointment in business is stated to be the cause. He has not left his equal in Buenos Ayres; his character fully warranted that expressive term in the English language—a perfect gentleman.

The death of Mr. Rowcroft, in Peru, caused infinite regret amongst the British in Buenos Ayres, by whom he was much respected. He was, probably, the first alderman of the city of London that ever crossed the Andes. It was hard to meet his death by the bullets of foreign soldiery. It is some consolation, that accident alone caused the fatal affair. It is said, that he was taken for a Spanish officer, Mr. R. being clothed in his uniform as Colonel of the City Light Horse, a dress he appeared particularly proud of.

A son of Sir Robert Wilson arrived here, and went to Peru; but he soon returned, and went to the Brazils, in order to join his father’s friend, Lord Cochrane.

Amongst my countrymen in this city, may be found some very eccentric characters, who would be accounted originals even at home.

Who has visited Buenos Ayres without having heard of the noisy drunken Englishman, Jack Hall, the Caleb Quotem of the town, and who, in appearance and dress, looked as if he had just escaped from Newgate. Poor Jack died in July, 1824, and was carried to the grave in his own cart, which had, for a series of years, borne so many of his countrymen to their last abode, and on that- 48 - account was called “the English hearse.” Hall was a Jack of all trades, painter, glazier, whitewasher, &c. &c. The Spaniards, when he first arrived amongst them, viewed him as a prodigy.

Irishmen naturalized into American citizens, or what are called “Irish Yankies,” from time to time pass through Buenos Ayres, on their route to different parts: I have known several. It is heart-rending to think, that political events should thus have estranged men from their native country, and made them its bitterest enemies. It is true, they “rail against a rock they cannot pull down.” If an excuse can be found for them, it is that the hopes of their youth have been blighted, and that oppression has made them aliens to their native land. North Americans remark, that those who abuse Great Britain most in the United States are our own countrymen. I believe it; and in the falsification of their long-told predictions of England’s downfall, there is a wider field opened for their hate, and to brood upon what is to happen to ill-fated England.

As regards some Irishmen whom I have known (or, if it must be so, “Irish Yankies”), I sincerely regret that I cannot embrace them, take them by the hand, and call them countrymen. I have noticed them to be men of warm imaginations; and when listening to any detail of Irish intrepidity in the French war—and where is it that Irish blood has not flowed in torrents for the cause of Great Britain?—their hearts appeared elated, and they knew every Irish officer who had distinguished himself; they spoke of his deeds with rapture, and, for the moment, assumed their natural character of British subjects;—for, say what they will, a man feels little enthusiasm in the glories of any nation but his own. I congratulated one upon the change in his ideas:—he started; “No,” said he, “I regret not the past; I am, and ever will remain, an American citizen.”

- 49 -

There are three North-American mercantile houses—Mr. Ford; Zimmerman and Co.; and Stewart and M’Call. The residents are few, excepting the casual visitors. I find a difficulty in distinguishing them from Englishmen, though a Creole friend of mine pretended to do it, describing the Americans as generally wearing white hats, spectacles, and carrying a stick. This observation I afterwards found tolerably correct. We laugh at their phrases—“I guess,”—“I calculate,”—“I expect,” &c.; and they retort upon our continual use of “You know,” in conversation. It will be well for the two nations, if their future differences consist only in laughing at each other’s peculiarities of speech.

The North Americans carry on a considerable trade in this river, and have brought some valuable cargoes from China and India. Flour, lumber, a few dry goods, soap, &c. are their general import; salt vessels also arrive from the Cape de Verd, which article is at times very profitable. Now and then the domestic manufactures of North America are brought to this market; but the profit of them, if any, must be very small. The immense capital, machinery, and talent of England, must for a long time give her the advantage over every other nation; and as regards North America, I should not suppose it would answer her purpose to divert her population from the health-inspiring pursuits of agriculture to a pernicious manufacture. Their chief commerce is in flour; and owing to one or two bad harvests in this province, the advantages have been great. It has been sold at thirty dollars per barrel; the cost in North America being only seven or eight. During the year 1823, upwards of 70,000 barrels of flour was thus imported into Buenos Ayres. For a country so luxuriant in soil to be dependent upon foreigners for bread, appears strange; but agriculture is yet young in South America.

The North-American trade is mostly carried on in ships with supercargoes: the captains are a superior set of men.- 50 - But few English ships arrive; they are nearly all brigs, commanded by our roughest seamen: but these brigs often contain valuable cargoes. The Americans manage to run about the world with small cargoes. A number of their vessels come here for the purpose of being sold and broken up; which seems to be a good speculation, if we may judge from the number hauled upon the beach for that purpose: those ships that cut such a dashing figure at first sight, have only “a goodly outside, but are rotten within.”

The circumstance of North America having been the first to acknowledge the independence of this province has not insured to her any particular commercial privileges. In a coffee-house, one evening, I witnessed a serious debate amongst some Creolians; one of them, in the heat of argument, asserted that the acknowledgment by North America was of no more consequence to the state, than if the province of Santa Fé had done so. The acknowledgment by Spain and England is what materially interests them: North America, however, has decidedly paved the way for this.

Although there are a great many North-American mechanics, yet we find very few of them have shops of their own in Buenos Ayres. In the manufacture of boots, shoes, hats, &c. as well as dry goods, they must yield the palm to us. In the stores, a preference is given to English hams, cheeses, &c.; but I have tasted American articles of this description, of good quality. The Americans, aware of the partiality, pass off many of their goods as English; and I have purchased American soap with the British crown impressed upon it.

Perhaps in no part of the world has such a marked distance been kept between Americans and Englishmen as in Buenos Ayres; but this, I rejoice to observe, is subsiding. Both parties are to blame. The English are said to be the most conceited nation on earth; it may be true, but our North-American friends have a touch of that- 51 - quality likewise. When told of this; their reply, that “their vices they inherit from us; their virtues are peculiarly their own.”

Mr. Rodney, the minister from North America, departed this life on the 10th of June, 1824. His death was sudden, from an attack of apoplexy. The evening previous to his decease, he had a large assemblage of visitors at his house. He was a plain republican of the old school, and much esteemed by all parties: he has left a large family. The government of Buenos Ayres evinced the most marked respect to his memory.[12] Colonel Forbes is the Secretary of Legation: he has been in Buenos Ayres since October,- 52 - 1820, and acted as agent to the United States till the arrival of Mr. Rodney.

The French are numerous in Buenos Ayres; report says, they are equal in number to the British, but I do not believe it. Their trade here, what there is of it, must be advantageous: they bring every requisite for the ladies’ toilet; fans, silk stockings, perfumery, scented waters, gloves, jewellery, and those nic-nacs in which the French so much excel. Some shops make a great figure in French goods, as silks, shawls, and every essential to gratify female taste. Roquin, Meyer, & Co. is the chief mercantile French house; but there are numbers of Buenos Ayrean and other firms, that import largely from France, as do also some English houses.

There are many gentlemanly and intelligent men amongst the French settled in Buenos Ayres; but the mass will not bear a comparison with the British in point of respectability. Frenchmen themselves allow this, and laugh at the billiard-markers and waiters of Parisian growth. The superior class are to be found in the best societies of the city. Their lively manners and conversation have ever been a contrast to the reserve of the English; and, as companions, they may be more sought after than my modest countrymen: a Frenchman is at home in all countries.

The English likewise visit the first families, and give at- 53 - times splendid entertainments, or tertulias; yet, I have fancied, they appear more happy when amongst themselves. Their behaviour has been attributed to pride and many other causes: the French term “mauvaise honte,” affords a better solution. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, I am convinced, the British character is esteemed; and, however the French may beat us in companionship, they cannot deprive us of that esteem.

The news of Napoleon’s death caused great tribulation in French society at Buenos Ayres. It was some time ere they would believe it; it must be a trick, they said, of the English; and until the causes of his death became so well authenticated, expressions of foul play were more than whispered. Their love for this “man of blood” has ceased to astonish me: were I a Frenchman, it is probable I should love him too.[13] On Bonaparte’s birth-day, in 1821, I observed the tri-coloured flag, waving from a French pulperia near the beach. This flag, once so formidable, and which made every Briton prepare for “bloody fight,” now floats harmlessly in Buenos Ayres, being used as a signal for merchant vessels.

A great many Portuguese are residents of Buenos Ayres, as merchants, shopkeepers, &c.; they carry on a constant commerce with the Brazils.

The jealousy, bordering upon contempt, in which the Spaniards affect to hold the Portuguese, is very conspicuous here. At the theatre, when a Portuguese character is represented, the performer is arrayed fantastically, strutting about the stage with self-assumed importance, amidst vehement laughter and applause, as fervent and more boisterous- 54 - than that bestowed upon Sheridan’s “little cunning Portuguese,” Isaac Mendoza.

Germans, Italians, and, indeed, the natives of all countries, are to be met with in Buenos Ayres, as merchants, store and shopkeepers, &c.

Mr. Schmaling, agent to the Prussian Linen Company, has lately established an extensive mercantile house in Buenos Ayres. The Prussian cloths and flannels have been bought with much avidity, a preference being given to them from their being cheaper, and some say better than our’s. Mr. S. sold his cloths 20 per cent. cheaper than the English could afford to sell. It is hard to be undersold in a foreign market, in what was once considered our staple commodity. British skill, however, I have no doubt, will surmount this temporary advantage: the repeal of the wool tax may be one step towards it.

Persons, Dispositions, and Manners of the Native or Spanish Inhabitants.—It might be supposed, from the latitude in which Buenos Ayres is situated, that the faces and general appearance of the natives would partake of a dusky hue: as regards the male sex, this is certainly the case, though here and there the reverse is seen. Of the females, however, many can boast a countenance of roses and lilies, equal to those of a colder climate. Amongst the mulatto cast, there are some pretty girls. I have noticed that some distinctions are kept up, the word mulatto being often used as a term of reproach: this is illiberal. One or two families of red-haired children are rather remarkable in a country where the darker hue predominates. I really thought they were of Scotch extraction, till I was informed to the contrary. Some scandalous wits have dared to be jocular on the occasion, asserting that they must be the offspring of Beresford’s Scotch regiment, the 71st, who were here in 1806.

- 55 -

It is rarely we see, in Buenos Ayres, a person marked with the small pox, vaccination being generally practised;[14] and very few deformed people. Indeed, the generality of them may be called handsome. The young men are well grown, possess good figures, and their manners render them truly agreeable.

Faces may be seen here, of female beauty, worthy a painter’s study;—the intelligent dark eye, polished forehead, and persons moulded by grace itself. England is called the land of beauty, and it deserves its name; but beauty is not peculiar to England alone. Buenos Ayres contains within its walls as much loveliness as imagination can dream of.[15]

The stately elegance of walk, for which the Spanish ladies are so remarkable, is in no place more conspicuous than in Buenos Ayres; and it is not confined to the upper class—females of all descriptions possess it; one must therefore conclude it to be an acquired accomplishment. If my fair countrywomen would deign to imitate them in this respect, and get rid of that ungraceful postman-like pace they now have, I should love them all the better.

The inhabitants possess a happy medium between French vivacity and English reserve. An Englishman feels at home with them; for should he be deficient in the language, he need not fear that his blunders will be laughed at. In- 56 - sickness, they are proverbial for their kind attention, as many of my countrymen have experienced, preparing every little delicacy they think will please. It is only to know these people, to esteem them.

Their happy disposition, and having so few real cares, protect them from suicide, that calamity which afflicts populous Europe. The future provision for a family, indeed, scarcely enters their thoughts, in a country where “a fathom of beef can be purchased for sixpence.” This expression was used by an English “beach-ranger,” when trying to prevail upon some of a Falmouth packet’s crew to desert.

Although there may be families who, in the common acceptation of the term, are well off, yet I do not think there are many who are extraordinarily rich, that is to say, worth from 30 to £50,000 sterling. Houses, cattle, and land constitute the best property.

The enthusiasm with which the Spaniards regard the female sex, like most other things, has, doubtless, been exaggerated. In Buenos Ayres, if they have not exactly caught this enthusiasm, they have done better: their attentions are founded on real respect to the virtues of the sex, and are therefore more likely to last.

The character given to Spaniards of all descriptions for jealousy of their females, must have been either fabulous, or a great change has taken place; for nothing approaching to it can be observed in their descendants here. The gentlemen conduct themselves with the most marked politeness towards the females, paying them the greatest attention and respect. I have heard it asserted, that they make negligent husbands. In every populous city, no doubt, many of this class are to be found; but those Buenos Ayrean husbands, whom I have the pleasure of knowing, seem devotedly attached to their wives, behaving with a tenderness not every day found even in England, that land of domestic felicity.

The ladies appear equal in affection; and are kind and- 57 - tender mothers. It is pleasing to see the care and fondness they bestow on their children. A stranger need not be a day in Buenos Ayres without discovering this; and such traits speak volumes. They do not follow the unmotherly practice of putting their infants out to nurse, thinking it no disgrace to suckle their own offspring. In my opinion, there is as fair a proportion of married happiness in this city, as can be found in those that bear a name of being more domesticated.

The compliments of salutation are much the name as in England with the gentlemen, viz. the good old hearty shake of the hand. The French embrace of the males, kissing each other, is not followed; for which I am better pleased. Much as I esteem my friends of Buenos Ayres, I wish no other than female lips to touch my cheek. The salutation of the females, on bidding adieu for long journeys, or on returning from one, is kissing and embracing each other: in this respect they differ but little from British females—perhaps a little more fervent. I have seen ladies, when returned from a voyage to Monte Video, hug their old black servant, who has come to meet them on the beach, with all the ardour of affection, so different from our notions of propriety.

Should a lady be seized with a fit of yawning, she crosses herself with the most burlesque sanctity. The style in which they cross themselves, requires a rehearsal to understand it: they touch the cheeks, chin, and bosom, quick, with the thumb, or, as a military man would denominate it, “in double quick time.”

A very pleasing practice exists, of giving flowers to visitors, as a mark of respect: some fair lady hands a rose or tulip. I recollect, a charming girl gave me a rose, a few days after my arrival, and my vanity was not a little gratified by it; and I felt some mortification in finding it was only the common civility of the place.

Smoking segars is a general practice—I might almost- 58 - add, with men, women, and children; the ladies of the better class always excepted, though report says, they will, in secret, take the luxury of a segar. I hope report has erred in this respect—indeed, I think it has; for such an outrage against my English feelings, as a Buenos Ayrean lady smoking, would abate much of the enthusiasm I feel for them. In the male sex I like to see it; and the pleasure it seems to afford, has repeatedly made me regret that I am no smoker. Here boys of eight, nine, and ten years of age, may be seen smoking.

The English soon get into the fashion; and most of them are as fond of the segar as the natives, who are smoking from the time they get up, until they go to bed. If they ride on horseback, a segar is in their mouths. Should they want a light in the streets, it is only to stop the first person they meet smoking, to obtain one. I have often smiled to see a first-rate Creolian dandy lighting his segar from that of some dirty black fellow.

Havannah segars are the favourites; but they are dear, and not at all times to be had in perfection. The paper ones, or segars de Hoja, made from the tobacco-leaf, are mostly used, and by many preferred. The manufacture of them affords employment to a great many people, including females.

So refined are their ideas of politeness, that a person smoking invariably takes the segar from his mouth, when passing another in the street.

In another branch of politeness, Buenos Ayres is not outdone, even by Paris itself; viz. the constant custom of taking off the hat, when meeting each other in the street. The English mode of touching the hat is too groom and footman-like, to be followed here: their’s is taken entirely from the head; and, when in compliment to ladies, they remain uncovered until the objects of their politeness have passed. It is managed gracefully—removing the hat from behind, similar to those who are accustomed to wear wigs;- 59 - it may be, to save the fronts from dilapidation, which such continual calls on them would occasion.[16]

The plant called yerba, the growth of Paraguay and the Brazils, is the tea of Buenos Ayres. They drink it out of a small globe, to which a tube is fixed, nearly as long as our tobacco-pipe; it is called the matté-pot, and the beverage drawn from the yerba, is the matté. These pots are generally of silver; and they hand them from one to the other, in drinking—a practice not the most cleanly. When I first saw the tubes in the ladies’ mouths, I conceived they were smoking. Matté has not a bad flavour, but nothing equal to tea. It is reported by some to be pernicious to the teeth. In visiting parties it is always handed round. It carries such an idea of the tobacco-pipe, that I do not much admire seeing these matté-pots in the hands of ladies.

The general time of meals in Buenos Ayrean families is pretty nearly as follows:—They have matté the first thing, which they often take in bed; at eight or nine, they have what we should call breakfast, beef-steaks, &c.; dinner at two and three; matté at six and seven, followed often by a supper. The fashionable London hours of breakfasting at one and two in the afternoon, and dining at eight and nine in the evening, have not travelled to this quarter of the globe yet. They drink wine out of tumbler glasses.

The siesta, or afternoon nap, is not so regularly taken as formerly: they have got more into the habits of business, and cannot afford time for sleeping in the day; and it does away with the remark, that, during siesta time, nobody is- 60 - to be seen in the streets, but Englishmen and dogs. The siesta has its regular season; it is supposed to begin with the summer season, in October, and end at the close of the summer, or passion week. The plodding and industrious world cry out against this practice, as encouraging sloth; but I think a nap after dinner, in warm latitudes, both refreshing and conducive to health.

Houses are not provided with the convenience of bells: their servants are summoned either by calling, or making a noise upon the tables. At meals, the servants and slaves are in attendance at the table.

They retire to rest, in winter, at ten or eleven; in summer, later, as at this season they enjoy the cool of the evening from the azoteas, or from seats near the windows.

A walk in the streets on a fine summer’s night is not uninteresting, from the number of ladies walking and at the windows. Evening is the time devoted by ladies to shopping. A night previous to a holiday or Sunday, the shops are crowded.

In families of respectability, which have unmarried daughters, weekly tertulias, or public dances, are often held during the winter, which, they say, are for the purpose of shewing the young ladies off, and getting them husbands: as I am not in the secret, I only give it as I hear it.

These dances are got up at very little expence or preparation. One of the ladies presides at the piano; the refreshments are cakes, sweetmeats, and liqueurs: a few dollars provides for all; and I like their plan—it looks more like a friendly entertainment. The sumptuous repasts provided on such occasions in England, bespeak so much of ceremony as considerably to mar the pleasure.

On birth-days, compliments are sent and received, with presents of sweetmeats, &c. and dinners and tertulias are given. Those days are more kept up than with us; but the itinerant musicians, about the doors, has a little fallen off lately.

- 61 -

Sweetmeats are much eaten, and by the children in large quantities. In coffee-houses they sprinkle the toast with sugar: an English child would call them “sugar-babies.” I am not dentist enough to decide whether this is one of the causes of decayed teeth, so often observed in young people, and the prevailing malady of the tooth-ache; but persons are continually seen with their faces tied up for this complaint: it is, indeed, a disease of the country. Bad teeth is a sad drawback, as they are both “useful and ornamental;” and the purchase of new teeth and gums, in Buenos Ayres, would be rather difficult: besides, all the world must know about it. In London and Paris, such things pass as nothing.

When walking in public, the female rarely takes the arm of a gentleman, except it be night. This seems to us an unsocial fashion. At dark, however, the restriction ceases, and ladies will then honour us by accepting our arm: with married persons this is more common. The Englishman and his wife, in spite of Spanish modes, are seen trotting comfortably along the Alameda, on a Sunday, arm-in-arm, as if at home.

Neither is it the fashion for gentlemen to escort the ladies, but to the theatre, or public places: their visits and shopping are in company only with their own sex. If a fair lady should wave this rule, and allow us to proceed by their side for a few streets, it would be the height of vulgarity to offer the arm. In England we have other notions of gentility.

At the ball room, the females sit together, when not engaged in dancing. During this pause, some gentleman will, with hesitating steps, approach them, and solicit a lady to waltz, or dance a minuet with him.

The Spaniards pride themselves upon the delicacy and respect with which they treat the females; and though there are many Spanish customs which I think “more honoured in the breach than the observance,” this is one, I trust, will last for ever.

- 62 -

The Buenos Ayreans are passionately fond of dancing. Their evening hours are given to this pastime: in their houses, daughters, mothers, nay, grandmothers, will enjoy it with all the spirit of youth. To me it is the most gratifying sight—a proof that age is not always accompanied by moroseness. I have been delighted to see father, mother, daughters, and sons, dancing with that apparent happiness, as if life had no other object but enjoyment.

Walking in the environs of the town, one evening, a family dance attracted my attention; and I looked through the windows. The ladies saw me, and the master of the house came out, entreating me to enter, with the Spanish compliment, “that his house and family were entirely at my service.” He seemed disappointed at my declining the invitation. These evening family dances are very fascinating.

It is said, a Frenchman, from his gaiety, never gets old; the observation applies with equal truth to this people. In our peculiar England, education, climate, and the state of society, render its inhabitants more thoughtful and care-worn: we regard as frivolity what other nations consider the essentials of existence; yet, in general, we are not the gloomy people foreigners would paint us. We can love, and hate, too, with all or more of the fervour ascribed to warmer climes.

Of the dances, some are pretty. The steps of the Spanish dances have a great sameness. The ladies appear graceful; but, indeed, when is it they do not?

The cielito, or little heaven, is opened by the parties chaunting a part of a song all the time in movement, and smacking their fingers together; it then proceeds to the figure.

The contre-danse is involved in intricacies and positions rather difficult to a stranger; twisting the arms, and running in and out, like the game of Thread-my-needle, or,- 63 - excepting the tumbling part, the comic dance in Mother Goose. The English contre-danse has more life and variety both in music and figure.

Waltzing is a favourite: they have not read the lectures of our moralists upon it, but indulge in the mazes of this luxurious dance.

The minuet dance here is, I think, tame and ungraceful.

The piano forte is the favourite musical instrument; and every well-educated young lady is supposed to possess some knowledge of it. I have heard them perform with great taste and skill. The young and interesting daughter of Don Cornelius Saavedra, Doña Dominga, I thought, excelled; and, with instruction, would be a proficient. This young lady, with a countenance just “budding into beauty,” has talents, which, if properly cultivated, will adorn society. Her father, Don Cornelius, was the first Director of the Province after the Revolution, and one of the old and respectable families. His manners are very pleasing: in person, he much resembles a British general officer. Like many others, he has forsaken the sword for the ploughshare, and resides upon his estate, ninety miles from town, on the banks of the Parana.

A good piano will sell for 1000 dollars: the English, in this likewise, take the lead, and those of Clementi, Stodart, &c. are found in many houses; Miss Saavedra has a fine-toned one of Clementi’s. The French and German pianos do not readily sell.

Male teachers of music (and, on mentioning these, the remark of Anastasius occurs to me) find good employment in this city, where all are so musical. An English lady, Miss Robinson, gives lessons on this heavenly science.

The Consulado musical school-rooms, with the young ladies warbling there on a morning, repeatedly attract the attention of the passing pedestrian. At one o’clock, attended by their mammas and slaves, with music-book under arm, those little syrens trudge home. On one or- 64 - two occasions, there has been a public trial of musical skill, a sort of show-off before their relations and friends.

A musical subscription society, called The Philharmonics, has been established, and the most respectable natives and foreigners are subscribers. The vocal and instrumental performers from the theatre attend there. It is a superior affair, and held in a spacious sala of what was formerly a prison—the “Coona:” Orpheus has driven away the ministers of justice.

Using an English phrase, the mothers of Buenos Ayres keep “a sharp look-out” after their daughters, attending them to public places, and in the streets. Should the mother, by any chance, be absent, the care is probably delegated to a slave or servant, who may have their secret orders whispered to them, as well as other trusty centinels. But cannot the slave be bribed? If report speaks true, they are so; and the ardent lover has been ready to embrace the black messenger that has conveyed to him tidings from a beloved mistress.

Young ladies before marriage are, by some mothers, watched with great strictness, not unlike austerity. I fear, females here, as well as in other countries, have often given their hands without their hearts. “Why did you marry?” said a friend of mine to a lady who seemed unhappy. “To gain my liberty,” she eagerly exclaimed, “as many others have done before me.”

Marriage with the Buenos Ayres female takes place at an early age, frequently at thirteen and fourteen. Certain it is, they ripen into womanhood much sooner than those of our clime; and their beauties more quickly fade. An English female at forty looks as young as a Buenos Ayrean at thirty. How many charming and attractive women we find in England at the age of forty; and though I cannot quite agree with our gracious sovereign in his admiration of “fair, fat, and forty,” yet I have known, at home, some ladies at that age with charms and acquirements sufficient to alarm a- 65 - sensitive heart. In Buenos Ayres I have likewise seen females whose beauty seems to improve as years advance; but this is a rare occurrence.

In marriage, the custom of all the family living together seems strange to English ideas, and we cannot help picturing petty jealousies and quarrels amongst such a groupe. Custom, however, and their natural happy temper, free from the corroding cares of more populous countries, prevent these. I cannot help admiring their happiness in this respect, and I trust they may long enjoy it. I know the misery I should feel, were I a father, to see a beloved child depart for ever from the parental roof.

Married females still preserve their maiden name, conjoined with that of their husband’s. The children by such marriage bear the surname of the father. The saint’s-day on which they may be born provides them with a Christian name; and, as the Romish church has a saint for every day in the calendar, the difficulties that the Rev. Mr. Shandy had to encounter are avoided.

In the lottery of names, people of all classes take their chance. It is rather droll to hear the black girls addressing each other by the names of Eugenia, Marcela, Florencia, &c. Some fair ladies bear the pretty romantic names of Rosaria, Irené, Magdalena, Victoria, Martina, Fortunata, Celestina, Adriana, &c. whilst others, not so fortunate in their time of coming into the world, are obliged to be content with the ordinary ones of Juana, Tomasa, &c. But what is there in a name? a rose would smell as sweet under any other name.

John is unquestionably the most vulgar of all names; it is worse than Tom: every body applies it, when unacquainted with one’s real appellation. In Buenos Ayres, a stranger is addressed as “Don Juan.” The Toms and Jacks of the Spanish vocabulary are softened down into Tomas and Juan.

- 66 -

The Spanish custom, when speaking or writing to an individual, of using the Christian name instead of the surname, is very pleasing; and as I am a great lover of the romantic, it will necessarily follow, that I am more charmed with Don Carlos, Don Henrico, Don Guillermo, &c. than plain Mr. Smith, Mr. Wilkins, and Mr. Tomkins; and Doña Clara, Doña Dominga, and Doña Saturnina, than Miss Williams, Miss White, and Miss Brown.

Respectable families think it no disgrace to let lodgings, take in washing, make and mend clothes and linen: these occupations are not looked upon as belonging to the inferior orders, as with us. Their slaves perform the laborious part.[17] I was not a little surprised, when I first arrived, to have an application from the wife of an Alcalde to perform any jobs in needle-work that I might have. I concluded the lady meant to jest. The wife of an Alcalde, a sitting magistrate, to take in needle-work! thought I. What would the Sir Richard Birnies and the other sages of Bow-street, Marlborough-street, &c. say to this?

Washing is dear—four to ten dollars per month, according to the clothes washed.

- 67 -

Slavery has been abolished here, since the year 1810: those born prior to that time, remain slaves.[18] The humanity of the Spaniards to their slaves, compared with other nations, is well known: in Buenos Ayres they are treated with great kindness. The female slaves are often placed more on the footing of friends, than either slaves or servants. They attend their ladies when visiting, seating themselves on the ground in the room in which their mistress may be, and witnessing the dances that continually take place amongst the members of families. These slave girls, in consequence, become quite knowing and accomplished, in their way; and, from being so much in the fashionable world, imitate their superiors. I have observed them dance the minuet, and Spanish contre-danse, with great elegance. The men slaves, when deserving, are treated with equal kindness: it does honour to the humane hearts of their employers; and I almost adore them for it. In other countries, it has been my lot to see those unfortunate people treated with barbarity—even by my own countrymen. No ill effects in the end can possibly result from kind behaviour to the slaves: in Buenos Ayres, they appear affectionate, happy, and grateful. Of course, discontented spirits are to be found; but I speak in a general sense. Of an evening (though I believe it is not a constant rule), I have seen female slaves seated in the same chamber with their mistress and family, at needle-work.

Slaves can demand their paper, that is, the deed which binds them, and seek other employers; and, for cruelty, can allege a complaint with the alcalde. For serious misbehaviour, a proprietor can have them punished by flogging, &c. There are other chastisements for females.

- 68 -

The men slaves are not numerous; a great portion of them having enlisted as soldiers.

The English prefer having servants, to slaves, in their houses, and have purchased but few. Those black gentlemen, in the employ of Englishmen, have picked up a little of our language, which they are proud of displaying.

A great many North-American black men are about the town, and on the beach; crowding the pulperias.

The negroes have great confidence in the effect of charms for different diseases: they stick a small bean-shell to the forehead for the headache; another for the tooth-ache, &c. They wear, likewise, round the neck, a cross, with a piece of leather in the shape of a small morocco purse, like those sold in London: this is a religious badge.

The excellent and orderly conduct observed by the lower order of people in the streets, compared with other countries, is very remarkable: no obscene insulting jests meet the ear; and persons may accompany modest females in the street, without dread of molestation from the groups of all descriptions strolling about, who evince towards the stranger every respect: we cannot but esteem them, for thus contributing to render a foreigner’s abode in this city so free from apprehension.

The riotous noise of the English lower orders is by some called one of the evils of liberty, and I could not consent to curtail that liberty even to purchase civility from them. I should, however, be glad if they would condescend to copy, in some degree, Buenos Ayrean manners. I do not wish them to be servile—good manners is not servility; but to moderate that effusion of liberty, descending sometimes to ferocity.

Drunkenness is not a vice of this country; the rabble of blacks and porters are at times so. The mechanic employs his spare hours with the guitar: on a summer’s night, the- 69 - doors and windows are open, when they are to be seen singing, and dancing, and smoking the segar. My countrymen of the same grade, at home, prefer the comforts of society in a public house, where they can, over their grog and song, damn the ministers and taxes, swearing that they are true-born Britons, back and bone.

From the orderly conduct observed in the streets of Buenos Ayres, a stranger would suppose it a most moral city; we have no drunken disorderly females, creating abhorrence and disgust. Intrigue is common enough, but then it is modestly managed: besides, a lady’s frailty is not considered an offence so heinous as in our scrupulous England; more compassion exists for the lovely sinners. Here are no crim. con. actions to amuse some amorous judge and counsel, and inflame the passions.

This country has its portion of beggars, who are, at times, very annoying, besieging the court-yards, &c. The best way to get rid of them is to exclaim “Perdone por Dios!” (pardon for God’s sake). This expression, singular as it may appear, seldom fails in its effect; but “Perdone por Dios!” would have but little chance amongst the sturdy beggars of Europe.

The operation of lousing, so common in old Spain, is followed here, in a degree, amongst a particular class. It is a most unseemly sight, for female fingers to perform the office of combs.

A great aversion used to exist to reside in a house in which a person had died of a fever, until it was thoroughly cleaned.

A savings bank has been established, upon the English plan; I doubt if it will suit the meridian of Buenos Ayres: they are too careless of to-morrow. If beef was one real per pound, their ideas would be different; the labourer would be more industrious, and not refuse to work on a rainy day, which is the case now. A tolerable sum has been collected for the savings bank.

- 70 -

A propensity to gaming exists with the Buenos Ayreans; I mean with the male part. The vices of London’s fashionable dames, in this respect, are not followed by the fair that inhabit the banks of La Plata.

There are no houses publicly appropriated for gaming, the government having discountenanced this: but what can impede the infatuated gamester? A few nights after my arrival, I visited a gambling-house; they were playing a game like those of our E.O. tables. The police entered;—I thought they were going to take us all into custody, in the London mode; but they were more considerate, and only took the principals: several Englishmen were in the room. If I am correctly informed, Buenos Ayres contains individuals who, in the management of the dice-box, might cope with gentlemen in the parish of St. James, which some South American deputies, resident in London, can vouch for.

Even the boys of Buenos Ayres have a penchant for gambling; especially the milk-boys, who often go home minus the day’s receipts.

Bathing in summer by all classes, particularly the ladies, is one of the fashionable recreations of the place; and as regards the latter, a stranger is not a little interested; for here are no Ramsgate, Margate, or Brighton machines, to shield them from prying eyes. They use bathing clothes, and the operations of undressing, dressing, &c. are managed with great dexterity.

They bathe in front of the town, attended by their female slaves. I have often smiled to see them splashing about the water, with their hair dishevelled, like a groupe of mermaids, wanting but the comb and glass to make the picture perfect. At dark, the scene continues, and not being exposed to the unhallowed eyes of man, they give a loose to joy and merriment. Many lanterns are lighted, and the quantity of them convey an idea of a Chinese festival. Bathing machines would be a great accommodation, as it- 71 - is necessary to walk nearly a quarter of a mile to get out of depth; and, except in some parts, the bottom is stony and disagreeable. It is altogether a wretched place for bathing.

Some soi-disant modest persons (foreigners) take occasion to censure this fashion of the females bathing, denominating it indecent. The assertion is hardly a fair one. It has long been the custom; and such is the circumspection used, that a bathing machine could scarcely add to the decorum of the scene. Some grotesque scenes sometimes occur, such as the lower orders of women bathing and smoking the segar at the same time. Umbrellas are at times used to shade off the sun. No respectable person ventures near the place occupied by the bathing females.

Dress.—In their attire, the gentlemen of Buenos Ayres follow the English fashion, except that they have not had the folly to imitate us in our French short-tailed coats, which were only worn by porters and oyster-men when I was in England. From the summer’s heat, jackets and light trowsers are worn, with straw hats, particularly those singularly shaped ones from Chili. It is not genteel to wear jackets at the theatre, or at parties. From November to March, light clothing is very agreeable, except now and then during some days of cold.

In England, they would smile to see the dress of the boys in Buenos Ayres; they have long coats, capotes, large hats, Wellington trowsers, and boots; and this for children of eight and nine years of age, who look like men of Lilliput.

The dress of the Buenos Ayrean ladies, I think, includes all that is charming in female attire. The street dress is enchanting, equal to that of our ball-room. White is the prevailing colour. The waist is neither so short as the French, nor so long as the English. Shawls of all descriptions- 72 - are worn; some of them serve both for veil and shawl, covering the bosom, and hanging loosely over the back part of the head: the face is never concealed. In fine weather, they throw the shawl entirely from the head, and walk the streets in conscious beauty, heedless of the admiring eyes that will, in spite of resolution, turn to gaze at them, as fancied beings of another sphere. Many times I have done this, and found it impossible to withdraw my eyes, till distance, or the fear of being observed, has obliged me. Those provoking fair ones wear the frock and petticoat of that shortness, as just to expose enough of the leg and ancle to increase the temptation. The persons of some of them are symmetry itself.

So eager are the Buenos Ayrean ladies to display advantageously their pretty feet and ancles, that they wear such tight shoes, as must cause them infinite pain, which is evident from the limping manner in which they are often observed to walk.

The ball dress is similar to that worn in the theatre; there may be more of ornament, but some young ladies whom I could name want “no more diamonds than their eyes can give.”

Some ladies change their dress three and four times in a day.

The greatest attention is paid to the hair, which is suffered to grow to a considerable length, and is fastened by a comb behind, with ringlets in the front. Caps or bonnets are never worn, even in extreme old age. The elderly lady has her white locks as carefully combed as when in youth; and the same peculiar style of managing the veil. They have not recourse to powder, or other disguises, to hide the approach of age. In company, they are exceedingly free and talkative, and very cheerful. It is a sight not devoid of interest, to see them gliding along, in their black attire, to church, at which they are the most constant visitants—the faded forms of what was once, perhaps, so lovely.

- 73 -

The sable dress worn by the ladies at church, and which I so much admire, is the ancient Spanish costume, the basquina.

The wearing of mourning does not continue so long as with us; neither are young and handsome widows disfigured by those close and melancholy-looking caps that we see in England.

I am so charmed with the costume of the Spanish ladies, that I begin to think my dislike of the cap and bonnet has something of prejudice in it. If fortune should conduct me again to England, it will be some time ere I shall fancy those articles of dress. In Buenos Ayres, the sight of them are my perfect abhorrence: at home, they are more applicable to the climate.

Fans are the ladies constant companions—in the street, theatre, ball, and chamber; and their style of using them is unique, and, I think, graceful. They are expensive: I have heard of sixty to seventy dollars being given for one. The French send a great many, with all the embellishments so peculiar to that nation.

The dress of the female children displays equal taste with that of their elders; from which, indeed, there is little difference—the short-sleeved frock, silk stockings, curled hair, and fan. They walk the streets with immense importance—the miniatures of those of maturer age.

The children of Buenos Ayres are handsome; many of the female part, perfect seraphs, bidding fair to fill up the void that time will soon occasion in those whose charms now so much delight us. I sometimes look at these little creatures with a feeling almost bordering upon melancholy, to think that, in a few years, they will replace those who at this period shine forth in all the heaven of beauty, to be themselves replaced, another and another race succeeding. Who can prize life, when our dream of happiness is so short; the vale of coming years so soon casting its blight upon all our ardent, youthful fancies?

- 74 -

The females are really industrious, making their own clothes, and, I am informed, the silk shoes they wear: a British lady is lost without the milliner’s aid. One of that profession might answer here, if it were only for the novelty of the thing.

Travelling.—Not many carriages or coaches are to be seen; but they increase in number. The callé coché, or street coach, is much used; it is drawn by two horses, or mules, with a postillion, and in shape very much resembles our bakers’ carts: the passengers are seated sideways. Some English merchants and Creoles have carriages after the English mode; but the nature of the roads and streets does not afford them a great opportunity to “show off.” Morris, an Englishman, carries on a profitable trade as coach-maker: he is, indeed, the only good one in the town.

The travelling carriages, that convey families to their estates, hundreds of miles distant, are heavy cumbersome machines, in the old Spanish style. A family going to the country is no ordinary sight; the mules and waggons following with the baggage, and the quantity of out-riders, slaves, and servants, in ponchos and little dirty hats, surrounding the carriages containing the ladies and female slaves, appear like a banditti escorting their plunder.

A gentleman travelling has dirty white leather boots, large spurs, poncho, slouching hat, pistols, sword, dagger, and knife; he appears a complete robber captain—in fact, another Rugantino: he has generally one or two slaves to attend him.

There are post-houses on the road, and those leading to Chili are very regular. A constant supply of horses and guides are kept; but persons mostly go on horseback, for the sake of expedition. The journey is thus made to the Andes in about fourteen days. Crossing the mountains, and getting to Santiago, in Chili, will take about three- 75 - weeks, from Buenos Ayres; but the horse must always be kept at a full gallop. Carriages are expensive, and very dilatory, but they save a great deal of fatigue.

There are persons in Europe who suppose that horses may be obtained in South America for the trouble of catching them: but that is not exactly the case in this province; here they have all owners.

Horses may be bought from 3 to 100 dollars, according to their quality; a very good one may be had for seventeen dollars. They average about 12 or 13 hands high, and have the tail mostly long. They will endure much fatigue. Their pace is the gallop, or canter; trotting, the horse’s natural pace, appears quite unnatural here; but we must not include those trained for the carriage or gig. There are some fine horses in Buenos Ayres; and by those who have not seen the hunters, the dray, and the heavy horse of Europe, they will be admired. To tell a native that horses have been sold in England for 2, 3, 4, and 5000 guineas, would hardly gain belief.[19] If these animals are cheap here, - 76 - the keep of them is dear—from 12 to 17 dollars per month. Hay is not much used: grass may be purchased from the country, every morning, from the grass carts that pass through the town.

They have no convenience like the livery stables of England. The horses are put under a shed, or left in the open air; the mild climate requiring no other care. Those employed in drudgery with carts, at the custom-house, &c. are as hard worked as our post and hackney-coach horses.

English saddles are in vogue. The ricado, or saddle of the country, keeps its sway, being so constructed that on journeys it serves for saddle and bed. The Spanish bridle and bit are preferred both by the English and the natives. The Spanish fashion of having the stirrups long is invariably followed, and I think it more graceful than our mode.

Silver stirrups, spurs, &c. are not so much in use as formerly. Horses, bridles, and saddles were repeatedly stolen in the streets; but such events, from the regularity of the police, do not often happen now. Every horse has a burnt mark, by which its owner can be traced.

The ladies ride on horseback; but they neither look so well in their riding attire, or manage the horse so dexterously, as the British ladies.

The lower orders of countrymen ride with one toe in the stirrup, and gallop for miles in that way.

They strap the front of the horses’ legs, to prevent their running away, in the streets. Galloping is not permitted in the town.

- 77 -

The country waggons are roofed with hides, and have large wheels: the creaking of the latter is very disagreeable; but they will not take the trouble to grease them. Whole families and parties, going long journeys, live and sleep for weeks or months together in waggons drawn by oxen. Six or eight of them are yoked, in pairs, to a log of wood at the back of the horns, to which the rope harness is tied, and they are thus made to draw the burthen from the head. They are urged on by poles with a sharp substance at the end: the drivers have likewise a piece of lead, in shape and size like our constables’ staffs, with which they belabour the poor animal about the horns. They sadly want a Mr. Martin here. From being so constantly goaded, these animals have got a mischievous trick of kicking; and, not being aware of them, I once received a favour of this sort, which has since made me (to use the sailor’s phrase) “give them a wide birth.”

Sports and Amusements.—Near the Recolator is a decent even road, where, on fine evening, are horse-races. The natives ride without saddle; and the animals have great spirit. Englishmen sometimes get up a race, the natives acting as jockeys.

Exercise on the water is not a popular amusement. The inhabitants have no taste for sailing-boats and rowing-matches: the river, it is true, has no very great inducement for aquatic sports.

A particular class of the people are very fond of cock-fighting, and will give thirty to forty dollars for a good English game-cock. The packet sailors have brought some out, and sold them well. The native game-cocks are good, but not equal in strength and courage to the English.

Greyhounds and foxhounds would come to a bad market, for neither climate nor country is adapted for hunting. My fox-hunting countrymen would be out of their element- 78 - here: foxes there are none; but deer are plentiful. Athletic sports must be confined to countries more congenial to them.

The amateurs of shooting would be at home: birds abound so much as almost to destroy the pleasure of the sport. A short distance from town, there are lakes, with wild ducks, geese, swans, &c. In cold weather, and in other periods, flocks fly over the town, and alight near the beach. The black-necked swans are fine birds; and wild ducks, which are always an excellent dish at table, are much better than the tame ones: the market is well supplied with them. There are also excellent partridges, of a larger size than our’s; but there are no pheasants. English sportsmen, habited in the mode of their country, with fustian jacket, gun fastened to the horse, and the dogs behind, greatly enjoy this recreation: they bring to my recollection our sporting farmers of Gloucestershire and Norfolk, revived in South-America. The Frenchmen in this country are fond of the sport: they go out, dressed in French sporting costume, with cap and jacket, and on foot. I have observed that this amusement is, in a great measure, confined to foreigners; the natives take very little interest in it. The cockney sportmen of Buenos Ayres sometimes amuse themselves by shooting gulls on the beach.

The country affords little facility to follow fishing as a sport; and the fish found in the river, with a few exceptions, is not worth catching. They fish on horseback. Two horses are attached, one to each end of the net,—a man standing on their backs, in the manner of one of Astley’s equestrians; and they go so deeply in the water, that the horses are, at times, obliged to swim. I have expected to see the men thrown off. The net is then hauled to the shore; the fish that is fit for the market is taken out, and the rest thrown or given away. People don’t go out fishing at a distance, in boats. The sailors on board the vessels in the roads catch great quantities of fish, but they are of- 79 - a very indifferent kind: one called the cat-fish is the most common.

Throwing the lasso is a favourite amusement of this country, and is performed by the natives with great dexterity. A man on horseback, holding the lasso (a rope looped at the end) rides amongst a herd of cattle, casting the rope towards the object he wishes to entrap; the first attempt almost always succeeds, and the animal is fast secured by the leg. They practice this lasso from boyhood: it is a formidable weapon, against a flying enemy.

An annual fair is held on some open ground, before the Recolator church, about two miles from the fort, and one mile north of the town. It commences on the 12th of October (the nativity of Nostra Señora del Pilar), and continues a week. The amusements are not very great: there are a few booths for eating and drinking, swings, two or three humourless clowns running about, and a military band. The national British and American flags are hoisted from houses and booths devoted to good cheer, rented for the occasion by individuals of those nations. At night, the country people dance till a late hour in the booths; they may be observed to perfection then. I wandered into several; and the Gaucho ladies and gentlemen behaved with the greatest politeness, offering me a seat, and entreating me to dance. The guitar was the music, with the usual accompaniments of singing, and snapping the fingers during the dance. On fine evenings a very elegant assemblage attend this fair, which is a promenade for the beauties of the city; but being held so near the equinox, the weather is generally unsettled. In 1822, a tremendous storm took place, one night of the fair, overwhelming booths, flags, and preparations; hundreds took refuge in the church. At the theatre (in which I happened to be during the storm), the dust filled the interior, obscuring the stage. The small stones and dust, rattling against the walls and windows, had the effect of what one might suppose of a shower of small shot.

- 80 -

The fair at the Recolator, in 1824, as regarded amusements, was very dull. The promenade, however, was well attended: the elegantes, and others of Buenos Ayres, appeared in their best attire; and the dashing mulatto girls, in silk stockings, white dresses, and veils, seemed determined to rival the fair ones of higher birth. As usual, the equinoctial gales vented their spite at this devoted fair.[20]

During Carnival they have a disgusting practice: in place of music, masques, and dancing, they amuse themselves by throwing buckets and pans of water from the tops of houses and windows, sousing every passenger that passes, and following each other, from house to house, in regular water attacks. Egg-shells filled with water are also thrown: these are sold in the streets. The audience, on leaving the theatre the night before Carnival, get a plentiful salute of them. It lasts three days; and many persons go out of town to avoid it, as it is hardly possible to walk the streets without a ducking. The ladies receive no mercy; neither do they deserve any, for they take a most active part. Repeatedly, on passing groups of them, at night, an egg of water has been adroitly put into my bosom. Those whose occupations lead them into the street, must expect a wetting. Strangers seem to join in the sports with great glee. An English master of a vessel, just arrived, received a bucket of water. Not being aware of the practice, he took up bricks, swearing he would break every window in the house. He could scarcely be pacified. Many persons have been seriously ill from the effects of Carnival playing. The newspapers and police have interfered to suppress it, hitherto, without effect, though it is somewhat lessened. They follow it as an ancient custom of the country; and,- 81 - like other absurdities, it will, I suppose, die a natural death. If the ladies knew how much it detracts from feminine softness, surely it would be discontinued by them.

In 1825, government seized the opportunity of the victory in Peru, to devote the three days of Carnival to public rejoicings. Handbills were accordingly issued, requesting fathers and masters of families to assist them, and prevent water-throwing, denominating it “disgraceful to a civilized people.” The appeal had, in some degree, the desired effect: at night, however, the water-playing folks could not resist indulging in their favourite amusement—sprinkling the pedestrians with water from phials; especially in the Plaza, where, some mischief-loving girls managed to accommodate me with some of their favours in this way. In time, the good sense of the people will banish this, as they have many other of their antique and absurd customs; for instance, the musical exhibitions during Lent—a triumph gained by reason over bigotry and priestcraft.

Provisions.—The new market, in the centre of the town, is convenient, and well supplied: soldiers are stationed in the outlets, to keep order. Beef is sold at three reals the arroba, or 25 lb.; mutton, for the whole sheep, six reals. Veal is not allowed to be killed; and pork is very bad indeed, and seldom used at table. Turkeys cost from 5 to 7 reals; ducks and fowls, 3½ reals each; partridges and pigeons, 1½ real the pair: geese are moderate—3 reals each. Vegetables are very dear: cabbages, one real; carrots, green peas, cauliflowers, spinage, &c. in the same proportion.

Although the chief articles of life are, at first cost, so cheap, the expense of fire in cooking makes them come almost, if not quite, as dear as in England. Coals are imported from England, and are dear.

The beef is good, but much inferior to our’s; and their fashion of always baking it gives it a taste of the charcoal- 82 - and wood, and renders it insipid. They have no idea of roasting by the spit. Mr. Booth, an Englishman, who keeps a store, is noted for having dinners in the English style.

In summer, meat will not keep beyond the day, and cattle are slaughtered in the morning for the day’s consumption; in winter, the night previous. In England, meat kept two or three days is supposed to eat more tender; here, it is the reverse—as report tells me, for I have never been housekeeper enough to know from experience.

Mutton is indifferent: from some farms, they tell me, good mutton can be procured, but it has not been my lot to partake of any of this superior sort. The natives have not much relish for mutton: sheep were, at one time, of so little value, that, in the country, they were killed, and used as fuel for brick-kilns. This has improved, and will continue to do so, from the number of well-stocked sheep farms, that now send large droves far into the interior for sale. Mr. Halsey, an American gentleman, has a large concern of this nature.

The poultry bought in the market are not of the best description; they are in general, diminutive and tough. To have good poultry, it is necessary for persons to fatten them themselves, or purchase them at farms that can be depended upon. Ducks are better; the turkeys are large, and, when properly reared, eat tender; the geese are indifferent. Partridges are large and tender, and very excellent. The ordinary poultry, in a manner, live upon beef, for which they seem to have a peculiar penchant. I have seen beef and corn placed before turkeys, and they preferred the former. In a place where so many animals exist upon beef, the pig, it may be believed, comes in for his full share. Indeed, all animals, in this country, appear to live upon beef. The quantity that is wasted would be most acceptable to the poor in populous Europe.

This country is as famous for the quantity of beef produced, as the Cape of Good Hope is for sheep. A bullock- 83 - now costs eight dollars, without the hide; formerly, they could be purchased at ten reals. The hide now sells for six dollars. Some of the estancias have from forty to fifty thousand head of cattle of all classes.

An order exists, that beef is not to be sold at more than three reals the arroba, at market. The year of 1823 was one of great drought, and the cattle perished by thousands: the beef market was in so terrible a condition, that scarcely any were to be had, and what there was was very bad; for cattle could not be brought to market, but at a very great loss to the owners. The impolicy of a fixed price in an open market, except when monopoly is apprehended, was fully proved. When any beef came to market, there was perfect fighting for it with the slaves and servants of families and others. The poor endured privations with patience: John Bull would have been more riotous.

Besides the principal market, there are others in different parts of the town; and beef is sold in carts, that take their stations in yards and outbuildings, holding a butcher’s shop, the ground serving for block. The first sight of this operation, so different to the cleanliness and style of English butcher’s shops, is sufficient to disgust a stranger.

Salt, or corned beef, is only to be had good in winter, and then it is nothing like that we get in England. It is only at English or American tables this dish is to be seen: the natives pretend not to understand it; I have seen them, notwithstanding, partake of a buttock of beef with great relish.

A beef-steak is so entirely an English dish, that it preserves in all climates its original name: they may be had in the coffee-houses here, but, like the French “bif-tik,” are no great things.

The Gauchos in the country exist upon beef: bread is a rarity with them. Having no ovens, they are obliged to roast the beef upon sticks placed lengthwise. I wish they were under the same necessity in Buenos Ayres; I should- 84 - eat it with much better appetite. The true roast beef is only to be obtained amongst those Gauchos.[21]

Carné conquiero (beef baked with part of the hide attached), and mater ambre, or kill hunger (baked beef, with sauce piquant), is relished by many here; but I am not one of the number.

The sausages I should like, were it not for the abhorrent garlic in them.

The dainties of English hams, cheese, potatoes, &c. are bought at the stores; the two former, at four reals the pound; the latter, one real: the duties are rather high upon them. Bottled beer may be purchased at four reals per bottle; and draught beer may sometimes be had. Articles of the above description are almost wholly imported from England. The length of the voyage will not permit our rich English cheeses to be brought here; consequently, we are deprived of the luxury of a real “Welch rabbit.” The Penco cheese, brought from the district of that name, in Chili, approaches nearest to our toasting cheese.

Bread is dear: two small loaves (a trifle larger than our French rolls), one madio. They decrease the size according to the price of flour. That made of American flour is the best. They are, at present, entirely dependent upon foreign importation; and the Americans have taken away immense sums of money. The corn of the country, from some unaccountable cause—a want of attention, or deficient harvests—is nothing equal to the demand. They generally grind the corn at the bakehouses, which, by a late order, are removed out of town. Mules are employed in the grinding.

Tea is not much drank by the natives, though more so- 85 - than formerly. In English families, it is, as at home, an article of the first necessity; it sells here from 1 to 1½ dollar per lb. Coffee is 3½ reals per lb. Lump sugar, dear and scarce; that of Havannah and Brazils is used. Chocolate, from 2½ to 3 reals per lb.

Altogether, living in Buenos Ayres is much more expensive than in England, without its various comforts.

Here are wines of all sorts, “from humble Port to imperial Tokay,” and but little good. Port and Madeira are retailed at one dollar per bottle; champaigne, a dollar and a half. Of French and Spanish wines, there are great quantities. The cheapest and common drink is the wine of Catalonia, or, as it is denominated, Carlon wine, which is sold at from two to three reals per bottle, and is far from an unpleasant beverage. Not much wine is made in the country; that of Mendoza has a sweet taste, like our homemade wines.

Beer is only used as a bonne bouche. Bottled beer has not that relish to me, that the London draught porter has. Brandy, gin, and rum, are abundant. The latter arrives from the Brazils, Havannah, and Isle of France. The good old Jamaica rum is a scarce commodity. Caña, a sort of white brandy, from the Havannah, Brazils, and Spain, and called Spanish brandy, is much drank, and makes capital punch.

The vegetables of this country, to my thinking, are not very enticing. We miss the delicious flavour of the summer cabbage, large asparagus, and peas, that we have at home. A good salad, with cucumbers and onions, may be procured. Turnips are scarce and bad. Indian corn grows in abundance.

English potatoes are much sought after: the packet sailors have brought a great many;[22] and so eager were the English - 86 - potatoe merchants to obtain them, that they quarrelled one with the other, and their disputes were referred to the Consulado, who must have imbibed strange opinions of the trading English. All efforts to raise potatoes on this soil have failed: they are small and insipid. An Englishman, Mr. Billinghurst, has been endeavouring, some years, to effect this object without success. Those grown at Monte Video are something better. In Peru, they are thought equal, if not superior, to our’s: but our islands appear to be their home.

The peaches in their season, from January to March, are excellent, and the consumption great, being esteemed healthy: they are sold in all parts—in the markets, shops, and hawked about the streets. From eight to ten can be purchased for a madio (three-pence English money). The strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, &c. are, for their quality, not worthy of notice. Grapes are tolerable. Oranges will not thrive in this climate; and the lemons are very inferior. Gooseberries, currants, and plums are unknown, except by name. After all the praises bestowed upon the fruits grown in tropical and warm climates, they cannot, in the gross, equal those of others. What have they to compensate for the green-gage, gooseberries, currants, strawberries, cherries, apples, pears, and plums of every description? Travellers must not believe all they hear in Europe; they will not find the fields and boughs, in South America, teeming with every species of fruit, free to those who choose to gather them.

In addition to those already noticed, this country produces very few OTHER ANIMAL OR VEGETABLE PRODUCTIONS. Indeed, persons who wish to send presents to England are often at a loss what to forward, the country not producing any great variety, either in the animal or vegetable world.

The herds of cattle that exist in the Pampas are immense:- 87 - of this we can form a tolerably correct estimate from annual exports. In one year a million of ox and cow hides were exported.

Mules are numerous and cheap; they cost from two to four dollars each. There is a traffic in them, but not very great, to the Isle of France and West Indies. The expense of provender and fitting for such a freight, and the numbers that die during a voyage, lessen the profits considerably; and vessels will not venture upon each troublesome shipmates when any thing else offers.

A great many tigers are found up the country, and about the islands of the river Parana; but they have nothing of the ferocity or terrific grandeur of the East-Indian tygers: they are, in fact, more like leopards; and those that I have seen are not larger than a common sheep dog. They will, however, often attack individuals; and several have been devoured by them.

The tiger-cats are plentiful.

Buenos Ayres swarms with dogs, and none of them very valuable. An English bull-dog would beat fifty such. They had an abominable practice of sending criminals, under a guard, into the streets, armed with heavy clubs, for the purpose of killing the dogs they met with, leaving the carcases in the street to rot. Many a pet has been slaughtered this way. Some more humane method might be devised, to lessen the number of dogs, than this cruel and disgusting mode: it has been lately discontinued. Hydrophobia, I conceive, they only know by name, as I have never heard of any accident from it.

Of the small field animals the nutria, for the sake of its skin, it the most valuable, and forms a valuable article of export. They are, in shape, much like rats; but are larger, and have long front teeth projecting: they are quite harmless.

The armadillo is the South-American hedge-hog, without the prickly substances they have in Europe: the natives eat them.

- 88 -

Here are, also, the boscatcha, or South-American badger; and a pretty little animal, like a weasel, which is often tamed, and runs about the house.

Rats and ants are a great annoyance in this country: they swarm in the houses, and are very active in their vocations. The former are not so ferocious as the English ones, who often, when retreat is cut off, fight most ratfully. The Buenos Ayres rats are better educated.

The fire-fly, on summer nights, is seen gliding through the air.

This not being a woody country, the feathered creation presents very little variety. Here are the canary, cardinal, common sparrow, owls, &c.

About Paraguay, and where it is more intersected, there are some beautiful birds, including the parrot and parroquet; the latter are likewise plentiful on the other side of the river, in Entre Rios, &c.[23]

Ostriches are very numerous in the Pampas.

The beautiful and scarce little humming-bird, now and then, makes its appearance among the lowers. I have made several efforts to catch them, but without success.

This portion of South America, in the summer of 1824-25, was most seriously annoyed by locusts; the memory of the oldest inhabitant cannot recollect such a swarm. The air was darkened, and the ground strewed, with the millions of those devouring insects: a north wind brought them down from the Parana, like a snow-storm. The fruit trees, plants, &c. dreadfully suffered. The inhabitants have an idea, that, by ringing bells, beating tin saucepans, and other noises of this description, locusts can be frightened away. An easterly wind, rain, and cold weather, are, I believe, their only destroyers. The months of December,- 89 - 1824 and January, 1825, were foggy, dry months, the wind constantly from the north; and, for want of water, a great mortality took place in the country among the cattle.

Mushrooms and water-cresses are not very plentiful: they are more found in the neighbourhood of Ensenada; as are also leeches, for which doctors give a good price.

The flowers reared in this country must likewise yield, in beauty and sweetness, to our own: we do not see the polyanthus, moss rose, and many others that strew their beauties over the British isles.

Population.—The province of Buenos Ayres, which extends nearly 500 miles in length, with a breadth undefined (perhaps equal to its length), has only a population of about 150,000 souls; and Patagonia, which is under the same government, 1000.

It is estimated, that in the population of Buenos Ayres, there are five females to one male. If this be correct, some ladies are likely to come under the horrid list of old maids. That more female births take place in comparison with those of Europe cannot be doubted. I know families of eight, nine, and ten daughters, and perhaps one son. The causes of such disproportion, I must leave the natural philosophers to develope.

Trade and Manufactures.—From its extensive produce, Buenos Ayres will ever command attention in a mercantile point of view.

The exports consist of ox hides of all descriptions, horse hides, horse hair, wool, tallow, nutria skins, horns, chinchilla skins, salted beef, and silver in hard dollars and bars.

The quantity of European goods annually imported is very great: I am surprised how they find vent for them. The cargoes brought from Liverpool, of manufactured goods, of Manchester, Glasgow, &c. are of considerable value, often from 70 to 80, and £100,000.

- 90 -

The following is a list of square-rigged merchant vessels that entered the port of Buenos Ayres in the years 1821, 1822, 1823, and 1824:—

  In 1821. In 1822. In 1823. In 1824.
British[24] 128 183 113 110
American 42 75 80 [25]143
French 19 21 24 21
Swedish 7 11 6 14
Sardinian 3 7 6 6
Danish 1 1 5 10
Dutch 2 4 6 8

Under the Portuguese, Brazilian, and Buenos Ayrean flags, brigs and small craft are daily arriving and sailing from and to Rio Janeiro, and all parts of the Brazils, Patagonia, and trading in the River Plate, and up the rivers of the interior.

A number of American vessels are sold, as well as broken up, in Buenos Ayres, which, assuming the flag of the country, trade with Rio Janeiro, Rio Grande, Patagonia, &c. Many of them are under the command of Englishmen and North Americans, who, at no great distance of time will carry the Buenos Ayrean flag to every part of the world. This country must for some time rely upon foreigners for their shipping. The population are not maritimely inclined.

Several persons gain a livelihood by leaving notices, or avisos, of vessels arriving, and their cargoes.

A long report upon the trade of this country has been drawn up by a committee of British merchants, and presented- 91 - to the Consul, extracts from which have appeared in the English newspapers. Great talent has been exhibited in the detail and writing of this report, although I think the picture has been too highly painted.

Should the trade of Paraguay be thrown open to Buenos Ayres, it will be of great advantage. The present Governor, Francia, follows the Jesuits’ system; and Pekin is not more secluded from the inspection of strangers. Some unfortunate Englishmen, who ventured there with goods, had both their persons and property detained, and no satisfactory intelligence has been received of them. In February, 1823, a memorial was sent to Sir Thomas Hardy, by their friends in Buenos Ayres, entreating his interference. This memorial has been forwarded to the British government. It is surprising that the people of Paraguay, a country so rich in its natural productions should be quiet under such severe restrictions. One is led to suppose, from their passiveness, that they are content with the system. Francia, however, has lately permitted communication and trade with the Portuguese in Brazil; Itapua, on the frontiers, being the depôt town.

They have no regular exchange for the merchants to meet in, at Buenos Ayres. A new general Commercial Room is about to be established, to which persons of all nations will be allowed to subscribe. Some late regulations of the British Room have given offence; the committee of which, in derision, have been named “the Holy Alliance,” and have had several anonymous letters addressed to them, upon their aristocratical notions in a foreign country. The refusal to allow any but British subjects to subscribe to the Commercial Room, has been much commented upon; some years back it might have been advisable, but at this period a more liberal system would perhaps be better.

The Creoles of the country now engage in mercantile pursuits with great avidity; and commerce has spread into so many hands, that money does not roll in quite so fast as formerly.

- 92 -

The competition amongst the store-keepers materially diminishes their profits, and reduces the concern upon a level with English chandlers’ shops.

The number of shops in Buenos Ayres is very great; they abound in the streets leading from the Plaza. Every shop and house has a proportion of taxes levied upon it: and there is also a species of property tax upon the English plan. The taxes now imposed considerably diminish the profits they used to make.

The linen-drapers have a choice assortment from all countries, neatly arranged. Their shops are well lighted; and although they fall very short of the splendour of the London ones, yet they are equal to some of those of our best country towns: they are open till nine and ten at night. They call the Buenos Ayreans a lazy people: the shopkeepers, at least, do not merit this epithet.

The shopmen are mostly young men, who appear to have all the persuasive arts of their brethren in London, prevailing upon their fair customers to get rid of their money, and subjecting them to a good scolding from husbands and mammas, for extravagance, leading to pouting and sulks for a week. Those gentlemen of the shop have a great deal to answer for.

Every article of apparel, both for male and female, can be purchased at the retail shops, of which there are many: they have coats, waistcoats, trowsers, &c. hanging in front, in the mode of Monmouth Street. Mr. Niblett was the first Englishman that opened a shop of this description. A great many Englishmen have their clothes sent from England: but the duty and incidental expences make them come as dear as if made here.

Buenos Ayres contains several English tailors, whose work is tolerably well, considering they have not English workmen; although not with that exquisite finish which is to be seen in London. A coat will cost thirty dollars, trowsers twelve; the rest in proportion. The town swarms with Creolian and other tailors.

- 93 -

Manufactories for hats exist in Buenos Ayres: one of them, Varangot’s, has a considerable trade, and they are really good, from seven to eight dollars each, far superior to our second-rate hats; the misfortune is, that on the approach of rainy weather they act as a perfect barometer, and get limp.

Of the hats imported into Buenos Ayres the English are preferred; but the heavy duty has brought out those of an inferior description. At present, there are some good ones at ten or twelve dollars each, which at that price meet with a ready sale. The French import a quantity of hats; but the quality of them is much inferior to our’s.

English manufactured goods are cheap; the market has been overstocked, and, I fear, does not yield much profit to the adventurers. I have bought English stockings cheaper than I could buy them in London, leather gloves (a good pair) for a dollar. It is cheaper to purchase a stock of linen here than at home. I have purchased good white cotton neckcloths, after the rate of sixpence each. In summer, cotton shirting is preferred.

English saddles and bridles are imported largely; we thus return them their own hides, manufactured into choice and costly goods. Of the many saddlers’ shops, several are kept by Englishmen; as also watch-makers, with loads of English watches.

All sorts of hardware, as knives and forks, and scissars, are imported from England, and can be obtained at a cheap rate; also furniture, such as tables, chairs, &c. Of the latter, the North Americans bring great quantities.

India goods are sought after, particularly the China crape shawls.

Articles of stationery arrive from every quarter: Spanish writing-paper from Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, and I think it of better quality than ours, at least more pleasant to write upon.

Barbers’ shops are in great abundance.

- 94 -

At the pulperias, or grog-shops, they sell almost every article of life; they are, indeed, perfect chandlers’ shops.

The pastrycooks neither cut a figure in their shops, nor in the articles they sell; here are no hot buns or tarts on a morning, nor stale pastry for the ragamuffin boys to purchase. Sweetmeats are the order of the day.

A pastrycook’s shop in the English style, I am confident, would succeed—with the addition of hot rolls in the morning: none of those luxuries are known here.

A good portrait-painter, I conceive, would meet with encouragement in Buenos Ayres: at any rate they would have a fine field for study. An English artist, named Hervé, practised some months: indisposition forced him to leave.

It had occurred to me, that a pawnbroker would be a good business in Buenos Ayres; but I find every shopkeeper, or monied person acts in that capacity, and that respectable persons do not hesitate to send silver spoons, matté-pots, and other valuables, to pledge from day to day—at what interest (or if any) I know not, though I am apprehensive some of them are guilty of what we should call usury. Poverty is a crime in England; here they dread not exposure: but such is my delicacy in money affairs, I should prefer being under an obligation to the gentlemen with three balls, and to slide in at one of their secret doors, to the publicity practised here.

An Englishman has lately undertaken a speculation which has cost him a considerable sum, to have the exclusive privilege of taking cattle in the Falkland islands—in fact, to be sole proprietor for a term of years. He has forwarded to his new sovereignty a small colony of settlers, servants, &c.; the chances of his success are very doubtful. Buenos Ayres claims the jurisdiction of these islands, and those claims will not cause such a dispute as in the year 1770. The voyage to them from Buenos Ayres is made in about fourteen days.

- 95 -

Currency, &c.—In the year 1822 silver became so scarce, that, it was impossible to get change of a doubloon without allowing a consideration for it. Foreigners, of course, bore the blame of draining the country of the money. To remedy the evil, small notes were issued; and, shortly after, a large supply of copper coin arrived, that had been contracted for in England. This currency of paper and copper was something so new, that not a few sneers and forebodings took place. The facility that paper money affords to business, however, soon began to be experienced in Buenos Ayres. Previous to its issue, if a person had to receive a hundred dollars, it was necessary to hire a porter to carry it, and for larger quantities a cart; besides the endless trouble of counting thousands of dollars, often in reals and madios, and the detection of bad money: hours and days of valuable time were consumed by it. The collecting clerks are no longer tormented with counting piles of silver, before they take it from the house. Saturdays are the days appropriated for money collecting.

Notes, engraved in England, are now issued on a grand scale, from 5 to 1000 dollars, upon the security of the government and bank; the people are reconciled to it, and begin to find that a currency of gold and silver is not at all times a proof of the credit or riches of a nation.[26]

Besides the above notes, the present currency consists of the doubloon of 17 dollars; the half, quarter, and half-quarter doubloon; the dollar, half dollar, and quarter dollar; with reals, madios, and quartillos. The hard dollars are scarce, being bought up for exportation.

- 96 -

In exporting money, there is a small duty of two per cent. to pay. Being so trifling, it prevents smuggling, which was formerly the case. Making returns in produce, however, is at all times preferred to money, when it can be obtained at any thing like a moderate rate; but it is at times so scarce and dear, that it renders the purchasing ruinous.

The average exchange for the last three years has been forty-five pence the Spanish dollar.

The Bank of Buenos Ayres opened in 1822, the first thing of the sort in this province. Its capital is one million of dollars, in 1000 shares, of 1000 dollars each. The number of directors are ten, viz. six Creolian gentlemen, and four British. It has hitherto proved a profitable concern. The Bank shares rose from par to 170, but quickly declined to 90 and 100 per cent. premium, at which price they seem stationary. The last dividend paid on Bank stock was after the rate of 30 per cent.

The reported establishment of a National Bank, has created some alarm, amongst the present Bank proprietors; numerous controversies have taken place in the newspapers, upon the occasion. The affair, however, seems at rest for the present.

The government funds of Buenos Ayres have lately had a considerable rise, from 28 to 100. The bulls carry all before them; and the bears have had to pay pretty handsomely. Who knows but a Stock Exchange may be established here some years hence?

Considerable sums of money have been made by the advance in the public funds in Buenos Ayres; and, from the eagerness of all classes to speculate in them, it is probable that lame ducks will not be confined to Capel Court. Every shopkeeper now dabbles in the funds; and, in a market so confined, the mischief may be very serious.

- 97 -

Education, and Literature.—The government expresses the most laudable anxiety to forward education, by patronizing schools upon the Lancasterian system; and the numerous seminaries in this city are a credit to the people.

The College School consists of 125 youths, from the age of 15 to 16 or 17 years of age. In their walks, they wear black clothes, with a light blue ribbon over their coat. Their behaviour is better than that of the boys at our public schools: a person may mix amongst them, without being subject to those insolent remarks so common at home, and which makes a stranger dread to enter their precincts.

At the Buenos Ayres College, pupils are taught every branch of the classics. They have not the advantage of professors, as at Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, Westminster, and the rest of our public schools—professors, whose talents not only confer honour upon their country, but on the human species generally. Some students have elicited considerable talents. A younger branch of the Belgrano family, Manuel, wrote a play founded on The Virgin of the Sun, which was performed with success; he has likewise acquired a knowledge of the English language, and is at present employed in the British Consul’s office.

In the Merced Church, an academy is held for the instruction of 30 youths in the study of divinity.

Among the numerous seminaries here, is one kept by an English lady, Mrs. Hyne, which receives great encouragement; she has had 70 scholars at a time, who are taught, with other requisites, the English language. From the anxiety expressed by parents, that their children should attain this language, the next generation will become completely anglicised. In placing them under the care of a Protestant lady, they are not so narrow-minded as to fear that their religion will be tampered with. One of the stripling scholars conversed with me the other- 98 - day in good English, which he had learned in a very short period.

A number of Buenos Ayrean gentlemen speak and write the English language with much fluency and correctness. Don Manuel Sarratea, late a governor of the province, and who resided some time in London as their minister, is a proficient, and a man of talent. To the British he is very attentive, and is much respected by them. Don Miguel Riglos is another instance: this gentleman has made the tour of Great Britain, and speaks English with so little of foreign accent, that, on my introduction to him, I supposed him to be an Englishman: his manners are very prepossessing and amiable. Some self-taught young men have also an excellent idea of it, and others express a great desire to learn it. It has now become a branch of education in their public schools; and, from the continued intercourse they are likely to have with the British and North Americans, and others who speak the English tongue, the utility of learning it will become every day more apparent, and, as regards business, it will be of greater importance than the French.

The prejudices of ages is fast wearing away: the South-Americans, and, Spain herself, no longer view us as renegades, heretics, “God-abandoned.” Twenty years back, England and Englishmen were as little known or understood by the Buenos Ayreans, as is the interior of the Chinese empire now to the rest of the world. For centuries past, care was taken to inflame the passions of the Spaniards against us and our country; and it is not strange that a remnant of this animosity yet remains. Their best poets have stigmatised us: I recollect hearing, in Buenos Ayres, that part of Lope de Vegas’ popular ballad—

“My brother Don John to England’s gone,
To kill the Drake, the Queen to take,
And the heretics all to destroy;
And he shall bring you a Protestant maid
To be your slave, &c.”

- 99 -

It is gratifying to observe, that those Creolians who have been in England evince the greatest attachment to us.

In the college of Stonyhurst, near Liverpool, are several Buenos Ayrean youths, who have been sent thither to be educated. The British government deserves praise for the countenance given to this establishment; silencing at once the complaints of our own Catholics, in not having a proper place to educate their sons, and bringing the youth of foreign nations in contact with our’s, from whence it is natural to expect they will feel an attachment to a country where they have received almost their first impressions. So far from its infecting our population with Catholicism,[27] the reverse would seem more probable. It will give strangers an opportunity of judging, from actual observation, of the institutions of our country, and the advantages arising from a liberal system of government.

The education bestowed upon females is far from being solid: reading, writing, music, and dancing, are all that is thought necessary. In the two last they are enthusiasts, and some of the proficients; the study of languages, or deep reading, is not thought of consequence. Spanish husbands, they say, have an antipathy to blue-stocking wives: from the natural talent of the females, they would soon be adepts in more abstruse studies.

If the Buenos Ayrean ladies do not possess the higher branches of learning, they have an indescribable sweetness of manners, free from affectation, at once giving confidence to the timid stranger, and delightful to all who- 100 - have the happiness to know them. They seldom address a person but with a smile, listen attentively to conversation, without that listless indifference, and answering with the monosyllables of yes and no, that I have witnessed in some societies.

The time may arrive, when South America may have to boast her Madame de Staels and a host of female literati; and another Corinna may conduct her lover over Southern scenery, the snow-topt Andes, and Imperial Cusco, with as much soft enthusiasm as belongs to her Italian rival. At present, however, their natural talent is thrown into the shade, for want of cultivation.

The letter-writing between female friends is very energetic: I caught a glimpse of one, which ran thus—“Farewell, my idolized and beloved friend! receive the heart of your devoted, constant, faithful, &c.” Notwithstanding this fervour, we never hear of those fatal love attachments that end so tragically with us: is it that, south of the line, the female heart is so tenderly moulded, they will not bid the despairing lover die? or, are they convinced, “that men have died, and worms have eaten them, but not for love,” and therefore doubt the truth of man’s protestations? Alas! I fear that, in this love-inspiring city of Buenos Ayres, it is possible to find Violas and Rosalinds, but not many Juliets, and of the other sex still fewer Werters.

The Spanish language is certainly delightful; its very sounds bring to recollection the Don Guzmans and Don Antonios of chivalric days. I wish they would make it the fashionable study in England, as in good queen Elizabeth’s reign, instead of the trifling French. From the great changes in the Spanish world, and our South-American connections, it must ever be an object of importance.

A work published in London, by Mr. Ackerman, in the Spanish language, with plates, called Variedades et Mensagero de Londres, has numerous purchasers here. It is- 101 - published quarterly, and reflects great credit on its author. This publication will afford to the South Americans an excellent idea of Great Britain and Europe generally;[28] it contains selections from our best authors.

The NEWSPAPERS published in Buenos Ayres are, the Argus, Teatro del Opinion, Republicano, and State Register. There was, likewise, a Sunday paper, called the Centinella, which has been discontinued—for what reason I know not, for it was managed with ability. The freedom of the press may be said to exist in a degree here; to the same extent as in England, would be dangerous at present.

The Mercantile Gazette, edited by Mr. Hallet, a North-American gentleman, is very useful; it has every sort of commercial information. A newspaper of the same description, the Diario, carried on by a Portuguese, failed for want of requisite attention.

A number of ephemeral productions appear from time to time, “to fret and strut their hour upon the stage, and then are heard no more.”

In the almanack of 1824, there is a selection of English puns and Joe Miller’s jests, to amuse the Buenos Ayreans, and give them a specimen of English low wit.

The PRINTING-OFFICES are spacious, and furnished with every requisite, from London. An English printer, Mr. Cook, is employed in one of the offices, and report states his professional talents to be of the first order.

- 102 -

Religion.—Previous to the late treaty with Great Britain, no other place of public worship was allowed in Buenos Ayres, except those of the Romish church; and it was only after much discussion, that the article allowing religious toleration was obtained.

The Catholic faith has been denominated a religion of the fancy; the Protestant, one of the mind. A book I have lately read, Blunt’s Italy, ingeniously endeavours to prove that most of the Catholic ceremonies are remnants of Paganism; and the author illustrates his arguments by comparing the Roman with the Popish festivals. The great similarity would certainly incline one to give credence to the assertion. The reformed church, however, has its incongruities likewise. In Buenos Ayres I have not witnessed any thing like the superstition that reigns in Belgium; bigots there are, but not more than in some of our sects at home. The rising generation of Buenos Ayres have gone from one extreme to another, and are quite Voltairians: at the theatre, during a portrait exhibition of different public characters, that of Voltaire ran away with all the applause.

In January, 1824, an archbishop, named Don Juan Muzi, arrived from Rome with a large suite, in a Sardinian brig, which hoisted the Papal flag in addition to her own, and fired a salute. Some time ago, such an event would have put the whole town in commotion; as it was, few attended to see him land, and his reception by the government was any thing but cordial: he shortly after departed for Chili. During his abode, he lodged at Faunch’s Hotel, and there gave his benedictions to the crowds that visited him, who were mostly females, attracted, I thought, more from curiosity than from any other motive. The manifest of the archbishop’s effects raised a smile:—there were beads, crosses, and every trifling appendage of the church. The archbishop himself, from his venerable aspect and mild manners, engaged the esteem of all; but the Papal power- 103 - is on the wane here now, whatever it might have been in other times. The Catholic church, however, under the care of a liberal priesthood, and shorn of its superstitions, will insure the respect of all countries.

A church, in Catholic countries, ever possesses something to strike the eye, though there may not be service going on. There are generally to be seen numbers of poor old women, before their saint, counting their beads, the low murmurings of their prayers alone breathing the silence of the place: many times have I advanced with cautious steps, fearing to interrupt their devotions. The absence of a congregation gives one, likewise, an opportunity of a closer inspection of the glittering altars, virgins, saints, and Madonas. No fear exists that sacrilegious hands would dare purloin any thing from the sacred walls; alas! in England, our thieves would not be so scrupulous.

The churches, on a Sunday, or feast day, are worthy a stranger’s attention; and he must be cold indeed, that can view such an assemblage of beauty unmoved: the dress, the veil, and prostrate persons; indeed, we might picture other Lauras besides Petrarch’s: it is almost enough to make one turn renegade, forsake the religion of our fathers, and rush into the bosom of a church so enchanting.

Public worship takes place at various hours: one mass, as early as six in the morning, and the sweet girls and their mothers are seen hurrying to church at that early hour.

Families going to mass are attended by slaves and servants carrying the carpeting upon which they kneel. Of books they have few enough; and would, I dare say, stare to see our London footmen, in gorgeous liveries, looking like Austrian field-marshals, walking behind their mistresses, with a load of books, to church, and the host of carriages that attend a fashionable chapel.

Upon entering or leaving a church, many of the congregation are content to receive the holy water at second hand; that is to say, one who is near the vessel which contains it- 104 - will dip his fingers in, and furnish to three or four other persons drops of the sacred element, to make the sign of the cross. The ladies often condescend to mark with this water the foreheads of their female slaves and attendants.

At “oration time,” in the dusk of evening, a small bell tingles from the churches, when, it is presumed, every true Catholic whispers a prayer. In Buenos Ayres, I am afraid, this is not always the case.

Some of the music sung in the masses is very pretty: friars and boys are the vocalists, selected from the best voices. Friar Juan, at the Cathedral, has a fine bass voice. The Portuguese hymn they sing with science; but, as I had heard this hymn at the Portuguese Ambassador’s Chapel in London, in which several of the first-rates of the Opera took parts, the effect here was diminished: they select, too, from profane music, and I applaud them for it, following the remark attributed to our Rev. Rowland Hill, on the introduction of “Rule Britannia,” and “Hearts of Oak,” into his chapel—“It is really a great shame the devil should have all the pretty tunes to himself.” If music be the “food of love,” it is equally so of religion, insensibly leading the mind to an enthusiasm, and that softness, that compensates for “a dull age of pain.” I wish they would reform the dismal hum-drum music of our English churches. I do not wish the lively dance; but something a little less gloomy than the present mode. My English friends will be shocked to hear that in a Buenos Ayres church they have played and sung to the charming air that opens our petit opera of Paul and Virginia, “See from ocean rising.” At Monte Video, I heard the Tyrolean war song, or our “Merrily O,” upon the organ, in a church. Music and religion have, and will, raise these people to war and desperation; other causes must combine to have the same effect upon Englishmen.

Persons of both sexes go to confession very young—even at the early age of ten years. At church confessions, the- 105 - priest is seated in the box, to which there is an iron-grating on one side, and through this he hears the confession of the parties upon their knees outside. I have seen several women confess;—somehow or other the sex have more devotion than us men. Doubtless, it is a relief to the overcharged heart to unbosom itself, and receive the consolations of religion; and I can fancy the happiness experienced from the gentle expostulations of an amiable priest, who, in censuring the errors, bids the sinner not despair of mercy. We, of Protestant creed, appeal to God alone, disdaining earthly interference. This system of divulging our inmost thoughts has, at all times, been an argument with the opponents of the Romish church, who instance, that the peace of families or nations are at the mercy of a mortal man; and if breaches of confidence are rare, still some villain might betray his trust, and ruin his unsuspecting victims. To the honour of the Catholic priesthood, such probabilities are very remote. I am afraid that I should make a sad father confessor: loveliness upon the bended knee before me would destroy all my philosophy; I should at once accord them absolution, remission, and every thing else; and, forgetful of my oaths and sacred calling, turn suppliant at the feet of those who came to me as their pastor and guide.

Females are at times seen in the streets habited as nuns, in flannel vestments, crosses, beads, &c. the effect of a vow made during sickness or penance. The sins of some of these young creatures cannot have been very flagrant: I should have pardoned them for the pleasure of receiving their confessions again. There is likewise a house in which females pass weeks in penitence and prayer.

It is observed of the Spanish female, that she will give herself up to all the voluptuousness of pleasure, haste to the church, and, prostrating herself before her favourite saint, return to sin again. I will not venture to be so severe a censurer as to hazard an opinion upon this: but,- 106 - as my eye wandered over the countenances of many a fair creature of Buenos Ayres, kneeling in graceful beauty before the inanimate saint, I fancied all and more than books had ever told me; for, “with faces that seemed as if they had just looked in Paradise, and caught its early beauty,” I fancied that many of earthly mould shared in those contemplations so seemingly devoted to heaven.

Small figures of the Virgin Mary, in glass cases, are kept in the apartments of various homes. In apothecaries’ shops I have particularly noticed them, to bespeak a blessing, doubtless, upon their physic. In the mansions of the poorer class they are more frequently seen; the costly saint and miserable dirty furniture of the rooms contrasted. A full-length figure of a saint, in a wire cage, with lamps on each side, is in the street of Le Cuyo, placed in accordance with a vow made in a period of danger; but, in general, there are less externals of the church in the public streets and roads than might be expected.

On passing a church, it was a constant custom to take off the hat; but few do it now. The beggars about these holy edifices clamour for charity, for the love of God and St. Rosario, or any other apostle favourite. These beggars are great thieves; I have lost several articles by their professional visits to my lodgings. They do not shoulder crutches and wooden legs, either to fight or run, as their London brethren, upon the approach of the police. One of my friends told me of an old woman, in Buenos Ayres, that spits upon every person she supposes to be an Englishman. Not having had the fortune to receive this lady’s favours, I cannot vouch for the truth of the story.

The priesthood are not so illiberal as report makes them out; they are painted to us as having a fixed hatred to Protestants, conceiving them to be the authors of all the obloquy the Catholics have endured from time to time. It must be recollected, that we have our errors on the score of prejudice likewise.

- 107 -

The friars of Buenos Ayres have amongst their body men of considerable learning; and, whatever hostility exists towards the system, they, as individuals, do not generally share in it. There may be one or two black sheep in the flock; and scandal takes care to blazen forth their deeds, particularly all that relates to their amours, but the common frailty of our nature should teach us to be merciful judges where love is concerned. The people have much respect for them; and, from what I have heard, they deserve it. Formerly, it is related, that on any offender being flogged in the public streets, the appearance of a priest calling for mercy would stop the infliction. If this was the case in England, our unflogged thieves would be bound to pray for them.

Four years since, two Englishmen having quarrelled, one of them ran into Le Merced church for protection from his opponent, who followed, and beat him under the very robes of the priest; a guard was called, and the offender taken into custody. Having an excellent character, he was liberated from prison on bail; and the affair ended in an expensive law suit. Some years back, he would have been severely punished for his inconsiderate conduct.

Some of the friars are handsome men: I have remarked one of them a counterpart of Young the actor. Their dress, shaven crown, and dark hair, added much to their appearance: the ugly attire they now wear, is a sad drawback. In my casual rencontres with them, I ever found them polite and attentive, effacing that diffidence which a stranger feels in venturing upon their hallowed precincts. The inquisition has never been established in Buenos Ayres; but I have often been cruel enough to fancy, that such and such a priest had a countenance like an inquisitor.

The suppression of the monasteries, in 1822, caused a great deal of discussion. There were those of the well-inclined who were not without apprehensions, and seemed disposed to- 108 - let the presumed evil continue, rather than risk a change. The government must have felt their own strength, when they determined to reform so influential a portion of the church, having to encounter the prejudices and fanaticism of those grown grey in the old order of things, who regarded meddling with the church as little short of heresy. The friars were, in a manner, domesticated with the first families of Buenos Ayres, and ever received as welcome guests. They must (at least, some of them) have felt great reluctance to quit the convents, in which they had expected to remain for life, and regret at parting with the attire of their order. Discontent was engendered, at times, almost amounting to threats, which found vent in a conspiracy, ending in the banishment of Taglé, its author; and another more serious one, of the 19th March, 1823. The result of these abortive attempts served to confirm the power and influence of the existing government. The majority of the people, I should conceive, thought an alteration necessary in the clergy: many of that majority had visited Europe, and became divested of the narrow policy the Spaniards had taught them.

Elderly ladies, of all countries, are allowed to be more pious than the rest of society. The friars in Buenos Ayres found them staunch advocates of their cause.

To counteract the strong feeling that existed for the friars, the press of the day had recourse to ridicule, as well as to argument: a publication called the “Llobera,” teemed with paragraphs and anecdotes, often so indecent that it injured the cause it proposed to serve. This print was soon laid aside. In the mean time, the suppression gradually went on; and all that now remains of the monasteries of Buenos Ayres are the Franciscans. The buildings will soon perhaps be converted to other uses. The ejected friars, throwing off their habit, assumed a clerical half-dress, very similar to that of our clergymen; and the Dominicans, Mercedites, &c. are now met in the streets,- 109 - as simple citizens, no longer wearing the livery of the founders of those orders. Three years ago, groupes of friars were continually about the church doors, in coffee-houses, and the streets, segar smoking, apparently under no church restrictions: when a reform was agitated, they were more strict, and the convent gates were closed at a certain hour. The Franciscans, who yet keep together, are rarely to be seen abroad, except the messengers, or lay brothers, who are, in dress and figure, no bad copy of their prototype, in The Duenna.

If the original rules of monastic institutions were put in full force, few claimants would be found for the honour of entering them. A suitable provision has been made for those who have left their convents; the government appropriating the lands attached for the benefit of the state. Time appears, in some measure, to have healed the wounds of the discontented, though there are some who pretend the flame is smothered, and not burnt out; “Give it vent,” they say, “and ’twill blaze again.”

There are two convents for NUNS, St. Juan and St. Catalina, each containing about thirty. The regulations of St. Juan’s are very rigid: they wear clothing of the coarsest nature, and the beds, and every other accommodation, are of the same description. No one is permitted to see them, except their nearest relations, and that very rarely. Heavens! how ardent must be that devotion, that can voluntarily embrace such a life! A female, on her first entrance, may leave at the end of a year; but, after that time, she is professed, and must conform to the rules. Very few, I believe, take advantage of this option. Such is the force of religious enthusiasm, that they gladly bid farewell to the world, wishing no father, mother, lover, friend, but their God and Saviour.

At St. Catalina’s they are not so strict, being allowed indulgences unknown to the self-immolated of St. Juan.

I have never seen any of the fair inhabitants of these- 110 - convents; but when the nuns of Buenos Ayres have formed the subject of conversation, I have eagerly listened, expecting to hear something of disappointed love, or confidence betrayed. Alas it was in vain: the ladies of St. Juan and Catalina are nuns from the dull routine of religion, with one exception only, if my information is true; and advantage was not taken to quiz my avidity for nunnery news. The tale runs, that St. Juan’s convent does contain, a victim of “despised love.” Her lover, an officer, of course—for what men in trade ever think of love?—joined the army in Peru, and married another. At the age of seventeen, the fair, betrayed girl fearlessly took the veil, chiding her weeping mother for her cruelty, nay, sinfulness, at shewing such affliction for what constituted her daughter’s only happiness. An account of the ceremony was given me;—but who shall take the field in description, after the glowing details we have read in romances? and especially at second-hand.

The majority of the nuns in these two convents are aged, having received very few additions, lately, of the youthful class. Has man, false man, become more constant, no longer striving to break the heart of the doting fair one or, are the ladies less sensitive, preferring, at all hazards, this bustling world to the cloister’s gloom, exclaiming with Sheridan’s Clara,

“Adieu, thou dreary pile, where never dies
“The sullen echo of repentant sighs!”

In the most minute affairs of the Romish church, there is a formula, which, having antiquity for its basis, imposes upon the mind of its followers; and, as regards a conventual life, the first dawn of such a wish, even before the parties quit their parents’ house, amounts to a ceremony. In the year 1822, my curiosity was gratified by an exhibition of this sort. I was invited to a house, in which a lady, about to become a nun, was receiving the last farewells of her friends. It was evening; and it was with difficulty- 111 - that I gained admittance from the crowd outside. The lady was seated in the sala; arrayed in her best attire; her head and neck decorated with jewellery; such is the fashion, this being a contrast to the dress she was about to assume. Music was heard; and it seemed more like a party met for gaiety, than one in which the afterpiece was to be so serious—the taking from the world a fellow-creature. The lady—I was going to write, victim—was all smiles; no regrets were apparent in her bosom; she received the adieus of her friends with calm composure. A friar, attached perhaps to the convent, was in the room: in taking her final leave, she was escorted by him and her relatives. With a firm step, bowing to all around, she quitted the room. In passing our party (consisting of several Englishmen), I thought she eyed us particularly; we bowed to her; and the door closed upon us. That same night, I am informed, she was conducted to the gloomy walls of St. Juan, and has since taken the veil. The lady appeared about nineteen or twenty years of age; she was not handsome, but the occasion rendered her very interesting.

The first RELIGIOUS PROCESSION I had ever seen, was that of St. Rosario, in Buenos Ayres; and it is not possible I can forget the impression it made upon me. Those details which, when a school-boy, I dwelt upon with such delight, were now, in my manhood, brought full before my eyes, losing nothing of their interest; on the contrary, I found that imagination does not always come up to the reality. The churches of France and Belgium I had visited with far different emotions: Spain, and Spanish connexions, thought I, contain all that can fix the attention of the Protestant inquirer, who wishes to see the Catholic church the same in the nineteenth as in the fourteenth century. Spain clings to it; with its many imperfections, as a fond lover to an idolized mistress; else they would not have suffered foreigners to overrun their soil. What would the heroes of Roncevalles and Pavia have said to those events?

- 112 -

The figure of St. Rosario, full-robed, was carried by soldiers, on a stage. The Virgin, on another stage, followed, flanked by numbers of the faithful carrying large lighted candles; these were chiefly old men, and boys. The host, and attendant priests wafting incense towards this sacred emblem, formed a conspicuous part; with groups of friars chaunting their prayers, in which they are joined by the crowd. A huge cross, apparently of silver, and borne by friars, precedes the whole. A small band of violinists attend, and accompany the singing: they reminded me of our itinerant musicians, that serenade us of an evening in London. The military band has a better effect. A halt is made, at intervals, at the corners of streets, or opposite temporary altars, which the devotion of the pious has raised in front of their houses: they consist of tables, covered with white linen, with small images of Jesus, the Virgin, crosses, &c. &c. and a mirror, garnished with flowers and other decorations. Soldiers march in front and rear. They, as well as every one else near the procession, are uncovered; and when the ceremonies of the host are going on, all must kneel. The houses display silks, tapestry, and other finery, arranged in front, in the streets through which the cavalcade passes; and the balconies are filled with spectators. The saints and his dumb attendants (the images), are finally deposited at their head-quarters, the church. A great quantity of females are always to be seen at those exhibitions, fervently ejaculating their “Ave-Marias.”

These processions vary but very little, except that I thought there was more of preparation, banners, &c. in that of St. Nicholas, on the 6th December. The streets were profusely adorned, road and foot-path strewed with flowers, leaves, and boughs. Small cannon were placed on the pavement near the church, the firing of which, and the discharge of rockets and other fire-works, gave notice that the saint and his holy attendants were about to leave- 113 - the church. Gentlemen, both civil and military, of the first families, at times, bear banners in the procession. These days being kept as holidays, a vast concourse stroll about the decorated streets before the attraction of the day begins. The windows, house-tops, and benches ranged near the houses, are occupied by females, the lovely persons of some of whom might move an anchorite. A scene so new has almost upset my sober reasoning; and I have looked at the host, friars, crosses, music, and all the et ceteras, till I could nearly fancy that time had rolled back, and found me living when the Catholic church knew no rival.

The feast of St. Nicholas, in December, 1824, was but a mockery of its former splendour: however, the church of San Nicholas was illuminated, and looked very pretty; and we had some bonfires, music, and fire-works. A procession was to have taken place, but the government would not pay the expense, and the church, in its present reduced state, cannot afford it. The devotees muttered their Ave-Marias and maledictions; but, as St. Nicholas did not interfere in their behalf, all went off quietly.

The feast of Corpus Christi is another grand day. The whole body of friars, with banners and flags of their different orders, mustered on the occasion, and, before the suppression of the monasteries, they constituted a decent battalion. The dress of the friars differs in nothing to what we find represented in England,—the cowl and crown, with the small cross suspended. The processions, in the course of the year, used to be very numerous. Since the dispersion of the friars, they are somewhat shorn of their beams; and, by-and-by, the sight of a friar may be a curiosity. To decorate the churches on these occasions, the priests borrow candlesticks, silks, &c. of their neighbours.

During Lent, sermons are preached on an evening, in various churches. The congregations are numerous, and the females always kneel. The custom of allowing males- 114 - to be seated in church, while the other sex are upon their knees, appears strange.

As the theatre is situated opposite the Merced church, during the sermons of the Lent evenings, some of the congregation may be seen wandering from the church to the theatre.

In passion week, there are various masses and sermons.

The afternoon and evening of Holy Thursday bring forth all the world into the streets: every house appears deserted. The concourse is astonishing: the great proportion are females. A rule of Catholic creed enjoins them to visit seven churches on this day; and this they religiously perform, stopping but a few minutes in each church, just time enough to kneel, and utter a short prayer. The governor and his aides-de-camp, likewise, go to seven churches. A crowd of both sexes assemble round the doors, especially of the Cathedral, absolutely blocking up the road way, kneeling, counting beads, and in earnest prayer.

In 1821, I saw images and other insignia of the church at the corners of the principal streets; prisoners ironed, with their guards, soliciting charity; small tables, with virgins, Jesus, and crosses: but these customs have much fallen off. Near a church, those altars are still raised on Holy Thursday, and people press around, to kiss the garments of the “mother of God.” Near St. Juan’s church, in 1824, I observed a pretty design of this nature upon a small scale, and envied the kisses it received from some charming girls. On this night, too, the military bands muster in their best dresses, with drums muffled, and other marks of mourning. They advance across the Plaza, and through the streets, at a solemn pace, playing music even more melancholy than the Dead March in Saul, preceded by one of the soldiers carrying, on a pole, a balloon with transparencies, and a light inside, which makes them look a counterpart of those that paraded London streets, a few years ago, from the lottery- 115 - offices. During this period of mourning, both sexes are clothed in black. This continual crowd in the streets, and the peculiar church attire, serve to attract one’s attention; it is so much the reverse of our English mode: we go to church in all the colours of the rainbow.

In addition to other observances of Holy Thursday the flags of vessels belonging to Catholic nations are half-masted, yards crossed, and at the Fort, likewise, they remain till near twelve o’clock on the Saturday, at which hour cannon are fired, yards squared, the flag run up, bells rung, and shops are opened, for the joyful resurrection. But the bells do not give us those inspiring peals that we hear from our churches of St. Martin’s, St. Clement’s, and from the far-famed Bow bells: here, they are an inharmonious jangle. Our churches, so superb in architectural splendour, would astonish those gentlemen who fancy an Englishman’s taste only leads him towards vending merchandize, and receiving the proceeds.

Good Friday passes as a solemn day of prayer and mourning.

The burning of Judas is a grotesque affair. Stuffed figures, like our old Guys, are suspended from ropes in the middle of the street, charged with combustibles and fire-works. On the night of Saturday, they are fired, and Mr. Judas is blown up, amidst the shouts of the multitude. This, like our Guy Fawkes, has much fallen off, and may soon drop altogether. The newspapers have designated it barbarism. I am not for meddling with the sports of the lower orders, if they do not offend decency. The quarrel with Captain O’Brien happened about Easter, 1821; and one of the Judases of that period was observed in something of the dress of a naval officer: report said, it was meant for Captain O’Brien. It was ordered to be taken down. The people took very little interest in that dispute. When it was at its height, the Captain passed through a crowd opposite the College church, and they treated him- 116 - with great respect, making way for the “English Commandant” to pass. “We may all suffer in this business,” said our captain to one of his countrymen; “but we shall, if extremes are resorted to, be gloriously revenged.”

The holy or passion week in 1825 passed off much as usual. On the Thursday evening the ladies crowded the churches and streets in their black attire; and being a fine moonlight night, the scene (to me at least) was very interesting; and although I did not follow the custom of visiting seven churches on this evening, I went to four. At the Cathedral I remained a considerable time, listening to the music of the vespers. The fine bass voice of Friar Juan was sadly missed. He was banished for being concerned in the conspiracy of the 19th March, 1823. Valentin Gomez, one of the canons of the church, sat in full pontifical robes. Some of the Spaniards were jesting, in the church, upon his portly appearance, so different from the figure he cut at nearly the same period last year, when shipwrecked upon the English bank in the river Plate. I felt much impressed with my visit to the Cathedral: every thing combined to make me so;—the music, lights, and glittering altars, with the prostrate females attended by their slaves and servants.

The sermons at the churches, on the evenings of Lent, were well attended. The friar who preached at the church of Le Merced always attracted great crowds. At the porch of this church was placed an image of Christ, as large as life, in the act of being scourged; many devout females kissed the ropes which tied the wrists of the image.

Till late in the evening of Holy Thursday, people were kneeling before the church doors, counting beads, and saying their Ave-Marias. At nine o’clock at night, three military bands of music, of the artillery, Caçadores, and Legion de la Patria, each preceded by the globe, or balloon, with transparencies, carried upon a pole, entered the Plaza with- 117 - drums muffled, and playing solemn airs. The artillery band was much admired; Masoni, and other professors, performed in it. I followed two of the bands to their barracks, at the Retiro. The night was lovely; and it was late ere I returned home, my thoughts entirely absorbed in the scenes of the day.

On the afternoon of Good Friday, the mass at the cathedral was well attended.

The custom of burning Judas has fallen off. On the Saturday, this year, the rain fell in torrents; but, a few nights after, Judas was burnt near the Victoria coffee-house, amidst fire-works and music.

Another great object of attention to us Protestants is the Holy Ghost proceeding through the streets, to administer the last offices of religion to those who are presumed to be in a dying state. The holy father, and one attendant, both richly attired, are seated in a coach drawn by white mules. They go at a walking pace, with a few soldiers for escort; negresses, boys, and others, carrying lighted lanterns, both by night and day. A bell warns passengers of its approach, when all within view must be uncovered, and, when they are near the carriage, kneel. This last operation, not being very agreeable in dirty weather, foreigners try to avoid his holiness altogether, by going up other streets. Equestrians descend from their horses, and kneel. At night, lights are placed in the windows of the houses they pass, and their inmates kneel. Why do you kneel? said I, to a slave boy, at a house in which I resided. “Because God is in the coach,” he replied. A brutal soldier, of the escort, once knocked an Englishman down, for not kneeling in time. The magistrates took cognizance of it; and, I hear, that strangers are not now obliged to kneel, though common respect will always teach them to be uncovered. In passing the guardhouses, the guards turn out, drums are beat, &c. They have now a large bell, the small one having been mistaken- 118 - for those belonging to the water carts:[29] a Londoner might mistake it for the bell of the six-o’clock-afternoon postman.

Great veneration is paid to all that concerns this ceremony of the Holy Ghost: the very mules, it is said, were formerly looked upon as sacred. In passing coffee-houses, billiard-players, and gamblers of all descriptions, leave their profane games, to kneel. At the theatre, the performance is stopped; actors and actresses kneel on the stage, and the audience upon their seats. I have several times been present at scenes of this sort, and regarded them with great curiosity; though I have been very angry with the holy father, and impious enough to wish he had taken another route. I recollect, during an opera, one evening, the cavalcade passed no less than three times, and interrupted a delightful duet between Rosquellas and Señora Tani.

The summer of 1824-5, judging from the frequent appearance of the Holy Ghost in the streets, must have been rather a sickly one. Great respect is still paid to this holy visitant, who generally selects the evening to pay his visits. A smile will now and then take place, when the procession suddenly appears in a crowded neighbourhood, forcing all to bend the knee. The contrast of such Catholic customs with those of our sober England often occurs to me.

I am informed that great preparations take place in the sick chamber, where the sacrament is to be given. I do not admire this. The patient, enfeebled by disease, concludes there is no hope left; and often yields to despair. In England, on such occasions, a clergyman comes without pomp or attendants: his attentions are more like those of a friend, and he insensibly prepares the mind of the sufferer for the purposes of his visit. But we have much to correct- 119 - in the dismal funeral bell, closing shops and windows, usual with us at burials. Life hourly presents enough to remind us of death, without those auxiliaries.

Funeral Ceremonies.—The room in which a corpse is deposited is lighted; large candles are placed round the coffin; and the wainscoting, tables, &c. are covered with white furniture, crosses, &c. The windows are often thrown open, for passengers to view the scene of death, as a warning that “to this complexion we must come at last.” I remember my surprise on first seeing a spectacle of this sort. The corpse of a female about thirty lay shrouded in her coffin, the lid of which was taken off, with her hands folded over her breast, and a small cross placed between them. The gaudy coffin, and the lights around it, gave it the appearance of wax work; indeed, I had an impression that it was so, for some minutes, not being aware of the country’s fashion in this affair.

Deceased persons are interred twenty-four hours after their decease; a necessary precaution in a warm climate. From the crowded state of the church-yards, they are now taken to the New Burial-Ground, at the Recolator; and corpses were removed thither from the church-yards, after having been buried some time. Scenes of confusion, in consequence, took place; with various imprecations from near relations, as mothers, husbands, and wives, upon recognizing the bodies of those whom they never expected to have seen again in this world.

The hearses are modelled after the French fashion, and are not followed by mourners. The relatives of the deceased attend the burial-ground to receive the body, and the church ceremonies of mass, &c. take place some days after.

The death of a friar, or any priest, is announced by a particular tolling of the bell.

The masses for the repose of the soul are performed at various churches, according to the wish of the relatives,- 120 - who issue printed notices, inviting the friends of the deceased. Any one is at liberty to attend. Those of respectability, who can afford to pay, have several masses: but it is rather an expensive affair. The ceremony lasts from one to two hours. An imitation coffin is placed near the altar, surrounded by lights. If it be for a military or public man, the sword and hat are placed on the coffin, and a company of soldiers fire a volley at the church door. Towards the end of the mass, candles are put into the hands of the male part of the congregation, and in a few minutes taken from them again, and extinguished. At the close, the priests and friars, headed by their superior, take their station, in two lines, near the door, and receive and return the obeisances of the congregation. The relations and particular friends adjourn to the dwelling-house (sometimes to the refectory of the church), where a repast is prepared, of cakes, fruit, wine, liqueurs, beer, &c. the room being lighted, and hung with black and white decorations. I have heard some charming music in these masses, and it is far from being an unimpressive scene: the holding a light at the requiem of those we loved, carries with it a pleasing idea. There is, however, more real feeling in the simple country church-yard funerals in England, than in all this appeal to the senses.

A fantastic ornamented hearse, for carrying the bodies of children to their last home, has lately come into use. It has plumes of white feathers streaming from the top, and is drawn by two mules; the rider, a boy, is clothed after the manner of Astley’s equestrians.

Until the year 1821, the Protestants had no allotted place of burial; and, to satisfy the jealousy of the church, various subterfuges were obliged to be resorted to, in order to obtain something like a christian funeral. The government gave permission, and a piece of ground was bought, near the Retiro, for a cemetery, which has been inclosed, and a small chapel, with a neat portico of the Doric order,- 121 - erected. The expence amounted to 4800 dollars, which was defrayed by Protestants of all classes: the British, were, of course, the chief contributors. The number buried there, from January 1821, to June 1824, was 71; of which 60 were British subjects. The service is read by some of the parties present.

At the funerals in the Protestant Burial-Ground, I have seen many Buenos Ayreans, both male and female, attracted thither by curiosity; they paid great attention, and expressed their approbation of our method of making the graves so deep.

Before this ground was opened, Protestants were buried without any service being read, and the shallow ground was hastily filled up. It was a favour that their fellowman was allowed to take up his “everlasting rest” in holy Catholic earth. I saw an English sailor interred in the Cathedral church-yard: a police-man attended, to see that no unfair means had been used, and three or four friars were strolling about. The sailor mourners eyed them askance, declaring it was shameful that they did not offer to perform the funeral service: “But what can you expect,” they added, “in such an unchristianlike land?” Their resentment was increased by seeing the mutilated body of a dead black child, which, from the nature of their graves, had made its appearance above the surface.

Police, &c.—To every barrier or parish an alcalde, or sitting magistrate, is appointed, who takes cognizance of the offences and disputes in his jurisdiction, and superintends the night-patrole. Every male is liable to be called out to act as watchman for the night; and he must attend, or provide a substitute, which costs six reals; and as this happens very often, strangers find it a tax. The patrole are armed with musquets and bayonets, and proceed through the streets at intervals during the night, visiting public houses, &c.

- 122 -

The most inferior officer connected with the police, or any public office, carries a rusty dragoon sword with him as his staff of office. The very messenger that delivers the summons for the nightly patrole comes thus armed, and upon the least provocation out goes the sword: this has been of late years a little corrected.

Buenos Ayres can boast of a well-disposed and orderly population. Robberies are sometimes committed, but nothing to the extent that might be supposed; many more are committed in an English city of the same magnitude, notwithstanding the expensive police. I have been out at all hours of the night, and have felt myself as secure as though I were in London, and perhaps more so.

The only time that I ever met with any thing like annoyance or interruption in the streets, was from a soldier on guard at the Cabildo, who made an attempt to push me from the pavement. I did not wish to notice the affair; but a Creole friend insisted that I should do so, stating, that in London he presumed Englishmen protected strangers when insulted. He went with me to the guard-house, alleged a complaint before an officer, and the soldier was confined: he appeared to be drunk.

The great blot of this country is, that amongst the lower orders, upon the least quarrel, knives are out; and what in England would vent itself in black eyes and bloody noses, here ends in murder; and until certain and speedy punishment follows these deeds, it will ever be so. The crime has decreased since the administration of Mr. Rivadavia, and the enactment of the law prohibiting the wearing of knives; still it continues in a degree. Justice is tardy, and the chance that the criminal may again be at liberty deters people from prosecuting, dreading his future vengeance. In England, where the law is strong, every one assists to apprehend an offender; but here a lukewarmness exists.

Several have, within these three years, suffered death- 123 - for murder. I am inclined to think, that a law upon the plan of Lord Ellenborough’s act would do much to stop it. A Portuguese, some months since, stabbed to death the servant of Mr. Bevans, the Quaker engineer, in open day. The opponents of boxing, in England, should pause ere they so decidedly condemn it; its suppression might lead to more fatal results in deciding quarrels.

It was a common event, long after I arrived, to see bodies of persons who had been stabbed in some broil, exposed in the Plaza, to be recognized by their relatives or friends, with a saucer placed at their side to collect money to pay the expences of burying them.

These murders are confined to the very lowest orders of the people, and are generally the effect of a drunken quarrel. I must do them the justice to say, that I have not heard of any deliberate assassination, committed either upon a native or foreigner. Their annals are free from the refined murders of polished Europe, even, I regret to add, of our own England; we must not always cite the latter as an example, when we censure the abuses of other countries.

This stabbing system was thought so little of in Buenos Ayres, that no one cared to seize the murderer. If by chance he was apprehended, a short imprisonment sufficed, and he was then set at liberty to commit more crimes. Six or seven murders have been related to me, as known to have been committed by one man with apparent impunity; and that these things should be so, excites the astonishment of all strangers.

Foreigners newly arrived were accustomed to carry pistols about their persons at night; but this is very seldom the case now—they have more confidence.

The thieves, in some of their feats, may rank in ingenuity with the second-rate ones with us. One of their operations is hooking out clothes, linen, &c. from rooms, by means of a long pole with a hook at the end; and if the windows are- 124 - not fastened at night, a risk is run of being robbed, though the iron bars should prevent any one from entering. Some friends of mine, lodging at the American Hotel, were plundered by those pole gentlemen one night, although sleeping three in a room, and they knew not of their loss until the morning, when they missed coats, trowsers, &c.; a writing-desk had also been hauled towards the window, the valuables taken out, and the loose papers scattered about the street and room. The comparing notes in the morning of their losses, and cursing the marauders, was laughable enough. Another friend was awoke at break of day, and observed his waistcoat dangling in the middle of the room from the top of a pole, and a man’s arm extended through the iron bars of the window guiding it. My friend having a sword could with ease have cut off the thief’s arm, but his humanity prompted him rather to make an alarm; upon which the pole and waistcoat were dropped, and the vagabond made his escape. Very serious losses of papers have been sustained by this mode of robbery.

The boys about the theatre door begging for the return tickets, or “contre-signs,” were a great annoyance; they were perfect thieves, and very impudent. I have lost several pocket handkerchiefs by their talents. Having refused to give my pass-check one night, they secretly followed me, and when near the wall of the Merced church, to my great surprise, saluted me with a shower of stones and bricks: I pursued the young rascals, but it was without effect. The soldiers prevent occurrences of this sort now, and two or three that were caught in the fact have been punished.

The boys in the streets of Buenos Ayres are as saucy a set of ragamuffins as those of London, without that daring and instant battle of the English boys. Many of their juvenile sports are similar to our’s; as kite flying, pitch in the hole, &c. They have a system of managing their kites, which may be called privateering: a knife is affixed to the- 125 - tail of the kite, with which they endeavour to entangle other kites, and cut the string; should they succeed, knife, kite, string—all become lawful prize. Cricket, trap-ball, hoops, tops, and skipping, they do not practise. Riding on the backs of sheep, harnessed as horses, is another amusement; and those mutton cavalry are very expert.

The boys of the upper class are exceedingly well-behaved, and have very pleasing manners: they excel our’s in this respect. The greatest care is bestowed upon them; and we do not meet with that roughness among them, which is observable in my young countryfolks. The Buenos Ayres boy addresses a stranger in the street hat in hand, and with the greatest respect.

Since my abode in Buenos Ayres, I have been lucky enough to keep clear of all law proceedings; and never, until lately, visited a judicial court, except from curiosity. I was, however, requested to appear, in order to speak to the character of an English sailor, who was imprisoned at the Cabildo for a row, on the beach. I visited the prison, and found poor Jack roaming about a spacious yard, with lots of other prisoners; he spoke highly of the kind treatment he had received in prison. The presiding judge, or magistrate (a most gentlemanly man), after hearing the depositions read, discharged the sailor, no witnesses appearing for the prosecution. Mr. Poussett, the vice-consul, attended upon this occasion, and received every attention from the judge.

The mode of punishment by death is shooting; many think that hanging would be more appropriate for murder, and that the soldier’s death ought to be reserved for a soldier: however, death cancels all crimes.

In a public whipping, the offender is placed on a horse or mule, with his back bared, and his hands tied, and at the corners of streets he receives his punishment: those disgusting scenes I always avoid, if I can. I came once in contact with one: the poor wretch did not seem to suffer- 126 - much; I fancied I had been as severely flogged at school. They appeared to strike him about a dozen quick blows at a time, with a piece of wood like a scrubbing-brush with some sharp substance attached.

Those ordered for imprisonment, are made to work in the streets, heavily ironed.

Sailors are punished by being put in the stocks; and for criminal offences, they are made to work in the streets in irons.

The close of the year 1824 witnessed a great increase of crime in Buenos Ayres. An atrocious murder was committed by two black fellows, upon a Genoese, who kept a tin shop near the College church. The murderers were apprehended, and shot at the Retiro, and their bodies afterwards suspended upon a gallows. A boy, accessary to the fact (having let the villains into the house), escaped capital punishment, being under the age regulated by law: he was, however, present at the execution. Two fellows broke into the house of Mr. Nelson, an English merchant, and stabbed his man-servant in several places; an alarm being given, they effected their escape. The servant recovered from his wounds. Numerous other robberies have taken place; amongst which, Mr. Parvin, an American clergyman, and three of his friends, were stripped of their clothes, a short distance from town.

The first execution in this country for forgery took place in February, 1825, upon the person of Marcelo Valdivia, who was shot at the Retiro. By the old Spanish law, a person convicted of forgery was condemned to lose his hand. This young man had been before sentenced to death for the same crime, but his punishment was commuted to exposure in the Plaza, imprisonment for eight years, and banishment for life. In July, 1824, he underwent the first part of his sentence, being seated in the Plaza for four hours, with the notes he had forged suspended from his breast. In prison, he committed other forgeries,- 127 - including a forged order for his own release. The government have been highly applauded for their firmness in punishing this criminal. His friends applied to the British consul for his intercession, which was declined. Colonel Forbes, the American agent, was much censured for having, in 1821, interfered and saved a murderer from justice.

A black woman was shot, for attempting the life of her mistress. The execution of a female is a rare thing in this country.

Much as Buenos Ayres has improved in her jurisprudence, she has still a great deal to amend—that part which relates to committal before trial for civil offences particularly. The two following circumstances passed under my observation.

Upon the first issue of paper money, some forgeries were detected. An English captain, West, of the brig Fortune, conversing on this subject at a tavern, remarked, that a forgery might easily be effected; and that the gentlemen in that line at home would not be long about such a thing. This was reported to the police; and he was sent to prison without examination, upon suspicion of knowing of the forged notes, and was not released for some days.

In another case, Captain Harrison, of the brig Asia, was imprisoned nearly a month, for bringing a false report of Monte Video being blockaded; which was indeed partly true, Brazilian schooners of war having been off there, and sailed for Colonia.

If such regulations were followed in England, we must build more prisons as well as churches, and I know not what would become of the gentlemen of the Stock Exchange.

The trial by jury, which alone is worth fighting for, may yet reach South America. Every abuse cannot at once be rectified; they have, already, done wonders in this country.

Law proceedings are as expensive and tardy here, as in other parts of the globe. What with depositions, answers,- 128 - &c. the suit goes on for years to the great benefit of lawyers; but they have reformed a great deal of the old obnoxious Spanish laws, particularly as they related to foreigners and their property. By the old law, when a foreigner died, their property in the country went to the state.

To leave Buenos Ayres, if it is only for a neighbouring town, passports must be obtained, which cost two dollars to quit the country, and four reals for any neighbouring town. Surprise is expressed that we can manage without those ceremonies in England; some passengers arriving from thence were once asked by a visiting officer for their English passports.

Army.—The standing army of the province consists of from 2500 to 3000 men in six regiments, viz. three of infantry, and three of cavalry. Of the infantry, there is one regiment of artillery, one Caçadores, and one of the line. There are also two regiments of Civicas, or militia.

The troops have lately improved, both in appearance and discipline; and indeed, there was great need of it: at present, a great deal cannot be said in their praise. Their manœuvres are few, such as forming line, companies, &c. and some minor movements, as firing volleys, street firing, &c. sufficient, probably, for the warfare in which they are likely to be engaged. The sudden change of front, close column, solid squares, the quick deploying into line, close firing, and rapid bayonet charge, are not to be seen among the troops of Buenos Ayres. Against veterans they could make but a feeble resistance; but in defending the town, with the assistance of the inhabitants and their house fortifications, they would be invincible; and to this mode of fighting I would advise the Buenos Ayreans to trust, should their city ever again be attacked.

The artillery corps are better: they work the guns with smartness, and have a good train of artillery, of six, eight, and twelve pounders, taken from the Spaniards at Monte- 129 - Video and other places. Repeated exercise and firing take place with those great guns, early in a morning, on the beach.

The uniform coat of the soldiers is blue, with different facings of red, white, and green: they have caps like our infantry. The undress is a foraging cap, with a loop hanging on one side, trowsers of all colours, and some without shoes or stockings. The recruits are not immediately clothed in the soldier’s uniform, but drilled in all their dirt and native raggedness. The population will not admit of the mode of recruiting practised in Europe; they take every one they can: the equipments and material of their army are not, in consequence, very imposing.

If the men, in their attire, look sometimes like Sir John Falstaff’s famed regiment—not so the officers; they have fine showy uniforms, and cocked hats with the national cockade. The subaltern part are young men; the colonels make a good soldier-like appearance. Colonel Ramirez, in his blue coat and gold epaulets, always puts me in mind of a British naval officer; and Colonel Alvarez, who was wounded in our storming of Monte Video, reminds me of Raymond of Drury-Lane theatre.

There are some French and German officers in the service: the former, in blue coats and white facings, still look like the soldiers of Napoleon.

The only English officer at present in the military service of Buenos Ayres, is a gentleman named Charles Bowness; who, from having been nearly fifteen years in this country, is, in appearance, more like a Spaniard than an Englishman. He left England when very young, and has not heard of his family since his departure.

It was seldom that military officers were seen out of uniform; they wore it in the theatre, in the coffee-house, and in the assembly. But this fashion has changed; and when not on duty, the dress of the citizen is now preferred. On the continent of Europe, we are in constant contact- 130 - with the military, and as constantly reminded of military despotism.

The infantry soldier is armed with a musquet and bayonet: the musquets have the Tower of London mark, and, as well as the cavalry swords, would look all the better for cleaning. The sergeants of infantry do not carry halberts. The regular cavalry are few in number, and not quite so brilliant as the Marquis of Anglesea’s crack regiment, or the Tenth Hussars.

The punishment of flogging is resorted to: I have often heard the cries of the sufferers belonging to a black regiment, quartered near my abode. I fear it is impossible to keep discipline without it, or public opinion would, long ere this, have suppressed it in England.

The bands of music attached to the regiments have made great progress in their profession: three years ago they were hardly bearable. Unfortunately, now, the ruling military authorities will not give us much opportunity of judging of their talents. They were accustomed, on a fine evening, to leave the Fort, in the summer at nine, in the winter at eight o’clock, and crossing the Plaza, take their station in one of the streets adjoining, generally the street of Victoria, or, as we named it, Bond Street, from its being the fashionable one, and filled with shops: here they would entertain us for an hour or more, and I have been gratified in hearing many tunes that charmed me in Europe, such as the overture to Lodoiska, &c. Another attraction was the number of girls that nightly attended: many a lover (“how silvery sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night”) has taken this opportunity to address his fair one. On a moonlight night, I have frequently viewed the countenances and elegant figures of the sweet creatures, no envious bonnet intercepting; and now some unmusical being has deprived me of this pleasure—I wish he would read Lorenzo’s observation in the Merchant of Venice upon those who lack taste in music.

- 131 -

About four times in the week, however, at eight or nine in the evening, one of the military bands parade from the Fort to their barracks at the Retiro, and at times we have heard some good music. On a fine night much company attend. From constant practice, the regimental musical bands have become proficients in their art; they perform some fine pieces of music, including the overture to Lodoiska, and the Polacca from the opera of The Cabinet. Braham ever occurs to my memory, when I hear the latter performed, and the enthusiasm with which a London audience always hail this song.

The dresses of the bands are of the Turkish costume, and though not so splendid as our third regiment of foot-guards, are equal to those of the line. They have instruments of English manufacture, all that constitutes a military band—triangle, cymbals, and bells, similar to our first regiment of Guards.

In 1820, some English shopkeepers and mechanics, in the excess of their zeal, determined to form a corps of cavalry, to act as body-guard to the governor. Twenty or thirty equipped themselves in a light blue jacket, and nondescript cap, and attended the procession as the life-guards of the state. The St. George assault, and vulgar exercise of the sword, made no part of their discipline. Now, whether Englishmen make but a poor figure when armed in the service of a foreign people, or that opinion is against it, from Coriolanus downwards, I know not; certain it is, that this regiment has decreased from its full complement to some five or six rank and file.

It was the custom until lately, to fire the fort guns on every 4th of July, the anniversary of our expedition under Whitelock. If they have discontinued it to spare us the mortification of being reminded of such an event, from my very soul I thank them;—it is a subject that makes the heart ache to think upon. No one can view the houses of Buenos Ayres without being struck with the impossibility- 132 - of taking a town by such a mode of attack as it was our fate to pursue, against an inflamed population who were, from the highest to the lowest, our enemies. Well-informed men know that 5 or 6000 troops, with an adequate artillery, might have taken the town without scarcely entering it, and, what is more, by proper precautions might have kept it. The Spaniards had no troops of any consequence to oppose us; and if all the population of the town had ventured out of their fastnesses to combat us, the issue would not have been for one moment doubtful; for, as the lamented General Ross observed, when inquiring of an American friend of mine, his prisoner, the force near Baltimore, “I ask you, sir, of the regulars; it may rain militia.”

Our wounded, they tell me, were treated with kindness, especially by the female part of the population, who had been amongst the most inveterate of our foes. The heretic Englishman is not looked upon with that horror now, as it was formerly the fashion to paint him.

In the Annual Almanack, the following paragraph is tacked to the fatal 4th of July:—“Service in St. Domingo church: thanks to our Señora and St. Rosario, for the triumph, under their protection, in the year 1807, in having vanquished 12,000 English who attacked us.” With Macbeth, I am ready to exclaim, “May that pernicious hour stand aye accursed in the calendar!”

That such unlooked-for success should have inflated their imaginations is to be expected; but, in justice to this kind people, I must mention, that in English company they never in any way allude to the affair. They are well aware of the disadvantages we had to encounter, and that our troops were exposed to an absolute massacre.

I could fill pages with the anecdotes that have been told me of Beresford, Pack, and other officers; but it is a theme I care not to dwell upon.

- 133 -

Government, and Public Events.—The government of Buenos Ayres is an attempt at republicanism, without its simplicity. However, if the people are contented, we must not quarrel about forms, or expect an Utopia. I am no particular friend to republics; I have seen and enjoyed so much real liberty and happiness under the limited monarchy of my own country, that I can fancy no other form of government better.

The present governor, Don Gregorio Heras, is a military man: he served in several campaigns against the Spaniards, and is reported to be a man of decided character. In his opening speech to the junta, he observed, that, “being determined to obey the laws himself, he expected every one else to do the same.” Señor Heras is tall and personable, about forty-five years of age, with rather an expressive countenance. His title is Governor and Captain-General of the Province of Buenos Ayres. His prerogatives are very limited.

The governor, when taking the air in his carriage, has an escort of two dragoons; when on horseback, he is generally accompanied by his aides-de-camp.

Every public officer is allowed a soldier, who acts both as guard and servant, and is called the Ordenanza. The French Engineer cuts a great figure, with his soldier riding behind him: our humble Quaker prefers walking.[30]

- 134 -

Señor Garcia fills the office of secretary of state, having succeeded Mr. Rivadavia.

The Junta, or senate, consists of forty-eight members, who are elected annually: Señor Don Manuel Pinto is the president. The last election brought in several of the radical party; one or two of whom are the Humes of the Buenos-Ayres House of Commons. Since the secession of Mr. Rivadavia, Señor Gomez leads the ministerial side.

Señor Dorrego, who now distinguishes himself as an opposition speaker, is a colonel. In 1820, when the town was threatened by some armed countrymen, called Monteneros, he, on the spur of the moment, collected porters and carmen, and drove the enemy away, proving himself a dashing soldier. For a short period he assumed the “imperial purple,” until Rodriguez and his Colorados, in October, 1820, displaced him.

On the evening of the day on which the election for the members of the Junta terminates, a military band, with the balloon, or globe, preceding it, and attended by a crowd of young men, parades through the streets. The band stops opposite the houses of the members, and performs an air or two; the mob—if there is such a thing as a mob in Buenos Ayres—all the time shouting, “Viva la Patria!” “The representatives of the people for ever!” &c. If the Buenos Ayreans were to see our last day of an election—the thousands of mobility and patriots, hoarse with bawling—the banners—the rough music of marrow-bones and cleavers, tuned from counter-tenor to double bass—the sight, I think, would astonish, if not frighten them.[31]

- 135 -

The 25th of May, 1810, is the æra of the independence of Buenos Ayres; the period when, the French armies having overrun Spain, the people of this city deposed the viceroy, and appointed a junta of nine as a provisional government. This event is annually commemorated by a festival of three days. It commences on the evening of the 24th, when the Plaza is illuminated, by means of a lofty circle, formed of wood-work, erected round it. At sunrise on the 25th, the national hymn is sung by boys, &c. opposite the pyramid in the Plaza: to hail the rising sun is a Peruvian custom. In the day-time, various sports take place: greased masts are erected, at the summit of which are shawls, watches, and purses of money; and whoever can reach the top, may take any one of the above prizes. An English sailor, in 1822, brought down all the stock in trade, wrapping the shawls about his body, and putting the watches, money, and other articles, in his pockets and mouth. On his descent, he was surrounded by soldiers, who took away his booty; and on Jack making a shew of resistance, they marched him to prison. The bystanders, however, were indignant at this, and he was soon released, and allowed to retain one of the prizes. These masts cause great diversion, as very few succeed in mounting them; and our sailor was highly applauded. There is also an ingenious machine, called rompe cabeza, or break head, consisting of a pole placed lengthwise on pivots, elevated from the ground, with a cord on which to rest the feet. The difficulty is in getting along this pole;- 136 - in doing which, hundreds are thrown off: the successful candidate obtains a piece of money. Military music plays at night in the galleries of the Cabildo; and fire-balloons and fire-works are let off, the latter emitting their balls of fire among the people. From the careless manner in which the fire-works are used by boys in the streets, I am surprised that no accidents happen.

The theatre is open every night of the holidays, and is always crowded; the anthem is sung; and they have extra lights, &c. The governor and his suite attend.

In the College church, on the 25th of May, prizes are distributed to those young females who have excelled in any particular branch of their studies. The ladies of the town take great interest in this, and attend the church in crowds. The organ performs during the ceremony, as well as other music.

In 1821, the rejoicings went off gloomily, with little or no preparations.

The arrangements in May, 1822, were the best that I have seen. The weather—indeed, every thing combined in its favour. Children of both sexes, dressed in fanciful costume, danced upon a stage in the Plaza, and at the theatre, and were drawn through the streets upon ornamental cars, by persons disguised as lions, tigers, and leopards. The music of the Plaza dance even now dwells upon my mind, producing remembrances I can scarcely account for. Its soft and pretty music ought to make it a standard dance for the 25th May. In this May, of 1822, I was delighted, and, for the moment, relieved from worldly cares. I strayed, at evening, about the Plaza: the mimic angels I could almost fancy real; and the sweet dark-eyed girls that every moment met my eye were, to me, Houris of Mahomet’s Paradise. The illusion was complete: but, alas! like all other earthly pleasures, it has passed away—would that I could add, as a “dream slightly remembered.” A troop of equestrians rode through the streets,- 137 - dressed like Astley’s horsemen, and masqued: they proceeded to the Alameda, and fixing a small ring to a cord in the middle, they each endeavoured to pull it down at full gallop.

In 1823, the weather was cold and wet. The Quaker made an effort to light the Police-Office with gas; it only partially succeeded: the words Viva la Patria blazed out at intervals. Considering the obstacles, I am astonished he did so much.

In 1824, the weather was fine; but, to me, the affair appeared altogether inferior to 1822. There was no dancing, or Astley’s troop; the fire-works were something better, and were judiciously placed on the arch, instead of the Cathedral, as heretofore.

On the 25th of May, the governor and the public officers, with the dignitaries of the church, walk in state to the Cathedral church, at which there is a solemn service.

In 1824, the new governor, Don Gregorio Heras, gave a grand dinner at the Fort: 120 sat down, including the American minister, the English consul and two vice-consuls, and many foreigners. The dessert was superb; not like those we have, but chiefly of sweetmeats; sugar castles, fortifications, and other designs made up of this latter article.

Velarde gave a very comic description of the Fiestas, at the theatre, in blank verse, in the character of a Gaucho, seated with his companions round a fire, smoking, to whom he is relating the events of the day, and, among the rest, of the English sailor climbing the mast like a cat. This actor displays abilities of no ordinary merit in this style of acting.

These four days passed without a single robbery, or even the dread of such an event. Few cities in Europe can boast as much, with a population of 60,000 persons.

It is said, that the diversions of the 25th of May, from the expense, and uncertainty of the weather, are to be discontinued, or at least postponed to another part of the- 138 - year. I hope they are not to be done away with. Some few hours may surely be taken from the cares of life, and devoted to enjoyment, in spite of the heartless censure of the few.

It is not my intention to enter into an historical detail of the political events that have agitated this country since the declaration of its independence: they would alone occupy more space than I have proposed to myself for these Remarks. The notice of a few events, however, connected with public affairs, since my residence in this city, and of public men, may not be uninteresting in this place.

The year 1820, in which I arrived, was remarkable for its frequent political changes. Scarcely any of the several chiefs, who rapidly succeeded each other at the head of government, retained their power more than a few weeks, till Don Martin Rodriguez, at the head of his Colorados,[32] or Red Men, (so named from the colour of their ponchos, or cloaks), having succeeded in an attack upon the town, put down the Civicas, or militia, who, although appointed to preserve the peace of the city, by their frequent insurrections, kept it in a constant state of agitation. A battle was fought in the streets of the town, and many lives were lost. He was finally confirmed Governor, on- 139 - the 6th October, 1820, and continued in office for three years, the period prescribed by law. Since that time the government has assumed an appearance of stability, and improvements have taken place in every department of the administration.

Don Martin Rodriguez is a tall, well-looking man, and a good soldier. Without the possession of any very shining abilities, he has done more for the benefit of the state than any of his predecessors, and retired from office with the esteem of all parties. He was succeeded by Don Gregorio Heras, the present governor, in April, 1824.

During his government, Rodriguez owed much to the able administration of Don Bernadino Rivadavia, who may be considered the William Pitt of Buenos Ayres. He entered office, as minister, in 1821, and left it with Señor Rodriguez; the law requiring that ministers should resign, or be re-elected, with the new governor. Mr. R. was strenuously entreated to continue in his situation; but he steadily refused, and his friends deplored the determination. One of the first acts of his administration was to annihilate privateering.[33] By him the revenue was simplified and increased; public plunderers could no longer escape detection; and his firmness awed the disturbers of public peace, and made the province respected by foreigners. In the suppression of the monasteries, he encountered every species of obloquy from a certain class. Now that passion has in some degree subsided, his opponents, and even the priesthood, must allow, that he had no other motive but his country’s good; and they cannot deny him the merit of disinterestedness and unshaken resolution. Strangers of all descriptions are grateful to him for the protection and attention- 140 - he has shewn them, and the encouragement given to their pursuits, which add to the capital and prosperity of the country. The greatest eulogium that can be bestowed upon Mr. Rivadavia’s government is a comparison of Buenos Ayres in 1821 and 1824, the periods when he accepted and when he retired from office. His administration forms an æra in the political annals of the state, and will rank him as an able—nay, more—an honest minister. His system, it is said, will be strictly followed by his successors: I trust it may, for the good of their country.

Mr. Rivadavia was bred to the law. He has been represented to me as a man of strong passions, with nothing of the courtier in his manners, which, at times, approach to abruptness. The three years he was in office have proved that he possesses first rate talents as a statesman. Political as well as personal enemies every man must expect, in a situation like his; and though such a consideration might not have intimidated him from again accepting office, very possibly it might have had some influence, conceiving, that, as the foundation was laid for a good system of government, they should not reproach him with clinging to office for the sake of power and emolument.

Mr. Rivadavia has visited both France and England in a public capacity, and has again sailed for Europe, in the Walsingham packet, in part to superintend the education of his son, who is now, I believe, in the college of Stonyhurst. He will carry with him a distinguished name; before, he was in a manner unknown. He speaks a little English, and very good French.

In person, Mr. Rivadavia has some peculiarities; and were he much before the public in London, I fear, he would not long escape the wicked pencils of our caricaturists: should it be so, he cannot complain; he will find the king, and the first people in the realm, not spared by them. His figure is short and thick, with a dark complexion; and he generally walks with one arm behind him. He- 141 - wears black clothes, with tight pantaloons, displaying Herculean limbs.

As an orator, Mr. Rivadavia is not very imposing; he has a deep sonorous voice, and is eloquent—but not exactly a Cicero.

In October, 1820, two persons were shot in the Plaza, near the Fort, for state offences connected with the revolution of the period—one a military officer, and the other a drum-major. The former was executed in a poncho, in which disguise he was taken. They were conducted from the Fort in heavy irons, each holding a small cross, and accompanied by friars on each side, to whom the criminals eagerly listened. At the fatal spot their sentence was read: they were placed on seats, and tied; the priests slowly withdrew, still whispering comfort to the unhappy men; an officer waved his handkerchief—and they were no more. The band struck up the tune of “The Downfall of Paris,” as the troops marched past the bodies. A number of females witnessed the appalling sight from the neighbouring balconies.

On the night or morning of the 19th March, 1823, an attempt was made at another revolution, upon the plea that the religion of the country was in danger. Gregorio Taglé, a lawyer, and a man of some talent, was the chief of this conspiracy: he had been formerly one of the state ministers; and, after its failure, he escaped to Colonia. The disturbance began by some hundreds of Gauchos from the country galloping into the town, shouting “Viva la religion!” &c. &c. They overpowered the guard at the Cabildo, released the prisoners, and began to toll the bell; and at that hour (two o’clock in the morning) it did certainly frighten the town “from its strict propriety.” In the Plaza they were received by a discharge of musquetry from a few troops, who had advanced out of the Fort, and who, after killing and wounding several, put the rest to the rout. Garcia, a Colonel, implicated in the plot, was shot a few days afterwards: he met his fate with firmness.

- 142 -

This execution was followed by two more, those of Colonel Peralto and Urien. The latter had been an officer both in the Buenos-Ayrean and Peruvian services, and now suffered for a participation in the conspiracy, and a murder committed some years ago. He was in confinement at the Cabildo, awaiting his sentence for the latter offence, and being a relation of Mr. Rivadavia, interest was making to save him, when the conspirators released him. Strict search was made for the escaped criminal; and in a few days, he surrendered himself, upon a promise of pardon on condition of his making discoveries of those concerned in the late conspiracy. Several were arrested upon his depositions; amongst them, an English shopkeeper named Hargreaves, whom he accused of selling fire-arms to the rioters at one and two in the morning of the 19th March. An examination proved that all the accusations were false: the accused were released, and Urien desired to prepare for death.

Urien was well known in the coffee-houses of Buenos Ayres; he was much in debt, and some of his creditors were Englishmen. The murder of which he was convicted, was committed in conjunction with a female, the wife of the murdered man, and the body had been cut in pieces, and buried at different times. Since the murder, he had been in Peru, and had also lived in Buenos Ayres, unsuspicious of discovery. Having a fine person and countenance, he was a favourite with the ladies, and a complete “man upon town.”

The execution of Urien and Colonel Peralto took place between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning: they were conducted from the Cabildo prison, ironed, and under a strong guard. They moved slowly along the Plazas to the appointed spot, near the Fort, where they were both uncovered, each holding a cross, and attended by priests: the person of Urien attracted much attention, on account of his tall figure, and dark expressive countenance. He was dressed in a silk levita, or frock-coat, and walked unsupported, and with great firmness; a smile now and then- 143 - appeared upon his face, as he conversed with the priests. He would have gained universal sympathy, but for his great crimes; as it was, disgust was mingled with pity, that such a man should be so guilty. The other wretched man, Peralta, covered with a large great coat, with his head bound up, and supported by his friends and the priests, seemed the picture of misery. At the arch which parts the Plazas, the sentence was read to the prisoners; and again near the fatal place, at which it was some time ere they arrived, from the slowness with which the procession moved. Near the Fort, Urien eyed the artillerymen at their guns, upon the ramparts: his resolution appeared to falter, and he apparently wished to prolong the time at the place of execution by conversation with those about him. At length he was seated. His companion, during this delay, had taken his seat, and, at this last trying moment, was more composed than Urien. The soldiers fired: Peralta fell dead; but Urien still kept his seat, appearing only slightly wounded. The drums, which began to beat, were stopped, and a horrible scene ensued. Several soldiers placed their musquets at the head of Urien: they missed fire, one after the other; at last, one exploded, which, from the report it made, could only have been slightly charged. The poor wretch fell upon the ground, but was not dead; and he endeavoured to raise himself up upon his elbow. Other musquets were discharged, and Urien moved no more. The feelings of the spectators, during this appalling spectacle, may well be conceived. The hearse and coffin were in attendance; and, after the troops had passed, the bodies were placed in them, and taken for interment. A great concourse attended the execution. Peralta was much pitied, having borne an excellent character. The ceremony altogether was terrible; and the part in which the magistrate reads the sentence appears singular to a stranger: a man repeats every word after him in a loud voice; he is selected, I presume, for this qualification.

José Miguel Carrera, so conspicuous in the revolutions- 144 - of this part of South America, was shot, at Mendoza, in 1821. He was a Chilian by birth, and belonged to one of the first families there: he was a man of considerable abilities. The execution of his two brothers, Antonio and Luis, in that same city, and other political affairs, had made him vow eternal enmity to the government of Buenos Ayres; particularly to San Martin, whom he much disliked. In his vengeance, he had raised the Indians to assist him. This act lost him many of his friends, who now viewed him with a kind of horror, as chief of barbarians. He was betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and immediately put to death, which, it is almost needless to observe, he underwent with courage, and was buried, it is said, in the same grave with the brothers he so dearly loved.

Carrera was in the prime of life, tall, and elegantly formed: his desperation and courage rank him as one of Lord Byron’s heroes, though not exactly “with one virtue linked to a thousand crimes.” His widow (who has been a fine woman), and infant family, I afterwards saw at Buenos Ayres. One of the latter, a little girl not five years of age, was imprudently asked, in my presence, what had become of her father? “Murdered by the Mendoceans,” she quickly replied.

San Martin, having retired from public life, embarked at Buenos Ayres for France and England, attended by his daughter. His wife, one of the daughters of the late Señor Escalada, died a short time since in this city. San Martin is a tall, stout man, about forty-five years of age: he is said to be rich. He has his detractors; however, they cannot deny him one great military qualification, that of a determined mind. In his dispute with Lord Cochrane, the latter had decidedly the best of the argument, judging from a pamphlet which his lordship has published.

The late General Belgrano, a native of this province, and who distinguished himself in several actions against the Spaniards, has a day set apart for funereal rites: it takes place in June, the anniversary of his death.

- 145 -

In the month of October, 1824, the visit of a New-Zealand chief to Buenos Ayres, by name Tippahée Cupa, attracted much curiosity; he arrived in the British ship Urania, Captain Reynolds. Tippahée came alongside this ship in Cook’s Straits, with a war canoe filled with his people, and, in spite of the remonstrances and even force used by Captain R. refused to quit the vessel, expressing his determination to proceed to England. He bade his followers an affectionate adieu, enjoining obedience to his successor during his absence. The Urania sailed for London with her passenger the 8th December, 1824.

Tippahée, when he first arrived in Buenos Ayres, was clothed in an old red coat, formerly belonging to a London postman. The English paid him many attentions, inviting him to dine at their houses, and new clothing him. His behaviour at table was easy and unembarrassed; and, when requested, he would perform the dances and war songs of New Zealand. He understood a little of the English language, and spoke a few words of it; his intelligent manners, and circumspect conduct, rendered him an universal favourite. On the map he could trace the ship’s course from New Zealand to Lima and Buenos Ayres. He knew an Englishman immediately; the Spaniards he did not much admire, fancying they viewed him with contempt, and was glad to get among Englishmen. His age is about forty; he possesses amazing strength; his tattooed face and appearance always attracted a crowd after him in Buenos Ayres. On board ship he was found very useful, doing all sorts of work, but he positively declined to go aloft. The fate of Captain Thompson, and the crew of the British ship Boyd, ought to bespeak caution in using coercion with these savage chieftains of New Zealand. In Cruise’s book of New Zealand, Tippahee was shewn a picture of a chief of his country, with which he was greatly delighted. The object of his journey to England is to solicit arms and ammunition, to place him upon a par with a rival chief, who possesses those requisites.

- 146 -

At the dinner given on St. Andrew’s day, in December, 1824, by the Scotch gentlemen, Mr. Parish, the British consul, hinted at the speedy acknowledgment of the independence of Buenos Ayres by his government. This intimation was received with great enthusiasm by a numerous company, among whom were the principal members of government.

The Camden packet took home the treaty between the British and Buenos-Ayrean governments, with several passengers, including Mr. Griffiths, one of the vice-consuls, and Mr. Nunez, a Creolian gentleman, secretary to Mr. Rivadavia. The Lord Hobart packet took home passenger Mr. M‘Crackan, many years a merchant in this country, and a worthy man.

Don Carlos Alvear, and Don Felix Castro, have proceeded to England from Buenos Ayres: the former makes it on his way to the United States of North America, to which he is appointed minister. Their mission to London is supposed to have reference to the loan about negotiating. The security to British capitalists is surely as good, if not better than in many other cases in which they have lent money. There are no restrictions upon interest: the average has been 12 per cent.; but this is decreasing.

Alvear was formerly a director of Buenos Ayres, and is a very active man. In the early part of his life, he narrowly escaped destruction, when going to Spain in one of the Spanish frigates captured, in 1804, by Captain Graham Moore. The frigate in which he had taken his passage was one that blew up, and he had only left it prior to the action, to pay a visit on board another ship: some of his nearest relatives perished in the explosion.

Should Alvear harbour any dislike to our country, it may be attributed to this shocking catastrophe; but, I am persuaded, his good sense has, long ere this, made him view it as one of the accidents inseparable from the quarrel of nations.

- 147 -

At eight o’clock in the evening of the 21st January, 1825, an express entered Buenos Ayres with news of the battle of Ayacucho, in Peru. A victory so decisive and unexpected caused a tumult of joy: people crowded round the coffee-houses, listening to the different orators describing the victory; it brought to one’s recollection the crowds at the newspaper offices in London, upon similar occasions. At ten o’clock at night, a triple salute was fired from the Fort, which was answered by another from the Aranzazu brig of war, anchored in the inner roads, and a Brazilian brig of war. Partial illuminations and fire-works took place the same evening.

On the 22d January, there was a performance at the theatre, when the national hymn was sung, amidst loud vivas for Bolivar, Sucre, &c.; and Colonel Ramirez read the official detail to the audience from the boxes. The theatre was decorated with silks and national emblems, and illuminated with extra lights: an ode upon the victory was sold at the doors, and a military band stationed there.

The rejoicings continued for three nights, with bonfires, illuminations, and military music in the gallery of the Cabildo; the pyramid in the Plaza was illuminated, and surrounded by transparencies, &c. The people seemed mad with joy; I could scarcely have believed them capable of such enthusiasm; and though, perhaps, these ebullitions are not at all times to be taken as a test of patriotism, yet I am persuaded, the mass of the people sincerely rejoiced.

The Coffee-house de la Victoria was thronged both inside and out; and wine and beer were drank in profusion. Various toasts were given, amongst which was “Religious Toleration.” There was abundance of speechifying, describing the past and the future, with the happiness in reserve for the inhabitants of the province of the Rio de la Plata. Some hundreds formed themselves into military array, and, with banners and music, proceeded through- 148 - the streets, singing the national hymn, and shouting opposite the houses of known patriots with loud vivas. At the residence of the British Consul they cheered for England, the King of England, and liberty. At the American minister’s, similar compliments were bestowed on North America. Colonel Forbes invited them inside, and pledged them in bumpers of wine. During the whole of the night the assemblage continued in the streets, with music and singing; yet but few irregularities took place. Some violent spirits declaimed against the Brazilians, and, it is said, windows were broken at the Brazilian Consul’s house;[34] but this act was quickly discountenanced by the rest. In fact, they have nothing here which can put one in mind of a mob, especially an English mob. The bands that paraded the streets were composed of the most genteel young men of the town. A young man named Saravia is looked up to as a sort of leader and manager on these popular occasions; possessing abundance of wit, activity, a tolerable share of oratory, and staunch patriotism, Saravia plays no insignificant part in the politics of Buenos Ayres.

Public dinners were given at Faunch’s Hotel. Eighty Creolian gentlemen sat down to an entertainment of this description. The dining-room was decorated with flags of all nations, portraits of Bolivar, Sucre, &c.; and military music was in attendance, which played “God save the King!” upon the King of England’s health being proposed.[35]

- 149 -

Another dinner was given by Don Gregorio Heras, the governor, at the house of the Consulado, in the same style and splendour, and rivalling even London itself. The bumper toasts were numerous and appropriate.[36]

A subscription ball and supper was likewise given by some of the Buenos Ayrean gentlemen, at the Consulado. English and other foreigners attended in considerable numbers. The patio, or court-yard, covered by an awning, and brilliantly decorated, was devoted to dancing: the concourse of ladies was very great, who, by their style of dancing and charming attire, rendered the scene exceedingly fascinating, upon a par with any such amusements in Europe. The dancing continued all night, and until nearly seven o’clock on the Sunday morning, not having- 150 - any Bishop of London or sanctified gentry to interfere. Unfortunately, the night proved intensely hot. The supper table was laid out in the grand saloon.

The North-American gentlemen resident in Buenos Ayres, on the 23d February, 1825, gave a similar entertainment at the same building, the Consulado, in honour of the victory of Ayacucho, and of Washington’s birth-day. Having more time for preparation, and the evening being cool it was the most superb affair ever seen in this country; and as regarded effect, it could hardly be surpassed. The awning was arranged in the form of a dome; and the walls of the court-yard in which the dance was held were covered with flags: Buenos Ayrean, Peruvian, Chilian, British, and American, were most conspicuous. The glare of light falling on these colours, with the sylph-like movements of the ladies mingling in the dance, made all appear enchantment, realizing the fables of Eastern romance. “London cannot beat this!” exclaimed a John Bull just arrived from England, as he entered the scene of festivity: the graceful attitudes and appearance of the female part of the company evidently surprised him. The music was of the first description; Masoni and other professors presiding. It was the first entertainment given in this country by the North Americans to the Buenos Ayres public; and they certainly succeeded to the utmost, reflecting the highest honour upon their liberality and patriotism. It may be said that “all the world” of Buenos Ayres was there, and they did not separate until seven o’clock the next morning. The exterior of the Consulado was illuminated, with the names of Washington, Bolivar, Sucre.

The substantial part of these different entertainments was superintended by Faunch, the English hotel keeper, the only man in this country competent to the undertaking: his arrangements would not disgrace Messrs. Gunter and Debatt.

- 151 -

The town was illuminated during the three nights of Carnival. In the Plaza, the names of the South-American heroes blazed from the “Casa de Policia.” The rompe cabeza (or break head), greased masts, and other sports, took place; two military bands of music playing alternately. The weather being fine, added to the pleasure; the streets and Plaza were filled with people. I viewed the scene as an event, perhaps, never to occur again—I mean as to such a continuance of enthusiasm and festivals; and, like Noodle and Doodle, “as we never saw the like before, ’tis fit we make the most of it.” I had, too, my forebodings, and was not quite so sanguine as to the future moral happiness of the country: for as population increases, its attendants, crime and misery, follow.

The theatre was open the three nights; the national hymn was sung, the house decorated, &c. The British consul, with his suite, attended on one of the nights of Carnival; and on the Sunday, went in state from the Fort to the Cathedral church. All the public officers were in the train, including the foreign consuls. It was a walking procession; and Mr. Poussett, the British vice-consul, walked with Mr. Slacum, the North-American consul. Some forty or fifty years back, who could have dreamt of such an event—a British consul joining in a procession with a consul of her colonies, now independent, to celebrate the independence of another part of the American continent.

Buenos Ayres illuminations are of a very inferior description, a candle or two placed in each window; no tasteful transparencies. The house of Mr. Losana was an exception: he had a transparency of the British and North American national arms, and an incessant rattling of fire-works (crackers) from the roof and windows of his mansion.

On the 24th February, a triumphal car was paraded through the streets, followed by a piece of artillery, and- 152 - another car containing arms of all descriptions, the whole preceded by persons bearing torches, and military music. The grand car was adorned with flags: the British flag I did not observe amongst them. When the cavalcade reached the Plaza, it was overtaken by a Pampero wind, with the usual accompaniment of dust, obscuring the atmosphere, and obliging shops and windows to be instantly closed. The London pickpockets, during these squalls would find ample field for their talents.

During the rejoicings for the Ayacucho victory, the Aranzazu brig of war had the flag of old Spain floating under that of Buenos Ayres.

Concluding Remarks.—The great want of this country is population; and until it is increased by an industrious race, agriculture will remain at its present low ebb; and they will have no sure defence against distant enemies, powerful neighbours, and the ravages of the Indians. It would be advantageous to encourage emigration from the over-peopled countries of Europe, give them protection and an interest in the country; then Buenos Ayres may reach those high destinies which her sanguine politicians pretend to see in perspective; but it is not by simple talking, that this is to be done. England reached her present greatness by degrees, and by various sacrifices. I am aware that many in Buenos Ayres view the influx of strangers with jealousy, and talk very highly of their powerful means, &c. But, setting aside the old adage, that “boasters do the least,” what could protect them, if an alteration should take place in European politics, and any one of the states of Europe, without fear of obstruction, should determine to appropriate the province of Buenos Ayres to itself? The 150,000 men, women, and children, that now inhabit it, would stand a miserable chance against the hordes that would be then let loose upon them. Therefore, an increase of population, having all the rights of citizens,- 153 - would be an increase of power; and, in defence of their property and homes, they would all join heart and hand to drive the spoilers from their adopted land.

If, however, an attack from any European power be considered an event too distant or improbable to create any apprehension, Buenos Ayres has a more immediate danger to provide against, from an enemy whose attacks are neither problematical nor easily to be parried. This province is unfortunately exposed to the ravages of the Indians, who murder the inhabitants, and carry off the cattle, spreading desolation and terror around. They are frequently within a hundred miles of the city, and in 1823 they approached much nearer. They advance in general, from the S. or S.E. quarter, in bodies of 3, 4, 5, and 600, armed with spear and lasso. In using the last, they are almost sure to entrap the unfortunates within their reach. The forces opposed to them appear inadequate; the horses, unable to endure the hardships of such a campaign, have not been found equal to those of the Indians; and as prisoners taken by them seldom meet with mercy, it has inspired timidity. When likely to be hard pressed, the Indians disperse in all directions, flying to their inaccessible retreats. The late Governor Rodriguez headed several expeditions against them, but without any marked success.

Four officers of Buenos Ayres, in 1823, were sent with a message to the Indians, who were detained and murdered. One of them, a Polish gentleman, named Bullicusque, had been in Napoleon’s army, and was much esteemed. He had some talent at caricature: one which he made of Mr. Rivadavia attempting to climb the Rompe Cabeza, in allusion to the suppression of the Friars, caused some mirth.

That any portion of the civilized part of South America should, at this period, be held in terror by Indians, is a disgrace to Spanish management, after 350 years of- 154 - possession. The East Indies, and its hundred millions of people subject to British sway, present rather a different spectacle: they are in peace, and under the protection of the laws; the once powerful Mahratta nation, the Pindarees, and other warlike tribes having been subdued or conciliated within our time. The suppression of the predatory Indians about this province is a legacy left by the Spaniards to their late colonists.

The Indians of South America are, in persons and countenance, a striking contrast to those of Africa. They have long black hair, flat faces, short thick persons, and complexions of the mulatto cast, without any thing in their countenances to denote ferocity, judging from those I have seen in the streets of Buenos Ayres as prisoners. They have a slight clothing, but it is very filthy. The woolly hair and tawny skin are not seen amongst them. They are much attached to their caciques, or chiefs.

In the present state of the province, it is a question whether it would not be sound policy to take into pay 3 or 4000 foreign troops, and, by placing them in cantonments on the exposed frontiers, awe the Indians, and give the state a greater respect with other nations.

Every Buenos Ayrean who really loves his country, will view the arrival of a settler emigrant amongst them more as a benefit than an injury.

Some of my countrymen are of opinion, that the acknowledgment of the independence of Buenos Ayres by the British government will induce many to emigrate from home, and thus add to the strength, industry, and capital of this province. I should rejoice at such an occurrence; our England, Ireland, and Scotland, can well spare from their too numerous population.

But, unless a person has some settled object of business, Buenos Ayres will not prove the most eligible place to speculate upon for employment.

Clerks, unless they possess strong recommendations, or- 155 - come expressly engaged, had better not venture upon the voyage: they will, in all probability, meet with great disappointment. The mercantile houses have their clerks sent from the firms at home; little chance in that capacity, therefore, remains for others. Many have returned to England, finding that to continue here was only making bad worse.

It is professions of the first necessity that succeed. Mechanics are sure of employment, and with prudence can save money. A journeyman carpenter may earn, by piece-work, four to five dollars per day; their regular wages from the English masters are from forty to forty-five and forty-eight dollars per month. Braziers, blacksmiths, &c. do well: Englishmen have shops in all those branches. Labourers of all descriptions are in request.

Farming I do not conceive a profitable concern: labour is high, and the foreign farmer, from the sort of men he must employ, is continually exposed to petty thefts, the punishment of which causes great annoyance and trouble. English labourers generally manage to leave their master the moment they become useful. Several Englishmen have tried the system of farming, without much success; it is more adapted to the natives, and, from what I have heard, they make nothing extraordinary of it. It is possible that a man with a capital of 800 to 1000l. may more than live; but it ought to be a strong temptation to induce an individual with that property to leave his country, and to be well assured of the probable advantages of such an experiment. At the present moment a rapid fortune is not to be made as a farmer; he must be content to plod on for years, with great anxiety, and labour to boot. The soil, rich as it is, requires artificial aid.

It is in holding estancias, or grazing farms, that money has been made; and from the high price of hides, and the continual demand for them, this affords every prospect of advantage.

- 156 -

Emigrants will not find the conveniences they have at home, but as many comforts as they can possibly expect in a foreign land, including the favourable climate.

An English female, upon her first arrival in this country would not find herself very comfortable; it must take some time to reconcile her to the loss of home, dress, mode of living—every thing so different; the only alleviation is in the society of her country folks, and the kind behaviour of the people, which will soon soften those feelings, and when somewhat conversant in the language, she would become attached to Spanish society, from whom she may be assured of receiving the most delicate attentions that hospitality can prompt.

A person will not be long in Buenos Ayres without picking up acquaintances with its inhabitants; amongst whom are some very intelligent young men. I have sometimes thought it would give me pleasure to conduct one of them to England, to be—not exactly a Mentor (needing that myself), but a sort of escort to him in the modern Babylon, London; to explain its many varieties, from the mansions of the nobility, down to the fondas of St. Giles’s, where plates, knives, and forks, are chained to the tables, to prevent the customers walking off with them.

Common report asserts, that a strong French faction exists in Buenos Ayres. I will not pretend to offer an opinion upon this. Three years ago, I thought there was a decided leaning towards France: but I do not think there is so much now. If it were only for the sake of consistency, they must be ashamed of French politics, and the war in Spain, undertaken, as “an experiment to try the fidelity of the French army,” according to Monsieur Chateaubriand, who asserted that a few months campaigning had done more good for France than years of peace. That a portion of the inhabitants may be attached to the French, is probable; their manners and religion assimilate more than ours. An Englishman is looked upon as a strange creature, different from the rest of the world.- 157 - Other nations have not that characteristic of country (excepting the North Americans): a Frenchman, Italian, &c. mixes in the crowd as one of the country in which he resides, and is scarcely recognized as a foreigner; but nature seems to have placed her peculiar mark upon us, and, in conjunction with our law against expatriation, seems to assert, that “once an Englishman, always an Englishman.” It would appear that strangers can almost discover us blindfold: often, on the darkest night, I have been accosted by boys and others as an Englishman.

The old Spanish part of the population, I dare say, dislike, and can never forgive us; we are ever the subject of their sneering remarks, and must expect to be so. That we can act from principles of pure honour, appears to them impossible; and they affect to trace self-interest at the bottom of all our professions, particularly as to the proceedings of the British government toward South America, which have gained us so much popularity with those states; and given British politics the lead, which indeed never stood more high in Buenos Ayres than at the present moment.

Englishmen are aware that very few like them as a nation, however they may respect them as individuals; and should our country be once on the wane, there would be plenty of helping hands to press us further down. It requires no extraordinary sagacity to account for this animosity. I am certain, however, we have numerous friends in Buenos Ayres. The rising generation have, in a manner, grown up with us. Time will wear away antiquated prejudices, and it will be seen that the calumnies which have been heaped upon our nation for ages, have not been deserved. Many fine young Englishmen reside in Buenos Ayres in mercantile and other employments: this portion associate a great deal with the inhabitants, with whom they have formed a perfect intimacy.

I do not expect emigration from England yet, to any great- 158 - extent. The English people, in general, have a repugnance to live under foreign laws, and where the influence of a religion prevails which from childhood they have been taught to believe is inimical to their own. But, waving these considerations, they would have little else to complain of. Here is a rich soil, without any dread of sands and blights, as at the Cape of Good Hope; and if they cannot amass a fortune, they are sure to live, and that comfortably. Of the kind-hearted inhabitants I have already spoken: my countrymen may be assured, there are no foreigners with whom he will find himself so much at home as with the Buenos Ayreans. Therefore, I again repeat, that farmers with a small capital may gain a livelihood—perhaps, more; labourers are sure of constant employment; and mechanics are ever in request. The climate is congenial; the government are their sure protectors; and the people, in spite of every prejudice, esteem our nation. The age of revolutions, I think, is past; and, during their utmost violence, strangers were never molested. British vessels from Liverpool are continually arriving: and the cost of the passage is moderate.

Whenever fate conducts me from this country, I shall quit it with regret for any other place but my native home, and must always feel the most sincere esteem and gratitude towards the fine and generous people amongst whom I have so long resided, and where I have enjoyed happiness I little thought to experience out of Great Britain. I came to Buenos Ayres somewhat prejudiced, expecting to observe illiberality and bigotry, in place of the many amiable qualities of which I have found them possessed; and although I am as complete an home-sick Englishman as ever quitted his paternal shores, yet such is my attachment to Buenos Ayres, that I look up to it as my second home, and feel the deepest interest in its welfare.

- 159 -


I VISITED Colonia del Sacramento for a short period. It lies east of Buenos Ayres, distant across the river thirty miles, and may sometimes be seen from the latter city: when this is the case, it denotes a change of weather to wind or rain.

Colonia is fortified both on the land and sea side: heavy guns are mounted on the lines, and it is capable of making a good defence. It is now in the possession of the Brazilian government. In December, 1821, during my abode there, it was occupied by the Portuguese, and 600 European troops constituted the garrison; they were all light infantry, and had served in the Peninsular war. I should suppose them a “crack regiment,” for in appearance they fully equalled British troops: the uniform, brown jackets with black facings, and caps similar to our’s. Most of the officers wore orders for services in Europe. The music consisted of bugle trumpets. Parade every morning: officers marched to their guard, colours trooped, and all the evolutions of the parade in St. James’s Park. On Sundays they mustered in their best uniform, governor attending, for church. I could not but express my admiration, at the fine order and discipline of the troops, to a Portuguese officer. He answered, that whatever improvement had taken place, was entirely owing to British example and instruction; that we had found them a mob, and transformed them to decent soldiers. It will be long ere Spain can put forth such troops.

The officers, in Colonia, were good-looking gentlemanly men, speaking a little French and English, picked up in campaigning. Many of them had married, and preferred- 160 - remaining in the country, when the regiment was ordered away, turning farmers, cattle dealers, &c.

The governor (Rodriguez) is a veteran of the Peninsula. Strangers, upon their arrival, are introduced to him. I found him working in his garden, at a cottage, near the town: he received me with great civility. How strangely the Spanish and Portuguese character has been represented to us at home! I cannot discover that assumption of dignity and pride attributed to them; on the contrary, they are of very amiable manners.

In Colonia, the soldiers were much esteemed, and industrious men. A comparison with those of Buenos Ayres would be invidious.

The officers must have had a monotonous life, in so dull a place as Colonia. They were great favourites with the ladies; and, in riding about the country, visiting, and dancing, whiled away their spare time.

The soldiers were quartered in different houses: their behaviour reminded me of the domestic character of our troops; I observed them nursing children, and busily employed about the house, with nothing of that swaggering consequence so usual with foreign troops. The Duke of Wellington discovered and rightly appreciated their merits, which have brought such renown upon the military annals of Portugal.

The world are accustomed to speak very slightingly of the Portuguese character as a nation; and when the deeds in the Peninsula have been mentioned, it has been said, “they have fought well, because British bayonets were at their backs.” Those same British have done the Portuguese army the justice their bravery deserves; and the pitiful sneers of their calumniatos will fall harmless.

Our saucy sailors, too, in the plenitude of their impudence, must have their joke at the Portuguese: I remember, upon my first trip to sea, I was called from the cabin to look at a Portuguese man-of-war, which, they told me,- 161 - had just hove in sight: I did look, but no vessel was to be seen. At last, the sailors pointed out to me a nautilus, with all sail set, skimming along the water which they asserted, was a Portuguese ship of the line.

Colonia has about 800 inhabitants. There are very few good houses: the greater part may be called huts, and are occupied by a mixture of South Americans, old Spaniards, Portuguese, and some half-dozen of Englishmen married to South-American ladies.

The governor’s house is a very ordinary building. The streets are irregular; and the town altogether presents a most miserable appearance.

The town cannot afford a tavern; there is only a paltry billiard-room, in a public house, to which the Portuguese officers resorted.

The inhabitants of Colonia are very hospitable. I attended a birth-day feast, at one of their quintas; forty persons sat down to a dinner of beef, fowls, turkey, pastry, &c. The wine went merrily round, under a continual call for bompas (bumpers); and after dinner, there was dancing. Some Portuguese officers were present, with their young Spanish wives.

At those dinner parties, they have a practice of throwing bits of bread at each other; and I felt some degree of surprise at first receiving those bread shots.

The captain of the port, Mr. Short, is an Englishman, belonging to the Portuguese navy, and is very attentive to his countrymen, whom business may call there: the same may be said of Mr. Bridgman, who has been many years resident in the town.

Colonia has but little trade. Small craft from Monte Video and Buenos Ayres, bound up the river to Paysan Lee, &c. and sometimes British and other vessels call in, to ship produce. A vessel can anchor within a quarter of a mile from the shore, in 3½ fathom water. The harbour is good, considering the bad anchorage of this river. There- 162 - is a constant communication overland with Monte Video; the distance is about 150 miles. To load vessels of any burthen, craft are sent from Buenos Ayres. There is a dangerous reef near the harbour, on which a British brig (the Euxine) was wrecked, in March, 1824.

Our ships of war, stationed in the outer roads of Buenos Ayres, send their boats for brush-wood to the Island of St. Gabriel, near Colonia. The church is a conspicuous land-mark, and looks very much like an English country church, in its exterior; the interior has nothing of splendour to boast—no organ, or decorations; the service is confided to some poor old priests, who are fast approaching their earthly end.

If Colonia in itself has nothing attractive, the country around makes ample amends, being interspersed with small hills, dales, lakes, and agreeable rides—affording a fine field to the sportsman. The prospect of the river is uninterrupted, assuming the appearance of a perfect sea. Here is every facility for bathing: the water is clear and bracing. This side of the river, in point of scenery, is far beyond the Buenos Ayrean: an Englishman, however, regards it with almost equal indifference. If any particular view is pointed out, Sussex, Kent, Devonshire, crowd upon his thoughts; in comparison with which, the flat coast and few diminutive hills of this part of South America appear insignificant.

In the environs of Colonia are many comfortable quintas, or farm-houses. Provisions are dearer than in Buenos Ayres, and the beef is not so good.

In the neighbourhood are found the birds called cardinals, from having a tuft of feathers upon their heads shaped like a cardinal’s hat. Their plumage is pretty; and they sing. Care is required to convey them safe to Europe.

The air plant is a singular production of this place; it grows on bushes, and will thrive in the open air, without the aid of mould.

- 163 -

I think it possible, a few years hence, that Colonia may start from its present inferiority, and take a station commensurate with the advantages it possesses as a port in the river Plate. It was occupied by a division of our army in 1807. History reminds us of our countryman, Penrose, and the mishaps he encountered here in 1762.

Lately, the church and several houses have been damaged, and some lives lost, by the blowing up of a magazine of gunpowder.

The occupation of the Banda Oriental by the Portuguese, and now by the Brazilians, has been the subject of a strong remonstrance from the government of Buenos Ayres. The original plea of the disturbed state of the country, and danger thereby to the neighbouring Brazilian provinces, no longer existing, Don Valentin Gomez[37] was sent to Rio Janeiro, but returned without accomplishing his object. The Brazilian flag still waves, and is likely to do so, from- 164 - the fortresses of Monte Video, Colonia, Maldonado, and the adjacent country. I am not aware upon what arguments the Brazilians determine to keep their hold, excepting possibly that of “might constituting right.” Buenos Ayres would seem its more natural protector. A portion of the inhabitants, it is likely, prefer that the country should remain under its present masters, satisfied with the manner in which authority has been exercised, and dreading revolutions.

The old Spanish part of the population bear no particular love to the Patriots: of the two, it is doubtful which they hate most, the Patriots or the English.

Buenos Ayres would find it difficult to dislodge the Brazilians by force, though there are advocates for this measure. Prudence, I trust, will guide their resolves; and if injustice has been perpetrated, let revenge be deferred until it can be securely taken. The separation, after centuries of fellowship, and falling under foreign dominion, must be galling.

If Buenos Ayres held the Banda Oriental, she would be a powerful state, which it is the policy of the court of Rio de Janeiro to prevent. Its fortresses, fine climate and country, improving population, influx of emigrants, under a strong government, would make even the empire of Brazil to look about them. However, such an event is distant; every thing leads me to think its present occupants will long keep possession.


[1] The unsettled state of the country formerly deterred masters of vessels from giving up their registers, fearing they might be lost; and various shifts were resorted to as substitutes, such as rendering Mediterranean passes, apprentice indentures, any thing in the shape of parchment or printing—all went current. Some years since, Matthews, an adjutant of the port, who had been aid-de-camp to Admiral Gravina, at the battle of Trafalgar, detected a trick of this sort, the parties not being aware that he understood English. Matthews was a Spaniard born, but educated in London.

[2] For Instructions for navigating the river Plate, see Appendix; where also will be found the Rules of the Port, Dues to be paid by Vessels, &c.

[3] On the 4th December, 1823, the Dutch ship of war Lynx, of 30 guns, arrived at Buenos Ayres, on her way to the Pacific; and thirty of the crew deserted, during her stay of nineteen days. The boats came on shore latterly with armed marines, and the men were not permitted to land.

The French brig of war Faune arrived on the 11th, and sailed on the 23d June, 1824: she lost six men by desertion. This brig brought to Buenos Ayres the French Admiral, Rosamel.

[4] In the coffee-houses, the waiters are very inquisitive, and in a manner that one cannot be angry with. A knight of the napkin got me into conversation, asking me a host of questions about England and Englishmen, declaring, that he liked them better than any foreigners; and, after passing those compliments, which I received with due reverence, he eagerly demanded the reason of the English having such red faces? I knew he could not mean mine, as I am dark, and of a sallow complexion; so I told him, that the rich people drank a great deal of Port wine, and the poor equally so of beer, which accounted for the bloom he had noticed.

[5] As Mr. R. is an important personage in Buenos Ayres, I cannot forbear relating an anecdote of him:—In an excursion to Rio Janeiro, he took away with him a slave girl, reporting (or scandal had done so for him) that she was a present from the governor’s lady, as a trifling reward for the pleasure his musical talents had afforded her. This coming to the ears of the lady made her highly indignant, saying, that “she was not in the habit of giving away her slaves.” Rosquellas, upon his return, was sent to prison, and made to account for the slave, by paying a round sum of money.

[6] I once witnessed a most disgraceful scene at the Theatre Français, at Paris. Talma was performing Cinna—the house was crowded, when some English ladies entered the boxes, escorted by two of their countrymen, military officers. It was at the time when the British army occupied Paris. In taking off their shawls, the backs of the ladies were, for a moment, turned towards the pit; when a yelling commenced from that quarter, which would have disgraced savages. The interference of the British officers increased the confusion; the most insulting gestures were resorted to; and the ladies quitted the theatre in tears, affording a noble triumph to those brave champions of etiquette.

[7] A performance was advertised for a benefit, founded upon the battle of Salamanca. In the front of the theatre, on the evening previous, a transparency was exhibited, representing the discomfited French pursued by Wellington and his troop: they had, likewise, a British flag hoisted. All this was too much for Monsieur to bear; and a scuffle took place, in an attempt to haul the flag down. On the play night, an O.P. row was expected, but all went off quietly.

[8] Dr. Oughan has returned to England, in the Kingfisher packet: some eccentricities in the doctor’s conduct occasioned the British consul to make application for his being sent home.

[9] Clerks are no longer permitted to enter the reading-room, unless they subscribe, or make application to their employers for a ticket: this they have declined to do, and keep aloof from the room, depriving themselves of their chief source of amusement.

[10] Mrs. C. formerly possessed a handsome competence, gained by keeping an hotel; but her fortune has been much reduced, by advances made to her late husband, Captain Taylor, and by losses in different speculations. She has now retired from business, and lives upon a moderate annuity. Her adopted daughter, Dona Panchita, who is grown a fine girl, resides with her. Captain Taylor was a visionary, yet a good-hearted man; he died in October, 1822. I am informed that it was he who first lowered the Royal Spanish flag, and hoisted the Patriot flag, at the Fort, at the beginning of the revolution.

[11] The Slaney was stationed in the outer roads, from January, 1821, to February, 1822. Captain Stanhope assumed the command in October, 1821, Captain O’Brien having been promoted. A laughable event happened during her stay in the outer roads:—She was accustomed to signalize with the shore. One day, a black fellow was ordered to whitewash the wall from which the signals were made on land: he was mistaken by those on board for a signal ball; and, by a reference, his position corresponded with the order, to bend sails. Accordingly, the boatswain piped all hands, and never were sails bent with more dispatch: the crew, tired of their monotonous life, felt eager to leave, and with alacrity obeyed the command. During this time, Blackee had taken another position on the wall: book opened again—it made the number, to unmoor the ship. This corroboration of the first order was hailed with joy. Another movement was imperfectly understood; it seemed to convey—send a boat on shore for the captain; and a boat was sent for explanation. Captain O’Brien was astonished: the wall was examined; and there they found the black man harmlessly pursuing his work, unconscious of the important part he had been performing, exposed to the ardent gaze, and raising the beating hearts, of 150 men. At a distance of eight miles from the shore, a mistake of this sort cannot surprise. The crew were greatly disappointed, and, taking hold of one of their shipmates, a black man, declared that, as they amused themselves on land by making signals with one of his colour, he should be the answering pennant.

[12] The following are extracts from the decrees issued by the government on the occasion:—

“A sepulchral monument, at the expense of the government, shall be raised over the remains of the Honourable Cæsar Augustus Rodney, as a memorial of gratitude.

“In the funeral rites to be observed towards so distinguished a citizen, the following orders shall be executed. A Battalion of Infantry, with four pieces of Light Artillery, shall be stationed at the place where the body is to be buried. As the corpse leaves the house of his decease, the fort shall fire a national salute. Another similar salute shall be executed by the Light Artillery, on the entry of the corpse into the cemetery. On putting it into the grave, the battalion being formed, shall fire a general discharge.

“The general staff of the army, and the chiefs of all the departments, shall be invited to meet at the house of the government, to accompany the ministers during the said funeral rites.”

The funeral was the grandest thing of the sort ever seen in this country. A great concourse of people of all nations attended, on horse and foot; not the least remarkable of whom were the Catholic clergymen. In the detail published of the ceremonies, we read the following observations:—

“In addition to the civil authorities who attended, it was peculiarly pleasing to all the Protestants, to observe the public respect shewn by the attendance of the head of the church, and many of the most distinguished Catholic clergymen, the Rector of the University, &c.; proclaiming, in the most unequivocal manner, the increasing liberality of this Catholic people. They had, before, kindly granted the Protestants the privilege of a burial-ground; and on this occasion they attended, with the greatest respect, to all the exercises of the funeral, and mingled their sympathies with our’s. Their high-minded example in this instance is at once indicative of the elevation and nobleness of their character, and worthy the imitation of Christians of every name and country.”

Mr. Rivadavia made an oration over the grave; the concluding words ran thus:—

“Illustrious soul of Cæsar Augustus Rodney! return to the bosom of thy Creator, with the elevation and confidence to which you are entitled. Being his image here on earth, separate not thy compassionate regard from this country, which is so highly honoured in preserving your remains. Yes, we will preserve them, as the most precious treasure that this soil can receive.” [Taking some earth in his hand.] “And thou earth! that art going to cover these venerable remains, receive also the honour of being mingled with the most fruitful seeds of virtue, and cause it to produce similar heroes, that may immortalize the American name.”

[13] A translation of O’Meara’s work, in French, has appeared in Buenos Ayres, with the consequent conclusion, that Sir Hudson Lowe must be a perfect brute. In Spanish, we have one or two diatribes against the British government, and their tyranny exercised on the seas; but the malignity so apparent in the observations destroys their effect.

[14] Foreign nations duly appreciate this invaluable discovery. In England alone, the birth-place of its immortal author, a portion (I believe, a very small one) still persist in denying its efficacy: “A prophet is no prophet in his own country.”

[15] Conspicuous amongst the fair-haired beauties of Buenos Ayres, is the Senorita Dona Segunda Iglesia. This young lady (and she is not yet sixteen) is a perfect Hebe. Dona Isaaca, her sister, two years younger than herself, forms a charming counterpart of the fair Segunda.

Another accomplished and elegant girl, whom we Englishmen have named the Marchioness (from her likeness in face to the Marchioness of Hertford), attracts much admiration. She is an enthusiast in music: at the theatre, when the orchestra performs any of her favourite airs, her animated countenance evinces the emotion which this divine science inspires.

[16] I remember once meeting a Frenchman at Paris, whom I had known at London in rather indifferent circumstances. He had obtained an office in the palace of the Thuilleries; and, upon my congratulating him thereon, he said, that it was all very well, except the d——d hat business. On asking for an explanation, he stated, that, being a public officer, he was obliged to take his hat off so often, that it cost him £30 per annum for that single article.

[17] The washerwomen of Buenos Ayres present a singular spectacle to a stranger. They pursue their avocation on the beach; and this soap-sud army extends for nearly two miles: all the washing of the town is performed there, by black women-slaves, and servants. At a distance upon the water, it looks like surf breaking upon the shore. They wash well, extending the linen upon the ground to dry. Robberies amongst them are punished by ducking. A wedding, or other joyous ceremony, is celebrated with African magnificence: a canopy is formed from the linen, and the heroine of the day placed under it; red handkerchiefs for flags are carried upon sticks, with saucepans, drums, &c. They dance pas-seuls, after the mode of Guinea and Mosambique, I presume. The music consists of singing and clapping of hands; thunders of applause follow—Parisot and Angiolini never received more; a general shout ends the entertainments. Their adherence to African customs is a peculiar trait. At the approach of rain, confusion seems at its height, and “chaos come again;” the ladies hurrying in all directions, to save their linen from “the pitiless storm.”

[18] I heard a slave boy once complaining, that he was a most unfortunate fellow, in having been born only one day before the decree passed for the abolition of slavery: “Could I have remained unborn,” said he, “only one day longer, I should have been a happy boy, and no slave.”

[19] Great curiosity was excited by the arrival in the brig Rhoda from London, of three English draught horses and a mare, sent out by Mr. Rivadavia, as a present to the government. The animals were landed in good condition, notwithstanding their having endured a confinement of thirteen weeks on board ship. Their great size and muscular appearance excited universal admiration. What would the Buenos Ayreans say, could they see our regiments of Life-Guards, and heavy cavalry, and the cattle in the brewer’s drays and coal waggons? An English groom attended the horses to the stables, and numbers went to view them there.

I am afraid, that the sanguine hopes of improving the breed of horses, in this country, by the introduction of English ones, will not be realized; for, in spite of their boasted climate and pastures, I am persuaded, neither will be found congenial to our horses, who, being accustomed to the ever-verdant plains of England, can ill bear the long drought and oppressive heat of this country. The people, too, are prejudiced in favour of their own cattle; and were they to pay attention to them, they would indeed be excellent; but their treatment of horses may be compared to the manner in which Esquimaux treat their dogs. Comfortable stabling and grooming are unknown here. Horses are so cheap and plentiful, they are little valued.

Some English blood horses, for Mr. W. P. Robertson, of this place, unfortunately perished during the passage from England. Had they arrived, the Buenos Ayreans might have witnessed the hunter and draught horse of Great Britain. Our countrymen in Buenos Ayres seemed highly delighted to see their country horses; and, as they passed the beach, the sailors eyed the animals with rapture, commenting upon their noble appearance.

A quantity of English sheep, stated to be Merinos, likewise came out in the Rhoda.

[20] On the second day of the fair, it blew a gale of wind, in which a boat, belonging to H.M. brig of war, Plover, was upset, between the inner and outer roads, and five men were drowned. A subscription was opened for their families, in England, and 500 dollars were collected. Mr. Poussett, the vice-consul, generously exerted himself to forward this charitable act.

[21] These Gauchos are a peculiar race: some wear their hair long, and plaited, Chinese fashion; and, in addition to their other singularities of dress, they wear handkerchiefs tied under the chin, and hanging loose behind. A group of them in a field, seated round a fire, is all we can fancy of Macbeth’s witches.

[22] The packet sailors are allowed a portion of trade; and the most profitable of their imports have been potatoes and game-cocks. These packet sailors are complete pedlars.

[23] The parrots brought from the Brazils, Paraguay, &c. to Buenos Ayres, differ in nothing from those we every day see in England; and they chatter as loudly, generally in the following strain—“Lorito Real,” (Royal Poll); “Pare la Espana y no para la Portugal!” (Spain for ever and no Portugal); “Est casada?” (Are you married?) “Aye, Jesus!” (O, Jesus!)

[24] Of the British vessels, the following were from London and Liverpool; the remainder from Gibraltar, Rio Janeiro, the Havannah, &c. &c.

  In 1821. In 1822. In 1823. In 1824.
From Liverpool 33 35 23  
From London 10 7 8  

[25] The number of American vessels in 1824, compared with former years, is very great. They were chiefly laden with flour, which, although now a losing speculation, has, lately, been beneficial.

[26] Englishmen, on their first visit to France, soon after the peace of 1814, were eager to receive French gold; but they soon tired of it, and asked for paper. I was at Peregaux and Lafitte’s banking-house at Paris, when an application of that nature was made: the clerk replied, that France must first get credit, before she could venture upon bank-notes.

[27] A book entitled A History of the Jesuits, but which is chiefly filled with attacks upon the Roman Catholic faith, holds out Stonyhurst College as pregnant with danger, asserting that it has already increased the number of Catholics in its immediate vicinity. Lancashire has always been a catholic county, and it is to be expected that people will crowd to a neighbourhood that contains edifices devoted to their manner of worship. I cannot believe that any considerable number of Proselytes has been made: we are too sensible of the happiness enjoyed under our own, to be caught with the glare of another church.

[28] Many of the Buenos Ayreans, of the second and third grade, have most confused notions of London. They think that all England is in London; and in speaking of the arrival of a vessel from Liverpool, Falmouth, or any other port, they add Liverpool in London, Falmouth in London; and when speaking of English passengers arriving, no matter from what part, they are all from London. Seeing so many Englishmen in their country, gentry of the above description have the most exalted notions of themselves, and of the superiority of Buenos Ayres over the rest of the world. We must not blame their self-importance; for we have a tolerable share of it ourselves, else the world has terribly belied us.

[29] Carts, with a bell affixed, go about the streets vending water. The city is but ill provided with water, that in the river being considered unwholesome. Mr. Bevans, the engineer, has sunk the ground at the Recolator to a great depth, for the purpose of forming a well to supply the town with water. The work still goes on; but, hitherto, the desired water is not to be found.

[30] One cannot help smiling at the contrast which the two state engineers of Buenos Ayres present—our Quaker with his broad brim and plain clothes, and the dashing Frenchman in large cocked hat; the only point of similarity is in their both wearing large hats, though differently shaped. Upon the installation of the new governor, the usual notice was given for public officers to attend the procession in full uniform; Mr. Bevans did attend—not in military attire, but in full conventicle dress, as became the man of peace, and looked a comfortable respectable gentleman. He was seated in a carriage with a military officer, and, but for that, I could have fancied him a wealthy miller from Uxbridge, Quaker Town, proceeding to hear the price of corn. The singularity of Quaker costume attracted much notice, upon the first arrival of Mr. Bevans: they stared at him in the streets, but offered no insult; now and then a vagabond boy would call out “Lobo!” Mr. B. is a very good-tempered man.

[31] Sir Murray Maxwell, of H.M.S. Briton, lying at Monte Video, honoured us with a visit, in June, 1824. The last time I saw this veteran seaman, previous to his arrival here, was under a shower of cabbage stumps, carrots, turnips, mud, &c. upon the hustings at Covent Garden, when a candidate to represent Westminster. Sir Murray’s unaffected and amiable manners greatly pleased the British in Buenos Ayres; and the remembrance of his Chinese exploits rendered him an object of considerable interest. It was a singular coincidence that the French Admiral, Rosamel, who had been Sir Murray’s prisoner, in the war with France, should, at the same time, be on a visit to Buenos Ayres. The French admiral, who, in person, looks a complete John Bull, attended the theatre, with his officers, in full uniform. His is the nation for effect. Our officers seldom visit the theatre; and when they do, it is in plain clothes. The French naval uniform appears more like a military one—the blue coat, buttoned close to the neck, and tassels.

[32] These Colorados are all cavalry. I saw them drawn up in the Plaza; and, whilst gazing at the singularity of their appearance, one of them claimed me a countryman of his. He spoke to me in English, and told me he had been fourteen years in the country. He was, probably, one of Beresford’s men; many of whom, as well as deserters from Whitelock’s army, are to be found in the province. Some of them, from having been so long accustomed to the Spanish language, have absolutely forgotten their own; of this I have known several instances.

These British deserters find various employments. Hearing an Irish cobler, one day, in a miserable stall, bewailing his sad lot, and regretting that he had left the army; I asked him what army? “By Jasus,” said he, one of “Whitelock’s regiment; and if I was in it now, I should have a comfortable pension by this time.”—“Why did you leave it?”—“They embarked without me.”—“Or, in other words, you deserted.”—“By the powers! you have hit it; and a bad day’s job I made of it,” said he.

[33] A great deal of money was made and lost by speculators, at the time privateering was allowed in Buenos Ayres. The last vessel that sailed was the Heroine (formerly the French Braak), commanded by a North American, named Mason, and which was captured by the Portuguese frigate Perola. Mason has been confined at Lisbon, more than two years. His wife, an English lady, and large family, reside in Buenos Ayres.

[34] The arrival of a Brazilian frigate Maria de Gloria, of thirty-two guns, Captain Beaurepaire, on 7th March, 1825, caused much conversation and speculation upon their errand; such as coming to demand satisfaction for insults offered to their consul, &c. A burlesque letter appeared in the Argentina newspaper upon the subject. Considerable animosity exists against the Brazilians, in consequence of their continuing to occupy the other side of the river. The frigate departed on 16th March. The officers appeared well-behaved men.

[35] It is amusing to hear the opinion which most foreigners entertain of his majesty George IV. of Great Britain. They fancy him another Don Giovanni. I was riding with a Portuguese officer, near Colonia, one evening in December, 1821, when we heard the discharge of minute guns fired from H.M.S. Slaney, in the outer roads of Buenos Ayres, upon the death of the Queen. I explained to the Portuguese the cause of the firing: he smiled, and exclaimed, “Is it possible that your libertine King has ordered a mourning salvo upon such an occasion? surely it must mean a rejoicing.” The people in Colonia, I found, harboured pretty much the same opinion; so I thought it behoved me, as a good and loyal subject, to take up the cudgels in defence of his majesty, of whom I am a great admirer; and I took great pains to impress upon them, that the chief failings laid to his majesty’s charge were nothing more than those so common with our countrymen, viz. a too enthusiastic devotion at the shrines of Venus and Bacchus.

[36] Among the toasts given at one of the banquets held in honour of the victory of Ayacucho, Mr. Canning’s health was drank in the following terms:—“El Sabio Ministro de Inglaterra, el primer Estadista del mundo, el Honorable George Canning, fiel amigo de la libertad! la justicia preside en sus deliberaciones; su nombre sera un motivo de placer para nostros, y para las generaciones que nos sucedan.” Translation: “The learned Minister of England, the first Statesman in the world, the Honourable George Canning, the faithful friend of liberty! justice presides in his deliberations; his name will be an honour to place amongst our’s, and the generations which succeed us.”

Mr. Canning is highly popular in Buenos Ayres, especially with the Creolian part of the inhabitants: a report that he had resigned office, created much uneasiness, as he is looked up to as the firmest friend of South American liberty. The éclat of his ministerial career throws into the shade the Castlereagh quarrel, and his alleged desertion of the King in the affair of the Queen. Such appears to be Mr. Canning’s popularity, that his enemies may now “scoff in safety.”

[37] Senor Don Valentin Gomez belongs to the clergy: he has talents and eloquence, and is withal a handsome man, with a face as rosy as an English fox-hunter. As he was returning from Rio, in the British brig Agenoria, the brig struck upon the English bank in the river Plate, on the 11th March, 1824: there were eleven passengers on board. The captain left the vessel to get assistance, which was promptly dispatched from Buenos Ayres; but before any thing effectual could be done, eleven persons had quitted the wreck, on four rafts: one was picked up by a Portuguese vessel, containing five persons, who, after enduring great misery, arrived at Rio Janeiro; of the other three no tidings have since been heard. Those that remained on the wreck, amongst whom was Mr. Gomez, and Mr. George Brittain, an Englishman, were preserved: they, too, encountered great privations. This misfortune caused great anxiety in Buenos Ayres, from the extensive connections of Senor Gomez, and his secretary, Lucca, a young man of considerable acquirements, and who was one that perished. The brig of war, in the outer roads, was ordered to signalize, should she gain information from vessels arriving; and, on doing so, the Fort fired a gun, and hoisted a flag; crowds went to the beach. Upon Padre Gomez’s arrival, he was met by relations and friends, the females crying for joy. The sufferings of the Padre had not blanched the roses in his cheeks: he came on shore as blooming as ever. Blame has been attributed to the captain: he had often navigated this river, and, perhaps, was too confident. A Danish and American ship passed at the time of the wreck, and have been much censured for not rendering assistance.

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Rules of the Port of Buenos Ayres; Dues to be paid by Foreign and National Vessels; Penalties to which those are subject who violate the Laws of the Police, or who attempt to destroy in any manner the line of Buoys established on the Ortiz and Chico Banks, Mount Santiago, and Point Lara, or those which the Government may hereafter establish on other points of the river for the safety of navigators.


Article 1. THE guard ship, in the inner roads, on observing a vessel anchor in the outer roads, will hoist a red flag at the mizen mast, as a signal to the captain of the vessel which has arrived, to proceed towards the shore in his boat.

2. The said captain, taking with him his papers, will go on board the guard ship.

3. On the arrival of the boat, the commandant of the guard ship will desire her to anchor astern, and will then hoist a yellow flag, for the health boat to come and pass the visit.

4. The commandant of the guard ship must not permit any communication between his crew and those of the boat, until after the health visit.

5. The captain will be interrogated by the health and war visit; and if he does not answer truly, he will be tried by the laws of the country.

6. If the weather will not permit the health-boat to pass the visit, the commandant of the guard-ship will wait till they make signals from the shore. Those signals will generally be, to permit the boat of the vessel which has arrived to disembark on the quay. If, nevertheless, the weather be too boisterous, and the boat cannot come on shore, the commandant of the guard-ship may permit the crew to go on board him, and then the guard-ship herself will be considered in a state of quarantine, and must not communicate with any person, be who they may, until after the health visit has passed.

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7. When the health visit has fulfilled her office, the commandant of the guard-ship will strike the red and yellow flags, mentioned in the Articles 1st and 3d.

8. Having permission to communicate with the shore, captains will present themselves at the Captain of the Port’s office, where they will fully inform him of the police of the port.

9. On arriving at the anchorage of Point Lara, captains who wish to enter the port of Ensenada, will hoist a flag at the mizen-mast, proceed to the vicinity of the fortress, and there wait the health and war visit. They are expressly forbidden to communicate with any person, under the penalties established by the quarantine laws.

10. Ships of war are an exception; they are not required to conform to the above articles.

11. All ships of war, in which the crew may be attacked by a contagious disorder, will hoist a yellow flag, and be subject to the laws of quarantine.


For foreign vessels, by the ton, four reals.

For national vessels, from foreign parts, two reals.

The dues mentioned in the two preceding articles must be paid, half on arrival, and half on the departure of the vessel.

National and foreign vessels, which neither take nor receive cargo, will only pay half the dues mentioned above.

Foreign vessels will pay, besides, on their entry, twelve dollars for the health visit, and twelve dollars more upon their departure for the health certificate.

National vessels only pay half for the visit and the health certificate.

The charges for pilots are included in the anchorage dues.


Article 1. Every vessel anchored in the port of Buenos Ayres must mutually render each other assistance, in case of drifting, or other risk of average. Those who refuse will be subject to the sentence and penalties prescribed by law.

2. In consequence of the little depth of water, it is expressly enjoined to every vessel anchored in the port to have on its anchors correspondent buoys, as vessels coming in and going out, not seeing the buoys, run a risk of striking on the anchors. Those who fail using precaution in this respect will be responsible for the averages and losses that may result from it.

3. Vessels which have not buoys will give notice to the Captain of the Port, who will send some, with a pilot to place them. The anchor must not be raised without a permission to that effect.

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4. At the moment of anchoring, the regular pilots will take care to inform the captains, that they may provide themselves with every thing necessary for the anchorage of their vessels; and if the pilot discovers an infraction of this article, he will immediately inform the Captain of the Port, under the penalty of being himself punished with all the rigour prescribed by law, as negligence in this respect may cause the greatest losses and averages.

5. If, in consequence of bad weather, the anchors and cables of a vessel fail to hold, and it can be proved that those same cables and anchors do not correspond with the size of the vessel, or that the cables were in bad condition, then the said vessel shall be responsible for the averages that may be occasioned thereby.

6. Every vessel from foreign parts, who moor themselves in the port, without asking for a pilot at the Captain of the Port’s office, will be, by this proceeding, responsible for all the averages which may be occasioned thereby, and will have no right of claim, in case they suffer damage themselves.

7. Every vessel anchored, who may have its long boat or boat astern, and, seeing another vessel under sail, neglects to haul them up out of the way, not only will forfeit the right to claim in case of average, but will even be responsible for that which such negligence may occasion.

8. It is expressly forbidden to every vessel in the port to throw any thing into the water, of their ballast, or any other object that does not float, under the penalties prescribed by law.

9. It is forbidden to each vessel, under any pretext whatever, except at the moment of her arrival, to fire salutes, in the inner roads at least, without having first obtained permission of the Captain of the Port. The captain of a vessel who infringes upon this article, will be placed at the disposal of the government.

10. Boats belonging to vessels anchored in the outer and inner roads must go on board one hour after sun-set.

11. All boats found on shore after the evening gun, and until the morning gun has been fired, will be dismantled, and the crew punished according to the case and circumstances.


Article 1. To throw a kedge anchor, or hold on in any manner whatever to the said buoys, the punishment of the galleys.

2. Those who take them away, or change their places, unless it be by the authority of government, will be punished with all the rigour of the law, even to the penalty of death.

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3. They will punish equally those who make a fire on the said buoys, or by any other means attempt to destroy them.

4. Every captain will receive, on his arrival, a copy of these regulations; the cost of which will be included in the dues of the port.

The Government approves the above regulations, orders them to be printed, and fixes the price of each copy at two reals, to be distributed according to the tenor of the last article.

(Signed)   HERAS.

By order of the Government,

(Signed)   Ignacio Alvarez.

Buenos Ayres, July, 1824.

Instructions for sailing from the Outer Roads of Buenos Ayres to Monte Video, by the North and South of the Chico Bank.

By the North, or Main Channel.

1. From three fathoms in the outer roads, steer E. by S. by the compass, until Point Santiago of the Ensenada of Barragan bears S.W. by the compass. Off this point, you will find from 5½ to 6 fathoms of water, according to the state of the river.

2. When the above-mentioned point bears S.W. steer E.N.E. until you make the Ortiz Bank, which will be when you lessen your water to 3 or 3½ fathoms. This bank may be approached, on the South side, without danger, as the water diminishes gradually. It is a very good guide to navigate in the night, or in thick weather.

3. From 3 fathoms on the Ortiz Bank, steer S.E. by the compass, until you make Point Indio. In this track, you will deepen your water to 5 or 5½ fathoms, crossing the middle channel, according to the state of the river. Passing the middle of the channel, the water diminishes gradually, according as you near the land.

4. When you think you are about 7, 8, or 9 miles from the land, which will be in 3¼ or 3½ fathoms of water, steer E.S.E. and coast it along.

5. When Point Indio bears S.W. by the compass, steer N.E. by E. until you see Monte Video, which may be seen about 30 or 33 miles distant from the top of a common-sized vessel. Keeping your course N.E. by E. you will continue in 3½ fathoms of water, until you find yourself 6 or 7 leagues from Monte Video.

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6. When you find 5 fathoms of water, you will be 9 or 10 miles from the harbour of Monte Video.

From the said 5 fathoms to the harbour, it will lessen to 2½.

By the South of the Chico Bank.

1. From 3 fathoms in the outer roads, steer E. by S. as before, until you have 6 fathoms off Ensenada.

Before you lose sight of the town of Quilmes, you can see Point Lara, which is easily known by a grove on the side of the river.

S.E. of Point Lara, there is a large ombu tree on Mr. Wright’s stancia, distant about 2½ miles.

E.S.E. of Point Lara is the Point and Mount of Santiago, easily seen at the distance of 7 miles.

2. Having passed the bank of Ensenada, which runs out about 5 miles from Point Lara to the N.E. by N. steer S.E. by compass, until you find yourself 5 or 6 miles from land.

3. When 5 or 6 miles from land, steer E.S.E. by compass, to keep along the shore.

Before you lose sight of Point Santiago, you will see the ombu tree of the Balandra to the E.S.E. distant about 14 miles, and is one of those nearest the river.

From this ombu, the N.W. point of the Chico Bank bears N. 30° E. Keeping an E.S.E. course, after you have run a short distance, you will see Point Atalaya, resembling two mounts. Keeping still on the same course, you will see many ombu trees; and when you have run about six miles, you will see a large grove of them, where lies the town of Magdalene. The church of Magdalene is easily discovered, having two steeples, the largest at the east.

From this church, the S.W. point of the Chico Bank bears N. 15° E. by the compass.

Between the Chico Bank and the land, the least water you find is between the S.E. point and the coast; when the river is low, you have generally about 17 feet.

Having passed the church, you may keep farther from the shore, as you have likewise passed the Chico Bank; and keeping on your course E.S.E. you will see four ombu trees, being the last you will see.

After passing the last ombu trees, the shore is level, with shrubs, grass, turfs, and junks, until you make Point Indio, about 15 miles distant.

Point Indio is low level land, with only one tree on it; and to the S.E. you can see two large groves of tallow wood and espinillos.

These mounts are near Point Piedras and Point Indio.

From Point Indio, the S.E. part of the Ortiz Bank bears N. 30° E. by compass, distant about 14 miles.

- 172 -

Instructions for sailing from Monte Video to Buenos Ayres, when passing by the Channels to the North and to the South of the Chico Bank.

By the North side of the Chico Bank.

1. Being athwart the points which form the Port of Monte Video, steer to the S.W. of the compass for the space of thirty miles.

2. Then change to the W.S.W. of the compass, until you can make out la Punta del Indio, or Point Indian.

3. Having made Cape Indian, steer to the W. of the compass, until the bearing of the said Cape be at S.S.W. distant 7 or 8 miles.

4. As soon as you have the Cape Indian to the S.S.W. of the compass, steer to the N.W. in order to make the two first buoys of the Ortiz Bank, which you will approach at the distance of about one or half a mile, being cautious to have 15 feet water, in case there should be little water in the river.

5. Here, you will change your course to the W. of the compass, taking care to pass to the distance of the two last buoys, which are to the N.W. of Chico Bank; for if the river should ebb with rapidity, and there should be a strong current on the larboard-tack, you would run the risk to pass too near. Continue to steer to the W. by which means you will make out Ensenada, and the Point Lara, which last you will recognise by a tufted tree, called the ombu, which is to the S.E. of this point; and on the brink of the river, before you are out of sight of Point Lara, you will perceive a small wood of ombus, situated on the hill of the village of Quilmes; afterwards you will see the towers of Buenos Ayres, and the vessels anchored in the roads, towards which you will direct yourself.

From Punta del Indio, or Cape Indian, passing to the Southward of the Chico Bank.

Observation, to know La Punta del Indio, or Cape Indian.—Making sail to the N.W. at a distance of about 7 or 8 miles from La Punta de Piedras, or Point Piedras, you observe, to the N.W. of this Point, two woods of talas (American trees), visible at a distance of about 7 miles from the said Cape.

To the N.W. of this wood of talas, there is a plain, which extends about 4 miles. You will perceive then a small wood, or copse, remarkable by a tree of tala, which forms the Point of Cape Indian.

When you have made the Cape Indian to the S.S.W. distance about 7 to 8 miles, steer to the W.N.W. of the compass; you will discover- 173 - three ombus (tufted trees) upon the hills, upon the land of the Magdalene, distant about one league from the river. Continuing your course, you will observe six ombus, situated in the Village of Magdalene, and which appear to be on the same line; at the fifth ombu you will perceive the Church, with its two little towers; that of the E. is larger than that of the W. Observe, that the first buoy, placed to the S.E. of the Bank Chico, is to the N. 15° E. of the compass from this church.

In making the first ombu S.S.W. of the compass, at a distance from land of about 6 miles, you will see, with a spy-glass, to the N.W. in running over the horizon, and of the elevation of an ordinary-size vessel. When the weather is clear, and a smooth sea, you will see just 5 miles distance, the buoy which is placed upon the Bank Chico, and upon a bottom of 3 fathoms. To the W.N.W. of this buoy, distance of 3 miles, there is only 1½ fathom. In passing one mile to the S. of this same buoy, you will discover another to the W. ¾ N.W. distant 4 miles. When you have passed the second buoy, you can sail without any fear to the W.N.W. at a distance from land of about 7 or 8 miles; because the Bank Chico pointed out by the second buoy remains to the N.N.W. of the compass.

Passing the two buoys situated to the S.E. of the Bank Chico, and continuing to sail W.N.W. you will distinguish several ombus situated upon some hills. When you close in the two small woods of talas, upon the side of the river, then you close in to the Point of the Atalaya, and arrive to the small wood, or copse of talas, you will have passed the Bank Chico.

Leaving the copse of talas, the coast is very low, and presents small regions of sand, to a distance of about 6 miles; that which follows, and which is more raised, is the Forest of Santiago of the Ensenada: to the end of this Forest, there is three leagues of length; it is the Point, or Cape de Santiago of Ensenada of Barragan: arrived there, follow the same directions that have been given in the first course from Monte Video to Buenos Ayres.


In the passage from Monte Video to the Southern Coast, the bottom is bad, as well as in the environs of Cape Indian.

From Cape Indian, as far as the first ombu, situated upon the land of the Magdalene, you must not anchor nearer than 6 or 7 miles from the shore, because there is a ridge of rocks, which extends itself to more than 5 miles, and on which anchors will not hold.

- 174 -

Variation of Depth of Water from Monte Video to Buenos Ayres, between the Banks Ortiz and Chico.

Leaving Monte Video, having the Cape to the S.W. you will find 2½ or 3 fathoms of water; at 9 miles, you will find 5 fathoms; at 18 miles from thence, you will not find more than 3½ fathoms; at 30 miles farther, you will have a quarter of a fathom less; proceed 33 miles farther, and the sounding lead will give you once more 3½ fathoms; in short you will find the same depth of 3½ fathoms, until you find yourself within six miles of the Southern Coast.

From Cape Indian, with the 3½ fathoms, steering to N.W. towards the Bank Ortiz, the sounding lead will give you from 4½ to 5 fathoms, according as the river flows or ebbs; when you do not find more than 3 fathoms, then you will be on the brink of the Bank Ortiz.

From the 3 fathoms from the brink of the Bank Ortiz, steer to the W. towards Buenos Ayres; your soundings will increase progressively from 5½ to 6 fathoms, according as the river is either low or high.

At the commencement of the 6 fathoms, you will make the Point of Santiago of Ensenada to the S.W. of the compass.

This same depth of water continues, until you find yourself N. & S. with the Point or Cape Lara. Keep always steering to the W. of the compass, as before mentioned, and the soundings will diminish to 3 fathoms. If, during this passage, the river ebbed, you would have 3 fathoms from the Village des Quilmes.

By the course, and the differences of soundings above-mentioned, you will be able to navigate by night, or when the weather will not permit you to make out the marks.

Between the two Buoys which are placed to the N.W. of the Bank Chico and Ortiz, you will find 5½ and 6 fathoms, according as the river is high or low.

Between the Banks Chico and Ortiz, the anchorage is good, and the anchors hold tolerably well.

In the environs of the Bank Ortiz, vessels are less subject to part from their anchors, because the bottom is mud and sand.

From the Cape Indian to Buenos Ayres, the currents flow from the E.S.E. to the W.N.W.; their rapidity is much about from 1½ to 2 miles an hour.

In tacking, when the wind is contrary, a great deal of way can be made by means of the currents.

From the S.E. extremity of the Bank Ortiz, to the S.E. extremity of the Bank Chico, as you gradually proceed up the river, you will find yourself nearer the Bank Ortiz than the land; you will keep taking from 3 fathoms along the chain of rocks which run along the coast, until 3- 175 - short fathoms on the side of the Bank Ortiz. Observe, that during this tack, when you find yourself in 4 or 4½ fathoms, you are then nearer the bank than the land.

Having doubled the Bank Ortiz, you can safely proceed until you have 3 fathoms of water; for the depth diminishes gradually.

In tacking about between the Bank Chico and Ortiz, you can, as before said, run your tacks upon all the points of the Bank Ortiz as long as you are in 3 fathoms water. But in the tacks which you run upon the Bank Chico, you must put about ship as soon as the sounding line does not give you more than 4 fathoms, because this bank is full of pointed rocks, particularly at the place where the second buoy is placed, upon the point from the N.W. to the S.E.; it is also equally rocky from the first buoy to the S.E. as far as three miles to the W.N.W. because on the two points you find no more than 1½ fathom water.

Positions of the Ten Buoys placed on different Banks in the River Plate.

Upon the Bank Chico there are Four Red Buoys.

1st. Is placed at the S.E. extremity of the Bank Chico, on a bottom of 3 fathoms. From this Point, you make the Magdalene Church at the S. 15° W. of the compass.

2d. Is placed at the S. extremity of the Bank, on a bottom of 3 fathoms. It is situated at the W. ¼ N.W. of the first, distant 4 miles: you make the Church, at 15° E.

3d. Is situated to the N. ¼ N.W. of the second, distant 4 miles, upon a bottom of 1½ fathom; it is in the middle of the Bank. You make the Point of Atalaya to the S.W. of the compass.

4th. Is placed at the N.W. extremity of the Bank, on a bottom of 3 fathoms, to the W.N.W. of the third, distant 4 miles. You make the Point of Atalaya to the S. 24° W. of the compass, distant 10½ miles.

Upon the Bank Ortiz are placed Four Black Buoys.

1st. Is at the S.E. extremity of the Bank Ortiz, on a bottom of 3 fathoms. From the buoy, you make Cape Indian to the S.W. ¼ S. of the compass: you will, at the same time, see, from the deck of a vessel of an ordinary size, and on a clear day, the buoy, and the coast of Cape Indian.

2d. Is at the S. extremity of the Bank Ortiz, on a bottom of 3 fathoms, and to the N.N.E. of the buoy of the S.E. of the Bank Chico.

- 176 -

3d. Is placed upon the side of the Bank Ortiz, on a bottom of 3 fathoms, to the N.N.E. of the middle of the Bank Chico.

4th. Finds itself upon the Bank Ortiz, by 3 fathoms, and to the N. of the one of the N.W. of the Bank Chico.

To the Ensenada de Barragan, on the Banks of Santiago and Lara, are placed Two Black Buoys.

1st. Black Buoy is upon the Bank of Santiago, in 3 fathoms: the bearing of this buoy has the Point of the Santiago to the S. 28° E. and Point Lara to the S. 53° W. of the compass.

2nd. Black Buoy is placed upon the Bank Lara, on a bottom of two fathoms, on the bearing of Point Lara to the S.E. ¼ S. and the Point of Santiago to the S. 63° E.

These two buoys are placed to warn Navigators to pass to the Northward.


The Bank Chico is not parallel with the S. coast, because, from the first buoy of S.E. you take the bearing of the third buoy to the N. 42° W. of the compass. This bank is nine miles in length.

This Bank forms to the N. a pretty considerable bay; it extends itself from the buoy of the S.E. to a distance of 4 miles to the N.W. In the middle of this bay, you have 3½ fathoms; but in steering to the S.S.W. of the compass, at a distance of 150 fathoms, you will only find 1½ fathom.

In the S. part, this bank forms another bay; it extends itself from the buoy of the N.W. as far as that of the Point of the S. in the direction of the S.E. ¼ S. distance about 6 miles; and in all this bay, in following the edge of the bank, there is 3½ fathom water.


Printed by R. Macdonald, 30, Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, London.

Transcriber's Note: Some page numbers listed in the Table of Contents have been changed to more accurately link to the appropriate page. No attempt has been made to standardize spelling inconsistencies within this text. However, a few printing errors have been amended and noted within the following table. A link is provided for each amended word.

The cover for this e-book was created by the transcriber and is granted to the public domain.

Page Original Word Amended Word
vii Processsion Procession
11 Saliors Sailors
20 Dominician Dominican
38 subscriber. subscriber.[9]
48 bilghted blighted
130 musc music
139 Gregogorio Gregorio
163 orignal original

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George Thomas Love


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