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Title: Spanish America, Its Romance, Reality and Future, Vol. 1

Author: Charles Reginald Enock

Release Date: November 21, 2014 [EBook #47415]

Language: English

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Demy 8vo, cloth.

1. CHILE. By G. F. Scott Elliott, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 39 Illustrations. (4th Impression.)

2. PERU. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 72 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)

3. MEXICO. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 64 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)

4. ARGENTINA. By W. A. Hirst. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a Map, and 64 Illustrations. (4th Impression.)

5. BRAZIL. By Pierre Denis. With a Historical Chapter by Bernard Miall, a Map, and 36 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)

6. URUGUAY. By W. H. Koebel. With a Map and 55 Illustrations.

7. GUIANA: British, French, and Dutch. By James Rodway. With a Map and 36 Illustrations.

8. VENEZUELA. By Leonard V. Dalton, B.Sc. (Lond.), F.G.S., F.R.G.S. With a Map and 36 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)

9. LATIN AMERICA: Its Rise and Progress. By F. Garcia Calderon. With a Preface by Raymond Poincaré, President of France, a Map, and 34 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)

10. COLOMBIA. By Phanor James Eder, A.B., LL.B. With 2 Maps and 40 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)

11. ECUADOR. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S.

12. BOLIVIA. By Paul Walle. With 62 Illustrations and 4 Maps.

13. PARAGUAY. By W. H. Koebel.

14. CENTRAL AMERICA. By W. H. Koebel.

"The output of the books upon Latin America has in recent years been very large, a proof doubtless of the increasing interest that is felt in the subject. Of these the South American Series edited by Mr. Martin Hume is the most noteworthy."—Times.

"Mr. Unwin is doing good service to commercial men and investors by the production of his 'South American Series.'"—Saturday Review.

"Those who wish to gain some idea of the march of progress in these countries cannot do better than study the admirable 'South American Series.'"—Chamber of Commerce Journal.



Vol. I. Frontispiece.



C. R. ENOCK, C.E., F.R.G.S.




First published in 1920

(All rights reserved)


The purpose of this work is twofold—to afford a broad survey of the Latin American countries, with the colour and interest which so strongly characterizes this half of the New World; and to offer in some degree a detailed study of the region as concerns what (elsewhere) I have ventured to term a "science of humanity" or science of corporate life, whose main factors are topographical, occupational or industrial, and ethical or ethical-economic. New responsibilities are arising in our dealings and contact with foreign lands, especially those whose social affairs are still backward. We must beware how we regard the folk of such lands mainly as hewers of wood and drawers of water, or absorbents of exported goods or producers of dividends, or their lands as mainly reservoirs of raw material. Elemental forces are at work in the world to-day, which only justice and constructive intelligence can control. The English-speaking peoples have wide interests and consequent responsibilities in these lands: matters which are discussed in the final chapter.

As will be seen, I have embodied many descriptive passages in this book from the various authors of the South American Series, to which the present work is in a measure auxiliary.

C. R. E.

Froxfield, Hants, England.
          May 1920.



  INDEX 291








Who has not felt at some time the lure of Spanish America, the attraction of those half-mysterious lands—Peru or Panama, Mexico or Brazil, and all that galaxy of far-off States, with the remains of their ancient civilization and their picturesque modern setting—beneath the equatorial sun, beyond the Western sea? They drew us in our youth, were it but in the pages of Prescott, when with Cortes and Pizarro the Aztec and Inca Empires lay before us; they draw us even in maturer years.

Yonder lies the Spanish Main, glittering in the sun as when we sailed it first—in that long-foundered pirate craft of boyhood; there stretch the tropic shores of wild Guiana; there the great Andes rears its towering crests, and over golden sands the Orinoco and the Amazon pour down their mighty floods; whilst, in slumberous and mysterious majesty beyond, wide as the sea of Time, the vast Pacific echoes on its boundless[12] shores. And for those, who would seek the true El Dorado of the West the great Sixteenth Century has not closed yet, nor ever will; the days of ocean-chivalry are not dead, the Elizabethan mariners come and go, for their voyages have no end within those spacious days of history.

Spanish America, in fact, is enshrouded in an atmosphere of romance and interest which time does not easily dispel, and remains a land of adventure and enterprise. Its sunny shores, its picturesque folk with their still semi-mediaeval life, despite their advancing civilization—the great untravelled spaces, the forests, the mountains, the rivers, the plains, and all they contain, the lure and profit of commerce and of trafficking—all these are matters we cannot separate from the New World as peopled by Spain and Portugal.

It is, moreover, peculiarly a world of its own, born in an impressionable period, indelibly stamped with the strong individualism of the Iberian people who overcame it, and it remains apart, refusing the hegemony of the commercialistic age—a circumstance for which we may be grateful, in a sense. Its future is on the lap of the unknown, offering always the unexpected: geography has everywhere separated it from the Old World; temperament keeps the seclusion.

Whatever be our errand in this new world—erroneously termed "new," for it is old, and had its folk, its Toltecs and pre-Incas, in the apogee of their ancient culture developed a shipbuilding as they did a temple-building art, they might have[13] come sailing around the world and found us here in Britain still "painted savages"; whatever, I say, be our errand there, we shall not understand Spanish America and its people, just as they will never understand us, the people of Anglo-Saxon race. The gulf between us is as deep as the Atlantic, as wide as the Pacific. The incomprehensible Spaniard has added himself to the unfathomable Indian, the red-brown man who sprang from the rugged soil of America (perhaps from some remote Mongolian ancestry), who, inscrutable as a dweller of the moon, is still sullen and secretive as he was and well might be—after the rapine which followed on the white man's keel and sail upon his shores four centuries ago; the white conqueror, who in his adventurous greed destroyed the Egypt and the Chaldea of America and trampled their autochthonous civilization in the dust.

And as to the Spaniards, it is their strong individualism which presents a marked attraction here, though one which may not generally have been put into words: the individualism of nations founded upon historical and geographical bases, as has already been said. We approach here, not a mere United States of Spanish America, not a confederation of vast municipalities or provinces whose borders are imaginary parallels or meridians, but a series of independent nations, each stamped with its own character, bearing its own indelible and romantic name, whose frontiers are rivers and mountain ranges.


Is there any virtue in these things? In the day when prosaic commercialism, when megalomania and money so sway us, there is a refreshing atmosphere about the refusal to conglomerate of these picturesque communities, whose names fall pleasingly on our ears. Yet there are penalties too. Rugged and difficult of approach—the vulgar gaze may not easily rest upon them by the mere passport of a tourist's ticket—as are these vast territories of forest, desert and Cordillera, Nature, though grand and spacious, is ill at ease, and the mood might seem to be impressed upon the people of the land that neither is there peace for them. For they have soaked their land with the blood of their own sons, and we might at times despair of self-government here.

But we need not despair. The malady is but part of one that afflicts the whole world, whose cure awaits the turning of the next page of human evolution—a page which can be turned whenever slothful humanity desires to do it.

Spanish America is really one of the most interesting fields of travel in the world, even if it does not make great pretension of its attractions. From the point of view of the holiday-maker it has remained undeveloped. The traveller who requires luxuriance of travel, of hotel and pleasure-resort, such as the playgrounds of Europe afford, will not find such here, except perhaps in a few of the more advanced cities. It is a continent which, despite its four centuries of discovery, has so far done little more than present its edge to[15] the forces—and pleasures—of modern life. Nature is in her wildest moods: it is an unfinished world; mankind is still plastic. The mountain trail and the horse are more in evidence than the railway and the motor-car; the fonda rather than the hotel. Here, moreover, Don Quixote de la Mancha has taken up his abode, and we may find him often, to our pleasure if we like his company, as some of us do.

But let us dismount. Here are beautiful cities too. A sensitive and developing people, the Spanish American folk would resent any aspersion of their civilization. They have all the machinery of culture to their hand. Here the Parisian toilette rubs shoulders in their streets and plazas with the blanketed and sandalled Indian; the man of fashion and the man of the Stone Age walk the same pavement. Here in these pleasing towns—some of them marvels of beauty, some of them in an atmosphere of perpetual spring, some miles above the sea—are palaces of justice, art and science. Here are republican kings and plutocrats, rich with the product of the field and mine, here are palms and music, homes of highly cultured folk, speaking their soft Castilian: shops stored with all the luxury of Europe or the United States. Here are streets of quaint colonial architecture, and courteous hosts and hostesses, and damsels of startling beauty in all the elegance of the mode.

Here, too, are smooth-tongued lawyer statesmen, dominating (as they always do) the Senatorial Councils. It is true that from time[16] to time there are disturbing elements when rude soldier-politicians break in upon the doctor-politicians with the clatter of a mule-battery, on the pavement, and the sword takes the place of the bauble; it is true that the walls of the streets are pitted here and there with bullet marks, from some whiff of grapeshot, and that there are stains of blood upon the pavements; and it is true that against the white walls of justice, science, art and oratory stands silhouetted the figure of the poor Indian, or peon, who slinks humilde amid the palms and music—doffing his hat as he passes the Cathedral precincts—and that the veneer of civilization, torn aside, reveals at times both the cultured and the uncultured savage.

Here, too, congregate the merchants and traffickers of all the world, Old and New, from all the four corners of the earth to buy and sell. Here is the Frenchman with his emporium of finery, the Spaniard with his groceries, or the Italian with his wares, the Arab with his little shop, the Chinaman with his laundry (and his peculiar affinity with the Indian, perhaps of the same mother-race), the German with his hardware, drugs and cheap jewellery and much besides; the English or American with every commodity, and in addition his mining schemes and railways and steamers, or his municipal stocks and bonds. For Spanish America is now a peculiarly attractive Mecca of the international merchant and pedlar, who does it services both good and ill.

Here, in this financial and business field, the[17] Englishman has been predominant (though that predominance may not always be, for he is closely pressed now and must not muddle on).

England, indeed, soon conquered a world commercially which she bungled in overcoming in conquest. She early scorned Columbus, or would not help him; at Cartagena, Callao, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Ayres, and elsewhere, her admirals and generals seem to have failed, and she secured but a couple of small footholds on the continent and some rich islands off its coast. Perhaps it was destiny; perhaps we would not now have it otherwise, and the Spanish American civilization develops more interestingly alone. But interesting too would have been a British Indian Empire in America, perhaps with possibilities and results of value to the world.

But, despite all this, the British name here stands high, and heaven grant it always may.

Not for all her past misdeeds, nor the present defects arising from them, shall we forget the gifts that Spain has made to the New World. To-day it might indeed be said that some of the main problems of colonial empires are but beginning (as witness Egypt and India under British rule). Spain made nations, even it they afterwards fell from her by misgovernment or from natural causes. She implanted her religion, literature, culture, language, architecture over hundreds of thousands of miles of forbidding desert and Cordillera, as we shall see in these pages. Over a zone of the earth's territory seven thousand miles[18] long, from the Mexican border with the United States, throughout the twenty Republics of Central and South America, to the tapering end of Chile, the Spanish language is the medium of communication, a language-area vaster than any in the world.

And Portugal, the patron of great voyagers and explorers, has left her mark and language upon her half of the New World, the old empire of Brazil, with a population greater than that of all her neighbours combined. Less dominating than the Spaniard in the long run—for Portugal has always said of herself that she could conquer but not colonize—Portugal has left her own Iberian culture in Latin America.

Here, indeed, are the elements of life in the making, of a civilization whose life is before it rather than behind it; often picturesque, often sombre, always, as we have said, a world of its own, and possessed of its own peculiar attractiveness.

Some rather serious doubts have assailed my mind in regard to the succeeding portion of this chapter, as to how far the weighty matters of geography and travel-description may be treated informally. Dare we "speak disrespectfully of the Equator," or too lightly tread over Cancer or Capricorn?

But the home-returned traveller knows that treatment of geography and travel is generally informal—not to say casual—especially among our[19] good English folk, and at dinner, where white shirt-fronts do gleam, and feminine elegance is displayed, he may have to answer somewhat elemental questions upon the whereabouts of this or that land, region, or locality he has visited, or upon the nature and customs of its particular inhabitants.

Nor is this confined to Society chatter alone at such pleasant moments. In the London Board Room perhaps some stout and comfortable director of possibly half a dozen companies whose operations are of no meanly distributed geographical range may ask where such and such a country is, with most complacent ignorance of maps and globes; perhaps, also, in a few words doing what it was long since said we could not do, "drawing up an indictment against a whole nation," for doubtless weighty (financial) reasons of his own. As to the general public, it goes on its way careless of where places are—except that, by reason of the Great War, it has grown accustomed to looking at the maps so beneficially inserted in the columns of our daily Press, and strives to hold the balance between kilometres and miles.

The foregoing lack of familiarity with the round world and they that dwell therein is especially true of the lands of Spanish America (or Latin America, to use that more cumbrous but more accurate term). "Where in the world is Ecuador, or Costa Rica, or Paraguay?" some one may impatiently exclaim if we mention that we were held up by quarantine in Guayaquil on account[20] of yellow fever, or other incident of other spot. "Where is Bolivia?" is another not infrequent query, but generally made in ignorance of its first and classical utterance, it is reputed, in the anecdote relating to Lord Palmerston and the President—many years ago—of that Republic.

Some think Mexico is in South America, and, no doubt drawing their ideas from their or their parents' study of Prescott in the Victorian age, ask if the Mexicans really wear feathers and carry knives. The position of Peru puzzles many good folk, although it is generally believed to be somewhere in South America, which of course is right. Chile, again; where does it lie? Did not some one once describe Chile—if you look at the map—as a country two thousand miles long and two inches wide? Again, striving to give an idea of the vast length of Chile, one writer of the country has graphically remarked that you may conceive it as a "long, narrow trough of which one end could be placed at Queenstown and the other near New York, but along which luggage could not be rolled." No offence is here meant to the enterprising people of that land, who resisted so stoutly the pretensions of their neighbours of Argentina in order that this narrow width might not be pared down still closer, a contention finally ended by the arbitration of King Edward of Britain.

For both Argentina and Brazil seem to have been bent, at one time or another, on carrying out the principle that to him who hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath, for both of[21] them sprawl—geographically that is—across the South American Continent and crowd their smaller neighbours into its margins or corners, if crowding be possible here. As for Brazil, it must have more political frontiers, one imagines, than any other nation in the world.



Vol. I. To face p. 20.

The traveller sometimes finds it necessary to explain that Colombia has nothing to do with British Columbia. It is a republic quite unassociated with our Imperial outpost of British Columbia. As for Venezuela, only those who have been there can ever be expected to know where it is, notwithstanding that it is the part of South America nearest to Europe and was that first sighted by Columbus. The Guianas are rightly associated by many with Demerara sugar, but Demerara, it has to be mentioned, is not the whole of British Guiana, and there are in addition French and Dutch Guiana. British Guiana and British Honduras—which latter, let us remark, is not in South but in Central America (location to be explained later)—are the only foothold of the British Empire on the mainland of Spanish America. Guiana, moreover, has nothing to do with Guinea, in Africa, or New Guinea, in Asia. Few people at home know where these places are or who lives there or what they do. As to the first-named, it is interesting to see that a deputation has recently arrived from the colony in the Mother Country, to remind that parent of her offspring's existence.

Both these small places—they are as large as[22] England—are perhaps among the most backward portions of the Empire. It is not their fault, or not alone. It is largely due to the stupidity or lack of interest of the Home Government. It is also due, in general terms, to the stupidity and ignorance of British folk in general, who take little interest in their possessions overseas, and who from one point of view do not deserve to have them. The tropical colonies of Britain, and among them are these of South and Central America—not to mention the magnificent heritage of the West Indies, which of course are geographically part of America—are most valuable charges, most essential elements of the national food supply. They are at least geographical larders, and it is time they were much more fully developed and cared for.

It is well to recollect, moreover, politically, that Britain has scarcely given an efficient object-lesson of development, social and economic, to the backward States of Spanish America in her control of these two Crown Colonies.

But we digress. If the geography of the South American States is nebulous to the ordinary person at home, how much more so is that of Central America? In the first place, it may be asked, where or what is Central America? Many well-informed people do not know. North America and South America are easily realizable as geographical entities, but where can a third America exist? Central America is not the centre of the South American Continent, as some well-meaning[23] people think, but is that part of America lying between the two continents, and includes no less than six independent Republics, together with British Honduras. The Panama Canal cuts through it; the Tehuantepec and other railways cross it. Thus when we are asked where is Costa Rica or Nicaragua or Salvador, Honduras or Panama, where perhaps the latest revolution has just broken out, or the Government have just repudiated a loan, or managed to pay an instalment of the interest due upon a loan, we may reply in Central America.

And Paraguay—ah, Paraguay! Where is it? And Hayti, too?

Many people in England have relatives in Spanish American countries, and it is interesting to be able to inform them where the particular localities are situated, and how to get there, also the distances approximately places are apart. "I have a cousin who is Chargé d'Affaires in Revolutia," says a lady at a reception. "I do trust he has not been injured by that terrible South American earthquake we saw in the paper this morning." We are able to assure the lady that the earthquake was in San Volcania, at least two thousand miles from the enterprising Republic where her relative carried on his doubtless invaluable diplomatic duties. "Have you ever been in —— (we will call it Santa Andina)?" says a stout, bald-headed gentleman, who looks like a company promoter (and we afterwards found that he was such), referring to a well-known Spanish[24] American capital, adding that he thought of going there, and had heard that no great difficulties attended the journey. He thought oil concessions were to be obtained there. When he learned that you take a river steamer, then a train, then a canoe, then a steamer again, and lastly a mule, his wanderlust seemed somewhat to abate. The story of the lady who had a relative in New York, and hoped he would call one morning on the brother of another person present who lived in Buenos Ayres has often been told, but I am inclined to regard it as far-fetched. The point is that the lady, knowing that both places were in America, imagined they must be in easy daily radius of each other.

The traveller who knows Spanish America and speaks the Spanish language—which language is a veritable delight when you know it—will often wish that English people would set out to acquire at least a slight knowledge of the pronunciation of Spanish words and place-names. He does not like to hear, for example, Buenos Ayres spoken of as "Boners' Airs," or Callao as "Cally-oh"! And the pronunciation of señor as "seenyor" is most offensive. Again, why will the English Press persist in depriving "señor" and the Spanish letter "ñ" generally of its ~, or in using Don where Señor should be used (as is done even in The Times), or in the rendering of the Spanish (or its Italian or French equivalent) Viva! as "long live." It does not mean "long live," but "live" or "may he live," and is generally followed by[25] que viva! "Let him live." It would be better translated as "Hurrah for So-and-So." However, the Press does not generally treat Spanish America very seriously. There is an opéra bouffe element.

The Spanish language is perhaps the most beautiful and pleasing in the world, when we take into account its virility and brevity. It says what it means at once, and every letter, except the aspirate, in every word is pronounced. It is a simple language, easily learned. It is spoken over an enormous part of the earth's surface, and there is little variation between the Spanish of Castile and that of Spanish America.

When we converse—in their own language—with the educated Spanish American folk, we find them full of wise saws and modern instances. They are shrewd and philosophical, and the Spanish language abounds with proverbs and aphorisms applicable to the things of everyday life. They are born statesmen and lawyers and orators. They go back to the remote classics for their similes. All this is very delightful in its way, and the Englishman, after a course of years of it will come home and think his own countrymen rather stupid and unimaginative; that is if his own common sense does not balance their own more solid qualities against the more surface attainments. What he wishes is that the one race might partake more of the qualities of the other, and vice versa. Oratory and theory cannot replace practical politics and justice, but we miss the amenities.

Mucha tinta y poca justicia!


so says the Spanish American (or the Spaniard), referring to the national power of document-compiling and red tape; that is to say: "Much ink and little justice."

Nor yet can the most delightful spirit of hospitality make amends for the insufferable defects of the fonda and the inn, and

De tu casa a la ajena
Sal con la barriga llena!

is the soundest advice in Latin America to the traveller in the interior, or, as one would say, "From your own to a stranger's home, go forth with a well-filled belly."

The Spanish American people, as we have remarked, are of a poetical and sentimental temperament, given to oratory, and they produce many poets, many of which, however, would, if criticism is harsh, be termed versifiers. They are fond of what might be termed descriptive embroidery; what, indeed, one of their own race has termed desarollos lyricos ("lyric developments"). Love verses are an absorbing theme, and their small magazines overflow therewith, and even the daily Press does not disdain such. It might be said that versifying in Spanish in matters amorous may be facile, because amores (love), flores (flowers), olores (perfume), and dolores (grief) all rhyme! One cynical Spanish American poet, however, has propounded the following, descriptive of the social and natural ambient:


Flores sin olor
Hombres sin honor
Mujeres sin pudor!

That is to say: "Flowers without perfume, men without honour, women without modesty." It is true that the flowers in the New World here sometimes lacks perfume, where we might have expected to find such, and that at times men and women lack the cardinal virtues, but the same could be said anywhere, and is merely an epigram.

The verse-making of the young poets is often erotic and neurotic, addressed to the object of undying affection, or to the shades of night, or the cruelty of destiny—which tears lovers apart or carries them off to early graves. In this connexion Byron is well regarded (but let us say nothing derogatory of Byron) and Shakespeare appreciated.

However, it is to be recollected that these are rather symptoms of youth in a nation, and if the more blasé and practical Briton—and the still more practical and less poetical North American—finds their verse hackneyed (if he be able to read it, which is not frequently the case), this sentiment has its valuable psychical attribute. The English, indeed, are regarded by the Spanish American as of a romantic temperament, or of having a reputation for romance, and this is possibly due in part to Byron.

But let it not be forgotten that there are famous Latin American poets, to which space here forbids even the barest justice to be done.

The Spanish Americans are great panegyrists,[28] moreover. The most extraordinary adulations of public personages are made and published, such as it might be supposed would cause the object thereof to blush. The late President Diaz of Mexico was always to his admirers—or those who hoped to gain something by his adulation, and this it is not necessarily unkind to say is often the motive of the panegyric—a "great star in a Pleiades or constellation of the first magnitude," and similar matters are found in all the republics. A stroke of ordinary policy becomes thus "un acto de importancia transcendental," which sufficiently translates itself; and so forth.

Of course, it is the case that the Spanish language lends itself peculiarly to "lyric developments"; it is expressive and sonorous, and even the uneducated person has in it a far wider range of thought and expression than has the apparently unimaginative and tongue-tied Briton, or American of Anglo-Saxon speech. Upon this theme we might greatly enlarge, but we must refrain.

As I have already remarked, the general conception of the Spanish American people by English folk is a vague one. To such questions or remarks as: "Are they mostly Indians?" or "I suppose they are not mainly niggers, or at least half black?" in brief terms, the reply is that the Spanish American people are a blend of the aboriginal Indian race—which possessed an early civilization of its own in certain districts, as in Mexico and Peru, and has many valuable qualities—and of the Spaniard, or in Brazil of the[29] Portuguese. They are not "half-breeds" now. We might as well, in a sense, call the English half-breeds, because we are a mixture of Celt and Saxon and Norman.

The "Indians" of Mexico and Peru—they are, of course, not Indian at all in reality, that was an error of Columbus—had, before the Spaniards destroyed it, a fine culture of their own and practised the most beautiful arts. As to the modern culture, or that of the upper strata, it surprises good cultured English folk to learn that in matters of serious culture, knowledge and social etiquette, and knowledge of the world, they themselves would have difficulty in holding their own. The world, or outlook, of the educated man or woman of Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, or any other of these States, is a wider one than that of the British middle-class folk: that great respectable body of persons so closely engaged upon their own affairs.

Some writers have deplored the separate autonomy or absence of "unification" of the Latin American States. They would like to see a "United States of South America" or a Federation of Central America.

But this largely arises, perhaps, from the peculiar ideas of hegemony which the last and present century brought to being. We were to have vast empires. Weaker nations were to be controlled by stronger. There were to be great commercial units. Is this advisable, or will it be possible? The condition of the world after the Great War[30] would seem to indicate the negative. It would seem to show that small nations have their own destiny to work out.

As regards Spanish America, its different States are, in general, better in being separated. Both geographical conditions and those of temperament support this. These States, or their capitals and centres of population, are generally divided by Nature from each other, often by tremendous barriers of mountain chains, rivers or impenetrable forests. How could a single or centralized government be set up to control either their home or foreign policy? Where would it be, and how would it operate?

It might be said that similar topographical conditions obtain in the case of the United States, Canada, or Australia, which prefer to live as federations. But the natural geographical barriers of Spanish America are, in reality, much more formidable. Again, the present multiplicity of states, each with its complement of president and state officers, gives opportunity for more intensive political training, more pleasing social life and a greater general opportunity for partaking in government by the people than does a centralized government.

Let us thus refrain from judging too hastily or too harshly the Spanish American people. Their temperament, their environment is different from ours. They have not chosen or been able to follow the more prosaic, more useful life of England or North America in the commercial age. They[31] had not our inventive, our mechanical gifts. Under their warmer skies idealism played a stronger part. They could not agree to live together unless idealistic conditions were to dominate them—conditions which were impossible of course, and they never were able to oil the wheels of life with that spirit of compromise which providence—if it be a providential gift—gave to us. Moreover, they have a dreadful history of oppression behind them, and the dead-weight of a great Indian bulk of folk who were ruined by the arrogant Spaniards, who despised them without a cause.

Rather let us see that they are endowed with many gifts, and that a different phase of world-development and civilization may give these people an opportunity to display their best qualities, of overcoming their serious errors.

The thoughtful traveller will find matter of interest in Spanish America wherever he journeys, in the delightful place-names he encounters, which a little trouble will enable him to pronounce, and often whose pleasing origin some study will permit him to understand. Here are no duplications of "Paris," "Berlin," "London"; no monstrosities of "Copperville," "Petroleumville," "Irontown," and so forth, such as in Anglo America, the United States and Canada, the developers of that part of America in some cases hastily assigned to their places of settlement or industry, either through lack of or laziness of search for original topographical nomenclature. Here in Spanish America its old and rightful folk had given poetical baptism to[32] their localities. Such were often the abiding places of deities or spirits. Yonder mountain, for example, was "the home of the wind god" of the Quechuas; yonder point the "place of the meeting of the waters" of the Aztecs, or the "field of the fruitful," or the "forest of the dark spirits"; and thus is imprinted upon them for all time the poetic fancy of their founders. There rises the "snow-forehead" of the Andes, there is the "cañyon of a thousand ripples," there is the "pompa of the Holy Saints." The names flow liquidly from the lips of the Indian, perhaps our harsher tongues can ill articulate them in comparison.

Moreover, let us remark the wealth of topographical nomenclature, both in the native languages of Mexico and Peru, and all the sisterhood of states, and in the later Spanish tongue. Every hill, hill-slope, stream, wood, plain, valley, desert, every kind of hill, feature and topographical change of form is designated.

The present chapter, it is seen, is, in some small degree, designed to prime the intending traveller to Spanish America—or, if not the traveller, the person athirst for information concerning the region—with such geographical detail as he or she may assimilate without mental indigestion. In accordance with this purpose we may consider a few figures, which are indispensable if we are to gather any intelligent idea of extent and distance.

There are twenty independent republics of Spanish, or rather Latin America, ranging from the enormous Brazil, with an area of three and[33] a quarter million square miles, down to little Salvador, with only seven thousand two hundred and twenty-five square miles. Among these twenty States we include Hayti and Santo Domingo, places which, although often mentioned with a smile when independent republics are spoken of, are nevertheless worthy of geographical respect.



Vol. I. To face p. 32.

Between these great extremes of area mentioned above we have such countries as Argentina, with over a million square miles, and Mexico, Bolivia and Peru, with from nearly to over seven hundred thousand square miles, Colombia, Venezuela and Chile, with from over four to under three hundred thousand, Ecuador and Uruguay with half and a third those areas, and the remaining nine States of from about seventy thousand square miles down to about a tenth thereof.

The total area thus covered of this very diversified part of the earth's surface is about eight and a quarter million square miles, with a total population in the neighbourhood of eighty million souls.

It is of interest further to recollect that Brazil is larger than the United States or Canada, or larger than Europe without Russia. Even the little but progressive country of Uruguay, crowded by Brazil and Argentina into a corner of the Atlantic coast, is much larger than England.[1]


It is to be recollected that the areas given to these countries themselves in some cases include territory claimed by their immediate neighbours, for there are unsettled boundaries and frontiers, especially in the Amazon Valley. They must be regarded as only approximate.

The same remark holds good with regard to the population of these States. Exact enumeration is impossible, for the reasons both that the inhabitants are often enormously scattered over vast territories and that they often refuse to be numbered, or escape the census, fearing that they are to be taxed, or pressed into military service against their will, which latter condition has been a curse of Spanish America all through its history.

Much of our earlier knowledge of Northern South America and Mexico was due to Humboldt, the famous German savant and traveller. He was[35] born in Berlin in 1769, but it would appear that Berlin was certainly not his "spiritual home." Paris was the only centre congenial to him, and he settled there in 1808, after his travels, in order to be able to secure the needful scientific co-operation for the publication of the results of his work. "The French capital he had long regarded as his true home. There he found not only scientific sympathy, but the social stimulus which his vigorous and healthy mind eagerly craved. He was equally in his element as the lion of the salons and as the savant of the institute and the observatory. The provincialism of his native city was odious to him. He never ceased to rail against the bigotry without religion, aestheticism without culture, and philosophy without common sense, which he found dominant on the banks of the Spree. He sought relief from this 'nebulous atmosphere' in Paris."[2]

It was by an accident that Humboldt directed his steps to Spanish America, for he had hoped, with Bonpland, to join Bonaparte in Egypt, but in Madrid he determined to make Spanish America the scene of his explorations. He explored the Orinoco, crossed the frozen Cordillera to Quito, investigated the mighty avenue of the Ecuadorian volcanoes—the farm he occupied still exists at their foot—and did much else in South America and in Mexico, geological, archæological, and botanical.

The foregoing glimpse of Berlin which Humboldt's view of his native city affords is not without[36] interest to-day, when the savagery of the German character—a curious development of that earlier obscure philosophy—has been brought so prominently before the world and has brought Germany to moral ruin, and what is in part financial ruin and the loss of her colonies.

As has been said, methods of travel here are less inviting to the ordinary tourist than the well-prepared fields of the Old World. Its hotels—apart, perhaps, from a few here and there—are primitive, its railways are conducted for commercial purposes, there are no planned centres of delight and ease. No roads traverse the countryside whereon the motor-tourist may spend his hours. Between the primitive mule-trail or the bypath which the simple Indian has found sufficient for his purposes since the world began, and the railway, there is no via media. The coaching days of England never had their counterpart in Spanish America. The caballero, the horseman-gentleman, transplanted from old Spain, and all he represented embodied, and still embodies, the philosophy of the road. Here no one may walk the countryside, except the necessitous Indian. The dust would smother him, the naked rocks would cut his feet, he would lose caste for being on foot. No "local" botanist, antiquarian, nature-lover sallies forth from Spanish-American villages. The country squire is unknown, the landed estate is a hacienda, a hive of peones, dependent body and soul on the will of their masters. There are no week-end cottages; the "picnic," though its[37] English name is not unknown, is a rare event. Sport, where it exists, is an institution engrafted from abroad.

Woman here is much enclosed in the seclusion of her home, save when she ventures to the temple and the priestly Mass, or to well-chaperoned and formal events—she dare not traverse the road alone, and, it may be said, with sufficient reason! The Spanish American youth, with his patent leather shoes and breadth of cuff and collar, loves not to leave the easy pavements of his towns, or their bars and cafés, for the unknown world beyond, whose beginning is the squalid Indian quarter which fringes the place around—unless indeed he may have turned revolutionist, a phase which does not usually take place much before middle age, when the Latin American generally takes on his serious political habit. Then indeed he must take to the road, unless a fortunate golpe de estado[3] shall complete the uprising within the city plaza.

The inland method of travel is the horse or mule: the saddle. Unfortunately the horse is not very happy here. In the Day of Judgment, if the beasts of the field ever bear witness against man, the horse will have a severe indictment to bring against the Spanish American people. He and his relative the mule have nowhere perhaps been so dreadfully ill-treated as in these lands of mountains and deserts. In Mexico we see him ridden to death by the callous vaquero; his thin and starving body passing like a swift shadow[38] across the wilderness under the stimulus of enormous spurs. Or he is gored to death in the bull-ring. In South America he climbs, with enormous loads, the dizzy ridges of the Andes, under the blows and curses of the arriero, and, stumbling over the precipice, finds rest at times a thousand feet below, where his mummified carcass remains a warning to his kind. Or he passes his life on high uplands where pasture is unknown: his fodder a little dry straw.

The fact is that the Spanish American lands, in great part, did not seem fitted by nature for the equine race, and there was no horse in America before the Europeans introduced the animal there. There was nothing but the llama, the friend of the Indian, which is not ridden, but bears a small burden. The Indian himself at first displayed great terror of the horse (especially with an armoured Iberian on its back). He himself was accustomed to carrying his burdens. When he was told to take a horse he said: "No, horses get tired; we do not." When a Spaniard rode across the Isthmus of Panama upon a jackass he met some Indians, and the animal brayed, and the Indians fell down in terror and offered up their gold ornaments!

Yet the Latin Americans are perhaps the most expert of horsemen, and train and manage their steeds as no one else can.

Spanish America is not a land for the huntsman, not a land of big game. Its zoology is stinted. The lion and the tiger are represented only by[39] some almost insignificant felines, and the other huge quadrupeds of the sportsman's rifle came not to being in the New World, or deserted it by now fallen land bridges before their skilled tormentor appeared upon the earth. There is, relatively, but little game, and the traveller who might think to subsist upon it in his passage through the wilds will do well to ponder the experience of the early Conquistadores, some of which have been set down briefly in these pages.

Thus far the picture of travel here. There are phases on the other side to be considered. It is the explorer, the pioneer, who will find material for his desires in these lands. The geographer, the antiquarian, the naturalist, the ethnologist has before him a field which is the equal of any region, and the engineer, that most practical and valuable of travellers, has work before him in this score of independent states whose magnitude has, so far, no limit.




It would be manifestly impossible, in the present work, to enter in detail upon the wide field of the history of the Spanish American States. Yet, just as in order to gain an intelligent idea topographically of the region we must refer to its main geographical features and disposition, so must we cast a glance at its historical outlines. Those readers who are drawn on to fill in the detail have ample material at hand in the books recently published on the Latin American States.[4]

The beginnings of history and of geography are, of course, inextricably interwoven, and in the case of America this is markedly so. America, in a sense, was discovered by accident, and its first discoverers did not know they had brought to being a new continent. Columbus, to his dying day, believed it was India he had reached, which he had set out to reach, and would not be persuaded to the contrary.

On the maps of the earlier geographers there was, in fact, no room for America. From the shores of Europe and Africa to those of Cathay—the[41] old, mediaeval, and still the poetical name for China, the great Asiatic coast—stretched one sea, the Western Ocean, broken by some small islands and Cipango, or Japan. Scholars and dreamers, studying isolated passages in cryptic and classic writings, or arguing from general principles, in which the wish was at times father to the thought, believed that by sailing west India could be reached.

These dreams of poets and the beliefs of scholars crystallized in the mind of the Genoese sailor, Columbus, a man of humble origin, and after many disappointments and disillusions, in the interviewing of kings and high personages for aid and patronage (among them the King of England, but England with characteristic lack of imagination would have none of it, and the King of Portugal, who tried to cheat him), was enabled to set sail by aid of the Queen of Spain—women having more imagination than men—in three small vessels, and made his great and memorable landfall in the New World on October 12, 1492, in the Bahamas.

These islands Columbus and his officers believed to be those described by Marco Polo, as forming the eastern end of Asia; and thus arose the name of "Las Indias," the Indies, which America long retained.

As a result of this discovery, a controversy arose between Spain and Portugal, for, in 1454, the Pope had given the Portuguese—by what right he himself doubtless best knew—exclusive control of exploration and conquest on the road to the[42] Indies, although his Bull had in view only the eastern route. Now, however, "spheres of influence" might easily clash. The two Powers repaired again to the Pope, successor of the former, and he, drawing a line across the map of the world from north to south, in a position west of the Azores a hundred leagues, awarded Spain everything that might lie beyond it. The Pope was a Spaniard. The Portuguese did not think the award fair. (It might have been mentioned that the Portuguese King, his "especial friend," had treacherously endeavoured to forestall Columbus by dispatching a caravel on his proposed route secretly, instead of helping him, a futile errand, however.) They protested, and by common consent the line was shifted to 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, corresponding to-day to the 50th degree of longitude.

Such a line cuts South America across the mouth of the Amazon, and the Spaniards claimed the right to exclude all other people and all trade but their own from beyond this line.

The subsequent conquest and discovery of America embodies some of the most romantic and stirring episodes in history. In his last voyage Columbus explored the West Indies and reached South America, landing at the mouth of the Orinoco, and he sailed along the coast of the Caribbean and Central America to Nombre de Dios—"Name of God"—near Colon. Henry VII of England—who had declined to help Columbus—now kindly permitted John Cabot to sail, in 1499,[43] who discovered Newfoundland and did other valuable exploits. Hispaniola was the first Spanish Settlement, on the Island of Hayti, and this spread to the mainland. In 1513 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Darien and Panama and beheld the "South Sea," as described in our chapter upon Central America. The insistent hope of a "strait" or passage through these lands, giving a way to the Spice Islands of the Indies, was now given up, and when Magellan, in 1520, passed through the strait which bears his name, and sailed across the Pacific, it was understood that a vast continent and a vast ocean divided the world from Asia here, a new world, and that lying mainly within the sphere of influence which the Pope had so generously assigned to Spain.

With regard to this obsession of Colombus that westward lay the shortest route to India, and the insistent idea of a strait, have not these been materialized in the Panama Canal, and are not these ancient mariners vindicated to-day?

The New World now belonged to Spain. Perhaps the first purpose of the Spaniards was trade with the Indies, but their main object was that of gold, to be gained by slave labour. They could not themselves work in the tropics, even if they had had any desire for manual labour, which they had not. However, they began to introduce European plants and animals into Cuba and Hispaniola, a service which was of enormous value later to America, which possessed but a meagre range of staple food products and no beasts of burden or[44] bovines. But gold—that was what they wanted. The shallow deposits of the island were soon exhausted, as were the poor willing Indians, killed off by forced labour. The barbarous treatment of the aborigines of the New World by the Spaniards—and the Portuguese—is one of the most dreadful blots on the history of America, indeed of the world.

The easily gotten gold being exhausted, it was necessary to go farther afield. The Darien Settlement was transferred to Panama, the coasts of Yucatan and the Gulf of Mexico were explored by Cordova and Grijalva, from Cuba, and in 1519 the great Conquest of Mexico was entered upon by Cortes.

So far the Spaniards had found little difficulty in subduing the Indians to their will, the inoffensive islanders, and Caribs, which latter became almost exterminated. The Indian folk of these islands were generally a simple and credible race, who at first looked upon the white man as a demi-god, but these simple children of the soil were treated with utmost callousness and barbarity. There is an example in the treatment of the natives of Watling Island in the Bahamas, which, as before remarked, was the first point in the New World trodden by Columbus. Of this land and its folk the explorer wrote to Ferdinand and Isabella: "These beautiful islands excel all other lands. The natives love their neighbours as themselves, their faces are always smiling, their conversation is the sweetest imaginable, and they are so gentle and[45] affectionate that I swear to your Highness there is no better people in the world." But what was the lot of these folk? The Spaniards wanted further labour in the mines of Hispaniola, and to get these natives there they, trading on a characteristic love of the people for their ancestors and departed relatives, promised to convey them to the heavenly shores, where these were imagined as dwelling; and so, treacherously getting them on board the ships, they were taken away to the mines, where it is said 40,000 perished under starvation and the lash.

The natives of Mexico were people of a different stamp. The Aztecs were pueblo or town Indians, highly organized as soldiers, skilled in arts and crafts, with a developed civilization and certain intellectuality. They were highland folk, the Mexican plateau lying at seven to eight thousand feet above sea level, protected by mountain fastnesses. It was, in fact, an empire of the New World such as, in some respects, might compare with those ancient semi-barbaric empires of the Old World, in times more ancient. Its conquest by Cortes was an affair of great enterprise and toil, entailing heavy loss and suffering on the part of the Spaniards, and at one time their defeat, from which only a superhuman rally saved them, at the Battle of Otumba. There was one specially weak point about the Aztec rule. It was a hegemony, exercised over various other Mexican races, who hated Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor, and his people. Cortes was skilful enough to take[46] advantage of this flaw in the Mexican armour, to fan the jealousies of the subject tribes, and enlist them to march against Tenochtitlan, the capital of Mexico. These allied Indians, when the place fell, themselves committed the most unheard-of barbarities on the Aztec population, such as shocked the Spaniards, who were unable to restrain them.

The Conquest of Mexico was effected by 1521, and the success, the romance, the adventure, and the objects of gold and silver sent by Cortes to Spain, and the loot of the soldiers, fired the imagination of the Spaniards in Hispaniola and Darien to other quests. The settlers at Panama had heard of another empire where gold was to be had for the taking, perhaps richer and greater even than that of the Aztecs. This was Peru, and Francisco Pizarro and Diego Amalgro set sail from Panama to explore and conquer that unknown region along the sunset shores of America to the south.

This adventure too was an arduous one, not by reason of the opposition of savage natives, for the Incas of Peru were a gentle and philosophical people, animated by a remarkable social system, and they offered little resistance to the white men and the formidable men-animals, or horsemen, and their guns. It was famine that assailed Pizarro and his followers, and insufficient support. Also he, like Cortes, had to contend with the jealousies and double-dealing of the Spanish Governor of the Indies. As for Peru, its coast was barren, as it is to-day, and only after surmounting the dreadful[47] fastness of the Andes, amid the inclement climate of a region twelve to fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, was the Inca Empire reached and subdued. Here lay Cuzco, the Mecca of Peru, and Cajamarca, a more northern capital. The stores of gold recovered seem to have filled these Spaniards' expectations, and great renown was the result of this conquest, which was completed by 1533.

These exploits were followed by a period of strife among the Spaniards, and Pizarro was murdered, after founding Lima, the capital of Peru. But in 1536 the regions lying between Peru and Panama, which to-day we know as Ecuador and Colombia, were explored and conquered, the first by Sebastian de Benalcazar, the second by Jimenez de Quesada. Here were dwelling other advanced people or tribes. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, had been the home of the Shiris, a cultured people who were overthrown by the Incas before the Spanish advent. The city was joined to Cuzco, eleven hundred miles to the south, by the famous Inca roads, one along the Cordillera, the other along the coast. Some early Spanish historian delighted to speak of these roads as equal to those of the Romans, but this was an exaggeration. Colombia was the culture-area of the Chibchas. The Spaniards had heard of a further great empire, a rich El Dorado, in this region, and encouraged by the ease with which Pizarro had conquered Peru, they made their way up the Magdalena River from the Caribbean Sea. A pleasing land and much[48] gold was encountered, after severe hardships, the people being of some considerable degree of civilization, although not of the status of the Aztec or the Inca. The richest plums, in fact, had fallen. Quesada named this region New Granada, with its capital at Bogota.

There still remained the conquest of the huge territory south of Peru, known as Chile, and this, attempted by Almagro in 1537, was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, who, however, was checked by the redoubtable Araucanian Indians. These form one of the chief admixtures of the Chileans to-day, a hardy and enterprising nation, in contrast with the Peruvians of a more sentimental temperament, with a basis of the Quichua Indians of the Incas. Terrible excesses were committed upon the Indians on these expeditions. A terrible end was visited upon the Spanish leader by the Indians. "You have come for gold," said the savage chief who captured him. "You shall have your fill." And he caused molten burning gold to be poured into his mouth. Then he was cut to pieces with sharpened oyster shells.

From the Southern Andes, the Spaniards, in the following years, descended to the great plains which now form the republics of the River Plate, Argentine, Uruguay and Paraguay. The exploration of Brazil had been begun in 1510, and the region was traversed by Orellana in his descent of the Amazon from Quito, and it was gradually settled by the Portuguese.

The lands lying between Panama and Mexico,[49] which to-day form the Central American States, Guatemala, Costa Rica and others, were conquered after the fall of Mexico. Here were evidences of a splendid past, in the beautiful temples of sculptured stone found in their forests and deserts, ruins even then abandoned. These remains astounded Europe, when they were first revealed.

Thus did all this enormous region of Latin America, from tropical Mexico—indeed, from California—to the frigid extremity of Patagonia, fall into the possession of Spain and Portugal. In some respects it is a dreadful history. The Spaniards overthrew civilizations in Mexico and Peru which in many respects were superior to their own, civilizations that had developed marvellously without the resources that the Old World commanded, for there was neither ox nor horse, nor even iron nor gunpowder. The Spaniards destroyed everything that these people had done. For centuries unknown they had evolved their arts and crafts and laws; laws, in the case of the Incas of Peru, far more beneficial and democratic than anything Europe had produced at that period, and millions of these people were most ruthlessly destroyed.

To read the accounts of the happenings of those times is enough to break one's heart. To-day, throughout the length and breadth of this vast territory—of which not an acre now belongs to Spain—the spirit of the Indian has so far remained faithful that there is not a single statue raised to Cortes or[50] Pizarro. Columbus, of course, is commemorated by his monuments in every capital.

These great New World territories, by virtue of the papal Bull, were held as the peculiar property of the Sovereign. The Spanish possessions were divided into two "kingdoms," the Kingdom of New Spain, consisting of Mexico and all lands to and including Venezuela, and New Castile, later called Peru. This last viceroyalty was found unwieldy, and New Granada and the River Plate regions were constituted apart under viceroys. The administrative powers of these functionaries were very great, but they were held in some control by the Laws of the Indies: measures passed for native protection. Even the frightful dominance of the Inquisition did not extend to the Indians, who were regarded as merely catechumens. Queen Isabella of Spain, by whose imagination and aid discovery of the New World had been rendered possible, would not permit—and her memory should be revered for it—the enslavement of the Indians, if she could prevent it, and when Columbus returned home with a cargo of natives, whom he proposed to sell as slaves, Isabella interfered. Let them be set at liberty, she said, and sent back to their homes. Columbus has in general been represented as a protector of the Indians, and must not necessarily be judged in the light of this incident.

In the general condemnation of Spain at that period, these facts should be recollected. It was declared by the home government that the Indians[51] were to enjoy the privilege of free subjects, and that their native princes were to be upheld in their authority. Censure was frequently visited upon the conquerors and governors of Mexico and Peru, from home, for their displacement or execution of these, as any who will study Spanish colonial history may see. Some modern writers, in their democratic zeal, have overlooked this. The declaration was opposed by the colonists, as well as the colonial authorities, and indeed by the clergy. Some compulsion was necessary, of course, if civilization was to make its way among the Indians, for they were often loath to work, and stood sullenly aloof from the white race. The System of Repartimientos and Encomiendas—the assigning of bodies of Indians to the industrial charge of colonists—was well meant, but the greed of the colonists and their callous habit as regarded human life offset these influences.

Another side of the question also presents itself. Under Philip II, the colonies were governed not so much in their own interests, as for the enrichment of Spain and its predominance. He yearned to injure Protestant England, and the colonists were taxed and goaded to produce wealth, and their interests sacrificed in the furtherance of this end. Those into whose hands the unfortunate Indians had been delivered body and soul, drove the unfortunates into the mines, branded them on the face, flogged them to death, chucked their miserable carcasses aside, when they fell from exhaustion, a prey to the dogs.


We know what these things led to. England and other European nations refused to recognize the exclusive control of the American continents by the Peninsula Powers, and hardy buccaneers and privateers streamed forth to dispute Spanish pretensions. Drake intercepted the stream of gold with which Philip was enabled to equip his armadas and thus performed a marked strategic service for England.

Moreover, such pretensions would never have been respected, especially under the influence of the Renaissance and the Reformation.

The restrictions upon colonial trade by Spain were, we see further, an element in the downfall of the empire. The natural development of South America was seriously hindered. All trade must come via Panama, and anything opposed to Spanish interests was suppressed. The growing trade between Acapulco and China was suppressed; Hidalgo's vineyard in Mexico was destroyed by the Spanish authorities because Spain alone must grow grapes. "Learn to be silent and obey, and not to discuss politics," ran the proclamation of a Mexican viceroy, near the end of the eighteenth century.

When—unlawfully—the throne of Spain came to be occupied with kings having French sympathies, these short-sighted methods were modified. Audiencias or law courts, of which, from the reign of Philip IV there were eleven, in Santo Domingo, Mexico, Panama, Lima, Guatemala, Guadalajara, Bogota, La Plata, Chile, and Buenos Ayres,[53] acted as counsel to the Governors, with civil and criminal jurisdiction. Appeal could be had to the Council of the Indies, that great colonial body at Seville. For centuries the history of Spanish America is made up of the deeds and misdeeds of the viceroys.

The political and commercial control of the colonies was thus entirely in the hands of the Crown. The territories were expected to send quantities of gold and other precious metals home to Spain with regularity, and indeed Spain later became a mere sieve into which this treasure from the Indies was poured. They were also bound to send raw material and to take all their manufactured goods from the Mother Country.

It must be recollected that the ill-treatment meted out to the natives of these lands was mainly the work of the Spanish settlers. They generally both despised the Indians, and wished to enrich themselves from their labours. They were, for the man of Iberian race, inferior creatures, to be used at his will, and the forced labour in the mines was a cause of the reduction of the population. Questions have been raised by historians as to whether the dreadful treatment of the American native by the Spaniard was worse than that meted out to him by the Anglo-Saxon settlers in North America. There have been grave abuses in the latter field. The Indians in Spanish America, however, numbered many millions, as against a few hundred thousand elsewhere. The Spanish Crown and Government certainly did not[54] countenance the excesses carried on by the colonists, but strove to protect the Indians.

As for the English colonies in America, they enjoyed a greater measure of self-government and had taken firm root under more prosaic but more fruitful form. The same policy, however, on the part of the Mother Country was enacted in commercial matters; that trade should consist almost exclusively of exchange of colonial raw material for English manufactured articles. French colonies in America were less noteworthy or prosperous, but they played their part in history, for the fall of French control in North America was in reality the beginning of independence for all colonies in the New World; as did the ideas of the French philosophers, which found a ready soil in the Spanish American folk. The establishment of the United States was but the precursor to the establishment of the numerous Latin American States. The Spanish Government saw its danger, but was too apathetic to move. However, some reforms were introduced, and it may be said that Spanish America was well governed at the time of revolution, and was prosperous.

But it has been said that "across the face of all human reform are written the words 'too late,'" and this is in effect what happened in Spanish America. The French Revolution, and the defeat of British expeditions to Buenos Ayres by the colonists in 1806 and 1807 had their effect. The struggle for Independence lasted from 1810 to 1826, until the flag of Spain was entirely ousted[55] from the vast territory of Spanish America, upon which she had stamped her individuality, language, laws and all else, with much that was splendid and enduring, and much that in the future development of the world may have a value so far scarcely apparent.

The dark pictures of misrule of the century of republican life of the twenty Latin Republics are interspersed with pages of a more pleasing nature, but it is a chequered history, whose end we cannot yet foresee.

Among elements making for disorder and bloodshed in Spanish America, religion has played a prominent part. Many States developed bitter antagonism between clerical and non-clerical parties. Some would overthrow the Church and the all-pervading priestly power; others would uphold it, whether out of pious conviction, whether because it was a convenient party upon which to hang their own pretensions and ambitions. Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Central America, Chile—in fact, all have as part of their history the deadly struggles between these factions. To-day this very fierceness has flamed out, in the main, to be succeeded by a thinly veiled materialism. What more can be expected of a hemisphere which was cursed by the Inquisition?

In many instances the "reform" parties of these States having triumphed by force of arms, confiscates all Church property—and this often was enormous—which was handed to secular and public purposes, or enriched the pockets of politicians.[56] In Mexico, where at one time it was not safe to pass along the street unless seeming to be muttering a prayer, the power of the Church was entirely overthrown, and convents, monasteries and other religious establishments were forbidden to exist. In Ecuador similar things were brought about, accompanied by massacre and other dreadful deeds. But it would be unjust to pick out any state as over-prominent in these acts.

The Church, in large degree, brought these troubles upon itself. It sought for too much power, spiritual and temporal. The priests exploited the superstition and needs of the poor, of the Indian, and themselves often lived immoral and corrupt lives. But let us do it justice. It protected the poor and oppressed often against the grinding exactions of the civil authorities; its vicars often exposed themselves in humane works. Often priests dashed in with upraised crucifix to save the victims of dreadful passionate and sanguinary revolutions, and themselves were torn to pieces. Often the devout fathers spent their lives in the most desolate and savage regions of the untamed wilderness, seeking by their piety and devotion to better the lives of the poor Indians, the poor, ignorant children of the mountain and the forest.

The Roman Catholic religion ingrafted itself with wonderful strength upon the mind of the aboriginal of Spanish America. In some respects it seemed a development of his own earlier superstitious culture, and became blended with it. Tawdry images held for them and their miserable lives the hope[57] of eternal joy, of reprieve of sin, of comfort in misery, and to-day we cannot enter a simple church of the remote villages in those boundless Cordilleras and deserts without stumbling over the prostrate forms, bent upon the earthern floors, of poor, black-clothed Indian women passing their silent hour in supplication and orisons. Men are not there: the women, as ever, seem to link the material and the spiritual. May heaven succour these poor Indian women-folk, and bring them a happier destiny yet.

A glance now at the earlier cultures of these lands and the earlier religions of their people.

Who, upon beholding the beautiful ruined structures of the early folk of America—for by America here we mean Spanish America, where alone these vestiges are found—in the decaying sculptured walls of their temples, or the massive stories of their fortresses and palaces, or of the strange pyramids they raised, has not felt his conception of the New World undergo a change? Nay, do we even study the printed page which sets them forth, not having had the privilege of journeying to where they stand, wrapped in the silence of the jungle or stark upon the rocky ranges of the hills, we feel that here is a page in the book of mankind whose turning opens to us a vista little dreamt of.

The story of those strange old cultures of Mexico and Peru has always fascinated us: the Aztec and the Inca stand forth from the dry lore of archæology with a peculiar charm, which we may[58] not have felt even in contemplating the more wonderful and ancient cultures of the Old World. For here we feel that the intellect and art of man sprang unaided from the dust, to write his pathetic story in the stones of a continent unvisited by the Jehovah of the Israelites, unknown to history, unblessed of Christianity, unrecorded and obscure. Here the reaction of man from his environment came forth from no recorded Eden; no tree of knowledge, of good and evil, opened his eyes; no Abraham here walked with God, no Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar brought visions and dreams to these more sombre pages, and no divine wisdom seemed to shed its light within these sculptured walls.

There is the credit due to early America, to the ability of her autochthonous cultures, even if they formed no permanent link in the chain of human development, but were too early cut off and faded away like the untimely fruit of a woman, that at least man rose here, in accordance with the divine mandate, arose from the dust, and if he did but build him "fanes of fruitless prayer" to strange idols and savage deities, he had that in common with the majority of the cultures of the Old World of Asia, Africa and India, where men raised temples of the utmost beauty to shelter the most inane rites or bloody religions.

Before Mitla and Palenque or Teotihuacan and Tiahuanako let us mark the skill which carved these intricate walls or raised their terraces and monoliths, the greater wonder because all that has[59] descended from those skilled craftsmen of a bygone age on the American soil are the stolid Indian, incapable of squaring stone to stone, ignorant of the bronze chisel, degenerate and fallen. The skill and imagination which would have done credit to the Greeks or the Chaldeans lies buried in the dust, nor is likely yet to be resuscitated.

We have spoken of Teotihuacan—the name means in the ancient tongue of Mexico the "house of God"—and this, the great pyramid of the sun, the work of the shadowy Toltecs, may be seen by the traveller to-day who, taking steamer and train, will convey himself to the high plateau of Mexico, a few miles north of the capital. It is a structure of stone and rubble seven hundred feet upon its broadest side and two hundred feet high, and, anciently, upon its summit stood the golden image of Tonatiuah, whose breastplate flashed back the rays of the rising sun, what time the attendant priests chanted their savage refrain upon the terraces beneath. Restored by the Government of the Republic under President Diaz, the great monument stands up much the same as it did in days of yore. How many centuries have beaten upon it we can scarcely conjecture. It was in ruins when the defeated Cortes and his Spaniards, after the dreadful experience of the Noche Triste, the sorrowful night passed beneath its shadow and wept thereunder for his fallen comrades and his ruined enterprise.

If little we know of Teotihuacan, what shall be[60] said of Mitla, whose mysterious halls and corridors, scarcely defaced by time, arise from the sands of Oaxaca.

And the builders of these temples, have they produced no songs of beauty, no enduring psalms? Had their dreadful religious rites nothing in common with the idea of a true Providence? Hear the psalm of Nezahual-Coyotl, the Solomon of Mexico. This is what he sang:

Truly the gods which I adore—
The idols of stone and wood,
They speak not nor do they feel,
Neither could they fashion the beauty of the heavens,
Nor yet that of the earth and the streams,
Nor of the trees and the plants which beautify it.
Some powerful, hidden and unknown God—
He must be the Creator of the Universe,
He alone can console me in my affliction.
He alone can still the bitter anguish of this heart.

So spake Nezahual-Coyotl, in what has been termed the Golden Age of Texcoco, whose historians, arts and poets were in their time renowned among the nations of Anahuac, on the high Mexican Plateau. This person was a philosopher and a poet, but the writings of the period—the picture-writings—were perversely destroyed by Zumarraga, the first Archbishop of Mexico after the Conquest—an irremediable loss.

Hear also the Inca prayer to the Creator, as chanted by the priests and nobles of Peru:

Oh Creator: Thou art without equal unto the ends of the earth! Thou who givest life and[61] strength to mankind, saying, let this be a man and let this be a woman. And as thou sayest, so thou givest life, and vouchsafest that man shall live in health and peace, and free from danger. Thou who dwellest in the heights of heaven, in the thunder and in the storm-clouds, hear us. Grant us eternal life and have us in thy keeping.



Vol. I. To face p. 60.

This last is from the Rites and Laws of the Incas.[5] It is but one of many similar prayers, which, as regards sentiment and language, might be taken from the Bible and Church Service.

These prayers to the Unknown God, written by the early people of America, cut off from any contact with the Old World, would seem to show that man, in the reaction from his environment, inevitably develops within him the conception of a supreme deity.

It now remains for us to choose how we shall approach the Spanish American lands. Shall we cross the Spanish Main, and land where Cortes did at Vera Cruz, the city of the True Cross, and so enter Mexico? Or shall we, still crossing the American Mediterranean, land on the Isthmus of Panama and thence, as Pizarro did, voyage along the great Pacific coast to mysterious Peru? Or shall we take steamer to the River Plate, that more prosaic route to the lands of corn and cattle? Or shall we go round the Horn? Perhaps the middle course is best, and, at the isthmus, we will first explore Central America.


Then we may say with the poet Keats:

Oft have I travelled in the Land of Gold
... Or like stout Cortes ... and all his men
Gazed on the Pacific ... silent upon a peak in Darien.

Keats, however, was in error. It was not Cortes, but another who gazed from the peak, as presently we shall see.





On Michaelmas Day, in the year 1513, a Spanish adventurer, surrounded by his followers—they had sailed from Hispaniola, or Santo Domingo, on an expedition of discovery—found himself on the high ridge of the land called Darien. His eyes, seeking the horizon, fell, not on an endless expanse of mountain and forest, such as here might have been expected to stretch away into the unknown solitudes, but upon the sheen of waters. A smothered exclamation fell from his lips. "El Mar!" ("the Sea!") he cried, and he and his followers remained a space in the silence of astonishment.

The Spaniard was Vasco Nuñez de Balboa. It was one of the most dramatic of geographical discoveries. They had but traversed an isthmus, where they had expected a continent—to-day the Isthmus of Panama. They had discovered an ocean; they realized in that moment much that before had been a mystery.


Descending to the shore and wading deep into the waters, Balboa drew his sword, and waving it thereover took possession of that ocean and whatsoever shores it might wash for the King of Spain, naming it the "South Seas," for, from the curvature of the isthmus, he was looking towards the south, having crossed from the north.

Thus was the great Pacific Ocean first beheld by the white man, as far as history records.

We have already seen that Balboa's exploit preceded the Conquest of Mexico. The land of the Aztecs, like that of Peru, was undreamed of, but the discovery of both followed, as did the passage of the Magellan Strait by the explorer whose name it bears, and who first crossed the Pacific, and from its gentle and favouring gales gave it its name.

The discoverer of the isthmus and the great ocean was a hidalgo, and had been Governor of a province, but to escape his creditors in Hispaniola—according to one account—he concealed himself in a barrel on board ship, and so began his voyage. Balboa, pressing into his service a train of Indians, many of whom, it is said, died under the lash in the task, caused the timbers of two vessels to be dragged across the rugged neck of land and launched upon the South Sea, bent upon the discovery of Peru, which, later, Andagoya attempted, but which, however, the fates had reserved for Pizarro. Balboa was afterwards treacherously done to death by Pedrarias Davila, one of the[65] most ruthless of the Spanish adventurers of that time.

Thus did the inhabitants of this region we are now to traverse have their foretaste of the white man's overlordship—a foretaste of the dreadful lot which fate had in store for them, the simple folk of Central America, who, with their ancient culture and beautiful arts, akin in some respects to those of the Aztec and the Inca, were almost stamped out under Pedro de Alvarado, who invaded Guatemala in 1522, and his successors of the early Colonial period.

Seven different States or entities to-day comprise this zone of territory of Central America, washed on the one hand by the Caribbean and on the other by the Pacific, whose people dwell in one of the most beautiful and interesting part of the earth's surface—Guatemala, with its coffee plantations and lavish fruits, Honduras of the rugged surface, and British Honduras, Nicaragua with its great lake, Costa Rica, the one-time "Rich Coast," Salvador, most populous and advanced of all, Panama, the land of the famous Canal.

We may be permitted a brief glance at the ancient inhabitants of this portion of America, prior to the advent of the Spaniards.

As in the case of North America, in Mexico: and South America, in Peru and Colombia, so in Central America was there a ruling caste or culture. Here it was that of the Quiches, a people of Maya stock.

These people were most numerous in Western[66] Guatemala, and at the time of the Conquest the most powerful inhabitants of Central America. The sacred book of the Quiches, known as the Popol Vuh, embodies a mythological cosmogony, in which is a Creation story and an account of a Flood, after the manner of that of the Old Testament. (The Quiches are not to be confounded with the Quechuas of Peru.) Their capital was Utatlan, near where stands the modern Santa Cruz Quiche, and the place was cleverly fortified. Their system of government was an elaborate one, as was their religion. Indeed, the student remarks with surprise how far these early peoples had gone in the development of social polity and economic order. The Quiches, like the Aztecs, kept historical records in picture-writing. The Incas, we may remark in passing, of Peru, kept their histories by means of the quipos, a mnemonic system of knotted and coloured cords.

The Sun God was the chief deity, but there were many lesser objects of adoration. But the religion was of a high order in some respects, although the Spanish priests, after the Conquest, strove to hide the fact, and, indeed, there was wholesale destruction throughout Spanish America of native records and objects, whether it were of the beautiful picture-writings and scrolls of Mexico and Central America, whether the pillars of stone by which the early Peruvian priests skilfully determined the solstices. The jealous priestcraft of the Roman Catholic religion could not tolerate anything that showed ingenuity or knowledge by[67] their pagan predecessors, and all these things they considered, or affected to consider, "things of the devil," and destroyed them wherever possible. The marvel is that so much has remained, for the benefit of the archæologist to-day.

The religion of the Quiches, like that of the Mexicans, contained horrible practices involving human sacrifices. This was probably absent in Peru. Repulsive as it was, we may question whether it was as cruel as the dreadful tortures of the Inquisition, such as rendered Mexico and Lima and other places in the New World centres of horror, until the time of Independence, when the infuriated populace destroyed the Inquisitional centres.

We have previously remarked that Columbus sailed along the Atlantic coast of Central America, that of Honduras and Costa Rica, and it was here that, seeing the ornaments of gold on the swarthy bodies of the natives, the voyagers' imagination was freshly aroused to the possibilities of conquest. But the natives of this region were not necessarily as docile as those of Hispaniola and the Antilles. They mustered on the shore, leaping from the dark forests as the strange sails of the Spaniards hove in sight, communicating rapidly with each tribe by those peculiar methods they employed, and made the air resound with the beatings and blasts of their war-drums and bugle-shells, brandishing their clubs and swords of palm-wood.

Columbus, however, did not generally employ harsh methods against the natives. He is regarded[68] rather as their protector, and a beautiful monument at Colon represents him as sheltering an Indian who timorously looks up for protection—a contrast, as remarked elsewhere, with the lack of monuments in Spanish America to Cortes and Pizarro. However, under Bartholomé Columbus, the brother of Christopher, great animosity was aroused on the part of the Indians in the settlement at Veragua, resulting in the death of the Spanish colonists.

One of the most tragic episodes after the Conquest of Mexico was the expedition of Cortes to Central America, following on the expedition he had sent into Guatemala under Pedro de Alvarado. There had been a desperate fight between Alvarado's band and the redoubtable Quiches of Utatlan, and it was only due to the fortunate circumstance of dissension among the different predominant tribes that the Conquest of Guatemala was so readily carried out. Thus was history, as in Mexico and indeed in Peru, brought about also in Central America—fall under dissension, a house divided against itself.

In Honduras Cortes committed a foul deed. Suspecting, or pretending to suspect, Guahtemoc, the son of Montezuma—who after the fall of Mexico accompanied the conquerors to Central America—of some treacherous design, Cortes had the unfortunate young Aztec hanged head downwards from a tree. It will be recollected that Guahtemoc was the author of the saying, well known in Mexico, of "Am I, think you, upon some[69] bed of roses?" when, whilst the Spaniards were roasting his feet in order to make him reveal the whereabouts of the Aztec treasure, he replied to his companions who were also being tortured and were groaning in agony, and who asked if he too suffered. This scene is depicted on a beautiful sculptured monument in the city of Mexico—the statue to Guahtemoc, in the Paseo de la Reforma.

In the early colonial government of Central America the capital was set up by Alvarado in the chief town of Guatemala. The scenery of the region is striking. Great volcanoes overhang the countryside, and these have at times wrought terrible havoc here, and still do so. In fact, the history of the city of Guatemala is a record of successive destruction and re-establishment, probably unique in the history of any land, due to the dreadful forces of Nature, seismic, tectonic and volcanic, exerted upon this unrestful point of the earth's surface.

We may glance briefly at some of these catastrophes. They show the trials which the inhabitants of this part of the world are called upon to bear.

The first city was established by Alvarado in 1527, on the banks of the Rio Pensativo, at the foot of the Agua volcano, but in 1541 this unfriendly mountain threw from its crater a deluge of water that, carrying rocks with it, rushed down the mountain side and bore upon the doomed city, whose destruction was lighted by the terrible fire which simultaneously burst from the angry peak.


Afterwards the surviving inhabitants removed their city to another site, and for twenty years made solemn annual pilgrimages to the Ciudad Vieja, as the former place came to be called—the old town about a league from the new. This flourished greatly and became the most populous place in Central America, with more than a hundred churches and convents, devoutly administered after the fashion of the Catholic priesthood and pious folk of the Spanish American lands.

But this progress and piety failed to give security from acts of Nature. After being many times threatened, this beautifully built town, in the midst of the most romantic scenery, was destroyed by a dreadful earthquake in 1773—earthquake to which was added the horrors of eruption from the volcano Fuego (or "Fire"), which overlooks it. In vain the people confessed their sins in the open street, in vain priests and people weepingly carried procession of the saints and saintly relics from church to church. The very pavements rose up against them with the undulations of the earthquake; the very heavens rained down showers of stones and ashes upon them, obscuring even the light of the volcano, and morning dawned upon a ruined and broken city with its people crushed beneath the walls of their own dwellings.

The city was moved again twenty-seven miles away, and became the seat of government in 1779—the third attempt, though whether it will be the last remains to be seen, for but a short time ago we heard of serious earthquakes in the district.[71] Lofty mountains rise on every side, with deep ravines on the edge of the tablelands upon which the city stands. The houses have been kept of one story, as a measure of security. The general beauty and prosperity of Guatemala city has earned for it the name of the Paris of Central America. We may reach it by the railway which, starting from Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast, winds upwards to the elevation of 5,000 feet, which is that of the plateau on which it stands, 190 miles from the sea, and continues for a further 75 miles to San José on the Pacific.



Vol I. To face p. 70.

Guatemala is a land rich in natural resources, with fruitful plains and valleys, and the peculiar volcanic constituents of the soil are specially favourable for the production of coffee, which has been the source of considerable wealth. There are vast plains and extensive lakes, and innumerable rivers and streams. Many valuable kinds of wood exist in the forests, and such products as cocoa, sugar-cane, tobacco, bananas, and oranges, with other less common kinds are plentiful. There are some small deposits of gold and other precious and commoner metals. The climate is excellent, except on the coast.

But this fruitfulness and bounty of Nature is not conducive necessarily to peace among the people of the land. Rather the restlessness of Nature, as evinced by earthquake unrest, is reflected in the politics and general economy of the Republic. The colonial civilization, which was marked by the destruction of the Indians and their[72] more or less beneficent old civilization, and the enslavement of many tribes, with total extermination in some cases, was succeeded by a republic in which pretenders and dictators strove with each other, less to advance the interests of the country than to satisfy their own ambitions and fill their own pockets. There were, too, constant embroilments with the neighbouring States, and bloody local wars. Some of the presidents, however, did endeavour, side by side with their other activities, to promote education and commerce, and to improve the means of transport and communication—ever a vital matter in Spanish America, with its rugged soil and vast extent.

We find in Guatemala many remains of the ancient folk, in beautifully carved stelæ, in innumerable idols recovered from the soil, and in the native arts, which, evincing the dexterity and love of beauty of the aboriginal, have happily survived both the destructive force of the Hispanic domination and, so far, the equally destructive forces of modern commercialism, which ousts their industries with imported goods.

In Quetzaltenango, the ancient "Town of the Green Feather"—the Quetzal was the sacred bird of the Quiches—we shall specially remark the native aptitudes in their quaint and pleasing handicrafts. If these quiet and peaceful folk—for the natives themselves are peaceful enough—are from time to time disturbed by the subterranean roarings which precede earthquake shocks in the hills and the tidal waves upon the coast, they soon[73] forget these manifestations of Nature, which, after all, are less destructive than those due to the political ambition and ruthless cruelties of mankind itself.

The characteristics, natural and human, which we have remarked in the northern part of Central America, as represented by the Republic of Guatemala, are found in varying degree in the sister States extending to the south. The general topography of the isthmian region which Central America embodies is that of a long backbone of mountainous highlands extending from Tehuantepec for eight hundred miles to the South American mainland. The physiography of the region, however, is associated with that of the Antilles rather than the northern and southern land masses, and its belts of volcanoes correspond to those of the West Indies.

In earlier geological times the region probably consisted of isolated stretches of land and mountains, and before man appeared upon the earth there may have been not one but several isthmian "canals" or apertures, with the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific intermixing therein. Alternately rising and sinking—as evidenced by the "drowned" Valley of the Chagres, on the site of the Panama Canal, the land took on its present form, in which, however, it may be that final stability is not yet reached. It is fervently to be hoped, however, that the particular belt traversed by the Panama Canal will remain immune from any earth movements, for that great work of human[74] ingenuity, carried out at such enormous cost, might otherwise be rendered useless in a single instant.

Panama, however, forms the extreme south of Central America, and we must cast a glance at the sequence of States below Guatemala.

Honduras is a land of considerable area, but among the most backward portions of the region. The efforts of its Government to encourage economic and commercial development have not been very well sustained and successful, and there are only two towns in the Republic of any size, one of which is the ancient capital Tegucigalpa, picturesquely situated upon its river in an amphitheatre of the hills, for Honduras is essentially a land of mountains and depths, as its name signifies. The great grassy plain of Comayagua, however, which extends across the country, upon which great herds of cattle feed, redeems the land from too broken a condition. The city of Comayagua was in earlier times the capital, but it was ruined by the wars of the Central American Federation, when, after an endeavour to establish some form of political unification quarrels set in.

This little-known Republic has a long frontage upon the Atlantic side, but only a few miles on the Pacific, which, however, affords it an outlet of corresponding importance at the picturesque seaport of Amapala, on the beautiful Bay of Fonseca. Indeed, this condition, of straddling a continent, as it were, is one enjoyed by all the Central American States, with the exception of Salvador, which lies between the Pacific and the[75] backbone of the highlands. Otherwise, Honduras is unfortunate in its means of communication: its railways are few and short; its roads are difficult of construction over the broken topography, and in the absence of national funds and private enterprise; and an attempt made of recent years to inaugurate services of motor-cars did not meet with success. However, a railway across from sea to sea should be of national value, and the wealth of the country, both agricultural and mineral, may become more intensively developed.

The name of Honduras is almost a byword for revolution, which occurs with marked regularity.

The colony or possession of British Honduras lies in a commanding position between its neighbours of Guatemala and Mexico on the west and north, facing, on the Atlantic Ocean—under its local name here of the Caribbean Sea—towards the important island of Jamaica, some 600 miles away.

Belize, as this foothold of the British Empire is otherwise termed, is about the size of Wales, and not unhealthy in comparison with the other British possessions of tropical America. It is well endowed with a wide variety of natural resources and potentialities, but it cannot be said that its economic progress is commensurate with its position. One of the neglected offspring of Britain, it is, like Demerara, an example of British national and governmental supineness. It might have been supposed that a people such as those of the United Kingdom, urgently requiring for their teeming[76] millions of folk the things in foodstuffs and material that the Tropics produce—things of the grocer's shop and the store cupboard—would have demanded a more vigorous administration and development of this piece of national property, but it is doubtful if one in a hundred would know where or what British Honduras is.

We cannot here dwell at length upon its possibilities and attractions. Approaching the capital, Belize, from the sea, we pass the green islands that fringe the coast, and extending along the banks of the river we see the high roofs and wide verandas of the houses and remark the coco-palm's grateful shade. Often an invigorating breeze blows from the sea, the same gales that crisp the surf at Colon, which the traveller will inevitably note, and this and the high tides wash the fever-bearing mangrove swamps and marshes, rendering them less unhealthy than otherwise would be the case. The inhabitants are grateful for these tonic breezes from the east upon this coastal belt.

This belt gives place in the interior to savannas, pasture lands and forests of useful timber, which latter is cut for export; and beyond are the Cockscomb Mountains, the birthplace of numerous streams.

In this interior region of British Honduras there lie the remains of an ancient culture area, ruins of buildings such as we see in Yucatan, the adjacent part of Mexico, and in Guatemala on the west. They appear to show the existence of a larger population in pre-Colombian times—part of[77] that undoubtedly clever and industrious ancient folk of Central America who have so entirely disappeared.

To the buccaneers of the Spanish Main the colony largely owes its origin, and to the logwood cutters. The coloured folk here are some of the most expert woodmen in the world, and we see the results of their labour in the rafts of timber—pine, cedar and dyewood—being piloted down the flood of the Belize River. These people are descendants of the buccaneers, people of European blood forming part of the population, the majority of which is composed of a mixture, the descendants of negro slaves, Indian and white settlers. There is, of course, a small purely white class, official, colonial and commercial, under colony government from Britain.

The natural products here most in evidence are the timbers, together with bananas and other characteristic fruits, and coconuts, rubber, coffee, cotton and fibre-producing plants; and gold and other minerals are found and worked in small degree.

It might perhaps be said that a description of British Honduras is out of place in a book such as the present, treating of Spanish America. But geographical considerations would not thus be denied. Further, this little outpost of the British Empire, if it should always remain such, cannot fail to influence, and to be influenced by, the Spanish American civilization around it. It might under better development accomplish much good[78] in this respect, if the policy of drift were abandoned. A North American traveller who had journeyed across the Central American Republics and had been badgered unceasingly by revolutionary strife there, and by customs-house officers and others of the bureaucracy of those States, once exclaimed that the only peaceful moment of his journey was when he at length entered the confines of a portion of "that hated British monarchy"—British Honduras! This may have been an exaggeration, but held something of truth.

The little Republic of Salvador, as already remarked, lies upon the Pacific side of this interesting isthmian region of Central America, but, small in size, it is the most thickly populated and perhaps the most prosperous and advanced of all this group of States. Its capital, San Salvador, may be regarded as a fine example of Spanish American culture, and, with its buildings and institutions, would compare more than favourably with a European or North American town. The climate and general character of the uplands upon which it is situated, and the social atmosphere of the place, are pleasing.

But the Pacific littoral is of that low and monotonous character characteristic of the western slope of much of Central America, and as a consequence the ports are often difficult of access through shoal water and heavy surf. The interior is gained either from La Libertad or Acajutla, by railway to the capital, ascending to 2,000 feet above the sea.


The Republic shares with Honduras and Nicaragua the beautiful Bay of Fonseca, but this beauty is characteristically associated with natural terrors, for not far inland arises the dreaded San Miguel volcano, one of the worst burning mountains of Central America, ever threatening the life of the capital. Upon this bay lies La Union, the chief port of Salvador.

The Republic prides itself, and not unjustly, upon the freedom of its life politically. But it is by no means immune from the inevitable factional strife of Central America, the ambition of dictators and the evils brought about by such corruption of self-government. However, many foreigners carry on successful businesses in the capital.

The population tends to increase with some rapidity, and we shall remark the much smaller proportion of Indians found here; the bulk of the people, the Ladinos, being a mixture of white and Indian, distributed throughout a number of pleasing secondary towns, and, in the country districts, are engaged in the production of coffee, sugar, tobacco and other characteristic resources; whilst the hills afford them those minerals with which the region in general is dowered, with some mining establishments, which, as usual, are controlled by foreigners.

The economic life of Salvador is too greatly dependent upon European markets and financial centres; upon the export of coffee thereto; upon the elevation or depression of such markets—a[80] condition, of course, common to many Spanish American States, but which a better-ordered regimen will seek to rectify.

We might wander long through the beautiful scenery of Salvador, enjoying the grand and imposing aspect of its volcanoes, the beauty of its valleys and streams, for this part of Central America is famed, or rather should be famed, for the beauty of the landscape. Quaint towns and curious products, the quiet and in some respects pleasant life of its folk, the budding industries, and a certain promise for the future leave a pleasant impression upon the mind of the traveller in this little State facing the broad Pacific.

Of the Republic of Nicaragua, which we may approach either from the Atlantic or the Pacific, and which is the largest of this group of States, many dismal descriptions have been given. It is described as economically and in civic conditions the most backward. Yet some of its towns are fine places. Leon was described as a splendid city by travellers in 1665, and about that period the very active buccaneer Dampier gathered rich booty from it. Granada, founded by Cordova in 1523, was also one of the richest cities in Central America, and it, too, gave up its toll of booty to the corsairs. The Cathedral of Leon is one of the most noteworthy, massive and ornate of the great stone temples with which the Spaniards endowed the New World, typical of the colonial architecture which redeems these centres of life from the prosaic vulgarity of some other lands.



Vol. I. To face p. 80.


We may visit these towns from the line of railway which runs from Corinto, the chief seaport on the Pacific coast.

The capital of the Republic, the city of Managua, is of less interesting character, and was, in a measure, raised to that position in order to put an end to the rivalry between Leon and Granada, both of which claimed metropolitan predominance. It is situated upon the great lake of Nicaragua, the most prominent topographical feature of this part of Central America, and which, it will be recollected, was at one time destined to form part of the waterway of a proposed trans-isthmian canal in place of that of Panama.

This great lake valley and its adjacent highlands form the most plentifully inhabited part of Nicaragua, as the Spanish colonial development seized first upon its more fertile soil, watered by the lake and streams. This civilization entered the country from the Pacific side, from which we remark the grim and distant ramparts of the Central American Cordillera, with its volcanoes intervening between the western versant and littoral, and the low, monotonous and swampy region of the east, and the Mosquito Coast bordering upon the Atlantic. The Pacific coast here is bold and rocky, with a headland enclosing the Bay of Fonseca in Nicaraguan territory.

Through the Cordillera flows the San Juan River, draining this low eastern slope, and here lay the[82] route of the projected Nicaraguan Canal, whose abandonment caused bitter disappointment to the people of the Republic.

In places in this wild land we remark the remains of the pre-Colombian folk, who have left vestiges of their temples and other structures, and thus we realize once more how a chain of temple and palace-building folk in ancient times was carried down the length of the continents from Mexico to Peru.

If too gloomy a description of the eastern side of Nicaragua has been given, this must be tempered by noting that it possesses certain natural advantages which may render it one of the most valuable districts, from an economic point of view, in the whole of Central America. Its rivers may be navigated by ocean-going steamers, and in the Bluefields district the industry of banana production and shipment has risen to very considerable importance.

The name of Nicaragua comes from that powerful native chief, Nicoya, who, when the Spaniards first arrived, received Davila, their leader, in a friendly spirit, and accepted Christian baptism at the hands of the Roman Catholic priests. But the Spaniards overran the country; those who invaded it from the east clashing with their own countrymen who came in from the west, and Nicaragua's fine Indian chief—pathetic page of native history—could not conserve here anything of independence for the rightful owners of the soil.


The Spanish rulers of this unhappy land were a dreadful band, of which it has been recorded that "the first had been a murderer, the second a murderer and a rebel, the third murdered the second, the fourth was a forger, the fifth a murderer and a rebel!"

In time the Indians revolted against intolerable oppression, and, later, rebellion after rebellion took place against the Mother Country. After Independence, the Wars of the Confederation constantly deluged the soil with blood, and the political government of the State was distinguished by a continuous series of military or civil revolts, during which the land was impoverished, debased and ruined, and from whose effects it has never recovered so far.

Yet Nicaragua is rich in natural products, agricultural, forestal and mineral.

Famous in local history is the name of the North American filibuster, William Walker, who for a space became president, and the doings of this man and his band are stirringly adventurous. The traveller will also recollect the long British Protectorate over the Mosquito Coast.

But few remember that Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, nearly met his death from fever in Nicaragua. The great sailor, sent to report upon the prospect of a canal, stated his intention of occupying Lake Nicaragua, which in his opinion was "the inland Gibraltar of Spanish America," whose possession would permanently sunder Spanish America into two parts. But Nature was[84] against it. Nelson and his force ascended the river to the lake and successfully attacked the Spanish force. He was wounded by a cannon shot, fired by a sixteen-year-old girl, wife of a Spanish officer, and the maid was rewarded for the act by her people.

Of Nelson's army of two hundred men all but ten perished of fever, and left their bones in the soil of Nicaragua.

In the adjoining States of Costa Rica and Panama we are approaching the narrowing, curving form of the isthmus, whose topography culminates in the famous neck of land which joins the twin continents of America together, and which has been severed to give access between the world's greatest oceans, in the great Canal.

Whence the name of Costa Rica? Their eyes ever sharp to the glint of gold, the Spaniards who approached Central America from the sea immediately remarked that the swarthy forms of the Indians were decorated with trinkets of yellow metal. The savages wore earrings of gold, which dangled invitingly from their scared countenances when the bearded and armoured white warriors approached, and there was little ceremony in the transference of ownership. "This is a rich coast! This is Costa Rica!" the Spaniards exclaimed.

Indeed, it was part of the old culture area of Chiriqui, whose folk were clever producers of native jewellery in gold and precious stones. Pedro de Alvarado called the whole region, including Salvador, Cuscatan, the native Mexican[85] name, meaning "Land of precious stones, of treasures and abundance." But here in Costa Rica the greedy Iberians found disappointingly little gold, except for these trinkets. This region was the limit of the Maya civilization.

To-day Costa Rica is a flourishing little State, with fertile soil and bright sunshine, with many luscious fruits, with food in plenty, famous for its splendid coffee, special product of the volcanic earth: a land of small peasant owners, upon which is founded some political stability and civic prosperity, an example to other Spanish American States, where oligarchies monopolize the countryside, and the labourer dwells in peonage.

The Pacific coast here displays as we approach it, bold headlands and broad bays, among them the Gulf of Nicoya, the home of that pious-minded Indian chief, who, as before described, gave his name to the adjoining State of Nicaragua. Studded with richly wooded islands, and famous for its purple-yielding murex (the beautiful ancient dye of the whelk), its pearls and mother-of-pearl, is this bay, from which, leaving our steamer at the port of Punta Arenas, we may ascend by railway to the pleasing capital of San José de Costa Rica, on a plateau between the Cordillera at an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet above the ocean.

Here we are in a well-advanced city, the amenities of whose public life are creditable to Central America. The line runs on and descends to Puerto Limon, on the Atlantic, thus crossing the isthmus.


But, like its neighbours, Costa Rica stands perennially in awe of the volcanoes which top the summit of the Cordillera. Turialba, ever hot and angry, and Poas are among these, pouring forth smoke and vapour.

Let us take our stand a moment on Irazu, 11,000 feet above the sea—we may reach it on horseback—higher than the summit of the Pyrenees, and looking east and west remark the vast horizons which unfold below: on the one hand we see the gleaming waters of the Atlantic, on the other those of the Pacific, whilst, between, the whole expanse of the country unfolds. Here, indeed, may the inhabitant of Costa Rica cast a glance over the whole domain of his patria, and let fancy wander over the realms of ocean towards Europe and Asia.

Costa Rica was peopled largely by Spaniards from Galicia, but the bulk of the folk are to-day Ladinos or Mestizos, and, where the native tribes have not been exterminated, there are Indians still in complete savagery. The land is one of the healthiest in the region we are treading, and its products of fruits and foods, of timber, tortoise-shell, rubber, cedar, mahogany, ebony, and great stores of bananas, give to the land a further claim to the name of the Rich Coast.

And now our vessel floats upon the beautiful Bay of Panama, studded with verdant isles, and if perchance it be the sunset hour the flashing colour of the sky may light up the towers of the old colonial city near its shore, a romantic haven,[87] whose memories of Drake and of the cruel Morgan, of Nuñez de Balboa, of Pizarro, and all that gallery of bygone adventurers who made the history of the New World upon these tropic shores. The sun does not rise, however, in the Bay of Panama, but sets, for the curvature of the isthmus has disoriented us, at Panama.



Vol. I. To face p. 86.

This independent Republic of Panama threw off its allegiance to Colombia, whose heritage the isthmus was, in a grandiloquent manifesto after the—alleged—machinations of the Americans, who, wearied of the dilatory tactics of the parent State, laid hands on the isthmus to carry out their cherished plan of making the Canal. "Just as a son withdraws from his paternal roof, so the isthmian people, in adopting the destiny they have chosen, do so with grief, but in compliance with the supreme and inevitable duty the country owes to itself. Upon separating from our brethren of Colombia, we do so without hatred and without joy." So ran the manifesto.

But the people of Bogata, of Colombia, consider that an unspeakable outrage was perpetuated upon them, and regard the United States and its then President, Roosevelt, as its author—an outrage which time will take long to heal.

We shall see something of the doings of the immortal Drake in our journey down the great Pacific coast of South America, undertaken in another chapter.

The Panama Isthmus was to Drake a vantage point, from which he viewed a promised land.[88] After his attack on Nombre de Dios, a fugitive slave—a cimarron—conducted him and his followers to the summit of the isthmian hills. There lay before Drake the gleaming waters of the vast Pacific, as they had lain before Balboa. Drake fell on his knees. He prayed to sail those waters in an English ship. It was partly his destined work of "Singeing the King of Spain's beard." Back to England he went. The commission which Queen Elizabeth had given him to sail the Spanish Main had been honourably accomplished, even if the Spaniards at Cartagena and elsewhere did not so regard it. The queen must extend the charter to the Pacific. She did it, and Drake's exploits there and return home westwards are among the most thrilling annals of those "spacious days."

Hear a tale now of Morgan the buccaneer, and Panama, and the dreadful things that befel that city. Young Morgan, born in Wales, kidnapped for a sailor in the streets of Bristol, also sailed the Spanish Main. Drake was a gentleman; Morgan seems to have been a bloody-minded corsair. At thirty-three years of age he sacked Porto Bello, committing frightful cruelties and excesses. But at Panama he surpassed himself. Yet praise must be given him for his bravery and resource.

Ascending the Chagres River from Colon in boats, with a dreadful struggle over the hills, Morgan and his men, like Drake and Balboa, beheld the Pacific beyond. Whether he prayed[89] for success or not history does not record. But there lay the rich city of Panama. It must be taken. It was defended by hundreds of Spaniards. But Morgan had taken Chagres and killed three hundred Spaniards there, and double his own number at Panama did not daunt him. Down they went to Panama. The enterprise was a tough one, but the result may be seen to-day in the massive ruins of the old city, a sight for sightseers, buried in the jungle some miles from the present city. For within a few hours the buccaneers attacked and slew its defenders and burned the place with fire, leaving but an empty shell, having robbed it of its treasure, excepting that which an escaping plate ship bore safely from his clutches.

It has been said in extenuation of Morgan's doings here that the place was in reality burned by the Indians and the slaves, who were animated by the most bitter hatred of the Spaniards, and were quite ready to assist the Englishmen.

The isthmus resounded for more than a century with the tramp of mules bearing gold and silver from the Pacific plate ships; the treasures of Peru, of Bolivia, the pearls of Nicoya and the isles, the gold and silver stripped from the Inca temples, the silver bars from Potosi, the silver mountain of the Andes. Along that dreadful trail the mule-trains groaned their way. It was a rough road for horsemen.

The trail became, as time went on, one of the world's greatest trade routes, under the development[90] of the Spanish Colonies. We have seen how the great Nelson hoped to split these colonies in two by establishing a "Gibraltar" on Lake Nicaragua. A toll of human life has been paid upon this rugged path for every human movement over it. Has it not been said that for every sleeper in the first Panama railway a human being died in the terrors of construction? If it is not true, it is true that of the eight hundred Chinamen who left the Flowery Kingdom to build the line—labourers who knew nothing of the horrors that awaited them in this fever death-bed—many committed suicide. Crowds of labouring peasantry from Ireland found here, too, a more emerald grave, and hordes of negroes filled up with their poor bodies any vacant tombs.

Punishment fell upon this railway, for, according to an American writer, it degenerated until its rails "became nothing but two streaks of rust."

Another tale of Darien the fateful: Listen, ye sons of Scotia, to the story of one William Paterson, and his New Edinburgh. Not content with having founded the Bank of England, Paterson must fight the great East India Company, and with another enterprising "interloper" he got over-subscribed, a company with a capital of £600,000, and set sail for the isthmus "amid the tears and prayers" of half Scotland. The new settlement was "to hold the key of the world's commerce." "Universal free trade" with all the world was to be maintained; all differences of race and religion were to be annulled in this Utopia.[91] Death, fever, loss, the attacks of the Spaniards and complete disaster—such was the answer of Fate to their enterprise, and of the two thousand trustful souls who left the Clyde in the closing year of the seventeenth century for this desired haven of the Spanish Main, a few hundreds alone returned to tell the tale.

Paterson's idea was in reality that of a great empire-builder. It was a magnificent scheme, and only lacked the element of success. England might have possessed another India, and in the New World. The Scotch were fully alive to the position, but the English were stupid, and lost an enormous opportunity.

The making of the Panama Canal has greatly appealed to the imagination of the world, although its triumph, in a spectacular sense, was interfered with by the rise of the Great War. Here was a wild isthmus which cut off the Atlantic from the Pacific, Europe from Asia to the west. An isthmus which, whilst it formed a barrier between two oceans, did not, nevertheless, serve as a bridge between two continents: those of North and South America. Its construction is an epic of engineering, and, be it added, of medical skill, for without the latter the former would have been of no avail. What has been picturesquely described as the "Conquest of the mosquito," also the conquest of malaria and yellow fever, enabled this work to be done. Formerly the traveller hurried fearfully from his steamer at Colon by rail across the neck to Panama, and if his journey lay beyond to his[92] steamer at Panama, anxious to leave the deadly region as soon as were possible. Now no such anxiety marks his journey.

The fight against the natural obstacles to the work—those of climate, of inefficient labour, of mountainous cuttings, of floods, of finance and political intrigue, and all else, was brought to an end—or mainly so—in November 1913, four hundred years after Balboa's dramatic discovery of the Pacific from the "Peak in Darien"; when a vast concourse of people witnessed the great explosion that blew up the last barrier, and a small steamer, the little French steamboat Louise, which, twenty-five years before had conveyed de Lesseps to turn the first sod, passed completely, on its own keel, across from Atlantic to Pacific waters—an act of American courtesy to France.

Several lessons were learned by the construction of the Panama Canal. One was that corruption and inertia among officials will ruin all effort, as it did with the French—who, however, did very valuable work on the Canal. Another that, with modern appliances and just methods, even so stupendous a work could be carried to success, even in the face of enormous natural obstacles; that the obstacles raised by Nature are less formidable than those man raises himself.

Another lesson was in the methods of overcoming the dreadful tropical diseases of yellow fever and malaria.

The last lesson was in the treatment of labour, in this case that of the negro; a matter of much[93] importance to all tropical lands, which may justify here a few words.

A great part of the labour employed on the Canal, in fact, the majority of it later, was that of the West Indian negro, largely from Barbadoes. But it was soon found that this labour was very inefficient. The negro would not or could not "put his back" into the work. In 1906 an American commission appointed to investigate conditions, reported upon the impossibility of concluding the job with negro labour. "Not only do they seem to be disqualified by lack of actual vitality, but their disposition to labour seems to be as frail as their bodily strength," ran the report. The negro was, in fact, roundly cursed as a lazy or incapable hound.

But some, wiser than others, thought there must be a cause below this inertia. Such, indeed, was found to be the case. It was shown that the negro either could not afford, or was too idle to prepare, proper food for himself; in short, that he was ill-nourished. A few bananas, and whatever else the difficult conditions of the isthmus afforded, formed his meals. It was then resolved that he must be properly fed and housed. A commissariat was set up, at which the negro was obliged to take his meals, and the bare cost was deducted from his wages. No profit was to be made. The system answered admirably; the actual cost was found to be only thirty cents American money, equal to about one shilling and threepence, for a day's board of good food. The result was that[94] the negro performed entirely satisfactory labour, and he practically built the Canal.

Many writers have sung of the deeds of the Canal building, which must always furnish a thrilling story of the triumph of human genius, and we need not enter upon it here.

The Great War over, the American fleet—which had played a valuable and noble part—accomplished, in July 1919, a spectacular passage of the Canal, which brings us to-day again to realize the strategic value of the waterway. Some two hundred vessels of war, flying the Stars and Stripes, including six Dreadnoughts, embodying the American Pacific fleet, entered the eastern end of the Canal as the sun was rising in the Spanish Main. But before the orb of day had turned its "westering wheel" into the bosom of the Pacific, the great procession had passed through the Canal and was ruffling the waters of that great sea, thus accomplishing in a few hours, a passage which the battleship Oregon, during the American war with Spain in 1898, had taken nearly two weeks to make, around the South American Continent.

The Americans have fortified the Canal, but blockading would be in contravention of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty with England; and indeed it is to be hoped and believed that the United States will prove a conscientious guardian of her charge and creation. Yet the future may have much in store in this region for good or ill.

Enthusiastic descriptions of the possibility of the Canal to commerce have been written, in the shortening[95] of distances, in the "shrinkage of the world," and there is no doubt of its great utility, which it is not, however, needful to exaggerate. Since the project was conceived and executed, the world has learned that more than the passage of armaments and argosies of merchandise are requisite for the stability and progress of mankind.

A glance now at the general life of the people of these States.[6]

In the aggregate the population numbers somewhat over five million souls, but they tend to increase more rapidly than others of the Spanish American countries, or at least in some of the Republics, for the native women are prolific, and mortality is low, due to the comparatively easy conditions of life and the beneficence of Nature. In some districts illegitimacy, both among whites and Indians, is very marked, and the economic condition in a modern sense is a low one. Primary education is generally compulsory, the Governments generally making considerable parade of educational intentions, but, withal, only a small proportion of the population can read and write. Naturally this is true mainly of the Indian and lower class mixed race.

As to food, this is mainly such vegetable products as maize, beans and bananas, and at times jerked meat. Excessive drinking is a frequent attribute of all Spanish American folk of the working classes, and it is not in the financial interests[96] of their masters to stint the supply of liquors, the fiery aguadientes or spirits, which are so remunerative a product of the sugar-cane plantations, possessions of the large landowners frequently. The Indians are generally a peaceful folk, however, except when under the influence of liquor, and they have many good qualities, which it is time should now be more beneficently and wisely fostered by those in whose hands their destiny so greatly lies.

The Central American States are dowered, as regards Nature, with almost everything that could make a people happy and prosperous. The varying elevations of their lands above sea-level afford every variety of climate, and consequently of food product and industrial material. They can enjoy their own beef and corn, produced in their highlands, or, descending to the torrid strip of their coasts, gather coffee, cocoa, bananas, oranges, sugar-cane, and a variety of fruits which tempt both the eye and the palate. As for their minerals, the precious metals of gold and silver in the hills could provide sufficient for their uses and to spare, the baser for manufactures. The timber of the forests is rich and varied, the fibrous plants are of innumerable uses.

The noble landscapes which open to the view, of wooded mountains and majestic peak, of romantic river valley, and the blue line of the tropic sea, are such as might well bring out those attributes of the poet and the artist which exist in the Spanish American mentality.

In brief, there are here, in each State, the elements[97] of a quiet and pleasing existence, far, it is true, from the world's more ambitious centres, but nevertheless capable of producing peace and plenty. Alas! however, for the unsettled temperament which cannot yet assimilate the bounties of Providence in such method as shall ensure their equitable enjoyment.



Vol. I. To face p. 96.

To the foreign traveller, Central America might afford an extremely pleasing field of travel. There is a charm in the remains of the prehistoric American cultures, the carved walls of the old temples, the buried idols, the ancient industries. Restful and quaint are these little towns with the stamp of the Spanish Colonial architecture. Here man and Nature soon forget the bloodshed and the enmity of the torn and stained pages of history. The simple folk of the countryside are full of courtesy, the needs of life are cheap and plentiful, for the earth is bountiful. All these are elements which impress themselves upon the mind of the traveller here.

This, then, is Central America, that region so slightly known to the world outside that, as elsewhere remarked, its very geographical position is often a matter of doubt. But, in the future—it may be distant—it cannot be doubted that, with its advantages, the region must play a more important part in the developing world.

Three Latin American island-Republics enclose the Caribbean Sea and Spanish Main to the north: those of Cuba, Hayti, and Santo Domingo, upon which, however, we cannot here dilate at length.


Nature has, in general, endowed these regions of the Antilles with great beauty, but man, in their past history, has made them the scene of the utmost cruelty, first by the Spaniards, in the ill-treatment and extermination of the gentle and harmless natives, and second, in the slave trade.

Cuba stretches its long, thin bulk from the Yucatan Strait, off the Mexican coast, and the line is continued by the Island of Hayti, containing the Republic of that name, the famous Hispaniola of the days of the Conquistadores, now a French-speaking negro State, and Santo Domingo, whose capital, the oldest settlement in the New World, founded in 1496, may be regarded as the most perfect example of a sixteenth-century Spanish town. Its cathedral contains the reputed burial place of Columbus.

No countries in the world excel these lands in the variety and richness of their tropical products, and in the beauty of their scenery. Havana, the handsome capital of Cuba, was the last stronghold of Spain in America, the Spanish flag flying there until the time of the war between Spain and the United States in 1899. The American attitude towards Cuba revealed the wisdom and generosity of the great Anglo-Saxon Republic.

Our way now lies to the north, into Mexico, that buffer-state between the Spanish American and the Anglo - American civilizations, which, upon its frontier, roll together but do not mingle.




Of all the lands of the New World, none perhaps has impressed itself more on the imagination than the picturesque and enigmatical land of Mexico. It seems to stand, in our thoughts of distant countries, apart from all others, a riddle we cannot read, surrounded by a halo or mist of unreality, a region vague and shadowy as its Toltec ancestors.

Perhaps this view has in part arisen from the description of the Conquest by famous writers, which so greatly interested our forbears of the Victorian period, and by the romantic story-writers of the same era. But these matters alone would not account for the hazy atmosphere surrounding the old land of the Aztecs, which even the prosaic matters of trade and finance do not seem to lift. There are many English and American folk with commercial interests in Mexico, who draw perhaps, or in happier times there have drawn, dividends from their investment in mine, or railway, or other enterprise; but even this material standpoint fades into intangibility before the endeavour to form a true mental image of the land.


Who are the Mexicans, where does their country lie, what language do they speak, what dress do they wear? Geography and ethnology will furnish us with the most exact replies; the books of travellers will fill in abundant detail, but nevertheless, Mexico remains for us an enigma.

We shall not hope here successfully to dispel this mystery, even though we may have been there, traversed its varied surface, and lived among its people. To say that Mexico is the Egypt of the New World, whilst it is not untrue, is to deepen the atmosphere. The sandalled Indian creeps across his desert sands and irrigates them with his native torrents as he did in centuries past, lives in his wattle or adobe hut, and, if he no longer worships the sun, at least he stands before its morning rays to embrace its warmth—el capa de los pobres ("the poor man's cloak")—for poverty denies him other comfort. The rich man is clothed in fine textures of European model and may dwell in a palace, but beneath his modernized exterior are traits of the Orient, and the blood of the Moor, the Goth, the Vandal, the Roman, the Celt, the Semite, brought hither in the Spaniard, is mingled with that of the Aztec, who lived upon the great plateau and built his temples of strange and bloody worship.

No other American nation constitutes so wide a blending of original races. Spain itself was a veritable crucible of languages, peoples and creeds, whilst aboriginal Mexico contained a large number of tribes, each with their particular culture, or lack[101] of such.[7] For Mexico, it is to be recollected, was not a land like the United States or Canada, which contained, relatively, but a few bands of Indians, without any particular form of government or developed institutions.

The grandees of Spain came out to rule this diversified land, and they did not disdain to make it their home. Spain gave it of her best often, with capable legislators, laws; the Ley de Indias, enacted for the benefit of the colonies, and erudite professors and devout—over-devout—ecclesiastics; and these often carried out their work with patriotism and fervency. Although it is not yet, the student of history will be fain to think that out of this seed a good growth must in the future come to being, and this we may say without any unnecessary apologetics for Mexico.

But what, we may ask, is the influence here, that throws back this fruitful land from time to time to anarchy, and makes its name a byword?

Disorder and treachery periodically arises, dictator succeeds dictator, revolution follows revolution, and the country's soil, whether in the streets of its capital, whether upon its desert plains or in its tropic valleys, is drenched with the blood of its own sons. The results of thirty years of a constructive national policy which Diaz gave, the hopes[102] and pretensions of a high civilization, laboriously built up, sink down to nought, revert to the conditions of that dreadful half-century that followed upon Independence, from which stand forth the names—noble and ignoble—of Iturbide, Maximilian, Juarez, or Morelos. What ails this strange land? Is it capable of no better life?

In reply, Mexico is a land following the inevitable law of reaping what it has sown, and both the sowing and the reaping are but exaggerated forms of processes that are affecting the world at large. Judgment must not be too heavily passed upon Mexico as a whole, for, as I shall later show, a whole nation must not be condemned by reason of some of its nationals.

Mexico, like all Spanish American States, is at the mercy, politically and economically, of certain small sections of the people. Government is of an oligarchy in normal times, which often abuses its position. The bulk of the people have neither art nor part in their own governance. The ballot box is too often a delusion and a snare. A turbulent or ambitious element can seize power at any moment by a golpe de estado (a coup d'état). The upper and refined class, which, be it said, is the equivalent of and as well-informed often as that in Europe, stand aloof from political revolution and disturbance, and would be the last to commit the excesses which bring execration upon the country's name. The educated Mexican has all the traditions of the caballero, the gentleman; the Mexican lady is refined, devout, delicate and tenderhearted.[103] The peon and the Indian are not turbulent, but well-meaning and generally industrious.

These matters we shall further consider; for the moment let us pass on to survey the land itself, to traverse its wide and diversified surface, with its many elements of beauty, interest and utility.

Here, then, is a land of vast extent, in which various European countries could be contained; stretching from the borders of Central America northward to those of the United States, two thousand miles long upon its major axis, shaped upon the map like a cornucopia, washed on one side by the Atlantic, on the other by the Pacific, and containing within itself every resource of Nature which could make for plenty and progress. Its southern half lies within the Tropics, but consisting in great part of an elevated tableland, where the diurnal range of temperature—from the heat of the day to the cold of the night—is so considerable that latitude we find is not a reliable guide to climate.

This great plateau, whose escarpments, viewed as we approach from either side present the appearance of mountains, is in large part sterile, treeless, and without rivers of importance or navigability. But it is crossed by ranges of steely-blue hills and intersected by fertile valleys, where agriculture is carried on under irrigation—an ancient art by means of canals fed from the intermittent streams. Cacti, strange and gaunt, clothe it by nature, but there are large coniferous forests upon the mountain slopes in places.


Do we approach the country from the north, by the railway lines from the United States border, we traverse deserts among the most dreadful of the New World, deserts yet with a certain cruel beauty of their own, where once the Apache roamed—cruellest and most horrible of all the world's savage folk.

But Nature has disposed along this high plateau, vast, fabulously vast mineral wealth, and from the famous mines of Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Durango, Potosi, Aguascalientes, Pachuca; and places—some of them noble towns, dowered with royal charters before the Mayflower sailed for New England—silver and gold poured forth to fill the needy coffers of Spain. Later, the English shareholder tried his hands upon the "mother-lode" with varying fortune, and copper, iron and other metals also came like magic from the rocks of this great wilderness.

On the eastern and western versants of the country, and in the south, we encounter a different landscape. Here Nature smiles. In places it may be hot and humid, perhaps malarious, with tangled forests. But rich vegetation, gorgeous flora and profuse animal life—bird, insect, reptile—abound. Here are fruitful plains and valleys, vast sugar-cane plantations, luscious fruits of kinds unknown to the world outside—among them the mamey, the "fruit of the Aztec kings," with orange and banana groves, coffee gardens, cocoa-trees, yielding the chocolatl of the Aztecs, rubber-trees with elegant foliage, whilst above, the graceful coco-palm rears[105] its stately column and feathery plume high against the azure sky.



Vol. I. To face p. 104.

Here, indeed, is a region where it might have been supposed that man could dwell in peace and plenty, with a minimum of toil and ambition, of care and evil.

The climatic zones of Mexico were named by the Spaniards in accordance with the condition of their varying temperatures respectively, as, the Tierra Caliente, or hot lands, the Tierra Templada, or temperate lands, and the Tierra Fria, or cold lands: the first lying upon the coast, the second midway up the slopes, and the last the higher regions, reaching an elevation of 8,000 to 10,000 feet and more above the level of the sea.

In this intermediate zone of the Tierra Templada lies a land which has been not unjustly termed a region of perpetual spring, a truly desirable land, where the fortunate inhabitant lives close to the kindly earth as if in some mortal paradise—as far as Nature is concerned. In the high zone, healthful and invigorating, lies the beautiful city of Mexico in its enclosed valley; and many a handsome town is found throughout the three zones.

This city of Mexico was the coveted prize of Cortes and his Spaniards, and through the varying zones they passed after having, on that Good Friday in 1519, landed on the shores to which they gave the name of Vera Cruz—the place of the True Cross. Across the waters of the Gulf as they approached the unknown land was seen the gleaming peak of Orizaba, called by the natives[106] Citlalteptl, or the Mountain of the Star, hanging in mid-heaven, its point over thirteen thousand feet above the sea.

From the shore, the native runners of Montezuma bore swiftly upwards to the mountain city news of the white man's arrival—long expected of old, from the traditions of Quetzalcoatl, the mystic god-man of white race. These messengers made curious but faithful "picture-writings," on Mexican paper, of the great "water-houses" or caravels swinging in the bay, the dread "men-animals" or horsemen, and the thunderous guns of the Spaniards, and hastened thence to warn their master.

Swiftly they returned from the mountains. "Go back," the Aztec Emperor said, "come not hither, the road is long and difficult," and he sent presents—a huge wheel of gold and beautiful feather work and other objects.

But Cortes, heeding not the message, burned his boats; the customary Mass was rendered by the Padre Olmedo—the Spaniards were always devout, partly in sincerity, partly as a custom—and the adventurers set forth on that remarkable and adventurous journey which forms one of the most thrilling episodes in early American history. Let us briefly review it.

The Spaniards have allied themselves, in the fruitful land of Tlascala—the "Land of Bread" in the native tongue—with the Tlascalans, foes at first but friends afterwards, and then began the most stirring events of their march.


"The Tlascalans were a people who had developed a remarkable civilization and social and military organization, akin to that of the Aztecs. On the arrival of the messengers of Cortes much dissension had prevailed in their councils, some of the chiefs—the community was ruled by a council of four—maintaining that this was an opportunity for vengeance against their hereditary enemies, the hated Aztecs and their prince, Montezuma. 'Let us ally ourselves with these terrible strangers,' they urged, 'and march against the Mexicans.' For the doings of the Spaniards had echoed through the land already, with a tale of smitten tribes and broken idols. But the wily old Xicotencatl thought otherwise. 'What do we know of their purpose?' was his counsel; so it was agreed that the army of the Tlascalans and Otomies, who were in force near the frontier, under the command of the fiery young warrior—son of old Xicotencatl, and bearing the same name—should attack them. 'If we fail,' the old barbarian urged, 'we will disavow the act of our general; if we win——'!

"The stone fortification at the valley's end had been undefended, and with Cortes at their head the Spaniards entered Tlascalan territory. Skirmishing was followed by a pitched battle between the Christians and the Tlascalans, in which the firearms and lances of the Spaniards wrought terrible havoc on their antagonists. Astounded at the sight of the horses—those extraordinary beings, whether of animal or demoniacal origin they knew not—and appalled by the thundering of the guns,[108] which seemed to have some superhuman source, the Tlascalans at first fell back. But they overcame their fears, fell savagely upon the invaders, and were with difficulty repulsed, having managed to kill two of the horses. Greatly to Cortes's regret was this, for the noble animals were few, and—more serious still—their death removed that semi-superstitious dread regarding them, which the natives held. However, the Spaniards afterwards buried them from sight.

"Night fell, a season when the Indians fought not, but on the morrow the messengers which had been sent to the Tlascalans arrived—having escaped—with the news that the enemy was approaching in great force. So indeed it befel, and upon the plain in front of the Spaniards appeared a mighty host, varyingly estimated between thirty and a hundred thousand warriors. The Spaniards with their allies numbered—fearful odds!—about three thousand. 'The God of the Christians will bear us through,' said the brave and beautiful Marina. A frightful battle now ensued, the issue of which hung in the scale for hours. Charging, volleying, borne this way and that by the flood of the enemy's numbers, the gallant band of the Spaniards snatched victory from almost certain defeat, their superior weapons and cavalry, together with the bad tactics of the Indians, who knew not how to employ their unwieldy army to best advantage, at length decided the day for the Christians, who inflicted terrible punishment upon their foes. The Tlascalans' policy now showed signs of weakening,[109] but further assaults were necessary, and some treachery, under the guise of friendship, having been discovered on the part of the fifty Tlascalan envoys to the Spanish camp, Cortes barbarously cut off the hands of these and sent them back to tell the tale.

"The upshot of these engagements was that the Tlascalans capitulated, apologized for their conduct, invited the strangers to take possession of their capital, and assured them that they would now be allies, not enemies, of the white men, who were undoubtedly the representative of the great and long-expected Quetzalcoatl. The joy in the Spanish camp at this turn of affairs knew no bounds; well did the Spaniards know that the continued opposition of the Indians would have been their ruin, whilst in their alliance was salvation and the key to the Conquest.

"Behold the war-worn and hungry Spaniards, lean and tattered from marching and privations in the inclement uplands, now installed in comfort in the centre of the powerful Tlascalan capital. Forth had come to greet them young Xicotencatl, who, to do him justice, took upon himself the responsibility of the war; and as the Spaniards entered the capital the streets were lined with men, women and children, and decorated with garlands of flowers as for a triumphal procession. The old chief who had urged for opposition now changed his tactics, and as Cortes entered he embraced him, passing his hand over the face of the Spaniard to see what manner of man he was, for[110] the aged Tlascalan was blind, having reached, it has been said—probably with exaggeration—a hundred and forty years of age! 'The city is much larger than Granada,' wrote Cortes to Carlos V, with a description of its markets, shops, houses and intelligent and industrious population.

"Six weeks the Spaniards sojourned there, recuperating their energies, living on the best the plentiful land afforded—Tlascala signified in the Indian tongue 'the land of bread'—taking wives from among the maidens, the chiefs' daughters, and endeavouring, first with the foolish haste of Cortes and then with the slow prudence of Father Olmedo, to instil some tenets of the Christian religion into their hosts. But religious fervour had to give way to material necessities, and the Tlascalan idols remained unsmitten, although their human sacrifices were somewhat stayed.

"Rested and mended, the Spaniards now set impatient gaze upon the oak- and fir-clad mountain slopes which bounded the valley. Above them loomed upward the great Malinche, snow-capped queen of the Tlascalan mountain fastnesses; and still the friendly Tlascalans, stern foes but noble allies, loaded them with every favour and bid them tarry. When, however, they would stay no longer they raised a great body of warriors to accompany them, warning Cortes against the wiles of Montezuma. 'Beware of his presents and his promises; he is false and seeks your destruction,' they urged, and their implacable hatred of the Aztecs showed itself in their words and mien.


"Contrary to the advice of their new allies, the Spaniards decided to journey on to Mexico through Cholula, the land of the great pyramid. Embassies had arrived, both from Montezuma and from the Cholulans, the latter inviting the Spaniards to go that way; and the great Aztec monarch, swayed now by the shadow of oncoming destiny, offering the Spaniards a welcome to his capital. 'Trust not the Tlascalans, those barbarous foes,' was the burden of his message, 'but come through friendly Cholula: a greeting received by the Tlascalans with sneers and counter-advice. The purpose of the Tlascalans was not a disinterested one. An attack upon Montezuma was their desire, and preliminary to this they hoped to embroil the Spaniards with the perfidious Cholulans. Another embassy—and this was an important event—had waited upon Cortes. It was from the Ixtlilxochitl, one of the rival claimants for the throne of Texcoco, which, it will be remembered, was a powerful and advanced community in confederation with the Aztecs; and Cortes was not slow to fan the flame of disaffection which this indicated, by an encouraging message to the young prince.

"A farewell was taken of the staunch Tlascalans, the invariable Mass was celebrated by Father Olmedo, and, accompanied by a large body of Tlascalan warriors, the Spaniards set out for Cholula. What befel in this beautiful and populous place—which, Bernal Diaz wrote, reminded him, form its numerous towers, of Valladolid—was of terrible and ruthless import. Cholula, with its[112] great teocalli, was the Mecca of Anahuac, and was veritably a land flowing with milk and honey. Well-built houses, numerous teocallis, or pyramidal temples, well-dressed people with embroidered cloaks, and numbers of censer-swinging priests formed the ensemble which greeted the Spaniards' eyes, whilst the intense cultivation of the ground and the fields of maguey, maiz, and other products, irrigated by canals from the mountain streams, formed the environment of this advanced community. 'Not a palm's-breadth of land that is not cultivated,' wrote Cortes in his dispatches to Castile, 'and the city, as we approached, was more beautiful than the cities of Spain.' Beautiful and gay doubtless Cholula was when the Spaniards entered; drenched with the blood of its inhabitants and devastated by fire it lay before they left it! There had been signs of treachery, even on the road thither, work of the Cholulans; but, lodged in the city, the Spaniards discovered, through the agency of the intelligent Marina, a plot to annihilate them later. Taking the Cholulans unawares as they crowded the streets with—at the moment—harmless curiosity, the Spaniards, with cannon, musket and sabre, mowed down the unfortunate and unprotected natives in one bloody massacre, aided by the ferocious Tlascalans, who fell upon the Cholulans from the rear. The appalling and unnecessary slaughter at Cholula has called down upon the heads of Cortes and the Spaniards the execration of historians. Some have endeavoured to excuse or palliate it, but it remains as one of[113] the indelible stains of the Spanish Conquistadores upon the history they were making. Having accomplished this 'punitive' act, an image of the Virgin was set up on the summit of the great pyramidal temple, and some order restored. 'They are now your Highness's faithful vassals,' wrote Cortes to the King of Spain!

"After this the way seemed clear. Far on the horizon loomed the white, snow-capped cones of Popocateptl and Ixtaccihuatl, beautiful and pure above the deserts, the canyons, and the forests beneath them—the gateway to Mexico. From the foremost, above its snow-cap, there belched forth a great column of smoke, for at that period Popocateptl was an active volcano. Onwards the Spaniards pressed with buoyant hearts and eager feet, and when they stood upon the summit of the range their eyes beheld the beautiful valley of Mexico, the haven for which they had long toiled and fought, stretched below. There, shimmering in distance, lay the strange, unknown city of the Aztecs, like a gem upon the borders of its lakes: its towers and buildings gleaming white in the brilliant sun of the tropic upland beneath the azure firmament and brought to deceptive nearness by the clear atmosphere of that high environment. There at last was their longed-for goal, the mysterious Tenochtitlan."[8]

The city of Mexico, notwithstanding its modern attributes, is stamped with history and tradition,[114] and in this respect is perhaps the most noteworthy metropolis on the American continents. It is, as it were, a mediaeval city, transplanted from the Old World to the New. The United States has, naturally, no place which may compare with it, and in happier times Mexico City has been a tourist centre for Americans, who, escaping from the more materialistic and commercial atmosphere of their own busy towns, and the extremes of heat or cold which alternate therein, have sought the equable and healthful condition of the Mexican upland capital—an easy journey comparatively, of a few days in a Pullman car, amid landscapes attractive from their novelty.

We are in a city of churches and convents. Elsewhere I have described some of these remarkable edifices, home of the Roman Catholic faith, and as we view the city from the pleasing hills surrounding the valley their domes and towers stand up refreshingly.

The houses of Mexico are of a type unknown to the Anglo-Saxon American; the social customs, the aspects of the streets, the markets, the flower-market, the old, massive public buildings, the cotton-clad Indian folk in the plazas side by side with beautifully dressed señoritas and correctly attired, grave and ceremonious men—statesmen, lawyers, doctors and men of many professions, the serenatas or concerts in the alamedas, the lottery ticket vendors thrusting their flimsy wares into one's face, urging you to tempt fortune—for will not the wheel be turned in the public square in[115] half an hour, and may you yourself not be the winner of the sorteo?—all these features catch the traveller's eye as in the genial sunshine, before the midday heat renders the shade of the patio or veranda advisable, we observe the life of the Mexican city. In the market-place, at an early hour or in the evening, the odour of the tortilla or the frijoles, fried in the open for ready sale, will greet our nostrils, and there are piquant chiles—a favourite article of diet—and many luscious and unknown fruits which we cannot resist.



Vol. I. To face p. 114.

Under the shade trees in the plaza or the alameda, escorted by Indian maid-servant, or perhaps entering or leaving the temples, are sweet-faced girls of the upper class, pale oval-faced señoritas with dark hair and expressive eyes, with the mantilla drawn over the head, bent on their early-morning orisons: but though their thoughts are at the moment doubtless dwelling upon matters spiritual, there are glances from expressive eyes—

Para que te miré, mujer divina?
Para que contemplé tu faz hermosa?

Sentiment and love, indeed, play a strong part in the temperament of this southern race, with all its reserve and seclusion.

The foreigner in Mexico will thus find a varied local colour in the Mexican capital and in other cities throughout the Republic, such as could long occupy his pen, and indeed his brush, if he wield such. To come into actual touch with the people in their homes is more difficult, but if he is fortunate[116] enough to be the guest in an upper class Mexican family, he will experience the most pleasing hospitality. To penetrate such circles, however, there must be the appropriate qualities and circumstances.

In this peaceful city there are few signs of revolution, disorder or bloodshed. The walls here and there may be pitted with bullet-marks, but the things which caused them come and go, and the populace lives its life with merely passing notice of them.

We may wander somewhat farther afield in the valley: to the suburbs where the palaces of the wealthy lie embowered in flowers and orange-trees; to Xochimilco, the Field of Flowers; to Chalpultepec—the Aztec "Hill of the Grasshoppers," where stands the presidential castle; to the shrine of Guadalupe, the Lourdes of Mexico, where the Virgin, it is said, appeared in a vision to Juan, the poor Indian.

The great lake of Texcoco, a dreary body of water now—it is partly drained by a great canal, to the far greater salubrity of the place—formerly extended to the city, which, indeed, at the time of the Conquest, was built upon it and reached by stone causeways—a position which might have been impregnable.

The first attempt by Cortes and the Spaniards upon Tenochtitlan ended in disaster. They were enjoying the Aztec hospitality, which, however, they outraged. They attacked and massacred a number of the people and took Montezuma[117] a prisoner in the stout palace which had been assigned as their quarters. They stormed and carried the great Teocalli, or pyramid-temple, and threw down the great idol of the Mexicans. Montezuma was killed, either by a missile from without or treacherously by the Spaniards whilst in their power. All seemed lost as a result of the mad act of Alvarado in attacking the people. The story of the disaster is a thrilling one.

"The bridges broken, the savages screaming outside the walls, hope of victory gone, there was now no counsel of war for the Spaniards save that of escape. But how? At night and along the great causeway was the only plan. A weird scene it was on the beginning of that Noche Triste—the sorrowful night—which stands forth so unforgettably in the history of the Conquest. Disorder everywhere; piles of gold and valuables on the floor, each Spaniard, whether cavalier or boor, loading himself with what he thought he could carry. 'Pocket what you can,' Cortes said, 'but recollect that gold is heavy and we have to travel swiftly'—grave advice, the neglect of which cost some their lives upon that awful night.

"And then began the retreat along the fatal causeway. It was known that there were three openings in this, and a portable bridge had been made and was borne along to enable passage to be effected. Hurrying on in the hope of passing the breaches before alarm might be given, the Spaniards entered upon the causeway and placed[118] their portable bridge upon the first breach. Was safety to be theirs? No! what was that appalling sound, sonorous and melancholy, which rang over the city and the waters amid the darkness? It was the great drum on the teocalli; the tambor of the war-god, sounded by vigilant priests, calling the people to vengeance and battle. And in their myriads the Aztecs poured forth and fell upon the Christians, raining darts and stones upon them, and making the night hideous with their war-cries. Meanwhile Cortes and the advance guard had passed over, and reached the second breach. 'Bring up the bridge!' was the repeated order, as those behind crowded on. Useless; the bridge was stuck fast in the first breach, wedged down by the weight of guns and horses which had passed over it, and as these dread tidings were heard the mass of men upon the narrow causeway lost their presence of mind. Those behind crowded on those in front; men and horses rolled into the lake; Spaniards and Tlascalans fell victims to the Aztecs, who crowded the water in their canoes and leapt upon the causeway; the shouts of vengeance and triumph of the savages resounded all along the dyke, silencing the muttered oath or prayer of the Christians huddled at the breach. Down went horse and man, artillery and treasure, until the bodies of Christians and Indians and horses, and bales of merchandise and chests of ammunition the breach was almost filled, and a portion of the fugitives passed over. And now the third breach yawns before them—deep and wide. The morning[119] is dawning upon the fatal scene; the salt waters of the lake have closed over many a gallant Christian head; the frightful causeway is strewn with wreck of man and merchandise. 'The rear guard perishes!' and 'back and save them!' were the words which rang out then, and Cortes and his remaining cavaliers, who were in the lead, rode back, even in that frightful hour—be it recorded to their honour—and, swimming the breach once more, strove to support their comrades. There stood Alvarado unhorsed and battling, with the savages pressing upon his rear. Escape there seemed none. Canoes and spears teemed on every side, and Cortes and his companions were forced onward."[9]

The figure of Alvarado stood up against the grey sky alone—a moment—and then he measured the breach with his eye. Planting his lance on the wreckage in the waters of the breach, after the manner of a leaping-pole, the heroic Spaniard, collecting his energies, leapt forward, and passed the chasm at a bound. The Aztecs paused in admiration of this feat of the "Son of the Sun," as they had named Alvarado, from his fair hair and ruddy countenance. To-day we may still see the place where this part of the causeway lay, known as the Puente de Alvarado.

Away off the causeway into the grey dawn passed the remnant of the routed Spanish Army, wounded, bleeding, starving, their comrades gone,[120] some to death, some to the dreadful sacrifices of the Mexican priests, where their hearts would be torn living from their breasts, and annihilation threatening all. Baggage and artillery were gone, not a carbine was left, and Cortes, seating himself upon the steps of a ruined temple on the shore, wept bitter tears of sorrow for the loss of his comrades and his vanished fortunes.

So ended the Noche Triste, and to this day may be seen an ancient tree under which it is said Cortes wept.

The Spaniards, however, were not of such stuff as easily gives in to difficulty and disaster. Had it been otherwise, Mexico to-day might have had a different destiny. It might have developed a purely aboriginal or Indian state. But fate seems not to have willed it that any such nation should exist in the New World.

Cortes and the remnant of his army—there was no other course for them—returned to their Tlascalan allies, fighting their way even here, however, for after passing the ancient pyramid of Teotihuacan, even then standing ruined and desolate a few miles north of the city—monument of the shadowy Toltecs, who preceded the Aztec hegemony, and which, restored by the Mexican Government under President Diaz, is an object of great interest to the traveller—they looked down on the Plain of Otumba, and beheld the forces of the Otomies drawn up in battle array against them. These warriors wore armour of thick quilted cotton, which formed a considerable protection[121] against the rude weapons of the country, and the Spaniards were now without firearms. They were so numerous that, it is recorded, the plain "looked as if it were covered with snow," from the white armour.

But the Christians routed them, and thus the Battle of Otumba was one of the turning-points in New World history, as elsewhere remarked.

Reinforced by the Tlascalans, Cortes returned to the siege of the city. Fresh supplies of arms and ammunition had reached the Spaniards from the coast, with horses and two hundred Spaniards sent from Hispaniola. Cortes built a number of brigantines, which were carried by the Indians to the lake in order to attack Tenochtitlan by water as well as land. But the whole enterprise would have been hopeless had not the other Mexican tribes, hating the Aztecs, joined forces with the white men. The plan was to starve out the city on the lake by laying waste the surroundings, for it was dependent upon these for its food. To the dead Montezuma's place had succeeded his nephew Guahtemoc, a noble Aztec prince, animated by the utmost spirit of patriotism in defending the heritage of his forefathers.

"A series of severe struggles began then, both by land and water—burning, slaughter and the destruction of the lake towns. The Aztecs, with their great number, raining darts and stones upon the invaders at every engagement, attacked them with unparalleled ferocity both by forces on shore[122] and their canoes on the lake. The Spaniards took heavy toll of the enemy at every turn, assisted by their allies the Tlascalans, as savage and implacable as the Aztecs, whom they attacked with a singular and persistent spirit of hatred, the result of long years of oppression by the dominant power of Anahuac. Cortes, on every occasion when it seemed that the last chance of success might attend it, offered terms to the Aztec capital, by no means dishonourable, assuring them their liberty and self-government in return for allegiance to the Crown of Spain and the renouncing of their abominable system of sacrificial religion. These advances were invariably met by the most implacable negatives. The Aztecs, far from offering to yield, swore they would sacrifice, when the day was theirs, every Spaniard and Tlascalan on the bloody altars of their gods; and as for entering into any treaty, the last man, woman and child would resist the hated invaders until the last drop of blood was shed and the last stone of their city thrown down. This vaunt, as regards the latter part, was almost literally carried out, and to some extent as regards the former.

"The siege operations were conducted vigorously both by land and water. Again before the eyes of the Spaniards stretched that fatal causeway—path of death amid the salt waters of Texcoco for so many of their brave comrades upon the Noche Triste of their terrible flight from Tenochtitlan. And there loomed once more that dreaded teocalli, whence the war-drum's mournful[123] notes were heard. Guarded now by the capable and persistent Guatemoc, the city refused an offer of treaty, and invited the destruction which was to fall upon it. From the azoteas, or roofs of their buildings and temples, the undaunted Mexicans beheld the white-winged brigantines, armed with those belching engines of thunder and death whose sting they well knew: and saw the ruthless hand of devastation laying waste their fair towns of the lake shore, and cutting off their means of life.

"But the Spaniards had yet to learn to their cost the lengths of Aztec tenacity and ferocity. It will be recollected that the city was connected to the lake shores by means of four causeways, built above the surface of the water; engineering structures of stone and mortar and earth, which had from the first aroused the admiration of the Spaniards. These causeways, whilst they rendered the city almost impregnable from attack, were a source of weakness in the easy cutting-off of food supplies, which they afforded to the enemy. A simultaneous assault on all these approaches was organized by the Spaniards, under Sandoval, Alvarado and Cortes himself, respectively, whilst the brigantines, with their raking artillery, were to support the attack by water, aided by the canoes of the Tlascalan and Texcocan allies. A series of attacks was made by this method, and at last the various bodies of Spaniards advanced along the causeways and gained the city walls. But frightful disaster befel them. The comparative ease with[124] which they entered the city aroused Cortes's suspicions; and at that moment, from the summit of the great teocalli, rang out a fearful note—the horn of Guatemoc, calling for vengeance and a concerted attack. The notes of the horn struck some ominous sense of chill in the Spaniards' breasts, and the soldier-penman, Bernal Diaz, who was fighting valiantly there, says that the noise echoed and re-echoed, and rang in his ears for days afterwards. The Spaniards, on this, as on other occasions, had foolishly neglected to secure the breaches in the causeways as they passed, or at least the rash Alvarado had not done so with his command, his earlier lesson unheeded; and when the Christians were hurled backwards—for their easy entrance into the great square of the city had been in the nature of a decoy—disaster befel them, which at one moment seemed as if it would be a repetition of that of the Noche Triste. 'The moment I reached that fearful bridge,' Cortes wrote in his dispatches, 'I saw the Spaniards returning in full flight.' Remaining to hold the breech if possible, and cover the retreat, the chivalrous Cortes almost lost his life from a furious attack by the barbarians in their canoes, and was only saved by the devotion of his own men and Indian allies, who gave their lives in his rescue. Word, nevertheless, had gone forth among the men that Cortes had fallen; and the savages, throwing before the faces of Alvarado and Sandoval the bloody heads of decapitated Spaniards, cried tauntingly the name 'Malintzin,'[125] which was that by which Cortes was known among the Mexicans. Men and horses rolled into the lake; dead bodies filled the breaches; the Christians and their allies were beaten back, and 'as we were all wounded it was only the help of God which saved us from destruction,' wrote Bernal Diaz. Indeed, both Cortes and the Spaniards only escaped, on these and other occasions, from the Aztec's desire to take them alive for sacrifice.

"Once more, after disastrous retreats and heavy loss, the bleeding and discouraged Spaniards lay in their camp, as evening fell. Of dead, wounded and captured, the Spaniards missed more than a hundred and twenty of their comrades, and the Tlascalans a thousand, whilst valuable artillery, guns and horses were lost. But listen! what is that mournful, penetrating sound which smites the Christians' ears? It is the war-god's drum, and even from where the Spaniards stand there is visible a procession ascending the steps of the teocalli, and, to their horror, the forms of their lost comrades are seen within it: whose hearts are doomed to be torn out living from their breasts to smoke before the shrine of Huitzilopochtli, the war-devil of their enemies. From that high and fearful place their comrades' eyes must be gazing with despairing look towards the impotent Spanish camp, glazing soon in death as the obsidian knives of the priests performed their fiendish work. The disastrous situation of the Spaniards was made worse by the desertion, at this juncture, of the[126] Tlascalan and other allies. Awed by a prophecy sent out confidently by the Aztec priests, that both Christians and allies should be delivered into their hands before eight days had passed (prophecy or doom, which the priests said, was from the mouth of the war-god, appeased by the late victory), the superstitious Indians of Cortes's forces sneaked off in the night.

"Continued reverses, in the face of long-continued action and desire for the attaining a given end, forges in the finer calibre of mind a spirit of unremitting purpose. Blow after blow, which would turn away the ordinary individual from his endeavour, serves to steel the real hero to a dispassionate and persistent patience, and the purpose from its very intensity becomes almost a sacred cause, and seems to obtain from the unseen powers of circumstance success at last. So with Cortes and others of the Spaniards. The period prescribed by the somewhat rash prophecy of the Aztec priests and their infernal oracle having passed without anything remarkable having taken place, the Tlascalan and Texcocan allies, upbraided and warned by the Spaniards' messengers, now sneaked back to resume the attack against the city. The Aztecs had sought to cause disaffection in outlying places by sending round the bloody heads of decapitated Spaniards and horses, but with little effect. Cortes then prepared for a final effort. The plan adopted was to be slower but surer than the former one of simple slaughter. It was determined to raze the city to[127] the ground; to destroy the buildings step by step, fill up the canals, and so lay waste the whole area from the outside, so that unobstructed advance might be maintained.

"The execution of this plan was begun. The city ends of the causeways were captured and held; street after street was demolished, and canal after canal filled up amid scenes of incessant fighting and slaughter. Day after day the Spaniards returned to their work; day after day with admirable tenacity the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan disputed the ground inch by inch, watered with the blood of themselves, their women and their children. Their supplies cut off, famine and pestilence wrought more terrible havoc among them—crowded as they gradually became into one quarter of the city—than the arms of the Spaniards and the Tlascalans. At the termination of each day's work the Spanish prepared an ambuscade for the enemy, drawing them on by seeming to retire, and massacring them with the artillery and gun-fire and lances, to say nothing of the weapons of their savage allies. On one of these occasions 'the enemy rushed out yelling as if they had gained the greatest victory in the world,' Cortes wrote in his dispatches, and 'more than five hundred, all of the bravest and principal men, were killed in this ambush.' He added, and it was a common occurrence, 'our allies'—the Indians—'supped well that night, cutting up and eating their captives!' During the days of this terrible siege the famous catapult was made, an extraordinary[128] engine to discharge great stones upon the enemy. This was to enable the Spaniards to husband their powder, which was getting low, and the Aztecs watched the construction of this machine with certain fear. It was completed and set to work, but the builder, a Spanish soldier of inventive faculty, nearly played the part of the engineer hoist with his own petard, for the great stone fired rose, it is true, but went straight up and descended again upon the machine, which was ever afterwards the laughing-stock of the army.

"Further severe losses were now inflicted upon the beleaguered inhabitants, as more ammunition had been obtained. Peace had again been offered by the Spaniards, and again refused by the Aztecs. An Aztec chief of high rank had been captured, and then returned to Guatemoc as a peace envoy. The Mexicans' reply was to execute and sacrifice the unfortunate emissary, and then collecting their forces they poured out upon the causeways like a furious tide, which seemed as if it would sweep all before it. But the Spaniards were prepared. The narrow causeways were commanded by the artillery, which poured such a deadly hail upon the enemy's numbers that they returned fleeing to the city.

"And soon the end approaches. The division led by Cortes made a fierce assault; and whilst the battle raged the Spaniards observed that the summit of one of the teocallis was in flames. It was the work of Alvarado's men, who had penetrated[129] already to the plaza. Forces were joined, and the inhabitants of the city, driven into one quarter thereof, still made their stubborn and—now—suicidal stand. For the streets were piled up with corpses, the Aztecs refraining from throwing the bodies of their slain into the lake, or outside the city, in order not to show their weakness. Pestilence and famine had made terrible inroads upon the population. Miserable wretches, men, women and children, were encountered Wandering about careless of the enemy, only bent upon finding some roots, bark or offal which might appease the hunger at their vitals. The salt waters of the lake, which they had been obliged to drink, for the Spaniards had cut the aqueduct which brought the fresh water from Chapultepec, had caused many to sicken and die. Mothers had devoured their dead children; the bodies of the slain had been eaten, and the bark gnawed from the trunks of trees. In their dire extremity some of the chiefs of the beleaguered city called Cortes to the barricade. He went, trusting that capitulation was at hand, for, as both he and his historians record, the slaughter was far from their choosing. 'Do but finish your work quickly,' was the burden of their parley. 'Let us go and rest in the heaven of our war-god; we are weary of life and suffering. How is it that you, a son of the Sun, tarry so long in finishing, when the Sun himself makes circuit of the earth in a day, and so accomplishes his work speedily?'

"This remarkable appeal struck renewed pity[130] to the heart of Cortes, and once more he begged them to surrender and avoid further suffering, and the Spaniards drew off their forces for a space. But the inexorable Guatemoc, although he sent an embassy to say he would hold parley, and the Spaniards waited for him, did not fulfil the promise at the last moment. Incensed at this behaviour, the Spaniards and the Tlascalans renewed the attack with overpowering energy on the one part and barbaric savagery on the other. Contrary to the orders of the Spaniards, their savage allies gave no quarter, but murdered men, women and children in fiendish exultation. The stench of the dead in the beleaguered city was overpowering; the soil was soaked with blood; the gutters ran as in a rain-storm, say the chroniclers, and, wrote Cortes to the King of Spain: 'Such slaughter was done that day on land and water that killed and prisoners numbered forty thousand; and such were the shrieks and weeping of women and children that there were none of us whose hearts did not break.' He adds that it was impossible to contain the savage killing and torturing by their allies the Tlascalans, who practised such cruelty as had never been seen, and 'out of all order of nature.'

"At nightfall the attacking forces drew off, leaving the remainder of the inhabitants of the stricken city to consider their position. It is stated that the Tlascalans made a great banquet of the flesh of the fallen Aztecs, and that on this and other occasions they fished up the bloated bodies[131] of their enemies from the lake and devoured them! At sunrise on the following day Cortes and a few followers entered the city, hoping to have a supplication for terms from Guatemoc. The army was stationed outside the walls, ready, in the event of a refusal—the signal of which should be a musket-shot—to pour in and strike the final blow. A parley was entered into as before, which lasted several hours. 'Do you surrender?' Cortes demanded. The final reply of Guatemoc was, 'I will not come: I prefer to die where I am: do your worst.'

"A musket-shot rang out upon the air; the Spaniards and their allies fell on to merciless slaughter: cannons, muskets, arrows, slings, lances—all told their tale upon the huddled mass of panic-stricken people, who, after presenting a feeble and momentary front, poured forth upon the fatal causeways to escape. Drowned and suffocated in the waters of the lake, mowed down by the fire from the brigantines, and butchered by the brutal Tlascalans, women, children and men struggled and shrieked among that frightful carnage; upon which it were almost impious to dwell further. Guatemoc, with his wife and children, strove to escape, and the canoe containing them was already out upon the lake, when a brigantine ran it down and captured him. All resistance was at an end. No sign of life or authority remained among the ruined walls; the fair city by the lake was broken and tenantless, its idols fallen, and its people fled. The Homeric[132] struggle was over; the conquest of Mexico was accomplished."[10]

Under the long rule of the viceroys that followed the Conquest, Mexico lived her life in a mediaeval but often peaceful and not unhappy state, and had Spain but understood her and developed the resources of the land and protected her simple Indian folk instead of exploiting them, and at the same time antagonizing the colonists, there is no reason why a magnificent and permanent Spanish empire should not have grown to being.

We have remarked elsewhere on the abundant mineral wealth of the country. The great silver deposits of Guanajuato were discovered as a result of a camp-fire made on the rocks by some muleteers, who found refined silver among the ashes, which the heat had smelted from them. The great "mother lode" here yielded up enormous wealth. The pleasing city of Zacatecas to-day grew from another discovery of silver ores, which produced a value, up to the middle of last century, of nearly eight hundred million dollars. The curious archives of these mines, which still exist, show how carefully the Spaniards worked them. The Pachuca mines, which to-day are still worked, yielded similar wealth, and it was here that the well-known patio or amalgamation process was discovered, with quicksilver from Peru.

There are other centres, scarcely less important,[133] well known to the mineralogist. The mineral-bearing zone of Mexico is sixteen hundred miles long, and yields nearly all the metals known to commerce. Coal, however, is not a frequent product. The country has been described as a paradise for the prospector. The mines are innumerable: almost every hill is pierced or perforated by shafts and galleries, ancient or modern; some are enormous tunnels, or socavones.



Vol. I. To face p. 132.

The Mexican native miner is, in his way, expert and active, and with rude appliances performs marvels in the work of ore extraction. Halt a moment by yonder pit in the rocky slope. Look down: a notched pole descends, upon which you would hesitate to venture, giving access to the workings beneath. Yet, in a moment, perhaps, a peon, bearing on his back an enormous load of rock in a hide or sack, will ascend from the bowels of the earth, panting and groaning—we shall hear the noise of his breathing before we see him. He will cast his load at our feet, and from it will roll the gleaming quartz and pyrites, with perhaps the red of the rosicler, or rich oxide ore of silver, or the yellow ochres of the decomposed gold-bearing sulphides, more readily prepared by Nature for treatment and winning of the yellow metal. Or he may bear it to the stream-bed, there to treat it in some primitive stone mill.

Otherwise we may visit huge modern mills where hundreds of stamps are clanging and engines are winding and furnaces are burning, for a host of these exist throughout the land, though[134] disorder and revolution may have suspended their operations.

Many curious products of the vegetable world attract our eyes. Behold yonder stupendous cactus-trees—the organo cactus, whose symmetrical spiny branches like a giant candelabrum, weighing perhaps tons, with their mass of sappy foliage, arise from a single stem, which could be brought down by a stroke of a machete, or wood-knife—that formidable implement or weapon (made perhaps in Birmingham) which the Mexican peon loves to wield or use. Look at the marvellous giant leaves of the juicy maguey, or agave, as long as a man, and see the peon insert his siphon to the heart of the plant to draw forth its sap, which he blows into the goatskin on his back, and from which he will presently make his pulque. This plant, the great American aloe, comes into flower and dies in a few years. It exhausts itself in flowering. In England we call it the century plant, for the exotic lingers long in the unfavourable climate, and with difficulty puts forth its blossoms at all. There, too, are hedges and circas of prickly-pear, or nopal, which yield the delicious wild fig—the cactus familiar to the traveller in the Holy Land and Syria, whence it was taken from Mexico.

In the coastal lands, as before remarked, the feathery coconut-palm waves over the villages, and the elegant leaves of the banana form refreshing groves, and the cacao yields its stores of chocolate. Lovers of this sweetmeat might hear the[135] name of Mexico in gratitude indeed, for is not the very name and product of Aztec origin—the chocolatl of the early folk here? In the tropic forests and plantations the beautiful rubber, the Castilloa elastica-tree, rears its stately foliage, and here, again, are we not indebted to Mexico? Remember it, ye lovers of lawn tennis. For when the early Spaniards arrived they found the Mexicans playing tennis, with balls of rubber, in those curious courts whose ruins still remain in the jungles of Yucatan.

Again, yonder flies the wild turkey. Was he not the progenitor of that noble bird which comes upon our Christmas tables? Here, too, is the zenzontl; or mocking-bird, and a host of gorgeous winged creatures besides.

Through many a desert range and over many a chain of hills, violet in the distance, alluring and remote; past many a sacred well or hill marked by a cross, hard by the paths worn by the generations of bare or sandalled feet we may pass; and here, perchance, by some spring stands a startled native maid, her olla, or great water-pitcher, on her shoulder—stands in classic but unwitting pose. Or through the heat a mounted vaquero rides upon his attenuated mule or horse—for the equine race works hard and eats little here, but bit, spur and the bridle are his till the day he leaves his bones upon the trail—and, "Buenos dias, señor," with doffed hat the horseman gives us as he passes, with ever-ready Mexican courtesy to the foreigner; or he did so until of recent times,[136] when, for reasons we need not here dilate upon, the foreigner has come to be regarded with anything but friendship.

There was always a charm about this old land of Mexico; there still is, despite its recent turbulent history. Small wonder that foreigners in increasing numbers loved to make their life in its quaint towns, to take up land and industry within it.

Of these towns we cannot speak here; Guadalajara, Puebla, Oaxaca and many another invite us to their pleasing streets and ancient buildings. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from north to south, they are dispersed over the wide area of the Republic.

The southern, or rather easternmost States of Mexico are, as regards their landscape and life, often of peculiar interest, mainly by reason of the more tropical surroundings and the large rivers, such as those that flow into the Gulf of Campeche, in Vera Cruz and Tabasco.

Typical of these rivers are the Grijalva and the Usumacinta. In places lined by dark forests, the banks elsewhere open out to permit of plantations of bananas, tobacco, maize, pineapples, rubber and so forth, and an occasional village, its white walls gleaming among the foliage, the roofs thatched with palm, gives the human touch thereto.

Ascending the river in a slow stern-wheel steamer, we remark an occasional canoe, laden with skins and other produce, or moored inshore[137] whilst its occupants are fishing in the plentifully stocked waters. There are great trees festooned with masses of moss and with trailing lianas, where monkeys play by day and from whence at night their howling falls on the ear. The white heron and aigret, whose snowy plumage is so valuable an article of commerce, startled by the passage of the boat, sail gracefully away to the bends of the river, and flocks of parrots, similarly disturbed, scream their defiance, whilst wild ducks and cranes and birds of the brightest plumage are in sight at every moment. The alligators, large and small, that throng the shoals project their grotesque forms into the water, offering a mark to the gun of the idle huntsman.

In the flower world Nature is often gorgeously arrayed here. Pure white lilies lie at the base of flowering trees that rise in a mass of bloom for forty feet or more, of a profusion and beauty almost inconceivable. The queen of the banks, the stately coco-palm, carries its load of nuts, waiting for nothing but the gatherer of a harvest provided by Nature. Here, too, is the cinchona-tree, with its bright, smooth red trunk and branches and rich green leaves, offering its virtues of quinine bark. The arnica plant, with its daisy-like yellow flowers, and the morning glory of rich and brilliant hue abound, and the orchids—"not the dwarfed product of a northern hothouse, but huge, entrancing, of the richest browns, the tenderest greens, the most vivid reds and the softest yellow, sometimes as many as half a dozen[138] upon one tree"—decorate the decayed trunks of the trees. There are, too, natural plantations of wild pineapples, and many fruits besides.

A good deal of land in these regions is capable of cultivation, and, extremely fertile, yields profitable returns. But means of transport are, of course, defective, although the rivers offer long lines of communication. The Indians do not love work, except inasmuch as such may fill their own small requirements, for in so bountiful a region Nature supplies them with many things necessary for life, which a very few hours' labour will supplement for a whole year. There is rivalry between the established planters for the available labour, and peonage is largely carried out.

In Yucatan, the labour system upon the plantations of the Mexican millionaire hemp-growers of the peninsula has been described as little more than slavery by some writers. But great wealth and some measure of progress have resulted from this special Yucatan industry, and Merida, the capital city, shows these elements in marked degree.

The Yucatan peninsula is a curious limestone plain, originally covered, and still covered in great part, with tropical jungle, riverless, but with underground streams. The water was used by the ancient builders of the Maya cities here, whose beautifully sculptured palaces and pyramid temples are among the chief archæological wonders of Spanish America. They constructed wells adjacent[139] to the buildings—the curious cenotes, or sacred wells.

The lore of these silent, buried temples, over-run by the jungle, the haunt now of wild creatures, is fascinating in its mystery. Some observers have likened their details of the façades of these structures to Hindu temples, others to Egyptian, and so forth, whilst others stoutly proclaim them to be of purely autochthonous culture.[11] This culture area, we have already seen, extended into Guatemala.

To turn for a moment now to the Pacific coast of Mexico, this presents its own special points of interest. From hence may have come the Toltecs originally, with their wonderful native knowledge and stone-shaping arts, among famous objects of whose handiwork is the famous Calendar Stone, to be seen in the Museum of Mexico. This remarkable stone shows the early Mexicans to have had a more exact division and calculation of solar time than their contemporaries, the cultured nations of Europe. However, the principal Toltec remains are not upon the Pacific coast, but at Tula, on the Plateau, which appears to have been their ancient capital.

Upon the long Pacific coastline Mexico possesses several important seaports, to some of which access may be gained by railway, and many picturesque places rarely heard of by the outside world, together with vast areas of fruitful land and valuable forests. This littoral, indeed; forms a region which must some day take its place in[140] the economy of the globe. The long peninsula of Lower California, forming an isolated part of Mexico, is in many respects remarkable, and into the head of the Gulf flows the Colorado River, with many peculiar characteristics.

What we have here said as to the topography of Mexico, with its beautiful mountains, rivers, archæological remains, cities and so forth, is little more than an index to a vast field of interest, which, however, must be studied elsewhere. We are now bidden to cast a further glance at the people who have their being upon the diversified surface of the Republic.

A small proportion only of the Mexicans are white—perhaps ten per cent. The remainder are of varying shades of brown. But there is no "colour line," although, naturally, the purest European blood is found among the upper and governing classes.

However, the brown race has produced some of the best of Mexico's people. The famous Juarez, the lawyer-president who preceded Diaz, and who was responsible for some of the most important measures of reform, was a pure Indian by birth, and Diaz himself was proud of his partly aboriginal ancestry. In fact, it cannot be said that there is any dividing line in the composition of the Mexicans. The bulk of the people are thus of mestizo or mixed race, but there are various districts where only pure Indians are found.

The working population of the country, perhaps[141] three-quarters of the total, are peones. Peonage is a state of what might be termed debt-bondage. They dwell upon the great landed estates, dependent for their livelihood upon the owners of these, unable to leave them, and are paid their small wage largely in goods under a species of "truck system." They are often purposely kept in debt. Their economic condition is a low one. They own nothing of the land upon which they dwell; they carry on occupations which are not profitable to themselves, and are subjected to many abuses in this respect; they dwell in adobe, or dried mud huts, generally of the poorest kind; their food is of the most primitive, and often scanty—meat is an article which rarely enters into their diet; if a cow dies on the plain they cut it up for food—but nevertheless they labour hard from sunrise to sunset upon a diet of maize and beans. This class is almost wholly illiterate, although there has been some improvement of late years in this respect.



Vol. I. To face p. 140.

It is not to be supposed that this numerous class is an unworthy one. On the contrary, the Mexican peon is industrious, faithful, courteous, and deeply religious—religion, however, greatly mixed with superstitions. As an agriculturist he does not lack capabilities, and as a miner the Mexican, as we have seen, is an excellent workman in many respects.

In brief, the working class of Mexico is the most important and homogeneous body of brown labour in the world. The European or American[142] mine or plantation manager (who was until recently plentifully established in the country) may often express very diverse views in this connexion, but from a more detached point of view the above characterization is true.

As for the working class Mexican woman, she has many good qualities, and is often of pleasing appearance, whilst among some of the Indian tribes the girls are handsome.

The upper class Mexican is generally well educated, often having been sent to Europe or the United States for his education. He has the pleasing courtesy of the Spanish race, and is frequently a well-informed man of the world. However, it cannot be said that education in the United States is necessarily an improvement. There is something about the association which is not pleasing. He becomes too "smart" and cynical.

The educated Mexican class earnestly lays claim to a "high civilization," and art, science and literature are, at least in theory, greatly esteemed. There may be, in some respects, an element of superficiality about this refinement, and about life in general, with this class. But to a large extent it has its foundation in reality, and the educated Mexican and the upper class man of business has nothing to lose in point of culture in comparison with, for example, the American or other foreign business man. Indeed, it is the latter that would often suffer by comparison in this respect, especially the American.


The Mexican is much less dominated by the money-getting spirit than is the man of the United States, and has, perhaps, a wider vision, both in domestic and international affairs. The upper class Mexican woman is justly noted for her beauty and vivacity, and becomes a devoted wife and mother. She is extremely religious. Indeed, the influence of the Church and the priest enter too strongly into the life of the female population of Mexico. The upper class man has often thrown off religion and is acquiring an easy materialism.

With a people of the above described characteristics, it might well be asked from what source does the revolutionary element and bloodthirsty soldiery come? From what class do the ambitious "generals," the would-be presidents, the ruthless guerilla bands spring, whose doings have shocked the civilized world? They do not come from the ordinary class of educated Mexicans, who are peaceful estate owners, lawyers, business men, and so forth, who, in general, would be very loath to risk their persons or property in the hazards of revolution. As to the young man of this class, he generally loves the ease and luxury of city life too much to adventure himself far from his often effiminate pleasures. Nor do they come from the great peon class, which, so far, has asked little more than to pursue its normal life, varied by the not infrequent carousals of feast-days, the pelea de gallos, or cock-fight, and the corrida de toros, or bull-fight, as his Sunday diversions, and[144] to drown his sorrows in draughts of intoxicating pulque or aguardiente.

The revolutionary element is, in fact, drawn from a comparatively small class of ambitious or disappointed politicians and the idle or dissatisfied military element, in the main. It cannot of course be denied that revolution at times springs to being under patriotic or national motives, to remedy the abuses laid on the country by dishonest or oppressive rulers. In reality, disorder is generally the result of a mixture of both these elements. A revolutionary standard having been raised, and a pronunciamiento made, there are rarely lacking followers. The latent martial spirit of the Mexican—a heritage from both his Aztec and Spanish forbears—breaks out. The prospect of place and office attracts the educated malcontent, of booty and licence the lower element, and of higher pay and free food the peon. Political murders and ruthless cruelty attend these operations, and a whole nation is terrorized and its ordinary affairs brought almost to a standstill thereby. Often, however, the revolution is little more than a local affair, and is put down or dies out, although it may have damaged the country's reputation abroad in a measure far exceeding its real importance.

Is there any remedy for this perennial turmoil, and if so, what is the remedy? The reply is that whilst the present economic conditions of Mexico exist, stability will never be reached. A small upper class practically monopolizes the wealth,[145] education, land and opportunity of the Republic—a republic in little more than name. The main bulk of the people, as has been shown, are poor, landless and illiterate, and in consequence easily throw off their settled habits at the bidding of upstart leaders. They have little to lose and perhaps—they think—the possibility of gain by disorder.

The steadying element of a settled middle class grows very slowly to being in Mexico. Industry is in its infancy. Little is manufactured in the country, except cotton, textiles, and even here the wage of the operative is exceedingly low. Such manufacturing industry is mainly represented by the well-advanced cotton and textile factories of Puebla and elsewhere, works of much importance, generally actuated by water-power plant. This is a highly profitable industry for the mill-owners, who reap dividends often of thirty per cent. Manufacturing industry here, as in the other Latin American Republics, is accompanied in its growth by the rise of the strike habit, which is rapidly increasing. Jealousy of the foreign concessionaire—who flourished so markedly under the Diaz regimen—is a further element in disorder. The advancement of the masses has been extremely slow. A new spirit is needful if progress is to be made, a recognition of the rights of the Mexican "democracy," a better co-ordination of the national resources and a constructive and equitable economic policy, added to disinterested political leadership.


Mexico in reality offers conditions for prosperous and enlightened life. Its natural resources are varied, abundant and well distributed. The country does not, like some other Latin American States, draw revenue from any great or special article of export (sooner or later the economic defect of a land), but can be more or less self-contained and self-supplying. Innumerable pleasing towns and picturesque villages are scattered over its surface, which normally are centres of peaceful life, and the population is well distributed. There is much of beauty in the architecture of these towns, and of refinement and dignity among the people—elements largely, a heritage of Spanish rule, added to the native disposition.

The nation is not yet over-commercialized or vulgarized, and if political and economic stability can grow to being without becoming so, Mexico might build up for itself a pleasing and durable civilization, and become a permanent leader among the republics of the New World.

The traveller who has sojourned in this picturesque and romantic land, who has experienced its pleasing hospitality and has understood the character of its people, cannot but hope that such future awaits it. In the coming settlement of the world Mexico has a good deal to offer, but trading must be accompanied in the future by statesmanship, here as elsewhere. Mexico, indeed, is a subject for a science of constructive economic biology.


The history of Mexico after Independence shows how resolutely the Mexicans threw off the method of governance by Royalty, but it is a question whether there might not have been a more sustained and orderly development under that system.

At this time, Mexico was the third largest empire in the world, and included a large part of what is now the Western United States, such as California and Texas and the adjoining territories, as well as Guatemala. She began her independent history with an emperor—Iturbide, who patriotically wished to strive against the "Holy Alliance" which schemed to bring about the re-domination of Spain, but he was executed by Mexicans, and fell, serene, and disdainful of his ungrateful compatriots.

The ill-fated figure of Maximilian stands out in picturesque silhouette in Mexican history, well-meaning but weak; as does the pathetic story of the Empress Carlota, and her appeal to Napoleon against his perhaps perfidious withdrawal of French troops from Mexico. Maximilian was "executed" at Queretaro. Two faithful Mexican officers shared his fate—Miramon and Mejia. "Take you the place of honour in the centre," said the ill-fated Hapsburg prince in turn to each of them, as facing the file of soldiers they awaited the volley. But each declined, the carbines rang out, and so passed the dream of empire in Mexico. An Austrian warship arrived to take his body; the commander asking for the remains of "the[148] Emperor of Mexico." But he was informed that "no such person had existed," although the body of "Maximilian of Austria" was delivered to him. In the Museum of Mexico to-day, all that remains is his gilded coach and some other trappings.

The dream of empire in Mexico was largely due to the Napoleon of the times, and was mainly frustrated by the action of the United States and the Monroe Doctrine. Imperial government was, however, supported by a very large party of upper class Mexicans.

The Mexicans, rightly or wrongly, have retained to this day a certain animosity against the United States by reason of the loss of their huge northern territory of Texas, in what they called la guerra injusta, the "unjust war," in which they declared that American machinations were displayed in order to deprive them of the land. One phase of this history was in the filling up of Texas, in part, by American filibusters, and in the upholding of slavery there by the American Government, the Mexicans having made a decree forbidding slavery; and this must be recorded to the credit of Mexico. Black slavery there brought a dreadful fruit, and even in recent—and present—times race riots, including the burning alive of negroes, have been a result.

However, this is past history, and these territories developed under American rule in a way that would not have been possible under the Mexicans. To-day we hear of constant antagonism across the border. It is urged by some that the[149] United States might enter and control Mexico, but it is to be hoped that Washington is wiser than to embark upon such an adventure. It might be a difficult and bloody undertaking, and, even if successful militarily, would but perpetuate race-hatred in the New World. The Mexicans, a people of nearly twenty millions strong, must work out their own destiny. The history of Mexico shows the evils of forced and unnatural episodes and conditions, and this would but add to the series.

Many a battle has been fought between Americans and Mexicans since the first conflict in 1846, and both nations have had occasion to test each other's bravery and capacity in war. The Mexicans excel in guerilla warfare, and are splendid horsemen, but the more solid tactics of the Americans generally prevailed. Mexico was invaded more than once by United States forces, and, indeed, occupied. The storming of Chapultepec Castle, near the city of Mexico, was one of the heroic engagements, when a young Mexican, rather than see his country's flag fall into the hands of the—to them—"hated Yanquis," wrapped it round his body and leapt from the turret, to be dashed to pieces on the stones below.

All students of American matters will look for that time when these two countries will dwell in amicable relationship, such as seemed, in the time of Diaz, to have been reached, but in which, in reality, jealousy and rancour were but thinly veiled. There is really nothing fundamental between the[150] two people against amicable relations and co-operation in those matters of mutual interest on their continent.

Thus we leave this interesting land of Mexico, to make our way into another region, no less attractive, in its own particular field.



Vol. I. To face p. 150.





An enormous horizon opens to the traveller who essays the voyage along the Pacific coast of South America, from Panama perhaps to the extremity of the continent; a voyage through every range of climate, from the Equator to the frigid south, past verdant tropic shores or barren desert, or beneath eternal snowfields; a voyage redolent of the early heroic history of the New World, with, to-day, a setting of the picturesque modern life of the old viceregal, one-time colonies of Spain.

We shall touch at innumerable seaports, the outlet of five different countries; those of Colombia and Ecuador, of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. From Panama to Cape Horn this vast trajectory of some five thousand miles may be roughly divided into six parts of eight hundred miles each; that is, Panama to Guayaquil, thence to Callao, thence to Iquique, thence to Valparaiso, with the remainder along the southern coast of Chile: a voyage equal approximately to one from Liverpool to New York and back again.


Due to the comparative tranquillity of the ocean, the voyage is made in steamers of coasting type, in which the state-rooms are all upon the deck, and open directly therefrom, a pleasing arrangement in comparison with the stuffy hold of trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific vessels.

Behold, then, a sterile coastline, beaten by never-ending surf, broken by rocky promontories, bird-covered perhaps, and seal-haunted, whence the distant roar of breaking rollers at times comes seaward, and, inland, a rising, undulating zone of desert and cañon, brown or tawny or purple in its shadows, stretching away mysteriously for perhaps a hundred miles to where it meets the solemn Cordillera, which, grey, faint and serrated, with no form save that of outline—the true test of distance—forms our horizon on the east.

Above is a deep blue sky, but inclining to greens and opals, for, in the west, with banners of gold and crimson vapours—the colours of Spain, whose mariners first beheld it here, the sun is setting, its disc already upon the bosom of the Pacific. The sun-god of the Incas goes down, and rose-tinted rays shoot across the stark and rugged littoral and touch the edges of the green, refreshing seas, rising between the steamer and the distant surf. It is the coast of Peru, and in this romantic hour of sunset yonder deserts might be peopled with the spectral forms of mail-clad Spaniards, the gaunt Pizarro at their head, heedless of all save empire and El Dorado.

But not a sail or hull disputes possession of[153] the fast-darkening sea, with the quivering steamer upon whose deck we stand, cleaving its way a thousand miles from Panama; and if ghosts there be, why not one of a caravel of Drake, hot on the Plate ships' track from Callao? Nor on the seaboard does a single habitation denote the presence of man, for we are passing one of those stretches of desert of which this coast is largely composed.

But let us look more closely, and imagine we behold for a moment the forms of the intrepid white men who first broke in upon this desolation.

It is the early part of the sixteenth century. Upon the seashore there is a band of mail-clad Spaniards, at their head a tall bearded man, spare of frame, but full of spirit, that spirit which dares the unknown and dares again, in spite of famine and privation. It is Pizarro, the famous conquistador, and in his hand is a drawn sword. There has been disaffection in the band, wrought of sufferings and disappointment in that desolate region. "Where is the gold we have been promised?" the malcontents exclaim. "What profit is there in fighting famine and miserable savages? Let us go back to Panama before we all perish!"

For reply Pizarro drew the point of his sword across the sand. "Comrades," he said, "on the south of this line lie perhaps hardship and death; on the north salvation and ease. Yet perhaps on the south is Peru and untold wealth; on the north Panama and poverty. Choose you which you will.[154] I go south. Who follows?" And thus speaking, he stepped across the line.

Twelve faithful spirits followed this action, and, later, the thirteen received special reward from the Spanish Sovereign.

Others arrived from Panama, and the voyage was continued. Among the band was a valiant Greek of great stature, Pedro de Candia, and he, on one occasion, contemplating from the ship a distant fertile valley, went ashore alone to traverse it. "Resolved I am," he said, "to explore yonder valley or die," and, bearing a great wooden cross in one hand, and his sword and carbine, he broke in upon the astonished Indians, returning unharmed with tales of gardens filled with artificial flowers of gold, and other wonders. This was at Tumbez.

But the conquest of Peru was not thus easily to be performed. The Spaniards' resources were limited, and they returned to Panama. But a few gold and silver toys and some Indian sheep—the llamas—which they took back, did not greatly impress the unimaginative Governor of that colony, and Pizarro was obliged to proceed to Spain, where he made a good impression at Court. His further expedition was, however, rendered possible mainly by the Queen—a woman again furnishing the imagination and means to discover the New World! She it was who rewarded Pizarro and his twelve faithful companions, in the capitulacion she caused to be drawn up.[12]


Pizarro and his men returned to brave the hardships of the coast again, but we must leave this interesting history and turn to our topography.

The conditions of aridity on this coast, upon which rain never or scarcely ever falls, is a result of the interception by the Andes of the trade winds, whose moisture is deposited on the summits, and of the cool Peruvian or Humboldt current, flowing northwards up the coast, its lower temperature preventing the evaporation of the sea and discharge of the moisture as rain.

We shall have noted this peculiar change to aridity soon after passing the Equator, as before remarked. The shores of the Gulf of Guayaquil and part of the Ecuadorian coast are vividly green from the dense mangrove thickets and other vegetation, but as soon as the mist zone of the Equator is left behind the coastal zone becomes stark and unfruitful, beaten by tearing surges between the few havens.

Upon leaving Panama and its famous Canal—whose great works rapidly fade into the haze of distant shore and mountain, reminding us how small the greatest human mark on the face of Nature really is—we have passed the Pacific coast of Colombia, which does not present any very noteworthy features. It is shut off from the interior by the high mountains, and is often unhealthy and but thinly populated, notwithstanding that it affords certain resources and potentialities that in the future should be valuable. At the principal port of Buenaventura it is unlikely that our steamer[156] will call. The settled and prosperous Colombia—the old viceregal colony of New Granada—lies in the highlands, whose means of access are from beyond the Isthmus of Panama, upon the "Spanish Main," as we shall see elsewhere. However, Buenaventura is the port for the beautiful Cauca Valley, the garden vale of Colombia, with its pleasing town of Cali, and a line of railway has painfully made its way up this steep littoral thereto. Buenaventura was reached by the first Spaniard to sail this sea, Andagoya, who named it the Port of Good Fortune, but the great prize of discovery lay in Peru, which he did not reach: the prize which fell to the more fortunate and adventurous Pizarro. The port has been described as perhaps the most beautiful on the Pacific coast, but the traveller who desires in addition material comforts will not prolong his stay thereat.

Our vessel, pursuing its way, will shortly have sighted the coast of Ecuador, and may, if conditions concerning quarantine be favourable, have to enter the great indentation which forms the Gulf of Guayaquil.

The Guayas River, with the Island of Puna at its mouth, is of considerable width, but narrows as the ocean steamer ascends it so much that passage at times is difficult. Memories of Pizarro centre about the island.

The seaport of Guayaquil lies over thirty miles upstream, and its aspect on approaching is a striking one; its buildings clustered along the water-front, backed by verdure-clad hills, and the shipping[157] in the harbour, and, at night, the rows of lights of the streets, give an impression of considerable importance to this tropical seaport. The river off Guayaquil has been likened to the Mississippi at New Orleans. In early times the town was frequently sacked by buccaneers—French, English and others, among them the ubiquitous Dampier. Its dreadful reputation for malaria and yellow-fever has caused travellers to shun the place, but these matters have experienced some improvement of recent years, especially since the building of the Panama Canal.

As the steamer lies in the stream, enterprising Indian boatmen bring off certain native wares for sale to the passengers, among them the famous "Panama" hats—which are, be it noted, not a product of Panama, but of the coastal district north of Guayaquil, notably Jipijapa and Monte Cristi. They are also made in Colombia. Great industry, patience and knowledge are displayed by the Indians in making these hats, of which the material is a palm fibre, not a straw or grass. They are a really beautiful and dexterous example of native industry.

Upon the Manabi coast, in the same region, we may see some remarkable vestiges of the ancient folk of Ecuador, in the great carved stone armchairs or seats ranged upon a flat hill-top. These seats are unique in early American archæology and form a puzzle to the antiquarian.[13]

Six hundred miles to the west, far out of our[158] track here, lie the Galapagos Islands, a possession of Ecuador, the home of the monstrous turtles whose name the archipelago bears.

The Guayas River and its affluents command our attention and interest by reason both of their beauty and economic importance. They form the only considerable fluvial system on the whole western coast of South America, where, in general, the streams are of small volume and unnavigable. Here we may navigate the river and its arms for two hundred miles, and our vessel will convey us past many a flourishing hacienda on the banks, where the famous cacao of Ecuador is grown—the chocolate of commerce, of which the region produces, or has been accustomed to produce, a third of the world's supply. This fertility is due to the nature of the alluvial soil, which for ages has collected in what are locally termed bancos; areas or deposits specially suitable for the cultivation of the cocoa-trees. Many such haciendas flourish upon these rivers, and are sources of much wealth to their proprietors and to the nation. The alluvial mud of such remarkable fertilizing properties is carried along by the waters, which have deposited it in these favoured spots upon the network of streams which fall into the Guayas.

Groups of feathery coco-palms, with their slender columns and graceful foliage, which flourish around the haciendas, form a pleasing picture, which serves to offset the somewhat monotonous appearance of the sabanas, or barer stretches of flat land which we overlook from the steamer's deck, and which[159] alternate with the cacaotales, cafetales and cañaverales, as the coco and coffee plantations and the great cane brakes—of monstrous bamboos, which are a valuable article of construction—are termed.



Vol. I. To face p. 158.

We remark here the curious native rafts, which without other agency than the current ascend and descend the rivers on the flowing and the ebbing tide, reaching Guayaquil, and returning thence upstream.

Continuing our voyage along the coast, the eye may fall upon the white guano-covered headlands, and the attention is suddenly arrested by what appears at first sight to be a low dark cloud moving on the face of the waters. It approaches, and we see that it is not a cloud, but a flight of birds, innumerable, and flying in close formation—at times, indeed, they obscure the sky. These are the guano-producing birds, which haunt the rocky headlands and islets, and whose product has been so considerable a source of wealth and contention on this coast. Guano was used by the Incas in their intelligent and painstaking agricultural operations, and its misuse or monopoly was prohibited.

The Incas, vestiges of whose remarkable structures and curious customs we find scattered in profusion throughout the enormous territory—perhaps two thousand miles in length—which formed their empire, upon whose coast we are journeying here, made little use of the sea, except for fishing. By relays of posts, of Indian runners, fish was carried in fresh, across the deserts and over the Cordillera, for the table of the Inca at[160] Cuzco, which town, the ancient Mecca and capital of the early Peruvians, is situated in a valley 11,500 feet above sea-level and over two hundred miles inland—a remarkable performance.

The Incas were not a seafaring people, and their civilization—for it fully merits the name of such—was indeed cut off from the rest of the world both by the ocean and by the enormous rugged chains of the Andes, and by the impenetrable forests of the Amazon basin on the east. As far as is known, they appear not to have had knowledge even of the contemporaneous cultures of the Mayas, the Aztecs, and the Toltecs of Mexico and Central America, although all these early American cultures may have had a common origin, in times much nearer the general childhood of the world.

Was this coast first explored and even settled by the Chinese long before Columbus sailed? There are reasons for thinking this may have been so.

The exploits of Pizarro and his followers took place in the neighbourhood of Tumbez, near the westernmost point of the South American Continent. How, fighting against famine, they made their way along this stark and inhospitable littoral and ascended the Andes, where by a combination of intrepidity and treachery they overcame the reigning Inca chief and his people, forms one of the most fascinating episodes of early American history.

To-day, when we leave our comfortable steamer and follow those same paths, we find little alteration,[161] in many respects, after the lapse of four centuries. We must journey in the saddle over the roughest and often most dangerous of mountain trails. At night it may be that an indifferent fonda, or inn, in the poor Indian villages on the road will afford some hospitality, but this will be of the meanest description. Railways are few and far between along this immense and little-travelled seaboard; food is scarce and life primitive.

But the stamp of Spain is over all, and there is an atmosphere—attenuated it may be—of the times of Don Quijote de la Mancha in its social regimen. We cannot withhold a tribute to Spain, in remarking how she stamped, for all time, her own characteristic culture throughout thousands of miles, east, north and south, of tropic seaboard and rugged Cordillera, upon this great continent.

But "Spanish gentlemen should not soil their hands in trade" ran a decree of the old "Laws of the Indies," and the Spaniards, except for their exploitation of the rich gold, silver and quicksilver mines (at a terrible toll of Indian lives), did not reap much commercial profit from their possessions. This great mineral wealth was poured for centuries into the needy coffers of Spain—poured as into a sieve, for it was largely squandered. Under the viceroys the mines were worked with feverish activity. In one instance an urgent mandate for increased production so worked upon the official in charge of one of the huge mines, those of Huancavelica, in yonder[162] mountains—a veritable labyrinth of underground galleries and chambers, among which was a chapel, deep below the surface, with candles ever burning before its shrines—that he ordered the supporting columns of ore to be taken out, with a result that the mine fell in, entombing five hundred miners, whose bones remain in the ruin to this day, it is said.

As for commerce, the British are the great Phœnicians on this coast; transporting cargo hither and bearing it hence. The German activity became marked before the war, but the Kosmos line of steamers stopped, and the Teutonic bagsman ceased his assiduous traverse of the interior villages with his wares.

Mining in Peru is not what it was in the time of Spain. A wealthy company of United States capitalists, it is true, ships great quantities of copper from the wonderful deposits of Cerro de Pasco, 15,000 feet above sea-level, and there are many smaller concerns of varied nationalities. But thousands of irregular subterranean workings all over the vast Cordillera remain waterlogged and abandoned—mines where the visitor is told of fabulous wealth extracted, and which still contain untold riches, awaiting the time when they shall be called upon to surrender their hidden stocks of gold and silver, of copper and a host of other minerals. The glories of Potosi have in large measure departed, but the tin mines of Bolivia yield annually a large proportion of the world's supply of that metal.


Enormous coalfields—notwithstanding that South America has been regarded as a coal-less continent—exist in the Andes, their upturned strata outcropping in the bleakest regions, in some cases amid the perpetual snow.

To-day the cultivators of sugar and cotton in the irrigated valleys of this vast littoral have come into their kingdom, reaping, during the war, fortunes from the shipment of these commodities to Britain; their only plaint that of the restriction of carriage. The merchant and the shopkeeper made the same lament, and the fashionable and simpatica dames of Latin American Society bewailed the impossibility of their enjoyment of the latest Parisian modes.

Away on the slopes and tablelands of the grim Cordillera the ancient palaces and temples of the bygone Incas look down, unknown, unvisited, save by those whom interest or chance may take that way. Once washed by the waves of Lake Titicaca—that most remarkable of lakes, 12,500 feet above the sea, yet whereon we may journey out of sight of land—lie the ruins of that strange temple of Tiahuanako, of unknown age, the most ancient handiwork of man in the New World.

To-day, all that remains of that epoch are these old stone structures, save that the Indian, as evening falls, preserving some sentiment of an ancient state, climbs the lonely hills, and there, alone, makes mournful music with his flute of reeds: notes which fall weirdly upon the ear as we pass beneath, across the wide plateau.


The empire of the Incas lay principally in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, and extended to the northern part of Chile, but the Incas did not overcome the Araucanian Indians—fierce and intractable—who dwelt in Chile. Nor did they, apparently, descend very much beyond the eastern slopes of the Andes, into the forests and plains of the Amazon and of the Plate, though there are some vestiges of their occupation there. They established a line of forts, of blocks of squared stone along the ceja, or edge, of the Montaña, some of which we may see to-day, doubtless to ward off the attacks of the forest savages.

The Incas possessed great stores of gold, which they used to make household vessels for the princes and for religious purposes, and the Spaniards possessed themselves of this gold. Much of it was sent down to the coast for shipment to Spain, to fill the needy coffers of the Spanish sovereigns. Some of it fell into the clutches of Drake and other enterprising adventurers into these realms of gold, who disputed the Spanish monopoly of the New World.

Let us imagine, as we pace the deck of the steamer and look over towards the setting sun, touching the bosom of the broad Pacific, an early scene upon these waters. Here is Drake's ship, Golden Hind or Pelican, blowing out of Callao with every stitch of canvas set. Drake has heard that a Plate ship, laden with gold and silver, has just set sail for Panama, and he is chagrined at having missed it. The Spaniards had feared no[165] danger. As far as they had known there were no craft in these waters save those which flew the colours of Spain. But now the viceroy of Lima, Don Francisco de Toledo, is uneasy. The, to him, unspeakable Drake—"Caramba! Draco, a Dragon"—is about!

The English ship overhauls the plate ship. But the wind drops and she is still hull down, many a mile of heaving sea between. Shall they lose the prize? No; the boats are put out, and for three days the men of Devon towed their vessel, straining at their oars as British seamen will, and the sluggish Plate ship rises more upon their horizon. Away they toil, past the river of Guayaquil, above which the gleaming Chimborazo rears his distant head, until, six hundred miles to spare from the haven of Panama, she is overtaken, off Cape San Francisco, in what is now Ecuador. They board the ship and seize the treasure, which, according to the Spanish chroniclers, amounted to nearly a million pounds sterling.

The viceroy did not altogether lose hope of recovering this treasure. He prepared a veritable hornets' nest for Drake, in the form of an armada, which was ordered to wait at the Strait of Magellan, which, he imagined, Drake must pass in order to get home. But Drake was not thus to be entrapped. He sailed on northwards—trying for a strait eastward through America—reaching the spot known now as Drake's Bay, in California; found, of course, no passage; careened his ship, cleaned it, and turning his prow westward, sailed[166] across the Pacific, going completely round the world for England, where he was worthily knighted by Queen Elizabeth on the quarter-deck of his wave-worn ship.

Guayaquil is the gateway to ancient Quito, in the Cordillera, and between that port and Callao is Salaverry with the quaint and busy Peruvian town of Trujillo, founded by Pizarro. Callao, to-day, is the principal seaport upon this vast coast, between Panama and Valparaiso. The Oroya railway running therefrom takes us up to the summit of the Andes, nearly 16,000 feet above sea-level, first passing through the old viceregal capital, and ascending the valley of the Rimac, whose waters, the whispering oracle of the Incas, gave their name to Lima.

Lima, the old Ciudad de los Reyes, or "city of the kings," as Pizarro, its founder, termed it, in honour of his Spanish sovereigns, surrounded by its cultivated lands, irrigated from the Rimac, must be regarded as one of the premier cities of the Spanish American world, and one of the most quaint and pleasing, with many historical and literary attributes, a legacy of the old viceregal times. A handsome cathedral overlooks the broad, well-planted plaza, and its high towers, rebuilt after the disastrous earthquake of 1746, a sketch of whose terrors I have given later on, dominate the green campiña, or countryside.

It is a city of many churches and other ecclesiastical buildings, and has something of that[167] mediaeval atmosphere we have remarked in the city of Mexico, and some of its public buildings are worthy of note. The gloomy structure which held the Inquisition faces upon a small plaza in the midst of which arises a bronze equestrian figure of Bolivar, a replica of that at Caracas. We remark the carved oak balconies to certain of the ancient houses, former residences of viceroys and nobles.

But Lima does not love to live upon its past. Its people have laid out a magnificent Paseo, or promenade, named after Columbus, and here a gay and fashionable throng parades upon the Sabbath day, or in the evenings, listening to the music of the band amid the palms and flowers. Here congregate the wealth and beauty of the city, its statesmen and leaders, and all those who customarily throng to these earthly paradises which the Spanish Americans customarily lay out as adjuncts of their cities. The latest modes are seen, the fashions of Paris and London—also the half-naked Indian, unlettered and unashamed.

Lima possesses many educational and scientific bodies and establishments, and has a well-deserved claim to being a centre of culture. Its Press is one of the best in South America: its people have strong poetical leanings and administrative genius. Among the more recent of successful presidents stand forth the names of Pardo, Pierola, and Leguia. The last-named, a capable administrator, lived in London during the Great War and went through the experience of air-bombardment,[168] when he returned to Peru to take up his second term of office.

There is a certain isolation about Lima, due to its geographical position. The other large towns of the Republic are separated from it by vast stretches of desert and Cordillera, and the railways give access to but a few points, whilst any interruption of the steamer lines along the coast cuts it off from the outside world. However, its picturesque watering-places and well-built residential suburbs extend the amenities of Lima over a wider zone.

The upper-class folk of Peru, as we behold them in their capital and other large towns, have the pleasing traits of courtesy and hospitality we are accustomed to associate with their race in marked degree. They are extremely eloquent, and aim at a high standard of civilization—that sensitive characteristic of the Spanish American. Their women have justly earned a world-wide reputation for their beauty and vivacity, their good breeding and culture, as well as their piety and high standard of family life. If the hand of semi-mediaeval custom still hampers Peru in its social customs, this is a matter which time constantly modifies.

All parts of Spain furnished the ancestors of the Peruvians—Basque, Catalonian, Andalusian, Galician, and Castillian names being encountered among them, and in viceregal days there were many titles of nobility, which fell into disuse on the advent of the Republic. Nevertheless, it is[169] an amiable weakness of the Peruvians—as it is of many other Latin American folk—to love titles, as we see by the so frequent use of the doctorate degree. In a Peruvian Cabinet, it would be rare to discover a minister who is not addressed as "Doctor"—of laws or science—for the degree is often taken in Latin America largely as conferring some social distinction, and not necessarily with the purpose of practising this or that profession. Yet in justice to the Peruvians it must be said that they are clever professional men, whether at law, medicine or other, whilst practical science has its outlet also in the engineering profession, a considerable number of whose exponents make a study of the country's agricultural and mineral potentialities.

A pleasing feature of the Peruvians is their cordial welcome of foreigners, their desire to assimilate the things of the outside world, and strong notions of progress. It is not, however, to be supposed that their houses are readily open to the foreign visitor. Like all Latin Americans they are exclusive; and the traveller must be a caballero, a person of refinement, if he is to enter their family circle.

The main defect of the country and its governing classes is the neglect of the vast Indian and lower-class population, for this upper and enlightened class is but a small proportion of the population. The oligarchical tendencies which we find so strongly marked in Chile, in Mexico, and, indeed, in every Latin American State, are strong in Peru. These countries can never truly progress[170] until they take their domestic responsibilities more seriously, thereby improving the economic and social status of the great bulk of poor folk whom Providence has delivered to their charge. On the contrary, they are more and more exposed to uprising and anarchy, such as that so terribly exemplified in Mexico, and farther afield in Russia. If they would preserve their culture they must extend it. It is true that these responsibilities concerning the Cholos and Indians have of recent years been more widely recognized, but much remains to be done in the field of practice. Elsewhere I venture to discuss, in the closing chapters of this book, what would appear to be the lines upon which the solution of this vital question of Spanish America should proceed.

Peru is not yet freed from the revolutionary habit, the game of politics which brings unrest and at times destruction. The sweets of office are always alluring. The game is generally played in Peru by but a few, the bulk of the people standing aloof. Its incidents are often extremely picturesque and at times operatic. A president may, one day, be in the zenith of his power, surrounded by his admirers and fellow-administrators. The next, arrested by a rival with a handful of soldiers, he may find himself on board a steamer for Panama, deported, banished and alone. This method is at least better than that which at earlier times involved political murders, some of which stand forth in the republican history of Peru.

In justice, however, it must be said that such[171] stains on the pages of the past are not more marked in Peru than in the case of some of her neighbours in the New World. Moreover, it is useless for the European to pretend to arraign the Spanish American for these practices, whilst his own house is, or has so recently been, the scene of such dreadful disorders.

From the disorders of man here on the great Pacific coast, let us turn to the unrest of Nature. During our stay in Lima we may have experienced an earthquake shock, slight or considerable, and with others have hastily left our dwelling. Upon this coast the scourge of the earthquake and the tidal wave is at times laid heavy upon the dwellers. The destruction of Valparaiso is but a recent occurrence, as was that of San Francisco, in California. To-morrow, these or any other cities along the unstable edge of this hemisphere might be brought low from the same cause.

Here is a picture of terror from the middle of the eighteenth century. It was in Lima, the beautiful capital of Peru, when, on a summer night in October 1746, the folk of the city were leaving the temples after celebrating the fiestas of Saint Simon and Saint Jude. Rich and noble personages, escorted by their slaves, were exchanging, as was customary, friendly visits. The moon shone brilliantly from a cloudless sky; all was quiet and peaceful: the twang of a guitar or other evening whispers of the city alone broke the serenity. The bells of the convents and the church-tower clocks struck half-past ten. It was bedtime.


Suddenly a terrific shaking of the earth took place; the foundations of the world seemed loosened, the people were thrown from their beds; the towers of the churches fell; the walls and roofs of the houses crashed in; the most dreadful panic reigned as thousands of persons were smothered in living tombs. It was an earthquake.

The shock lasted three minutes, during which the earth was wrenched and torn as if by a giant. In the time it takes to tell the city was destroyed, and the work of over two hundred years brought to ruin. Of a city with 60,000 souls, not more than twenty-five houses remained. Of the two great towers of the cathedral, one fell upon the domed roof and the other on the belfry, destroying the temple in great part—so chronicled a Jesuit priest who witnessed it. Five magnificent churches were laid in ruins, with sixty convents, chapels and monasteries. The great buildings fell upon the small—all were demolished. The streets were blocked with wreckage: the inhabitants, in all states of dress and undress, striving to flee, were crushed by falling walls. Sweet maidens of Lima, old hags from the back streets, noble and priest, gallant and beggar, all in their terror jostled each other. Those engaged in illicit amours confessed their sins to unheeding ears. The viceroy's palace fell; the triumphal arch with the equestrian statue of Philip V fell; the Royal University and colleges fell; the Tribunal of the Inquisition was reduced to fragments.


In Lima at this time Catholicism was in the zenith of its power and splendour and the faith of the people strongest. But no one dare approach the churches, notwithstanding that they were the home of God. The shocks continued—more than two hundred in twenty-four hours—and went on for three days. Trenches were opened to bury the dead. The stench of the dead bodies of mules smothered in their stables was unbearable. Over six thousand persons perished.

Whilst the stricken people were seeking their lost relatives, another terror was visited upon them. Suddenly, from Callao appeared a negro on horseback, his eyes starting from their sockets, shouting in accents of terror: "Save yourselves! the sea is coming sweeping in over the coast! It will be upon you!"

Lima is but a few miles from Callao, with a strip of coastal land between. The earthquake had given rise, as it commonly does on that coast, to a tidal-wave, which was now rushing inland. It did not, however, reach Lima, falling some distance short, and, it is said, rising to 150 feet above sea-level. But the people already seemed to see themselves overwhelmed. A priest, half naked, wounding his own breast in penitential frenzy, rushed through the streets, ashes on his head, the bit and bridle of a mule in his mouth. "This is the punishment of heaven upon sinners!" he cried, and he beat himself with an iron bar until the blood gushed from his body. At the sight, thousands of persons fell on their knees,[174] imploring pardon from heaven, confessing their crimes, but "as all were sinners, none lent ear to the confession of others, being too much occupied in recounting their own misdeeds."

In Callao a more dreadful scene was enacted. After the first great shock of the earthquake, the people tried to flee from the town, but the gates had been locked for the night, and whilst they flocked the streets, screaming and praying, endeavouring to avoid the falling walls, a terrible thing was seen. The sea had gone out for more than two miles from the shore, forming mountains of water that seemed to reach the skies. The mountains of water then rushed forward and fell with horrid crash upon the doomed city, submerging the ships in the bay or carrying them in among the houses. The cries for mercy to heaven were vain: there was no mercy shown them, and the people perished. When at length the waters retired, nothing was left of Callao but part of the wall and the two great doors of the city.[14]

To this day the image of Nuestra Señora de los Temblores—Our Lady of the Earthquakes—is carried through the streets of Lima, as of other Peruvian towns, such as Arequipa, which has suffered terribly from earthquakes in its history, whenever the earth trembles, that the heavens may be appeased.

A moral effect of these visitations is to be noted by the traveller in Peru. It is seen that[175] the women of the labouring class wear very long skirts that often drag in the mud or dust. It was ordained that, the formerly short skirts being immodest and displeasing to heaven, which, it was held, had punished the people by that earthquake, they should henceforth be worn long enough to conceal the ankles!

Perhaps the devotees of exaggerated feminine fashion in Europe to-day might usefully ponder these occurrences!





Our course still lies southward. The steamer, at times approaching sufficiently near the coast or calling at the small seaports to set down passengers or to embark merchandise—of ores, cotton, sugar, cattle and so forth—permits glimpses of the littoral, the long stretches of desert alternating with fruitful vales, irrigated by the rivers descending from the Cordillera. Here and there the curious médanos, or moving sand-dunes, arrest the eye;[15] here and there are olive-groves and vineyards and other cultivation of Southern Peru, where excellent wines are produced. Soon we shall pass the Chilean frontier, and away in the interior lies Bolivia, among the distant Andes, whose grey and solemn wall looks down eternally upon the seaboard.

Let us ascend from the coast by one of the railways here, that running from the Peruvian port of Mollendo, an exceedingly bad and exposed roadstead,[177] in which, at times, it is difficult to gain the shore at all from the heavy surf.



Vol. I. To face p. 176.

The Southern Railway, ascending the dreadful volcanic wastes, and barren, rocky spurs which mark this region, reaches the pleasing city of Arequipa, lying at nearly 8,000 feet elevation. It stands at the foot of the Misti, a high, snow-covered volcano, whose conical form reveals its geological structure, a prominent landmark in this part of Peru, seen far over the surrounding deserts. The tonic breezes and blue sky give to Arequipa an invigorating environment. The cathedral, a handsome structure, and the houses, are built of volcanic freestone, which gives an air of solidity and repose to the place.

In including Arequipa in our survey of the coast we shall be consulting the wishes of the people of the city, who prefer to consider themselves as of the coastal region—with all that such a position conveys—for the coast represents a more advanced culture here, as contrasted with the Sierra, or Cordillera.

The fortunate traveller will retain pleasing impressions of Arequipa and its society—its

Bright skies and brighter eyes.

The railway, leaving Arequipa, passes the main range of the Cordillera at an elevation of nearly 15,000 feet, and descends to Lake Titicaca, whence fresh-water navigation on this high inland sea carries the traveller into Bolivia.


Lake Titicaca is perhaps the most remarkable lake in the world. A body of fresh water, 12,500 feet above the sea, and two hundred miles long, upon which we navigate out of sight of land, is perhaps unique. From the steamer the imposing range of the White Cordillera of Bolivia is seen, the snow-covered Andes, from Sorata to Illimani, whose crests or peaks rise to over 20,000 feet. We remark the craft of the natives, the curious balsas of woven grass, sometimes with mat sails, in which they navigate the lake. Titicaca is peculiar in being a hydrographic entity, having no outlet except that the water flows for a few miles along a channel to the adjacent Lake Poopo. Fed by the melting snow of the Andes, the waters are kept down solely by the agency of evaporation and some possible seepage.

Beyond these high lake basins and the mountain crests to the east stretch the illimitable forests of the Amazon, partly unexplored, a lure to the traveller.

But we must return to the seaboard. We have already remarked that Bolivia possesses no ports. She is isolated from the coast, having lost the port of Antofagasta in the Nitrate War of last century.

In passing, it might be remarked that the comity of the South American nations on the coast might be consolidated if this seaport could be restored to Bolivia. Nothing in the future is likely to cause more enmity than the arbitrary cutting-off of peoples by adjoining nations from access to[179] seas and navigable rivers, whether in America or Europe. The nitrate region, which was the scene of the bloody struggle between Peru and Chile, and in which Bolivia took part, stretches like a veritable Sahara upon the littoral here, south of Tacna and Arica. These two last-named provinces were, students of South American polity will recollect, possessions of Peru, and are now held by Chile. They are still the cause of bitter controversy between the two nations, which periodically threatens to bring about war between them. It is greatly to be lamented that this fruitful source of contention cannot now be settled, and an era of neighbourly feeling brought about, instead of the hypocritical diplomatic expediency and veiled hatred which do duty for international relations on this coast. The matter might well be made the subject of arbitration, with friendly nations (perhaps Britain or the United States) as umpires.

The sun-baked rocks and sands of this part of South America have been stained with the blood of thousands of Chileans and Peruvians, and the same events might occur again. Yet both these nations have more territory than they can efficiently develop.

But the Spanish American people have ever much difficulty in settling their quarrels. Their traits of pride and over-individualism, inherited from the Spaniard, render it difficult to give way. If one performs an act of magnanimity, the other may suspect or accuse it of weakness or cowardice. Both wrap themselves in haughty reserve, both[180] invoke the high gods to bear witness to their own truth, both are quixotic and quick-tempered. Yet they are people of the same civilization, speech, laws, literature and culture, with splendid qualities and a promising future, and if these quarrels could be composed, the progress of the region would be hastened.

The port of Iquique (with Pisagua), south of Arica, is well known to many travellers and other persons interested in the Chilean nitrate fields, of which it is the principal shipping centre.

The greater share of the business of nitrate production is in British hands. The oficinas are establishments peculiar to Northern Chile, forming small colonies or localities, whose workers consist of the Chilean rotos—a hardy and turbulent but industrious folk—headed by English managerial staffs.

Around these centres of industry, on every hand, broken here and there by small oases where water-springs occur, stretches some of the most dreadful desert land in the world. Such, for example, are the desert of Tarapaca, and those intervening between the nitrate pampas and the Cordillera, where neither man nor animal can live, nor blade of herbage can flourish. Nature here, as far as the organic world is concerned, is dead, or has never lived.

Iquique is a town of wooden houses, overlooked by sand-dunes that threaten it from the wind-swept desert, but it has pleasing features, and the English colony here, with its well-known club—it[181] has a reputation for hospitality, and, incidentally, the consumption of cocktails—has its own marked characteristics. The Nitrate Railway ascends through high, broken country to the east to the Pampa. Indeed, the life and thought of the region is largely embodied in the words "Nitrate" and "Pampa."

The deposits of this mineral are unique in geology. There is none other of the same nature on the globe. The mineral lies in horizontal beds a few feet beneath the surface. We may be riding over the flat, absolutely barren pampa, or plain, floored with nothing but fragments of clinkstone, eroded by the ever-drifting sand and unrestful wind, gleaming in the metallic sunlight, for no shower of rain ever visits this wilderness, a place where we might think Nature has nothing to offer of use or profit. But we should be mistaken. An excavation will reveal the sheet of white salts beneath, deposited in geological ages past by marine or lake action, under conditions not clearly understood—deposits which cover many miles of territory. The material is blasted out in open mining and conveyed to the oficinas—large establishments of elaborate machinery and appliances—where it is boiled, refined, re-crystallized and thence shipped for export.

Still farther afield through the deserts here are vast areas of salt, the ground presenting the appearance of a suddenly arrested, billowy sea, over which the horseman makes his way like a lost spirit in Hades. Upon the horizon are the steely[182] Andes, upon whose plateaux here, reached by the highest railway in the world, we find rich copper mines, such as those of Colhuahuassi, and various deposits of the salts of copper.

But to return to the coast. It was upon this melancholy seaboard, the coast of Tarapacá, that a sea-fight, classic in the annals of South America, and indeed one of the very earliest of battles between ironclad ships, took place—an engagement which has rendered the names of Pratt and Grau, the Chilean and the Peruvian admirals, immortal in the memory of their respective countrymen.

Peru and Chile were engaged in life and death struggle with each other on land and sea. Iquique, then a Peruvian port, was blockaded by Chile. Grau, having sailed from Callao for Arica with the Huascar and Independencia, which vessels practically constituted the Peruvian Navy, heard of the blockade, and proceeded to Iquique to engage the enemy. The day was breaking as the Peruvian vessels arrived off the port. The approach was seen by the Esmeralda and the Covadonga, two Chilean ships, and Captain Pratt, on board the Esmeralda, decided to give battle, notwithstanding that the Peruvian vessels were ironclads, whilst his own commands were unarmoured. It was a brave resolution, but the Chileans were born sea-fighters.

The Huascar was a turret-ship, built at Birkenhead in 1866, but of only 1,130 tons, armed with Whitworth and Armstrong guns, but with armour-plating incapable of resisting any[183] heavy cannonade. The Independencia was an older type ironclad, of 2,000 tons, built in London in 1865.

The Esmeralda was a wooden corvette, and the Covadonga a wooden gunboat which had been captured from the Spaniards in the expedition sent by Spain against Chile and Peru in 1866. They carried Armstrong and Nordenfelt guns. The Chileans had some powerful ironclads, as we shall see later, but they were investing Callao at the moment.

Thus unequally armed, the contestants began the engagement. The Huascar opened fire upon the Covadonga and the Independencia strove to ram her. The Huascar then turned her attention to the Esmeralda, and so the battle proceeded for a space. At length, the Esmeralda, feeling the inferiority of her structure, adopted the ruse of steaming into shoal water, hoping to draw her antagonist of greater draught ashore. But ill-fortune frustrated this attempt. There was a loud explosion on board, and it was found that a boiler had burst, crippling her. The Huascar rapidly closed in to 1,000 yards, and at this range the two vessels continued to bombard each other in a struggle to the death, Chilean and Peruvian each serving their guns with equal valour. The noise of the cannonade resounded over the crisp waves of the Pacific and rumbled far inland over the desolate wastes of Tarapacá.

Fortune was against the Chilean. A shell struck her, set her on fire, killing a number of her crew[184] and practically putting her out of action. But the gallant Pratt was not of the stuff that surrenders, notwithstanding the condition of his ship—littered with dead and wounded and in imminent danger of sinking. He would not strike his flag, whilst the Araucanian blood of his sailors, which never gives way, would first go down to death, and the vessel continued her now enfeebled fire.

The Huascar, protected by her armour, was little injured, and Grau, to end the struggle, determined to ram. The ironclad rushed in upon the wooden hull of her victim, ramming her on the port side. Seeing that all was lost and determined at least to sell his life dearly, Captain Pratt leapt from his own craft upon the Peruvian's deck. But a single man had time to follow him before the ships separated again, and "Surrender! surrender!" the Peruvians shouted. For reply, Pratt rushed along the deck, attacked all who opposed him, and, engaging a Peruvian officer, slew him. But so unequal a contest could not last, and, pierced by a dozen bullets, the gallant Pratt fell dead.

But the Esmeralda refused to strike her flag, the standard of the single star, which still waved proudly from her peak. Her second in command swore he would follow the example of his chief, and so it befel. The vessels closed again, the beak of the Peruvian ramming the Esmeralda on the starboard bow, opening a breach. The waters rushed in, the furnace fires were extinguished, the seamen were killed at their posts, but ere they[185] separated, the commanding officer and a sailor leaped upon the Huascar's deck and died fighting, falling as Pratt had fallen. Again the Huascar rammed, simultaneously discharging her guns into the bowels of the doomed corvette. It was the end; the Esmeralda went down, carrying with her to a sailor's grave all but fifty of her crew of two hundred souls. As for the Covadonga, she fled into shoal water, and the Independencia following, ran aground on the rocks, a total wreck, and the Covadonga opened fire upon her.

Notwithstanding this loss, Grau harassed the enemy for months with his single ironclad, until excitement in Chile caused the dispatch of the Chilean fleet, which, having been overhauled, was sent to hunt down this brave and persistent unit to the death.

A misty morning off the coast of Tarapacá. Two Peruvian war vessels, the Huascar and the Union, are steaming quietly to the north. The mist lifts, and to the east disclosed the sandy desert shore and the far, faint, grey range of the Andes. To the west, what? Three lines of smoke from as many hostile funnels. The Union was an indefensible vessel, and Grau signalled her to escape. And now on the north-west three other ominous trails of smoke appear—smoke from the Chilean vessels—the Almirante Cochrane, so named after Lord Cochrane, the Englishman famous in Chilean history; the O'Higgins, named after the Irish President of Chile; and the Loa.

Escape was impossible, unless it were by fighting[186] a way through the line, and, against these odds, the brave Grau prepared his ship for action. He opened fire, striking the Cochrane, whose armour, however, was too strong to pierce, and, at a thousand yards, the Chilean replied. His shot struck the old hand-worked turret of the Huascar so that it ceased to revolve. Grau closed in and strove to ram, but the Cochrane was a twin-screw steamer, and was manipulated well. The Cochrane's armour was thick, her armament heavy, her weight three times that of the old Huascar. For two hours the unequal fight raged on; shot and shell rained from both vessels, often doing but little damage.

Grau was in the conning-tower when his end came, directing the action of his ship, calm and collected. Suddenly there was a crash, and when the smoke cleared away it was seen that the conning-tower had been struck by a shell. It was blown to pieces, as were the brave Peruvian admiral and his officer, nothing remaining of their bodies but a few ghastly fragments.

And now the powerful Blanco Encalada, one of the Chilean ironclads, closed in. A shell from her guns at six hundred yards took off the head of the Huascar's second in command and wounded the third officer. Scarcely had the fourth had time to take his place when he was injured by a shell, and the junior lieutenant assumed command of a ship littered with the dead and dying. Yet though the guns in the tops were silent and those below disabled, the turret injured, the deck strewn[187] with mutilated bodies, the Peruvians kept up the fight, the dying Huascar striving at least to ram one of her enemies before she sank. But at length, being utterly disabled, the vessel hauled down her flag.[16]

Thus ended this epic sea-fight, and with it went the sea-power of Peru. Thus, moreover, was the value of the ironclad demonstrated—the armoured vessel, the forbear of the Dreadnought. The torpedo was also used in this fight, one fired by the Huascar turning back upon the vessel itself, where it would have caused disaster earlier had not a sailor jumped overboard and diverted its course.

The attack on Lima by the Chileans and its defence by the Peruvians, and other episodes of the war following on the above events, make terrible reading—a history of which, however, we cannot here enter upon.

We continue to pass the coasts of the nitrate-bearing lands, whose working and export yield the Republic of Chile their greatest source of revenue.

It was off the Chilean coast, it will be recollected, that another and more modern engagement between vessels of war took place, when a weaker British squadron was overpowered by the German Pacific Fleet—a disaster amply wiped out off the Falkland Isles, a little later on.

The railway that ascends from the port of Antofagasta also enters upon the nitrate pampas,[188] and there are copper-bearing districts tributary to the line. At 10,000 feet elevation the River Loa is crossed, and beyond we approach the ever-smoking, snow-capped cone of San Pedro, one of the Andean volcanoes here. Then the gleaming surface of the borax "lake" of Cebollar, the largest borax deposit on the face of the globe, catches the eye. The great snow-clad Cordillera, with the giant Ollague, 20,000 feet, on the border of Chile and Bolivia, is passed, and the railway reaches the Bolivian plateau, the southern portion of the Titicaca basin, and passes the town of Unini, with its rich silver mines, skirts Lake Poopo, and reaches the town of Oruro, famous for its tin.

Beyond, this interesting line reaches La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. The same place is now served by the railway recently built from Arica, and thus the interior of the mountainous Republic of Bolivia is rendered more accessible. Recent construction has effected a juncture with the railway system of Argentina, thus affording a further transcontinental route.

After the Tropic of Capricorn is passed, the Andes approach nearer to the sea, revealing their snowy crests from the steamer's deck, and from Valparaiso the fruitful valleys of Chile unfold, watered from the mountains—a more temperate zone, where the flowers as of Europe may be seen and the culture of the Chilean people is displayed.

Of his native land a Chilean poet sings that its bulwarks are the mighty Cordillera, its frontiers the sea—a romantically expressed conception of[189] the position of Chile which is geographically correct.

A zone of territory three thousand miles in length and nowhere broader than two hundred miles, and, in general, only a hundred, confined between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, the Republic has perhaps the most curious form of any country in the world. Under his own flag the Chilean may journey from the heat of the Tropics to the cold of the Antarctic by taking steamer up and down his coast or by a more or less arduous land journey along the littoral. Such is the topography of this interesting land—interspersed with burning deserts, fruitful valleys and with glimpses of delightful landscape, snowy mountains and profound forests.

To have opened a sketch of Chile with a reference to a poetical conception is not to argue that the Chileans are a dreamy and over-poetical folk. They are, on the contrary, practical, hardy, and courageous—courage which, in their conflicts with their neighbours in the past, and in their own internecine strife and revolution, has at times given way to cruelty and savagery—a condition, however, not confined to these more southern inhabitants of the South American Continent.

By reason of their more practical ideas and enterprise in commercial matters, their ability—which is largely absent from the Spanish American people as a rule—of forming successful joint-stock companies to exploit this or that field of industry or finance, their superior navy and seamanship,[190] and for diverse reasons, the Chileans have been termed, or have liked to term themselves, the "English of South America" a soubriquet varied by the appellation of the "Americans or Yanquis (Yankees) of South America." The Chilean Navy was modelled after that of Britain; the army, however, after the German style.

The early history of Chile, if less picturesque than that of Peru, is full of incident—often dreadful—and doughty deeds. Bluff old Almagro it was who set his eyes upon Chile—Almagro, the partner of Francisco Pizarro, partners whose quarrels finally resulted in the death of both.

The Indians of Cuzco had told their conquerors of a land that lay beyond the desert and the mountains to the south, reaching no man knew whither; a land not a great empire, but one of many tribes, and so easily to be subdued, and, moreover, overflowing with gold and silver. This land they called Chile. Fiery spirits flocked to Almagro's standard from Panama for another of those "dare-devil heroic marches into the unknown world which only greed and faith could inspire." Almagro's band consisted of 600 white men and 15,000 Indians, and it left Cuzco in 1535.

"To have descended to the coast and thence march by the lowlands would have been the easiest way, but it was the longer, and the adventurers were as impatient to reach their goal as the Pizarros were to see them gone: so Almagro marched straight along the Inca road, past Lake Titicaca,[191] across part of Bolivia and what is now Argentina, and then over the Andes. Daring and difficult as some of the Spanish marches had been, none hitherto had had to encounter the hardships that faced Almagro on his Andean progress. Cold, famine, and toilsome ways killed his followers by thousands, and to the frost and snow of the mountain sides succeeded hundreds of miles of arid deserts, where no living thing grew and no drop of water fell.

"At length, with but a small remnant of his host, Almagro found himself in a well-defined region, consisting roughly of a vast valley running north and south, the giant chain of the Andes enclosing it on the east with foothills and spurs projecting far into, and in some places almost intersecting, the narrow plain, and a lower range of mountains bordering it upon the west, and shutting it off from the sea, except here and there, where a break in the chain occurred. The valley was relatively narrow, so narrow that in many places the hills on either side were clearly visible, but the adventurers as yet knew not that this curious strip of broken plain between two mountain ranges extended with its immense line of coast for well-nigh 2,000 miles, and was destined to become, from its natural formation, the first maritime nation of South America.

"Almagro found the sturdy, skin-clad tribesmen of the mountain slopes and elevated plains far different foemen from the soft, mild slaves of the Incas in the tropical north. Their very name of[192] Chile came from the word meaning cold; and their temperate climate had hardened them and made them robust. Gold and silver, it is true, they had in plenty, and held them in no very high esteem, but they fought with a fierceness of which the Spaniards had had no experience in America in defence of their liberty and right to live. This, it was clear, was to be no easy conquest, and Almagro, learning that the Peruvians of the north had risen in a mass against the Spanish oppression, abandoned Chile, and marched back to Peru to fish in troubled waters, and in due time to meet a felon's death at the hands of vengeful Pizarro.

"But the tales of the rich and fertile land of the south had whetted the greed of the victor, and when old Almagro was finally disposed of, Pizarro set about adding Chile to his own vast domain, held for Charles the Emperor and King of Spain, with the sanction of Holy Mother Church. The news of Almagro's formal annexation of Chile to the Spanish Crown, as usual in such cases, set the hungry courtiers of Madrid clamouring for a share of the spoil and glory, and an incompetent nonentity called Pedro Sanchez de la Hoz was sent out from Spain to complete the conquest of the new domain in the name of the Emperor. Pizarro knew well how to deal with such folk, and whilst appearing to respect the imperial orders, really stultified them. What he needed to do his work were iron soldiers, dour Estremenians, like himself; who knew neither ruth nor fear, and one he[193] found after his own heart in Pedro de Valdivia, who in the five years since he had joined the chief in Peru, had proved that he possessed all the qualities for repeating in Chile the success of Pizarro in the empire of the Incas. Sanchez de la Hoz, nominally the leader, promptly became the cipher that nature had intended him to be, and Valdivia took the lead.

"This time, in 1540, the safer way by the coast desert was taken, and with a mere handful of 150 Spanish soldiers, but accompanied by a great host of Indians, Valdivia marched through the interminable valley, carrying with him rapine and oppression for the gold he coveted. A great pitched battle for a time, early in 1541, decided the supremacy of the white men, and Valdivia, with superhuman energy and cruelty unexampled, set tens of thousands of Indians to work washing auriferous sand, delving in mines, cutting roads that still exist, and clearing the way for the advance of the Spaniards southward. In a lovely, fertile, elevated plain, with the eternal snow-capped Andes looking down upon it, Valdivia founded the capital of his new domain, the city of Santiago, on the morrow of his victory in February 1541, and from the height of St. Lucia above, upon the spot where the conqueror overlooked the building of his city, his gallant figure in bronze still dominates the fair scene of his prowess.

"Fighting almost constantly for years, Valdivia, with ever-growing forces, pushed farther south. Valparaiso was founded in 1544 as the main seaport[194] for the capital, and two years afterwards the conqueror crossed the Biobio River and entered the fertile agricultural and pastoral country of the Araucanians. Refined and cultivated as the Incas of the north had been, these stalwart Indians of the temperate south surpassed them in the sterner virtues and in the arts of war. Tales of their lofty stature and mighty strength grew with the telling, and the Spaniards acknowledged that at last they had met in America a people who were more than their match. Concepcion, Talcahuano, Imperial, Valdivia, one city after the other rose in this land of forests and fighters, to be destroyed again and again, only to be rebuilt. Gold in abundance, surpassing the visions even of the Spaniards, was to be had for the digging or washing, but the Indians would only dig or wash the metal whilst a white man with a harquebus stood over them, and not always then. Poison and treachery were common to both sides, and cruelty surpassed itself. In one battle Valdivia cut off the hands and noses of hundreds of Indian prisoners and sent them back as an object lesson, and the Araucanians, with devilish irony, killed the Spaniards by pouring molten gold down their throats.

"The lands through which the Spaniards passed were teeming with fertility, and tilled like a garden, and the sands of the frequent rivers abounded in gold; but the people were hard to enslave, and the leader that at last aroused them for a final successful stand was Valdivia's own Araucanian[195] serf, Lautaro. The Christian chief fell into an ambush led by him in 1553, and though Valdivia begged and bribed hard for his life, vengeance sated itself upon him. His heart was cut out, and the Indian arrows soaked in his blood, the heart itself, divided into morsels, being afterwards eaten by the braves, whilst his bones were turned into fifes to hearten the tribesmen to resist the invaders.

"For well-nigh a hundred years the fight went on in the country extending from the Biobio to the archipelago of Chiloé, and it ended at last in the formal recognition of the independence of this splendid race, who had withstood in turn the Inca and the white man. Even then the struggle was not over, for the Spaniards could ill brook the presence of an independent Indian people in their midst as civilization and population grew in South America. But what force and warfare could never compass, time, intermarriage and culture have gradually effected, and in our own times the Araucanians have become Chilean citizens."[17]

Chile threw off the yoke of Spain in 1810. The yoke upon the Indies was really falling off itself. Spain was too weak to coerce her colonies much longer. But in 1814 Spain tried again. A half-Irish Chilean patriot was the hero of this struggle, a patriot who, his ammunition giving out, charged his guns with coin in lieu of grapeshot[196] and cut his way to Santiago, and he on land and the Englishman Cochrane on the sea caused Chile to become one of the foremost factors in the final liberation.

Many travellers have rendered homage to the beauty of the Chilean landscape. "The appearance of the Andes from the Central Valley is always imposing, grandiose and magnificent. They are unique: it is worth crossing half the world to see them. The dry, stimulating air and the beautiful cloudless sky in themselves provoke enthusiasm."[18]

Elsewhere I have spoken of "the beautiful Andes and the death-dealing Andes." Almagro's terrible march across the Chilean Andes, as described elsewhere, shows these characteristics of the Cordillera vividly.

Much of the early history of Chile is made up of the rebellion of the Indians; their attacks upon the coastal towns, such as Concepcion and Valdivia, which they sacked, massacring the Spaniards.

The town of Concepcion, in 1751, suffered something of the fate that overtook Lima and Callao in the earthquake and tidal wave, and Santiago, too, suffered greatly. With a crash the tower of the cathedral fell, awakening the inhabitants at midnight. There were horrible rumbling noises—those curious subterranean earthquake voices in the Andes. "There was scarcely time to pray to God," say the chroniclers. Every single[197] church and house was thrown down, and nobody could even stand upright. Those who could, flew: they fled to the hills for refuge—refuge from the sea, the dreadful tidal wave. For the ocean retreated, as if mustering force for the deluge. Then it returned, not once, but thrice, washing over Concepcion as if the day of doom indeed had come.

The destruction of Valparaiso in August 1906 was the last terrible disaster of this nature.

"The day had been unusually calm and pleasant. At about 8 p.m. there was a sudden, unexpected shock, immediately followed by another; the whole city seemed to swing backwards and forwards: then there was a horrible jolt, and whole rows of buildings (about thirty blocks of houses, three to five stories high, in the Avenida Brasil alone) fell with a terrific crash. The gas, electric-light and water mains were at once snapped, and the whole city was plunged in darkness. This, however, did not last long, for, five minutes after the shock, great fires started in the ruined buildings about the Plaza del Orden, and, aided by a violent storm wind, which began about the same time, spread northwards over the city. Between the earthquake and the subsequent fire ninety per cent. of the houses are said to have been destroyed. The Arsenal, station, custom-house, hospitals, convents, banks, club-houses and Grand Hotel were for the most part ruined, for without water, and in the horrible confusion that at first prevailed, it was almost impossible to check the[198] fires.[19] But the authorities showed no lack of energy and presence of mind. Patrols of troops and armed citizens kept watch; thieves and marauders attempting to loot were shot. The fire was, where possible, checked by dynamite. Messengers on horseback were sent to Santiago and other places, appealing for help, and especially for provisions. The telegraph lines were destroyed; the railways were wrecked for miles—bridges had twisted and tunnels had caved in—but communication with Santiago seems to have been re-established within a wonderfully short time. This was all the more creditable, for the shocks continued on Friday and Saturday, and apparently did not cease until about 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

"The condition of the wretched inhabitants was most pitiable. Some 60,000 were encamped on the barren hills above the town without food or clothing; others took refuge on boats or steamers in the bay, for mercifully there was no tidal wave such as commonly accompanies great earth tremors on that coast, and no damage was done to the shipping in harbour.[20] The number of people killed has been variously estimated at from 300 to 10,000 persons; it is probable that from 500[199] to 1,000 were killed and another 1,000 wounded. The damage done was at least £20,000,000."[21]



Vol. I. To face p. 198.

From earliest times the history of Chile upon this coast has been a tortured one—the barbarities and the sufferings both of the early Spanish conquerors, the reprisals of the Indians, the bloodthirsty and unsubduable Araucanians, the feuds between the Spaniards themselves, the toll of earthquakes and tidal waves, the battles between Spaniard and colonist and between Chilean and Peruvian and Bolivian, the dreadful pages of revolutionary and civil strife. It is veritably a blood-stained coast, and both man and nature might well cry to Heaven for surcease. Yet to-day there hangs a menace over it—the feud with Peru over Tacna and Arica: and for the future the savage strikes of the workers against the oligarchies of industry.

But we need not dwell too much on this aspect. There are many beautiful and peaceful attributes about the land, much to admire in its people. It has been said that Chile seems to rise more vigorous and more enterprising after every disaster.

Let us turn for a space to view somewhat more in detail the Chilean capital, as described by a recent writer:

"Santiago, 'most noble and most loyal,' is a mixture of Paris, Madrid and Seville. It is far[200] ahead of Spanish towns in its electric tramways, broad avenues and brisk movement. But the larger houses are all characteristically Spanish. They are built round a central court or patio, which is usually open to the sky above and full of flowers and graceful shrubs. Very often there are sparkling fountains and statuary also. In fact, through the great gateway of a large Santiago house the most delicious little views of water, flowers and greenery can be gathered in passing. This gateway has heavy wooden doors, carefully locked at night; the windows opening on the street are usually heavily barred, which is by no means a useless precaution.

"The design of these houses is a very ancient one. Four stone huts, placed so as to enclose a square, and with but one opening to the outside, form a miniature fort; even the mansions of the great Santiago families, with four or more stories, and with the street front elaborately decorated, are but a development of this very simple arrangement.

"It is in Santiago that one discovers what marvellous and gorgeous results can be obtained by the use of stucco. Very often it is tinted by rose-pink or terracotta, and it is simple and easy to make Corinthian, Doric or Ionic columns, to model flowers, wreaths, vases, and Cupids, and other classical figures by means of this plastic material.

"The streets run, as is almost invariably the case in South America, at right angles. The[201] Alameda is a delicious avenue planted with trees, and traversed by little streams of running water which give a pleasant, murmuring sound and cool the hot air of midday. Amongst the trees are statues such as those of Bernardo O'Higgins, San Martin and many others.

"The Plaza da Armas has colonnades along the sides which are famous in Chilean history, but is possibly a little disappointing. Most of the other public buildings, though fine and magnificent, do not show any very special distinctive character. It is the enormous size, business-like character and thoroughly business-like tone that distinguish Santiago. It is quite obviously a metropolis, and indeed, to the upper classes in Chile, it is what Paris is to every Frenchman.

"The Quinta Normal, with its library, Herbarium and Zoological Gardens, where the Niata cattle mentioned by Darwin are still maintained, is a sort of Jardin d'Acclimatation and Jardin des Plantes in one.

"In fact, the French, or rather Parisian, instincts of the upper classes in Santiago can be noticed at every turn.

"It is the fashion of books on Chile for the author to wax eloquent on the Cerro de Santa Lucia. This rugged, projecting rock overlooking Santiago should remind one vividly of Pedro de Valdivia, of Señora Suarez, and of the heroical little band that starved out there the first two momentous years of Chilean history.

"'In this valley, two leagues from the great[202] Cordillera, by the side of the River Mapocho, God has planted a mountain of a beautiful aspect and proportion which is like a watch-tower from which the whole plain is discovered with the variety of its culture in arable and meadow.'

"That is how Ovalle describes the hill of Santa Lucia in his time.

"But what has been done with it? Stucco vases, balconies, balustrades, gardens, restaurants, and even a theatre, make it impossible, even for a moment, to remember the Conquistadores. The view is, however, still magnificent, and it is from the Santa Lucia that one can obtain the best possible idea of Santiago itself.

"In the mornings, one may see the Santiago ladies hurrying to the churches. The power of the clergy is perhaps most easily realized from the fact that no woman dares to enter the church in a hat or bonnet. Every one, rich or poor, noble or lowly, wears the inevitable Manto. This is a sort of black shawl; it is sometimes of very rich and beautiful material, and it is always folded in such a manner that it is as becoming as possible.

"In the afternoons there are fine horses and carriages to be seen, and the jeunesse dorée may be observed sauntering through the streets and staring in an open and unabashed manner at every lady that passes. It is not considered bad form; indeed, it is supposed to be the correct thing to make audible remarks on a lady's personal appearance. 'How beautiful is the little one! What sympathetic eyes has the elder lady!' and so on.


"The physical appearance of some of these young aristocrats (if they really belong to the highest social circles) is not impressive. One notices everywhere the narrow chest, sloping shoulders and effeminate appearance of the typical Parisian roué. The corner-boys, even, resemble the apache of the boulevards, and are as dangerous and cowardly as these degenerate types of city life.

"Perhaps the most characteristic custom of Santiago and of all Chilean cities is the evening 'Paseo,' or promenade. After dinner, in the cool of the evening, people saunter under the trees, very often in some public garden where a good band is playing, and gossip over the events of the day.

"There does not seem to be much jealousy or ill-feeling between the upper and lower classes in Chile, for the masses keep to a different part of the Plaza, and do not intrude upon the pacing-ground of the richer or better-dressed people.

"This evening promenade is attended by quite small boys and girls. They do not mix, but keep quite separate paths. Yet even the little girls of seven or eight years old are finished coquettes. Their eyes languishingly observe every man and boy in the Plaza, and they take care that each shall receive a due share of their smiles!

"The governing classes of Chile are, for the most part, descendants of the Spanish Conquistadores. They preserve in their own hands not merely all important government posts (civil, military and naval),[204] but also they own most of the large landed estates. A few of them, which is very unusual in Spanish American countries, not only own but take some part in the management of nitrate oficinas, banks, mines and other industries. Almost all the lawyers and doctors are of Chilean birth. There are two Universities, which supply, in a very ample and generous manner, advocates, solicitors and medical men.

"On the other hand, mercantile business of all kinds, both on the large and on the small scale, is carried on almost invariably by foreigners. The old Spanish prejudice against traders is by no means dead. Even the small shopkeepers seem to be usually Spanish Basques and Italians.

"In the south there are many small farms owned by Germans, French, Swiss, British, and some Danes, Swedes and Norwegians; even Indians own much of the land in the south. But the working-class throughout Chile, in the mines, in towns, on the farms, and, indeed, everywhere, are Chilenos. Chile is not the place for a British or Continental workman.

"There is a very well-marked difference between the Chileno inquilino or peon and the better classes, whether Chilean or foreign. But amongst the Chilean or Santiago aristocracy one finds such names as Edwards, Simpson, Walker, Rogers and Porter. These, of course, are of British or Irish descent. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, many exceptionally gifted foreigners drifted to Chile. They were educated, business-like and[205] capable people. If one remembers that the first line of steamers to Europe only began to run some fifty years ago, it is obvious that such men should have been able to acquire wealth. They were respected, even liked and appreciated, by the Chilians of those days. Many distinguished themselves in the Army and Navy. But their descendants are pure Chilenos now, and very likely quite unable to read or speak any tongue save Spanish. This is not surprising, for one can see the process of assimilation going on even at the present day.

"Any young foreigner who has business instincts and ordinary common sense will, of course, learn to speak Spanish. Should he possess the necessary industry and talent, he may find himself early in life in a position of some importance, which involves dealing with the better-class Chilenos. He will in all probability marry a Chilean señorita. The truth is that it is not very easy to resist a Chilean girl when she is inclined to be gracious.

"She is not at all an advanced woman; she is not inclined to tyrannize over her husband, but is quite content to leave him to manage his affairs and his house as he pleases. She never dreams of contesting his marital authority. It is true that she is not very energetic, but then, is not that an agreeable change?

"Our young Scotchman's or Englishman's children will be entirely Chilean in ideals, in aspiration and in training. They may be sent home for[206] education, but a few months after their return to Chile no one could distinguish them from the Chilean pur sang. The father will, no doubt, retain a sentimental regard for the old country, but in Chile it is exceedingly unlikely that he would ever desire to return permanently to the rain, snow, slush and fogs of Britain, where he will be, not a leading aristocrat, but merely a business man of sorts.

"But though the somewhat Frenchified Chilean aristocracy and cosmopolitan foreigners are of interest, the really important person is the Chileno peon, inquilino or huaso of the working class.

"There is no country in the world which has so valuable a working class (with the possible exception of Japan and China). They are descended from the Araucanian Indian and the Spanish Andalusian or the Basque. They are hardy, vigorous and excellent workmen, and their endurance and patience are almost Indian. Of their bravery and determination it is unnecessary to speak, for these qualities appear on every page of the stormy history of Chile. Generally, they are short, dark-eyed and black-haired people. They are intelligent, and quick to learn anything requiring handiness and craftsmanship. They have, of course, many faults: at intervals they drink to excess when they can, and they are hot-blooded and quarrelsome; knives will be drawn and a fight started on very small provocation. As regards honesty, they are certainly no worse than others of their kind, and in the country districts they are better than most. Perhaps, economically speaking, the fact that they[207] live and work contentedly on exceedingly low wages (chiefly on beans) is one of their most important characteristics."[22]



Vol. I. To face p. 206.

Of the vineyards and pastures, the many industries, the famous wines of the country, the cattle, the industrious folk, the forests and the fishing, the great mining enterprises, copper and all ore, the rivers and the railways, the German colony of Valdivia and the pleasing towns of the coast we cannot here speak in detail.

Chile is fortunate, industrially, in her great coalfields at Lota and elsewhere in the south, which form the basis of considerable industry. The seams in some cases dip beneath the Pacific.

Chile is a land that offers much by reason of its temperate climate, and these more southern regions may be expected to attain to greater importance in the future.

For a thousand miles, perhaps, the littoral still unfolds to the south, with great fiords and forests, terminating in a maze of channels which line the coast of Patagonia to Magellan Strait and Cape Horn. There is a race of hardy Indian boatmen here, a tribe which, it is said, "throw their women overboard in a storm to lighten the canoe." It is a land cold and stormy, with a little-known interior, which the early explorers described as being inhabited by giants or people with big feet—hence the name of Patagonia. For hundreds of miles the Pacific slope is a thick, continuous forest. Nevertheless,[208] in the Strait of Magellan lies a prosperous Chilean colony, where vast flocks of sheep thrive—the colony of Punta Arenas, the world's southernmost seaport.

Magellan, the intrepid Portuguese navigator of early times, whose name the Strait bears, bore bravely out into the great south sea which he named the Pacific. His crew were weak with cold and hunger. But he would push on, "even if they had to eat the leather of the rigging." Ox-hides, rats and sawdust, indeed, they did eat. On to the west the vessels sailed, across the unknown sea—"almost beyond the grasp of man for vastness"—to circumnavigate the globe for home.

Magellan himself did not finish the voyage, although he crossed the Pacific, for his earthly race was run; he left his bones in the Philippines. But the ship and his pilot, Sebastian del Cano, a Spaniard, reached home, and Cano was given the arms of nobility, with the device of a ship and globe and the inscription Tu Solus circumdedesti me.

From the Pacific coast we shall now ascend to the great chain of the Andes, to follow the same series of countries in that high region.





Siste, viator; draw rein: your mule will stop willingly; he is stricken with soroche perhaps, the malady of the mountain, which you yourself may suffer if at this elevation, where but half an atmosphere presses upon us and oxygen is scant, you attempt to run or climb. Draw rein upon this summit and look beyond. There is a panorama it were worth a journey over a hemisphere to see. Range and peak are clothed with perpetual snow, which gleams like porcelain in the sun.

Heavenward thrown, crumpled, folded, ridged and fractured, with gnomon-fashioned uplifts pointing to the sky, shattered strata and sheer crevasse, natural terrace and grim escarpment, hung over with filmy mist-veils and robed with the white clothing of its snowfields, and, when the windows of heaven are open, drenched with the deluges intercepted from the boundless plains and forests far beyond; the father of the rivers whose floods[210] are borne a thousand leagues away the Cordillera crouches, rears and groans upon the western seaboard of the continent. The beautiful Andes, the terrible Andes, the life-giving Andes, the death-dealing Andes—so we might apostrophize them—for the Cordillera is of many moods, and whatever change of adjectives the traveller may ring, he will fail of truly describing this mighty chain.

When the delicate tints of early morning shine on the crested snow in rarest beauty, and the light and tonic air invigorates both man and horse, the leagues pass swiftly by. Night falls, or the snow-cloud gathers, or the pelting rain descends; then does the weight of weariness and melancholy descend upon us[23]—so have I felt it.

The name of the Andes, to the traveller who has crossed the giddy passes and scaled the high peaks of this stupendous mountain chain, brings back sensations which are a blend of the pleasurable and the painful. In his retrospect the Cordillera—for such is its familiar name to the inhabitants of the land it traverses—bulks as a thing of varied and almost indescribable moods. It possesses that individuality—menacing, beautiful by turns—which no doubt is an attribute of all mountains, in the recollection of those who best know them.

The Andes are no playground, such as some of the mountains of Europe have become, nor are they the object or scene of climbing enterprise and exploration such as bring the Himalayas so[211] frequently before the geographically interested public. Comparatively simple in their structure, it is their enormous length—a wall unbroken, extending for four thousand miles from north to south along the western littoral of their continent—their treeless aridity, their illimitable, dreary, inclement uplands, and, these passed, their chaste snowy peaks, tinged by the rising or the setting sun, that most impress the traveller in those lands they traverse.

Here in the higher elevations of these remote fastnesses there are no material comforts for man or beast. Humanity, as far as it has the hardihood to dwell here, is confined to the Indian or the mestizo, who has paid nature the homage of being born here, and so can dwell and work in what is his native environment. In the more sheltered valleys it is true that large centres of population flourish; important towns which from their elevation above sea-level—ten thousand or twelve thousand feet—might look down as it were from a dizzy height upon the highest inhabited centres of Europe; whilst, did we establish industrious mining communities on the peak of the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc, we should still be far below some of those places of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes where minerals are won for the marts of Europe.

The Andes consist physiographically of two great parallel chains, forming into three, with lesser parallel undulations, in certain parts of its course; the ranges being joined by nudos or knots,[212] as the transversal ridges are termed; a very well marked structure. In places vast tablelands lie between the high paramos of Colombia, the altiplanicies of Peru, the punas of Bolivia, often studded with lakes, including the enormous Lake Titicaca. In some cases these high uplands between the enclosing Cordilleras are indeed dreary and inclement, sparsely inhabited, and the dweller of the lowlands loves not to sojourn there longer than may be necessary for his purpose. Conversely, the highlander fears the enervating climate of the lowlands.

Between the more easterly paralleling ranges great rivers run, having their birth in the snow-cap and incessant rains, both of which are the result of the deposition from the moisture-laden trade winds which, sweeping across the Atlantic and Brazil for thousands of miles, are intercepted by the crest of the Cordillera, impinging thereon and depositing their moisture. Running down the easterly slope, in a thousand rills, the waters gather in the giant channels, all flowing northwards, in the troughs between the ranges, to where, with curious regularity, they break through these ranges in deep cuttings or pongos, as they are there termed, like gargantuan mill-races, turning thus east and pouring forth their floods upon the Amazon plain, where, after vast courses amid the forests, they reach the main stream of the Amazon, and finally empty themselves on the coast of Brazil into the Atlantic, whence they originally came upon the wings of the wind—a mighty natural hydraulic[213] engine, unceasing in its operations, stupendous in its work. Yes; Siste, viator, draw rein—

Hast thou entered the treasures of the snow?
Or hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail?
Who hath cleft a channel for the water-flood?
Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds?

The imprint of the Andes perhaps never fades from the mind of the traveller. When you have braved the tempest and the steep, when your slow and panting beast overcomes the last few rising yards upon the maritime range that shuts off from view the White Cordillera, then, as the dark horizon of the foreground rocks gives place, your astonished gaze rests upon that range of white-clothed sentinels beyond, upraised some time since the Jurassic or Silurian Ages. There they mark the eras: there they stand, performing their silent and allotted work; and there, when evening falls, it tints their brows with orange and with carmine, and wraps their bases with the purple pall of finished day.

Borne upward three to five miles above the level of the ocean arose these mighty guardians of the western shore, carrying some ocean bed from where it lay, where strange creatures of the deep reposed within the ooze—huge ammonites and cephalopods, whose fossil scrolls and circles, now petrified in rigid schools upon the stiffened summits, catch the traveller's eye as his weary mule stumbles over the limestone ridges: and, blurred by the pelting rain of the Andine winter and loosened from the[214] stony grasp by frost and sun and earthquake, they, together with the rocky walls that hold them, are again dissolving into particles; a phase within the endless sequence of Nature's work; an accident of her ceaseless and inexplicable operations.

Has this great Cordillera produced a high type of humanity? Has the clear atmosphere, the nearer approach to the clouds, the purity and example of the heights made man here pure and noble? We shall judge later, after viewing the palimpsest of history here, following on the palimpsest of Nature, for the Cordillera is a scroll of time, erased, rewritten in the physical and in the human world. The Andes have been blood-stained along all their four-thousand-mile course, that we know, ever since the white man trod them. We also know that before his time the Cordillera did produce a high human culture, that of the mysterious "Andine people," with their successors, the Incas. Pagan, perhaps, but who, in the long ages, had evolved some comprehension of the "Unknown God," and whose social code was more in tune with a true economic philosophy of life than that of their successors.

Descending now from the clouds, metaphorically and actually, we must glance more particularly at the life of those modern countries which have in part their home in the Cordillera, to whom the Cordillera is a very real and palpable thing.

From north to south, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile occupy this extensive zone: countries whose general conditions[215] as regards the littoral we have seen in our journey along the Pacific coast. Excepting Bolivia, all these lands have the advantages accruing from the condition that they stretch from the coast across the Andes, extending to the Amazon plains beyond; thus enjoying zones respectively of coast, mountain and forest, with all their diversity of environment, climate and resource.

As we shall see in the chapter devoted to the Amazon Valley, many navigable streams traverse this forested region, giving access by launch or canoe through thousands of miles of otherwise inaccessible territory, for roads are often impossible and of railways there are none.

Colombia we shall visit in another chapter. Both Colombia and Venezuela lie in part upon the Andes and face upon the Spanish Main.

Ecuador is but a small country in comparison with the vaster areas of its neighbours, but Nature has rendered it extremely diverse, and has dowered it—it is a terrible gift, however—with some of the most remarkable mountain forms on the face of the globe. Nothing can exceed the stupendous grandeur of the great "avenue" of snow-clad volcanoes which arises before us around Quito and terminates on the Equator.

In Ecuador Nature might seem to have thought to display her powers after the manner of a model, with every grade of climate, topographical form and species of plant and animal life; to have set up, within a measurable compass, an example of her powers in the tropical world. The hot[216] lowlands of the coast, covered in part with the densest and rankest vegetation, intersected by the most fertile of valleys, where ripen the most delicious and valuable fruits, with rivers wherein the curious life of the Tropics has its home, from gorgeous insect or bird down to the tortoise and the loathly alligator, slope upwards to the bleakest tablelands, the icy paramos, which themselves are crowned with the snow-capped volcanoes, at times belching forth fire and ash, carrying destruction to fruitful field and populous town. Beyond lies some of the most broken region on the earth's surface, descending to the forests inhabited by the half-naked and savage Indian, still outside the pale of civilization or the influence of Christianity, who may receive the incautious traveller with deadly weapons of blow-pipe and poisoned arrows.

The uplands of Ecuador embody a high tableland, cut up into three hoyas or basins, known as those of Quito, Ambato and Cuenca respectively.

"Rising from both the eastern and western rims of this elevated plateau are the higher Cordilleras, their main summits culminating far above the perpetual snowline, which in Ecuador lies at about 15,750 feet above sea-level. As before remarked, due to their peculiarly symmetrical arrangement and spectacular appearance, such an assemblage of snow-clad peaks is not found in any other part of the world. Not only for their height are the Ecuadorian peaks noteworthy, but for their peculiar occurrence in parallel lines, sometimes in pairs[217] facing each other across the 'cyclopean passage' or avenue formed by the long plateau. There are twenty-two of these great peaks, several of which are actual volcanoes, grouped along the central plains almost within sight of each other. Built up by subterranean fires, the great mountain edifices of Ecuador are sculptured by glacier streams and perpetual snows. The volcanoes of Ecuador have rendered the country famous among geologists and travellers of all nationalities. They were the terror of the primitive Indian, and objects of awe and worship by the semi-civilized peoples of the land, and have been at various periods terrible scourges and engines of destruction.

"The largest number of high peaks and the greatest average elevations occur upon the eastern Andes, or Cordillera Oriental, whilst the western or Occidental is distinguished by having the highest individual elevations. The altitudes given by various authorities of these peaks differ somewhat, and the measurements of later investigators vary considerably from those of Humboldt in some cases. Humboldt was the first to study and measure the Ecuadorian volcanoes, and La Condamine measured them in 1742. The more modern investigators were Drs. Reiss and Stübel, who spent four years, from 1870 to 1874, in the study, and in 1880 they were the subject of Edward Whymper's famous travels. The alleged remarkable condition of the sinking or rising of various of these summits and localities may account, it has been stated, for the variation found[218] in measurements made at different times. It has been estimated that a considerable decrease in the elevation of the Ecuadorian Andes in the region took place during last century. Quito has sunk, it is stated, 26 feet in 122 years, and Pichincha 218 feet in the same period. The farm at Antisana, where Humboldt lived for some time, has sunk 165 feet in sixty-four years. On the other hand, two of the active volcanoes, those of Cotopaxi and Sangay, have increased in altitude since they were measured by La Condamine, it is asserted. Underlying seismic disturbances have doubtless been the cause of these movements."[24]

The highest of these peaks is Chimborazo, 20,498 feet, followed by Cotopaxi, 19,613 feet, Antisana and Cayambe, both over 19,000 feet, with others ranging downwards to about 14,000 feet.

"The great Cotopaxi, with its unrivalled cone, is the most terrible and dangerous in Ecuador, and the highest active volcano in the world. From its summit smoke curls upwards unceasingly, and knowledge of its activities begins with South American history after the Conquest. The first eruption experienced by the Spaniards was in 1534, during the attempted conquest of the ancient native kingdom of Quito by Alvarado. The Indians regarded the terrible outpourings of the volcano, which coincided with this foreign[219] advent, as a manifestation of Nature in aid of the invaders and against themselves, and this was a factor in breaking down their opposition. But the rain of ashes from the burning mountain greatly troubled the small army of Alvarado for several days, as before described. After this out-burst Cotopaxi remained quiescent for more than two hundred years, until 1741, when it broke out with extraordinary force, and became for twenty-six years the scourge of the districts of Quito and Latacunga. The province of Leon and Latacunga, which formerly had been among the most beautiful and fertile, became poverty-stricken by reason of the eruptions. These outbreaks generally consisted in a great rain of sand and ash, followed by vast quantities of mud and water, which were thrown over the valleys and plains, destroying whatever lay in the way. Between 1742 and 1768 there were seven great eruptions of this character, and it is noteworthy that none of these were accompanied by earthquakes. The thunderings were heard at Honda, in Colombia, 500 miles away, it is recorded. Cotopaxi then remained quiescent for thirty-five years, until 1803, when Humboldt heard the detonations of a new outbreak, like discharges of a battery, from the Gulf of Guayaquil, where he was on board a vessel for Lima. A number of lesser outbreaks occurred during the nineteenth century, but comparatively little record has been kept of them. There were streams of fresh lava, columns of black smoke, and showers of sand sent forth at various periods, and in 1877[220] a further memorable eruption took place, followed by others up to 1880. It would appear that since the volcano of Tunguragua entered again into action Cotopaxi has been less vigorous. Cotopaxi is regarded by various travellers as one of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world, its symmetry of outline rivalling the famous Fuji-yama of Japan, which it overtops by more than 7,000 feet. This Ecuadorian volcano is 2,000 feet higher than Popocateptl, the "smoking mountain" of Mexico, and more than 15,000 feet higher than Vesuvius, and 7,000 higher than Teneriffe. It rises in a symmetrical cone, with a slope of 29° or 30°. Its height, as before given, is 19,613, according to Whymper, and the crater varies from 2,300 feet to 1,650 feet in diameter, and is 1,200 feet deep approximately, bordered by a rim of trachytic rock. The summit of Cotopaxi is generally shrouded in cloud masses, and only visible for a few days even in the clearest season of the year."[25]

This high region of Ecuador is gained by the railway from Guayaquil to Quito, which ascends amid some remarkable scenery over a difficult route, traversing deep ravines and fertile districts. Some of the passages are terrific in character.

"Riobamba is reached at 9,020 feet. The town is lighted from a hydro-electric station in the mountain stream. Beyond this point Chimborazo[221] bursts upon the view. The great mountain displays a double peak, the snow-clad crests of which are outlined against the upland sky, at those times when the firmament is free from clouds. The plateau of Riobamba has a healthy climate, described, on the authority of Humboldt, as one of the best in the world. In this region a considerable increase in the production of wheat has followed upon the building of the railway.

"Between Riobamba and Ambato the Chimborazo pass is crossed, at Urbina, the highest point reached, and thence a rapid descent is made to Ambato, 8,435 feet in the midst of a district producing fruits and foodstuffs abundantly. Along the Latacunga Valley, comparatively flat and some ten miles wide, rich pastures, intersected by irrigation ditches, abound, with numerous bands of cattle and horses. Grain, corn, potatoes, alfalfa, apples, peaches, strawberries, etc., are products of this high fertile district, and good cheese and butter are made. Beyond the town of Latacunga, 9,055 feet elevation, the line crosses the base of Cotopaxi, whose snowy cone is surmounted by the thin, unceasing smokewreath from its crater, the cloud hanging in the atmosphere. This point of the line is 11,653 feet above sea-level, only slightly less than that of the Chimborazo pass. Beyond Cotopaxi lies the fertile valley of Machachi, one of the most pleasing districts in Ecuador. On either hand is the row of famous volcanoes, a mighty avenue of great peaks, often clothed in green up to the line of perpetual snow. A view[222] is obtained from the railway of the Chillo Valley, with various cotton and woollen mills, actuated by water power. In these establishments, hydraulically worked from the river, cloths of cheap character for native clothing are made. Still descending, the railway approaches and enters the city of Quito at 9,375 feet elevation.

"The construction of this remarkable railway from Guayaquil to Quito was mainly due to the activity and enterprise of an American financier and railway builder, Mr. Archer Harman, whose work in connection with which began in 1897. The line remains as a worthy monument to this man, whose grave lies at the pretty town of Huigra. A strong impulse was given to the progress of Ecuador by the building of this railway and by the influence of its builder, and the Republic has cause to remember his name with gratitude, as indeed has the traveller.

"Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is not without an atmosphere of interest and even romance. Remote and inaccessible as it has been until, in the last few decades, the railway united it with the outer world, Quito still conserves its character of a mountain capital, surrounded by lofty snow-clad volcanoes, whose names are bywords in geography. There are many large towns in the Andes, throughout Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela, but both by reason of its history and its topography the capital of Ecuador is among the most interesting. The Quito Valley lies at an elevation of 9,500 feet above sea-level. Around[223] the upland valley are twenty noble volcanic summits, whose variety of form is remarkable, from the truncated to the perfect cone, from jagged and sunken crests to smooth, snow-covered, gleaming domes, among them the beautiful, if dreaded, Cotopaxi. These mountains are fully described in dealing with the peaks and volcanoes.



Vol. I. To face p. 222.

"The historical interest of Quito lies in the fact that it was the ancient centre of the Shiri Empire, formed by the mysterious Caras and the Quitus, as described in the historical section of this work, whose dynasty fell before the Incas under Huayna Capac, who in their turn gave way to the Spaniards. The famous Inca road, traversing the Cordilleras and tablelands, joined Quito with Cuzco, passing through the various centres of Inca civilization, with their stone-built temples and palaces, flanked by hill fortresses which guarded the heads of the valleys to the east or the west against the attacks of savage tribes. The remains of this road still exist.

"As regards the character of the climate and surroundings of Quito, opinions differ considerably. It is difficult to comprehend why the Shiris and the Incas should have built or maintained their capital city upon such a spot, a small, broken meseta, or plain, as is that of Quito, or why the Spaniards perpetuated it upon a site of so little advantage and utility, when near at hand are the flat lands of Turubamba and Añaquito, and not very far off the spacious and delightful valleys of Chillo and Tumbaco. Of all the towns on the[224] inter-Andine hoyas Quito is the highest and coldest. The surrounding vegetation is poor and of melancholy aspect, and corresponds with the inclement situation. The position is healthy and even agreeable for those who are acclimatized thereto, but the descriptions lavished by some writers thereon of 'delicious' and of 'eternal spring' are exaggerations, says one observer.[26] Another authority says that 'the traveller is charmed in looking at the carpet of perpetual verdancy on which Quito stands. The climate is delightful. It is neither summer nor spring nor winter, but each day of the year offers a singular combination of the three seasons. Neither cholera nor yellow fever nor consumption is known there. The mild and healthy temperature which prevails is something admirable. In short, it may be said that the great plateau of Quito is a kind of paradise.'[27] Thus extremes of opinion are seen to exist.

"The annual death-rate of Quito is given as about 36 per 1,000,[28] but this might undoubtedly be reduced under better sanitary measures. It is a well-known circumstance that the high upland regions and towns of the Andes are generally free from pulmonary consumption, and tubercular disease of the lungs, which on the coastal lowlands of tropical America is very frequent, is unknown above 8,000 feet.

"The aspect of Quito, is picturesque. The first impression is that of a white city, relieved by roofs[225] of red tiles, the streets thronged with interesting people. As seen from the slopes of Pichincha, which descend to the city on its western side, or from the summit of the Panecillo, a small hill standing within the borders of the city, or from other high points near at hand, the city unfolds pleasingly to the view. It may be likened to a city of the third order in Europe. In spite of the broken character of the land upon which it is built, the streets are nearly all straight, the principal thoroughfares being wide and paved. It is traversed from west to east by two deep quebradas, or ravines, which descend from Pichincha and other hills, and one of these is arched over in order to preserve the alignment of the streets. The city follows the general Latin American system of town-planning, being laid out mainly in great rectangular squares, the streets at right angles to each other. The architectural type of the houses is that embodying the old Spanish or Moorish style, well known to the traveller in Latin America, from Mexico to Peru or Argentina: the picturesque and often chaste character of façade (although some may term it monotonous), with iron grilles before the windows and high, wide entrance doorway, or saguan, admitting a mounted horseman. The main feature of the house of this type is the interior patio, or courtyard, upon which the rooms open, often followed by a second patio. The material of which the houses are constructed is adobe, or sun-dried earthern brick, which in the dwellings of more[226] pretension are generally covered with stucco or plaster, whitened, and at times painted with vivid colours. Stone is also used. The use of colour, on the walls of houses in Latin American towns gives a picturesque appearance at times even to the meanest pueblo, and relieves what might often be an extreme poverty of appearance. The roofs of the Quito houses often project over the footpaths, affording protection from rain, and balconies overhang from every window.

"The public buildings of Quito are of the heavy, square, colonial Spanish type. Looking upon the great square, or plaza mayor, occupying the whole of its southern side, is the cathedral, and on the western side the Government palace, with a handsome façade, whose main feature is its long row of columns. On the north side of the plaza is the palace of the Archbishop, and on the east the municipal hall. This arrangement, with some modification, is one encountered in nearly all Latin American capitals, wherein are grouped upon the plaza the principal edifices of Church and State, the former taking the place of honour. The arrangement is generally a pleasing and useful one. The plaza is the pulse of the community, and during those times when the band plays in its garden it forms a meeting-ground for the people and the sexes. There are other smaller plazas and subsidiary squares in the city, including those of San Francisco and Santo Domingo. The many ecclesiastical buildings are an indication of the part which the Church has played. The finest[227] building in the city is the Jesuits' church, with a façade elaborately carved, and the university occupies part of what formerly was the Jesuit college. There are eleven monastic institutions, six of which are nunneries. One of the convents, that of San Francisco, covers a whole cuadra or block, and takes its place as one of the largest institutions of this nature in the world. A part of this great building is in ruins, and another part has been used for the purpose of a military barracks by the Government. The university has faculties of law, medicine and theology—those three professions which appeal so strongly to the Latin American character; but the institution is regarded as backward, and it has been but poorly supported.

"The commerce of Quito is small: there is little produced in so high a region for export. Superior hand-made carpets are woven, and much skill is shown in wood-carving and in gold and silver work. These industries were often characteristic of the ancient people of America, and weaving was essentially a widely practised craft among the Andine races. The beautiful textile fabrics of the Incas and pre-Incas, some of them probably thousands of years old, which have been preserved attest the taste and skill of these people. The native manufactures of Quito include ponchos, blankets, mattings and coarse woollen carpets, also tanned leather, saddles and shoes. There is a tendency among all the Andine people to preserve their interesting home-crafts and cottage industries,[228] which a wise, economic spirit would endeavour to assist. But cheap imports menace them.

"The streets of Quito are thronged from morning to evening with horses, mules, donkeys and oxen, also llamas, with loads of all kinds, and ladies in victorias drive about, or to the shops, which are replete with merchandise from London, Paris, New York, Vienna or Berlin. Officers in regimentals and gentlemen in top-hats and frock-coats are numerous, and Indians with red and yellow ponchos and white cotton trousers and hats. But as regards modern conveniences Quito is backward, and the lack of hotels and public hygiene is very serious, and the general conditions surrounding public health call for urgent improvement."[29][30]

The Ecuadorian "Orient," as the eastern forested region is termed, is, as has been said, the third natural division of the country, and a maze of rivers flow to it from the divortia aquaram of the Cordillera. The boundary-line with Peru, Ecuador's neighbour on the south, is in dispute, notwithstanding arbitration by the King of Spain in recent years. The relations between the two nations have been seriously embittered by reason of this controversy. Ecuador is, in point of population, the weaker nation: perhaps her claims have not been considered in a sufficiently generous spirit.[229] The law of uti possidetis alone holds. But an outlet to the great navigable affluents of the Amazon is a question of paramount importance in this forested region, cut off as it is from the Pacific by the huge rampart of the Andes, and—without prejudice to the historical aspects of the boundary question—this matter should receive full consideration. The Orient, although an undeveloped and little-travelled region at present, must, in the future, be of great value. Peru enjoys a vast territory in the same zone, and could well afford to take a generous outlook upon the wishes of her neighbour, thereby healing ancient quarrels and laying the foundation of future international stability and friendship.

We shall tread this region again in the chapter dealing with the Amazon.

The upland region of the Cordillera between Ecuador and Peru, little known to-day, was the scene of bitter struggles between the Incas—under Tupac Yupanqui and his son Huayna Capac, both famous princes of the Inca dynasty—and the Shiris, of the empire or kingdom of Quito, which the Incas wished to subjugate.

Cacha Duchisela, whose armies had beaten off the Inca attacks—he was the fifteenth and last of the Shiri Kings of Quito—was rapidly declining in health.

"But his mind did not share the ills of his body, and he formulated careful plans for the organization of his forces, which, under Calicuchima, were carried out. Amid the snowy heights of Azuay the vanguard of the Puruhaes[230] detained for long the onward march of the Inca forces. But, aided by the Cañaris, the Peruvians opened a way, and upon the bleak and melancholy páramos of Tiocajas, where years before their fathers had fought, battle was again waged, and with the same fatal result for the forces of the Shiri. Completely defeated, Cacha retired upon the fortress of Mocha, as his father Hualcopo had done; but, still more unfortunate, Cacha could not prevent the advance of the Incas. Having lost almost all his army, not so much by death as by desertion and disaffection, Cacha was forced to abandon the provinces of Mocha, Ambato, Latacunga, and Quito, which seemed insecure, and to pass to the northern provinces. Followed by the Inca, he first fortified himself at Cochasqui and then at Otalvo.[31] Here the valiant Caranquis, who had always been the faithful vassals of the Shiris, fought with such bravery that from the defensive the army passed to the offensive, and the Inca, escaping from an attack, was obliged to raise the siege of the Caranqui fortress and to suspend operations. He ordered strongholds to be made at Pesillo, and turned back to Tomebamba, with the purpose of calling up from Cuzco and the other provinces fresh forces of the imperial troops. In the meantime the Caranquis attacked and took the Pesillo fortress, and killed its garrison, an exploit which was at once answered by Huayna Capac with a strong detachment of soldiers, under the command of his brother Auqui Toma. Encountering[231] no resistance, this general advanced to Otalvo, but he fell in the first attack. Discouraged by his death, the Peruvians halted. Huayna Capac then advanced, bent on vengeance, and the attack was renewed, but without result. At length by means of a subterfuge, in which the Incas pretended to flee and then made a flank attack, the castle was taken and burnt. The cheated Caranquis fell confused before the enemy, and only a captain and a thousand men escaped, taking refuge in the forests. Cachi fled to the famed Hatuntaqui fortress, the last hope of his remaining vassals, and around this stronghold his troops were concentrated. The Shiri king, notwithstanding his wasting infirmity, caused his servants to carry him in his chair to the place of greatest danger in the combat. The Inca sent him the last invitation to an honourable surrender, with the hope of avoiding further bloodshed. Cacha made reply that the war was not of his seeking, that he was defending the integrity of his people, and that he would die before submitting. The attacks continued, and at first it seemed that the tide of battle might turn in favour of the Shiri. But these hopes were vain, for, suddenly struck by a lance, which penetrated his body, the brave Shiri fell dead in his chair. Disaster followed: the vanquished army gave up its weapons and surrendered, proclaiming, however, at the last moment, upon the stricken field, the right of accession to kingship of Paccha, the son of the dead king. But with the battle of Hatuntaqui fell the dynasty of the[232] Shiris, and on the plain which had formed, he fatal battleground the traveller may observe to-day the numerous tumuli beneath which repose the remains of those who once formed the army of the kingdom of Quito. Thus was played out in those high regions, overlooked by the Andine snows and volcanoes, one of those fateful dramas of early America, analogous in many ways with the historic struggles of Old World dynasties.

"An incident of Huayna's reign, as concerns Ecuador, was the rebellion of the Caranquis, who had accepted the Inca rulers. It was a long and obstinate conflict to overcome them, but terrible punishment was meted out. The Inca caused 20,000[32] of the rebels to be drowned in a lake, that of Yahuar-Cocha, whose name means 'the lake of blood,' which it bears to the present time. The number given, other writers remark, was probably that of the combatants who fell on both sides. When the punitive expedition was accomplished Huayna returned to Quito, greatly troubled by the constant insurrections of the various provinces of the northern empire. There was a shadow upon the mind of the great Inca ruler, a portent of some disaster to befall his nation. These forebodings were later to be realized, for the caravels of the white man, although at that moment the Inca did not know it, were about to traverse the waters of the Pacific upon the coasts of the empire.

"Huayna Capac doubtless received news of the[233] earlier arrival of the white men on the Panama coast of South America, and the matter impressed him strongly. Tradition states that supernatural occurrences heralded the fall of the Inca Empire—flaming comets, earthquakes, and so forth. On his deathbed, according to tradition, Huayna recalled a prognostication that had been earlier made, that after twelve Incas had reigned—Huayna himself was the twelfth—a valorous race would appear, a white, bearded people, who would overcome the empire. 'I go to rest with our father the Sun,' he added. But it would appear that the great Inca had not always regarded the sun as an infallible power. Some years before, at the great feast of Raymi, the festival of the Sun, at Cuzco, the chief priest had observed that the monarch looked up from time to time at the orb with considerable freedom, an action prohibited and considered almost sacrilegious; and he inquired, why the Inca did this. Huayna replied: 'I tell you that our Father the Sun must have another lord more powerful than himself; a thing so inquiet and so bound in his course could not be a god.' Before he died Huayna Capac admonished his successor ever to carry on the noble traditions of their dynasty, in fulfilling their title as 'lovers of the poor.' Indeed, a civilization and rulers who had so organized the material resources of the realm and the life of the community that none were in want, and where no class oppressed another, as was indisputably the case under the Inca Empire, well merited such a title, and that[234] the system should have been destroyed by the ruthless individualism of the Europeans is one of the most melancholy incidents in history."[33][34]

These same remote uplands were the scene of the strenuous march of the Spaniards under Alvarado (whose earlier adventures we followed in Mexico), who affected to consider Quito as outside Pizarro's jurisdiction. Theirs was a dreadful march. Accustomed to warmer lands, men and horses starved with cold and famine in the inclement and foodless Cordillera. They were forced to eat the bodies of their horses and to boil herbs in their helmets for food. The march was made in vain, for Alvarado had been forestalled by Benalcazar, who, with Almagro, was the real conqueror of Ecuador.

Ecuador, after the time of Independence, in which the famous Liberator, Bolivar, figured prominently, formed part of the republican incorporation with Columbia and Venezuela. Afterwards it was subject to revolutionary strife and civil wars of the most savage and bloodthirsty nature.

Among the leaders of the republican period the name of Dr. Garcia-Moreno stands forth. It was a steadfast doctrine of his that political progress could not be secured whilst widespread poverty among the people remained—a doctrine opposed[235] to the merely political ideas of other Presidents of the Republic, and which indeed is as true to-day in the Spanish American Republics as it was then.[35]

The antagonisms of the Liberal and clerical elements at this period brought dreadful excesses in political life, with assassination and destruction. The clergy were in a large measure corrupt, their opponents uncompromisingly hostile, and woe fell upon the land, and as late as the year 1912 the most dreadful deeds were committed, and the future seems to hold little immunity from similar occurrences.

Our way lies now into Peru. But no highways unite the two Republics along the almost inaccessible ranges of the Cordillera; no railways traverse this wild and broken region between them, and for a thousand miles the whistle of the locomotive is unheard among the mountains, whose solitudes are traversed only by the difficult mule-trail, over which the hardy arriero pursues his arduous course, or the slow and patient llama, feeding on the scanty herbage as it goes.

It was in one of the more northern towns of Peru, that of Cajamarca, that the principal act of the drama in the downfall of the Inca Empire took place, and we cannot do less, as we stand in the plaza of the town, than cast a backward glance at this page of early American history, fraught with such changes of destiny to the folk of the Cordillera.


We have seen elsewhere how Pizarro and his followers painfully made their way along the South American coast. On September 24, 1532, they began their march upon Cajamarca, ascending from the hot coastal lands to the cold regions of the Andes. Stories had reached them of great, populous valleys, high up among the clouds which covered the mountains, of people who had gold in such profusion that they regarded it as a commonplace, and made their household utensils of the yellow metal.

The Inca Empire at that moment was divided against itself. The two sons of the great Huayna Capac, Atahualpa and his brother Huascar, were fighting for the inheritance. Never had the Empire been divided thus, and its dissension was the precursor of its fall.

Pizarro sent emissaries before him, and they found evidence of a remarkable civilization—in cut-stone buildings, bridges, and intensive agriculture. By torture of the Indians, information was extracted concerning the intentions of Atahualpa, whose swift messengers had already apprised the Inca chief of the white man's arrival on the coast. Atahualpa was crafty and laid plans for their destruction, but meantime he sent gifts of llamas and golden cups.

However, the arrival was a peaceful one. The Spaniards formed camp and arrogantly sent to summon the Inca to appear before them. Hernando de Soto, the emissary, found the chief in the courtyard of his residence—a part of which[237] still stands in Cajamarca—and, riding up to him, rudely forced his horse in front of Atahualpa, until the animal's breath fanned his very face.

But the stoic Inca, although he had never beheld these terrible men-animals, as the Indians termed the horsemen, before, moved not. He wore the llauta, a fringe of crimson wool, the emblem of sovereignty. He vouchsafed no reply at first, but afterwards professed his friendship, and chicha, or native beer, in a golden loving-cup, was brought forth for the Spaniards' refreshment. Thirty thousand soldiers with lances surrounded him. At a word of his the Spaniards might have been destroyed, or at least driven off.

A careful watch was kept that night in the Spanish camp. "They are five hundred to one, comrades," said Pizarro; "but if we must fight and die, it shall be like Christians, with Providence on our side." Or such at least is what the historians have recorded of Pizarro's address; and, as we have before remarked, the men of Spain, on occasion, were devout.

The Spanish plan was a surprise attack and to seize the person of Atahualpa. On the following day the chief was to return the visit. The Incas were seen approaching, with bands, dancing, and singing, adorned with gold and silver; and, decked in his regal bravery, reclining in his litter, was the figure of the prince, the last of the Incas.

Whether the intentions of the Peruvians were hostile or not is doubtful. But the Spaniards saw, or pretended to see, arms concealed beneath the[238] peaceful robes, and they prepared themselves to make a sudden attack—to strike the first blow, after their customarily valiant manner.

It was the hand of the Church that gave the signal for the onslaught that marked the beginning of the end of the Incas. The Friar Vicente Valverde—chroniclers have acclaimed him as "the rascally friar"—advanced, at the instigation of Pizarro, with a Bible in one hand and a cross in the other, accompanied by an interpreter, to meet Atahualpa as he approached, the armed Spaniards being concealed by the wall of the plaza. "You must here render tribute and homage to our Emperor," exclaimed Valverde, "to our Pontiff, and to the God of the Christians"; and he held forth the Bible.

The Inca chief took the book, in curiosity perhaps, probably not understanding what was said. Opening it, he fingered the pages a moment, and then haughtily and impatiently threw the book from him. "Christians!" called out the friar—and it is recorded that it was his intention, or that he had instructions, to break the peace under any circumstances—"Christians, I call upon you to avenge this insult to the faith!"

Atahualpa, suspecting a menace, stood up in his litter and ordered his soldiers to prepare. Pizarro and his men grasped their arms and rushed forth. The trumpets sounded; the mounted Spaniards rode to the charge; the Indians, stricken with terror at the sound of the guns, retreated in panic; and the Christians, falling upon the Inca[239] army, triumphed, massacring the Indians like sheep.

Then they raised their eyes to heaven, giving thanks for this great victory. The conquest of Peru was, by this easy victory, already theirs.

The Inca chief had been taken prisoner in the engagement. He was a man of some thirty years of age, good-looking, fierce, stoic, a good reasoner and speaker, and the Spaniards regarded him as a wise man and treated him well at first. Probably they felt his superiority over them, these rude knights of the conquest. Great chiefs came from all parts of Peru to do him homage in his captivity. Huascar, his brother, had been murdered, it is said, by Atahualpa's orders; and Pizarro was wroth at this occurrence.

The scene changes again. Fearing that, sooner or later, the white men would kill him, Atahualpa offered them a princely ransom for his release.

"What ransom can you give?" asked Pizarro, seeing thereby a means of securing untold gold. "And when and how can you deliver it?"

The imprisoned chieftain raised his arm to a white line that ran high around the wall of his chamber or cell. "I will fill this room up to that line with gold," he said—"gold as pots and vases, gold as nuggets and as dust. I will fill this room, also, twice over with silver, in addition. That shall be my ransom, and it shall be completed in two months' time."

The offer, naturally, was accepted. "Have no fear," said Pizarro. The Inca sent swift messengers[240] to Cuzco, the capital, hundreds of miles to the south, along the rugged Cordillera, with orders that two thousand Indians should bring the golden vessels from the temples and the palaces.

One of the remarkable institutions of the Inca Empire was the system of posts, established along the famous roads. Relays of postmen or runners were kept stationed at the tambos or post-houses. When a message was despatched, the runner ran his section at full speed, shouting out the message to the next waiting postman, who immediately proceeded to cover his stage in the same way; and thus the message was conveyed with the utmost speed for hundreds of miles.

Stores of gold began to arrive—vases, jars, pots, some weighing as much as twenty-five pounds each of the precious metal. The Spaniards one day saw a remarkable spectacle upon the precipitous mountain track, on the farther side of the valley—a line of golden pots, borne on llamas, gleaming in the sun, coming to Cajamarca for the royal ransom.

The promise of the Inca was fulfilled. The ransom was made good. Did the Spaniards fulfil their part? For the answer we may point to the final scene, when Atahualpa, at first condemned by his captors—especially the priest—to be burnt to death, was strangled, after a mock trial in the plaza—infamously done to death, on what was probably a trumped-up charge of intended treachery.

The only bright spot on this foul page of[241] Spanish history is in the circumstance that twelve of the Spaniards, among them Hernando de Soto, protested vigorously against the deed. But Pizarro and the false friar Valverde, and others, were resolved upon it, and nothing moved them.



Vol. I. To face p. 240.

Possibly Pizarro, on the day of his own assassination, nine years afterwards, recalled this hour. He was killed, whilst at dinner on Sunday, by the follower of his partner Almagro—because he did not keep his promises.

Peru has always appealed to the imagination by reason of its natural wealth, added to its mysteries and remoteness. Humboldt spoke of it as "a beggar sitting upon a heap of gold," an aphorism designed to convey the idea of undeveloped riches. There is scarcely any valuable or useful product of Nature in the mineral and vegetable world which we may not find in one or other of the wide zones of littoral, mountain and forest of this land; scarcely any potentiality of life is lacking among her people, could they but make their way to its enjoyment. Since Humboldt wrote, much has been done, it is true, but it is little more than a beginning, in some respects.

If on the coastal zone we remark great tracts of territory capable of cultivation under irrigation, so do we find the agricultural resources of the uplands still calling for development, and mineral resources still lying unworked in many districts; whilst in the great Montaña, or region to the east of the Andes, which occupies the greater part of the Republic, settlement and cultivation are in the[242] nature only of a few scattered oases in what is a rich and fertile wilderness.

The uplands of the Andes in Peru contain some of the most thickly-populated parts of the country, notwithstanding their considerable elevation. Here we find capital cities or towns of the various Departments or States at elevation ranging from 8,000 to 13,000 feet above the sea, whilst populous mining centres, such as Cerro de Pasco and others, are at heights up to 14,000 feet.

"The people of pure Spanish blood in these upland communities are few, relatively, for in the course of time they have become so intermingled with the original inhabitants that they now form the real Mestizos, or people of mixed race. But they are, to all intents and purposes, as much Spanish Americans as the dwellers of the littoral provinces, their language being Spanish, and their customs principally of similar origin. They are a well-meaning class, desirous of progress and betterment, but kept backward by the isolation of their position, and the poverty of the country, and low standard of living consequent thereon.

"But the main bulk of the population of these regions is formed by the original people who constituted the communities of the Inca Empire—the Quechuas and Aymaras. Whilst in general terminology these are called Indians, they must not be confounded with the savage tribes of the forest, from which they are distinct in every respect. They merge into the Cholos, with[243] an admixture of Spaniard. They have, of course, absolutely nothing in common with the imported negroes of the coast, and are not necessarily dark-skinned—their complexion sometimes being relatively light—although they are beardless. The hair is worn in a queue. They are strong and hardy in constitution, and are much sought after as mining labourers, having a natural aptitude for this work. The mining regions, in some cases, are situated at very high elevations, from 11,000 to 17,000 feet, or more, and in the greatly rarefied air of such altitudes none but the actual sons of the soil—who have paid Nature the homage of being born there—can endure the hard physical exertion which mining demands.

"The history of these people is a chequered and terrible one. At the time of the Inca Empire they lived in a condition of happy and contented enjoyment of the fruits of their toil—a quiet, pastoral life, ruled by beneficent laws and monarchs who had their welfare at heart in a manner such as has never been carried out among the subjects or citizens of any Christian nation. They inhabited their glorious uplands, wresting from Nature, with pleasurable toil, the means of their simple existence, until—in the inexplicable plan of Nature, which ever demands strife and change—Spaniards came sailing round the world, and substituted for that peaceful regime battle and bloodshed, and long and terrible oppression. A resulting fear of the invading white man inspired the distrust which to-day is one of their dominant[244] characteristics—Spain's legacy in the Andes. This has induced a feeling of despair, which is imprinted on their melancholy countenances, and in the passive resistance which has become their habitual attitude towards progress and the administration of the Republic. But it would not be fair to cast the onus of this distrust upon the Spaniards alone, for the Cholos have been abused and oppressed by the Peruvians of the Republic, almost up to the present day. In times of revolutionary war their goods have been commandeered, and themselves made to serve as soldiers in strife in which they had no interest, whilst in times of peace they have been considered an easy subject for spoliation by the petty authorities and the wealthier Mestizo class.

"The population of these regions in prehispanic days was very considerable. The destroying tendency of the Spanish rule is indicated by the fact that the Viceroy Toledo, in 1575, numbered eight million Indians, exclusive of the savages of the forests, whilst at the close of the Spanish regime the whole population of the country only numbered about a million and a quarter. At present it is calculated that the number of the Cholo-Indians of the Andine regions is something under two millions. None of these calculations is quite reliable, but the fact remains that the country was well-populated in pre-Colombian times, and that great destruction took place during the epoch of Pizarro and the viceroys, whilst internal feuds and the Chilean War accounted for[245] a great many more deaths. High mortality, moreover, was brought about from misery and privation consequent upon wars. To-day the population tends slowly to increase, but infant mortality among the Cholos is very heavy, due to the wretched and insanitary condition of their life, added to the rigours of the climate on the high plateaux; which latter, however, would not be an evil were the standard of life higher.

"The poor Cholo has retained one fortunate condition from the civilization of his Inca forbears—he is an independent landholder. The small holding, or chacara, which he has wrested from Nature's chaos of rocks and ravines on the Andine slopes is his own; no one can dispossess him of it, and it affords him sufficient crop of maiz, potatoes, and, in places, alfalfa, to keep him and those dependent upon him. He is often, in addition, the owner of herds of llamas, alpacas, or sheep and goats, and from their wool he and his woman spin, and weave with their primitive looms, the 'tweeds'—for of this nature is the native cloth—and felt hat, which are his garments. These small holdings have been made in the most inaccessible places in many cases, by clearing away rocks and banking up the ground on the lower side in a similar way to that in which the andenes, or old cultivated terraces of the Inca period, were formed, and which still remain and excite the traveller's notice throughout the whole Andine region.

"Indeed, to the rough, topographical conditions[246] and difficult environment of these small holdings is due the Cholos' undisputed possession, in the first instance, thereof. Had they existed in more favourable situations they would have been annexed long ago, first by the Spanish landholders, and then by the owners of large haciendas under the Republic, or taken by the petty authorities under one or another pretext. It is again an instance of Nature protecting her progeny against the ravages of their own kind. The laws of the Republic now forbid these small holdings to be alienated from the Cholos; a wise measure, tending to preserve this useful peasant class.

"The andenes, as the terraced fields which cover the hill-slopes of the Andine region are termed, are worthy of detailed description. They exist in almost every valley, extending upwards from the coast and the foothills to elevations of 12,000 feet, and even 16,000 feet or more, covering the slopes even in the most inaccessible situations and rigorous altitudes. From some high saddle or summit whence the surrounding horizon is visible, the observer notes a curious chequered or rippled appearance upon the flanks of the ridges, as far as the eye can reach, from the floor of the valleys up to the precipitous rock escarpments. They are the andenes; small terraces, one after the other, embanked on the lower sides with stone walls, like a series of irregular steps, where the soil has been collected and cultivated. The great number of these small holdings in every direction throughout the Peruvian Sierra has given rise to the[247] supposition that a numerous population inhabited the Andes in prehistoric times—estimates even of ninety million inhabitants having been made. But this is fabulous, although it is evident that a numerous people must have formed and cultivated these remarkable terraces, of whom the present population are only a residue.

"Adjacent to these valleys, especially in certain districts, as upon the Upper Marañon,[36] are groups of extensive ruins of habitations, as well as of burying-places, known as huacas—often containing mummies—and of castles and fortresses. These latter often command the heads of valleys and defiles, and they go to show that the former inhabitants must have dwelt as separate groups or communities under the leadership of some chief—probably in pre-Inca times. These andenes, as the Spaniards termed the terraces when they conquered Peru, may have given rise, it has been surmised, to the name of the Andes; but this probably is not correct, the real derivation undoubtedly coming from the name of the Antis—a tribe which inhabited the snow-covered Cordillera region, which was termed by the Incas Ant-isuyu. This name, in Quechua, signifies 'copper-bearing,' and copper was extensively used by the Incas.

"The Cholo, then, provides for his wants, and he is quite independent—when allowed to be so—of the governing race. He asks nothing from civilization, and indeed this has, so far, brought[248] him mainly two things—the superstitious part of the Roman Catholic religion, and alcohol! The one has partly improved his mind—the other tends to ruin his body.

"At Fair times, and on the numerous Church feast-days, the Cholos and their women flock into the towns to buy, sell, drink and indulge in religious exercises. With their bright-hued blankets and ponchos—generally made by themselves—they lend colour and interest to the scene. And the priests—ha! the priests!—this is the time of their harvest, and the Cholos are the inexhaustible supply whence they draw fees, tithes and offerings. For the Cholo nature has been most susceptible to the rites and representations with which Roman Catholicism is interpreted among them. They all bear Spanish names—Christian and surname—and each has his patron saint: and they must be considered a civilized race.

"As stated, these people are the descendants of the Incas, or rather of the Quechuas and Aymaras, who formed the population of the Inca Empire, for of the Inca line there are no descendants whatever left. The Incas were a royal line, and whilst their members were more or less numerous, owing to the polygamy customary to them, the irregular descendants were not recognized as legitimate Incas, the real line of succession having been preserved by the progeny of the marriage of the reigning Inca with his own sister. The illegitimate offspring naturally intermarried[249] with the common people, and were merged into these again. Elsewhere some particulars of the past history and conditions of the Incas, and the population under their rule, have been described, as also their structures—temples, palaces and habitations—the ruins of which are encountered to-day along these vast uplands, where the Cholo feeds his flock, and lives his remote and melancholy existence. In marked contrast are some of these beautiful ruins to the wretched habitations of the present occupiers of the land.

"The Cholo-Indians of the uplands are, then, miners, shepherds and agriculturists. In tending their flocks, and in the breeding and domestication of the llama, they are remarkably expert, and their patience and endurance arouse the interest of the traveller who sojourns among them. They have many good qualities, which have been unable yet to expand. The true policy of the administrations which govern them must be towards bettering them and causing them to multiply, for, apart from motives of humanity, they are one of the country's most valuable human assets. If they fail, and become exterminated, a large part of the uplands and higher valleys of the Andes would become an uninhabited desert, for it is doubtful if any other race could ever occupy their place, or perform manual labour at the great elevations which form their habitat.

"Let us now glance at the conditions of life in some of the principal towns of this region of the Sierra. As is but natural, the farther these[250] communities are removed from the coast, the more primitive does their mode of life become. When the only means of communication with the outside world are by difficult and sometimes dangerous mule-roads, journeys are undertaken but rarely, and new influences, objects and appliances are not easily forthcoming. Yet in some cases demand is met by supply, and in spite of the difficulty of conveyance of heavy goods; pianos, billiard-tables and such things are constantly met with in the houses and restaurants of the large towns in the inter-Andine region. But books, pictures and other essentials of refined life are scarce.

"What is the aspect of these towns? Imagine yourself astride your mule upon the summit of the range which bounds one of these Andine valleys. You have toiled on all day, saddle-galled and weary, and you gladly direct your gaze to where the town lies spread below—a bird's-eye view. The streets run at right angles, with a central plaza containing the cathedral or church, and official buildings; the hotel—if there be one at this particular place—and various shops and houses. The cultivated plain surrounds it—the 'flat place' which Nature has provided, and which, together with the river which intersects it, is the reason of man's habitation there at all. For it is early impressed upon the traveller in the Andes that 'flat places' are a prime requisite for humanity's existence. You begin the descent, having seen that the crupper of your mule is in[251] place, in order that you may not journey upon the animal's neck; whilst your arriero tightens the pack-mule's girths. Small chacaras, or holdings, with little tumble-down stone huts, grass-roofed, straggle up the hillside, and bare-legged, unwashed children rush out among your animal's legs—the progeny of unkempt Cholo peasant women, at work within upon the preparation of some primitive meal. The little holdings are surrounded by rude stone walls, or hedges of prickly-pear, or maguey (agave). Still you descend. The huts give place to adobe houses, with whitewashed walls and red-tiled or grass-thatched roofs; the straggling trail forms itself more into the semblance of a street; your beast's hoofs rattle over the cobble pavement; some few inhabitants stand at their doors to stare and remark at the advent of a stranger; and in a moment you have entered the plaza.



Vol. I. To face p. 250.

"The condition of the plaza, in Spanish American cities, is an index of the prosperity and enterprise of the particular community. In the more wealthy and advanced towns it is well paved, and planted with shrubs and flowers, and a band, during several evenings of the week, discourses music therein, to the delight of the populace. Here pretty girls and amorous youths promenade—the only means of exercise the former are permitted, and the only general meeting-ground of the two sexes. In the interior towns of Peru the plaza is often grass-grown and unpaved. It seems to reflect the poverty of its inhabitants, and to impress upon the foreigner that the country is but[252] slowly recovering from the misfortunes of its troubled history. The traveller, accustomed to the movement and modernness of the cities of other lands, will observe the triste aspect of the place with dismay, and wish he might turn his horse's head again without delay towards the coast and civilization. But the more leisurely observer will not fail to find much that is interesting even here. The buildings are quaint; the air of mediaeval times which shrouds the grass-grown plaza and the half-ruined church, together with the strange garb of the Indians who slink through the streets, and the struggling evidences of modern civilization—in shop sign or municipal notice—are almost pathetic. Whatever it is, it is peaceful; the climate is bracing, the cost of living—to foreign eyes—nil; and do not the surrounding hills and valleys contain unknown possibilities of mineral and industrial wealth?

"The society of these places consists of the official element—the prefect and other functionaries, and few professional men; the few storekeepers, and the chief landowners of the neighbourhood. There is but little social life—an occasional baile, a few political meetings, and the Sunday morning Mass. At the latter, the young men of the place foregather at the church door, what time the devout señoritas come forth, and pass review of soft faces and flashing eyes, beneath shady mantillas. There is probably a club with billiard-tables, brought with difficulty over mountain roads, as before mentioned, and[253] newspapers of somewhat remote date. But the chief centres for gossip-mongers are the stores, and shops where copitas of brandy and native spirits are sold.

"The great merry-making period of the year is that of the three days' carnival celebration. During this time business is entirely suspended, and the whole population—whether in Lima and other coast cities, the towns of the Andes, or the remote hamlets of the plateaux—give themselves over to frenzied play. This consists principally in bombarding each other from the balconies of the houses with globos, or india-rubber bladders full of water; squirts, scents, powder and other matters. It is impossible to pass along the streets during these three days' riotous play without being soaked or covered with flour or powder from above, and the only method is either to enter into the sport, or else lie low at home until it is over. The usual reserve between the sexes is much broken down at this time, and the warm-blooded Peruvian girl enters with much zest into the temporary licence of Carnival.

"The houses of the upland towns are generally built of adobe or tapiales—that is, of bricks or concrete made of wet earth, sun-dried and whitened—the roofs being covered with red pantiles, or thatched with grass. Through the wide entrance door access is gained to the patio, or interior paved yard, after the usual Spanish American style, upon which the various rooms look and open. The windows upon the street are all securely[254] barred with iron rejas, or grilles, and the whole aspect is quaint and mediaeval, though the arrangement lacks in comfort from the foreigner's point of view; whilst the interior ménage is naturally of a nature more primitive than that of communities in European towns. But in general, the peoples of these regions dwell in sufficiency, and that acute poverty, as among the lower strata of foreign cities, does not exist in Peru.

"The ultimate and irrevocable line of caste distinction in these places is that between the coat and the poncho. From the prefect and the lawyer and the doctor, down to the shop assistant, the dress is the coat of the ordinary European form. Be there but the smallest recognized strain of European blood in the individual, it will be sheltered by the coat, but below this all is ignorance and the poncho. This useful but uncivilized garment consists of a species of blanket with an opening in the centre by which it is slipped over the head. We must, however, temper this 'clothes—philosophy' by remarking that the poncho is used even by caballeros on certain occasions, especially on horseback, when, in the form of a thin white material, it wards off the sun's rays and protects the horseman from dust, whilst as a thick woollen garment it shields him from the bitter blasts and keen air of the mountain uplands. The ponchos woven of vicuña wool by the Cholos are of the most exquisite texture, and practically, waterproof. But the ordinary blanket poncho is the poor Indian's greatest possession. It shelters[255] him by day from the sun or rain, and at night it forms his bed.

"The advent of a foreigner in these more remote places is a matter of interest to the inhabitants, and—especially if he be a person bent upon some scientific or exploratory work—he is well and hospitably received, and all facilities afforded to him. Keen interest is taken in anything pertaining to the outside world, for these people, cut off as they are by natural barriers from its happenings, are far from being apathetic, or indifferent of events. Indeed it is this eager interest and avidity for knowledge of the modern world which most greatly touches the sympathy of the traveller, and which is the element which must redeem the people of these remote places from stagnation and decadence.

"Peruvian hospitality is proverbial, and nowhere is it stronger than among the peoples of the upper class in the Sierra. The traveller soon becomes the centre of a group who press their not unwelcome attentions upon him; and they provide the best their houses afford for his refreshment and entertainment, as a rule accepting nothing in payment. This pleasing quality, in addition to being born of their native kindness, is motived partly from the desire to be considered civilized, and this is not without a note of pathos. The traveller, moreover, will not fail to recollect that he has sojourned in other—business—communities, whose higher civilization certainly does not necessarily include hospitality. These Sierra people of[256] Peru, whilst they possess pleasing traits of the above nature, have also others less happy. They, as a class, are sometimes unscrupulous in their business dealings, and agreements are not always to be relied upon—a defect of the Spanish American generally, which at times overshadows his better qualities."[37]

We have already remarked on the mineral resources of the Andine region of Peru. It may be that, in the future, attention will be more widely directed thereto, and travellers with technical knowledge of mining are increasingly making their way here, and some notes on this score are of interest. Little, however, seems possible in this field without the use of foreign capital.

In a land so famous for its gold as was that of Old Peru, it is remarkable that so little gold is produced at the present time—an insignificant annual amount of little over £100,000. Yet there are many gold-bearing deposits scattered over the vast upland region, from auriferous quartz-seams: to vast gravel deposits. There do not appear to be any huge ore-bodies of the nature of South Africa, with low-grade but abundant material. The seams, however, in many cases offer "payable propositions." There are rock ledges of great length and depth, capable of being worked economically by adits rather than shafts, and sometimes with water-power available and with "cheap mining labour" (that attractive item of the company-promoter's prospectus) at hand, with[257] immediate areas of fertile land for the needful foodstuffs. A difficult feature sometimes is the matter of transport, for, from the coast, the Cordillera must be surmounted.

The enormous gold-bearing alluvial deposits are generally situated on the most westerly side or summits of the Cordillera, and in the Montaña, and are difficult of access at present in the absence of railways. Various enterprises have been set on foot to win the gold from these in recent years—whether by the method of dredging, whether after the Californian "hydraulic" system—but it is doubtful if they have proved a success, from a variety of causes. There, however, is the gold, awaiting recovery.

The reputation for fabulous wealth of silver in the Peruvian mountains has passed into a proverb. Great wealth has been recovered, and the ores are often extremely rich. Myriads of old workings exist, which were abandoned because the more primitive appliances of a past age did not permit the drainage of the mines, which became filled with water; but they are capable of being pumped out. Romantic tales are told of the enrichment of miners who persevered in their labours in some lonely mine and won great fortune. In the many examinations I made here of gold and silver mines in Peru there were found conditions that should well repay modern mining enterprise. There is, of course, a good deal of work being carried on.

The great wealth of copper, lead, zinc, quicksilver, iron and coal also present their attractions,[258] and there are rarer metals whose use commerce urgently requires. But foreign capital does not flow very freely to Peru, and Peruvian capital does not seem to have the organizing faculty to develop the mineral wealth of the country for itself. The mining laws of Peru offer considerable privileges to the foreigner, whom the Government is ever desirous of encouraging.

The Indian, the native miner, has his own methods of winning the gold from the rocks and gravels, or the gold-bearing streams of the Montaña, or the auriferous earths of the high pampas. In the streams he selects a suitable spot and paves it with large stones. Then, when the floods pass over the prepared surface of rude "riffles," the gold carried down by the waters from the auriferous rocks lodges in the interstices, and, removing the stones, he recovers the precious nuggets and dust. Or, by laborious panning in a batea, or wooden bowl, hollowed out of a block of wood, he washes the gravel from the rich banks of sediment, and the gold lies at the bottom. In the case of the gold-bearing ores, he digs shallow pits in the surface of the ledge, where Nature, under the oxidation of the pyrites, has transformed the gold into a form recoverable by the simple method of amalgamation with quicksilver, after crushing the friable quartz under a primitive rocking-stone.

Indeed, in many places, it would seem that Nature has placed the gold here in a form such that recovery will remunerate the natural son of the soil, when a more greedy and better-equipped[259] "company" would be unable to pay its way. The stores of gold possessed by the Incas of Peru were won by such primitive methods; large bodies of Indians being employed upon the work, and evidences of their operations remain to the present time.

The ancient folk of the Andes had as their greatest food products maiz, millet and potatoes, together with the numerous tropical fruits of the lowlands. They gave Europe the potato—surely no inconsiderable gift—having developed it in Ecuador, Peru and Chile, from the wild, bitter variety; and Europe gave them wheat and other cereals, and, of course, the domestic animals—ox, cow, sheep, horse and pig.

The llama was their only beast of burden here—this curious, hoofed, ruminating quadruped of the camel tribe, with its long neck and timid face. In our journeys along these bleak uplands we shall meet large droves of the llamas, bearing loads of merchandise, in weight up to a hundred pounds. These animals are sagacious in their way, and if overloaded refuse to move. Their services, their wool, their flesh, are all extremely valuable adjuncts of Indian life. The creature costs little or nothing to keep: it requires no shelter, and it feeds itself as it goes along, at a rate of about four miles an hour. The llama indeed was—and is—an outstanding figure in the native economics of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. Its cousin the alpaca is also to be seen in large bands.

Up to the limit of the temperate zone in the[260] Peruvian Andes, about 11,500 feet, we shall remark some of the familiar flora of England, such as ferns, nettles, buttercups, violets and stitchwort, together with wild geraniums and pelargoniums. Apples, pears, cherries and strawberries also grow, under desultory cultivation. Trees are scant in the almost treeless Andes, and we find little beyond the groves of stunted quinua and other native shrubs, which, however, are valuable for fuel. The ichu grass—stipa Incana—which also serves for "thatching" the Indian huts, is the predominant herbage.

As we ascend, the vegetation becomes even more humble. At 13,500 feet the potato will not grow; the hardy barley will not yield. Only a few thorny shrubs and some curious cacti are to be seen. Higher still we reach the limit of the perpetual snow, where little but the lichens and a few cryptogams appear, except a few cold-resisting flowers having medicinal properties. Above, all is bare, the inorganic world asserts its kingdom—except for the condor of the Andes circling around the summit of some ice-covered volcano.

Here in these high, inclement uplands, I have pitched my tent, and my Indians are now preparing a meal around the camp-fire, made of the dry grass or some scanty leña or firewood, or possibly we may have come across a "colony" of the curious yareta, a huge mushroom-like woody growth, perhaps three feet in diameter, full of resin, which burns fiercely: a product only of the Peruvian and Bolivian heights. Failing these[261] matters, the fire must be of dry llama dung, or taquia, a useful fuel in the Andes, from which even the ores of silver, in places, are smelted.





Vol. I. To face p. 260.

Here on the roof of the world we mark the rays of the setting sun tinting a rosy red the eternal pinnacles of the Andes, and the last glow gone, we must seek the tent and draw the ponchos about us; the Indians throwing themselves upon the ground outside. Simple and faithful souls are these children of the uplands, full of gratitude to the patron who treats them fairly; resourceful and industrious. And the Ingles, of course, treat them well and justly. Is not an Englishman's word his bond? Further, are not his pockets invariably lined with silver! Months have I spent in these wilds, without any other companions than the Quechua Indians and the Cholos, our only language Spanish and what smattering of Quechua it was possible for me to acquire.

Or perhaps I have formed camp in some abandoned Inca ruins, and the evening meal has been cooked in the ruined stone fireplace of folk departed these many centuries: my seat a cube of stone neatly fashioned—one of those which strew the ground around—by some ancient mason. There one may ponder upon the strange folk, who built massive temples and megalithic walls—in a region where there is no timber and where corn does not grow. Why did these folk establish themselves in these high places? Are there any other mountains in the world where Nature brought forth[262] a dominating culture so near the clouds as that whose progenitors went forth, as we are told, from the mysterious island of Titicaca?

Or again, night has overtaken us on the edge of the Montaña, and, below, we overlook the tree-filled valleys, part of the forest which stretches unbroken for thousands of miles across the Amazon plains of Brazil. The valley may be filled with mist, and the effect is remarkable, as a weird transformation scene. The sun sets; it still tinges the western sky with its beauteous and indescribable tints. The palest saffron fades into the pearly-green of the zenith, and the last, orange rays, calm and cold, flash faintly and expiringly upwards. In the deep cañons the fleecy masses of pearly vapour slowly pour—"slow, lingering up the hills like living things." So soft and pure are they that they might be the couch spread for some invisible god-traveller! No eye but mine beholds them. The Indians are busy at the camp-fire. Then the mist masses arise as if to engulf the lonely headland on which we stand, like awful billows. But the light fades, except that of a single jewelled planet, which gleams softly and protectingly down from its gathering height.

The Indians sustain themselves at times on their journeys by chewing the leaves of the coca shrub, which are a valued possession among them. This shrub, peculiar to Peru and Bolivia—although it has now been transplanted to Ceylon—is that which gives us the cocaine of the pharmacopœia. For the invaluable quinine, we may also be[263] grateful to Peru and to the memory of that viceroy's lady, the Countess of Chinchon, who, sick of a fever—it was tercianas or tertial malaria—was cured by an Indian woman with doses of the steeped bark of the quinine shrub, which bears her name to this day.

The most ancient and remarkable town of the Cordillera is Cuzco, the one-time Inca capital. It lies in a valley, overlooked by lofty mountains; and on its northern side stands the famous fortress of Sacsaihuaman, the cyclopean fortress of the early Peruvians—the Incas and their predecessors. Here we may stand upon the great walls of what is one of the most remarkable of prehistoric structures, forming terraces along the hillside of great stone blocks, built in the form of revetments and salients, some of the stones being nearly twenty feet high.

Many of the walls of the Cuzco streets still retain their Inca stone construction, a monument to the clever masonry of these people, which has excited the interest and admiration of many archæologists and travellers. Here was the Temple of the Sun, and indeed part of its beautifully moulded walls still remains.

The town is the centre of one of the most popular districts of Peru, labouring Indians mainly; and it has a number of interesting Spanish colonial buildings, with some textile and other industries. We may reach Cuzco now by rail from Arequipa and the coast at Mollendo. Not far away are others of the remarkable remains of early Peruvian civilization,[264] including the Inca "astronomical observatory" of Intihuatana, where the priests determine the solstices by means of the shadow cast by a stone column, a portion of which still exists. Also Ollanta.

Cuzco witnessed the final overthrow of the Incas after the scene at Cajamarca, and many excesses were committed here by the Spaniards, in their purpose of stamping out the early Peruvian civilization—a sad and pathetic page of history indeed.

If on these high and often dreary uplands it was destined that the power of the Inca Empire should pass away in so melancholy a fashion, it would seem that fate had here a similar end for the empire of its conquerors in store. For are not the fateful names of Junin and Ayacucho stamped upon the face of this Cordillera region? Here the Royalists of Spain made their last stand.

We cannot enter upon the details of Spain's downfall. From its history stand out the famous names of San Martin, with his march across the Andes from Argentine into Chile; Bolivar, and his equally or more renowned march across the Northern Andes; Cochrane, the English admiral, and his operations on the coast; Sucre, La Serna, and others. At the Battle of Junin the Royalist leader of the Spanish forces was defeated. Cuzco, the last stronghold of Spain in South America, fell. Then came the historic Battle of Ayacucho. The patriots—Peruvians, Chileans and some Argentines—numbered some six thousand; the Royalists[265] nine thousand. The Royalists were utterly routed, fifteen hundred were slain: the viceroy, his generals, officers and army were captured. It was hailed as a providential victory for freedom; a new life after three hundred years of Spanish domination, and the colours of Iberia flew no more upon the Cordillera.




Vol. I. To face p. 264.




Still threading the high region of the Andes, our journey takes us into Bolivia, that comparatively little-known Republic.

Neither topographically nor historically is there any marked change from Peru to Bolivia. Both countries occupy the "roof of the world" here, the chain and uplands of the Cordillera, although, if such were possible, the punas, or steppes, of Bolivia are even more inclement than the corresponding antiplanicies of Peru.

Bolivia has, indeed, been termed the Tibet of America, where the yak is replaced by the llama. But it would be unjust to compare the one with the other as regards the human element, for the Andine Republic is peopled, or at least administered and animated, by the sensitive and progressive Spanish American civilization, and is not an old or decadent land, but, on the contrary, has all its life before it.

The highlands, we have said, are a continuation of those of Peru. In both countries, as well[267] as in Northern Chile, we shall remark on our mountain expedition the herds of beautiful vicuña, fleet as the wind, living where nothing else will live, yielding a soft, tawny fur or skin, a boa of which is indeed a comforter around one's neck as a protection against the keen air of the heights. In the ramparts of the rocks myriads of viscachas squirrels, or rather conies, have their home, and it is a swift shot that will secure one for the evening meal.

Of the stupendous snowy peaks of Bolivia we have already spoken. There arise Sorata and Illimani, highest—with Huascaran and Coropuna, in Peru, and Aconcagua, in Chile, all near or over 23,000 feet—on the American Continent. Few travellers approach or ascend these mountains, whose beauties the inhabitants themselves generally prefer to contemplate from afar.

Bolivia is generally regarded as a "mountain republic," remote, inaccessible, backward. Such a concept requires some modification. It is true that the country, deprived of its seaboard, has its population and centres of life mainly upon the Andes, that its population is relatively small in comparison with those of its neighbours, and consists to a larger degree of the Indian element. But it is not all mountain, nor all Indian folk. A considerable area of the Republic extends to the lowlands of the Amazon Valley (and to the Plate), including those delightful sub-valleys and hill-slopes which Nature, by reason of climate and vegetation, has rendered of the most pleasant. As[268] for the people, we find here the same Spanish American civilization, among the cultured class that is, with the traits and gifts common to their race. As for the Indian—that is their social problem.

La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, to which we may have ascended by rail from the coast, is approached almost unawares. There is nothing to foretell, as we cross the barren plains from Viacha, that so important a place will shortly be displayed to the view. Suddenly we reach the Alto, or "Height," and there, far below, is La Paz, reposing in the mighty amphitheatre of its abrupt valley. Before the train descends from the verge it is well to look again upon Illimani, Huayna-Potosi, and another giant, Mururata, whose snowy peaks reflect the colour of the sunset, bathed in an atmosphere so limpid that their distant slopes are brought to deceptive nearness.

The Valley of La Paz has the aspect of a vast crater, its floor lying over 12,000 feet above sea-level. Its buildings and institutions merit the traveller's attention. Its pleasing alameda and other planted or cultivated areas are a relief after the dreary and forbidding aspect of the valley around, with its scarred and precipitous sides. Who could have founded a city here, and why?

La Paz was founded by Alonzo de Mendoza in 1548, and first named to commemorate the temporary reconciliation between Pizarro and Almagro, who had grievously quarrelled. The cathedral was begun in the seventeenth century,[269] when the famous mines of Potosi were at their height of productiveness. Some of the streets are of the most winding character possible, and many of them reflect the poverty of their Indian dwellers. Others are full of animation, constantly threaded by caravans of llamas, asses and mules, and thronged by a many-hued population of pure-blooded Indians, with garments negligent but picturesque; Cholas, or half-breed women, often extremely pretty, dressed in vivid colours, coquettish, wearing their home-made hats of white felt; and townsmen of white race, ladies of La Paz, and European folk: in brief, all the elements we shall have seen in the upland towns of Spanish America, where rich and poor do congregate together. On Sundays the animation increases, for this is the day of markets, and piles of wares and fruits and other products interest and attract. The streets are electrically lit. In the new part of the city are many handsome residences and evidences of wealth. The inevitable band in the plaza discourses its music, and the churches command their usual congregations. The museums—mining and archæological—show a regard for science here. La Paz is now becoming a comparatively cosmopolitan centre, and its interest and importance most undoubtedly increase.

The Republic of Bolivia took its name, as a token of gratitude, from Bolivar, the great Liberator. Since his time, from 1825 to 1913, it has had seventy-one different presidents, an average of a little over one per annum, an indication[270] either of an experimental outlook towards self-government or of chronic unrest, whichever way we may prefer to view it. It is difficult for a European to comprehend the disabilities and difficulties of such a community, and criticism is easy. But we may again reflect that their future lies before these remote States, and that their human vitality and natural resource are storehouses for the future, not depleted or derelict.

To the observant foreigner perhaps the most interesting human element in the Andes is that of the Indians. They are the true children of the soil, Nature's product unadulterated, the specimen of her human handiwork in this special environment. They hide nothing, they expect nothing from her. But if the future lies before them they are nevertheless obsessed with their past. They are a raza conquistada as their masters term them—a conquered race. They may not always be so. Different writers take different views of them.

In Peru the natives of these uplands are the Quechuas; in Bolivia, the Quechuas and the Aymaras. These two differ somewhat in their habits and temperament. There are, in addition, a number of savage tribes, mostly in the forested regions.

"The Aymaras, one of the principal ethnical elements of the Bolivian nation, are found in the north, as far as Peruvian territory, on the banks, islands and peninsulas of Lake Titicaca, and on the plateau as far south as Oruro. The[271] Quechuas occupy the south and the north of the Argentine.

"Between these two races there is a difference of type and a greater difference of character. The Aymara is a little above the average height, has the chest strongly developed, the calves powerful, and the feet small. The features are not on the whole attractive; they are prominent, and indicative neither of intelligence nor goodwill. The head is large, the neck short and thick, the cheeks wide, the nose massive; the eyes are small, the mouth wide, and the lips thick. The colour is coppery or an olive-brown, varying with the altitude. The hair is black, thick and strong, but the beard is absolutely lacking.

"While the Quechua is docile, submissive and obedient, the Aymara is hard, vindictive, bellicose, rebellious, egotistical, cruel and jealous of his liberty; he is always ready to resort to force. In times of disturbance the factions have always recruited the bulk of their fighters from the Aymaras. Yet they seem lacking in will, except the will to hate all that is unlike themselves. The Aymara is also fanatical, and his is not the fanaticism of religion, but of vanity; he wants to cut a figure in the religious fêtes, which are not unlike orgies of idolatry, and are marked by alcoholic and moral excesses of every kind.

"The plateaux are always cool, so the Aymara wears a comparatively warm costume, consisting of a thick woollen shirt and a poncho of many colours, with dark, narrow breeches coming just[272] below the knee. The legs are bare, and the feet equally so, or are shod with sandals of raw hide. The Aymara, like the Tibetan, another dweller in plateaux, is insensible to cold; he sleeps bare-footed in the hardest frosts, and walks through freezing water or over ice without apparent inconvenience. On days of festival the Aymara replaces the poncho by a sort of tight-fitting tunic. The head is well covered with a large woollen bonnet, which protects the neck and ears. The women also wear a shirt or chemise of thick wool or cotton, over which they throw a mantle of coarse, heavy wool, striped with bright colours, and retained on the chest by a sort of spoon of silver or copper, the slender handle serving as a pin. A heavy woolle petticoat, pleated in front, and usually dyed a dark blue, covers the lower part of the body to the ankles. The Aymara woman wears several of these petticoats superimposed, which gives her a very bulky look about the hips. A somewhat unattractive hat completes the costume. Men and women alike having a perfect contempt for hygiene, all parts of the body are coated with a respectable layer of dirt. Their clothes, which they never put off, even to sleep, are worn until they fall into tatters, and usually give off a disagreeable ammoniacal odour.

"The Aymara tongue differs from the Quechua; it is a harsh, guttural idiom, rather formless, but having conjugations. It is forcible and concise. The peoples conquered by the Quechuas learned the language of their conquerors; but the Aymaras[273] retained theirs, and when the Spaniards conquered the country, the Aymaras, who had long been a subject race, were decadent and diminishing in numbers.

"By the innumerable vestiges of building and the tombs near Lake Titicaca we may judge that this country was once thickly populated. But the plains afforded no refuge, and the inhabitants could not escape the forced recruiting which supplied the mining centres. At the time of Tupac-Amaru's insurrection the Aymaras, happy to reconquer their liberty, or perhaps merely to effect a change of masters and to satisfy their bellicose instincts, threw themselves into the revolt; whereupon war, sickness and famine considerably reduced their numbers. To-day they are estimated to be about 400,000 strong.

"The Aymaras are divided into six tribes, according to the regions they inhabit. These are the Omasuyos, the Pacasas, the Sicasicas, the Larecajas, the Carangas, and the Yungas. The Aymaras of the provinces of Yungas, Larecaja, and Muñecas are lighter in tint, cleaner, more intelligent and less uncouth than the rest.

"The Quechua race, whose numbers are greater, are found in many regions of Bolivia. The Quechua is lighter and yellower than the Aymara, and more of a Mongolian type. The features are irregular, the eyes black, the cheek-bones prominent; the narrow forehead is slightly protuberant, and the skull oblong; the mouth is wide and the nose massive. The stature is rather[274] below the average, but there are tall individuals, who as a rule resemble the Aymara type. Solidly built, the Quechua looks a powerful and muscular man; but as from childhood both sexes are used to carrying extremely heavy burdens on the back they are not really very strong in the limbs, although the shoulders are very powerful. The Indian is an extraordinary walker; his legs of steel enable him to travel long distances in mountainous regions without the least fatigue. The women are even stronger than the men, their work being heavier, although they live practically the same life.

"The Quechua costume consists of a coloured poncho, a tight woollen vest, and breeches rarely falling below the knee; the feet are shod with ojotas, or rawhide sandals, which take the shape of the foot. The woman wears a small woollen vest, cut low on the bosom; the skirt is the same as that worn by the Aymara women; and on a feast-day the Quechua woman wears all the petticoats she possesses, one over another. As they are all of equal length, each shows the edge of that below it, whence a gamut of various colours. The Quechua women are distinguished from the Aymaras chiefly by their hats, which are flatter.

"The Quechua idiom is extremely rich and has been studied grammatically.

"The Indian race has never been assimilated; as it was at the moment of conquest, so it is now; with the same language, the same customs, and the same miserable dwellings, hardly fit to[275] shelter beasts. Isolated and solitary, or gathered into hamlets of a few cabins, they are merely conical huts of unbaked bricks, covered with thatch or reeds, and consisting of one small chamber, in which all the members of the family live in the completest promiscuity. These huts, in which the most wretched poverty and uncleanliness reign supreme, contain nothing that we should call furniture; as a rule there is no bed but the hardened soil or a few coverings of ragged sheepskin."[38]



Vol. I. To face p. 274.

The principal vice of the Indian is drink, both with men and women. Perhaps it drowns reflection—race-sorrow. But, as in the case of the Mexicans and all others of the brown race, this excess is not the fault alone of the drinker. The producing of alcohol is, in many cases, a lucrative trade for those above him, the large growers of cane or other alcohol-yielding plants. Legislation, moreover, against the evil, if it be necessary in other lands—for example, the United States or Britain—is surely necessary with the ignorant Indian.

The Indian is, as has been said, melancholy. He rarely laughs, except when he is drunk. Perhaps this is partly due to the melancholy environment of the Cordillera; perhaps the result of his practical enslavement and the downfall of his race.

Melancholy and music are here akin. The[276] Indians of Peru and Bolivia have always been lovers of their national music—veritably the music of the Andes. They have many curious musical instruments, many weird songs and musical laments. Reed flutes or pipes and a species of guitar are among the principal of these instruments. The Bolivian Indian has a good ear for music, and, it is said, will execute any piece of classical music with precision. The military bands of Bolivia are mostly composed of Indians.

"The Bolivian Indian is also remarkable for his ability to execute long passages on wind instruments. Even while dancing he can blow the quena or the zampona, which shows the vigour of his lungs, a quality due to the altitudes in which he lives. Few inhabitants of ordinary altitudes could endure such a test.

"Native music is usually soft, plaintive and naïve; its tremulous notes, often repeated five or six times in a minor key, swell and die in a monotonous rhythm which, to European ears, becomes tedious. Never do the instruments or the songs of the Indian suggest an idea of gaiety, but always a profound melancholy, the idea of extreme unhappiness and the wretchedness of a disordered mind.

"However, for one reason or another the Indians are now rather improving their music; and in many parts one notes unmistakable efforts to imitate and adapt the foreign conceptions of music and to mingle them with their favourite native[277] airs. The latter do not lose their melancholy, but are even more affecting.

"Despite these improvements, which are not general, the traveller is always greatly impressed when, as he journeys through the mountainous regions, surrounded on every hand by gloomy masses without horizon, he hears, suddenly, at the fall of night, rising near at hand in the midst of a profound silence, the long mournful notes of the quena, like a long and profound complaint, which echo repeats in distant sobs. Sometimes the flute is accompanied by the measured taps of a drum or tambourine, and sometimes it accompanies a song, monotonous and guttural as the songs of the Arabs; sounds inspiring sombre thoughts and provoking a shudder of melancholy in the stranger who hears them for the first time. The quena, indeed, produces sounds of a sinister melancholy; one manner of playing it consists of introducing it into a great crock of earthenware pierced with a hole on either side so that the hands may be introduced; and when so played it yields notes of sepulchral sonority. In all the arsenal of human music it would perhaps be impossible to discover more doleful sounds.

"When this primitive music seeks to interpret a comparatively calm and cheerful frame of mind it is certainly a little more inspiriting, but some of its notes are still like the moans of a stricken soul.

"The native dances are for the most part common to both Aymaras and Quechuas. The[278] most ridiculous and grotesque of these, on account of the extravagant costumes worn by the dancers, are the Danzantes, the Huacas-Tocoris, the Pacoches, the Morenos, the Tundiques and others yet, such as the Sicuris and the Chiriguano.

"This last is a war-dance; the dancers wear each the skin of a jaguar, or something resembling one; each carries a heavy stick; the music is harsh and warlike. The sicuri is danced by a group of fourteen Indians, wearing petticoats of white cotton cloth; on the head of each is a hat adorned with long feathers, the whole having the shape of an umbrella; they wear tambourines at their girdles and play the zampona, using two instruments. The huaca-tocoris or toros danzantes is performed during the fêtes of Corpus. A wooden framework covered with hide vaguely represents a bull; in the back of the beast is a hole through which the dancer introduces his body; his face smeared with soot, and clad in the following costume: white breeches, an old coat, a red poncho, and a hat bearing a semicircular crown of feathers. To imitate a bull-fighter another dancer brandishes a wooden sword in one hand and waves a handkerchief with the other.

"The commonest dance among the Indians is a slow, almost automatic rondo, the head continually rising and falling and turning from side to side. In another dance the dancers form couples, keeping their ground, and facing one another, accelerating their steps only at the end of each figure.


"During Lent the majority of the natives do not employ any instrumental music, but, on the other hand, they attend nocturnal gatherings known as chochus, at which young people of both sexes dance round a cross and sing psalms. There is absolutely nothing edifying about these functions, those taking part in them displaying a most disconcerting cynicism. On Easter Day the Indians wear their gala costumes, and ornament their hats with flowers and ribbons; they make up for their forty days' silence, and fill the air with the sound of quenas, sicus and tambourines. But even while dancing they are never gay; their sombre natures unbend only under the influence of drink.

"Among the strange and savage customs of the natives, we must not forget to mention the fights with whips which take place in certain provinces on Good Friday. On the occasion of the procession of the Sepulchre the Indians build altars along the route of the procession. The latter takes place always at night. Once it is over the altars are demolished by two separate groups—the Huarcas and the Incas, who at once begin to strive for victory. The two groups then assemble in the public place or square, and lash one another with implacable ardour. Triumph or failure is a good or bad omen for the year's harvest.

"Poetical songs, accompanied on the quechua, are known as yaravis. They are greatly appreciated by the natives. The Quechua yaravis have been to some extent improved by the modern Bolivians. They are usually a species of round, with a good[280] deal of repetition; each stanza has four to ten lines. These songs reflect the dreamy and sombre character of the race. Love is always their subject; a melancholy, plaintive and monotonous passion.

"The Bolivian Indian usually provides for his modest needs in his own way; ignorant of the advantages of the division of labour, he weaves the cloth of his own garments—mantle, breeches, or vest—and makes his hat and sandals himself. His chief occupations are agriculture and stockraising; but he is indolent, thriftless, imprudent and, above all, an obstinate conservative; so he confines himself to growing a few potatoes, a little barley, quinua, or oca, just as much as he needs to keep him alive. The land, cultivated by the most primitive of means—for the Indian will never accept any innovation, however practical and excellent—is generally very limited in extent, unless the neighbourhood of a city of a mine calls for a greater production than usual. Moreover, thousands of Indians are taken away from' their fields by all manner of tasks—by the necessity of transporting merchandise, provisions, machinery, etc., on the backs of mules, asses, llamas and even men, in countries innocent of other means of transport, to the mines and factories established in barren and uncultivated regions.

"Both the Aymaras and the Quechuas keep little herds of llamas, alpacas or sheep whenever possible, as their care calls; for less labour than the raising of crops. A few fowls and other birds[281] give them eggs, a few pigs furnish leather, meat and fat; they have the wool of their llamas and sheep, and they utilize even the excrement of the former as a combustible, as the Tibetans do that of the yak. A mule or a donkey grazes round the Indian's hut. From the age of four or five years the Indian guards the little herd of swine belonging to his parents; a little later he grazes their sheep among the mountains, where by means of his quena, zampona or cicus he learns to play melancholy airs.

"On the produce of his crops and his herds he lives in poverty, leaving the mountains or the plain only to exchange some of his products for coca or brandy. The woman is rarely idle; whether in the market, or loitering over her household tasks, or even as she walks, one sees her always spinning the wool of the llama or the sheep of which her garments are made.

"The Bolivian Indian in general excels in carrying loads, in spite of the lack of tolerable highways, covering daily stages of twenty to thirty miles. The average load is 66 to 80 lb. With his shoulders free his speed and endurance are amazing; he will cover fifty miles a day for several days on end, and without feeling exhausted, unless for some reason he wishes to seem so. We have seen Indians follow or accompany the coach or the mule which bore us, at the trot, shouting or blowing a pan-pipe; and at night they seemed less eager to rest than our mules or ourselves.


"The Indian is to-day little better off than he was under Spanish rule. Since the proclamation of Bolivar, which declared him capable of holding property, many Governments have passed laws intended to protect the Indian; but they have either remained ineffective or they have been overlooked and violated by the very officials whose duty it was to apply them."[39]

The Cholo, or half-breed, race of the Cordillera—or indeed the lowlands—is, after the Indian, the most numerous element in the population. These folk unite the qualities of the Spaniard and the aboriginal.

"The Cholos of Bolivia possess excellent qualities. They are robust and well-built physically; they are courteous and intelligent, rapidly acquiring all sorts of knowledge; they are, as a rule, proud and courageous, and, like the Indians, make excellent soldiers. They are good industrial workers; many become foremen and artisans. But they are also, like the Indian race from which they have sprung, avid of pleasure, with a strong inclination to idleness and alcohol. They profoundly despise the Indians, whose worst enemies they are; and they have always retained the Indian's timidity or servility toward the white man. Like the Indians, they are often lacking in energy, will-power and commercial or agricultural initiative.


"The Cholos, except in the poor and backward classes of society, are in no wise distinguishable, as to costume, from the white inhabitants. The women, or Cholas, many of whom are extremely pretty, are generally well made, with small hands and feet; their costume is conspicuous and characteristic. The Cholas of the more well-to-do classes are always extremely well shod, wearing high-laced boots with high heels, made of leather soft as a glove and of a light shade. These boots show off the foot and a shapely leg, clad in well-fitting stockings. The head is protected by a round hat of whitish felt, two black tresses falling down the back. On the shoulders they wear light shawls, white or of some other bright colour, of silk or other material, which covers a low-cut bodice worn over a short white pleated skirt, beneath which is a white petticoat edged with lace, which is slightly longer than the skirt. As the skirt is gathered on the hips, which are thus enlarged, and the bottom of the skirt is weighted, it sways as the wearer walks like the skirt of a dancer. The whole costume has a rather pleasing effect.

"The Cholas of the lower classes wear the same hat, the same coiffure, and a skirt of heavy woollen stuff, gathered on the hips, but no laced petticoat. The legs are bare and the feet are shod with sandals or cheap shoes.

"Hygiene is not always respected by the half-breeds of the lower classes, who are very superstitious. They bathe, it seems, only on odd dates, and more particularly on the 9th, 17th or 21st,[284] otherwise they would be ill the rest of the year; and one must never take more than twenty-one baths in the year, or the same results would follow.

"The Cholos are in the minority in the country districts, but live, as a rule, in the towns and cantons. Since they have participated directly and ardently in politics, they profess to live, if not for, at least by the State, and have a perfect passion for bureaucracy. In the towns and capitals the Cholos more especially enter the Army and the Church, and lately have also become schoolmasters. There are very distinguished men among the half-breeds, whose degree of education varies. At all times this class has furnished really remarkable statesmen and writers of talent.

"On account of the many crossings which have taken place, and are still taking place, it is not always possible, without great perspicacity, to distinguish a member of the white race from one of the superior classes of half-breeds. All Bolivians are very much alike physically, and the singular yellowish tint to be observed in the cornea of the mixed race, a noticeable and tenacious characteristic of the Indian, and one that often persists to the third and fourth generation, at last entirely disappears. The colour of the skin is not a certain indication, for it depends upon the local conditions.

"We are of opinion, and many agree with us, that the future of the half-breed race is henceforth assured; that in years to come, when it is still further improved by the admixture of fresh[285] blood, it will play a very prominent and active part in the national life. Already the half-breeds, who are more numerous than the whites, and almost as numerous as the Indians, are beginning to accumulate capital and to fill important posts in commercial houses. A half-breed aristocracy is in process of formation, which, when it is more numerous and more wealthy, when it has lost a little of its indolence and timidity, and has acquired greater initiative and a more serious education, will no longer be content to take a secondary place. Little by little—and examples already exist—it will assume the direction of the great industrial and commercial undertakings, and we shall see it consolidating its numerical and financial superiority by assuming the political direction of the country, to the detriment of the whites."[40]

I have dwelt thus lengthily upon the Indian races of the Cordillera for the reason that they have been comparatively little studied, and are indeed almost unknown to the outside world in general. They are in reality a valuable folk, mainly because they alone can perform sustained labour in the Cordillera, due to the condition of climate and atmosphere. If they disappear—and they do not appear to be increasing—these vast uplands might become uninhabited wildernesses. They are not likely to increase until the economic condition of their lives is improved, and, as a consequence, the heavy mortality among infants arrested.


To suppose that the Indians of the Cordillera are incapable, or even will be incapable, of receiving a higher civilization is to fall into a sociological error. The governing classes of these republics often assert this, however. But it will depend very much how "civilization" is applied to them. They are capable of becoming good mechanics and craftsmen, they are extremely careful and painstaking, as the intricacy and exquisite finish often of their native arts show; they imitate perhaps better than they initiate, but they nevertheless display considerable resource. They will not be herded into factories, if civilization consists in that. They are independent, and prefer to work for themselves.

As to their numbers, if we take the combined population of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia at, say, twelve to thirteen million people, and deduct ten to twenty per cent. for the whites and mestizos, we shall obtain approximately the number of these real sons and daughters of the soil to-day, mainly upon the Cordillera.

The Cordillera of the Andes is, we might fancifully say, the great banker of the West, the great guardian of gold and sliver, the father of minerals, and the progenitor of the treasure of the rocks. We have seen that Peru is a land fabulous for its mineral wealth; Colombia, far to the north, has only lesser stores of metals, precious or base; Ecuador has been but little favoured in this respect, but nevertheless has a famed old gold mine; Chile is markedly rich in almost every mineral. But[287] Bolivia perhaps surpasses all these. There was a famous Peruvian scientist and traveller, of Italian extraction—Raimondi—who described the plateau of Bolivia as "a table of silver supported by a column of gold." The same might be said of Peru. In the Cordillera generally we find gold in the lower districts, silver in the higher. It would almost seem that the metals have some affinity with the climate. At least the native Peruvian miner says that "the gold looks for the warmth, the silver for the cold."

Thus in the cold and the bleakness of the high hills do we find the white metal in Bolivia: we find, indeed, two white metals verging upon the regions of perpetual snow—silver and tin.

The tin mines, indeed, were first worked for silver, and the tin ores thrown away.

For the lore of silver-mining let us ascend to Potosi, the Silver Mountain. Its summit rises in perfect sugar-loaf form to over 16,000 feet above the level of the sea. Upon the slopes of this wonderful mountain, some 2,000 or 3,000 feet lower down, stands a city, founded in 1545 by the adventurous Spaniards, with their keen olfato, or instinct for gold and silver, and fifty years later 150,000 folk had their habitations there. For lodes and seams of the richest silver ore lay here—native silver and others; and the shell of the mountain quickly became honeycombed with shafts and galleries. Of five thousand such, a thousand may be seen to-day.

All classes of adventurers flocked to Potosi.[288] There were bankrupt Spanish nobles, thinking by a lucky stroke, or with their name and prestige, to recoup themselves; there were merchants, anxious to obtain sudden wealth; gamblers, thieves, demi-mondaines and all else, and Potosi became a centre of prodigality, romantic adventure, revelry and often disorder. Here Spanish hidalgos vied with each other in squandering fortunes in pleasure and ostentation, matters which caused faction-strife among the bands into which the people of the place were divided. The old chronicles of Potosi are very interesting, revealing as they do the custom of those times, the superstition, the chivalry and all else, which not even the high and solemn environment of the Cordillera could dampen.

To-day an English mining company works upon the mountain, striving to earn dividends for its shareholders. The silver is far from being exhausted, but methods of recovery fell back; and the low value of silver and the high rate of wage demanded by the miner were other factors in decadence.

The Potosi mountain was not a possession of the Spaniard alone. It has a metallurgical interest more remote. A traveller in the Cordillera before the time of the Conquest might have seen, as he approached the spot at night, a number of twinkling lights upon the slopes. They were the fires of the little furnaces in which the Indians, of the Incas, smelted the simpler silver ores, the winds of the Cordillera furnishing the needful blast; and[289] these furnaces were called in Quechua Guayras, which word means "the wind." It is said that at one time more than 15,000 of these little furnaces were to be seen upon the Silver Mountain, which reared its desolate slopes to heaven, but was a treasure-house of Nature.



Vol. I. To face p. 288.

It would not be possible here to dwell on the other great mines of Bolivia.[41] The mines of Huanchaca, with their great installation and considerable population, form a community of themselves, and have produced literally thousands of tons of silver. In winter, buried in snow, the place looks like a town of Northern Europe or Canada. The ores are first sorted by women, who are expert sorters of the grey argentiferous copper ores of the main lode. At times of late years nearly half a million pounds sterling have been distributed among the European shareholders of this important concern. Sometimes in a single month as much as seven tons of silver have been produced.

Silver to-day is less important than tin, however, which has become the principal article of Bolivian export, wrested from the bleakest places here in the Andes, as is the copper of Chile.

We have visited, in the Cordillera of South America, the highest inhabited places on the face of the globe.

But south of Bolivia the Andes no longer offers a place for the homes of mankind, for towns and populations, such as Nature has provided in[290] those vast regions we have traversed. The Cordillera becomes a single chain or ridge, without intermediate valleys or plateaux, and so continues for an enormous distance, lowering its elevation by degrees towards the frigid regions of the southern extremity of the continent, where its glaciers veritably run down into the bosom of the ocean. Perhaps the Cordillera has sunk here, as its "drowned" valleys—the fiords of the south seem to indicate—sunk, split and shattered as if Nature had done enough in this vast range running half across the globe.

If, however, the Chilean Cordillera does not offer an abiding place for man, it nevertheless is the source of his comfort and wealth, for the streams which flow from its summits irrigate the fields and vineyards of Chile's fruitful vales and Argentina's productive plains, bringing to being corn, wine and oil, and other things which make glad the heart of man.

The Andes form the dividing-line between Chile and Argentina. The water-parting was adopted as the boundary under the arbitration of King Edward of Britain. A remarkable monument has been erected in Uspallata Pass, a token that these two nations will enter into conflict no more; a great bronze statue of Christ, on a huge pedestal—El Cristo de los Andes—standing solitary and majestic amid the eternal snows, looking out over the high places of the mighty Cordillera.



Aguascalientes, 104

Alligators, 137

Almagro, 190, 241

Alvarado, 65, 119

Amazon, 209, 229

Americans, 83, 94, 114, 142, 148, 149

Andagoya, 156

Andenes, 246

Andes, 155, 160, 166, 209

Antofagasta, 178

Apaches, 104

Araucanians, 194

Archæology, 59, 69, 138, 157, 163, 164

Areas, 33

Arequipa, 177

Argentina, 290

Arica, 188

Armchairs, stone, ancient, 157

Arnica plant, 137

Arts, native, 72

Atahualpa, 236

Ayacucho, 264

Aymaras, 242, 270

Aztecs, 13, 32, 57, 104, 160

Bahamas, 41, 44

Balboa, 63

Bamboos, 159

Bananas, 77, 104, 134

Belize, 76

Birds, 135, 137, 152, 159

Bogata, 48

Bolivar, 234, 266

Bolivia, 20, 188

Borax Lake, 188

Brazil, 21, 48

British Guiana, 21, 75

British Honduras, 21, 75

Brown labour 141, see also Indians

Buenaventura, 155

Bull-fights, 144

Cacao, see Chocolate

Cacti, 103, 134

Cajamarca, 235

Calendar stone, Mexican, 139

Cali, 156

California, 44, 147, 165

Callao, 151, 166, 173

Campeche, 136

Carlota, Empress, 147

Carnival time, 253

Cathay, 40

Cathedrals, 166

Cauca Valley, 156

Central America, 22

Cerro de Pasco, 162

Chihuahua, 104

Chile, 20, 48, 164, 188, 266

Chimborazo, 165, 218

Chinese, 160

Chocolate, 104, 134, 158

Cholos, 170, 244, 282

Cholula, 111

Christ, statue of, 290

[292]Church of England, 33

Church, Roman Catholic, 55, 66

Coal, 133, 163, 207

Cochrane, Admiral, 196, 264

Coconuts, 77, 104, 134, 137, 158

Coffee, 77, 104, 159

Colluahuassi, 182

Colombia, 47, 50, 67, 87, 151

Colour line, 140

Columbus, 34

Concepcion, 196

Concessionaries, foreign, 145

Condor, 260

Conquest of Peru, 237

Copper, 247

Cordillera, 152, 162, see Andes

Corinto, 81

Cortes, 45

Costa Rica, 84

Cotopaxi, 218

Cotton, 77, 145, 163

Creation story, 66

Cuba, 97

Cuzco, 160, 223, 262

Dances, Indian, 278

Darien, 63

Davila, 64

Demerara, 21

Diaz, 101, 140

Doctorate, love of the, 169

Don Quixote, 161

Drake, 52

Dress and morals, 175

Dress, native, 254, 270

Drink evil, 275

Durango, 104

Dyewood, 77

Earthquakes, 69, 171, 196

Ecuador, 151, 216, 151

Edward, King, 20

Elizabeth, Queen, 88, 166

English in, 17-24, 75, 142, 180, 204, 205, 261, 288

Fibres, 77

Fishing, 137

Foreigners in, 16, 115, 142, 204, 255

Forests, see Timber

Fossils, 209

Galapagos Islands, 158

Game, 38

Garcia-Moreno, 234

Germans, 162, 204

Gold, 48, 77, 84, 154, 164, 256, etc.

Golden utensils, 236

Government, 30

Grau, 182

Guadalajara, 136

Guadalupe, 116

Guahtemoc, 68, 120

Guanajuato, 132, 104

Guano, 154

Guatemala, 43, 69

Guayaquil, 151, 156

Guayaquil-Quito railway, 220

Guayas River, 156, 158

Guianas, 21

Hayti, 97

Holy Alliance, 147

Honduras, 68, 74, see British Honduras

Horse, the, 37

Houses, native, 114, 141, 200, 225, 253

Huacas, 247

Huancavelica, 161

Huanchaca, 289

Huascar, 182

Huayna Capac, 229

Humboldt, 34, 217

Inca roads, 223

[293]Incas of Peru, 13, 32, 57, 159, 229

Indian folk, 13, 44, 51, 53, 57, 68, 101, 138, 163, 170, 243, 249, 275

Inquisition, 50, 167

Iquique, 151, 180

Irrigation, 176

Isabella, Queen, 41, 50

Iturbide, 147

Ixtaccihuatl, 113

Juarez, 140

Kosmos line, 162

Labour, native, see Indian folk, also Peonage

La Condamine, 218

La Paz, 268

Leguia, President of Peru, 167

Lima, 166

Llamas, 154, 259

Lower California, 140

Magellan, 43, 207

Maguey, 134

Malaria, 157

Manabi, 157

Mangroves, 155

Maximilian, 147

Mayas, 65, 138, 160

Melancholy, Indian, 275

Merida, 138

Mexico, 20, 45, 98-150

Mexico, city of, 113

Mining, 51, 104, 132, 133, 160, 243, 258, 288

Misti, 177

Mitla, 60

Monroe Doctrine, 148

Montezuma, 106

Morgan, 88

Music, native, 163, 275

Natives, see Indians

Negroes, 92

Nelson, Admiral, 83

Nezahualcoyotl, 60

Nicaragua, 80

Nicoya, 82

Nitrate, 179

Noche Triste, 117

Oaxaca, 136

Oficinas, nitrate, 180

O'Higgins, 195, 201

Oligarchies, 169

Olives, 176

Ollague, mountain, 188

Orchids, 137

Orizaba, 105

Oroya railway, 166

Oruro, 188

Otumba, Battle of, 120

Pachuca, 104, 132

Pacific Ocean, 64, 139, 151-208

Pampa, 181

Panama, 43, 63, 73, 86, 87, 91, 155

Panama Canal, see Panama

Panama hats, 157

Pardo, ex-President, 167

Patagonia, 207

Paterson, 90

Pedro de Candia, 154

Peonage, 138, 141

Peru, 20, 47, 151-265

Peruvians, the, 168

Philip II, 51

Picture-writing, 66

Pierola, ex-President, 167

Pineapples, 138

Pizarro, 47, 151, 236

Poetry, Indian, 279

Poetry, native, 279

Poetry, Spanish American, 26

Ponchos, 254

[294]Popocateptl, 113

Population, 34, 95

Portugal, 41

Potosi, 104, 162, 269, 287

Prat, 182

Proletariat, 145

Puebla, 136, 145

Putumayo, 34

Quechuas, 242, 270

Quesada, 48

Quetzalcoatl, 104

Quiches, 65

Quicksilver, 161

Quinine, 137

Quipos, 66

Quito, 166, 215, 222

Rafts, native, 159

Revolution, 143, 170

Roosevelt, President, 87

Rotos, Chilean, 180

Rubber, 77, 86, 104, 135

Sacsaihuaman, 263

Salvador, 78

Sand-dunes, 176

San Martin, 264

Santiago, 193, 199

Santo Domingo, 97

Seals, 152

Shiris, 223, 229

Silver, 132, 162, 256

Slavery, 148

Sorata, 178

Soroche, 209

Southern railway of Peru, 177

Spain, fall of, 264

Spanish language, 24

Stelae, 72

Strikes, 145

Sugar, 104, 163

Tabasco, 136

Tarapaca, 180

Tehuantepec, 73

Tennis, Aboriginal, 135

Tenochtitlan, 113

Teotihuacan, 59, 120

Terrace-farming, 246

Texas, 147, 148

Texcoco, 116

Textiles, native, 227

Tiahuanako, 163

Tidal waves, 174

Timber, 86, 101

Tin, 162, 188

Titicaca lake, 163, 177

Tlascala, 106

Toltecs, 12, 139, 160

Travel methods, 36, 37, 152

Trujillo, 166

Tumbez, 154

Turkey, original home of the, 135

United States, see Americans

Unknown God, 61, 214

Uynini, 188

Valdivia, 48, 193

Valparaiso, 151, 188, 197

Venezuela, 21

Volcanoes, 216

Walker, American filibuster, 83

Water power, 145

Whymper, 217

Wine, 176, 207

Women, status of, 37, 115, 135, 143, 154, 163, 168, 202, 205, 252, 274

Yareta, 260

Yellow fever, 157

Yucatan, 138

Zacatecas, 104, 132



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[1] The good Church of England, in caring for her sons in Spanish America, is perforce obliged to have regard to the vast distances she must cover here. Thus the Bishop of the Falkland Islands' flock—his diocese—extends over the not inconsiderable territory covering the west coast of South America, including Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and so forth—a strip some five or six thousand miles long. As I formed one of a committee with the good bishop to endeavour to raise funds among English business men to carry on his work (and incidentally to lecture on the subject), I had the matter brought specially to my notice. Again, the Bishop of Honduras, in a recent letter to The Times, appealed for funds for a vessel, by means of which he might visit his flock over the vast diocese that included Honduras and British Honduras, Costa Rica, Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama.

And again, in giving evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the Putumayo rubber scandals, which I was called upon as a witness to do, concerning the Indians of Peru, it was necessary to inform the gentlemen of the Commission that the easiest way of reaching Eastern from Western Peru was to take steamer up the Pacific coast, cross the Isthmus of Panama, go home across the Atlantic to Liverpool, and come back again to the Amazon and go up that river!

[2] Vide Humboldt, Encyc. Brit., Eleventh Edition, 1910.

[3] Coup d'état.

[4] Each volume of the South American Series contains such.

[5] Molina, Hakluyt Series, Markham translation.

[6] A full account of all these States will be found in Central America, Koebel, South American Series.

[7] Some of these tribes were unutterably savage and brutal, but it is doubtful if their methods were worse than those of the Anglo-Saxon who invaded Britain, with the repulsive horrors they visited upon the early Britains, in wholesale massacre and torture of the Celts.

[8] Mexico, by the Author, South American Series.

[9] Mexico, loc. cit.

[10] Mexico, loc. cit.

[11] Vide Mexico, loc. cit.

[12] See the Author's Ecuador, in the South American Series; also Peru, in the same.

[13] See the Author's Ecuador, loc. cit.

[14] See the Author's The Andes and the Amazon.

[15] Their movement is not readily apparent.

[16] See the Author's Peru, in the South American Series; also Markham's History of Peru.

[17] Chile, Scott Elliot (Martin Hume's Introduction), South American Series.

[18] Chile, loc. cit.

[19] The Central and South American Cable Office, built of tabique, stood the shock. One telegraph operator seems to have pluckily stuck to his post throughout the confusion. The Mercurio newspaper office also stood firm, and indeed this paper was regularly issued.

[20] The disturbance produced a tidal wave 5 feet high at Hawaii, Mani and Hilo.

[21] Chile, loc. cit.

[22] Chile, loc. cit.

[23] The Author's The Andes and the Amazon.

[24] Ecuador, loc. cit.

[25] Ecuador, loc. cit.

[26] Wolf.

[27] Professor Orton of New York.

[28] Bulletin of the Bureau of American Republics, Washington.

[29] A recent London traveller summed up his impressions of Quito as "a city of seventy churches and one bath." But there has been some improvement since.

[30] Ecuador, loc. cit.

[31] Velasco and Cevallos.

[32] According to Cieza de Leon.

[33] The author at the request of the Economic Circle of the National Liberal Club in London lectured before that body on "The Land Laws and Social System of the Incas" (1912).

[34] Ecuador, loc. cit.

[35] For an account of this ruler, see Latin America, Calderon, South American Series.

[36] Visited by the author and described before the Royal Geographical Society.

[37] Peru, Enock, in the South American Series.

[38] See Bolivia, Wallé, South American Series.

[39] Bolivia, loc. cit.

[40] Bolivia, loc. cit.

[41] An excellent account will be found in Bolivia, loc. cit.

Transcriber's note:

Minor typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as printed.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up paragraphs, thus the page number of the illustration might not match the page number in the List of Illustrations.

Mismatched quotes are not fixed if it's not sufficiently clear where the missing quote should be placed.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

Page 116: the transcriber has changed Chalpulepec to Chalpultepec.

Page 229: for ease of reading, the transcriber inserted a new paragraph break where there was none, to begin a block quote. 'was rapidly declining in health. "But his mind did not share the ills'

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Spanish America, Its Romance, Reality
and Future, Vol. 1, by Charles Reginald Enock


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