A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES â€” THE OLD ENGAGEMENT KEPT.
Buenos Aires, Sunday, August 16, 1868. My dear Z ,
We prepare to land, and of all self-styled civilized landing-places this at the '^^ Athens of South America" is perhaps the worst. Vile in fine weatherâ€” what must be the abomination when Pampero the storm-blast is out! The wind seems always to blow inwards, and summer shows a worse river than winter; while with rare intervals the air is ever wet, damp, and depressing.
From the " CanaF' or outer roads, distant four or five miles, where the larger steamers, including the mails, ride in summer, and whence disembarking is at times almost im- possible for a week, you must, as a rule, touch ground at your own expense. There are ^'^ Vaporcitos"^ or little steamers, the Jacare and the Baby, which come, or which come not, as they list. They are never, as they should be, under the control of any great foreign company. The usual landing process is at present composed of three several steps. First you drop with bag and baggage from the ship ladder into a lighter, or into one of the sailing craft which â€” manned by foreigners, Italians, or worst of all, English â€” await to devour you. Here, as at Monte Video, the water is far too dangerous for gigs or wherries. After an involuntary douche caused by the least capful of wind, you are transferred, as the boat grounds, to a cart painted blood-red, whose pitiful team of half-drowned
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and rheumatic horses sticks and dips, rises and struggles painfully along, urged by the screams of the European, who has now ousted the Gaucho. The last transfer is to the northernmost of the two moles, the shallow water utterly disqualifying for use the southern one fronting the large Custom-house. Men and women, loungers and promenaders, gather in groups at the mole-head, adding ridicule to your difficulties as if you were in the tidal boat entering Boulogne. Lads and boys playfully wreathe their bodies in, out, and through the timbers of the main jetty, or bathe and fish in the troubled waters below, or foully bewray the dirty steps. Some thirty or forty excited changadores (porters) and peons (labourers) make a dash at your baggage, and the unsuccessful salute the successful with a volley of foul abuse. These men are the common carriers of the country: it is actionable (with the knife) to call a decent man ^' peon^^ (our pawn from the Persian '^ piyadaV^), and the Frenchman will, when wishing to say his worst, emphatically declare of the hated rival, " C'est un pe-on \"
After enduring this savage mobbery, you step probably upon an iron bar, and climb up broken steps to landing- places which are also of the filthiest. The new '^ Muelle,^"' built in 1855 for the local Government by the late Mr. Taylor, C.E., is a wretched affair, some 440 yards long, by 20 wide and 7 to 8 high, composed of soft pine timbers dis- posed crosswise. There is ever, despite the daily abuse of the daily papers, a hole in the mole, or rather a series of holes, while a system of mighty cracks, crannies, and crevices makes the whole affair a man-trap â€” but, until lately, anything was " good enough for the Plate.^' The rain-welled surface is slippery as the clay of Fernando Po or the Puy de Dome, and I have seen a man badly hurt by it, his legs coming from under him as if on ice.
154 A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES.
Lastly, your luggage is deposited at the northernmost half of the " Resguardia/^ here represented by two little summer-houses, kiosks, or China tea-rooms, wooden curio- sities striped blue and white, queerly attached to the root of the long projection. The kiosk mania has migrated from the banks of the Seine to far Father Plate; at Buenos Aires you see them even in the main square. They sell newspapers and cheap books. Erotic lyrics, and half- naughty photos.; none ever knew a body who had ever entered into one of them. The Custom-house officers are very civil, and slow in proportion; " nada mas que ropa" will generally do the douanier. They open, however, carefully every box and bag, although they probably consider rum- maging not the work of a " cavalier." For this " pitch and toss treatment^^ you pay your part of boat $50, landing- cart $20, and say four changadores, $90 = $ 140 (paper) = 1/. 3^., and you at once discover that the sovereign here is the crown in Europe.
The site of Buenos Aires is commercially bad; the ^' old men" could hardly have looked forward to the present state of trade. Even for them, either San Fernando to the north or Ensenada to the south-east would have been better. Strangers explain the peculiar choice by the fre- quency and daring of those days buccaneers, when shallows, as we shall see up-stream, formed defences. Pro- bably the roads were a long while ago deeper, and have silted up during the course of ages. Yet DobrizhoflPer in 1784 found the port of Buenos Aires shoal water. The internal action of the earth has, however, certainly caused a gradual upheaval of this, the shelf- edge of the Pampas, as well as of the great Prairies themselves. On the Parana Kiver we shall everywhere see successive marks of former water-levels many yards higher than the highest modern floods. Others have made dust, the incremental material
A DAir AT BUENOS AIRES. 155
swept up like the silt of the Nile by the storm- wind from the arid sub-Andine wastes to the south-west.
Actual Bueuos Aires will soon see a better future when its water-front shall be built up like Californian San Fran- cisco or the levees of New Orleans. Somebody will find her brickj and w ill, Augustus-like^ leave her marble. Evidently, present amelioration is loudly called for. The barques and brigs, brigantines and polaccos, schooners and luggers in port now generally average upwards of 200, and soon they will be 500. The injury to merchandize is enormous; therefore every engineer proposes his nostrum, and naturally enough the authorities, stunned by so much counsel, are deaf to the voice of specific. Similarly the owner of the Great Dragon TreeatTenerifife â€” you remember â€” over-advised by the host of travellers, allowed it one fine day to fall. The foreigner accuses the native of being a dog in the manger, which perhaps the native is; whilst assuredly the foreigner is mostly anxious about the bone purely for the boners sake.
The difficulties in the way of constructing a port are certainly enormous. The characteristic feature of the south-eastern or Buenos Airean shore is deep water in lines and patches â€” the Outer and Inner Roads, the Pozo, the Catalinas, and others. These are broken and divided by long narrow banks and shallows, incipient islands, whose length is of course disposed down stream. From the mouth of the Corpus Christi, also called the Lujan River â€” the nearest stream independent of the Parana delta â€” a fringing shelf of mud and soft stone, the '^ Residencia bank," so called from an old Hospital, subtends the land. The ^^tosca," in places twenty feet thick and thinning off to three, is a whitish-yellow skin, an upright and raised crust standing out from the mud, like tables of lava. In places it is hard, in others it is so soft that the boring-iron slips
156 A DAY AT BUEiNOS AIRES.
through it. Where the bank, cut away by currents, narrows to a mere strip, are the " Balizas" or inner roads, safe for ships drawing less than eleven feet. Northwards is the Catalinas patch, so called being opposite the old nunnery of St. Catherine in the Calle Templo, alias Tacuari, still blessed by a Chapel of Ease. Distant about 2000 yards from the Balizas is the Banco de la Ciudad, a sudden broadening which begins below the northern part of the settlement; this " City Bank^' is very shallow, and beyond it is the " Canal" or Outer Roads. The whole place is paved with wrecks, and the anchors and ironwork would repay dredging, if the main-d^oeuvre were at all reason- able.
Some would clean remove the port to Ensenada, or even to Bahia Blanca; others propose a breakwater eight miles long, one broad, raised on arches above the highest flood, with a "Tosca" foundation supporting concrete in galvanized iron coffers; upon this they would build piers, steam-cranes, a Custom-house, docks, marine markets, and so forth. Others would form an enclosed harbour â€” the favourite idea, because it would cause money to be spent. Others advise a semicircular pier from Gasworks Point, convex to the present Mole, with slip and graving dock, and room for two or three streets. This plan is tempting from its proximity to deep water. Others, again, would extend the actual piers; whilst others would build the "Catalinas (tidal) Docks," and warehouses at the point called Bajo de Catalinas.
The most sensible project for improving the channel is that proposed by my good friend John Coghlan, C.E. His plan shows a great leg-of-mutton-shaped patch of reclaimed ground, beginning at the gasworks and ending at the mouth of the Riachuelo. At an expense of 787,860/. â€” not one- sixth of what is thrown into many European harbours â€” he would convert the City Bank into an island, thus forming a
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deep channel and securing anchorage near the shore. He "would, moreover, trace a suitable land-line by throwing out to double the length of the Moles (880 yards) embankments, with quays and wharfs, reclaiming ground to the extent of 230 cuadras cuadradas (the square of 150 varas, each of 34 inches = 22,500 varas). This emblayement would give room for docks larger than any save those of Liverpool, for a Grand Central Station where all the railways would meet, for Custom-house buildings, platforms, and other neces- saries. Moreover, it could spare 120 cuadras for a pro- menade, here so much wanted, and to be sold as building ground at prices which would to a great extent pay off the cost of the proposed works. But he is persuaded that such changes should be made in a tentative way. The causes that formed the delta-islands of the Parana are still active, and in the natural order of events banks must be growing up between the mouth of the Uruguay and the Parana de las Palmas. Finally, no company would do justice to such works; they can hardly be entrusted to a Government which rarely outlasts three years and ends in a smash â€” in fact, my friend comes to the wise conclusion that the scheme is too vast for the young country in its present backward state.
Meanwhile, in April, 1 868, the Government of President Sarmiento signed a contract with the Impresarios, Messrs. Madero and Proudfoot, to carry out the plans of Messrs. Miller and Bell, C.E. The sum is fixed at $7,000,000, which appears large, but which will not be sufficient. The work is mainly a huge tidal dock, with a narrow entrance, which will make it a mere silt-trap. It is, moreover, to be finished in five years, an imprudent and hasty period. The scour from the north-west and south-east would be checked by such an obstacle; the diminished flow would render dredging useless; the fringing bank of the river would
158 A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES.
creep towards the eastward^, diverting deep water further from the shore; and in this case, as in many others, unless engineering science can bring the rivers of the future close to existing harbours, Bahia Blanca will become the port of the Buenos Aires that is to be.
As we land we remark a great change from the City of the Past to that of the Present. Instead of the sturdy, rock-like historic fort, " Santa Trinidad de Buenos Ayres," which still appears in Sir Woodbine Parishes second edition, there is a new Custom-house of two stories, white- washed, semicircular, and arched like casemates. Behind it, separated by a kind of stone-revetted moat, is a square, yellow, two-storied box â€” not " very handsome and com- modious^^ â€” with a broad verandah, denoting the Government House. Wilcocke (1807) shows in his plan " the Fort^' and the Parade or Paseo. Parish also sketches the increase of growth in his day, and now it is â€” for South America â€” enor- mous, and ever-progressing. The population is generally set down at 200,000. Mr. Coghlan, however, easily reduced it to about half that total, and even to less."^ He adopted a simple process which may be found useful in lands where the census can hardly be reliable. After counting the cuadras, say 500, he ascertained the areaâ€” three and a-half square miles â€” and compared it, by way of maximum, with that of the most crowded part of London â€” about 30,000 per square mile â€” from which of course, subtraction must be made. He was, however, astonished at the general ex- penditure, at the consumption of the inhabitants, and at the
- Mr. Coghlan's computation is as follows: â€”
Part of the city of which the census has been completed 73,000
Remaining part estimated at 14,000
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number of rooms suiting a city with treble the population which he allows to it.^
We step upon the Paseo de Julio, a mixture of Marine Parade and Wapping, badly paved and poorly lighted; this is the city front, now backed by a couple of handsome houses, but mostly by low inns, foundries, cafes, and es- taminets, shops, stores, and sailors^ haunts, where those amiable beings love to growl, grumble, and knag one another, as only the uneducated classes of England can do; to drink, curse, and fight, occasionally sallying out with foot or fist â€” foreign Jack prefers the knife â€” upon the sober, whose sobriety outrages their sensitive feelings. At one time here was an Alameda, which Dictator Rosas proposed prolonging as far as his country palace Palermo; the break- water and railing, however, were swept away by a gale in 1861, and unfortunately there is now no Rosas to rebuild them.
Sunday is here a crowded day, and the length of your purse determines which of three ways you choose for passing it. Lack-coin discontentedly lounges about the Paseo and the Muelle. Little-money rides the tailor's ride on a hack horse to Palermo or Belgrano. Dives sleeps the Saturday night at his Quinta out of town, or runs down by the Northern Railway to S. Fernando, S. Isidro (summer quarters), or the Tigre. He then idles away the day, visits, perhaps boats, and returns home plenus Bacchi.
- In 1717 Buenos Aires had only 400 houses, the same as Cordoba,
the capital of Tucuman, and the old Jesuit novitiate and university. The census of 1858 gave 55,000 natives. The following is the statistic census of the city taken till 1869 :â€”
Cuadras, 658 (447 corresponding to 329 manzanas or blocks); houses, 13,116; rooms, 64,670; inhabitants, 72,972; annual rental, 1,333,517Z. Results: each cuadra averages 40 houses, 197 rooms, 222 souls; the annual rent is 4000Z.; it must, however, be observed that in making this calculation houses occupied by their owners, and forming a large proportion of the city, are not included.
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We enter by the Calle Cangallo, here pronounced Cajje Cangajjo_, " oppidum seu pagus de Rio de la Plata '^ â€” still the title of the Archbishopric. A steep short pitch leads to the longitudinal Calle 25 de Maio, the summit of the true " barranca/^ glacis, or old river bank, which is everywhere traceable between the Tigre and the Riachuelo. It has a similar talus, but of greater slope inland, which is rather puzzling to drainage, and though formerly set down at 70 feet, nowhere does its height exceed 64*2 feet above the water; some reckon 50 feet, but the mean of the barometer is 29-66.
The streets are long, narrow, and ill ventilated; and the tramway of modern progress is as yet unknown to them. The pavement, even after Monte Video, strikes us as truly detes- table. It is like a fiumara-bed, bestrewn with accidentally disposed boulders, gapped with dreadful chasms and man- holes, bounded on both sides by the trottoirs, narrow ledges of flattish stone, like natural rock " benches,^^ flood- levelled on each side of the torrent. In many parts the side walks are raised three and even five feet above the modern street plane, and flush with the doors, which are high up as that of the Kaabah. These trottoirs covered, like the pavement after rain, with a viscid mud, sliding as a ship^s deck, dangerous as a freshly waxed parquet for the noble savage, often end at the corners with three or four rude steps, rounded slabs, greasy and slippery by the tread, as though spread with orange peel, and ascended and de- scended with the aid of an open-mouthed carronade, or a filthy post blacked by the hand of toil. There is a legend of a naval captain who cracked his pate by a header down one of these laderas, these corniches, these precipices, and certainly few places can be more perilous than they are for gentlemen in the state decently termed " convivial.^' Like the trottoirs they want handrails.
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More than one street â€” for instance, Calles Paraguay and Defensa â€” must be crossed by a drawbridge after rains which drown men, and which carry off carts and horses. Before the days of pavements, when the pantanos or muds were filled up with corn or jerked beef, the earth was con- verted by showers into slush, and swept down into the general reservoir, the river bed â€” hence the sunken ways. The crossings are nowhere swept: being slightly raised above the general level they soon dry and cut up the line into deep puddles which lie long, or into segments and parallelograms of mire. The thoroughfares are macadam- ized with the soil of the suburbs, which cakes under the sun, and crumbles before the wind, dirtying the hands like London smoke. Drainage is left to those Brazilian engi- neers, Messrs. Sun and Wind. The only washing is by rain rushing down the cross streets. There is absolutely no sewerage; a pit in the patio is dug by way of cesspool, and is filled up with soil, a fair anticipation of the deodo- rizing earth closet. The " basura ^' or sweepings are placed at an early hour in boxes by the doorways to be carried off by the breeze, or to be kicked over by horses driven to water: these offals are used to fill up holes in the road out- side the city, and yet the citizens expect " good airs."Beyond the town, the unpaved lines thus become quagmires, impasses, and quaking bogs where horses and black cattle are hopelessly fixed.
Street walking becomes at Buenos Aires a study, an art. People prepare for it their toe-nails â€” excuse the subject â€” I have a duty to perform â€” like most duties it is "unplea- sant.^^ The centre of the nail is scraped thin, so as to weaken the keystone of the arch: the middle edge is cut into a demilune concave, and the corners, generally removed by the vulgar mind, are encouraged to grow square, so as not to penetrate the flesh. Inattention to this general
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practice may lame you for a montli (experto crede!) and all your friends will certainly wag the head^ and vote you a ^' martyr to the gout/^ Another inconvenience is the cus- tom of placing the petticoat on the wall side: the bump- tious soutane also claims the honour, so you must per- petually be hopping on and off the lofty trottoir. To escape wind and rain you avoid the side whither the paper- slips are whirled: the thoroughfares of the city_, roughly speaking, face the cardinal points, whilst the wet and high winds strike them diagonally, and the houses act screens. Had the lines been fronted more obliquely, one-half of each thoroughfare would not have been in the sun, and the other half in the shade: moreover all the houses facing south- wards would not have been mildewed. The prevailing directions are the north-easter especially â€” like the norther, fine and cool â€” the wet souther and south-easter and the gusty south- south-wester and south-wester. Thus one side of the street is dry in wet and is windless in windy weather, and as the height of the houses increases, those at the corners should be rounded off to insure ventilation.
The street scandal is inexcusable in so wealthy a place. The municipality can afford $600,000 (f.) = 120,000/. of in- come, but the city fathers, those posts that point the way to progress without ever progressing, though eternally ^^ pitched into " give no sign, and fresh blood is still wanted. Buenos Aires sadly requires the Baron de Campy, who is supposed to have paved the Imperial capital further north. The new Custom House, the Moles, the Western Railway, the Gas Works, the Colon Theatre, and the Water Works, with other undertakings carried out by provincial resources, show how much may be done if money be not frittered away. A little macadam, compacted by water and a steam roller, would cheaply remedy the worst evils, and a better material would be the admirable Pedregulho or gravel from Salto of
A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES. 163
the Uruguay, River of the Missions. Broken brick would be better than nothing in streets which are not much visited by wheeled vehicles,, and these could at present be limited. Sufficient care is not taken in naming the thoroughfares: France is the great mistress of that art. As at Rio de Janeiro, the black forefinger points the direction of transit in carriage or cart: this plan^ so necessary in narrow streets, might be adopted even in London.
Buenos Aires is evidently a city j it has a civic hurry and excitement; there is a polished manner of citizen in it; the first glance tells us that it is not, like Monte Video, a town. The houses, especially externally, are palazzi, built by Italians, who partly follow the Spanish taste; they appear remarkably fine and solid after the poorer architecture of the Brazil. It is wonderful, at least for these regions, how readily and speedily the tenements are run up, especially the outer shell. The streets give vistas of great length: practically, however, the City is bounded to the stranger north by the Calle del Parque, south by the Calle Bel- grano, east by the river and west by Florida, the Regent Street. Thus here again we epitomize long thoroughfares of intense weariness. This is in fact our club-land â€” our Pall Mall, and within these narrow limits are contained the consulate, the clubs, the cathedral, the museum, the libraries, the chief hotels, the favourite streets, and the offices of the principal periodicals.
My arrival day was lovely â€” it was the weather of Italy and Algiers in spring. The cool, pure, crisp air made the mere sense of life absolutely enjoyable: one would be sorry in such weather to be dead. These rarities have methinks given to the climate an undeserved good name, and once won, a good name in such matters is not readily lost.
The raging of cholera in 1867-8 shows that Buenos Aires is now by no means free, as it used to boast itself, from the
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epidemic disorders of other lands, and without some sanitary measures it may look forward to a plague or yellow jack. The whole city, I have said, is built upon and undermined by the foulest impurities, and as at Zanzibar, the loose soil permits percolation into the wells and rain cisterns.
August the IGth"^ finally announced as President-elect Citizen D. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, surnamed Cara- pachay (of the Cara tree), from the islands of the Parana, which he and others have celebrated as the Tempe Argen- tina. A biographical sketch of Don Yo (Mr. I.), as this statesman is called in recognition of a somewhat tough and determined will, has been prefixed by Mrs. Horace Mann (New York, Hurd, 1868) to her translation of his well-known work, " Civilization and Barbarism.'-' Rockets were being fired, vivas rang, and bells pealed; changed hands in the "camp" sheep and cows, and in the city hats and boxes of cigars, and the public expressed its general joy at the defeat of D. Rufino Elizalde, the chosen candidate and nominee of ex-President Mitre. This lawyer, justly enough disliked in the provinces because he is known to be an un- scrupulous partisan, supposed to favour the " triple alliance" in the interest of the Brazil, with which he is connected by marriage and other ways, numbered only twenty-two votes to seventy-nine.
D. Domingo has a stiff task before him. He has cam- paigned, but he is rather a civilian than a soldier. The later rule of Spain has familiarized, I have said, genera- tions to the sway of Generals, not Doctores, and his only bourgeois predecessor. Dr. Derqui, lasted about a year. He is pledged by the promise of all his career to make sacrifices in the cause of extended popular education, and in this he
- Preliminary elections, April 12; final, August 16. President assumes
â– power October 12; 1 p.m. begins the constitutional period.
A T)AT AT BUENOS AIRES. 165
will be ably assisted by the Vice-president^ citizen Dr. Adolfo Alsina. He must honourably terminate the present state of things, and devote to European immigration the energies and expenditure lavished upon a disastrous war. He must reform his fleet, create an army, and repress the wild Indians, who now ride up within a few leagues of the capital, and who, during the last presidential period, have made some 200 unpunished raids. He must reform ex- penditure â€” without, however, truckling to those economists who would make every servant of the State â€” even the chief magistrate â€” suck mate, eat '^ asado^^ and '^ puchero,^^ and sit upon a horse-skull or the ox- skeleton used by ancients as architectural ornament.
I was afterwards introduced to this distinguished man, who, presenting to me a copy of his book, pleasantly in- scribed it, " Au Capitaine Burton, voyageur en route, D. F. Sarmiento, voyageur en repos,'^ and who allowed me in gratitude for his kindness to address to him these pages. As yet he has gallantly held his own, despite the ridicule of men who, unable to understand his advanced views, honour him with the epithet " el loco Sarmiento,^^ and think to dishonour him by dubbing him " schoolmaster.^"' Soon after his election appeared certain " writings on the wall," abusive and indecent, daubed with nitrate of silver over the white marble steps and slabs of the city. On November 22, 1868, nails were planted between the rails to throw off the train which carried the President to a picnic on board the new steamer America, and but for the care of Mr. Crabtree serious national troubles might have occuiTcd. Here a revolution usually begins by a dozen ruffians or so rushing into the chief magistrate's house and stabbing or shooting him. The principal then appears at the window and screams " Liberty.^' His friends cheer him lustily , his enemies, after firing a few shots, make themselves scarce.
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and he and Lis turn their steps towards the National Treasury. Next morning a new Governor and a new Government appear in order^ and that is all. With Presi- dent Sarmiento my sincere wishes are that he may pass gloriously through all the perils of his pre-eminence.
At Buenos Aires I met an old acquaintance^ Mr. Gould. In 1856 we had agreed to dine together in 1860^ but fate deferred that dinner till 1868. He had just returned from his visit to the camp of Marshal-President Lopez; he was wholly Brazilian in sympathy,, and he confidently predicted the speedyconclusionof the war. Thus he was completely in unison with Mr. Buckley-Mathew, whilst Mr. Lettsom, Mr. Consul Hutchinson^ and others lent a willing ear to the other part. Mr. Gould showed me a map by Count Lucien de Brayer (1863), and allowed me to compare it with the most modern plans in his possession. He gave me an introductory letter to the officer commanding H.M.S. Linnet ^ and watching British interests in Paraguayan waters. The cruiser had been sent up " because the presence of one of H.M.^s ships would greatly strengthen an appeal for the liberation of our fellow-countrymen.^^ He introduced me to the Brazilian Envoy Extraordinary, the highly distinguished M. de Amaral, who resigned, it is said, his post because he could not honestly advance the cause. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Gould, but this must not prevent my differing with him upon the subject of Paraguay.
I was also then and there presented to one of the most prominent personages in South America, President D. Bartholome Mitre. He had lately escaped an impeachment for having plunged the country into a war, but the acquittal of President Johnson also acquitted him. Beginning life as an artiUery cadet, he became successively a military teacher, a newspaper editor, a local deputy, and in due course of time an exile. He was an Artillery Commandant at the
A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES. 167
battle of Monte Caseros, and in the same year (1852) he appeared as the biographer of Belgrano. Like Echevarria, he is a poet, inspired, as were the Magyar Potoefi, the Russian Gogol, and the North American Cooper, by the glory and grandeur of the Pampas, the Steppes, the Prairies. His Muse has been the magnificent uniformity extending from horizon to horizon, with its rim-line level as the ocean, a sea on land, whose waves of ground represent the billows, whilst grass bowing before the wind is the water, and the foam-flakes are simulated by scatters of blossom. Man feels comparatively helpless in the tropical forest and in the sub-tropical valley, on the jungly mountain, and on the stony or icy hill. Mounted on his Pampa horse, however, he is master of space; Nature may be less superb, still he is her lord; she is perhaps a poor thing, yet she is his own; and his song, like his gait or the expression of his countenance, conveys the one idea of proud exultation.
As a soldier, at the head of his National Guard, General Mitre snatched from the Confederates under President Derqui and General Urquiza â€” who called him General de Papel â€” victory at Pavon (Sept. 17, 1861). He has been Provisional Governor, Provisional President, and since 1862 actual President and Commander-in-chief, yet his friends lately subscribed to buy for him a house â€” surely this is high praise, here and elsewhere. He is, moreover^ a statician, a geographer, a linguist, and an orator â€” flowery, but of no mean merit; in sharpness of memory he reminded me of H.I.M. of the Brazil; as a bibliophile he astonished me by his knowledge of books, not only of the inside but of the outside; and he has a collection of rare and classical works, especially geographical, perhaps unequalled on this continent; and all this at the age of forty-seven â€” truly life circulates fast in these young lands. He had heard some- thing of my travels, he received me like an old acquaintance,
168 A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES.
and he gave me the three lately published volumes of Dr. Martin de Moussy, in whose labours^ as a basis for a future superstructure^ he had taken a lively interest.
My admiration of General Mitre does not blind me to the fact that his later career bears upon it the stain of a profound political immorality,, in having caused for party, nay, for personal and for egotistic purposes, a military alli- ance, whose result is the present disastrous and by no means honourable war. Possibly he did not expect such energetic action on the part of Paraguay, which at Buenos Aires was looked down upon as a petty semi-barbarous, almost " Indian"*^ power. But the statesman and the biographer of Belgrano should have known better. Had he not aided and abetted with money, with thousands of muskets, and with moral support, ex-President Flores in attacking the Banda Oriental, the Brazil would have found no opportunity of interfering in the politics of the Plate; and Paraguay, the " equilibristra,^^ would not have deemed it her interest or her duty to break the peace. The assistance rendered by General Mitre to Flores was under the rose, even as Garibaldi was provided with the Anglo-Italian Legion, whose victories, attributed to the Picciotti, so mystified the public. But he is charged by the general voice with having brought about a war which has made Buenos Aires, like Monte Video, a simple prefecture of the Cabinet of S. Christovao; he has placed his native land in the ignoble position which Lord Palmerston chose for us in the Crimea, that of a second-rate fighting under a first-rate power; a weak republic by the side of an immense empire. And he is bound, if he can, to defend his character, under pain of contumacious silence being charged to him.
Compare the photographs of these two celebrated men, Sarmiento and Mitre, who are both excellent illustrations of phrenology and physiognomy. The former is short.
A DAY AT BUENOS AIRKS. 109
thickset, bilioso-nervous, with beetle brows and high nar- rowing forehead, evidently the man of observation; the latter, nervous-bilious, thin, delicate, and highly developed in the coronal region, is the man of reflection. This will often think without facts: that will not reflect upon what he perceives and learns. President Sarmiento is essentially matter-of-fact, studious, and prosaic; he is the male tem- perament pure and simple. President Mitre is imaginative, instinctive, and of markedly poetic nature â€” in fact, the feminine blended with the masculine type. The former is a heaven-born Democrat par excellence, a sturdy popular magistrate, fond of work, careless of enjoyment, whose enemies deride him as a ^^ Gaucho -" the latter, fond of pleasure, play, and women, is by nature an aristocrat whom Fate has made a republican, and whose foes declare him to be an intriguer. Both speak with tolerable fluency, as all the neo- Spaniards do, but their oratory is at once known by their physique.
We dined the dinner of 1860 at the Cafe de Paris, Calle San Martin, where the " best people" feed. Such esta- blishments are more or less common in the Argentine Confederation^ and on the Pacific coast, but this is the only one which has the least claim to respect. It has upper story " particular cabinets" for private dinners; the public eating-room, with its eight looking-glasses and never a window, is cleaner than any of the clubs. It produces some dishes which might please in Europe: the Peje-rey fish, boiled for breakfast, is more delicate than the Goujon, and enjoyable as whitebait at a later hour. On the other hand, the prices are treble those of the Parisian Cafe Anglais, the
- Addressing President Sarmiento I call it the Argentine Eepublic, to
others the Argentine Confederation. The latter word has a grim and dolorous sound in the ears of the Unitarian party, who yet are thorough votaries of States' rights.
170 A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES.
wines are poor^ and the proprietor, coining gold, does not care a fig for public opinion. The waiter, who in Chile and Peru waits at full gallop, here creeps the snaiFs pace. To secure attention you must give the garqon five times the old sou per franc, the fee of Paris; with less than 25 per cent, he will be negligent, and, unless you check him, he will wax insolent.
In the evening we went to the Italian Opera in the Colon Theatre, a huge pile whose red-painted roof gives a fine view of the city and suburbs, whose double row of balconies is much admired, and whose fretted ironwork shelters a masonic hall, where the brother is safe from the '^ Cowan.'^ Its exterior is much praised with little reason; its shape is claret chest, its order is of the railway station style of art, and the most we can say of it is that its ugliness is not so ugly as that of many such buildings. Do you not wonder why the moderns always make their theatres like the palaces of Baghdad, " mean and hideous without?^^ The inside is dingy and badly lighted, and sundry vigilantes are on guard to keep the passages clear. For real and imminent risk in case of fire or panic the audience can hardly be worse lodged in any public building yet made. Will no one take a hint from the vomitories of the ancients?
The first aspect of Portena beauty, of whose face and figure I had heard so much, did not dazzle these eyes. The most admired belles pointed out to me were the clear, dark little crumpled faces, the nez a la Ro.valane; the low narrow brow, beloved of Horace; the well-opened velvety black eyes â€” which they know perfectly how to use â€” and the piquant expression, which the real Spaniard prefers to the signs of the bluest blood. These small physiognomies were powdered over like apple-pies, lit up with rouge at the cheeks like pommes d'apis, and buried in vast masses, with terminal manes of " frightful hair '^ like the mane and tail
A DAY AT BUENOS AIRES. 171
of the barb horse, or the trophy-skulls of the Jivaros. Those who wore the skin nude wore it dark, and after a certain age the moustache was distinct and curly as in the majority of cornets. Probably the fame of the Portena's charms arose in old days when, as Wilcocke informs us, her shoes had silver heels; when lace below the knees exposed the gold fringe of her tasselled garters, and when her bosom was veiled with trinkets, jewels, and crosses â€” the latter a toilette of which the late Mr. Gibson of Rome, statuary and man of taste, would greatly have approved.
The performance was not bad â€” considering that we are 2500 leagues from the two great head-quarters of the musical muse. The prima. Mad. Pasi, and the tenor Sr. Leruli, were the last days of Grisi and Mario. Mad. Josephine danced well, but the ballet is here utterly exotic â€” admired by neither man nor woman. The corps was of local growth â€” decidedly Gaucho, rigid as gutta percha, awkward as Tartars on foot; wearing dresses made for others, and stockings of the brightest, liveliest rose, which " fleshings'^ made every leg look as if it had lately been flayed.
We retired to rest that night on board the Yi, with the pleasing sensation of having passed an agreeable as well as a profitable day.
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
Buenos Aires, August 17, 1868, My dear Z -,
Buenos Aires, I have said, is pre-eminently the city of the future, and the mind^s eye sees her seated en reine upon her subject flood, with a tiara of towers and a fair broad skirt of noble buildings, docks, and promenades where mud shallows and the tosca eruptions now sadden the sight. At present, however, our business is with actualities. And the first thing is to lodge ourselves.
A host of hotels offer themselves, the great new com- fortless Argentine; the ministerial La Paix, and its succursale the San Martin; the expensive and so-called ^'^ fashionable â– '^ Louvreâ€” what a misnomer! â€” the cheap and second-rate Globo, and the rascally Provence, where the French ruffian that owns it never attempts to be commonly civil. All are abominably bad, and dear in proportion. They show discomfort at its acme, and service, food, and care of rooms are inferior to third-rate inns in a second-rate European city. Surely in a place where gold ounces are so very cheap, it would be possible to set up a good new American hotel, like the Grand in the Boulevart des Italiens. Perhaps the least abominable is the Hotel Universal, in the Calle San Martin; it enters, like the Ancla Dourada, into the category of '^ cazas ameubladas,^^ allowing you to dine at the Cafe de Paris, at your club, or at your friend^s house â€” and in this most hospitable of cities you will be asked to dine at some three places every evening. The Universal has the
A GLANCli AT BUENOS AIRES. 173
advantage of being a bath establishment,, where, for the use of an old tin pot pulled out at both ends and full of muddy Platine water, you pay as much as for a first-class bain complet at Nice. On the other hand it has a serious disadvantage, namely, rooms are never procurable there.
Turned from the doors you may try the "lodging-house," whose main crime is its name. Of these there are numbers in the Calle " 25 de Maio "; they are quite in old world style; ground- floors, where ground-floors are an abomination; small dark rooms, where man wants them large, light, and airy. As a rule they are kept by veteran Englishwomen, " old soldiers," mostly wives or widows of diplomatic butlers or valets, here settled for life, and generally provided with daughters more or less pretty, who speak bad Creole English and good Argentine Spanish, and who go out broadly into " society .^â€¢' The wary, however, will be careful how they trust themselves under any particular roof. One landlady has a pronounced taste for " brandy-pawnee;" another is painfully familiar with her clientele; whilst a third is so open- eared to the charms of the lottery voice, that she will invest in an impossible speculation the sovereigns entrusted by you to her strong box, and she will probably address to you a begging letter, representing that she is a lone wife or a poor widow.
We will now proceed up the Calles Cangallo and San Martin, to the Plaza de la Victoria, ^' the only centre of attraction,^^ says the handbook, as if a centre could be plural. On the left is the Methodist Chapel, with a sunken cross over the door; it is recessed, band-boxey, American, hideous; and so is the music which periodically electrifies those passing down the street. It contrasts most unfavour- ably with the convent on the other side of the way, the Merced, although this is per se anything but admirable. The Church of England "temple" is hard by in the " 25
174 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
de Maio/^ also recessed, of the melancholy Doric type to which Protestant Christianity is reduced in these "idola- trous lands"– * There is a chaplain, but the sheep are mostly in a state of blood-feud with their shepherd. If he be ungenial, they pay him and hate him; if he be fond of mild pleasures, say of a social glass, a cigar, and a game of whist, they vote him unclerical and propose to pay some other person.
We study the Buenos Airean house as we advance. Here all trades are monopolized by some nation, and the Italians have made themselves the master masons and the masons, even as the Irish are the hod-carriers of the United States. Their building is an improved and Romanized Spanish, tinted for the most part outside. Every stranger coming from Rio de Janeiro remarks the beauty and solidity of the houses, and much more does he admire who comes from that drab-coloured wooden abomination, Valparaiso, where fire or ruin by earthquake is purely a question of time. In the old establishment all is coarse and heavy; the brick-paved patio, with its rude horseshoe arches, the flat roof draining into the Aljibe, rain-tank, or cistern â€” I have advised you to beware of the fluid â€” and the badly laid out plan in which the bedrooms, for instance, conduct to the saloons, speak of a time when wealth was general and re- finement rare. This under the artistic Ausonian touch has become a fairy garden of creepers and orchids, flowers and air plants, in half-Moorish style, decorating light colonnades, fretwork in stone, or arabesques in ironwork, lit up with gilding, and painted with tender green or white and blue â€” Argentine colours which here blend well. The frontage is mostly narrow and reduced to a door and two windows; on the other hand, the depth is half a square, or 225 feet. Large establishments therefore have generally two or more patios, forming a pleasant vanishing vista of shady cor
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 175
ridors paved with white marble, and ending in a garden, or at least in a shrubbery. On sunny days a velum stretched across secures coolness. The system is pleasant for the individual, bad for the community, as the waste of space is prodigious. All the older tenements are ground floors; the " Alto," or many-storied house, the " Sobrado,"or " Caza nobre" of the Brazil, does not belong to these latitudes, but it is becoming common; and the difficulty of finding building ground is also gradually interfering with the ventilation. The taste for tall houses has exaggerated the mirador, or look-out; it is often provided with extensive balconies, and with well railed exterior staircases; when three stories tall it makes, as in the Limagne, the house appear like a box standing on one end. On both sides of the entrance-hall are the saloons and dining rooms, whose windows looking upon the street are barred like the jails; the inmates therefore can be seen, as in a French bathing place, by every passer by â€” and naughty boys delight to pull up the persiannes, or green blinds. This is contrary to the custom of Lima, where the sitting rooms in the best tene- ments are always at the bottom of the court.
The main square, Plaza de la Victoria, the heart of cir- culation, the business part where men in fine weather seem to live, and where you meet all your acquaintances half a dozen times a day, is small and mean, fitted for a country town, utterly unworthy of a metropolis, the Pro- vincial and Confederative capital, the seat of the local and general legislature, a New York and Washington in one. It suggests the days of that old foundation-stone laid down by D. Pedro de Mendoza at the corner of the present Calles Eivadavia and San Martin, which when nearly crushed by carts was put, by the piety of a local antiquary, into splints, a flat cross of iron bands. The Plaza is one quarter of what such a city requires, and
176 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
one half of what it easily could command. To eastward, behind the casemated ex-fort and Custom-house, and the Governmental *^ bungalow/' is a slovenly, foul, unpaved, dusty or muddy space, trodden only by high trotting horses and by country carts painted the colour of pig's blood. This is separated from the Victory Square by the Recoba Vieja, or " old Arcade," a thin line of cheap shops, with two long walls of jaundice-coloured brickwork, towering above the tenements in a fanciful profile, open over head; intended to represent a triumphal arch, but surprisingly like a building that expects to be roofed in. If this hideous " relique of antiquity," which looks painfully new, really belong to a wealthy family that refuses to remove it, the nuisance should be abated by the local M. Haussmann and the Provincial Government, and thus the Plaza would ex- tend itself to the river side.
The Plaza is surrounded and crossed from north to south by avenues of the ubiquitous Paraiso (Paradise) tree, the English " Persian lilac," the American *^ Pride of India," the Latin Margosa (Amargosa), the Nim of Hindostan, the Calendar tree of the Levant, and the Melia Azedarachta (Persian Azad-darakht, or " free tree") of botanists. It is universally a favourite from Monte Video to the far interior, but the reason why we cannot explain. The shrub-like trees are always stunted; they are mere sticks in August, with little of leafage, hardly shading, even in March, the little kiosks that sell newspapers; the boles are dark and dingy, and the bundles of brown berries are, out of chaplets, disagreeably prominent. The general aspect of the square is bald and poor, especially when seen after Santiago and Lima; there are no diagonal pathways across the terreplein of yellow clayey earth, which every shower converts into a swamp of slippery slush. Here re- views are held; I have heard of 6000 or 7000 bayonets on
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 177
parade^ but I never saw more than two companies at a time. Here also " pronouncements '^ are prepared. On Sunday, Marcli 28_, 1869, it was proposed at an indignation meeting to pull down the office of the Tribuna, the Thun- derer of Argentine land having taken, or having been sup- posed to take, undue license in the matter of Provincial elections. The guard was called away from the police- office, all the prisoners at once broke jail, and thus the affair terminated to general satisfaction.
The centre of the square sustains an obelisk some forty feet high, of plastered brick, waiting to be made marble. On the top, in Masaniello cap, stands Republican Liberty, spear in hand, the point of attraction for a system of gas- cocks, whose tubes running up the angles become useful when the National Anniversary calls for illumination. At that epoch also the monument is whitewashed till glaring as a bride-cake; but the coating does not endure for a year; many a rent discloses the petticoat, and the aspect is distinctly shabby. The inscription is ^' 25 de Mayo, 1810 /' this, I have said, is the date of the Revolution, and the birthday of Argentine independence. Each face bears the blazon of the Republic, two bare arms shaking hands as if before a prize-fight, under the shadow of a (red) foolscap which takes a pole to carry it, the sun looking on compla- cently from above as though he were bottleholder. Around the monument are mustered four statues strongly suggestive of New Road art. This obelisk is the most ridiculous of obe- lisks save one, I mean that in the Phaynix Park, Dublin, concerning which a malignant wrote, â€”
" 'Tis a polylithic obelisk that monolith should be, A needle insignificant of silly masonry:
You upclimb its steps with toil, you descend them with a will, With Sifacilis descensus that men briefly call a * spill:'
Scatter'd o'er its faces four Arthur's victories you view, And the only one omitted from the list is Waterloo."
178 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
It was proposed to abolish this mean and semi-barbarous monument in favour of a handsome modern fountain; the authorities and the people rejected the idea, as though it had been a studied insult â€” a profanity.
On the northern side of the Plaza is the reformed cathe- dral, which comprises in itself a dozen absurdities, wanting only its former belfries. The fa9ade is classical, with pedi- ment, alt- reliefs, and portico distinguished by peculiar vile- ness of intercolumniation. The dome over the high altar is mediaeval, pepper-castor, and Dutch-tiled like a dairy turned inside out. The highly finished front is at best '* un faux temple antique /* and the general aspect is rather that of a Bourse, of a home of Mammon than of a place of prayer. The rear is unfinished and bald, with bricks which await the plasterer. Inside there is nothing to admire save the size, 270 feet by 70, and the stern republican plainness of the sepulchral white walls. From the dome base, if you do not object to ladders with iron rungs, there is a good bird^s-eye view of the city, not equal however to that seen from the summit of the Colon Theatre, or from the steeple of S. Miguel. As at Monte Video, a bit of decent pave- ment, cut stone from Martin Garcia, fronts the cathedral; it was proposed as a model for the rest of the streets, but the tremendous efi'ort exhausted the projectors.
On the east of the tall pile is a neat palazzo of Palladian pretensions, the Archiepiscopal. Instead of leaving such matters to private selection, the Federal Governments of 1853 and 1861 unhappily adopted a national religion, the Catholic, Apostolic, and Holy Roman. Hence the Keve- rcndissimo, an evil shoot from the Old World grafted upon a NeV World tree. By the palace side is the eyesore usual in this country, and many others, the ugly contrast of a hovel with a mean, weed-grown, dingy-tiled roof. This specimen, perhaps the oldest of the last century's ground
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 179
floor habitations, contains the office of the Revista Journal, and is not to be removed.
The Recoba Nueva, another row of uninteresting alcoves supporting dwelling-li^ses, faces the cathedral, and forms a right angle with the Recoba Vieja. Here is one of the few stands for hackney coaches, which have room for six when wanted for one. Tilburys, cabs, and above all things Hansoms, are an ever-increasing want; at present the only light vehicles are private. The fares are not exorbitant, but it is as well to make your bargain, and never to trust in the matter of calling for you at night. Finding scanty pleasure in driving over vile pavements and viler roads, most people here prefer riding; and the livery stables, though dear and mostly kept by foreigners, are tolerable. Some years hence a pair of tramways will cross the city to the four quarters of the compass, and will make a fortune for somebody. Buenos Aires, take example from Rio de Janeiro!
The western side of the Plaza is devoted in the main to the culte of Justice, such as she is. The Cabildo, or Mu- nicipality, dating from 1711, is a useful public servant; its tall white tower, its clock illuminated at night, are the best of landmarks, and regulate all appointments. The Cabildo front is a portico, under whose shade officers in Magenta caps and bags, riding chairs, eye the passers by; where liver-coloured and black-coated men, evidently " doctores " from the law courts below, and the notaries' offices hard by, carry on eager and gesticulatory conversations; and where European and Negro sentinels pace in heavy march- ing order before the entrance of the filthy jail.
Here and there we see and avoid the policeman jn his briquet, leather-pointed casquctte, and dark uniform. Almost incredible in a city otherwise so highly civilized is the im- punity of crime; you feci as if living in an aff reuse tuerie^
180 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
amidst a community of assassins â€” bandits in the country and murderers in the city. An ^^ accident^-' takes place every day, it is no man^s business; the policeman, smoking his cigarette, calmly surveys the corpse, and hardly turns his head to see the fugitive felon^s back. In this matter of life-taking the foreigners are bad, the natives are worse; you must not think it always positive bloodthirstiness, it is rather an utter disregard for human existence. A popular story is told of a friendly Gaucho who cut a friend's throat in order to cure the "pobrecito^^ of headache. Accustomed from babyhood to wear and to use his knife, he draws it when he pleases, and not unfrequently for the fun of a little murder. The only life religiously respected is that of the non-political criminal; to hang him would be bad taste, brutality, barbarism, and it would be worse taste still to flog him. His proper punishment, no matter how brutal his crime, is ten months of prison, after which common decency allows him to escape. Perhaps he is sent to some distant Presidio or frontier garrison; here his residence is ad libitum, and he can always join the Montonera or Gaucho bandits (the Kaum, ^^j, of the Arabs), or ride with the wild " Indian'^ raiders. A permanent gallows in the out- skirts of the city would do a power of good to Buenos Aires. And yet, you know, I would abolish in civilized countries capital punishment.
The fact is, since Dictator Rosas, then the only mur- derer, fell before the foreign idea which he had outraged, every man has been his own Rosas. Therefore would many, especially foreigners, hail with pleasure his return; this re- version to the " good old times" is, however, of course im- possible. But of that peculiar personage, who disappointed Mr. Darwin, some good is to be said. True he had his '^ saladero," his human shambles; he put to death a priest and a nun for incontinence; he murdered an English
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 181
family; he had an English envoy horsewhipped in the streets; he made a laughing-stock of another; he had horse- hobbles made of an enemy^s skin; he forbade men to wear beards that represented the letter U of Unitario; and he forced even the free-born Briton to don the red waistcoat. But also, in his early career he saved from the pol- lution of the filthy "Indians'^ some 1500 Argentine women and children, left by his predecessors in helpless, hopeless captivity. He discouraged priestcraft, and he turned out the Jesuits â€” they say for refusing to place his portrait upon the high altar. He gave to his native province a civil marriage; he permitted all ecclesiastics of all denominations to perform the rite; and when he fled on board the English ship after the defeat of Monte Caseros (February 3, 1852), he carried with him so little, that his friends were compelled to supply him against want. Since that time he has been known chiefly for sell- ing fresh milk at twopence per quart, in the neighbourhood of South^ton.
We have now finished with the square, the typical part of Buenos Aires. A few lines concerning the remainder will suffice. Rivadavia- street issues from the north-west corner of the Plaza, and running some three miles in an east to west direction, cuts the city into a northern and a southern half Here we can find a pick-me-up at Mr. Cranwell's, or ^' something short^^ within the next door, the '*^ American Mineral Water Establishment.^^ A turn to the south leads to the Calle Victoria, in which are the Alcazar and the Progreso Club, of which more presently.
The street to the south-east of the square is the Calle Defensa, so called because in the days when the English were ^'^hereges y tenian cola," General Whitelocke here marched up his doomed men, every house â€” especially the houses of God â€” being a redoubt. We find a wonderful
182 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
specimen of a Britisli library^ and we glance at two huge pileSj S. Francisco and Santo Domingo^, which look some- what perilous to those passing by. This thoroughfare, con- taining Mr. Morton^s deodorizing apparatus, leads to a mass of hospitals, the British, the French Joint-Stock, the Italian, and the Convalescencia, all clustering upon the northern bank that bounds the riverine valley of the Riachuelo. I have pleasant reminiscences of Calle Defensa, Esquina Garay; of enjoyable evenings spent in the hospitable house of Mr. and Mrs. Russell.
Returning to the Plaza, and issuing by the south-west angle, we enter Bolivar- street. Here is the College or San Ignacio Church, formerly Jesuit property, and externally at least the best in the city. The whole block is taken up for Government purposes. The educational portion is presided over by the highly distinguished Dr. Juan Maria Gutierrez, a name well known to European art and science. Part of the building has been made over to Dr. Hermann Burmeister, naturalist, physiologist, anthropologist, and Brazilian, as well as Argentine traveller: the \dsitor will find this collection very different from what it was in the days when Rosas reigned. Then the roof was in holes, and then a few dusty birds and beasts stuck awry upon wires nodded to their fall. The inlaid picture and the fossil horse of the Pampas, a zebra, are especially worthy of inspection, and the collection of mega- theroids is too well known to require more than mention. On the west side of the block is the Public Library, to- gether with the Land Office and other establishments. At the junction of Belgrano you look to the left, and see the office of the Standard, the only English daily published south of the equator, say the editors. May their supply of the paddles with which the Paraguayan canoes attacked the Brazilian ironclads never be less! Beyond it is the Post- office, and further on the city straggles out into suburbs.
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 183
Again you go back to the main square and continue Bolivar-street, to the north-west known as San Martin. This is perhaps the most familiar to foreigners: No. 44 is the Club de los Estrangeros Residentes, and the liberality with which the traveller is temporarily admitted free to all the privileges of members, imposes upon us a debt of gra- titude. Beyond it is Mr. Mackern's stationery store â€” it is wonderful that some enterprising London publisher does not use this and similar establishments to make a clientele in South America. English books are extensively read both by natives and foreigners, but few will take the trouble of sending for them to England. Beyond lies the Bourse of Buenos Aires, a contemptible affair, ruinous inside, and outside unworthy of a country town.
A turn to the left up Cangallo-street takes you into Calle Florida (not Florida), the Regent Street. Here are the best shops in the place, barbers and jewellers, mercers and modistes, hatters and bootmakers, tobacconists and lollipop vendors. The prices are double those of Europe, the quality is very inferior, but the farther up country you go, the worse you fare. Here girls walk alone by day; giving the place a gay look, and "shopping^-' becomes once more possible. Crossing the Calle Paraguay â€” after rain a torrent â€” we enter the Plaza de Marte, alias the Betiro, celebrated for the barracks of Dictator Rosas. We stare and wag the head at the equestrian statue of General San Martin, and we remember that General Beresford held this place in 1807, since which time many a wretched political offender has gazed at it with hot and weary eyes before being blindfolded, and seated upon the fatal banquillo.
Passing the Church of San Miguel, and some old domi- ciles which look like fortresses, you may visit if you like the Recoleta or Metropolitan Cemetery. Here formerly was
184 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
the Betlilemite Convent^ which after the extinction of its community was turned^ in 1827, to some nse. Being far too crowded, plans for enlarging it start up in crops, the Protestants would willingly have a " finger in the pie/^ but the Reformed house is divided against itself, English and Anglo-Americans, and in short too many interests are in- volved in the matter. The ground is crushed by heavy tasteless masses of masonry, tents, sentry boxes, naval columns, truncated pillars, crosses, crucifixes, groups of statuary, and the normal paraphernalia of Christian piety. The poorly cleaned surface abounds in hemlock (cicuta) and rank grasses: after a few years the bones are exhumed and thrown into a corner hole. These young peoples should be innovators â€” why do they not try first of all things
- ^ cremation?" A Committee of the House of Commons
pronounced it, I believe, too expensive for England, but here surely a large blast furnace constructed on the most modern scientific principles would be economical enough. During the present war attempts were made to burn the dead in piles from 50 to 100, disposed in layers alter- nately with wood. The burly Brazilian Negro com- plained that the Paraguayan enemy was too lean to catch fire.
We have now done the city: we have dined at the Cafe de Paris, we have seen the Grand Opera, remain only the Alcazar, and the humours of a Progreso Ball.
The former is the great resource for bachelors who do not admire the private concert, the tertulia, the teafight, the quiet rubber. There are neither lecture rooms nor literary meetings in the self-styled '^ Athens of South America.^^ Let us remember that we have at home a city which, with equal impudence, claims a title which none should dare to bear. At the same time the proportion of libraries to billiard-rooms is 1 to 100, and of libraries to
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 185
pulperias or esquinas"^ (drinking houses) 1 to 150. The Club reading-rooms, lit up with gas, spoil the eyesight: the cafes, with itinerant bands, make the head ache, so men go to the " Cas."
" Music Hall," writ large, arrests us. We pay $10 (paper) for pit or gallery, and $20 for stalls; there is no Cazuela or family tier set apart, and the few feminines present are the loudest of the loud. ^' Swells " do not patronize the place, except when something new is ex- pected â€” a singer or a squabble. So far, all is inferior to Rio de Janeiro, where the Aimee certainly excels the Schneider, and where anybody is as good as M. Dupuis.
The room is a small oval with a few open boxes near the stage, which is fronted by a trumpery orchestra. Venti- lation is wanting, and it is no wonder that the pale reds and yellows of the house wear a dingy, bilious, jaundiced hue. The audience, sitting at marble tables, smoking rank tobacco, and drinking beer and liqueurs, both equally vile, but not cheap as the aspect suggests, delights in French Vaudevilles, and songs a la Therese, in which the most vio- lent action is admitted, and admired. M. and Mme. Cheri Labouchere preside over the revels â€” the lady was once pretty â€” and the revels sometimes end roughly. An actress of prodigious girth once nearly caused a " pro- nouncement," because she would remain faithful to the tenor. Every night saw its disturbance, men rushing wildly about the galleries, and jumping over tables and benches, to escape a charge en masse by the police, who pursued, " sabre au poing," those that dared indulge in hiss or catcall. After witnessing the actions and postures with which Mme. Gooz illustrated her song I was not surprised
- The pulperia is the establishment of the pulpero â€” grocer, spirit-dealer,
and vendor of dry goods. It is the venda further north which I have described in the " Highlands of the Brazil."
186 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
to hear that the married women of Buenos Aires had in a memorial to the Archbishop^ prayed him to close the Al- cazar^ or at least to keep their husbands away from it. Silly married women â€” as if the remedy were not in their own hands!
Far different^ though situated in Alcazar- street _, are the humours of the " Progreso Balls/"' which are frequented by all the celebrities and somebodies in the city. The Club is most hospitable in sending out its invitations,, and Mr. Constant Santa Maria never lets his countrymen lack the hint to attend. Socially considered^ the Club Progreso is of the highest order, the members are the best men, and though its object is of course political, its opinions are not extreme. Physically it is a handsome house, laid out more in French than in English style; and having been built by a Spaniard, the basement floor is let to shops and stores.
The ball hardly opens before 1 a.m., though the local dinner hour is 5 to 6 p.m. â€” why not make it at once 2 a.m., and snatch the " beauty-sleep^^ before going? A few, very few, heavily bearded old ladies represent the dowager and the chaperon, so perhaps the hours are not merely fashion- able and absurd. Unmarried girls accompany their mar- ried sisters, which savours of innocence. The toilettes greatly vary, these resemble peignoirs â€” those might be seen at the Tuileries. I cannot wax enthusiastic about the beauty: an Englishwoman there suggested the lines â€”
" So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows, As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows."
The men are extensively *^ got up;" every cheek displays the handiwork of the artiste; every head has been sub- jected to the curling-irons; the dressing-room is crowded throughout the night, and at times a youth in a sly corner of the ball-room draws through his wiry locks the furtive comb. Yet, with the exception of a foreigner or two, there
A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES. 187
are no figures worthy of attention. The distinction of ranks is here not very perceptible, and even the emigrants become as a rule exceedingly Republican. Girls of the best families may be seen in stores, shaking hands over the counter and chaffing with the shopboys^ whilst these may be the sons of ex-Ministers, and perhaps may become Ministers them- selves. A peculiar familiarity of conversation is customary; you soon address D. Maria A. B. C. de Tal as D. Maria, and presently D. Maria as " Mariquita/^ whilst she honours Mr. Smith by interpellating him O Smith!
The fine reading-room of the club is turned into an appropriate dancing saloon. The white and yellow hangings, and the three ormolu chandeliers are not at all like our stout leather -lined seats, solid mahogany tables, and ponderous gas-stars. The ceiling is low, and insufficiently pierced with ventilating holes; the carpet is too soft for anything but languid dancing, and silk-covered ottomans dis- posed, as sailors say, " athwart ship,^' cut the long room into three small compartments, and absolutely forbid rusliing or whisking. The thing is to lead out some small dark person, to hold her moderately close, to twist mincingly round upon yourself some half a dozen times, to stop with a jerk, and then to stand amongst the lookers-on. Young Buenos Aires is not given to affecting manliness. He has still to learn the value of athletic sports, and to attend the school of arms.
In the red satin room are refreshments, tea and coffee â€” '^ no mas.^^ A little before dawn is a succulent supper, to which the sexes in couples sit down and are served; the single man must wait till he can serve himself. We look round in vain for flirtation even over the tea, or after the great event of the evening. This form of salut before the real assaut d'armes apparently awaits introduction. A grand serieux is the humour, except when the normal French
188 A GLANCE AT BUENOS AIRES.
attache shows his inevitable liveliness, or when some model Britisher shuffles off his usually inevitable phlegm.
If I have written in this letter anything to offend Buenos Aires or the Buenos Aireans, you will, I am sure, allow me to withdraw it and to beg pardon. Amongst the thousand places which store my cabinet of memory there is none that stands more favourably than the Platine capital. The peculiar heartiness with which all, Argentines as well as foreigners, receive the traveller; the friendliness with which he is admitted to their homes and made free of their insti- tutions; and their anxiety to gratify his wishes; to cicerone him; to forward his pursuits; in fact, to make him happy as well as comfortable, are not to be equalled in any city that I have yet visited. We are apt to take these things at the time as matters of course. Perhaps we are often vain enough to assume them the tribute paid to our remarkable merits. But all this falls away when we have leisure to reflect â€” to look back â€” and modestly to recognise the real benevolence and politeness which prompt the gratifying reception. The weeks that I passed at Buenos Aires will ever be remembered by me with that pleasure with which on a wintry day we recall to mind the sweet savour of perfumed spring. Con que â€” Adios.
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND VISIT TO GENERAL URQUJZA,
Buenos Aires, October 17, 1868.
My dear Z ,
It will be better, in telling my tale of Paraguay, to sacrifice the unity of place to that of time; and instead of proceeding straight to the seat of war, as I did in August, 1868, to inspect at once the sites where the war began. The line of the Uruguay River will show us that ^^ terrible worthy^^ General Urquiza, in his Pampa Palace j Paysandu still seared with the scars of siege, and other ^'places with names.'^
So one breezy, blowy morning (Tuesday, October 6) when the north wind was out, and the Garua or Scotch mist was down on the world, we boarded, plunging, rolling, and dashing, the Campania Saltena^s steamer, Rio Uruguay j Captain Panasco, of Tenerife, a civil man and a good sailor â€” happily not Benito Magnasco, an Italian, bilious and surly, who is the reverse of both. The party consisted of Dr. Gibbings, an estanciero or landowner settled in the province of Buenos Aires, and his son, who had preferred being Postmaster in Entre Bios to the disagreeable alter- native of becoming a " personero,'^ un conscrit. Messrs. Maxwell and Johnston â€” names mentioned before â€” were to accompany us halfway, and then to regain the Banda Oriental. Finally, Mr. Power, from the South of Ireland, kept us in fun till the day of parting, when he went ofi* sky- rocketing to prepare for a sail up the Paraguay Biver.
We steam towards the Outer Boads, and the low stretch
190 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
of city waxes lower as we go^ laughing at the beard of the
casemated Custom-house. The white steeples of La Colonia
glitter in the sun, and presently a pie-shaped domelet rises
ahead. This, we are told, is historic " Martin Garcia.^^ It
reminds us of the Piloto de Altura â€” the practical pilot who
made observations â€” the sailor rei nauticce peritus who
guided thus far up Mar Dulce, the Piloto Mayor (Admiral)
D. Juan de Solis.
" They were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea j"
and they met the fate of Magellan and Cook. Most authors have related that D. Juan Diaz de Solis was (in 1516) slaughtered, roasted, and eaten by the Charruas savages on the bank of a rivulet west of Maldonado, hence the long sandy reach is still known as Playa de Solis. Popular report places the scene of the murder on the Banda Oriental coast, nearly opposite Martin Garcia.
The islet, quasi-circular and averaging about one mile each way, is the outlier of a long oval of shoals and shallows. To east of it, and nearer the shore, is Martin Chico, rather peninsula than island, and the pair are parted from the mainland by a channel which has been prettily baptized " Canal del Infierno.^^ This passage was rehabilitated in 1847 by Captain Sullivan, R.N., and presently Captain Page, U.S.N., gave it two more feet of depth. Here the minor estuary of La Plata narrows from thirty to seven miles, and with a fathom and a half of water close to its east, " Martin Garcia'^ must be looked upon as Perim Island, a shameless pretender: it has been entitled " Pearl of the Plate^^ and " Key of the Rivers of the Interior,^' when La Colonia and Monte Video deserve all the honours.
This lumpy dome of gneiss and granite, with a low alluvial spit to the north â€” much like a flattish spoon and
VISIT TO GENERAL URQUIZA. 191
handle â€” has its own history. Here the War of Independence hegan in 1810, and the islet was carried from a force of seventy Spaniards and three gnns by Lieut. Caparroza and eighteen Patricio dragoons. A novel and interesting use for the " equine^"* is that of storming fortified and insu- lated posts. In '^ Argentine Gleanings^' we read of " horses making brick!" â€” of " horses thrashing corn!" â€” of "horses churning butter!| I may add, horses defending coasts and leading forlorn hopes (see Muratori) â€” horses attacking frigates (witness the Spanish Mer curio, grounded in 1810) â€” horses clearing earthworks (so did the gallant Osorio^s cavalry at Humaita) â€” and horses assaulting steam-engines, as happened to the " railway battery" of which we shall presently hear more.
In 1814, the Irishman, Admiral Brown, successfully ran past the batteries â€” a feat in which he was often rivalled by Garibaldi â€” yet the French squadron was subsequently checked by half a company of wounded men under command of Colonel Cortanses. The gallant Argentine was taken in the war, made prisoner, and sent to Dictator Kosas by the French admiral, with the Gallican epigram " Glory to the Conquered.^^ Two other Argentine soldiers, Mayer and Villanueva, who subsequently became well known in Prussia and Mexico, here began their careers: the people still show a quarry into which a Neapolitan Sappho, who lived in the island, threw herself after the departure of Phaon Mayer. In 1859, the brothers Cordero again ran their squadrons in safety past the four batteries, and proved how trifling an obstacle would be "Martin Garcia" against ironclads. Finally, here stands, in books, the Argyropolis of President Sarmiento: and if the Argentine Confederation wants a distinct Columbia and a City Washington, by all means place it in this pocket Botany Bay.
Martin Garcia once belonged to Banda Oriental, now she
192 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
is attaclied to Buenos Aires. The block of desirable building material is forbidden by treaty to be fortified. Therefore we find the water-line girt round with ruined batteries. To the south-east and behind the point,, we see what may easily be reconverted into a redoubt. The next is a strong post at the point with embrasures for five guns. The third may be called the Flagstaff Battery; it is on a scarped bank thirty feet above the water, with yellow battlements, accommo- dating nine or ten guns, and space for more. Lastly, below the Commandante^s quarters there is a fourth redoubt without guns. The rest of the scene consists of three flag- stavesj barracks, and white houses^ gardens, fields, and a few patches of shady-looking vegetation, thin grass pricking up amongst the rocks and stones.
We enter the barless mouth of the Rio Uruguay at Las Vacas, an artless name which has been vulgarized to Car- melo: even so Higueritas, ^* Figlets/^ has Howardized itself to " Nueva Palmira^^ â€” and what a Palmyra! Presently we shall have New Romes, Memphises, Thebeses, and so forth. We halt at Fray Bento^s, a little place on the eastern bank, facing the stream which haughtily calls itself Gualeguaichu. Some philologists render the euphonious term, also written Gualeyuay-chu, ^' Little River,^^ others '^ Little Devil.'-' My learned friend Dr. J. M. Grutierrez translates Gua line, stripe, or blot; Guai, diminutive of painted, and Chue, a land tortoise. Thus the name would mean " stream of the striped terrapin ." He casts out the second syllable (" le,"') remarking that, according to P. Montoya, the Jesuit author of the best Guarani Dictionary, the language had no " \"
The Fray, after a long hot youth of very dubious pro- priety, has of late years cut his wise teeth, and is now greasy and redolent of the roti, as becomes his cloth. He has taken up "Extractum Carnis," the great invention of the great
VISIT TO GENEKAL UllQUlZA. 193
Professor Barou Justus von Liebig. It is a kind of liquid sirloiu, which makes a manner of beef-tea " much im- proved/' says the advertisement, " by the addition of a little fresh butter, a slice of hot or cold ham, beef, or mutton, with spices according to taste." This recipe, which makes it an assistant to itself, reminds me of the Irish recipe for making " stone soup" â€” boiling water, with meat and vegetables ad libitum. I tried Extractum Carnis, and found it detestable, gluey, empyreumatic, with an inde- scribable unzest like that of over-toasted bread. In large doses it poisons, as does nicotine, and at best it is fit only for thickening. But " simple processes for the preservation of meat" seem almost as simple as making diamonds, or as permuting base metal to gold. So all fortune to ye who would supply fresh meat for the roast beef of Old England. Steam your stuff into cakes, D. Carlos Lix! Compress hydraulically Messrs. Muiioz and Company! Inject Chlo- ride of Sodium into the aorta, Messrs. Morgan and Oliden, versus Messrs. Medlock and Bayly, cum Dr. Kernot with bisulphide of calcium! Deal mysteriously with charqui by dark processes Messrs. de Maria and Ariza, Messrs. Lermitte and Biraben! Smoke dry, Mr. Wilhelm Miiller, your " moot'n 'awms!" Though results be as yet next door to " nil," I will suggest nil desperandum. When you shall feed your cattle with oil-cake and pressed aUalfa^ instead of killing it when fresh from poor grass, fibreless and over- heated by long driving, man shall in the length of time achieve conserves of beef. As yet, however, I prefer to '^ Ext. Car." a glass of the smallest beer.
Before turning in we studied for a while the fair features of the River Uruguay, also known, as the River of the Missions. The name is translated by some stream of the Cachuelas or Rapids, by others w^ater of the Uru bird â€” the Charrua name of an aquatic. Every river, like every
194 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
mountain â€” M. Michelet answers for the latter, I for the former â€” has his or her distinct physiognomy. Let us com- pare masculine Uruguay with the Parana, which, at least be- tween the Paraguay junction and the Delta, is palpably and distinctly feminine. The former is raw-boned with rock- rib, muscular with rolling green '^ loma^"*â€” swelling ground and hillock â€” which shall presently become hill and moun- tain; sinewy with high sandstone banks, rough-skinned with white grit, and hirsute with thin willow, giant grasses, and grand forest growth. The latter, Parana, is of the " long and lazy " order of feminine loveliness; a kind of sleepy Venus like a certain Dudu; a broad-bosomed daughter of Amphitrite reposing in the softest of osier beds; a placid smiling Princess, who has never heard of revolution, or of kings and queens retired from business.
Geographically and politically, Uruguay is Brazilian, fed by the copious rains of the " Empire of the Southern Cross " therefore is he tolerably sweet and wholesome, not to say clear and clean â€” at any rate the dirt is clean dirt. Parana, three-quarters rain to one-quarter snow, contains dirty dirt, salts washed from the saleratus deserts, and the mineralized soils of the lower Andes: in parts therefore the waters are not drunk. Both are equally pesculent, both are barless, both will supply timber-rafts more valuable than any on the Rhine, both average in flood two and a half knots per hour, and both have water power enough to give an engineer dynamical dreams. In both, as the slope flattens the curves become sharper, or what is equiva- lent, the greater the volume of water, the straighter- are the reaches. But the accurate observation of instruments must determine this question, and here I stop, otherwise Messrs. Fergusson and Tremenheere, who have lately done deadly battle in the Journal of the R. G. Society, will deal with me as did the rival editors with a certain old friend^ â€”
VISIT TO GENERAL URQUIZA. 195
will battle over me as Dr. E. Gray and Professor Owen battled over Paul du Chaillu.
At 4 A.M. a puffing steam-tender runs alongside the " Rio Uruguay â€¢/' her object is to carry off the live freight destined for " Concepcion/" capital of Uruguay. We must run down to the south-west; we must work up to the north-east, and thus we must cover some two leagues of creek. A riverine islet, a swamp and a branch stream thus trouble us, whilst the few houses and the pepper-castor dome of the Matriz towering above the tree avenues of the right bank, are apparently distant about a mile. It is gi'ey-dark, we have amongst us some twenty " colis," and the stewards are sleepy-headed as ourselves â€” even fees fail to rouse them. We shift to the cuddy or cabin of the Baby, whose air (which can be cut) is mainly composed of garlic and onions, tobacco, strong waters, and Basques in equal parts. We take mate scientifically compounded by Mr. Postmaster Willy Gibbings, and with steady nose- melody we join the assembly, jolly as a funeral.
Our destination is a " Puerto" consisting, as in the Brazil, of a clearing in the river-bank, and nothing else. We land upon quartz, rock-crystal, agate, amethyst-gangue, chalce- dony, jasper, and other forms of silex, which Uruguay sweeps down from his highland cradle, and wherewith he bestrews Entre Bios as well as Banda Oriental. You are duly warned not again to sink capital in Oberstein cameos, and pay for them the prices of Italian gems: they are most probably the produce of remote Uruguay.
A cart carries up our belongings and the carter touches his hat to us. We observe generally that the stolid equality of dead-level Buenos Aires is here in abeyance. Scant care is required for our baggage â€” are we not under the protecting wing of H. E. General D. Justo Urquiza, Governor and Laird of Entre Rios? Perhaps the absence of
196 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
independence, robbery, and murder bas somewhat depressed the spirit of the capital. Concepcion del Uruguay bas a eburcb of normal size and shape, visited every Sunday by the Laird^ the Laird^s lady, and the Laird^s family, but it cannot be described as finished. There is the usual square, with the inevitable obelisk, surrounded by stunted '^ Paradise trees,^' and furnished with brick walks, somewhat rare in these country places. A kind of Pompey^s Pillar in stucco composite is set in a field of the rankest weeds and grasses. The streets, where not overgrown with poisonous cicuta and other wild vegetation, are lines of black mud_, like those that span the amene suburbs of ^' young Athens /' and they are ever deadly-lively as the thoroughfares of New York on a hot "Sabbath" afternoon. The distances are truly magnificent â€” the mile may average three tenements, and the connexion is by rough posts and wires or bands, like those that secure cotton-bales. Amongst a few good houses are lumpy detached boxes of the worst bricks, which are piled up without breaking the joint, whilst the surface is rarely whitewashed. The cottages are mere bandboxes, a long stifi" rush (Junco) being used for the walls and a short soft grass for thatch. Such is Concepcion. Throw in a building where big balls have been given, a Hotel du Commerce, kept by a civil Frenchwoman, who has spent twenty-four years in this lively corner of the world, and a Cafe de Paris, whose charges are half those of exorbitant Buenos Aires, whilst the reception is at least thrice as civil â€” et vHd, as exclaims the gar9on bringing in the breakfast carte.
The staple solid here is a blanket piece of beef-rib, written Asado and pronounced Asa^o. Not having had my teeth case-hardened and steel-tipped before visiting Argentine- land, I have found it pleasant to masticate as indiarubber might be. Perhaps its very toughness and the meaty flavour
VISIT TO GENERAL UllQUIZA. 197
of the meat â€” even as freshly caught salmon is exceptionally fishy and new-laid eggs are remarkably eggy â€” form the main of its merits. The eupeptic African chooses for you, when hospitably disposed, the veteran rooster of the poultry yard, the venerablest patriarch of the goats: that takes long to masticate; this has the highest haut gout. The Asado is the nearest approach to the raw beef of Abyssinia, and you may eat it in the self-same style with your snick-and-snee shaving your nose tip. It should be washed down with a cow^s horn full of muddy water. I know only one thing worse than the Asado, and that is the Matambre, whose relation is that of garlic to onion. But it is the fashion to speak succulently of the Asa^o. " St. Antonio himself could not have resisted the temptation of an Asa^o/^ says a tra- veller who makes his attendant address him â€” " Oh! Don Enriquez, query el Cafife V (Pix)h pudor!) Sir Francis Head tells us that Asa^o and Yerba, the most " lasting" of diet, enabled him to ride liO miles a day, and readily to recover from heavy falls; also that the Gauchos can select tender bits from meat that no Englishman could manage. It is the fashion to eat game that taints and cheese that walks: it is now the fashion to carry the " polisson" outside, to wear Hessians, and to display the tassels. Basta!
We bargain down, or rather Dr. Gibbiugs bargains down, a carriage to three dollars Bolivian (each 3^. 3i/.), say half a sovereign per head. Coachman, a berry -brown boy about twelve years old, who answers to " Amiguito,"' sturdily handles the ribbons of the quadriga, the four mules or horses being all abreast. Galloping over the springy turf, not the mud called a road, we change nags at the frontier of D. Justo's little estate. We visit a Gaucho's ranch to take mate and notes; and we shake hands with his wife, a middle-aged body whose prehensile member feels â€” the com- parison belongs to the lively Mr. Power â€” like a half-alive
198 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
trout; tills style of manuquassation is here, they say, the thing. We find the prairie gallop interesting. This Me- sopotamian Campo appears picturesque after the dull, dead flats, the treeless plains south of Buenos Aires, where high winds and low rainfall produce a modification of the Arabian desert. The ground is disposed in long billows, gently rolling down from the highlands of the Brazil; ^' Monte^^ clothes the bottoms, and on the uplands solitary ombus (Ficus ombu) shed their dense cool shade, suggesting from alar English oaks. The sun sucks-the earth, but the clear, uright air shows distances well defined as those of Salisbury Downs on a fine October day. The one bad banado or swamp does not let or injure us, although the corrals or paddocks, and the rodeos or gathering grounds for cattle, are knee-deep in bone-dirt and mire. Thin cattle and thinner sheep browse upon the grass, which is coarse and luxuriant, and the ground is scattered with domes, barrow- shaped ant-hills large and small. Pufling up their wings and tail plumes, male ostriches troop leisurely away from us, fearing no " bolas^' â€” the hens are mostly laying in the bush, also under the protecting wing of D. Justo. Even the ^' tero-tero,^^ or horned plover, appears exceptionally secure as he hovers overhead, screaming abuse at the intruders.
After a four hours^ drive, now down, then along an avenue of young ombiis, we sight the twin towers of a Pampa palace, whose architect is D. Justo himself. " San Jose^^ will startle those who have not seen Mr. Hutchinson^s de- scription, or the sketch of Colonel du Graty. In due time the tall fa9ade rises in view; then appear the garden and the aviaries, which contain even African lories and rosy- crested Leadbeater cockatoos. On the right are the hut lines occupied by the single battalion of gunners â€” ruSians kept in prime order by throat-cutting. Turkeys and other poultry strut about, the Laird being the only person that
VISIT TO GENERAL URQUIZA. 199
can keep them. Near the entrance are kennelled " tigers/' that is to say spotted ounces opposed to the concolor puma or lion. We send in our names with due ceremony, and we are at once invited to enter the main gate. On the right is the chapel, with Italian font, poor European pic- tures, gold and silver ornaments, rich Barcelona dresses, and " Cortado^' embroidery exceptionally fine. The left steeple is the Froveduria, storehouse, grocery, groggery, and body-guard house.
I shall say little about the palace, upon which a dozen pens have exercised themselves. Dr. Victorica, a connexion of D. Justo, who had kindly preceded the party, placed us under the charge of the Sargento Mor, D. Carlos Calvo; state rooms in the inner court were found for us, and, after a few minutes, we were summoned to an interview. This was an unusual attention, some visitors having been kept waiting for a week. The owner met us at the entrance of a long narrow saloon, garnished with the usual sofas and chairs; the only remarkable part was the ceiling, divided by woodwork into compartments of mirrors, below which hung a Saint Andrew's Cross of tinted fly-paper. I made my compliments, expressing in all sincerity my pleasure at seeing a name so well known thi'oughout the civilized world: D. Justo received this little tribute with a bow and a smile, welcomed and shook hands with the whole party, and seated us near him upon the settee, opposite his full- length portrait, which painters persist in making too grim.
I was curious to see and narrowly observed this latest specimen of the feudal chief, a man whose history is that of the Argentine Confederation, when he was Protector of the Provinces â€” that is to say, Provisional Director of the Commonwealth; and who as early as 1853 (July 10) had in the name of his country signed with England and France
200 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
a treaty opening np the Rio Parana to all flags â€” then a great desideratum.
General Urquiza is a short, thickset man about sixty, of bilious-nervous complexion, rather dark, with light brown and very vivacious eyes, a closely fitting mouth, and broad strong jaws and chin. He wears his whisker a l^Anglaise, which is in fact the Portuguese, Spanish, and old French style still found in country parts: his side hair, which is dyed, covers the deficiencies of the centre, and his dress is that of the Latin races, black from head to foot. I won- dered at his excitable gesticulations, and glances flashing on every occasion, a something so far from Castilian repose. But presently I called to mind that he was a Basque, whose father had emigrated to South America, and had long kept a small store at Corrientes. His life is simple in the ex- treme. He rises with the light, and holds a " durbar " to settle the causes of his Entre Rianos, who, though excel- lent fighting men, and after the Portenos, the best looking of Argentines, require riding on the tightest of curbs. He dines or rather breaks his fast at noon, and he sups at dark, rarely with his family except to honour a guest. Soup and puchero (bouilli), poultry, and sweetmeats compose the meals, he never smokes, and he drinks water, which is here muddy. At one time he was a vegetarian, and Mr. Mansfield approved of him for the all-sufficient reason that besides not being one of his ^' poor carnivorous creatures,-*' he was a teetotaller.
Of late years General Urquiza has devoted himself to the improvement of an estate which, containing 50 + 10 leagues or 3,600,000 acres, is larger than many an English county. He is said to own 200,000 sheep and 800,000 head of cattle, whose annual increase must be at least 10 per cent.: he slaughters 80,000 head at $8 each, which represents an income of 125,000/. Grease and wool.
VISIT TO GENERAL URQUTZA. 201
salt meat, hair and hides, raise this to 225,000/., and the value of the property is supposed to double every five years. Public report makes him worth 1,000,000/. to 1,200,000/., but it knows about him, I presume, more than he knows himself. He is not a good paymaster, his peons are often six months in arrears, and his agents, like the publishers of M. de Balzac, court ruination. The greater part of his wealth was made by supplying cattle and horses to the Allies, a profit of which his Eutre Riano subjects were allowed to partake. It is no wonder that he withdrew his contin- gent from the war.
It is curious to hear this " despot,^' who can stiU raise his 10,000 men, talking quietly like a respectable country squire of his land improvements, of the wine made upon his estate, and of his model dairy. Encouraged by the Gualeguay Railway, the cheapest in South America, and laid down by Mr. J. Coghlan, C.E., under 3000/. per mile, he proposes to connect his palace with the port of Con- cepcion. Depending upon opinion from without, he wishes to stand well with all foreigners, and he proposes to establish twin colonies on two and a half square leagues to the north and south, in sight of San Jose. Can this be the man who once ordered the English in Entre Rios to shave their beards lest the hair should form the offensive letter U?* Can we be chatting with the " Gaucho" who staked down an enemy for some nine years, who sat his horse sucking mate whilst hundreds of human throats were being cut before his eyes, who ranked at one time highest of the four great " Caudillos" viz., Lopez of Santa Fe (1820-33,
- The motto of General Rosas was —
" Murien los selvajes Unitarios." That of General Urquiza â€”
" Defendemos la ley Federal jurada, Son traidores los que la combaten."
202 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
poisoned)^ Ibarra of Santiago (1822-43), Quiroga of La Rioja (1825-37, assassinated), and Rosas of Buenos Aires (1830-52, banished)? I remembered with some amuse- ment the comparison of the tenacious, energetic, impetuous, unscrupulous Basque with the stiff, cold, un genial, and highly moral old man of Mount Vernon.
The preliminary interview over. General Urquiza showed us, under the arcades of the first or eastern court, fresco representations of his battles, done by an Italian of more pluck than skill. Here at Caseros fight, distinguished by a white overcloth and chimney-pot hat, he leads his thick red line of ponchoed men to victory. There at Vences he lands his cavalry across the river in compact bodies: under his rule there were no " dispersos^^ or " pasados" â€” stragglers or deserters â€” upon the principle that made Marshal Narvaez leave no enemies. He then conducted us to the garden west of his palace, and showed us araucarias and cypresses, oranges straw-swathed to keep out the cold, and pears and fruit-trees close shaved that the sap might have the less way to travel. We then visited the two large tanks, one a bathing-place for the family, deep enough in the centre for pisciculture, and provided with a sailing boat and a hand- paddle gig. The second was dry, and served as a corral to contain half- wild cattle when a branding festival is to be given. Between the two is a neat pavilion, whose summit shows the line of the Gualeguaichu River, and the thick dark grove of Acacia and Mimosa ^^ Monte,^^ which extends to Montiel.
D. Justo having wisely ascertained from our introductor that I was not a " traidor," here sat down and chatted en tete-a-tete in Spanish, the only language which he speaks. Part of the conversation may be repeated. The General openly declared, that had not Marshal- President Lopez in- vaded Corrientes, which he looked upon as a portion of his
VISIT TO GENERAL URQUIZA. 203
Mesopotamia, he would have aided him with 15_,000 men against the Macacos, or Monkeys. The latter is here the popular term for the Brazilians, even as their own Tupys knew the Negros as '^ Macacos da terra/^ ground (not tree) monkeys. This was the truth, but not the whole truth. General Urquiza, who was Captain- General of the Argen- tine army, had been named to an inferior command, " Superior Officer of the Entre Rios cavalry,^' by President Mitre, who proposed to be himself Commander-in-Chief of the Allies. Moreover, General Lopez had disappointed him by promising men, ships, and money, to aid him in besieg- ing Buenos Aires; furthermore, as an arbitrator after the battle of Pavon, the former had not been a friend to Urquiza. The latter must have known that any rival as- sisting to forward the ambitious views of the Marshal-Pre- sident of Paraguay would have been used and shot. I hardly liked to ask why in dispersing his long-promised contingent that was marching upon Uruguayana, he had trodden so perilously near the brink of high treason â€” a position which he had generally avoided since his overthrow in 1853. He was at that time probably undecided as to his part. The sole reason why the Brazil instead of wasting gold on the Platine Provinces, did not make Bio Grande do Sul their base of operations, was the reasonable fear, that in case of a check by Paraguay, the latter would command the assistance of one that never wished her well. D. Justo spoke sensibly and in a soldier-like way about the cam- paign. He declared the Conde de Porto- Alegre (Joaquim Marques de Souza), ex- Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army, to be its best general; unfortunately he is a Liberal, and a Conservative Government must have its own Giulai. He gave the Brazilians 24,000 men in the field, and the Paraguayans 20,000, or nearly double the vulgar estimate; finally, he predicted that if the empire failed in this
204 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER, AND
campaign, her southern provinces would become re- publican.
Never leaving home, and being visited by strangers from all quarters, General Urquiza has a right to hold himself a man of note; his family naturally think him the first in the vrorld; and his flatterers declare that but for the fault of Marshal-President Lopez, he would have lassoed at Uruguyana the Imperial leader of the Brazilian army. When speechifying, they will opine that the crown of the Empire of the Southern Cross should be transferred from the brow of D. Pedro II. to that of General Urquiza, and the latter sits listening the while in a cold, abstracted silence, deep and impressive.
We played billiards â€” the old French pin game â€” till dinner was announced at 8 p.m. Then appeared Madame Urquiza, the daughter of an Italian, still in early middle age, black haired, broad browed, straight featured, strong framed, and looking fit to be the mother of men. Two girls compose the last family, the elder being about seven- teen and very handsome. They have a French governess; they know a little English, but will not speak it; and a German professor teaches them music. Here the sex pre- serves the old uncourteous custom noticed by Sir Francis Head, of not rising from their chairs to strangers. In the evening a dance was evidently wanted, but no one would propose it.
Next morning saw us betimes in carriages. Dr. Gibbings tooling as only an old Irishman can do. We visited the Escuela Pastoril de la Republica Argentina, a model dairy under the direction of an Italian. The general has given him a hundred cows for experiments, and a few boys loung- ing about in uniform represented the scholars. The two rooms suggested a curiosity shop, old and new, for D. Pablo (Signer Paolo) Cataldi is everything between a poet, writing
VISIT TO GENERAL URQUIZA. 205
the " Liras de la Pampa/' and a pump -maker. He greatly prides himself upon his cutting and stamping machine, which engraves buttons, prize medals, and portraits of his patron, in blue ink. He showed us his system â€” borrowed from Sicily and Roumania â€” of preserving for two years butter fresh, or nearly so, in a coat of cheese somewhat like ricotta, and he kindly gave me specimens to send home. His Parmesan was remarkably good.
After breakfast we bade adieu, with many thanks for his hospitality, to D. Justo. Knowing my intention to cross the Pampas, then in a somewhat troubled state, he favoured me with his likeness and with a letter of safe conduct, ad- dressed in peremptory terms to the "Indian" chiefs and to their Gaucho companions, who still consider him their feudal chief. Ai-med with this instrument, I felt more secure than if protected by the flags of England and France; moreover, I well knew that a hecatomb would have revenged my death. The main, perhaps the only charm of the per- sonal and aristocratic government appears to be that it is a rule of honour that begets loyalty. The red ponchos would, had I been killed, have taken the field as if bound on a battue, and the Argentine Mesopotamia would not have grumbled, even had she been called upon to pay twopence in the pound. Madame Urquiza courteously sent to my wife, by way of '^ recuerdo,^^ a pretty silver-mounted mate, with its bombilla or pipette. We all left San Jose under the impression of having paid a somewhat peculiar but very pleasant visit.
I should augur well for Entre Rios if D. Justo were thirty instead of sixty years old. He will leave no hand strong and cunning enough to hold the provincial reins, and to guide the wild team that now hardly dares to chafe at the bit. The many foreign estancieros who at present enjoy his rule of "honey on velvet," hardly conceal their fear that it will be followed by a reaction, when the semi
206 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
barbarians of the land will make it a Pandemonium broken loose^ and lay low all the labours of peace with fire and steel. It must^ however,, be remembered that the same horrors were expected to accompany the expulsion of Dic- tator RosaSj and that the prophecy was notably falsified by what happened. Meanwhile, in gratitude for kindnesses received, and in the interest of my fellow countrymen, I will conclude this letter with '^ Viva D. Justo V^ And now till the next â€” as they say here.
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER THE SIEGE 0Â¥ PAYSANDU,
SALTO, CONCORDIA, URUGUAYANA.
Buenos Aires, October 20, 1868.
My dear Z ,
A stormy night delayed the up-steamer till 7.15 A.M. (October 9), at which time we began the short trip ^' aquas arriba.^^ Nearly opposite Concepcion is the Saladero-Estancia of M. de la Morvonnais_, a Breton gentle- man who knew this country when an oflScer in the French navy. I deeply regretted not being able to accept his hospitable invitation. The river here showed little of interest. It was in unusual flood,, but the traveller is used to the "unusual.^^ For instance, Buenos Aires declares her present year's climate to be the worst of the last decade. Tree-trunks grew out of the water; snags pricked us with their points; floating islands attempted to choke us; sawyers bobbed up and down, and the huts on the lower bank â€” as usual, one was higher than the other â€” facing the taller re-entering angle of the stream, were half- submerged. Estancias were scattered about the uplands â€” a sure sign of good ground; and the various craft that we met and passed made the Uruguay anything but a silent highway of the nations.
Presently remnants of batteries on the right bank showed the place where Urquiza had prepared to receive Garibaldi and his fighting " cooks." Paysandii town is on the oppo- site bank; the buildings, massed in amphitheatre-shape, crowned by the Dutch-tiled dome, are picturesque, and
208 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
withal present a perfect target to a bombarding squadron. The river here runs north and south; the long streets are therefore disposed east to west so as the better to be enfiladed. Around it the country rises to the Cuchilla de los Palmares, which completely commands the landward side. These heights afford a glorious view, especially at sunset, of the noble river â€” here somewhat broader than the Paraguay. It is a stream of gold flowing through the liveliest green that spring can give; and the beauty, the variety, and the soft- ness of the tints above can only be equalled by the pic- turesque diversity and amenity of the scene below. About one league to the north the uplands sink into the valley of the Arroyo Grande (de San Francisco), famous for fight and skirmish, and the Arroyo Sacra bounds the Egido or municipality about three quarters of a mile to the south."^
The name of the settlement is under dispute â€” pardon me if you are troubled with it; but for the last three years I have worked at the Tupy-Guarani language, and it is evident to me that unless some one record them, all these interesting proper names will presently express nothing, and the traveller will vainly inquire the " unde derivatur." Generally the people translate Pay-Sandii by Father Sandii, Sawney or Alexander, and call themselves Sanduseros. General Urquiza, however, explained it to me as a corrup- tion of Pay Zaingo, Padre forcado, or the father (that was) hanged. Thus Ituzaingo alias the Battle of Rozario, where the Marquis of Barbacena was defeated by the Orientals, and saved only by the valour of the Paulistas, signifies
- Paysandii is in S. lat. 32Â° 19' 3", and lon^. W. (G.) 58Â° 1' 16". The
difference of London time is 3^" 52"" 15.3*; and the variation made by Mr. Alec. Mackinnou is 11"^ east. The Egido, or municipal lands, to be laid out in garden lots and chacras represent a total of 9| square leagues + 400 manzanas = 346,000,000 superficial varas (short Argentine yards). Here the cuadra contains 100 varas, in Entre Eios 80.
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 209
" Itu (Frank) who was hanged." I will also remark that in the Guaraui tongue " pai" also means to hang.
Having landed at the unfinished pier of wood and masonry;, whose poor funds were diverted to other purposes by D. Leandro Gomez, we proceeded to the normal adjunct, a big custom-house, in which our luggage was perfunctorily examined. Near the water the tenements are huts and boxes of brick, stone, and lime, connected by posts and wire. The old buildings are inland, and date before the days of steamers. I suppose Paysandii must be called a city. It contains 9000 souls, whereas the chief places in Entre Eios, Concepcion, Gualeguaichu, and Concordia average about 6000.
We walked up the long street "18 de Julio." Last night-'s rain had washed the fine bracing air sweet and clean; at the same time it had made the rivulets impassable, and had filled the thoroughfares with a black mud, which, however, being based on sand, readily dries. After Con- cepion the place had a remarkable look of business, of bustle, of go-ahead. We found the Hotel de France (M. Bertrande) full, and luckily for me an old acquaintance, Mr. Good, chief manager of the Maua Bank, gave me hospitality and introduced me to the resident strangers.
The first walk of inspection led us eastward to the main or Matriz Square. All the line is up-hill, excellent for drainage, and to the north there is a hollow, beyond which the land rises again. The streets are strewed with agate and broken glass; as in the Brazil, they are banded with ribs of rough stone to prevent the washing away of the rain, and the trottoirs are tall narrow ledges of brick. The Matriz, with a single tower like that of Humaita, was then under repairs, and the only peculiarities in it were a black saint and saintess, SS. Benito and Rosa. Having been connected with a gun battery it had been severely treated
210 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
by the Brazilian Whitworths. The brick walls, however, allowed the bolts to pass through without doing much damage. The sacristan, who was a Swiss, complained that the Oriental Government owed to the Junta a sum of $25,000, borrowed to put down the Blanco chief, Maximo Piris, at Mercedes, and yet that funds for repairing the fane were not to be had.
In front of the church four companies were drilling, and the men appeared all to be Italians. The " Orient" Government, like that of Imperial Rome, begins, without reflecting upon what must be the result, to arm foreigners because these are more disciplinable. The last native mutiny took place but a few months ago (July 20, 1868). The " Guardia Urbana," or constabulary, offended by the " curzo forzoso," and by being kept in arrears for two months " pronounced,^^ armed themselves, and shouted '^ Liberty .^^ About twenty men out of a total of sixty carried off" a gun, and having murdered a " Sereno" for undue interference, took refuge in Entre Bios. They forgot to plunder the treasure chest, which contained $6000, and although they proposed to loot the banks, the measure was not effected.
The square is planted round with the usual ragged " Pa- raiso^"* trees. Its south side shows an old ranch of a chapel. At the north-east corner a single-storied house, left in statu quo, represents the head quarters of D. Leandro Gomez. When it was bespat by balls, and torn to shreds by bolts, the commandant transferred himself to the west side of the square. In the centre is an unfurnished pe- destal; " Liberty '^ has been knocked down, and has not yet been replaced. The chief battery of the defence, a round tower to the south-east of the square, between the Liberty column and the Matriz, has clean disappeared. This '^ Malakoff,^^ a poor brick affair, was mounted with
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 211
only four 8-pounders, and a few discharges brought it about the gunners^ ears. The other posts were mere street bar- ricades, and the chief buildings hastily strengthened. The Maua bank was almost knocked to pieces, and required complete rebuilding. The plaster pilasters of the Gefatura or Police and Magistrates* offices on the " Calle 8 de Octo- bre " had been smashed, and the fayade had been much in- jured. The barricades were of the weakest, mostly com- posed of wool-bales and overturned carts, behind which the defenders fought every foot.
Paysandii has ever been a battle ground between Blancos and Colorados; and the " very heroic city " is as accus- tomed to bombardments as though it had been in Belgium. The first was on December 6, 1846. D. Fructuoso Kivera, Gaucho, soldier, and first President of the Oriental Republic, was succeeded in 1834 by General D. Manoel Oribe. The latter having thrown himself into the arms of Dictator Rosas, executed a revolution headed by Rivera in 1836: Oribe however held out till 1838, when despairing of success he resigned. Rosas refused to let him take this step, and thus began a campaign, a siege, and a civil war which lasted nine years. The Blancos fought under the banner of Oribe, the Colorados were led by Rivera, and the latter was assisted by the Republican rifi-raff of Europe. On this occasion Garibaldi organized his legion of 400, afterwards 800 " cooks," whose immense losses show how desperately they were handled. Rivera having collected some 5000 to 6000 men harried the country, and cannonaded his enemies out of Paysandii in about a week. He afterwards lost the decisive battle of India Muerta, and fled to the Brazil: he died in 1852 en route to Monte Video.
Standing in front of the Matriz we can see the hopeless attitude of the defenders of Paysandu, when it was last
212 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
attacked (December 5, 1864). On the river to the west lay the squadron of Admiral Tamandare_, and its fire did the most damage. Men say that only the strongest,, even threatening^ remonstrances made by the foreign gun-boats anchored off the Puerte de los Aguaderos, the French (senior), English, Italian, and Spanish, induced that officer to allow time for the women and children to escape. I hope to see this officially contradicted, for though Admiral Tamandare proved himself at first a mere faineant in the war, and afterwards a jealous opponent of the Commander-in- Chief Mitre, such a fletrissure should not be attached without ample reason to his name. On the northern heights were the ^^ rebel " batteries, commanded by General Flores and Colonels Caraballo (Carabajjo) and Goyo Suarez: the works were 400 metres long, and the flying artiller^^ could change position about the ridge-crest. The Brazilian General, Menna Barreto, occupied the southern flank of the doomed town, commanding the fords and passages, and completing the investment of the place: his head quarters were near the cemetery at San Solano, an underground salad ero built by an old Jesuit of that name. General Netto had also joined Flores with 1400 men: the total of the allied forces is estimated at 12,000 men, and the site of Paysandu is, as I have said, a perfect ball-trap.
The Commandante General al Norte del Rio Negro, Colonel D. Leandro Gomez, had charge of the defence. He was a noted Blanco, and brother of the Minister of War, Andres A. Gomez. Having been compelled by a council, of whom eighteen voted against twelve, to evacuate Salto, he was instructed by his party to hold Paysandu till the last, and daily to expect reinforcements. The notorious D. Juan Saa, an old lieutenant of Urquiza, and popularly known as " Lanza Seca,"^ was directed to march with 2500 men upon the beleaguered town. After crossing the
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 213
E/io Negro he contented himself with observing the out- posts of Colonel Caraballo^ and he retired whenever General Flores went out to meet him. D. Leandro Gomez^ nothing daunted, threw up battery and barricade, loopholed houses, placed arms in the hands of all the adults, and more than once thought of compelling the foreigners to fight. And he kept his ]900 men at work till only 500 or 600 of them were left alive. D. Lucas Piris, a sturdy, broad-faced old man also fell, and a similar fate awaited the third in com- mand.
The twenty-eight days^ siege ended with fifty-two hours of tremendous fire, and Paysandu fell at 7 a.m. on Jan. 2, 1865. Lieut.- Colonel Thompson asserts (Chap. II.) that the Brazilians treacherously entered the town under a flag of truce, and it is generally understood that all was not fair and above board. But the author of the "War in Paraguay" is not justified in throwing the blame of Leandro Gomezes murder upon the Brazilian officers; he has been misin- formed about the " indiscriminate massacre of the women and children of the place -/' and he cannot correctly assert that " the taking of Paysandu, with the atrocities com- mitted there, form a revolting page in the history of Brazil.^' On the other hand the Brazil had as little reason to boast about having conquered a place " so strongly gar- risoned and guarded by secure trenches.^" (Relatorio of the Minister of War, p. 3, 1865.)
The truth is this. D. Leandro Gomez and his sur- viving officers were being marched down the street by Brazilian soldiers, who were taking him to their Chief. Admiral Tamandare had been waited upon by an English resident, Mr. Richard Hughes, and that officer in reply to a request that the gallant defender's life might be spared, replied that he had orders from his government so to do. Meanwhile Gomez was demanded by the Colorados, his
214 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
enemies^ and was still retained by his captors; at the second time of asking he exclaimed^ " I go with my countrymen'^ (mis paisanos)^ and he insisted upon passing over to the Orientals. Thereupon his only companion, the plucky little Commandant e Braga also cried out, " E yo con mi jeute." They were placed for an hour or so in a ground- floor room of No. 55, Calle Orientales, at whose corner is the Maua Bank, not, as is generally supposed, in the blue shattered house opposite the Gefatura. It is said that during this nervous interval Gomez showed some sign of fear â€” not so Braga. At length both were taken out and shot against the eastern wall of the compound. Their corpses were thrown into the general ditch, whence they are supposed to have been rescued for the purposes of a monument.
This cold-blooded murder, for such it is, was generally attributed to D. Gregorio (Goyo) Suarez, third in command of the Oriental forces, and subsequently Minister of War and rebel. The vendetta is, moreover, said to have been the result of an old private feud, Gomez having once struck the mother of Suarez: if the tale be true, such brutality con- siderably dims the lustrous gallantry and devotion that fought against such overwhelming odds. Of course there are two opinions about Leandro Gomez: his party holds him a martyr, his enemies a scelerat. He appears to have been a " Caudil" of a better sort; he read Humboldt and he had a taste for books and natural history. His medallion makes him a good-looking man, with a somewhat pensive cast of countenance, and chiefly distinguished by an enor- mous "goatee" and mustachios. His death caused great ex- citement among his friends at Monte Video, who threatened to kill the President D. Atanacio Aguirre. And popular feeling was outraged by the treatment of the prisoners, who were forcibly enlisted into the Colorado or rebel army.
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 215
Hardly had Paysandu recovered from the horrors of war when it was attacked by cholera (1867), and such was the panic that sundry patients were buried alive. It is now, despite " pronanciamentos*' and internal feuds, a thriving little city, the seat of an Alcalde Ordinario, who can decide causes to the extent of $3000, and who will soon make way for a Juez letrado. It has its photographer, its college, and its two banks, the Maua and the Italian. The former has just built the best house in the place, and the ground, sold for $15 only twenty- two years ago, now fetches $7000 per half lot. The resident foreign mechanics make good furni- ture, even door-springs, which cannot be manufactured at Monte Video. The imports are dry and wet goods. The exports are the produce of cattle bred in the neighbourhood, and supplying each saladero with about 40,000 head per annum. Sheep are still rare, the pasture has not yet been fitted for them.
I spent a few pleasant days amongst the resident foreigners of Paysandu. Messrs. Tippet and Serra, engaged on the town-survey, supplied me with all details required by a traveller. M. Serra is a civilized Brazilian, brought up in Europe and speaking six languages fluently; he has lost all that unpleasant look and that aggressive manner of the home bred, which seem to say " Nao hai como nosotros,^' and which rouse the bile of every stranger. To his brother, an employe in the Maua Bank, I am indebted for much information and for sundry photographs of Paysandu. Mr. Kennedy, the son of an Englishman here settled as librarian, and M. Legar, the French pharmacien, had witnessed the siege, and enabled me to compile an account of it. Mr. Thomas O^Connor and his two brothers showed me their salting-house, and as it works only between December and July, they put a bullock through the machinery to illustrate what 400 or 500 head undergo per diem. I was astonished
216 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
to find that here and elsewhere the blood is allowed to waste. Passed through a sieve,, dried in vacuum pans^ powdered and bottledj it would supply the red globules, which in ten- grain doses have been found so beneficial in Germany and elsewhere.
I saw but little of native society at Paysandu^ and common report did not induce me to see more. The Girl of the Period at home would marvel at the life which her sister is contented to lead in these latitudes of the '^'^dol drums. ^"^ The Sandusera^ who perhaps is pretty, rises and dons her morning wrapper at 8 a.m., when she indulges in a little ablution, but no toilette. She drinks mate, puffs a secret cigarette, and bestares the street till breakfast time â€” 11 a.m. or noon. The siesta relieves her of her ennui till 3 p.m., after which mate again acts as an eye-opener. Then com- mences the serious business of the toilette; its object is to stroll about the streets and to pay long visits, where more mate is consumed. The only talk is of dress, flowers, and the private affairs of friends, acquaintances, and the town. A man who does not deliver himself of a compliment like a pistol shot a brule pourpoint at every second sentence is not a ^^ Caballero,^^ at any rate he is a bore. Dinner at dark, more ridiculous conversation, perhaps tobacco with a dif- fusible stimulant, and bed about midnight.
I also visited some of the estancias south of Paysandii â€” first, the Rincon del Cangue, belonging to the late Mr. Plowes, and managed by Dr. Gibbings. The house is com- fortable, but bald of wood, wanting the garden-ground and the monte that surround the country houses of the Buenos Aires province. Thence we rode over to La Paz, the estate of D. Ricardo Hughes: the tenement is far more picturesque than usual, the Eucalyptus gum flourishes, and the Passion- flower creeper clothes the walls. The host had resided for some years in Paraguay before the war, and had sketched
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 217
the country in a useful map. He believed devoutly, as indeed does my excellent friend, Mr. G. Lennon Hunt, H.B.M.'s Consul, Rio de Janeiro, in Baliia Blanca as the future port of Buenos Aires. The population there will be white, ignoring the mixed breeds, that curse of the older settlements. The climate is excellent, and the " Indian^^ tribes, more like Germans than Patagonians, hospitably harboured our unfortunate Welsh colonists, and gave them cattle to save them from starvation.
From La Paz I went to see Mr. Henley^s flax, and found the owner drinking cold mate, which is generally held to be an emetic. The agriculturist never can forget what he has learned at home; the richest soil with the sunniest exposure had been chosen, and the seed which had become hot here produced poorly, there refused to grow, and where the yield was good it had fed the ants. The people say there is poison in these grounds, which have lain fallow since the days of their creation. The fact is, that its over- luxuriance, its '^ sourness'^ or superabundance of humic and ulmic acid, require previous correction. The readiest way is to sow a few crops of maize and to burn down the stubbles, spreading the ashes over the surface. Also it might be advisable to treat the soil with ^' tosca,-*^ which is here highly calcareous, as the presence of shells proves. There is little doubt that Mr. Henley will succeed, as far as flax-growing, but whether he prospers or not is question- able. I saw the remnants of the English colony which he had brought out. The unhappies had been for some time crowded together eighteen in one room. They had been fed daily with beef, which in England they saw perhaps on Sundays. Consequently, out of forty-one, eighteen died^ mostly of dysentery, and others, especially the women, sought their fortunes elsewhere. I rode past a few of them employed in field labour, and their surly hang-dog looks,
218 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
and sickly, pallid, ague-stricken faces told me how little the climate suited them.
Having time to spare, and my feet "itching for a journey/-' I resolved to visit Salto, the terminus of Uruguay navigation. The river in this section becomes exceedingly picturesc le. After passing a neat, clean Swiss colony which shows signs of roads, we find on the left bank those sandstone blufis that have made travellers compare Father Uruguay with Father Ehine. A flat table, surrounded by rock precipices, falling into an earthslope, and brought up by thick dwarf forest below, is pointed to us as the " Mesa de Artigas.^^ Tradition declares that the wild potentate, D. Pepe, who is described by all the travellers of the day, used here to cut his prisoners^ throats and toss them from the plateau into the water. On both shores now begins a wealth of limestone; it is, however, hard as marble and expensive to burn. Frequent arroyos divide the fine grazing grounds, and the lomas or uplands are tasselled with the Coquito palm.
Presently we sight on both sides of the river the normal white sheet that argues a settlement. The right bank supports Concordia of Entre Rios; opposite it, in the Banda Oriental, lies Salto, " the Cascade," whose site is similar to that of Paysandii. Nor will the town require description. It has a pier, a Custom-house, three long parallel streets ex- tending up the ridge, a main square, a Matriz, poor and yellow â€” the Saltefios appear more busy in temporal than in spiritual matters. The Hotel de la Concordia, kept by one Diogo Zavala; an upper square; a Maua^s bank, pre- sided over by the courteous M. Queque; and an office of the Morgan Company, Limited (sample-rooms of salted beef, 48, Oldhall Street, London), where J). Kicardo Williams is the ruler.
Salto was blockaded by the Brazilian Commodore, Joa
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 219
quim Jose Pinto, with four guuboats, besides the steamer Gualeguay carrying the Oriental flag. The garrison burnt the steamer Villa del Salto in order to prevent her falling into the hands of the invaders; and accuses the latter â€” I know not with what truth â€” of firing into the utterly de- fenceless town large guns and congreve rockets. The foreign residents severely blame Lieut. -Commander Notts, H.M.'s gunboat Sheldrake, for going to coal at Paysandu during their hour of difficulty, and headed by Mr. Williams, formed a deputation and prayed D. Leandro Gomez to re- tire from a place which he could not protect. In early December, 1864, he yielded Salto without a blow to General Flores, and marching south to Paysandu, he presently found a grave.
After inspecting Salto I did the same service to Con- cordia of Entre Rios. The town is neat and pretty, the gardens are well kept, and the Campo is fertile and pic- turesque. I bore a letter for the Brazilian Consul, a Portuguese, who had forgotten his mother tongue: he was perforce circumspect; he spoke under breath, and when he talked of anything that might be construed politically he looked around shuddering as though a bogie had been in the room. Even the boatmen on the river trembled at the name of General I Jr quiz a, and doubtless by his order arbi- trarily made the dollar worth eight instead of ten rialo.
A comparison between the settlements places Salto at least fifty years in advance of her neighbour. The former has besides the usual public buildings, its own Steam Navi- gation Company â€” the Compania Salteiia â€” it has made its pier, it is finishing its Custom-house, and it proposes to run as far as Sta. Rosa a railway around the rapids which disconnect it, as the name denotes, with the upper Uruguay. Concordia is lively, morally and physically, as Herculaneum and Pompeii.
220 UP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
Here we see the cause of republicanism^ of democracy, practically pleaded against that of despotism_, of alien rule. The former^ in this home of six-monthly revolutions^ in this theatre of battle, murder, and sudden death, in a society afflicted by a chronic acephalous disorder, and by exaspera- tions of the most savage anarchy, and where the citizen is unprepared either by education, by civilization, by tradition, or by civic virtues for self-rule and for the choice of his rulers, Salto, I beg to say, prospers, progresses, goes ahead. On the other hand Concordia, governed according to ancient principles, schooled to order, and disciplined into propriety, falls out of the race of life: the hand of a self-imposed ruler weighs heavy upon it; it sleeps, it swoons, it dies. We are encouraged by the experience of these two rival villages to believe in that future which is now mainly in the hands of poets, in the universal Republic, in the Fede- ration of peoples, and in the absolute self-rule which a progressive race will presently demand as its birthright.
The rapids above Salto are hardly passable during the dries. About mid-October cruisers cross them, but they must presently return, under pain of confinement to the upper river till the next year's flood. Admiral Tamandare was fortunate in passing over his four gunboats in August, 1865. Here the best agates of commerce (chalcedonies) are found, and about 200 tons are yearly exported to Havre and Antwerp: they occur detached or embedded in the amygdaloid, adhering to the hard sandstone like butter to bread. The noble quartzes appear in water-rolled pebbles, large and small; there is the amethyst, the true agate, jas- per, cornelian, onyx, sardonyx, and jet: sign of diamonds is also not wanting. All these come from the highlands of the Brazil, and are identical with the formations of the great Kio de Sa5 Francisco. Amongst them are perfect petrifactions of tree trunk, bark, and heart, wood silicified
UP THE URUGUAY RIVER. 221
by iufiltration: similarly petrified cowhorns are said to be found on the upper Parana. Much of the sandstone grit is blackened and polished by the force of the rapids, iron-revetted like the rocks in many of the West African and east South American rivers. In the great Platine valley, I found the crust only here.
My desire to see Uruguayana and the upper Uruguay was thwarted by circumstances. The roads were knee deep in mud, and the weather was detestable, now seething with sun and mist, then raw and damp with the south wind and Gariia, the river fog. The river was falling ra- pidly, the wretched little steamer Chata or raft which was detached to make the passage, had been forced back to repair an injury done by the nearest rapid, and no one ex- pected her to make her destination, whilst M. Rivas, the owner, crowded her with passengers, and demanded uncon- scionable fares. I therefore took heart of grace, and merrily returned to Buenos Aires.
Uruguayana, a fourth-rate Brazilian town in the Upper Uruguay, won a name for itself during the last Paraguayan war. Here fell to pieces the Corps d^Armee of the east, which Marshal-President Lopez had despatched under Colonel Estigarribia, to sweep the riverine valley, and to effect a junction with the western column. The Paraguayan leader had made the fatal mistake of leaving one-third of his forces on the right bank of the stream, which now^here allows communication without boats; and this second divi- sion of 2500 men, under Colonel Duarto, was annihilated with the exception of 300 prisoners by the 13,000 allies, on 17th August, 1865, at the Battle of Yatay (the Brazilian Jatahy). On June 11, the Paraguayan cause had been greatly shaken by the defeat of her navy at Riachuelo, and Colonel Estigarribia found it advisable to fall back upon Uruguayana. This town was presently invested by the
222 tJP THE URUGUAY RIVER.
Allies, and in due time, at 4 p.m. on September 18, the Paraguayan garrison, numbering without the sick 5103 officers and men, or a total of 6000, surrendered to His Imperial Majesty of the Brazil, who was accompanied by his sons-in-law their RR.HH. the Comte d^Eu and the Due de Saxe. The spoils of victory included 7 standards, 6 bouches a feu, 5000 stand of arms, 231,000 cartridges, and an altar with its furniture.
Thus in defeat and disgrace ended the corps of the Uruguay, and the first phase of the Paraguayan campaign, the aggressive. Adieu.