174 COLONEL TUPPER.
than nature, it is a place of great strength, capable of resisting any
ordinary means of attack The town of Castro lies on the
east side, between which and the main are scattered an archipelago of smaller islands, about eighty in number, all inhabited, and the greater part even more susceptible of a ready cultivation than their principal, Chiloe, which is nearly one uniform dense forest of immense trees. The export trade consists of hams, lard, and timber Hogs are numerous Fish is good and abun- dant. Of shell fish, more especially, there is a surprising variety, on which, with potatoes, and the bucha, or rock weed, the indigent
classes subsist The north winds blow long and heavily during
the winter season, and rain, often in torrents, prevails more or less the greater part of the year
" The population of San Carlos and Castro, including the garri- son of the former, is computed at about eleven thousand ; the total of all the islands a hundred thousand.* The inhabitants, principally Creoles, descended from Spaniards and natives, with some few of the aborigines, are a strong, active, and well formed race.
"The Chilotes are brave, and make better soldiers than others along the coast. AVhen I last visited the island, in 1828, they mustered fourteen thousand able bodied men,* enrolled by Quinta-
nilla as militia In the time of the royalists, a large garrison
was kept up, which was regularly paid from the royal treasury at Lima.
" Conception, or Penco, for the goodness of its port, (Talca- huano,) the salubrity of its climate, and the fertility of the neigh- bouring district, is superior to every other part of Chile, and, in my
opinion, much to be preferred as the site of its capital
Conception is rapidly increasing in trade and importance, promising, ere long, to become one of the most flourishing sea port towns in South America Plenty of good coal is found in the neigh- bourhood, as well as materials for brick and lime. The anchorage of this magnificent bay, extending from one extreme to the other a distance of five miles, and sheltered by the fine island of Quin- quina, is excellent ; the shores abound with shell fish, and the muscles in particular, large and fat, are held in much estimation.
" Between Conception and Valparaiso is the river and port of Maule, the ingress and egress to which are rendered difficult by a bar formed of the drifting sand, that often shifts the course of the channel, which however is always sufficiently deep fur vessels of
- These numbers are evidently over-rated. — Ed.