Letters from the Battlefields of Paraguay/Letters 9-12

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LETTEE IX.

UP THE PARANA RIVEE TO ROZARIO.

August 20, 1868. My dear Z ^

At Buenos Aires the Yi received on board the wife and daughter of General D. Juan A. Gelly y Obes, Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine Contingent — I can hardly call it ^' forces'^ or " army.^^ We had also M. Artui'o de Marcoartu_, C.E.^ a Spaniard,, who proposes the railway from Salto on the Lower, to Santa Rosa on the Upper Uruguay. Among the tripsters was D. Hector F. Varela, notable amongst the numerous and highly distin- guished family of that name : after playing a prominent and pugnacious part at a certain Peace Congress, he was compelled by a duel to quit France hurriedly, and now after holding a variety of high offices he writes in the Tribuna of Buenos Aires. I have to thank him for assisting me in my studies of Paraguay. We also carried D. Segundo Floresj the third son of the murdered President, going, it was reported, to obtain a contract for clothing the Brazilian troops. Good-looking and much resembling the portraits of his father, he was an intelligent youth, speaking good English and French, in manner rather shy, and little show- ing what a tiger he can be when his blood is up. We often met afterwards, and I enjoyed his society — '^ c^etait une nature,^' as Goethe used to ask in his old age. Many other notabilities had promised to assist at the steamer '^'^func- cion,'^ but they failed when it came to the point : a loose-


224 UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO.

ness in keeping engagements seems hereabouts to be a chronic disorder.

The delta proper^ or to speak more correctly, the paral- lelogram of the Parana river^ has a base line of thirty miles subtending the embouchure of the Uruguay, and forming the minor estuary of the Plate, which connects itself with the ocean by means of the larger fluvial estuary and the sea-gulf. The apex, Diamante, below which offsets the Rio Paranancito, lies 178 direct miles from the mouth, and thus the true delta would contain some 5350 square geographical miles. There are several false deltas, especially that formed by the Ibicuy or upper waters of the Parana Guazu, which leaves the Parana de las Palmas at Villa Constitucion. A smaller division still is bounded by the Parana Guazu and the Parana de las Palmas with the little town of S. Pedro for its apex.

There are two chief lines of navigation up the delta of the Parana. The course that lies straight ahead from the outer roads, and best fitted for small steamers and sailers drawing five to six feet, is the Parana de las Palmas, classic waters so called in 1526 by their first navigator, Cabot, of Bristol, who explored them with a caravel and three little ships. In these days its palms are too rare to give it a name; at least, we shall not see them till some way up. You run down the northern railway, twenty-one miles long, to the Tiger's foul stream, where certain wealthy citizens have built handsome country houses, and where dwarf docks, shipbuilding yards, a railway station, workhouses and offices are beginning to procreate a town. The Tiger's river is about ten years old — the English boat-club has known it for seven or eight years. A sudden freshet made it take the place of its south-western neighbour, the Rio de las Conchas mentioned by all old travellers ; and like the latter^ it feeds the Rio de Lujan, alias Corpus Christi. After a


UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO.


225


few yards you strike this Lujan — a stream rising indepen- dently of, but falling into, the Parana.* Here we are

  • Itinerary by South American Pilot (Part I,, taken from Captain

Mouchez) : —


Miles.

52 150

185 218 310


Buenos Aires to Boca del Guazu ..... S. Pedro (First Delta) ....

„ S. Nicolas

„ Rozario ......

„ Parana (Guazii to Parana, 256, Sullivan)

„ La Paz 392

Goya 517

„ Bella Vista 566

„ Corrientes (Guazii to Corrientes, 322, Sullivan) 635 „ Mouth of Paraguay River (18 miles from Cor- rientes) 653

„ Humaita 676

„ Neembucii 702

,, Asuncion (77 metres, 252-3 feet, above sea level) 865

By Captain Page of Waterivitch, 1860 :—

statute miles.

Buenos Aires to M. Garcia . 45

the Guazii 24

S. Pedro 88

S. Nicholas 40

Obligado 10

Rozario 54

San Lorenzo 14^

Mouth of the Carcarana .... 22

Diamante 67

Parana ,36

La Paz 102

Goya 145

Bella Vista 53

Corrientes 87

Cerrito 18

Salto del Apipe, terminus of Parana navigation, 780 miles. To the

Salto de Paraguay, 1070.

Table by Thomas Aylen, Master H.M.S. Ardent, 1861 :—

Buenos Aires to Martin Garcia Boca del Guazii S. Piedro Obli-ado S. Nicholas Las Piedras Rozario S. Lorenzo

Diamante (Second Delta) Parana ....


Miles.

45 14 103 11 40 11 40 23 70 46

403


15


226 UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO.

amongst the " Isleria/^ or Islandry proper^ and the caracols or windings of the mouths : scenery which owes to Presi- dent Sarmiento what Laura did to Petrarch. The proprie- torship — a more material matter — is still a moot point between the National and Provincial Governments. 1 after- wards visited these waters in company with the President,, and I can well understand why the " Archipelago of Cara- pachay^"* was called " Tempe Argentina.^^

From the Lujan, whose bar is shallow, we sight the ships lying off S. Fernando, and the white houses on the green " barranca"*^ here at its highest, thirty- five metres. Thence we run up the wonderfully tortuous Arroyo del Capitan, a vein some 100 yards wide, with occasional openings and outlets to starboard, which show the main stream, a muddy Mediterranean. It reminds me of the Whydah Lagos Lagoon subtending the Slave Coast in all the terrible beauty of Africa. Here and there the resemblance is increased by a wretched road, fronted and backed by swamp, with canoes, the horses of the country, ready to aid in escaping from hostile floods. After nearly four hours amongst the islands of the Parana, a garland of emeralds like " Insulind^ formed by cross cuts passing between main lines of dis- charges, our steamer debouches from the Capitan vein into the main artery, Parana of the Palms, here three to four miles broad with the jump of a sea. At the mouth it is 4*50 metres deep, but it shallows rapidly at Praya Honda, where it is fit only for ships of light draughts, and that only in the best state of water and weather. Another four hours-' spell shows on the right bank La Campana, ^the bell.^' Below the high talus is a big shed, a saladero, buried in a wealth of willows, and above it rise the large and handsome white house and Estancia of the ex-MinisterD.Eduar do Costa. Higher up is Zarate, a mead fringed with the salix, and a half-finished dwarf pier for landing a few passengers, the


UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO. 227

houses being concealed behind the water-slope. After this point comes S. Pedro^ where the Parana de las Palmas anastomoses with the Parana Guazii.

The Yi will run up this " Guazu/^ as it is familiarly called. I will first attempt to explain something of the delta formation. The general opinion of the older travellers makes this ringe of the Pampas the easternmost limit of a southern Gulf of Mexico. The limits of this great estuary, a rough quadrilateral, would be Cape S. Antonio to the south-east, Patagonia to the south (limit unknown), westward the line of the Andes, and northwards the Chiquitos country, and the water - sheds which divide the basins of the Amazons and the Plate. Thence the outline would pass eastward of the Xarayes swamps and follow the great spinal cordillera of Paraguay. South of Villa Rica it would trend eastward, embracing the valley of the Parana proper as far as the Salto de la Guayra, and to the south south-east the valley of the Uruguay would complete the circuit. Thus the length would be 1920 geographical miles (betweeu south latitudes 17° and 49°), and the breadth 600 miles (from 58° to 68° longitude) west of Paris. The total area is 1,152,000 square miles — nearly half of South America. This vast estuary is supposed to have been an inland sea with rocky islands, such as the Sierras of Cordoba and S. Luis, gradually warped up by the washings of the Andes and the other highlands, while the ground grew under the influence of secular elevation and deposition. But M. A. Bravard {" Geo- logic des Pampas,^^ a work unhappily incomplete) explains the so-called Pampasian alluvium by atmospheric and terrestrial causes. Secular upheaval produced a shallower sea — upon which sand dunes formed a floor, and subsequently the dust and volcanic ashes were transported by the Pampero builder from the Andes and the arid regions to the west,

15—2


228 UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO.

and were consolidated by the torrential lowland and sea- board rains. Lest dust be considered an inadequate cause, he quotes the instance of a single storm at Buenos Aires which, after a few hours, covered the verdure with a cloak one inch thick.

South of the Parana de las Palmas is the Parana Mini (the Minor Parana) — a middle line very little used. It is represented in maps to be a mere branch of the third great southernmost arm, the Parana-Guazu.

On Monday (August 17) the Yi, not yet in light marching order, zigzagged and staggered across the north-western edge of the outer roads, avoiding the city bank ; turned slowly to the north-east, and lastly made northing for Martin Garcia, the historic islet. Drawing six to seven feet when at anchor and nine when driven, she ploughed up waves of liquid mud, and rollers, breakers, and billows of mire followed in her wake till she was obliged to anchor. Mr. Crawford, her engineer, swore that one should travel up such a river upon a pair of stilts. This water, heavily charged with detrital matter and arrested by the action of the sea stroke, forms the land-banks and islets of dark mud, fringing the once mighty estuary now a prairie. When we reach the true river, we shall find on both sides a glacis defining the bed, and above Corrientes the absence of a marked riverine valley will strike us as something new.

We run too far west to distinguish anything but the rolling outlines of the Ban da Oriental or eastern shore, along which we coasted when ascending the Uruguay river. These ^Homas^^ will presently reproduce themselves behind Angostura, and form the slopes where the last great battles were fought. We are compelled to steam close by the western or fortified side of Martin Garcia. After running ten miles more we are right opposite Las Bocas, the mouths of the Parana ; but we do not relish entering them at night.


UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO. 229

especially with a bad norther. In front is the gigantic Uruguay, an '^ aber/' showing almost a sea horizon, and its capes and distances are dots based apparently upon the wave. We therefore anchor off the Boca del Guazii some 170 miles from the sea.

On the next morning, a Niebla or Cerrazon, a warm fog, kept us fast to our mud-hook. In autumn — April and thereabouts — it usually lifts at 8 a.m. ; in the cold season, as at present, it lasts till 11 a.m., and longer still on the upper stream. We presently make play and enter the Boca, which is half a mile wide, presently bulging out to 3000 yards — thirty cuadras, the passengers say, for here distance is counted by squares ; and lastly, settling down to 500 yards. The soundings at the entrance show 7*50 metres; this, therefore, is evidently the main line. We cast curious looks over the smooth, currentless expanse at the far-famed Islands of the Parana. Still flooded at high tides, it is a riverine Archipelago, formed by Arroyos and Arroyitos, Riachos and Cafiadas or hollows, as harsh a view at this moment as any on the coast of Essex. The typical growths are the poplar and the weeping willow (Sauce de Lloron), both transplanted from the Old World, and right curiously they contrast. The former, here as elsewhere announcing a set- tlement, stands up in the stiffest and thinnest of perpen- dicular lines, gaunt, pruned out of all semblance to the trees of Touraine, and dark with sombre metallic green. The willow bends and droops by the tall tree's side, every line is curved and prone, every motion is soft and languid, the very music of the leaves is a whisper, not a rustle, and all are now drawing on their spring coats of light and feathery green. The " Sauce,"' which forms one quarter of the woody vegetation of the Arctic zone, extends from this latitude to Patagonia, where it occupies about the same rank ; further north it will make way for tropical growth. There are several


230 UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO.

kinds — the useless Lloron^ introduced^ it is said^ by the Jesuits ; the Colorado or red_, which gives good timber ; the Mimbre or osier^ useful for withies ; and the white or in- digenous species^ which has congeners on the Amazons and the S. Francisco (Salix Humboldtiana). Their exposed roots caused the South American Pilot (i. 5_, 180) to discover '^impenetrable mangroves" in the delta of the Parana; but here the salt water does not, despite Commodore Jack Trunnion, extend; consequently there are no "forests of the sea." The largest growth — not very tall, for the wind, the great leveller, cuts them down — is that leguminous and papilionaceous erythrina, the Ceibo, which foreigners, mis- taking for Cebo, mistranslated " tallow-tree." At present it is a mere system of woody spikes, forming gigantic brooms ; in October or November it will be aflame with bright embers of bloom, and then it will be dressed in the burnished leaves that suggest the North American " fall." The Lianas, here called " Loconte," and in Chile " Boqui," appear like climbers upon hop-poles ; presently these creepers and air- plants will beautify old age and skeletons, and will turn death into life.

At another season we shall find all the brown grown green. Orchard follows orchard of apple, pear, quince, and the wild dm^azno or peach, which wants only grafting and training ; its tender pink blossoms contrast well with the black-green poplars, with the grey-green of the young- white willows, with the darker foliage of the older salix, with the leek green of the weeping willow, and with the metallic greens and burnished tints of the less known growths. There is the orange, fast returning to its original type ; despite the fade and somewhat bitter taste, the fruit is made into cooling drinks, and was at one time gathered like the peach for the Buenos Aires market. As the clearings in the higher levels and the smoke rising from the


UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO. 231

far inland sliow, the present is the time for the charcoal burner. He must lead a wild kind of campaigning life, ever in heavy marching order, carrying with him all his belongings, exposed to every manner of insect plague, worse than the 'Higer" or the aboriginal " Indian,^' and perpetually battling with chills and fevers : yet these squatters must represent a fair item in an islanders popu- lation laid down at 2000.

On the edges of streams appear various aquatic plants, suggesting that the country could grow rice for a continent. The " eunco,^ with papyrus-like head, is of two kinds, large and small, the Piri and the Piripiri of the Brazil. The ' Camalote'^ or pistia stratiotes, called the Aguape further north, veils the water with fat, liliaceous leaves, supporting the flower stalks. Hence the " Camalotes,^^ or floating islets, at times scattered over the river ; there are legends of '^tigers^^ and wild beasts being floated down by them into civilization — I never saw any that could compare with those of the Benin river. Along the lower reach are fields of rush and flag, inundated every year, and determined by the extent of the flood. Higher levels produce the Flechilla or arrow-grass, whose stems and seed-sheaths, matting the fleece, are odious to the sheep farmer. There is the " Paja Colorada^^ or red grass, with floss-like panicles, the Paja Cartadera or cutting grass, which is the true grass of the Pampa, and the Paja Brava or Totora, terms applied to many different species. The white plumes of the stiff" cane, whose tasselled head rises ten feet high, and the green leaves that gracefully droop about its base, recommend this " Pampas grass^^ to the ornamental grounds of England, where, however, it is useless. Here strange cattle refuse the rank growth, whilst those accustomed to such fodder thrive upon it. Captain Page says that it is common in eastern Virginia. Throughout these latitudes it belts the streams


232 UP THE PAUANA UIVER TO ROZARIO.

and extends deep into the Pampas^ always following, I believe, the watercourses; and we shall find it high up on the Parana and the Paraguay.

The channel winds wonderfully, to the east, to the south, and to the north-west. Rival channels abound, and we often see far beyond the monte-bush, to our right and left, ships'* sails passing up over land like the sailing waggons of the Seres. When the waters are out, temporary cross-cuts, as on the great Rio de Sao Francisco, enable boats to cruise across country. The riverine edges wax higher as we advance, and whilst one side grows grass the other becomes tree-clad ; higher up, this formation will assume larger and more distinct proportions.

From this lower bed the larger animals, so common up stream, have of late been frightened away ; the fish to breed in the tributaries and the less disturbed parts ; and little life save aerial remains. At rare times a bullet head pro- truded from the water and at once withdrawn denotes the " Nutria,-'-' indifferently described as an otter, a seal, or a sea-wolf. The shag, plotus, or divsr, is of two kinds, one dingy brown, the other black with white-tipped wings and a plume that commends itself to what wears bonnets. They gaze at us with extended necks and ^'^boV down stream, in remarkable contrast with the hunchbacked, motionless Mirasol or white crane, standing one-legged and meditative on the bank, and with the Socoboi, the large ash-coloured heron, roaring like a bull because we dare to disturb him. Ducks are rare, and yet August is the height of the shooting season. Wild pigeons are common before this month ; the Paloma torcaza (properly torquaz or torquated) is large as a blue rock, and the toroassita equals the ringdove. There are swallows, red orioles (sangre de boi) ; " Calandrias-'^ or singing thrushes, the Sabias of the Brazil ; black thrushes ; pajaritos de las animas, and two red-crested " Cardinals,-'


IP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO. 233

large and small. Amongst the hawks appears the ^^Carancha/' the Brazilian " Caracara/^ an ignoble but clever and versatile bird, ranking with the eagle, but feeding like the carrion crow ; ready to fish, to combine in hunting away the black vulture, in pulling down a crane, and in carrying off a chicken ; it will dig its dying talons so deeply into the offending hand that the shank must be cut off before it loosens hold. And everywhere the skeleton trees are whitened by the roosting of '^ Cuervo,^^ the turkey-buzzard.

No eastern limits has the delta nor occidental either till 4.15 P.M., when looking to the west we descry sign of a true coast, low but rising above the trees, and rolling far away to the south. This barranca^^ or bank, which, hem- ming in the stream, controls its floods, is straight-lined, with level summit, here green, there bare, and its wall-like surface is in places broken by blue clumps of trees. The water-cut talus or slope seems formed of sand or clay, with here and there patches of bush : it appears in the form of cliffs and headlands, scarps and slopes, double and compound dis- tances, which refresh the eye wearied by the flatness of the rushy grassy sea stretching in all other directions. As we pass the " Cancha '^ or Reach of S. Pedro, at the head of the first or smallest delta, we see from the hurricane-deck the glittering steeple, and the tall whitewashed ridge-roofed church of Baradero ; the name " place, where ships go aground (barar}, or are careened," suggests the Varadouro of the Brazil. The hamlet has its bit of history. In 1 580 D. Juan de Garay, the founder or restorer of Buenos Aires, divided amongst his followers, after killing the Chief Taboba, the lands taken from the warlike Querandis. It now owns a Swiss colony, concerning which I may refer you to Mr. Hutchinson.

After this came Obligado, memorable for the chain or rather for the three chains. Here Dictator Rosas opposed the English and French squadrons by a resilient structure


234 UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO.

composed of a one and a quarter incli chain amidships, flanked by two one-inch chains on each side, and floated across the channel upon thirteen pontoons formed of small dismasted vessels. Commodores Hotham and Trehouart sent, on Nov. 20, 1845, Lieutenants Hope (now Admiral Sir James Hope) and de la Morvonnais^^ (whose estancia we passed upon the Uruguay river), and after the fleet had suffered severely by being detained under batteries which could not be turned, the cold chisel soon opened a way. This " beau fait d'armes " is at this moment especially in- teresting ; we are bound for Paraguay, and we become curious about chains and booms.

Now we approach S. Nicolas de los Arroyos, 185 miles from Buenos Aires, and famed as the prettiest part of the stream. The bottom is here sandy not muddy, and there are few snags or sawyers, the rare driftwood being gene- rally carried towards the western shore into which the stream is now biting. The vegetation begins to change^ the '^ ceibo is finer though less common, and generally the leafage is larger. The left bank is low and flat : the right, tall and well raised, supports the townlet, which is limited by a creek on the north. All visible from the river is a string of new houses, mostly of brick and nearly finished : the lower town of S. Nicolas, in April, 1869, will be under water. Apparently all the traffic goes aquas arriba/^ none down ; big ships lie at anchor, other ships run up before the soldier's wind,-' and a steam-tug tows her three anchors, proud as a hen with chickens. The craft is of every kind, good, bad, and indifferent, all being equally fish to the war-makers, who prefer quantity to quality. At night the ships have an old habit of making fast to the trees, hence hoar and reverend jests put into the

  • I regret to see that English writers have chosen entirely to ignore

the part taken by our French allies in this gallant enterprise.


UP THE PARANA RIVER TO ROZARIO. 235

native mouth concerning the nightly repose on the Atlantic. The lights, yellow, red, and green, are almost as good an illumination as that of Buenos Aires. It is suggestive to see the mighty river so populous, thus illustrating what it will be two centuries hence, when the sounds of war shall have died away from its banks, and the sights from its memory.

Above S. Nicolas the stream spreads out some six miles : its peculiarity is that the deeper water lies near the two sides. Ships therefore brush the bush to avoid grounding, and to save the curves. We passed unconscious the Vuelta de Montiel, that great bend whose delays are so much feared by sailors. Again the river narrowed, whilst the bank rose to eighty feet, tunnelled and pierced like salt licks, by the Viscacha — where it exists — by the martin, and by the parroquet. Below the side -slopes animals gather to get shelter from the wind, and to chew the cud in the presence of water. The approach to the city is a big unfinished brick house, bald all about, a small Saladero, that kills its 150 beasts per diem.

At 2 A.M. we halted off Bozario in the swiftly rushing stream of two and a half to three knots. Here the river, about one mile wide, is very deep, and the ships often lose anchors : friction and other obstacles make the under-flow faster than the surface current in proportion of eight (or eight and a half) to four and three-quarters, or five. The fall of the Parana from Bozario to the Puerto de las Piedras (thirty-three miles) is seven feet four inches duly measured, and giving a declivity of two and three-quarter inches per mile. Similarly the Mississippi Biver, from the mouth of the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of 1200 miles, gives 275 feet, or two and a quarter inches per mile.

We must, I suppose, land at Bozario, if it only be to pay a visit to the Consul. His jurisdiction we are told extends no higher up. A tantot.


LETTER X.

ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA FE).

August 19, 1868. My dear Z j

The Spaniard writes Rozario and pronounces Rosario \ the Portuguese writes Rosario and pronounces Rozario.

After this etymological caution we may remark that the approach to the town is a shelf of hardened silt_, varying from 60 to nearly 100 feet high^ which is in fact the edge of the Parapasian formation. The outline viewed in perspec- tive is diversified by headlands and double distances,, escarp- ments and undercliffsj here grass-clad, forming compara- tively level downs like those of Dover; there dotted with tree clumps and single trees. The barranca or bluff-face is tunnelled by the parrot, and monte somewhat resembling our oak coppices clothes the sloping base that rests upon the wave. The left bank, low, flooded, and peculiarly dull- looking, is still Entre Rios, the Mesopotamia of Argentine- land.

The history and topography of Rozario have been so well and so frequently described, that I may without the imputation of idleness shirk the task. The main interest of the settlement is its prodigious growth. In 1850 it was a miserable hamlet of mud-huts sheltering 600 souls ; in 1852 it numbered 1500 to 2C00; in 1855 it had 6000; in 1857, 12,000. The census of 1858 gave it 13,826, and now its population cannot fall short of 25,000. Its importance arises from its position as a river port for the vast pro-


ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA YE). 237

vinces of the interior. It is also conuected by a coach- line with Mendoza^ which lies nearly in the same parallel ; and during the last four years it has thriven by the Para- guayan war, and by the railway being run towards Cordoba — a Central Illinois, which will presently make Rozario another Chicago.

And now, from being the commercial capital of the Argentine Confederation, it aspires to become the political. A bond fide Federal Washington or Rio de Janeiro is much wanted, and Hozario is a central site far superior in every way to Buenos Aires. Its promotion is ardently desired by the provinces, and the Deputy Quintana highly gratified them by introducing into Congress the following pro- ject :—

'^Art. I. The City of Rozario is declared Capital of the Republic, comprising the territory between the Arroyos Saladillo and Luduena, on the River Parana, with a league of inland depth.

"Art. 2. All public properties and establishments within the federalized territory become national property.

" Art. 3. The Executive shall have two years to prepare the necessary buildings for the national authorities, the latter meanwhile residing in the City of Buenos Aires.

" Art. 4. This law shall be submitted for acceptance of the Provincial Legislature of Santa Fe.^^

The bill was passed on September 18, 1868, by a majority of one — 20 to 19. Had there been a tie. President Mitre would have vetoed it. But Sor Tijedo, though opposed to the measure, left the Chambers without voting. President Sarmiento will doubtless stave off the measure during his term of office — six years. After that time Rozario will have the best of chances. Meanwhile, the value of land has at least trebled, and the Central Argentine Railway will presently make it independent of its big neighbour.


238 ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (sANTA FE).

and enable it to ship produce direct to Europe. Buenos Aires must bestir herself^ and nothing less than a direct railway to the Andes can enable her to retain her supremacy.

The landward-sloping talus of these tall riverine banks makes all the settlements seen from the stream appear small^ ragged, and scattered : viewed from the ridge they are large, and regularly laid out. The shape of Eozario is square, except where the river bed cuts off an angle. To the west there is a bad undrained swamp, which must have been a boon to the cholera : here the city thins out into scattered buildings, brick-kilns, and enclosures recently cultivated. The official plan gives seventeen streets parallel with, and fourteen perpendicular to, the stream. Of these many are still on paper, and all the interest of the town is concentrated in the eight cuadras,"" bounded north by the Playa or river side ; south, by Calle Cordoba, the Hegent Street; east by the Matriz, and west by the Calle del Puerto. Within this space is the theatre, lately burnt down ; the usual bull-baiting yard, the chief tennis court, the Club, the Post-office, the two Consulates, English and " American^^ (U.S.), the cafes de Paris and Orispe, acting local exchange, not to speak of " London^s cafe and re- staurant ;" the new house of Messrs. Dugued and Co., and the banks — London and River Plate, the Argentine, the Cabal and Co.-'s, and the Maua and Co.^'s.

The main square, " 25 de Maio,"^ gay with promenades on Sunday and Thursday evenings only, is that of the Ar- gentine country-town generally. The usual scaly and shabby Paraiso trees shelter new seats of cast-iron cleanly painted, and surround a column, upon whose summit stands Liberty like St. Simeon Stylites. But the deity, unlike the saint, wants an arm, and is otherwise much bruised and knocked about. The colours are wonderful; the pe-


ACTUALITIES OF ROZAllIO (SANTA FE). 239

destal is indigo blue, the cornice is dirty gamboge ycllow_, the basement is chocolate-coloured, and the four steps that lead up to it are mottled with chipping. Around it stands a small family of four young columns a quarter grown and headless : the busts which surmounted them have been injured and removed. A seedy iron railing and tipsy- looking lamps complete the monument, which reads a lesson in high art to the Rosarinos.

Facing the north of the main square is the new Gefatura, a tall and handsome building : it lacks, however^ the useful clock of the Buenos Aires Cabildo. The Matriz, whose two round white steeples of the pepper-castor order can be seen from the river, and make ns compliment Rozario upon not having too much church, is on the eastern side. Fronting west, and adjoining it to the north, is a low yellow building that acts as priests' quarters and police office. Nothing can be more hideous than this attempt at classical art, its plaster Ionic pillars, with intervals unknown to the gods or Vitru- vius. At 9.10 A.M. mass on Sundays and fetes the church is crammed. Men in the blackest of black suits stand bareheaded under that dreadful portico. The women — endimanchees — overwhelming society with superfluous dry goods, and dressed not to please the other sex so much as to displease their own, squat upon the floor. The first glance justified me in quoting

" Ugly church, ugly steeple, Ugly square, and ugly people."

The latter are mostly Chinos — don't mistake this for Chinese — uninteresting half-breeds, white-red, with here and there a flavour of Ham. China girls, tall and cleanly made, with fine long black hair, eyes like the llama's, luscious lips, and skins of bronze that show only one single tone, are ad- mirable in their early teens. Marriageable at thirteen, after the third lustre they devote themselves somewhat fanatically


240 ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (sANTA EE).

to the dulia of the jolly god^, now San Martin,, and the loving goddess of late called Mai dos Homens. They are " passed ^' at twenty, faded at twenty-five, and horribly old and hideous at thirty-five.

The " Sabbath^^ evening at Rozario passes somewhat less respectably than the morning. There is generally some ambu- lant company that hires a baiting-yard in the Calle de Cor- doba, and the citizens delight in fighting animals. Entering the circus-tent, which was dimly lit with a dozen tallow can- dles, we were obliged to take a box — chimney-pot hats may not sit in " vulgar " places. The entertainment began with the tumbling of a clown in white night-shirt, spotted with black wafers. Then came the man with the dancing bear, the supping bear, and the wrestling bear, that pretended to lose temper — all were of the small brown species. The bull-baiting was announced by prodigious excitement of the caninery that was fastened by staples and chains to heavy timbers in the yard behind the scenes : they were restless and noisy as boys on board a steamer. The baiteewas evidently an old soldier, a neatly made little bull, that sensibly kept its nose guarded by brass-tipped horns close to the ground, and cleverly tossed a succession of assailants. At length the clown shouted with efi'usion " Aqui el perro Inglez,"*^ and straightway bolted in, direct as a bee line, a vicious little brute with broad flat snaky head, somewhat bulkier than the rest of its person, mere screws of ears, a well scarred yellow-white coat that would have gained by scour- ing, and a villanous sidelong scowl, in which was visibly written ruffians dog. Its friend the bull received the rush in full front, and chucked it some yards away, when it was caught in an attendant's arms, and nondum satiatus was carried to bed, kicking for more fight. All this was pain- fully dull. More amusing and of course more barbarous were the next two acts, when the dogs were loosed at


ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA FE). 241

various animals_, especially at a pony and afterwards at a donkey. The latter was ridden by a pink-dressed monkey that at first sat well home in the saddle ; but as assailant after assailant came on, the hapless anthropoid rose higher and higher till the curtness of its coat became distinctly visible. Some of the dogs preferred the rider and received tolerably severe scratches, others flew at the monture, and that maligned animal the ass was in all duels the cleverer by half; skilfully avoiding exposure of the throat, which was protected by a broad leather band, it bit, it trampled, it kicked, it struck out with the forehand, all with the agility of the original zebra. The evening ended at the Cafe de Paris, Calle del Puerto ; it is the best in the place, but bad ventilation gives it the climate of the Gold Coast, and makes the stale tobacco-smoke hang heavy and lurid as a thundercloud.

Literature does not flouiish at Rozario — witness the " Aviso " of M. Vincent Verge, beginning —

" The undersigned (Phlebotomist approved), who lives in Port-street, No. 165, near the market, prevent the public that he hast just received a part of HamburgFs leeches,'^ &c.

Yet even in the balneal Etablissement of civilized Vichy we read —

" Sir Hirschler, Corn- Cutter and Pedicure to Her Ma- jesty the Emperor.^^

There are two local dailies. El Federalist a is politically affiliated to the Nacion Argentina of Buenos Aires in oppo- sition to President Sarmiento, the Editor, Sor Emilio Gomez, being a negroid. The other is La Capital^ whose redactor and editor, Sor Ovideo Lagos, was described to me as an Urqui- zista, and something worse. Rev. Mr. Carter, an American Missionary, emits the South American Monthly, a magazine suited to the most limited capacity, full of goody-goody

IG


242 ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA FE).

talk^ victorious polemique^ and a few apocryphal conversions. Finally^ there is a truly civilized Preqo Corriente published fortnightly by Carlos F. Gorsse in English and French, Spanish and Italian. El Cosmopolitano and El Ferro Carril are in abeyance, owing to the absence on a colonizing crusade of the sanguine and enterprising Canadian " D. Guillermo. Mr. Perkins, F.R.G.S., whom I have before mentioned, published at Rozario in 1867, the " Expedicion k El Rey en el Chaco,^^ giving an account of the settlements proposed by him. He has lately been writing in the Field. We will now follow the example of Rozario, which is being rapidly drawn by the railway out of town to the north-west. We skirt the river, turning off at the place where presently will be the new Hotel de la Paix, and where now is a mere ^'^ jumpery.^^ All the characteristic sounds of the American- Spanish town are here — bugles ad libitum, and eternal bells, which good taste should abolish, should banish to the Kingdom of Heaven. As the Brazilian settlement may be known by the Araponga, or bell bird, so the Platine is at once betrayed by the shrill scream of the Gallo calling out all his brother cocks. In places you will hear three grind-organs playing at once, and apparently the more they come the more are wanted. With great theoretical respect for the subject^s liberty, I practically would seize all such sturdy vagabonds and put them to honest labour. The hairless dog, whose parent stock came from the Sandwich Islands, is here common, though still rare further north. They somewhat resemble ugly, clumsy Italian greyhounds, and their leaden-grey skins are bald, except where a few bristles sprout, and the topknot and tail-tuft, which are sometimes white. These " Pelados" look unnatural among the canines, and the albinos are loathsome as white Negros. The people call them " Ee- medios^^ because they cure the rheumatics by sleeping


ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA FE). 243

upon the aflfected limb, and having no shelter for vermin they are applied to the feet in bed as warming pans or hot- water bottles. In out-of-the-way parts of the country women prefer them ^^ para extrahirlas la leche." The Gauchos of Rozario are peculiarly ugly and wild-looking; instead of boots and calzoncillos, the short Turkish drawers, they wear dirty-white ill-fitting stockings sandalled to the knee with the ribbons of the Spartelle or Basque sandal. Their montures are small, poor and ill-bred, heavy-barrelled and light-limbed, more like cows than horses ; they want a leavening of Arab or of English thorough-bred. The best by far are the Mendozinos, despite their exceedingly coarse crests, ponderous forehands, and the kind of circus training which they undergo. All pull tolerably well, and are very quiet, or rather spiritless, being poorly fed and severely punished.

Passing through the straggling suburb to the outskirts, where land will soon command its breadth in silver, we come to a garden labelled Chateau des Fleurs. It is the familiar DeviFs Acre, cut up into long straight walks and dwarf flower-beds, fronted by seats and tables under dark arbours and trellised vines. We graced the opening night, Saturday, November 28, and paid at the door $1 Bolivian (35. 2d. — 4^.) A little lumber theatre had been hastily thrown up. The stalls were crowded with decent women, whilst the men drank beer and brandy on the back seats, which gave it the genuine look of a penny gaff. Madame Angel and Mademoiselle Talleyrand, who had travelled with us from Buenos Aires, sang, danced, and did Theresa and Rigolboche (poor girl !) to abundant applause, ^' mas arriba^^ being the only objection where the foot was not raised sufficiently a la Almah. Though sadly disappointed by the absence of a cancan, that gracious gift of friendly France to these young lands, the audience was in excellent humour.

16—2


244 ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (sANTA FE).

An unhappy tenor^ beginning to mangle his song without ruth or stint^ was literally cheered ofiP the stage — a great improvement upon the barbarous European howls_, hisses^ and cat-calls. We ended the evening at the house of D. Carlos Hurtado^ who^ over some first-rate port^ supplied us with an abundance of the most interesting local information.

During our first visit, my good colleague, Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, H.B.M.^s consul, was absent on sick leave to England. The second found him preparing to quit his little quinta in the suburbs. He had done heroic service during the terrible cholera plagues which desolated Rozario in March to May 1867, and in December to February, 1867-8. A single month (April) saw 492 victims buried in the churchyard. The people mostly fled from the sick, even from those sufiering cholerine — an epidemic that visits them almost yearly during the great heats and autumnal rains. My colleague was ably aided by the Sisters of Charity, with their customary devotion to the cause of suffering humanity, and by Mrs. Hutchinson, who like himself did not escape unscathed. He was then subjected to a cowardly attack in the shape of a caricature. The native doctors, who, by the depletive treatment had sent their scores to the grave, were too glad to throw dirt at a medical man who cured many a patient with chloroform, chlorodyne, and shampooings with brandy and spirits of turpentine. He was, however, gratified by the present of a medal, inscribed, " In Memoria de los Tavajos Practi- cados por la Log. Cap. Union, durante el Colera de 1867. Rosario, 1867.^' And there I believe ended his reward. It almost proves a future state, et cetera.

Mr. Hutchinson of course had troubles with the bad section of his constituents, some of whom circulated a complaint against him. " Society at and about Rozario is


ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (sANTA FE). 245

even more divided thau iu Monte Video : the " Camp^' is first ; the City comes in a poor second. Amongst the citizen-foreigners are also two divisions — gentilhommes and bourgeois, nobs and snobs — who dwell wide apart as the original owners of the Burra-Burra mine. You may imagine the effect of such complications in the most limited of circles, especially when further subdivided by separation of saint from sinner, Liberal from Conservative, Creole English and home-bred English. The consequence is, that practically your '^ set^^ is reduced to a quarter dozen at the most. This is much less the case amongst the Germans, Italians, French, and few Basque. A week at Rozario was long enough for me to hear of these troubles, and not long enough to involve me in them. We spent, even in the town, some very pleasant evenings, especially with Mr. Weldon and Mr. George W. Bollaert, a son of the well- known litterateur. I cannot commend too strongly their habit of dining sub divo in the patio backed, by the fragrant garden.

From Mr. Hutchinson^s Quinta we walked over to the terminal station of the Central Argentine Railway, of which Mr. William Wheelwright is contractor. This gentleman was then building for himself another large house, thereby notably stultifying a certain proverb. Now past seventy-one, he began life by trading notions in a little Yankee schooner on the western coast of South America, and whilst he was treated as a mere visionary and speculator, his energy and perseverance enabled him to conquer difficulty after difficulty, and at last victoriously to establish the steam navigation of the Pacific. Since that time his name has been connected, more or less, with every great act of progress effected by the Hispano-American republics. I afterwards made ac- quaintance with Mr. Wheelwright at Buenos Aires, and found him, as he had been described to me, in appearance


246 ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA FE).

the typical John Bull^ and in character an excellent com- bination of what is most valuable in the two races^ English and Anglo-American. I only hope that he may live to see his various projects crowned with success.

Mr. Wheelwright obligingly gave me letters to his officials, Mr. Ben. Lea, agent for the contractors, and Mr. George Cooper, Mechanical Engineer. It is mortifying to find how ungenial and even ofi*ensive, after the perfect courtesy of Argentine and Brazilian, are not a few of one^s countrymen. Perhaps it is often merely the roughness of ignorance that never saw society beyond shop or engine-house, but common sense should teach a man how to receive a visit without, for instance, turning the visitor from his door. The only exception to the rule of Central Argentine Railway incivility was Mr. Woods, Chief "Resident Engineer. He led us about the spacious station which is now being built ; we found all in active progress — passenger-rooms, engine-houses, offices, repairing shops, wood sheds, houses for mechanics, and machinery of every description required. This is doing things on a large scale : half the terminal " Cares'*^ in the Brazil would fit into a station 1000 metres long by 120 broad. The site is an old cemetery, from which skulls and other valuables were taken; these have unfortunately all been dispersed. For making the bricks of the enclosure, which requires millions, pugging-machines were brought out — the English shape, not the flat Argentine, is pre- ferred, and straw and manure are rendered inadmissible by the cut ting- wires. Under the upper black humus, one foot thick and preferred by the natives, our engineers found a subsoil of yellow clay, while sand of superior quality than that supplied by the river was discovered up the line, and is delivered for $4 per cubic yard. At first the proportions were three parts of black and yellow earth to one of arenaceous matter ; this was afterwards changed to five


ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA FE). 247

yellow, one black, and one sand, and careful drying pro- duced a serviceable article.

The first sod of the Central Argentine Railway (see the " Parana and Cordoba R. R./^ a paper read at the meeting of the R. Geog. Society, Jan. 23, 1860, by Allan Campbell, Esq., C.E.) was turned by President General Mitre in April, 1863. It is the first great link of interoceanic communica- tion, and it will affect, when finished^ one half of Argentine- land, an area exceeding the total of Great Britain and Ireland, France and Spain, and fitted to support a hundred millions of inhabitants. The initial section will probably reach Cordoba some time this year, thanks to President Sarmiento, who there decreed an Industrial Exhibition, with a view of pushing on the works. From Rozario to Cordoba the direct distance is 73| leagues (232 English miles), and the line adopted measures 247 miles, of which 240 are straight, seven are curved, and only four run over broken surfaces. The profile of the country is one vast plain, an ocean of land, till it approaches the Sierra, where the higher levels are well wooded. Thus, while the railway mile in the Brazil costs 20,000/., and proves the folly of expensive works in young countries with sparse populations, here it can be completed for 6400/. This is the sum upon which the Government guarantees 7 per cent., and the total of 247 miles wiU not attain 1,500,000/. The law of 1857 increased the previous concession to one square league (3*25 miles) on each side of the line from Rozario to Cordoba, except the four leagues near these two great termini, and breaks of one league about Frayte Muerto and Villa Nueva. Thus, when the works touch the foot of the Andes, the company will own a little kingdom of 3600 square leagues — fine arable and grazing ground, to be held in plenary possession on the condition of its being colonized. They should have military settlements echelonnes at every


248 ACTUALITIES OF ROZARIO (SANTA TE).

ten miles, and send out emigrants who mnst be prepared at any moment to exchange the plough for the sword. Properly managed, this place would afford a Hegira to the paupers of Europe, and in its turn this splendid and luxu- riant waste will begin the life of civilized regions.

An error of detail made in this line at one time threatened serious trouble. I quote it as a warning to future specu- lators. The Government ought, immediately after passing the bill, to have purchased the six and a half square miles which cross the railway longiter, and a very small sum might have made them its proprietors. Every month saw active men pressing in to exploit the land, the public funds could not afford $25,000 (5000/.), sometimes demanded for a single square league, and for years the only ground given over in the Cordoba Province was the *' Indian country^' about Tortugas. It was once expected that the authorities would be compelled to offer to the Company, in lieu of the land conceded, a round sum say of $500,000, that this would be refused, that the question would become inter- national, and that the railway would not reach its terminus in 1870. All these difificulties, however, have, I am in- formed, been satisfactorily arranged.

We will now return to the Yi. A ^' tormenta^^ or dust- storm threatens, and we must hurry on board whilst we may. Adieu.


LETTEE XT.

FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

August 20, 1868.

My dear Z J

"Above Rozario/^ says the South Ame- rican Pilot, '^ there is nothing in the river to interest the stranger/^ A turn of the world has changed all that.

Before we go further let us cast a geographical glance at this Parana River, which has been compared with the Ohio of the United States. The total length is laid down at 2040 miles — namely 500 of the Brazilian Bios Grande and Paranahyba, 1000 of the upper stream to its junction with the Paraguay, and 540 before it becomes the Bio de la Plata. "We crossed in Minas Geraes, you may remember, its upper waters, known as the Bio das Mortes Pequeno. The stream between the mouth and the Misiones district is calculated to flow at 2J knots an hour ; but this rate appears to be exaggerated. It is by no means easy to average the current : it is rapid where high converging banks form narrows, and, of course, slowest between inundated shores. The annual diff"erence of its level is supposed to be twelve feet, but evi- dently this will not be the same in all places. Its low water is caused by the spring and winter of the southern hemisphere ; high water is in its summer and autumn. From this time to September it shrinks, and in October it sometimes falls one to four inches in twenty-four hours. It will wax lower till December, and about January ; when the thermometer shows its maximum (60° to 95° Fahr.) it will begin to flood. The stream is high and steady from January


250 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

to June (the minimum of temperature being in June and July 30° to 5G° Falir.) ; during this semestre the Parana first drains the torrential rains of the Brazilian highlands, discharged through the great affluents, and next the Paraguay- is fed hy the Xarayes marshes ; while somewhat later the Bermejo and the Pilcomayo bring down the melted snows of the Bolivian Andes. At this season the inundations are frequently severe, the Parana acting upon the Paraguay by damming it up, and the floods of 1868-9 materially afi'ected the war operations of the Allies. Modern travellers know little of the upper bed of the Parana : navigation is arrested by the Salto del Apipe, 780 miles from Buenos Aires, and few living Europeans have visited La Guayra (1070 miles), described by old authors as an awful cataract, but really a succession of rapids some twelve leagues long.

Adieu to llozario of the Bats : the last we see of it is the little red-tiled Methody chapel, the brickwork of the big station, and the wooden shoot leading to Mr. Wheelwright's wharf, where ships bringing material for the railway are discharged. There has been a terrible " seca^' or drought hereabouts, lasting from April to August. It accounts for the prairie fire by night and, by day, for the smoke forming in all directions lurid dust-clouds ; these, solid to sight as a wall, sweep up from the right of the river and linger in our rear. The warm, unpleasant, nerve-trying Viento Norte, the norther which causes murders from Buenos Aires to Pernambuco, has gradually changed to a steady Pampero, and sends flying up under a press of canvas the mob of palhabotes and goletas (schooners) which are often delayed grumbling for weeks. Here square-rigged craft are the fashion — the wind regular as a trade, blowing up or down stream, and mostly up, as the palms bending to the north pro\'e. However good for navigation, a strong south-wester about Rozario makes the Parana very dangerous. The gale


FROM ROZARIO TO CORKIENTRS. 251

meeting at an angle the swift, deep current raises an angry sea ; at niglit the breeze bites, and the cold high wind makes the cloudy sky feel as if there were " snow in the air." And so there is, the snow of the distant Patagonian Andes to the south-west : the nearest place where that meteor can be seen is the Sierra de Cordoba, called the " Argentine Alps," and not " Alps" at all.

The Convent of San Carlos, at San Lorenzo, appeared to us as a white fa9ade and tympanum facing the river, flanked by four- storied white steeples, and backed by dark dwarf dome and brown adjuncts, huts and trees. This building has of late years been sketched and described : it will be classic ground where in 1810 General San Martin fought his first fight against the Spaniards, and defeated them with a handful of cavalry. San Carlos is now occupied by about a dozen old Franciscans, whom foreigners charge wdth admitting women, and other irregularities. It caused, in combination with the Odium Theologicum, the Santa Fe Revolution of December 1867 — March 1868. Between 1864-7 the Provincial Governor was D. Nicasio Orono, lawyer, merchant, landed proprietor, and man of progres- sive ideas. He extended the limits of his little state over thirty-eight leagues of the Gran Chaco, and annexed some 500 square leagues of the most fertile soil; he persuaded the Congress to sanction, on September 26, 1867, a civil marriage ; and then he attempted to disestablish the Convent of San Carlos, to provide elsewhere for the monks, and to convert the building into an agricultural establishment and college for poor boys. The good Franciscans said no, and discoursed about the sin which shall not be forgiven. The banker, D. Mariano Cabal, saw his opportunity : at his in- stigation 1000 to 1500 gauchos, headed by Sor Jose Fidel, Colonel Patricio Rodriguez, and Lieut. -Colonel Nelson — what a name for such a miseria ! — occupied the town^ and


252 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

^' pronouncement " was carried out in the most orthodox and approved modern fashion.

A little above the monastery is the spot where, in 1527, Cabot built the Antigo Fortin del Espirito Santo (Sancti Spiritus), which was thus senior to Asuncion and Buenos Aires. It was abandoned when the great explorer returned to Europe, and the Tapiales or mud walls must long ago have melted away. We read in Wilcocke and older writers the pathetic tale of Lucia Miranda and Sebastian Hurtado : how Mangora, Cacique of the Timbuez (Timbu tribe), at- tacked for love of her Fort Holy Ghost, and how his brother Siripo, equally bewitched, burnt her alive in a wild fit of jealousy, and caused her husband to be shot to death with arrows. Buenos Aires has also its romantic tale, of which one Maldonata was the heroine : she had made her- self useful to a lioness, and the grateful beast supported her during a terrible famine, and saved her life from the savagery.

Beyond the Antigo Fortin lay that of Corpus Christi, built by Ayolas, to control the Timbii " Indians'"' of the Car- carana or Rio Tercero, a western influent of the Parana. Here the river settles into its normal aspect. One shore is a barranca or tall bank, which now appears to the east, and sometimes clean disappears : the other shore is a low, grassy, and often-flooded point. The wavy outline of the barranca is scattered with copse and trees, and spread with a carpet of gramma, plisse as it were, and often divided into two webs ; one green, smooth, and low ; the other yellow and long-piled. Its height is sometimes eighty feet, and the profile is a perpendicular silt-scarp, cut as if with a knife above, sloping below, and fissured laterally in all directions by rain and rivulet. This regularity of outline we shall trace far up into the Paraguay, and by it we shall presently explain the one unvarying style of Paraguayan defence, and the similar monotony of the Allied attack.


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTP^S. 253

The cliff section is lined with long horizontal bands of stra- tified mnd, like courses of masonry ; here whitish, there yellowish, and there ruddy : these denote the process of deposition raised by secular upheaval. The fine dark humus varies in depth from one to three feet. You may imagine its antiquity when Humboldt makes seven lines of humus the work of a century in the temperates. It rests upon sandy silt, the latter is supported by red or white tosca, calcareous clay, sandstone, or marl, and the base is strewn with boulders, arenaceous heaps, and tree-trunks, the spoils of the mighty river- god. The oyster cliffs at Parana on the eastern side contain gryphsea, O. acuminata, O. deltoidia, and O. exogyna : below the line lie ochreish clays, and sands green and yellow, whose principal fossils are Astarte elegans, Pecten, and Plagiostomus. On the western shore the succession is vegetable mould. Pampas earth, and conchylian limestone.

As a rule, upward-bound craft hereabouts hug the left bank. On board the Yi, however, cautiousness prefers the torrential mid- stream to the slack water on both sides, and self-sufficiency disdains to take a hint. Our commander declares, although the stations are printed upon the card, that being ordered to return on the 27th instant, he will halt only when he wants beef. A curious party of pleasure ! about as free as yonder red-shirted Paraguayan prisoners who pass us in the steamer dashing down stream, and who affect us with immense excitement. M. Varela and a ridi- culous being called Canstatt make after-dinner speeches.

Presently we sight a narrow in front. The left bank is Punta Gorda, called Diamante by General Urquiza, when (February 3, 1852) he here reviewed his cavalry, 12,000 strong, before crossing the river and going to glory at the battle of Monte Caseros. The troops were ferried over in boats and rafts. On the Entre Riano side a tall and


254 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

regular cliff of reddisli clay shows three distinct distances of parallel bluff in long perspective — the nearest fines to a point which projects far out to meet the lowland on the other side. North and south of it are swampy grounds, and it forms the apex of the larger delta^ beyond which the stream is one. A sail to starboard apparently going across country shows us the eastern branch, the Rio Paranan- cito, upper waters of the Ibicuy. Where the brown silt scarp is disposed in a gentler talus, there is thick, furze-like monte, leafless now, but dark green in the right season, whilst a rich fringe of ever-verdant willow bends over the water. A Puerto for canoes is connected with a ribbon of path which winds round the bulge of mud precipice, often double and parted by wild vegetation, and which slopes up the grassy dorsum leading to the line of white houses and plantations that comprise the little settlement. It is by far the best building site that we have seen yet — higher and more open than that of Rozario. The sole disadvantage is its one league distance from the river. The choice of place dates from the days of the Payagua water- thieves, and suggests a valley on the Upper Congo River. Houses mostly with sloping roofs, "tejos^^ opposed to ^^azoteas,'^ and with walls of tapia — the taipa of the Brazil and the pise of Brittany, not unknown to the country parts of England — are crowded about the white chapel. The cemetery is about a league from the settlement, a good plan here generally adopted. About the village are corrals or cattle pens, and " ramadas,^^ poles supporting shady roofs of thatch, which must be renewed every year. The peach plantations already showing pink, and patches of dark-leaved oranges set in rows, from afar resemble coffee. Black cattle wander amongst the taillis, and the bouquets de bois rabougris, chiefly the Nandubay, the tala, and the mimosa. Animals breed here better than in the Brazil north of the Parana province, where artificial


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 255

salt licks must be made, and where the uncaponized bulls drive the cows. The horses of Entre Rios are said to be large and good. Their habits and soft hoofs, however, render them useless on stony ground.

AVe passed Parana city at night, but I afterwards fre- quently revisited it. The approach from Diamante is pic- turesque ; the barranca in places is high on both sides ; the inlets of wooded ground, and the open slopes of grassy downs, like velvet with frayed nap, are a repose to the eye. Islands and sandbanks now become numerous ; the former are of brown earth, supporting luxuriant grass and thick shrubbery ; there is little driftwood upon them, and here- abouts no forest supplies snags. The extraneous matter is brought down from the upper stream, and forms many a " bank of patience.^^ These features will become very common above Bella Vista.

The Bajada, or landing-place of Parana city, is the usual gap in the tall cliff fronting a willow- grown islet, off which the current is at times a four-knot. The bush-crowned barranca shows lines of semi-fossilized strata, not the muddy alluvium of Pampasia. Near the water calcareous marls and clays alternate with hard shell-limestone, and higher up the cliff-face are two " calheiras^' — holes which supply white nodular calcaire. From these shells the Para- guayans extracted the " nacar^^ or mother-of-pearl with w hich they made their once celebrated inlaid work. This is an " Indian^^ art, apparently now lost.

Off the port lie a little steamer and four ships, awaiting cargo. There are about a dozen whitewashed houses, the rest being mere '^'jhompris^^ or hovels. Here lives Mr. Myers, formerly Montague, once in the Royal Navy, but since 1816, Independence year, an Argentine with a decided turn for Rosista politics ; wherefore he is a steamer-agent, and full of old local knowledge. Carts and carriages com-


256 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

municate witli the town^ whicli is a good league inland^ and about 200 feet higher than the river. From above and below the Bajada we see its churchy San Miguel^ domi- neering the rabble of low buildings. For eight years Parana was the Federal capital — very well placed for General Urquiza^s interests^ very badly for those of the Confederation, being at least 390 miles from Buenos Aires. The national ^Caravan Government'^ abandoned it in September 1861.

From Parana a little steamer runs up to Santa Fe, crossing the stream ai)d threading a network of lagoons. Here begin, on the west bank, the long lines of riverine islets formed by the true Parana and its western channel, or rather the lateral loop, making a stream six leagues broad known as the Rio de San Javier. To the north of it is that geo- graphical puzzle, the Saladillo Dulce, which, according to the rise and fall of the Parana, flows either to the east or the west, now becoming an influent, then an affluent.

West of the Saladillo stream runs the Salado, representing the Red River of the Mississippi valley ; it separates the province of Santa Fe from El Gran Chaco or Chaco Gualamba — a wild Guarani word, from which we are sup- posed to guess the aspect of the place. The name of this " hell of Spaniards and Paradise and Elysium of savages^ is translated yi^oq, a lair, a great wild chase : it means a herd of Vicunas and Guanacos. According to Guevara, the term was originally applied to the doab formed by the Bermejo and the Pilcomayo. It was then extended to the area of 216,000 square miles — big enough for an empire, or for four South American republics — stretching 10° north of Santa Fe, and 6° west from the Paraguay River. Helms (1806) asserts that Chaco, the ancient name of the land about Chuquisaca or Sucre city, gradually extended to the southern loAvlands. An abundance of old Spanish and Jesuitic litera- ture describes this unoccupied paradise, which is still as it was.


VROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 257

a ranclieria of wild ^^ Indians." Colonel Arenales, afterwards to be alluded to^ wrote a dull^ but circumstantial book about it in 1833. Part of the luxuriant waste was visited by Dr. Weddell, the companion of the Count de Castelnau, and it was skirted by Messrs. Mansfield and Hutchinson. It still awaits a serious exploration, which ought not in these days to present any great difficulties. Externally, the mysterious land at which travellers gaze with wonder and curiosity as the yet empty cradle of a mighty people, is a low and thickety jungle, with here and there a swelling " lomaria" or ridge, bulging above the dark fringe of impenetrable forest. The general aspect of the interior as far as visited, is said to be that of western Texas, except that it has more rivers and lakes, and that its Selvas (forests) are far richer and fairer. It is spoken of as an Eden flowing with mUk and wild honey, where people fatten upon game and popped corn, toasted and spread. But I have ever found milk among pastoral tribes rare during the greater part of the year, as is fresh fish on board ship. The Chaco is politically claimed by the Argentines to nearly 22° south latitude, above which Bolivia asserts her rights. The eastern and riverine part is bespoken for Paraguay, and in a short time, but for the present war, the grand proportions of the Great Wild Chase would have been sadly curtailed.

On the morning of August 20 we were off Santa Elena Point, where is the white estancia^ of D. Mariano Cabal,


  • The estancia is a planter's (estanciero's) farmhouse, farm, and cattle

grazing ground. The tenement, the sheds (galpones), and all the ofl&ces are called poblacion. The hacienda (in Bolivia hata, and in the Brazil fazenda) is an estate for cattle breeding and grazing exclusively, unless otherwise specified, as hacienda detrigo (wheat), de mineral or de bemficio (mining). The quinta is a suburban villa, a small farm, or a country house. The chacra is a grain or vegetable-growing farm. The puesto is a shepherd's (puestero's) hut, generally with its rodeo (from rodear, to round up stock), a bare piece of ground for mustering cattle.

17


258 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

the intrusive President of Santa Fe. The next place of importance was La Vaz, distant 270 miles from Corrientes. It is a hamlet prettily situated upon a promontory forming placid bays in places almost land-locked from the river, whose flow here increases. About the Puerto canoes were drawn high up the golden sands : the upper part is the usual sprinkle of whitewashed houses and adobe huts. It is known in old books as Cavallo Cutia, the white horse — cutia meaning in Guarani_, primarily white; secondarily, paper and silver. In front are three distances of woodland, and presently the river opens a sea horizon. The land opposite La Paz will be laid out in colonies to connect with those of Santa Fe, on the very edge of the dangerous Chaco. Its nearest neighbour would be the Swiss colony La Esperanza, the most northerly of the three; the others being San Carlos and San Geronimo, echelonnes to the west. These agi'icolo- military colonies will be found most useful against the raids of Chaco Indians. All, I repeat, should be fighting men, and they should be assisted in extending the frontier and in freeing the land, without sentimentality, from the wolfish savages that infest it. The Argentine Confederation will presently extend the benefit to their vast Pampasian limits. Here the vegetation palpably changes. We notice for the first time bamboo-clumps (tacuaras) near the water, giving to the scene a tropical aspect. Large palms are scattered over the higher bank. The species is here called coquito — in the Brazil coqueiro (C. butyracea). There is a greater luxuriance of growth: we have now trees not brushwood, towering above the tall Pampas grass. Flowers begin to form a feature, and brilliant Brazilian epiphytes, dwarf copies of those further north, adorn the boughs ; not only on the dead trunks live columns of convolvulus, even the willows are tapestried with creepers from branch to root. Here the drift wood is heaped up on the Chaco or right


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 259

bank — a sign that the stream swings towards it : Captain Alvim observed the same opposite Humaita, and probably there are local diflferences of action. Mr. Crawford, our engineer, believes that the stream encroaches eastward, thi'own by the motion of the globe. Captain Page (p. 153) agrees with him, and attributes the islets invariably formed in the Chaco to the agency of the eartVs revolution. M. Elisee Keclus opines that the Parana, like almost all the meridional rivers of the southern hemisphere, cuts into the left bank. When treating of the Rio de S. Francisco, I have alluded to this subject, which is highly important when treating of engineering works.

About noon we passed on the east bank the Rio de la Punta Brava, a river which has made its name in history. When Garibaldi was expelled by General Oribo from Montevideo, together with his patron the Caudillo General, Fructuoso Ribera, President of the Banda Oriental, he proceeded upon sundry "Corsair^^ expeditions. The Liberator of the Farrapos had only three vessels — the barque Constitucion, the brigan- tine Pereira, and another. Hotly pursued by Admiral Brown, a lieutenant of Rosas^, he ran up this stream, burned his ships, and marched inland to Montevideo; thence he travelled overland to Rio Grande do Sul. This province pro- claimed its autonomy as the Republic or Free State of Piratinim, which lasted through nine years, and afterwards made a complete ^fl^co. This admiral was an Irishman of the good old fighting stamp, and he now lies under a splendid monument in the Recoleta of Buenos Aires. The Argentines do not deny his gallantry, but they are not dis- posed to like or to laud the foreign employe. Concerning Garibaldi, then an obscure adventurer, local accounts differ : many say that he plundered hard to support his forces ; almost all agree that he took nothing for himself. But the ques- tion is^ " What business had he to fight at all V Better


260 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

was candle-moulding in New York^ and then poetical justice would not liave been done upon him in the shape of a dra- matic biography by ^t. Alexandre Dumas pere.

The next place of importance was La Esquina — the ^' corner^^ — which must not be confounded with La Esquina del Dourado further south. At this point the southern Rio Corrientes^drainingjthey say, the Ybera Lake, joins the Espi- nilla or Guayquiraro, the " home of the fat boy," which separates the Entre Rios province from its northern neigh- bour Corrientes. The settlement lies on the left bank, about three miles distant in a true line ; the site is a loma or ridge, and the shape is a long scatter of white houses with dark patches of orange-grove. A falua boat, flying the Argentine flag, suddenly came out of the creek, showing that water-way is not wanting. The masts of a ship rose from the river. AYe were told that she was the Prince Albert, a Nova Scotia collier, which struck upon a snag, or had a hole cut in her. Opposite La Esquina is Pajaro Blanco, a place of savages and montaraces, where Mr. Perkins would plant another colony to lead the ^'^vida fronteriza."

Early on the next morning we passed the Costa Tala, where the river widens to an enormous girth ; and at 7 a.m. we reached Goya. Here both banks are very flat, the bright green vegetation is very tall, and the stream is three and a half leagues wide — a long riverine island, one of a mighty many, splitting it into an eastern and a western channel. Large ships ascend the latter ; the former is com- paratively shallow. Many craft go up the Bocas de Abajo or lower mouth to the port, and descend again, losing six to seven leagues, rather than encounter the Boca de Arriba. The name Goya is a corruption of Gregoria, the wife of a Portu- guese settler, and must not be made with Mr. Mansfield '^ Goyaz," a province of the Brazil. Dating from 1820, it is one of the most thriving places in the upper Parana, and


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 261

the Correntinos look upon it as a small Buenos Aires. I afterwards visited the Puerto^ on a sandy spit^ close north to the Arroyo de Goya. Here are the large white capitania and flagstaflP, and six or seven brick houses ; the rest are shedsj including a large graseria (where fat is boiled down), and a kind of chalet, which receives steamer-passengers. Carts and horses transport them to the Pueblo, a mile or so up stream, where an obelisk and white towers rise above the green orchards. It is an industrious commercial little hive of 3000 souls, who export their hides and wool, oranges and cheeses : the latter are famed through the land, and so are the "china^^ gii'ls^ who are said to press them by the simple process of supersession. The climate is feverish, and the place is too near the lowlands of the Sta. Luzia River.

Goya has been named of late, being the most southerly point reached by the Paraguayan invader, and it readily sub- mitted to 200 men. Both here and at La Esquina the soldiery, it is said, behaved roughly, and did not leave a good name. On the opposite bank is the Rio del Rey, where an old settlement was founded in 1748 and abandoned in 1813. This stream, even in our most modern maps, is confounded with a western branch, the Rio de San Geronimo.

Six leagues above Goya, near a long point, the Rincon de Soto, also called de los Sotos (of the Fools), is the large Saladero, formerly belonging to Mr. Samuel Lafone, of Montevideo, and afterwards to a Buenos Aires Company. We know it by its tall chimneys ; the better houses are whitewashed, the huts are of wattle and dab with dull sloping thatches, and the place of business has a zinc roof. A gaily dressed party of both sexes stands upon the water- edge marvelling at our size. The Paraguayans here billeted themselves, when it was managed by D. Emilio Quevedo and Mr. Thomas O^Connor, now of Paysandu. The latter had a narrow escape ; the Paraguayan officer


262 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES-

repeatedly declaring a velleite for shooting him, as he was evidently a malignant and an ill-wisher to the holy cause of Marshal-President Lopez.

Beyond the Rincon is an historic site, the Bateria de Cueva, the name of a fighting old Portuguese estanciero, sometimes erroneously written Cuevas, Cuevo, and Cuevos.^ As will afterwards appear, it is the typical Paraguayan position of defence. Here the Chaco shore is low, while the high left or eastern bank is a little sloped; a well- wuoded gap or dwarf glen cuts the barranca, and up it winds a green path. Evidently the guns should here have been placed a fleur d'eau, and they would have done great execution, as the river unusually narrows to about 150 yards. But routine carried the day against common sense ; the Paraguayans placed their artillery upon the high ground, where their plunging fire did the least damage.

The lively little episode is as follows. After their victory at Riachuelo (June 11, 1865) the Brazilian squadron again proceeded up stream and attempted to pass Corrientes, then in the hands of the enemy. General Bruguez, the Paraguayan leader, made the usual plan to capture or destroy it. Marching suddenly from Bella Vista with several thousand men and guns, variously stated to be thirty-five or fifty, he commanded the enemy's fleet off* Bella Vista. The invader ran the gauntlet about six miles down stream, when Bruguez, by another forced march, again placed his flying batteries on the lower river. On August 12, five days before their decisive victory of Yatay on the Uruguay, the Brazilians rushed out of the trap down- stream with closed hatches. The Paraguayan infantry lying on their bellies delivered from the bank volleys of musketry, whilst the gunners poured fire upon the Vice-Admiral Barrozo.


  • Lt.-Col. Thompson (chap, vii.) calls the site Cuevas,


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 263

The Amazonas received forty-one caunou balls, the Ivutry twenty-two, and the Guardia Nacional (the flag-ship of the Argentine Admiral Muratori) twenty-seven. Presently, when Leonidas Estigarribia had surrendered Uruguayana (September 18, 1865), the Brazilian army marched upon Corrientes, and General Resquin with his Paraguayans retired (November 4) towards the Paso la Patria. It is said that here he left some quaker guns, which succeeded in keeping the enemy at bay ; for five days the latter knew nothing of the evacuation till informed of it by an Italian schooner going down from Corrientes. In the point of push- ing their successes the Brazilians have ever failed ; they are like the losing order* of gambler, who will back his ill- luck but who fears to run his good-luck.

Presently we passed the chain of scarped and detached bluffs, supporting the upsloping green bank. Amongst them is the Barranca de Bella Vista; it well deserves its name, but it must not be compared, as a late writer has done, with Genoa the Superb, nor with famed Palermo, nor with sweet Messina and hoary Etna in the background, nor even with the oft-sung and little-deserving Bay of Dublin. Over the lines of riverine trees we see the hamlet, a streak of white houses crowning the ridge, and sprinkled over the hill side amidst clumps of tropical forest and black blocks of orange trees, dotted like a tall tea plantation. This " Norfolk Island of Corrientes'^ began its career in 1826 as a settlement of convicts, sent by General Ferre. Here the Brazilian fleet running down the river suffered severely from the flying batteries of the Paraguayan General Bruguez; they had placed their infantry on the decks and in the tops, where they could be swept away by grape and rifle bullets. Similarly situated is " Empedrado, another small Correntino town, commanding a glorious view of the Gran Chaco, and distant thirty-six miles from Corrientes, the


264 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

capital. At this place General Robles^ who with 3000 men had occupied Corrientes (April 18) ;, and had taken Goya (3rd June), retired immediately after the battle of Riachuelo, and (23rd July) was arrested by General Barrios^ the minister of war_, and sent up to Humaita in close confinement. The Paraguayan army was taught to believe that he had made an agreement to deliver them up ; others asserted that his offence was wasting time at Goya and Bella Vista^ instead of attacking the Argentine General Paunero^ who was only sixteen to twenty leagues to the south ; others that he doubted the success of the cause^ and blamed the measures of Marshal-President Lopez. He was shot by the sentence of a secret court martial^ at Paso Pucu_, after the sentence had been read to the army formed in three sides of a square. He must not be confounded — as some newspapers have done — with his brother (?), Com- mandante Robles of the Tacuari steamer^ who, after the battle of Biachuelo, tore the dressings from his wounds and died a hero_, saying he preferred loss of life to loss of liberty.

We hurriedly rose from the mess-table as the Yi steamed up the eastern channel of the Parana, two to three miles below Corrientes. Here the scheme which was to place upon the brow of Marshal-President Lopez an Argentine crown of his own device was shattered by the incapacity of his officers and the rashness of his men. At this place the Parana, running north-south, and some nine miles wide, is studded with sundry islands, of which two are large and well wooded. The eastern bank, about the southern end of the longest holme, is broken by the Boca del Riachuelo, which is masked by another islet. Here the channel is some 500 yards broad, widening above and below, and the low sandy and bushy ground south of the Riachuelo, and called the Rincon de Lagrafia, is backed


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 2G5

by fine trees and broken by bays and projections. North of the Streamlet/' where the quinta of Santiago Derqui fronts the Rincon de Santa Catalina, rises a tall ruddy barranca, striped and patched with yellow and bistre- colonred clay, irregular in outline, and topped by a slope of dull-tinted grass and clumps of monte. All the ground described forms the Paraguayan position.

In April, 1865, the first Brazilian naval division steamed up towards Corrientes ; at that season the water was so low that an attack upon Paraguay was deemed impracticable. Admiral Tamandare was wasting his time at Buenos Aires and Montevideo, imitating the only part of Nelson's career which caused his friends to blush. The fleet was entrusted to the Commandante Gomensoro, and afterwards to Vice- Admiral Barroso, and it anchored almost in sight of Cor- rientes, and close to the Chaco or western bank of the river. It consisted of nine fine river steamers, fully manned ; these were the flagship Amazonas, the only paddle (6 guns) ; the Jequitinhonha, the Belmonte, the Mearim and Beberibe (each 8 guns) ; the Paranahyba (6), the Ipiranga (7), the Iguatemi (5), and the Araguay (3 guns) — the total of artillery being 59, which report exaggerated to upwards of 100.

Thereupon Marshal -President Lopez, nothing doubtful of success, resolved to tackle and carry off" the prey. He could muster an equal number of ships, but only 34 bouches a feu, and his vessels were mere river craft, roughly fitted to carry guns, and with boilers exposed above the water-line to every shot. Of the paddles were the Tacuari, flagship, and the only war ship (6 guns), the Ygurei (5 guns), the Paraguari, Ypora, Marquez de Olinda (4 each), and the Jejuy (2) ; the screws were the Salto Oriental (4 guns), the Pirabebe (1 gun), and the Yberd (4 guns) — the latter prevented from entering action by an accident. The weak squadron was, however, reinforced by


266 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

six " chatas/^ or ^^ chalanas/^ barges or flat-bottomed boats_, wbich the Paraguayans used tbroughout the campaign to great effect. I know not who claims the honour of having suggested the idea. The " chata " was a kind of double- prowed punt^ strengthened with sundry layers of two-inch planking, undecked,, drawing a few inches water^ and standing hardly half a foot above the surface^ with just room enough for men to serve a single gun, either mortar, 68-pounder, or 8-inch. Thus the chata could not only thread, by poling or by being towed, the shallow streams ; it could also inflict considerable damage upon an ironclad ; and it was hard to hit_, as only the gun-muzzle appeared above the surface. These gunboats often singly engaged the whole fleet. It is a feature of considerable naval interest, and well adapted to defend or to attack the inner water communications of a country like Paraguay. The Paraguayan fleet was placed upon command of Captain Mesa, with Captain Cabral as second. Consciousness of inferiority suggested to General Bruguez an accompaniment of flying batteries to ply along the beach below the barranca to the north of the Riachuelo, and boarding parties, consisting of 500 picked men, were sent on board the ships.

Captain Mesa had been ordered to run past the Brazilians at daybreak ; to turn short round ; to lay each of his ships alongside one of the enemy ; to pour in a broadside, and to take the prizes in tow. Amongst other things, grappling- irons were forgotten. It reminds me of a certain Anglo- Indian attack upon Sikh batteries, when the engineers neglected to bring spikes. The action was unjustifiably delayed till 9.30 a.m. (June II), and the Paraguayans, after exposing themselves to a vastly superior artillery, actually ran down to the mouth of the Riachuelo before turning up stream. Thus they gave the Brazilians time to make ready and to go down to meet them. The fight began well for


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 267

the Paraguayans. The Jeqidtinhonkaj with two 68-pounder8 and aWhitworth, grounded on a bank in front of the shore, and, peppered by the land batteries, was abandoned. The Paranahyba had her wheel cut away, and was boarded and seized. The Belmonte, riddled with balls, was obliged to be run ashore to prevent her sinking.

At that moment the chief pilot of the Brazilian fleet, one Bernardino Gastavino, a Correntino, the son of an Italian, who had probably never heard of the Athenians and Pelo- ponnesians at Naupactus, or the Kearsarge off Cherbourg, but possibly of Admiral Tegethoff at Lissa, bethought him- self of a manoeu\Te which changed the fortunes of the day. Guiding the Amazonas towards the Paranahyba, he cleared her decks with grape, and striking the Paraguan in the middle ran her down. The Salto and the Marquez de Olinda had their boilers shot through, and the Jejuy was sunk by gunnery. The battle lasted eight hours, and the assailant lost half his ships — the Tacuari, the Ygurei, the Ypord, and the Pirabebe being obliged by the injuries they had received to escape and take refuge under the guns of Humaita. They must inevitably have been captured had they been pursued by Vice- Admiral Barroso ; but, though boasting that he went to ^^seek for danger,^^ he neglected, as usual, in his terror of the destructive flying batteries, to push his victory. For very equivocal conduct he was made Barao de Amazonas ; whilst the pilot, who did all the work, became, I believe, a lieutenant. Such is mostly the gratitude that the Bra- zilians show to foreign employes. Captain Mesa was mortally wounded by a single bullet from one of the enemy's tops, otherwise he probably would have been shot, as he de- served. Both sides claimed a victory, as usual; struck medals, and sang Te Deums. The Paraguayans own to 200 men hors de combat, while the Brazilians swell to 1500 and even 3000. The Brazilians assert a loss of 300, which the enemy


268 FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES.

exaggerates to 800. On both sides there were instances of heroism^ and it is pleasant to remember the name of the Brazilian midshipman — Enrique Martins — shot by the Pa- raguayans when he refused to give up his flag.

The defeat at Riachuelo was, I repeat, fatal to the success of the offensive portion of the Paraguayan plans. The Bra- zilian squadron could now blockade the river above as well as below Corrientes, and by threatening to cut off its rear it could compel the corps of the Parana to retreat from want of food, instead of communicating with the corps d'armee of the Uruguay. Then it directly brought about the fall of Uruguayana, surrendered by Leonidas Estigarribia (Septem- ber 18, 1865). The affair of Cueva (12th August) was intended by the Paraguayans to retrieve their fallen for- tunes ; but that attack, as has been seen, also failed.

Steaming above the long island we saw the trucks of the Jequitinhonha still topping the water. The tall cliffs gra- dually sank, and the stream became an archipelago of charming green isletry ; these disappearing, and leaving an open bank as we approached Corrientes. To the west the Bio Negro winds up a great gap in the majestic flood here — at 900 miles from Buenos Aires — some 2500 metres wide. On the left bank are yellow cliffs, partly of argile, partly arenaceous, with sand plants at their foot, and crowned with the richest verdure ; whilst, far over a clear- ing for cultivation, we sight spires, domes, and a memorial column. On a cliff projecting into the stream is the pretty quinta of Dr. Vidal, with its thatched roof, and white walls, and orange avenue leading to the door. Beyond it is the Brazilian military hospital, occupying the saladero formerly owned by Messrs. Stock and Hughes, of Buenos Aires. Turning the broken point, exposing a tanning establishment and a timber-yard, we pass towards the little bay fronting the north. The water is here forty- five fathoms deep, and


FROM ROZARIO TO CORRIENTES. 269

the anchor of our floating hotel is liable to drag. We therefore go well in, fronting the Custom House and arsenal, the Colegio, or Government House, the tall towered Cabildo, and other big buildings that emerge from a mass of vile huts parted by foul streets, and nestling under glorious trees, palms and oranges. The general appearance is more like a Hindu town, say Calicut, than a Christian city.

On my return I spent a week with a couple of ac- quaintances at Corrientes, and perhaps you will like to hear something of life in a country capital of an Argentine Province.


My dear Z-


LETTEE XIE

A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

September 5-12, 1868.


Corrientes rests upon the margin of her noble river^ here bending eastward^ and showing to the north a lake-like expanse. As usual;, the landward slope of the bank^ a talus leading to a plateau 60 feet above the Parana, makes her appear from the water poor and scat- tered, showing only Cabildo and church towers, tree-tops and dingy brown tiles and thatches now outnumbering the Southern " azotea.^^ Inside, ^' Taraqui " the " green lizard/ as the Guaranis call the place, is, like Rozario, large and compact. Held to be the fourth or fifth city of the Re- public, it claims for its population 16,000 to 20,C00 souls, which I should take the liberty of reducing to 10,000. It is a parallelogram of at least a mile each way, numbering 60 to 70 cuadras. In 1863 it was represented by '^'^ about 1500 palm- thatched ranchos, 200 tiled roofs, 100 azoteas of one to two stories, 3 miradores, 24 pianos, 20 carriages, 6 flagstaves, and 6 schools.^' Now double all; the schools alone excepted.

We land upon a pier of two planks, about midway in the northern front, at a dwarf sandy inlet, studded with boulders of porous oxidized sandstone, coarse and honey- combed, abundantly weather-worked and water-washed. On the bank above is the Capitania del Puerto, at once theatre and promenade ; the idlers gather to see passengers^ luggage opened, and to grin at the overcharges of the ras-


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 271

cally boatmen. After the usual examination, whose results pronounced me to be an " agrimensor/^ we entered the Calle Rioja, going south ; it corresponds with the Riva- davia or Regent Street of Buenos Aires. There is a pain- ful regularity in the names. The fourteen that open upon the northern face are called after the Argentine provinces ; but that on the north-eastern corner is " Paraguay ^^by anticipation. Those running east-west have been baptized after local heroes — e.g., Vera and Bolivar, Belgrano and San Martin ; after battles, as Junin and Ayacucha ; or after patriotic subjects, for instance, Sud-America, Confederacion, and Independencia. The names are carefully painted upon boards, but no one knows them ; you must ask, after the old fashion, for the street of Don A. B.^ which is ridiculous.

The usual little bit of thoroughfare is paved ; the rest have a surface of country soil overlying loose sand. They are about fifty feet wide, and here and there wooden scant- ling shores up scraps of brick trottoir, so narrow that you must walk in Indian file. At intervals cross-bands of stone or tree-trunks act as bridges, and prevent the street being washed bodily away. After heavy rains some thorough- fares are cascades and others are pools : both gradually pass from a stifi" \dscid mud to a state of ^' hardbake,^' and lastly to a mobile black dust, which dirties the hands like the atmosphere of a railway. Carts cannot progress with- out the tallest of wheels, and three horses in a kind of unicorn. There is no gas above Rozario, nor are the streets bombees. As in the older French towns, they de- cline towards a central gutter, and only the happy water- slope of the town prevents the horrors of Lima and Mexico. Beyond the centre of population, these thoroughfares fine off into alleys of scattered ranchos, rough as newly-ploughed fields.

The house is of the normal headless Arab type ; a long


272 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

box, unplastered as the streets are unpaved, parapetted and embrasured at the top. The best are mostly supplied with a tile cornice breaking the stuccoed " dickeys/^ and with fayades rising high and proud towards the firmament. They afi'ect the Argentine silver and azure. The walls are either of brick or of the small unbaked adobe, and the latter are often set in a framework of timber, as you see in the Brazil and in old English farmhouses. The numbers are, as usual, odd on one side of the street, even on the other : all are apparently parts of an immense whole, 620, for instance, or 490 — the lower ciphers being omitted by request. The blocks are supposed to measure 150 varas (yards) each way ; but they are very irregular. None are complete, and even in the heart of the settlement thatched hovels and gardens cover the greater part of the surface.

The older houses of " Taraqui " are quaint and pic- turesque ; recessed ground-floors, fronted by verandahs on posts with carved capitals. The outside windows look heavily barred as any gaol ; and from the street you see the occu- pants of the sitting-room, whose sofa and two perpendicu- larly-disposed parallels of chairs are correct Iberian style. The inner portion is prettily disposed in dwarf gardens and grass plots, with seats among the red and white roses, shaded by orange trees and tall cypresses ; often there is a vinery, and in one I saw a hydrant. The best buildings are flat-faced, altos or sobrados, double- storied, with miradores ; very few have verandahs projecting over the trottoir, and affording shelter from sun and rain. Mostly they are '^ half-sobrados,^^ that is to say, raised on masonry founda- tions above the damp ground. The architecture, as well as the vegetation, here inclines more to the tropical, to the Brazilian. The ranchos have sloping tile roofs to pour off" the rain, and the poorer tenements prefer the hollow trunks of the ^^ palma de tejo ^^ (tile-palm) split, cut into pieces six


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 273

feet long, placed, like the tiles, side by side, one line convex, the other concave, but not fixed with mortar at the edges ; indeed, apparently not fastened at all.

The outskirts show mere " ramadas," sheds and flying roofs, tenanted mostly during the daytime by big mastiffs, savage as the dogs of Petropolis. We find in the choking nionte a luxuriance of castor-shrub ; a tangle of sarsa- parilla ; yellow dhatura with gigantic trumpets ; the cylin- drical cactus, here, as at Buenos Aires, a gnarled tree ; the monster aloes ; the tuna, and the edible tunita (the Mexican tenoch), which awaits an improved breed of the indigenous cochineal. A few cotton plants linger about the bush. Messrs. Robertson found the Corrientes pro- vince well fitted for the shrub ; but the industry has never been exploited. Of the larger trees are the ^^ carandai '* and the palms, used for roofing and paling; various acacias and mimosas, especially the algarroba, carob, locust, or St. John's bread. It is in this region an indigenous species, and the people do not ferment it to chicha. Oranges, here valuable, because apparently the staple produce and export of the land, are plentiful, sweet, and good without a '^ hand's turn being done to them. The tree takes about eight years to grow, after which it is worth, now that everything is exceptionally expensive, one silver dollar per annum. The Paraguayans make orange wine, but it is too sweet and luscious for human nature's daily drink. And neither Correntinos nor Paraguayans have learned to preserve the fruit, which at once decays. Some of the naranjales farms or orchards are of great size, containing thousands of trees, which produce half a million to 800,000 fruits per annum.

From Rioja Street we turned left down the second best, the Calle de Julio (9th July, 1816, National Independence proclaimed at Tucuman),and visited M. Carlos Candido Prytz, who is living between two boot signs, black and yellow.

18


274 A WEEK AT COREIENTES.

These symbols abound. A Grand Turk_, painfully transmo- grifiedj here and there occupies a corner shop^ and in these towns the " esquina '^ pays twenty-five per cent, more than its neighbours. " Peluqueria " is everywhere the rule, and, since the Brazilians and their gold have left, " liquidacion ^ (selling off) is by no means rare. The only posters are those of a " Silforama/^ which promises views of the Monitor and Merrimac, Fort Sumpter, Vicksburg, and so forth.

M. Prytz is the son of a Danish Baron who settled in the Brazil and became an admiral. Born at Pernambuco, and physically a thorough-bred Scandinavian, he is a furious and ferocious ^' Brazileiro.^^ He is ready to quarrel about the obsolete Abrantes-Christie affair ; and as for the Argentines, he would be down upon them in arms at once. To call him a countryman of Hamlet would be grossly to insult him. It is remarkable that whereas in Europe most men born abroad — for instance, English boys in France, and vice versa — tenaciously cling to the nationality of their parents, the reverse is the case throughout the western hemisphere. I presume the reason is that to Youth a world with a Future is far more sympathetic than one with a Past. M. Prytz has been Brazilian Consul at Corrientes for the last three years ; he is, however, a rabid Conservador, and this may promote him. I found his nationality too irritable for com- fort ; you instinctively feel that all aggressive claims to superiority — one of the characteristics of un-English England — are virtual confessions of inferiority. Far more companionable was M. Edouard Peterkin, a Belgian of Scotch descent. There is no material reason why he should be* here ; but " quitter son pays,^' says the great traveller Confucius, "â– pour visiter Texterieur e'est accomplir sa destinee." He contracted to supply the Brazilian army with Belgian copies of that venerable gas-pipe,"" the Enfield ; and with Whitworths. Of these the average size


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 275

was bought at 35,000 francs, including 15 per cent, to the agent. M. Peterkin has been made Inspector of Arms, with the rank of Captain of Infantry.

We sallied out to see the sights, and first of all the market-place. I asked for the bath. Point ! Yet I hear simultaneously four grind-organs that are actually paid to play. The Plaza del Mercado, at which the Calles Rioja and Julio meet, is by far the most interesting, and, indeed, the only lively spot at Corrientes. The bazar is now " hot,'^ and when not so the place is terribly dull. In the centre stands a " galpon,^^ a tiled shed, some fifty yards long, where flesh, which here means beef, is sold — ^' Car- neiro no es carne,^^ mutton is not meat, says the gaucho. The butchering is slovenly, and the badly-cut joints, if they can so be called, are mere hunks of animal matter. There is no milk, the country being pastoral ; butter is very rare, and all things are dear; even eggs command four sous apiece. The square is surrounded by pulperias, an Italian panaderia (bakery), and stores of wet and dry goods — especially blankets and saddlery. Of course the Circo de los Gallos is not forgotten.

" That man-'s throat should be cut,^^ said to M. Peterkin an old woman, recognising in me a Paraguayan officer- prisoner. Many of her sisterhood sat at squat before benches or napkins upon which were spread their wares, cane and tobacco, gourds and melons, potatoes and maize- heaps, with fruits, vegetables, and sweetmeats of sorts. Far more " Indian ^' than Christian — say three-fourths coloured — they are remarkable for personal cleanliness, and there is a merry smile upon many a wheat-coloured face. The skin is well lit up, the eyes large and dark, and the forehead lies low under volumes of blue-black hair, coarse as a horse's mane, and looking as if once wet it would never dry till the day of death. The fuU mouths and the

18—2


276 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

heavy chins reveal the savage type. Amongst them hob- bled an old Minas negro, probably of Moslem origin, carrying a grimy little San Balthazar in plaster. Each she- devotee took the doll^ crossed herself with it^ kissed its feet_, and rewarded it with a few oranges^ cigars,, or corn cobs ; those who would not lend to the saint were treated by the old beggar to a sharp word and a vicious sneer. The hard- staring foreigners^ French and English^ Yankees and Ger- manSj and the ruffian Italians, only laughed at the place where his negro beard should have been.

In the open day turbulent boys and half-^*^ china '^ children roll with the dogs about the sand under a sun that peels your nose. Black soldiers will loaf about till some fine day the market will be closed, the pulperias will be shut to insure sobriety, and four or five hundred of them will be marched off to put down the ^'^rebelde i malvado Caceres^^ (the rebel and villain Caceres) " i su complice i automata Evaristo Lopez .^^ I found out that a revolution was going on only by asking about a picquet of cavalry stationed in the church porch. The Most Excellent Seiior Governor had called out the National Guard at the instance of D. Nicolas Ocampo and D. Raymundo F. Reguera. Corrientes Province became a prey to civil war when ci-usading against Kosas, and apparently has never recovered tranquillity. The latter of the two worthies above mentioned is the ex-President who defended Goya against the Paraguayans : he can sign his name, but he signs it " Baristo.^"* The first, D. Nicanor Caceres, also made a name when retiring from the invader ; his literary attainments rival those of his accomplice ; and resembling a certain king,

" He quite scorned the fetters of four-and-twenty letters, And it saved him a vast deal of trouble."

President Sarmiento says of Tucuman, " it is well to men- tion that the Assembly of Representatives was composed of


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 277

men who did not know how to read/' What, however, can be expected here when in Spain, the mother country, out of 15,673,000, some 12,000,000 are unalphabetie ? D. Nicanor, an exalted " Federal appears in photographs like a thick- set little Cardiganshire peasant by the side of a Patagonian spouse. When I returned to Corrientes in April, 1869, both these rebels were clean forgotten. You are beginning to understand in England why the King of Naples was ex- pelled, why Otho I. fled from Greece, and why Queen Isabel found herself at Pau. But these South American "pronunciamento^^ movements are beyond even the traveller. Read, for instance, the history of Columbia, or even of New Granada.

The Gaucho and Gauchito are also here, lounging about on animals in correct native costume — flowers stuck behind the ears, ponchos, and chiripa- kilts, their short, stiffly- starched calzonzillos of white or scarlet stufi^ — hideous de- generacy from the broad flowing Turkish Shalwar — show the tops of civilized Wellingtons. All the montures are poor and many are hammer-headed — the horsemanship is better than the horse. The felt or straw head-covering alone distinguishes these people from the wild Indians of the Gran Chaco, who are paddled over every morning by their squaws in canoes, which they easily manage despite the current. They bring fruits, manioc, and billets of the wood nandubay, used for fuel. The staple of trade, however, is the " Chaco grass,'* coarse and thick as a wheat stalk, which, in the absence of alfalfa, serves to fatten cattle. The men disdain to do any- thing beyond loafing, drinking, and stalking about to sell bunches of ostrich feathers, for which they ask a dollar when the value is twenty cents. The Great Chaco swarms with rascals, and these are not exceptions. The pretty squaws are left behind, and the old women attain a pitch of ugliness unknown to civilization, which repau's the damages


278 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

of time. The wavy hair argues that some of them are mixed breeds . they wear rugs and blankets^ earrings and necklaces of beads; many are ornamented with the real tattoo^ which cannot be effaced. A few affect black patches round the eyes ; these " dos ochitos^^ are signs of mourning. Christianity is evidenced by the crosses which the mis- sionaries teach them to prick along and across their noses.

The rest of the city we may easily see. The Liberty Square (Plaza 25 de Maio)^ which has altered little during the last two centuries^ is a grassy manzana^ whose blighted palms and short posts surround a sixty-feet column. This supports a diminutive female armed with a lance and blackened as to the eyes^, with a suite of plaster heroes in yellow epaulettes and broad blue ribbons across their breasts. The old cathedral is a savage caricature of the leaning monster at Tuscan Pisa. A bell- tower, seventy feet high, rises by the side of a low little bare ; it is evidently senior to the fane, and was built to call the people nowhere, be- cause conspicuous and likely to collect subscriptions. There is nought to interest you in the Cabildo, municipality, law court, and prison : the substantial building, once plastered white, now peeled and scaly, dates from 1812, when Deputy- Governor Lazuriaga ruled. A fine view of the river may be had from the Belvidere that tops the tall solid square turret : this structure, not of " Moorish build," is provided with balcony, machicolis, and finials at the corners, which suggest pepper-castors or donkeys^ ears. Perhaps they are emblematical — " burro" (ass) " as a Correntine alcalde" is a saying fathered upon General Artigas — no fool, but a great knave. Further to the west is an old Jesuit convent, now the Casas de Gobierno, the offices for the usual three great departments of State, of Treasury, and of War. Here are the Governor and Ministers, the Gefe Politico (Chief Magis-


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 279

trate or Lord Mayor), the Judges, civil, criminal, and com- mercial ; together with the Bank and the Custom-house.

We have not yet '^ done the churches, which in this country-capital are many, whilst none are wholly mass-less and the canoe-hat abounds in the streets. Fronting the Cabildo are the church and cloistered convent of La Merced, a domeless brick building with Doric portico, and towers as much too low as the cathedral belfry is too tall. The regular orders are the Mercedarios and the Franciscan friars ; the latter have two houses in a " city^' which has not yet dreamed of a book-store. Both are sent to bepreach the Indians, and the payers complain that they prefer the comforts of town to the Christianization of the Gran Chaco. By the side of La Merced is a gloomy prison-like old house, dated 1698, with the tall ornamental gateway — here rare^ but common at Santiago and Lima — the property of a priest some ninety-eight years old : it lately lodged Dr. Santiago Derqui, first civilian President of the Argentine Republic and failure. Two squares to the north-east is San Francisco Solano, whose two steeples, bran-new but still unfinished, are not set square to the front, and are ridiculously thin compared with the old barrel-roof farcically broad. The Azulejos, or blue-glazed tiles, are being slowly applied : they come from Portugal, and they cost money. The simple inside consists of nave and aisles, formed by five substantial whitewashed piers : the high altar is painfully flat, and there is a sacristy but no transept. The earlier shell, some twenty feet high, is evidently old ; the superstructure dates from the days when the Brazilian Pedrinho — cant name for the local Napoleon — represented a crown, and when the pretty Correntinas made money by means that no one would guess. Finally, the new cathedral of San Juan Bautista, ex-chapel of the Rozario, fronts an open space, known as El Piso, grand in size, but bare except of mud or dust, and being gradually


280 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

invested by low tenements. Here huge- wheeled carts^ drawn by restive cattle^ offer for sale grass and firewood. Begun by President D. Juan Puyol in 1854-56, and abandoned in 1858, this promoted fane had cost in 1863 some $130,000. With heavy Doric portico, single double-storied tower, and dome bristling with scafibld, it would readily fall but for the strength of the bricks, which are set with lime outside, and inside with mud. And it runs other dangers : a cannon ball has cracked the belfry. Evidence of a foreign hand appears in the clerestory and in an embryo transept rounded off at both ends ; all, however, is unfinished, except the tem- porary wooden chapel, where collections are made.

We must visit the cemetery, which, as usual, commands a charming view. As at Venice the defunct are the best lodged, so in South America the Cities of the Dead usurp the finest sites. We make it by a road through a dried-up marsh that becomes a slimy pantano after a day's rain, despite the ardent sun ; and presently we reach the Plaza de la Cruz del Milagro. The auspicious site is like the square of a Brazilian village, a common of gramilla or pasto tierno, with here and there a wretched rancho, or a half-roofed hut, growing up around it. Evidently the burial-ground is much too near the homes of the living; meanwhile we greatly enjoy the distant prospect of the city and the graceful inland slope of the grassy and well- wooded river- bank. Before the turreted chapel stands a wooden dial, inscribed F. Johannes Nepumecinus Alegre, 1857. The graveyard is badly kept as the Recoleta of Buenos Aires, and Joao de Barros the thrush impudently sits upon the Emblem of Man's Salvation. The tombs are heavy, taste- less masses, which topple over as soon as possible ; some are oven-shaped ; a family vault resembles a Californian steam- bath sunk in the ground ; there is a quaint monument with its iron railing mighty like a bottomless camp bedstead.


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aud upon anotlier a neat woman mourns in Italian marble.

Three squares to the south lies the Alameda^ sometimes used as a raee-course, but being a sheet of water ankle-deep in rainy weather^ it is not a favourite promenade. Here is a built-up obelisk, the effeet of El Pueblo Correntino^s piety in 1828. The base shows a cross surrounded by flames, with the date April 3, 1588 ; on one side is inscribed " Dextera Domini facit virtu tem (Psalm cxvii. 16) ; the other face bears a long legend alluding to an event of the Conquista- dores days. The city was founded in 1587-88 by D. Alonzo de Vera, distinguished as "El Tupi^^ from his ugly name- sake, whose cognomen was Cara de Perro — dog's face. He called it after his uncle the Gobernador, " Ciudad de San Juan (Torres) de Vera de las Siete Corrientes, either from the seven points of rock jutting out into the Parana, or because the mighty river there formed seven great currents. Others say that Alonzo and Juan were brothers. The first settlement, which numbered only twenty-eight fighting men, was attacked in force by the Guaycurus; the Spaniards covered themselves with a palisade and a mud bastion about half a mile from the barranca under whose shelter lay their ship. Outside the fort was a tall cross of hard green wood, to which the besieged addressed their prayers; this the Indians, believing it to be a charm, carried away and tried in vain to burn. They then attacked the stockade, and were dispersed by a terrible storm, whereupon the Cacique and his six thousand followers begged to be baptized. Excavations made in 1856 found remnants of the old clay entrenchment and an Indian arrow-head, which, says a pious Catholic tra- veller, " seems to confirm the tradition.^ Moreover, a bit of the said miraculous cross is preserved in a neighbour- ing chapel; and if this cannot convince you, nothing will.


282 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

Beyond the Alameda is the Brazilian military hospital of San Francisco,, which caused so much excitement throughout the empire when the evil-minded report was spread that the Correntinos were plotting to burn it. Its commanding position upon the tall bank was admirably chosen. It is, however, now being dismantled. Much of the timber has been plundered, but the energetic Peterkin stops such pro- ceedings with a strong hand. A Brazilian officer involved in this ugly affair was duly punished.

The climate of Corrientes is subject to brutal variations of temperature. Sometimes for days together the mercury will stand at 106° to 108° (F.) in the shade ; then it will suddenly fall to 82°. The people declare that their city is not unhealthy, yet they suffer from languor, chuchu"^ (ague, the Brazial sezao), heart disease, and "pasmo real ^' or tetanus — here common as in Paraguay. I often see the hearse de- corated with besoms of ostrich feathers. The nights are cool and always dewy : in early mornings the land smokes with damp, whilst the sky of noon-day is perfectly pure. Mid- winter (July to August) has a few hardly-perceptible frosts, always when the sun is down ; so in Sao Paulo the people count in the year two freezing nights. On August 13, the date of the great Peruvian and Ecuadorian earthquake, there was a hurricane violent as those of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. September 8 honoured us with a bad storm of thunder and rain from the east, that swamped the land, and made the street-mud slippery as oil : the next day was hot and sultry weather, the morma90 of the Brazil. On September 10 the sky cleared, and the people expected some twenty days of charming spring. In November there are often torrents of rain ; and the citizens, having no fire-


  • Not chucho, which is a kind of poisonous grass, found upon the Pam-

as. Much less chucha. Some write the word chu-chu, and translate it cold-heat," i.e., ague and fever.


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 283

places, must bury themselves up to their noses in the folds of their ponchos.

A day at Corrientes, when the novelty wears off, is not lively. The people rise early, eat oranges, and suck mate. They breakfast or dine at 11 to 12 a.m., as in Egypt, Syria, and the Andine provinces generally ; and they dine or sup at 8 to 9 p.m. Office hours are between 5 to 10 A.M. and 4 to 7 p.m. The siesta is of course universal. Half the day is spent in sleep, and the " balance " in eating, drinking, and smoking home-made cigars, which the fair ones roll up, preferring the femoral muscles to the unelastic wood-slab. We also rise betimes, but when it is fine we walk. We feed at the Cafe Restaurant de la Paz, Calle de la Independencia, where an itinerant band also re- freshes itself. The Carte du Jour, lithographed in Buenos Aires, a reminder of the days when money was coined at Corrientes, offers the usual allowance of potages, entrees rotis, legumes, and desserts.

After breakfast we say, Flanons ! On Sundays there is the sortie de TEglise, where youth and beauty runs the gauntlet between two rows of men. The "lady^^ walks to church leading, in sign of dignity, an Indian-file of half a dozen servants, or rather slave girls. They carry her prayer-book and the rug which is to be spread upon the nave floor. Poorly treated, and purposely kept in profound ignorance, they must stand before their owners in the abject position of crossed arms. A redskin boy may still be here bought for $80 or $100; and the many foreigners, especially the Basques, set in this point the worst example.

Pretty faces are not rare. At a large ball lately given the amount of beauty which cropped out from the far inte- rior surprised all the strangers. The " upper ten" appeared in a variety of Parisian toilette ; hence one remarked that '^ even Buenos Aires looms out in the distance as a beacon


284 A WEEK AT CORllIENTES.

of civilization compared with Corrientes/^ The poorer classes aflPect white or coloured petticoats,, and blue or red shawls^ thrown^ like the "^rebozo" of ancient days^ over the head. They are cunning at making shirts^ drawers, and neatly-embroidered counterpanes^ while they excel in pillow lace. Their cut-work and drawn-work were formerly familiar to us; but Honiton and Valenciennes have ren- dered them obsolete as passement^ crown lace, bone lace, Spanish chain, byas, parchment, billament, diamond chain, and point tresse. Here, however, they are expensive and valueless, as in the Brazil. Formerly Corrientes was a great cotton field, and every plantation had its wooden gin. Now, despite the great efforts made in 1863, the industry has fallen low. Egyptian and Sea Island failed, as might be expected, for want of sea air ; and little is now culti- vated save the arboreal cotton, which averages per annum about 1 lb. of tree-wool.

A positive aversion to marriage extends from Panama to Buenos Aires, — I have noticed it when writing about the Brazil. " Concupinage,^^ as the Teuton calls it, is the rule ; and the piscoeiro or cicisbeo is an institution when wanted. Most men prefer the " china girl, who is easily witched by TLQ, or by " qui que ce soit,^^ and who disdains the regular approaches of hesitant, priant, ecoute, and drutz, or ami. " Tutior at quanto merx est in classe secunda is the ruling idea. Colour prejudice appears rare, and the people have forgotten the old distinctions of mestizo (white and red skin) ; of cuarteron (mestizo and white) ; of octeron and of puchuelo, or one-sixteenth of " Indian blood, which can hardly be distinguished, except by a yellowish white- ness, from the pure breed.

Before the siesta we pay our visits, beginning with D. Victorio Torrent, ex-Deputy and actual Governor. His house is a modest terrea," guarded by four or five "â– In-


A WEEK AT CORIIIENTES. 285

diaticos," with gun on slioulder and big knife in belt. The Brazilians declare that they are '^ bugres/^ or savages trapped in the chase. We are made welcome by M. Bossut^ a Belgian watchmaker, who, having filled his purse, is now going home. For a very simple operation he charged me 1/., frankly declaring it his lowest charge. M. Dumanet, the photographer, determines that we shall sit, and supplies us bountifully with copies of his " Indians," and other local subjects. After a time we stimulate at the store of Mr. T. H. Mangels, Calle Rioja, a collector of botanical curiosi- ties : he kindly gave me sundry duplicates, which proved useful at home. To him Marshal -President Lopez paid $10,000 by way of indemnity for his losses during the Paraguayan occupation. We are introduced to the Town Major, Commandante Piquet, relative to the La Mothe family. He fought under the Generalissimo Caxias against the Liberals at St. Lusia, in the Brazil; and now he is en route to Humaita. We call upon D. Juan Decoud, editor of El Liberal, the most advanced paper ; he has fled his country (Paraguay), where he owes a long tale of vengeance. Of this distinguished family one was put to death by the elder Lopez, and another commands a Paraguayan brigade in the Allied service — D. Juan may look forward to be- coming Minister and even President. The other periodical is the Voz de la Patria, far too moderate to be popular.

Politics run high here, as in other parts of the Confede- ration. Difference of private interests and personal ambi- tions engender fierce feuds, that become old ingrained hates. ^^ To be deemed a man of worth is enough to be one of them ^' (your party) ; and the less scrupulous you are in their service, the more you are valued. Imagine a combination of the ready kniveing of the Highlander in the sixteenth century combined with the political feeling of the Englishman in the early portion of the nineteenth. There


286 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

are perpetual troubles between the two great parties. The Blancos or Gauchos of Monte Video here become the Cocidos or Federals who^ in the days of Rosas^ were known as Degolladores (cut - throats) and Mashorqueros, from mas horca, " more gibbet/^ expressing the animus of the party ; or mazorca, the corn-cob with which they abominably tor- tured their victims. They would make the Republic a con- federation or union of the old provinces, forming inde- pendent states — a system of Government which may have succeeded amongst the Anglo-Americans^ but which has ever failed in Iberia. Chile owes the greater part of her success to having steered clear of this rock. Opposed to them are the Crudos,"^ Liberals or Unitarios, the Colo- rados of Uruguay _, who wish a consolidated central govern- ment, with a district Columbia — not Buenos Aires, if pos- sible — for headquarters. This sterile dualism surprises us by its power to make men cut throats and torture one another; till we remember that reasoning beings can wor- ship the snake and the iguana. Meanwhile all interests and dearest desires are wrapped up in creeds, political and religious : the cosmopolitan, with his " sublime indifference,^' has not yet appeared. Hence, distance from the centres of civilization, chronic misrule and stupid superstitions, are effectual obstacles to all immigration, except that a main armee. This is evidently the sole way to protect the frontier, and if duly carried out it might succeed in re- pressing revolutions.


  • Crudos and cocidos (raw and cooked, or mature) are words now six years

old and growing obsolete. The principal divisions known are the Nationals, who look to consolidation and a capital at Buenos Aires ; the Provincials, or pure localists, who desire conciliation and a district Columbia ; and the Federals, or Rosas men, malcontents opposed to the two others, and agreeing with the Blancos of Monte Video. The old feud between pastoral province and city is well nigh extinct. President Sarmiento has well de- scribed it in his " Civilization and Barbarism," and has illustrated it by an admirable sketch of the " gaucho malo," General D. Juan Eacundo Quiroga.


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. - 287

From 1 to 3 p.m. all Corrientes sleeps. After rising we sip our mate at the house of D. Carmeu and D. Pepa, friends of Pcterkin. The gourds are handed round by the girls of the family ; and in houses where this tea is much drunk, the " cebador/' as the mate -brewer is called, finds his time fully taken up. They chaff us, teach us Guarani as spoken in Corrientes, laugh at our errors, and hand us cigars, which they roll np in the usual way. We greatly prefer the Correntine tobacco, coarsely prepared as it is, to the wretched " Havannas,^^ which cost $40 the thousand. The '^ weed '^ is full of nicotine, although it appears at first to be weak, and the good flavour is much improved by long keeping. It is imported in various shapes ; from Paraguay in loose " pricks," and from Tucuman in sausage- shaped rolls of " bird^s- eye," with a coarse stalk and full of saltpetre as the Syrian Jebayli. The citizens complain that Paraguayan tobacco and mate, the best of their kind, are no longer to be had.

Towards sunset we repair to the river side and watch the fishermen ; here they can always throw in a line and find it weighted with at least 2 lbs. After dinner we visit our " tertuliano," Dr. Charles F. Newkirk, who owns the only wooden chalet in Corrientes — without him the soiree would have been unpassable. A Canadian-born Briton, he had been fined for practising without licence ; now, however, he is en regie, and he makes money despite all the rival mata- sanos or carabins. I was glad afterwards to meet him at Asuncion.

The return home at night, though only down three squares, was never safe. The Correntinos, unless you interfere unduly in the matter of the chubby-faced Correntinas, are a peaceful race. Not so the villain camp-followers — the Basque and the Neapolitan jackals which follow the track of the Brazilian lion. There is such a thing as a Gefatura or Police Office,


288 A WEEK AT CORRIENTES.

at whose door loll men in fancy uniforms, and the Gefe Politico isj as everywhere in Argentine-land, more arbitrary than the Prefet of the Seine. Yet a revolver at night is as necessary as shoes ; and if an unknown ask you for a light, you stick your cigar in the barrel and politely offer it to him without offence being given or taken. Dr. Newkirk, during my stay, was set to work upon a cut frontal artery and a stab in the belly. Peterkin having once been stopped by two men, took the hint, and upon a second trial let fly and winged the bird. He easily got away before the drowsy sereno was aroused by the report.

This province has long been connected with the name of Bonpland, who died aged eighty-four at his estancia in the Misiones, near Mercedes, 50 leagues from this city. Four square leagues had been made over to him by the Provincial Government when President Puyol ruled. The latter also ap- pointed him Director to the Agricultural Colony of Sta. Ana, and Chief of the Museum of Natural Products, Corrientes Province.^ He lived his last years, died, and was buried, at La Restauracion ; and his herbarium of 3000 plants, col- lected between 1816 and 1854, was left to the public, and disappeared. The old Republican seems to have been a poor-spirited soul, who would voluntarily have returned to his prison quarters. The Messrs. Robertson, who must have known the truth, tell a romantic tale of the devoted wife and her desperate adventures to procure the liberation of a fond husband. " Madame Bonpland ^^ is a *^^ china â– '^ woman with a large family, and she never left her native province.

In 1811, the young Republic, after defeating General Belgrano, occupied Corrientes, the " vanguard of Paraguay.^ She repeated the process in 1849, with the view of securing a free transit for her arms and ammunition. Corrientes city was also the theatre of action in the early part of the present war. On 17th April, 1865, five Paraguayan steamers ran


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 289

into port, surprised, fired into, boarded, and took two old merchant vessels belonging to the Argentines, the Gualeguay and the 25 de Maio. The prizes thus piratically made were repaired, and were made to figure in the Marshal-President^s flotilla. The outrage was hailed as a triumph by the out- rager, and the indignation caused in Buenos Aires by the " vandalic and treacherous aggi'ession was of the fiercest. "VVar was at once resolved upon, and both combatants, Para- guayans and Argentines, be it noted, were firmly persuaded that the campaign would be a mere military promenade. The same was the case with us in the Crimea, despite the Napoleonic precept and the world-wide axiom touching the estimation due to an enemy.

On the day following the capture, the Paraguayan Gene- ral Robles, a veteran who, in 1863, received the epaulette of Brigadier, occupied, as has been said, Corrientes with 3000 infantry, and was presently reinforced by 800 cavalry, men from the Paso la Patria. Thereupon Bobles marched south- wards, committing the usual error of weakening his force by leaving under Major Martinez three steamers, two small guns, and two battalions. The people w^ere not unfriendly to the invaders, and the city was well treated. Some assert that white men were forced to kneel in the streets before the in- vader's sentinels, and that the women escaped insult and outrage with some difficulty; others declare that the Para- guayans abused their power only at Bella Vista, and in the country parts.

After this move, D. Jose Berges, Minister of Foreign Affairs, was sent by Marshal-President Lopez to govern Corrientes with the assistance of a triumvirate. That officer's name is still remembered with gratitude. He succeeded in curbing military licence, and passports were freely given to those who desired to expatriate themselves. Governor Lagrana of Corrientes^ also retiring south, called out a lands turm; and

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290 A WEEK AT CORTIIENTES.

on the 3rd April the Brazilian squadron,, under the Com- mandante Gomensoro^ left Buenos Aires to attack the in- vader. They occupied forty- two days in making 600 miles. Gomensoro and Lagrana met with the view of com- bining operations; meanwhile General Caceres, a resident triumvir^ brought into the field 600 soldiers^ and thus General Wenceslao Paunero^ the Argentine who commanded the land forces^ found himself at the head of 1 600 men.

On 25 th May, 1865, took place the " Battle of Cor- rientes/^ under cover of the Brazilian artillery, which fired at friend as well as foe. General Paunero landed his men at the mouth of the Arroyo del Poncho Verde, also called the Manancial : it is the northern one of the two nullahs which traverse the town. The Paraguayans de- fended the old stone causeway, or bridge with one round arch, which leads over the fiumara to the settlement, till, losing about 400 men and seeing the cause hopeless, they fell back during the night about a mile to the south. For this offence the Paraguayan Colonel Martinez was subsequently shot at Paso la Patria. Paunero occupied the Plaza 25 de Maio, and busied himself in embarking the wounded and those partisans who wished to leave the country. It is said that a stampede of horses in the dark caused the assai- lants to make for the squadron, and that in so doing many of the Allies were drowned. After a single day^s occupation Paunero and his expedition returned to the main army, and Berges with his triumvirate once more occupied the city.

The loss of the Argentines in this action about equalled that of the Paraguayans. The latter fought with a rare ferocity. " No tengo orden,-*^ replied a solitary soldier re- solved to die, when summoned to surrender. Another swarmed up an orange-tree, and had to be shot down like a bird. " Quero morir V' cried a disabled man, cutting at those who would save him. I was shown a boy ten years


A WEEK AT CORRIENTES. 291

old who had been wounded, and who was taken prisoner by the Allies when they entered Curupaity in force; he had drawn his knife and defended himself with it till it was struck from his hand.

We may visit the site of the action, which is about one mile beyond the town. Under the old bridge the Para- guayan dead were buried ; and beyond it, to the left, are the Correntino barracks, still pitted with shot and fronted by an orange grove. Here was an old battery, afterwards turned into a caserne and drill-ground ; and guns had been planted on the fiumarabank before 1863. Strongly made of brick, the building was easily to be defended by one battalion 300 strong. The ground then forms a charming slope, swelling high above the rocky bank, and dotted with bom- bax and with oranges planted in straight lines. The soft green turf is bright with flowering plants, which seem to prefer the tent-ruts ; and this season — early September — is the collector's opportunity. Our walk is limited to the Brazilian ^larine Hospital, which was rapidly being dis- mantled, and which had entirely disappeared before April, 1869. The frontage was adapted to the wind, not to the sun as Europe requires ; the wards were independent pavi- lions for better isolation, and the material was whitewashed American pine-lumber, raised on piles, and roofed with wood and painted tarpaulin. It could admit 3000 men ; and each patient had usually 1200 cubic feet of space. Here, as in other hospitals, the French system was carried out, and ours found no favour. There were curious tales of malversation and embezzlement of stores, especially in the matter of fios or '^ charpy,'-* at which the ladies of the Brazil worked so patriotically.

For the moment, adieu ! More of interest in the next.