William Bennet Stevenson.

A historical and descriptive narrative of twenty years' residence in South America, containing the travels in Arauco, Chile, Peru, and Colombia; with an account of the revolution, its rise, progress, and results (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryWilliam Bennet StevensonA historical and descriptive narrative of twenty years' residence in South America, containing the travels in Arauco, Chile, Peru, and Colombia; with an account of the revolution, its rise, progress, and results (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


iH J ViIjTjvV lU'ii-' iljil.SlU'


.fA. ^-^r^'^-


'-'i?,;,.:, -^

























i!W:arq[Uig of J^atanj^am,







J. HE interest which the late successful revolution
in Spanish America has awakened in Europe renders
any genuine account of the new world so highly
acceptable to the British nation, that it has become
an almost imperative duty in those who may possess
original matter to communicate it to the public ; for
it may be said, without the least exaggeration, that
although the countries thus emancipated were dis-
covered in the sixteenth century, they have remained
almost unknown till the beginning of the nineteenth.
Fully convinced of these facts, and being
urged by my friends, when I was on the eve of
again crossing the Atlantic, to publish my collec-
tion of notes and memoranda — the gleanings of a
twenty years' residence — in order to contribute my
quota to the small stock of authentic matter already
laid before an anxious public, I have been induced
to postpone my voyage, and to embody my obser-
vations in the manner in which they now appear.


It is undoubtedly of great importance to be-
come acquainted with the features of a country
which has undergone any remarkable change in its
political, religious, or literary career, before that
change took place ; and it is equally important to
know the cause of and the means by which the
change was effected. I have therefore given a suc-
cinct history of the state of the colonies before
their fortunate struggle began to germinate, by des-
cribing their political and ecclesiastical institutions ;
the character, genius, and education of the different
classes of inhabitants ; their peculiar customs and
habits ; their historical remains and antiquities ; and
lastly, the produce and manufactures of the country.

My opportunities for obtaining materials for the
formation of this work were such as few individuals
even among the natives or Spaniards could possess,
and such as no foreigner could possibly enjoy at
the period of my residence.

Dr. Robertson's celebrated history renders any
account of the discovery and conquest of America un-
necessary; but as the Spanish authors from whom his
work was collected always kept in view the necessity of
lulling the anxiety of general curiosity with respect
to the subsequent state of the countries under the
Spanish crown, that work cannot be supposed to be


better than the materials from which it is formed
would allow ; to which I may add, that the different
books published by the philosophic Humboldt are
too scientific, and enter into too few details, to become
fit for general perusal.

I am induced to believe, that my descriptions of
tribunals, corporate bodies, the laws, and adminis-
tration, the taxes and duties, will not be considered
unimportant, because the newly-formed governments
will follow in great measure the establishments of
Spain, modified by a few alterations, perhaps more
nominal than real. Indeed, the present authorities
have already determined, that so far as the Spanish
codes do not interfere with the independence of the
country, they are to be considered as the fundamental
laws of the different tribunals.

The Plates are from original Drawings taken by
Don Jose Carrillo, a native of Quito, now in England.

Should the following pages merit the approbation
of the British public, the author will feel highly gra-
tified by having fulfilled his duty in both hemispheres ;
nor will this reward in the old world be accounted less
honourable than that which he has already obtained
in the new.



Chap. I. — Arrival at Mocha Some Account of Mayo, one

of the Cape de Verd Islands touched at on our Passage. .
Description of Mocha, its Productions, &c. . Leave Mocha
and land at Tucapel Viejo... . .Description of the Indians,

their Dress, &c Indians take me to their Home

Description of the House, Family, Food, Diversions. . . .

Appearance of the Country What Trade might be

introduced. 1

Chap. II. — Leave Tucapel Viejo, and arrive at Tubul.. . Des-
cription of our Breakfast on the road Stay at the House

of the Cacique of Tubul Some Appearances of Civili-
zation Game of Peuca, Wrestling, &c Anchorage,

Trade, &c....Face of the Country Arrival at Arauco...

Taken to the Commandant, Interview described.. . Town

of Arauco Indians who come to barter Weaving of

fine ponchos Excursion to the Water-mills on the

Carampangue River Entertainments, Mate, &c

Visit Nacimiento, Santa Juana, and return to Arauco...
Ordered to Conception 20

Chap. III. — Account of Cultivation of Farms, &c. in Arauca-

nia Thrashing, &c Produce Cattle .. .Locality

..Topographical Divisions Government (Indian)...

Lawsand Penalties Military System. . . . Arms, Stand-
ards, &c Division of Spoil — Treaty of Peace

Religion Marriages Funerals Spanish Cities

founded in Araucania Ideas on New Colonies

Commerce 40

Chap- IV. — Valdivia Port Fortifications River

City-foundation Revolutions Inhabitants — Gar-
rison... Government. . .Rents and Resources.. . Churches...


Exiles Missions in the Province of Valdivia War

with the Indians, and Possession of Osorno. . . .Extract
from a Letter in the Araucanian Tongue, and Trans-
lation 67

Chap. V. — City of Conception de Mocha Foundation

Situation Government Tribunals — Bishop

Military Churches Houses Inhabitants and

Dress Provincial Jurisdiction Produce Throw-
ing the Laso Fruit Timber Trees Shrubs

Mines Birds... ...Wild Animals. ...Lion Hunt

Shepherd Dogs Breeding Capons Return to Con-
ception 82

Chap. VI. — Sent to Talcahuano Description of the Bay

and Anchorage Plain between Conception and Talca-
huano Prospectus of a Soap Manufactory here

Coal Mine Town, Custom-house, Inhabitants, &c....

Fish, &c.. caught in the Bay Colonial Commerce —

Prospectus of a Sawing Mill . . 118

Chap. VII. — Leave Talcahuano in the Dolores Passage

to Callao Arrival Taken to the Castle Leave

Callao Road to Lima Conveyed to Prison 130

Chap. VIII. — Lima, Origin of its Name Pachacamac

Foundation of Lima... . Pizarro's Palace. .. .Situation of
the City Form of the Valley Rimac. ..River Cli-
mate Temperature Mists and Rain Soil

Earthquakes Produce 143

Chap. IX. — Viceroys and Archbishop of Lima.. . Viceroyalty,
Extent Viceroy's Titles and Privileges. . . .Royal Au-
dience Cabildo Forms of Law Military Re-
ligion Inquisition Sessions and Processes Arch-
bishop Royal Patronage Ecclesiastical Tribunals

Chapter, CabilJo Ecdesiastico Curates. .. .Asy-
lum of Immunity. . . . Minor Tribunals Consulado



Crusade Treasury Accompts Temporalidades,

Protomedicaio 172

Chap. X.— Taxes, Alcavala. . . Indian Tribute Fifths of

the Mines Lances Stamped Paper Tobacco....

Media Anata AprovechamientGs Composicion and

Confirmacioii of Lands Royal Ninths Venal Offices

Estrays Confiscations Fines Vacant Suc-
cessions Almoxarifasgo. . . . Corso Ai'mada. . . . Con-
sulate Cirquito Vacant Benefices Mesada

Ecclesiastica Media A nata Ecclesiastica Restitu-
tions Bulls 195

Chap. XL — City of Lima Figure and Division Walls

..Bridge..Houses.. . .Churches — Manner of Building

Parishes Convents Nunneries Hospitals

Colleges. . . .Plasa Mayor Market Interior of the

Viceroy's Palace Ditto Archbishop's Ditto Ditto

Sagrario Ditto Cathedral. . . .Ditto Cavildo 210

Chap. XII. — Particular Description of Parish Churches. .. .

Of Santo Domingo Altar of the Rosary St. Rosa

and other Altars Cloisters Sanctuary of Saint

Rosa.... Church of San Francisco.. . Chapels Del Milagro,

De Dolores, De los Terceros Pantheon Cloisters,

San Diego. . . .San Agustin La Merced. . . .Profession

of a Nun, or taking the Veil... . Hospitals of San Andres,
of San Bartolome and others.... Colleges of Santo Toribio,

San Carlos, Del Principe. . . .University Inquisition

.... Taken to it in 1806 . . .Visit to it in 1812, after the

Abolition Inquisitorial Punishments Foundling

Hospital Lottery Mint Pantheon 23/

Chap. XIII. — The Population of Lima Remarks.... Table

of Castes The Qualifications of Creoles Population

and Division Spaniards Creoles, W'hite

Costume. . . . Indians. . . African Negroes . . .Their Cofra-

dias, and Royal Personages Queen Rosa Creole

Negroes Mestisos. . . .Mulattos . .. . Zambos — Chinos



Quarterones and Quinterones Theatre Bull

Circus Royal Cockpit Alamedas... . Bathing Places

Piazzas Amancaes Elevation and Oration Bells.

Processions of Corpus Christi, Santa Rosa, San

Francisco and Santo Domingo PubUcation of Bulls

Ceremonies on the Arrival of a Viceroy 283

Chap. XIV. — Fruits in the Gardens of Lima — Flowers

Particular Dishes, or Cookery Chuno, dried Potatoes

Chochoca, dried Maize. . . .Sweetmeats. . . .Meals —

Diseases Medical Observations On the Commerce

of Lima Profitable SpeciUations 330

Chap. XV. — Visit to Pisco Town of Pisco. . . . Bay of Pisco

Curious Production of Salt Huano Huanaes

....Vineyards, Brandy Vineyard de las Hoyas

Fruits Chilca, Village of Indians Leave Lima,

Road to Chancay Pasamayo House Nina de la

Huaca.. ..Maize, Cultivation Use oi Huano Hogs

On the Produce of Maize Different kinds of. . . .

Time of Harvesting Uses of. . ..Chicha of. . ..Sugar of. .

Town of Chancay Colcas Town of Huacho. ...

Chacras of the Indians On the Character of the Native

Indians — Refutation of what some Authors have said of

Manners and Customs of Tradition of Manco

Capac Ditto Camaruru Ditto Bochica Ditto

Quitzalcoatl These Traditions favourable to the Spa-
niards Government of Manco Capac... .Representation

of the Death of the Inca Feast of Corpus Christi at

Huacho Indian Dances — Salinas 355

Chap. XVI. — Villa of Huara — Description Village of

Supe. . . . Ruins of an Indian Town Huacas, Burying

Places Bodies preserved entire — Village of Barranca

Earthquake in 1806 Barranca River — Bridge of

Ropes Village of Pativilca.... Sugar Plantation

Produce and Profit Cane cultivated Mills . .Sugar-
house. . Management of Slaves. . Regulations &c. of Slaves. 4 1

Ara-ivalat Modia Some account of Mayo, pneofthe Cape de Yer^ Islands

touched at on our passage Description of Mocha, its Ptoductions, &c.

Leave Mocha, and landatTucapel Viejo Description of the Indians,

their Dress, &c Indians take jne to their Home Description of the

House, Family, Food, Diversions Appearance of the Country

What Trade might be introduced.

On the 14th of Febriiiary, 1804, 1 landed on the
Island of Mocha, aflter a passage <)f upwards of
five months from England, during which we
passed between the Cape de Verd Islands, and
touched at one of them called Mayo, for the pur-
pose of procuring salt, which appears to be
the only article of commerce. It is produced
by admitting the sea water on flats, embanked
next to the sea, during the spring tides, and allow-
ing it to evaporate : the salt is then collected
and carried off before the return of the high
tides, when the water is again admitted, and
the same process takes place. The sea water
is here strongly impregnated with salt, owing
probably to the great evaporation caused by the
intense power of the heat, which also aids and
hastens the process on shore. The inhabitants


whom I saw were all blacks, with the solitary ex-
ception of a priest, and many of them in a state of
nudity, even to an age at which decency if not
modesty requires a covering. A small quan-
tity of bananas, the only fruit we could procure,
and some poultry, were brought from St. Jago's,
another of the islands, visible from Mayo.

The Island of Mocha, situate in 38° 21' S.
and that called Santa Maria, lying about 80
miles to the northward of it, were the patrimony
of a family, now residing at Conception, of the
name of Santa Maria, who lived on the latter,
and sent some people to reside at Mocha, but
after the commencement of the war between
England and Spain, in 1780, the family, as well
as the whole of the inhabitants, were ordered
by the government of Chile to quit the islands,
under the pretence that these were a resort for
smugglers : a pretence derived from the common
error, that privacy is preventive of contraband.

During the time that Mocha was in the pos-
session of the Santa Marias a number of the
original indian inhabitants, belonging to the tribe
found on it when first visited by the Spaniards
in 1549, resided there, but they were also re-
moved to Conception.

These two islands having been once in-
habited, there are yet to be found some few
remains of cattle, which have continued to pro-


create : on Mocha are horses and pigs, and some
barn door fowls. Mocha is about fifteen miles
in circumference, hilly in the centre, and slop-
ing towards the coast, more so on the western
side, where a tolerably good anchorage and
a safe landing place, on a sandy beach, may be
found. Fresh water flows from several springs;
wild turnips, mint and other herbs grow in
abundance; the trees on the hilly part are
principally the white cinnamon, named by the
Spaniards canelo, the magui, the luma, a tree
called espino, and others. Here are also apple,
peach and cherry trees, with a variety of wild
strawberries, and myrtle-berries. Some solitary
seals yet remain on the rocks on the south side
of the island.

I left Mocha after remaining there alone
thirty-two days, and landed from the brig Polly
at Tucapel Viejo, the residence of one of the
Caciques, or Ulmenes, of the Araucanian indians,
by whom I was most hospitably treated.

The male indians who appeared on the beach
were of a reddish brown or copper colour, few
of them reaching to the height of six feet. They
were finely shaped and very muscular, having
a round face, well formed forehead, small black
eyes, flattish nose, moderately thick lips and
good teeth, but no beard. The whole of the
countenance is expressive of a certain portion of

4 f ^AfELS I?!'

vividly, and not uninteresting; the hair is black
and strong, all of it being drawn behind the head
and platted. The women are lower in stature thatt
the men, their features similar, and some of the
girls, if I be not allowed to call them handsomcy
I cannot abstain from saying are very prett}'^/
The females wear their hair long, and platted
behind their heads: it is afterwards wrapped
round with a tape about an inch and a half broad<
to one edge of which are attached a iiumber of
small hawks' bells: the plait is allowed to hang
down the back, and not unfrequently reaches
below their knees.

The dress or Costume of the indians at
first appeared very singular to me. In the men
it consisted of a flannel shirt, and a pair of loose
drawers of the same material, generally white,
teaching below the calves of the legs ; a coarse
species of rug about two yards wide and two
and a half long, with a slit in the middle througll
which the head was passed : this garment,
if so I may style it, hanging over the shoulders
and reaching below the knees, is called a poncho.
The common ones seemed to be made from a
brownish sort of wool, but some were very fan-
cifully woven in stripes of different colours and
devices, such as animals, birds, flowers, &c.
Of the poncho I shall have occasion to speak
again, as it is universally worn in all the pro-


tmces of South America which I visited ; but
I must say here, that I considered it as an ex-
cellent riding dress; for hanging loosely and
covering the whole body, it leaves the arms quite
at liberty to manage the whip and reins. The
hat commonly worn is in the form of a cone,
without any skirts ; for shoes they substitute a
piece of raw bull's hide cut to the shape of the
sole of the foot, and tied on with slender
thongs of leather. The females wear a long
white flannel tunic, without sleeves, and an upper
garment of black flannel, extending below their
knees, the sides closed up to the waist, and the
corners from the back brought over the shoulders
and fastened to the corners of the piece in front
with two large thorns, procured from a species of
cactus, or with large silver brooches : it is after-
wards closed round the waist with a girdle
about three inches broad, generally woven in
devices of different colours; very often, however,
nothing but the white tunic is worn, with the
girdle, and a small mantle or cloak called ichella.
The favourite colour among the Indians appeared
to be a bluish green, though I saw few of their
garments of this colour at Tucapel, but remarked
afterwards, at the town of Arauco, that all those
who came to sell or barter their fruit, &c. wore
it. The females generally have nothing on their
heads or feet, b]it have a profusion of silver rings


on their fingers, and on their arms and necks an
abundance of glass bead bracelets and necklaces.
The occupation of the men, as in most unen-
lightened countries, appeared to be confined to
riding out to see their cattle, their small por-
tions of land, cultivated by the women, and to
hunting. The females were employed spinning
wool with a spindle about ten inches long, hav-
ing a circular piece of burnt clay at the bottom,
to assist and regulate the rotary motion given
by twirling it with the finger and thumb at the
upper end. They generally sit on the ground to
spin, and draw a thread about a yard long, which
they wind on the spindle, tie a knot on the upper
end, and draw another thread : though this
work is very tedious, compared to what may be
done by our common spinning-wheels, yet their
dexterity and constancy enable them to manu-
facture all their wearing apparel. Weaving is
conducted on a plan fully as simple as spin-
ning. The frame-work for the loom is com-
posed of eight slender poles, cut in the woods
when wanted, and afterwards burnt; four of these
are stuck in the ground at right angles, the other
four are lashed with thongs at the top, forming
a square, and the frame is complete. The trea-
dles are then placed about a foot from the front,
having a roller at the back of the frame for the
yarn and another in front for the cloth, both tied


fast with thongs ; the sleys, made of worsted,
doubled, have two knots tied in the middle of
each pair of threads, leaving a small space be-
tween the knots through which to pass the warp.
After all the yarns are passed through the sleys
the ends are tied in small bunches to the roller,
which is turned round by two females, one at
each end, whilst another attends to the balls in
front; the other ends of the yarn are then tied to
the roller in front. The thongs connected with the
treadle are fastened one to each of the sleys,
and a thong being made fast to the upper part of
one of them is thrown over a loose slender pole,
placed on the top of the frame and then made
fast to the other sley, so that when one treadle
is pressed by the foot it draws down one of the
sleys, holding every alternate thread, and the
other rises, carrying with it the other half of the
warp. Instead of a shuttle the yarn is wound
round a slender stick, of the necessary length,
and passed through the opening formed by the
rising of one of the sleys and the falling of the
other; the contrary treadle is then pressed
down, and a slender piece of hard heavy wood,
longer than the breadth of the cloth, is passed
across, and the weaver taking hold of both ends
drags it towards her and compresses the thread.
This piece of wood, shaped somewhat like a long
sword, is called the macana, and has often been


resorted to as a weapon in time of war. The
same rude mode of weaving is common, though
not universal, in South America. The manner of
weaving ponchos I shall describe when treating
of the town of Arauco, for what 1 saw here did
not deserve attention.

Besides the laborious occupation of spinning
and weaving, and tlie usual household labour,
each wife (for polygamy is allowed, every man
marrying as many wives as he choose, or
rather, as many as he can maintain) has to
present to her husband daily a dish of her
own cooking, and annually a 'poncho of her
own spinning and weaving, besides flannel for
shirts and drawers. Thus an indian's house
generally contains as many fire places and looms
as he has wives, and Abbe Molina says, that in-
stead of asking a man how many wives he has,
it is more polite to ask him how many fires he

The females are cleanly in their houses and
persons; dirt is never seen on their clothes, and
they frequently bathe, or wash themselves three
or four times a day. The men also pay great at-
tention to the cleanliness of their persons. The
females attend to the cultivation of their
gardens, in which the men w^ork but little,
considering themselves absolute masters — the
lords of the creation, born only to command.


and the women, being the weaker, to obey:
sentiments which polygamy supports; plurality
of wives tending to destroy those tender feelings
of attachment which we find in countries wliere
the law allows only one wife. The principal
part of the labour of their farms is performed
by the women, who often plough, sow, reap and
carry to the thrashing floor the wheat or barley,
which, when trodden out by horses, is thrown
into the air, that the wind may blow away the
chaff. I saw no other grain at Tucapel or its
vicinity but wheat and barley, in small patches;
but I was told that they produced a hundred

The care of the offspring is entirely committed
to the women. A mother immediately on her
delivery takes her child, and going down to the
nearest stream of water, washes herself and it,
and returns to the usual labours of her station.
The children are never swaddled, nor their bodies
confined by any tight clothing ; they are wrap-
ped in a piece of flannel, laid on a sheep skin,
and put into a basket suspended from the roof,
which occasionally receives a push from any
one passing, and continues swinging for some
minutes. They are allowed to crawl about
nearly naked until they can walk; and after-
wards, to the age of ten or twelve years, the


boys wear a small poncho, and the girls a
piece of flannel, wrapped round their waist,
reaching down to the knees. The mother, after
that age, abandons the boys to the care of the
father, on whom they attend and wait as ser-
vants; and the daughters are instructed in the
several works which it will ere long become their
duty to fulfil. To the loose clothing which the
children wear from their infancy may doubtless
be attributed the total absence of deformity
among the indians. Perhaps some travellers
might suggest, that confinement in any shape
would be considered disgraceful to the haughty
Araucanians, who are pleased to call them-
selves, " the never vanquished, always victors."

The house to which I was conveyed by the
indians was about five leagues from the coast,
situated in a ravine, towards the farther ex-
tremity of which the range of hills on each side
appeared to unite. A stream of excellent water
ran at the bottom of the small valley, winding its
way to the sea, and fordable at this time of the
year, but visibly much deeper at other times,
from the marks of the surface water on the banks
and on several large pieces of rock lying in the

The low part of the ravine (at first more than
three miles wide, and gradually closing as we

Online LibraryWilliam Bennet StevensonA historical and descriptive narrative of twenty years' residence in South America, containing the travels in Arauco, Chile, Peru, and Colombia; with an account of the revolution, its rise, progress, and results (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 24)