William Duane.

A visit to Colombia, in the years 1822 & 1823, by Laguayra and Caracas, over the Cordillera to Bogota, and thence by the Magdalena to Cartagena online

. (page 1 of 53)
Online LibraryWilliam DuaneA visit to Colombia, in the years 1822 & 1823, by Laguayra and Caracas, over the Cordillera to Bogota, and thence by the Magdalena to Cartagena → online text (page 1 of 53)
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Easteiin District of PEsifSYLvAsiA, to wit .

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the 5th day of Jane, in the fiftieth year of
the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1826, William Duane,
of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right
whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit :

" A Visit to Colombia, in the Years 1822 and 1823, by Laguayra and Caracas,
over the Cordillera to Bogota, and thence by the Magdalena to Cartagena. By
Col. Wm. Duane, of Philada."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, intituled "An
Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts,
and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein
mentioned." And also to the act entitled, " An act supplementary to an act,
entitled, ' An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of
maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during
the -times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts
of designing, engraving, and etching, historical and other prints."

Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



' THE Visit to the Colombian Republic was made on behalf of

^ persons in the United States, having claims against the govern-
^ ment, of which other agents had not procured the liquidation. It
/ . I was supposed that I should be more likely to accomplish that ob-
ject, and the business required that the first steps should be at Ca-
racas. I proceeded thither, and thence across the Cordillera to Bo-
gota, where I accomplished the settlement to a considerable amount.
^ The parties in seeking to outwit each other embarrassed themselves ;

"^1. they however at length received the amount settled by me— but
contrived to cheat me out of my commissions. The fact would not
be noticed, were it not possible, that an entire silence might be con-
strued into acquiescence in a transaction of transcendant knavery,
meanness, and ingratitude.
w Thirty years ago I became acquainted with some men of virtue

Nj" and intellect, who wer^ preparing the way for that revolution in

\^ South America, which is now realized. Those intimacies had, by
*^ exciting my sympathy, led me to bestow more earnest attention on
the history, geography, and the eventual destiny of those countries.
I perceived the commercial and political importance of those rich
V regions to the United States — countries possessing every thing that
rj nature had bestowed on the other parts of the globe, and much more
Avhich none else possessed. A new creation springing out of chaos ;
inviting the republic, which had only a few years preceded, to com-
municate its institutions, exchange its useful products, and promote
a family of republics, whose institutions must eventually regenerate

A free press enabled me to communicate my anticipations and
conceptions, which I continued to make known, even though laughed
at — and by persons too who are now as zealous friends^ as they were


before sceptical, hostile, and — worse. The generous love oi' liberty
in a free nation, however, triumphed over insidious and open enmity
to the new republics, and procured for my essays and my opinions
a more rational reception ; the government of Colombia thought my
efforts worthy of a vote of thanks ; and the kindness and hospitality
which I experienced in a long journey of thirteen hundred miles,
afforded me ample vengeance for the sneers of those who have now
become the admirers of a revolution, which they before reviled or

No labour has been attempted in this work ; a mere conversational
narrative, such as I should give to a circle of private friends, is all
that I pretend to. I had proposed to comprise my volume within
five hundred pages, but it has swelled to a hundred and twenty
more ; and I find I have not said one half of what my opportunities
and materials would enable rae to say — on the internal state of the
country — its commerce, domestic and foreign — its constitution —
laws and policy — its statesmen and its parties — finances— public
economy — colonization — arts. I meant to have said something about
the Amphyctions of Panama, with the origin of which I was ac-
quainted before any other person now living in the United States —
and I proposed to bestow a chapter on the grand work of the strait
of Panama, to effect which I have made proposals to the Colombian
government (sustained by capitalists) — and which, if accomplished,
as I know it is practicable, would render the communication between
the two oceans as free and more secure than the passage of the straits
of Sunda or Gibraltar.

When this sheet was going to the press, advices have been receiv-
ed of a gust of civil war, at Valencia, in which the reputation of a
hero of the revolution is involved. The occurrence is to be lament-
ed, though the consequences carry nothing serious to the republic.

The cause of this rumor may be found in the federative spirit—
the spirit of party — and the blind passions of personal envy and
personal disappointment, incident to all revolutions, and which are
possibly necessary to complete the career of the revolution, and es-
tablish the power of the laws, where the passions only had prevailed
for so many ages.

Circumstances dependant not on myself, will determine whether
1 shall publish any more on the subject.


PREFACE • .•..••• .••.••..••••••*•.«•..«•* Page 3

Voyage to Lagfuayra* ..••... •••••••••••••••••• •••• 9

Residence in Laguayra and incidents there •••••••••••••••••• • 24

Further anecdotes, and departure for Caracas ••#.•••••••••••• 37

Caracas — first impressions— manners — oriental style of building •••#» 52

Plaza Mayor — market — college — library— ecclesiastical affairs ••••••• 69^*

Religious processions — visit to the country — military parades •••»•• • 87

Bolivar's birth-day — musical party — a coffee plantation ••»•• •••..• 10 1

Departure, preparations for — hints to travellers •••••••••.. ••• 114

Cross the Guayra — cavalcade — the route to San Pedro — San Mateo ••••»• 128

Sugar-mill at the Hacienda of the President Bolivar — pass of La Cabrera —
Faez 143

Lake of Valencia— strategy at Naguanagua .....$•• «••««....••■•• 160


Grenadiers of Colombia— Senator Penalver— barbarity of Boves*** Page 177

Carabobo— Captain Spence and Morales 190

San Carlos— El Altar— buttress tree 204

Barquisimeto — Alcalde — dismal plain — Tucuyo* ••..•#...»•..••••• 218

Humacaro Baxo — knavish Alcalde — wild country • 236

Obispos — Carache — Santa Ana — treaties there • 249

Truxillo — Gen. Clemente — soldier's widow — Mendoza — Christmas day 262

Motatan river — Timothes — curate — tournament — Erica — the Virgin of Chin-

chinquira • 286)


Hospitality at Muchachecs — Merida — Gov. Paredes — Sierra Nevada 294

Exido — Lagunillas — Natron Lake — turbulent Chama* »•• 307

Bayladores — agriculture — Col. Gomez — Gritja — ruse de guerre — Post-house

atElCobre 32§

Army magazines — Challomar — a bivac — Gen. Urdaneta — Capacho— Cucuta 336


Fandango — Saltikal post-house — Indian rancho, happy condition — Pamplona 351

Military depot — arsenal — nulitary drills — training horses — Volcan de Agua

— ffood Franciscan ••• 372


Goitre — Capitanejo — bridge — videttes — Suata — Sefiora Calderon — Sativa 384


Boyacca— traditions — Serinza — a French traveller* • •••• Page 399

Santa Rosa — beautiful town and plain — hospitality — handsome population —

Paypa — los diablos^azulos* •••••••••••• •••••••••••••• t 415

Peeling winds — sublime wilds — Virgin of Chinchinquira, becomes a patriot

— JjuU teazing •• ..••• ••• 428

Fra, Garcia — Tunja — Senor Soto — education* • ••••••••• ••••• 442 ^


Suesca — Hacienda — plain of Bogota — approach to the city — Plaza Mayor* •• 455


Cathedral — palace — market — Calle Real — artisans 471

» '

Cataract Taquendama — Suacha — Franciscan monastery .»... 490

^"Geog^phic sketch — political distribution of the Republic •• 501


JCongress of 1823 — state of the Republic, foreign relations 513

AflPairs of interior •• 526

Financial Report — Report of the War Department — Naval Report 546

Leave Bogota — Quindiu, Guaduas, Honda — hints to travellers 569

Rapids — passage of the Magdalena — Mompox. * • •. 586

Leave Mompox — Teneriffe — anecdotes — Barranca Nueva — the digue — Tur-
bajo — Cartagena. .• **• 602

APPENDIX.—No. L Fundamental law of Angostura, 1819 623

No. II. Fundamental law of Cucuta, 1821 625

No.III. Itineraries •* • ••*• 627


The Pass of Cabrera, to face the title.

The Fall of Taquendanw, to face Chap. XXXU.



Embarcatlon, and reception on board. — A sister of Bolivar occupies same cabin.
The mess a variety of cheerful and agreeable company. — Pass Sandy Hook,
3d Oct. — ^joined by the Vincador, our consort — make sail S. E. — character and
force of both ships. — The horse latitudes — conjectures concerning. — Ship put
in fighting trim. — Anecdote of Seiiora liol'.var. — See Sombrero 14th, afternoon
— passed close to OrchiHa — glimpse of Cape Codcra. — Coast as approached
Caravallada — historical anecdote of its spirited population. — Foundation of
Laguayra. — The Sierra Avilia seen, and the Silla — aspect of the mountains in
front. — Palm trees at Maquiteia — and town. — Casemates of Laguayra con-
stantly beaten by the surf — prison and grave of patriots. — Anchor on 1 8th with
fourteen fathoms cable out — salute, and salute returned. — The U. S. corvette
Cyane, Capt. Spence — his manly conduct — land the 18th. — A harbour easily
formed here secure against all storms. — Find acquaintances unexpectedly .-~
Kindness of American consul, and Commodore Daniels — introduced to Com-
mandarit — quarters. — Oriental style of building and living. — Politeness of a
friend. — Baggage not examined. — Mode of carrying ashore — paying porters.

The Colombian Government, through their agent, Com-
modore Daniels, luid purchased the beautiful corvette Her-
cules, built by Mr. Eckford of New York, in the fall of
1822 : the Commodore, understanding I was about to visit
Colombia, with his accustomed generosity, offered me a pas-
sage, which was extended with the same kindness to my
daughter Elizabeth, and stepson Lieut. R Bache, of the U. S.
Artillery. We were at New York in time, and embarked at
noon on the second of October, 1822 ; and the same evening
anchored within Sandv Hook.


The experience and kindness of the commodore had anti*
cipated every thing that could render our passage and ac-
commodations pleasant. The state cabin had been apj^ro-
priated to Stnora Antonia Bolivar and h«.r daui^hter Jose-
phine; the other tvio births, one to Elizabeth, and one
to myself. Young Pablo, the son of S(.n:)ra Antonia, and
Lieut. Bache, were lodged in the two births next contigu-
ous. The state cabin was also the mess room, and besides
the Commodore and those above mentioned, the mi ss con-
sisted of Captain Austin, who navigated on the part of the
owners ; the ship's husband ; and such of the officers and
passengers on board, in rotation, as the space would con-
veniently admit. We had a great variety of characters, and
(w hat does not always happen on board crowded ships) there
was not a single squabble nor dispute during the vojage;
good humor, and an unstudied disposition to afford every ser-
vice that could be agreeable, rendered the passage rather a
party of pleasure on a river than a voyage at sea in a ship
of war,

Capt. Austin, who was to deliver the ship at Laguayra,
united the literary character with the seaman, and left no-
thing on his part undone to contribute to the general comfort
and pleasure. The officers who occasionally dined with us
gave a diversity to our company, and there appeared to be no
sort of contention but who should be most obliging and atten-
tive. Our fare, to the hour we landed, was in every respect
equal to what we should expect at the best hotel in New
York ; and the wines were equally excellent and abundant.

The first dawn of the 3d of October found us under top-
sails outside Sandy Hook, of which we very soon lost sight.
About 11 o'clock descried a sail, which proved to b^,the
Vincador, Colombian sloop of war, Capt. Shannon, who had
been cruizing for us several days. After the usual commu-
nications between the ships, made sail our course to the S. E.
till otherwise ordered.


The corvette being to be delivt red only at Laguayra, car-
ried the btripes and stars. The Vincador, the colors of Co-
lombia. The Hercules, which after her transfer took the
name of Bohvar, carried twenty five 32 pounders, such as
are usuuliy carried by U. S. corvettes; besides two brass
24 pound cannon on her forecastle. Her crew consisted of
220 prime seamen, principally of the crew lately discharged
from the U. S. I'ngate Macedonian.

The Vincador carried fourteen guns, and her ordinary
complement of 150 seamen, besides the like number of vo-
lunteers intended for other ships of the Colombian navy.
On board borh ships there were several experienced naval
officers extra, destined for the same service ; among whom
were Lieut. Christie, formerly of the U. S. navy, Mr. Mur-
ray, formerly of the British navy, Capts. Clerke, Swaine, &c.
men experienced in naval and military service ; besides a
number of tyros, candidates for appointments in the naval

The weather was fair and winds propitious; nor had we
a rough sea or foul weather during the passage, excepting
the cobbling sea and hazy atmosphere in what the sailors
denominate the horse latitudes.

It would seem that this agitation of the sea and clouded
atmosphere are produced by the encounter of adverse cur-
rents. The waters of the great current of the Orinoco,
which is the grand feeder of the Gulf stream, do not all flow
to the westward, and between Cape Catoche and Cape An-
tonio ; much of those waters are thrown to the N. E. and
pass through the channels of the Windward Islands and the
Antilles ; and I suspect that the warmth which is perceptible
in those currents, brought from the regions beneath the equa-
tor, meeting at those latitudes the currents from the N. W.,
which bring them within the cold temperature of the north,
produce at once this short and broken sea, and the vapour
which for two days excluded the cheering rays of the sun.


The sailors assi,^n as the origin of the. name horse latitudes,
that it has been given by those who, in suppl) ing horses
to the West India islands, here often encountering a more
than usually rough sea, are compelled for safety to throw
their cargoes overboard. I am not aware that this is the
same maritime position to which the Spaniards give the name
of El Mare de los Mulas.

1'his bickering ol tiie waves, which appeared trifling to
persons accustomed to the sea, was coi^idered very rough
weather by those whose first voyage it was. Our course
was not materially interrupted, and the third day restored us
to sunshine, and our dining table to a horizontal position, and
the gallant ship again floated majestically on an even keel
eight and ten knots an hour. Indeed, the passage resem-
bled more the even movement of a steamboat on a spacious
river, than that of a ship of war on the broad and often bois-
terous Atlantic.

Our consort never parted company, reporting alongside at
sunrise and sunset, and sometimes exchanging visits; which
to some of the passengers was very satisfactory, under the
apprehension that wc might be overhauled by Spanish ships
of war ; an apprehension totally unfounded, as there was no
ship then in those seas of sufficient force to encounter us;
and if there were, independent of the importance of our con-
sort, our ship was completely equipped, and was soon after
putting to sea prepared for such a contingency : our flag, it was
reasonable to think, would have prevented a conflict ; but if
the worst should occur, wc had a heavy broadside, an expe-
rienced and intrepid ship's company, and about a dozen gal-
lant ofliicers on board, each competent to command, and who
had seen some rough service and given some hard knocks.

The sailors disliking nothing so much as lounging in their
hammocks, or on the spars, or the forecastle, and besides it
being good for their health, the fine weather was used to put
the ship in fighting trim. The routine of discipline, which


is that of the U. S. navy, in the distribution of duties and
the assignment of stations, was soon accomplished, and every
gun had its captain, gunner, and assistants. Gangs of board-
ers were organized, and helmets, hangers, pikes, axes, and
hand grenades distributed. The idlers (that is, all on board
who are not of the ship's complement) were organized as
marines, furnished with rifles, and assigned to the poop,
forecastle, and tops ; and the spirit-stirring drum beat all
hands to quarters. In an instant every thing was in a bustle,
courses hauled up, matches liglued, water tubs placed, and
every gun manned. The silence was as emphatic and im-
pressive as the momentary agitation. The \\ov(\Jire ! was
echoed by the roar of the guns ; and succeeded by the same
impressive silence. The guns being scaled and reloaded,
the sham-fight closed with a real frolic, — abundance of grog
for the ship's company.

To those who are unaccustomed to the " note of prepara-
tion'* for military action, this mere semblance could not but be
impressive. In the course of the preparation Seiiora Antonia
requested the commodore to inform her where she was to take
her station in case of an action ? The commodore, with per-
fect presence of mind, assured her that she had not been ne-
glected ; that no station on board in time of action was more
important than the charge of the magazine, which was never
entrusted but to the most worthy and confidential ; that this
charge would be committed to herself, and Miss Josephine
and Miss Elizabeth should be her assistants. She appeared for
an instant satisfied, but the commodore adding ; that the ma-
gazine was below the range of shot, and therefore perfectly
out of danger, the countenance of the good lady, before per-
fectly composed, appeared to be lighted up by indignation,
and her eye sparkling, she exclaimed — " No ! no, Senor
Commodore ! no quiero ! — mi nombre es Bolivar, y mi lugar
es en frente del peligro.^'' No ! no, Mr. Commodore, this


must not be ; my name is Bolivar, and when there is danger
my station is in front.

It was the emotion of a moment ; the expression was ani-
mated, and the effect electrical ; it was not until the commo-
dore assured her of a station near himself on the quarter
deck, in case of any adventure, that she was reconciled. To
me the incident wa;> the more rem;irk iblc, b; cause vvhenthe
sea chanced to be agitated in the horse lattudes at nii^ht, or
the ship leaned with a stift" breeze, her hours were devoted
to unceasing prayer ; the holy rosary was repeated, and the
responses by her amiable daui^hter, as long as the ship was
any way disturbed in its motion.

On the evening of the 14th of October the island of Som-
brero was distinctly marked on our starboard bow ; and we
changed our course to the westward. On the morning of
the 15th Saba rose ahead, apparently about the size and
shape of an inverted teacup ; by one o'clock it was largely
defined to the S. S. E. about ten miles, and as we passed at
ten knots an hour, under our upper sails, the figure constant-
ly changed. About five o'clock St. Christophers and Ne-
vis were in sight, and, in the dim distance, St. Eustatia with
its double summit S. W. The whole groupe of islands in
that direction, bore the appearance of headlands to a conti-
nuous continent, and as if stretching from S. E. to N. \V.

This navigation is so well known, that nothing novel
could be said about it ; what has been said is intended ra-
ther to show the good judgment by which the track was cho-
sen, the facility of the passage, and the short time in which
it was performed. Our course lay by the northward of the
celebrated ledge, at the extremity of which is Bird-island ;
and then parallel with its west side, our course nearly south.

On the 16th we heard the surges beat against the steep
solitary rock of Orchilla, distant about three miles on our
larboard ; the boisterous surf seemed to rage in eternal anger
at its base. At half past four we had the first glimpse of


terra frma on our larboard bow. The atmosphere was loaded
Willi a bleejjy vapor, which appeared like a curtain hung hori-
zontally about one hundred feet above our topmast heads ;
the space beneath dimly but distinctly lighted, so that we
could discern Cipe Codera as if growing out of the sea as we
approached land ; after some time it presented its rounded
sumniit and steep north lace to the ocean ; and on the south
side inclined i^radually to the margin of the shore, where
the view was concealed by clouds of vapor of different light
and shjde. The lake of Ticaragua lies to the eastward of
Cape Codera a few leagues, it is an oval bason of twenty by
fifteen mites, formerly open to the sea like the Cinegas of
Maracaibo and La Hacha, but now only accessible in small
boats. This Cinega receives the waters of many valleys,
and particularly those of the Tuy and Caracas. The evapora-
tion Irom these waters 1 presume intercepted the view, and
gave the position an appearance of an inland gulph or the
mouth of a vast river.

A little farther west lies the dark base of the Sierra, which
seems placed like a barrier against the ocean, which perjjetu-
ally beats like a battering ram against its feet, and retiring
only to return again with never exhausted force. The coast
from Cape Codera to Laguayra, about eighty miles apart, has
an ample curve, more apparently regular than real ; nor do
the mountains rise so abruptly and precipitous within the
Cape, as nearer to and in front of Laguayra. The coast is
rugged and rocky, westward of the Cape ; farther west there
is some space between the sea and many recesses in the line
of mountains, upon which scenes of a highly picturesque char-
acter are open to the sea : many small plantations covered
with verdure, and trees too minute to tell their character or
class ; rocky cliffs again appear ; and not less than seventeen
small rivers issue from the Sierra, some of which carry boats
two or three miles inland through those narrow valleys, that
seem crevices in the mountain, and along the margin of


which are fine fields of su^ar cane and cacao plantations ;
near Caravellada, the |)Osiiion at first selected lor a port on
this coast, cultivation is more extensive, and the coast is
composed of detached hills which bear their verdure to their

Online LibraryWilliam DuaneA visit to Colombia, in the years 1822 & 1823, by Laguayra and Caracas, over the Cordillera to Bogota, and thence by the Magdalena to Cartagena → online text (page 1 of 53)