H. M. (Henry Marie) Brackenridge.

Voyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.2) online

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Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeVoyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.2) → online text (page 6 of 25)
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frost, snow, and hail, not uncommon, from the vicinity
of the lofty peaks of the Cordilleras in this quarter.
Other parts, similarly sheltered, produce all the fruits and
vegetables of hot or temperate climates ; while in the moun-
tainous parts, there are large woods of valuable timber,
but infested with wild beasts ; and on the heaths are
foimd guanacos, vicunas, and European cattle. The
city contains a college for the education of those de-
signed for civil or ecclesiastical employment ; but it is
spoken of as a very indifferent institution. The markets
of La Paz are well supplied. The lake and the ocean
furnish an abundance of fresh fish; wheat is brought
from Cochab^mba, and other districts of Peru; sugar^
coffee, chocolate, are brought from the neighbouring' dis-


tricts. There are vineyards in the neighbourhood, from
which some wine is made, but there is always a plentiful
supply from the coast of the Pacific. It was in the river
at this place, that an extraordinary mass of virgin gold
was found by an Indian, while bathing^, and valued at
eleven thousand dollars. The city sufiered considerably
in the insurrection of Tupac Amaru, but had begun to
flourish, when, in 1808, the fire of the revolution was
kindled here, and has been the scene of the most fearful
and desperate struggles. The manifesto of indepen-
dence of Buenos Ayres, states, that the wells were
poisoned by the royalists, and that a barrack containing
three hundred patriot soldiers, was treacherously blown
up ; it is also stated, that great cruelties were committed
by Goyneche, by whom the revolution was suppressed ;
that the same scenes of carnage and butchery occurred
here, as at Santa Fee de Bogota, where the bloody Moril^
lo perpetrated his barbarous and savage butcheries.

Pacages contains a great number of silver mines,
lies along the western Cordillera, and is in general too
cold for grain; the inhabitants therefore apply them-
selves to the breeding of cattle for the supply of some
of the neighbouring provinces.

Cica-Cica is an extensive district; its climate various.
As in other districts of Peru, there are mines of gold
and silver. In the village of Ayoayo, there is a salt
spring, at which great quantities of salt, of a very su-.
perior quality, are produced. The coca is cultivated
here extensively. This is a plant whose leaves are pre-
pared and dried for the purpose of chewing ; it has been
called " the tobacco of the Indians." It is indispensable
to the comfort of the Indian miners of all Peru ; im-
mense quantities are therefore consumed.

Ckulamani is situated to the east of the city of La Paz :
it is chiefly celebrated for its plantations of coca or



betel.* Coffee is also cultivated here, but not exten-
sively ; chocolate being much more in use. The coca of
this province, is said to be the best in America. The
colder parts of the district feed large flocks of sheep.

Omasuegos lies along the eastern side of lake Titicaca,
(or Chucuito.) The air is somewhat cold, and, there-
fore, unfavourable to the production of grain, which de-
fect is amply compensated by the great number of cattle.
The Indians who live along the borders of the lake, carry
on a trade in fish, with the other provinces, and are very
industrious in improving these advantages. A remark-
able wall is seen in this district, of thirty miles in length,
extending from the region of perpetual snow, down to
the edge of the lake ; constructed, it is supposed, for the
same purpose with that of China, and may be ranked
among the vast number of interesting remains of anti-
quity to be met with throughout all upper Peru, and parti-
cularly in the vicinity of this celebrated lake. A part of
the quicksilver mines of Coabilque (supposed to be
equal to that of Huancavelica, in lower Peru,) is si-
tuated in this district. They were not permitted to be
worked, for what cause is not knowTi. The mines of
Huancavelica, fell in some years before the revolution,
and the supply had to be made up from different parts
of Europe ; a principal cause of the diminution in the
products of the mines, is the want of quicksilver ; with-
out which, they cannot be worked. The intendency of

• It is stated by Pazos, that tlje sale of this article of Ci-st neces-
sity for all Peru, in the city of La Paz, where the commerce centres,
amounts to the enormous sum of five millions ! lie mentions one
estate alone, whose annual revenue is sixty or seventy thousand
dollars. The coca is almost peculiar to La Paz, as the matte i* to


La Paz, having been so frequently the seat of w ar, during
the present contest, may account for their not working
the mines of Coabilque. The lake of Titicaca, contains
a number of beautiful islands ; one of which was a
mountain, but levelled by the Incas. Manco Capac is
fabled to have first appeared here, and in memory of the
event, the magnificent Temple of the Sun, so much ce-
lebrated, was raised on this island. The temple con-
tained vast riches, as it was the Mecca of the Peruvians ;
all who visited it leaving valuable presents. On the
conquest of the country, all these riches were thrown
into the lake, in order to disappoint the rapacity of the
conquerors. The island produces fruits, flowers, and
vegetables, and possesses fine pastures. This lake will,
in time, be the means of canying on a most extensive
trade with the provinces of Peru, and will greatly as-
sist the communication with the Pacific. One day or
other, the whole of this table land, capable of support-
ing the population of France, will be attracted to
the shores of the Pacific, through its means ; and from
the Pacific, what further directions might be given
to its vast wealth, by the help of steam-boats, may, per-
haps, be rash to conjecture. If there should be a free
passage from Tehuantepec to Guasecualco, in the gulph
of Mexico, one might go in thirty 07- forty days from
the city of Washington to La Paz, which would be
much more wonderful than a regular line of stage coaches
from Washington to Mexico, as suggested by Hum-

, Laricaja is the most extensive district of the inten-
dency, being three hundred and fifty miles in length, by
ninety in breadth, it is extremely rugged, and the cli-
mate infinitely various, from the circumstance of there
not being any great extent of country of the same elev—

F 3


tion. It is full of rapid mountain streams, with nume-
rous cataracts, which flow into the Beni, a very impor-
tant branch of the Amazon. Several valuable gold mines
are worked, but like every other distiict of Peru, in a
limited degree compared to what they might be made to
produce. Gold is found in the river Tipuani, embodied
in clay, in lumps requiring merely to be melted down and
cast into plates or ingots. At this town the Beni loses
its rapid current, and is as navigable as the Ohio at Pitts-
burgh. The reduced Indians below, frequently come to
this place in their canoes, and during the insurrection of
Tupac Amru, a Spaniard descended this river with
enormous treasures, which he put on board a Portuguese
vessel, and carried to Spain. The country at Tupua-
nir, according to Pazos, becomes level, "and stretches
off towards the north and east, into expanded plains
covered with forests, and exhibiting gentle undulations
of hills clothed in luxuriant vegetation. From the top
of the mountain of Silla near Tupuani, tlie river is ex-
tremely open towards the north and east. I do not ima-
gine that a finer country can be presented to the human
eye ; and when we consider that in the neighbourhood
are mines of gold, the richness of which has never been
explored; that there are groves of costly woods, and
forests of the finest timber trees, with a soil of gieat
fertility, and capable of producing all the various pro^
ductions of the earth, not excepting the cinnamon and
spices of the Indian isles ; and that all these things are
seated at the head and on the borders of water navigable
to the Atlantic ocean ; we must be satisfied that the bright-
est visions of fancy can scarcely pourtray, to the future
rulers of this favoured country, its importance to the
commerce of the United States, the changes which will
be wrought by its independence in the political econo-


my of nations ; in short the floods of wealth which will
roll down the broad basin of the Amazon and its tribu-
tary streams to enrich the world."

Apolobamba, a province of very considerable extent,
but thinly inhabited, chiefly by civilized Indians, and a
few Spaniards and Creoles, who own large estates. The
cocoa of this country is in very high repute. Rice, cot-
ton and wax, are among its staples. This district does
not properly lie in alto Peru, it is in the low country on
the eastern side of the eastern ridge, and borders on the
vast and fertile plains of Amazonia.

Each of these minor jurisdictions, or districts, con-
tains a number of other subdivisions; or rather of
towns and villages, as the country is in general
settled in that manner, and not by a scattered popu-
lation, as in the United States. The minor distiicts
enumerated, have also a very considerable extent of
territory. In speaking of countries at a great distance,
territorial space appears to dwindle into comparative
insignificance ; there is scarcely any one of these dis-
tricts, which is not as large as the state of Dela-
ware, or Jersey, and several equal in size to Mary-
land, or PennsylvEinia. The intendencies within which
they are comprised, are of equal extent with our
largest states, not to speak of the vast country, or
wilderness, which lies between the eastern ridge of
the Cordilleras and the territory of Portugal, and the
river Paraguay. None of the intendencies spoken of,
exceed that of La Paz in importance, either with re-
spect to position, or the value of their products. Be-
sides the coca, and its excellent cacao,"' it produces a
great abundance of cofibe. The vine and the sugar-
cane, rice, and cotton, are equally suited to its soil and
climate. The Peruvian bark is one of the most abun-
dant productions. Nearly all the streams which de-


scend from the eastern Cordillera, flow over sands,
with which are mingled particles of gold, and nearly
all its ridges contain veins of this precious metal.
There are also silver mines in Caquisiri, Caquingora, Ma-
chaca, Berenguela, Tiaguanaco, and Acacachi. There
are some emerald mines in Caquiaveri, native copper
in Curaguara, and a mine of quicksilver in Guarina. Be-
sides this mineral wealth, its fertile plains and slopes
are covered with domestic flocks, and abundance of
game surpassing all the other provinces.

The fourth intendency, that of Gochabamba, has
been described with minuteness by a German philo-
sopher, at least as to its natural history and pro-
ductions. It is situated to the south of La Paz, and
borders on the district of Santa Cruz de la Sierra on
the east. It is separated on the south, from Charcas,
by the Rio Grande, and a chain of mountains, of great
elevation, form a barriers on the north; its western
boundary is the Cordillera of the coast, and it ex-
tends to the vast plains of Chiquitos, on the east ;
towards which it gradually slopes ofi", forming an in*-
clined plane, whose highest point of elevation is the
summit of the Cordillera. Its base is the level track
which stretches across the Paraguay, and Parana,
towards the Atlantic. It possesses, therefore, every
soil and climate of the world; on the eastern side of
the Cordillera, there is a gi-eat abundaace of mineral
wealth in the declivities of the mountains and plains
beneath ; in the highest regions of the mountains,
there are great numbers of the native sheep; in the
more temperate regions, an abundance of maize, barley,
wheat, vines, olives, and all the fruits of the old world,
are produced. The luxuriance of vegetation, is in pro-
portion to the distance from the simimit of the moun-
tains; at the same elevation with those of the frazil.


the vegetation is precisely the same; trees and plants
innumerable cover the soil with prodigious abundance,
and fill the air with fragrance and salubrity. Nature
here displays her creative power in all its beauty and
variety : this fertile soil produces the palm, the pine-
apple, the banana and its various species, cocoa, Peru-
vian bark, the sugar-cane, and cotton. I refer the
reader to an interesting paper of Mr. Haenk, publish-
ed in the appendix to the work of Azara. Coacha-
bamba is considered one of the most industrious and
agricultural provinces of upper Peru ; its principal
staples are wheat and maize, whicli it exports to
neighbouring districts ; the soil is said to yield from
sixty to a hundred for one. In its district of Valle
Grande, considerable quantities of tobacco are raised.
Peruvian bark, cocoa, and indigo, are amongst its
products. Its forests produce a variety of woods
adapted to cabinet work, and considerable quantities
of furniture are made by the inhabitants. There are
also manufactures of green glass, with which some of
the neighbouring provinces are supplied. Coarse cotton
cloths are likewise manufactured, and sent to almost
every part of Peru. There are also rich gold mines,
but, at present, entirely neglected. Oropesa, or Co-
chabamba, the capital, is a beautiful city, containing
upwards of twenty-five thousand inhabitants, and situ-
ated on a plain near the river Sacabo. The roads lead-
ing into the city, are planted with lofty forest trees, re-
sembling the finest avenues of Versailles ; in the vicinity
there are extensive gardens, highly cultivated, and
orchards of the finest fruits.

The inhabitants are mestizos and cholos, and are
said to dififer from the population of the other pro-
vince, being taller, fairer, and generally better made.
The fairness of the complexion of the mixed race, has


already been noticed in speaking of Paraguay, as a
kind of phenomenon ; which is noticed by Azara,
Fimes, and Pazos. The inhabitants oi Cochabamba,
have taken by far the most active part in the scenes
of the revolution, of any of the provinces of Peru. They
are said to be more intelligent than their neighbours, are
not so much cooped up in towns and villages, and are
represented to be industrious farmers and skilful me-
chanics, and to possess much less inequality of fortune
than is usual in these provinces.

Santa Cruz de la Sierra (or Puno,) is usually
enumerated as one of the intendencies of Los Charcas ;
but it is not mentioned as such in the Guia de Foras-
teros; and in Wilcock, it is said to be immediately
'dependent on the viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres.* This
jurisdiction is also said to embrace the country of Chi-
qnitoB on the east, and of Moxos on the north ; it is,
therefore, of great extent, and includes numerous
tribes of Indians, who do not acknowledge the Spa-
nish dominion. Santa Cruz is divided into two dis-
tricts; the first of the same name, the other called
Misque ; which has, at present, a representative in
congress. How far the Spanish power is established
here, I do not know; but as this country lies to the
east of the Andes, and is separated from Peru by
those elevated mountains, it is possible that it may be
^ee from Spanish control. A road was explored in
the year 1791, (by the same Comejo who descended the
Vermejo,) across the low country from Salta to Santa
Cruz ; thus avoiding the circuitous and mountainous
route by Chuquisaca. The province of Misque is
said to be very fertile, and produces great abundance

* That is, having uo dependence on the audencia of Charoas.


of Corn, sugar, grapes, bees-wax, and honey. Great
quantities of the latter are procured by the inhabitants
of the countries bordering on the Gran Chaco and
Chiquitos, from the wild bees which hive in the neigh-
bouring forests. The district of Santa Cruz was set-
tled, as has been mentioned, by Nuflo de Chaves, in
155S, by reducing sixty thousand Indians, chiefly of
the Moxos tribe. The vast forests which stretch to-
wards Paraguay, and the overflowing of the lake Xa-
rayes into the country of the Chiquitos, to what dis-
tance westward is not well known, renders it almost im-
possible to penetiate with any considerable force to Pa-
raguay in that direction ; but it is a matter of surprise
to me, that no attempt has been made by the royalists^
who have possession of Potosi and La Plata, to descend
the Pilcomayo ; which is well known to be navigable
without any inteiTuption.

The district of Moxos, includes £in area of four hun-
dred and fifty miles from north to south, and six hun-
dred from east to west. A few Spanish settlements and
missions are scattered over this extensive country, and
which is capable of supporting an immense population.
The Indians are, generally, reckoned amongst the Indios
Fieles, or converted Indians, but the sovereignty of
Spain over them is precarious, and of little value;
the only government which at present exists is mi-
litary. Tlie air is hot and moist, on account of the
many rivers and large forests which this province
contains. Its climate is, in every respect, tropical.
The cocoa of Moxos is said to be the best in the

Chiquitos, in climate and productions, resembles the
district just described. The Jesuits succeeded in esta-
blishing and in converting some of the Indian tribes
in the same manner with those of Paraguay. In


1732, they had seven villages, which were flourishing,
and situated in a delightful country. These Indians,
since the expulsion of the Jesuits, have not lost the
civilization which they acquired ; they are industrious
cultivators and manufacturers. Their cotton fabrics
are of a much finer kind than usual in these countries ;
their cabinet-work is also well spoken of. They ex-
cel in making musical instruments ; such as organs,
harps, and violins, and play them with skill. The
priests who succeeded the Jesuits, it is said, have fol-
lowed nearly the same plan in the government and
domestic economy at first established over them, which
may account for the difference between their missions
and those established on the Paraguay. The climate
of these provinces is like that of the East Indies ; half
yearly alternations of dry and rainy seasons. Among
their products are cinnamon, ginger, Peruvian bark, gum
copal, and a* variety of raisins and balsams.

I have now completed the geographical sketch of
the upper provinces, and though I have done little
more than select some of their more striking: features^
enough has been said to shew their importance. These
rich provinces, lying between the seventeenth and
twenty-second degiees of south latitude, and which, at
present, contain a million and a half of civilized inha-
bitants, possess a greater quantity of ^mineral wealth
than all the rest of the continent, or perhaps than the
whole world beside.

The great diminution of theproduce of the mines,
since their first discovery, is to be ascribed to the fol-
lowing causes.* 1. The decrease of the Indian popu-

* Th€ produce of the mines has been gradually diminishing
since the first century of tlieir discovery. If I were to make an
estimate, I should say that they had diminished to one sixth of their
former amount.


lation, and the great amelioration of their treatment.
The conquerors sacrificed them by thousands in the un-
wholesome damps of the mines, where they were urged
to their tasks like beasts : at present they are only forced
to work in those which belong to the king. The cold air
of the mountainous regions in which the mines are si-
tuated, is extremely injurious to the constitution of those
who come from the warm vallies below : the fumes of
arsenic and antimony, are still more deleterious. Five
times the number of Indians were formerly employed in
working the mines, the Spaniards, at an early period,
despising every other pursuit ; but the increase of civi-
lized population in the counti-y, and the demand for
other articles, at home and abroad, have diverted a con-
siderable portion of industiy to a different channel. 2.
Experience of the uncertain and precarious profits of
mining, the extravagance, luxury, and ruin attendant on'
it, has, also contributed to bring other employments into
better repute. There appears to be something like a
surfeit of mining, and agriculture has come in vogue ;
the profits of which, though not so great, are less pre-
carious ; mines in agricultural districts are therefore neg-
lected. The number of mines known at present, is
much greater than during the first century, but the de-
lirium no longer prevails. There is no kind of doubt
but that the mines of gold and silver are inexhaustible ;
but the circumstances which caused them at first to be
worked, prevail in a much less degree. Their produce
must still, however, be in proportion to the extent to
which they ^re worked, and the skill of the miners, and
not limited by the quantity they are capable of pro-
ducing. Fortunately, the ores of gold and silver are
found in smaller quantities than iron, or other minerals,
and the working of them is much more unhealthy, preca-



rious and expensive.* But we have seen that, even in
this country, although some have made very large for-
tunes by iron works, a much greater number have been
ruined. 3. The quantity of metal produced from the
mines, is dependant on the quantity of quicksilver, of
which there must be a limited supply. Here, there-
fore, is another check to the indefinite increase of the
precious metals. Some of the mines, it is true, do not
require it, such as that of Laya cota, where the silver
was chisselled out, or the papas of 'Atacama, where
lumps of pure silver were dug out of the sand ; these,
however, are either extremely precarious, or soon ex-
hausted. 4. The richest mines are, in the end, invaded
by water, and it requires vast sums to keep them clear ;
but, from the want of skill, they are abandoned at the
moment when they promise most. Even in the opera-
tion of separating the metal, (according to Helms,) by
adopting a more careful and scientific method, the
amount might be doubled. It is a fact well known, that
the ore is continually forming. In those mines which
were again opened many years after having been aban-
doned, this was found to be the case — pieces of wood
were discovered with veins of silver running through
them. UUoa, in vol. 2, p. 15, after stating the fact, in-
dulges in some curious speculations on this subject. He
is inclined to ascribe this efiect as well to the natural re-
production of the metal, as to subterranean fires ; the
greater part of this country being volcanic. This is a

• " The timber fit to be employed in the machinery of the mines
of Potosi is brought from Tucaman. A single stick has cost a thou-
sand dollars." Wilcock, p. 14S.


subject much better understood in modern chemistry.
5. The present state of South America is so obvious a
cause of the diminution in the produce of the mines,
that it scarcely requires to be noticed. I am inclined
to think that this is only now beginning to be felt, as
there were, previous to the revolution, immense sums in
bullion in the possession of individuals in Peru and
Mexico, and which have been carried to the mint.

The inhabitants throughout the whole of this elevated
region, extending to the Isthmus of Darien, have no ex-
ports, or commerce, besides the precious metals, ex-
cepting a small quantity of cocoa, Peruvian bark, vicuna
wool, and chinchilla skins ; industry is, therefore, rni-
kno^vn, and ignorance is its inseparable companion. The
precious metals constitute the staple commodity of
Peru, and must suffice to procure the necessaries and
luxmies of life to all its inhabitants ; although they are
worked without skill, and the miners are not protected
by just and equitable laws.





Intendency of Charcas.

Sub, districts. Indians excluded. Indians included. Chitf Towtu.

Charcas, 16,000 16,000 16,000 Charcas.

Cinti, 25,000 60,000 12,000 Cinti.

Yamparaes, .. 12,000 40,000

Tomina 12,000 40,000

Paria, 13,000 60,000

Gruro, 6,000 15,000 15.000 Oruro.

Carangas, .... 8,000 25,000

92,000 246,000

Intendency of Potosi.

Potosi, 14,000 ^ 35,000 35,000 Potosi.

Atacama, «... 8,000 30,000

Lipes, •«• 8,000 20,000

Porco, 15,000 130,000

Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeVoyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.2) → online text (page 6 of 25)