Page images

spicuous ornaments of our country; a man of whose talents it is scarcely possible to speak too highly, though he has not been equally successful in all the modes of their application. Of the way in which the Editor has executed his task, we have already spoken. But we cannot suffer the present occasion to pass without availing ourselves of it, to express our gratification at the enlightened policy which has sent forth such a man, as the representative of the national religion in our Eastern dominions. To Reginald Heber, such a mode of exaltation to the episcopal bench was little desirable, and he must have felt that he was making considerable sacrifices in becoming a party to the arrangement. But he has placed himself in a situation where his abilities, his acquisitions, and his liberal sentiments, will enable him to effect a greater and a more permanent benefit than he could have hoped to accomplish here. We rejoice that a trust of so much responsibility is committed to his competent hands.

Art, III. Extracts from a Journal written on the Coasts of Chili, Peru,

and Mexico, in the Years 1820, 1821, 1822. By Captain Basil Hall, Royal Navy, Author of a Voyage to Loo Choo. 2 vols. post

8vo. Price 11. 18. Edinburgh. 1824. SOUTH AMERICA iş daily becoming more and more an

object of interest and speculation to Europe, and to England in particular. Sources of wealth have been opened in every part of that vast country; Commerce is rapidly spreading its blessings over it; its political disorders are gradually disappearing ; and its independence is virtually, if not actually, acknowledged by the land where freedom will always find friends. Public attention has of late been called, in various ways, to that most interesting portion of the globe ;-interesting from the nature of its soil, its productions, its varied climate, its majestic mountains, and its mighty rivers, that water a thousand lands,-but still more interesting on account of the recent struggles of its people with their bigotted and despotic masters of the Old World. For ages, the greater part of this vast Continent continued under the dominion of the rapacious and tyrannical representatives of the successive Kings of Spain, who looked upon their distant dependencies only as so many sources of that mineral wealth which, in process of time, formed their bane, and which, while it materially changed the features of civilized society in Europe, has contributed in no slight degree to enervate the descendants of their ancient conquerors, and to leave them what they now are-a people but little superior, physically or mentally, to those who were not long ago their bondsmen. It is utterly astonishing, that Spain has been enabled to preserve colonies of such extent and population for so long a period, when, to say nothing of her conduct to those who were the ancient masters of the land, her system of policy towards those who looked to her for aid and protection, has been one of continued oppression.

But at length they are free, and although Lord Eldon is understood still to have doubts as to the fact, the formal recognition of their independence cannot be much longer delayed. Happily, the fact that they have achieved their freedom, recognised or not, has become matter of history; and it is our own commercial interests, rather than their political situation, that renders the solution of his Majesty the Chancellor's doubts chiefly desirable.

It was during the latter period of the war for independence, that Captain Hall visited South America. The object of the voyage was, to protect the British interests in the Pacific ; the recent occurrences on the Coast of Chili, Peru, and Mexico, having rendered this precaution politic, and, indeed, necessary. Captain Hall sailed from England, in his Majesty's ship Conway, on the 10th of August, 1820, and, after having touched at Teneriffe, Rio de Janeiro, and the River Plate, received orders to proceed to Valparaiso, the principal sea-port on the coast of Chili. The narrative of the voyage commences at the doubling of Cape Horn, which is described as 'a high, precipitous, black rock, conspicuously raised above

all the neighbouring land, utterly destitute of vegetation, and 'extending far into the sea, in bleak and solitary grandeur ;' while it presents, under every aspect, a bold and majestic ' appearance, worthy of the limit to such a continent.' "The Bay of Valparaiso 'is of a semicircular form, surrounded by steep hills, rising to the height of nearly 2000 feet, sparingly covered with stunted shrubs and thinly strewed grass. The town is built along a narrow strip of land, between the cliffs and the sea; but, as this space is limited in extent, the buildings have straggled up the sides and bottoms of the numerous ravines which intersect the bills. Such is the · Vale of Paradise, as the early Spanish adventurers termed it. It was during the gay season of Christmas, that the ship arrived at Valparaiso, when multitudes bad been attracted from all parts of the country, to witness the hull-fights and other shows, and to mingle in the festivities of the period.

Groupes of merry dancers were to be seen at every turn, and crowds of people listening to singers bawling out their old romances to the sound of a guitar; gay parties sauntering along, laughing, and talking at the full stretch of their voices ; wild-looking horsemen pranced about in all quarters, mixing amongst the people on foot, drinking and talking with them, but never dismounting. From one extremity of the town to the other, along the base of the cliffs, and all round the beach of the Almendral, was one uninterrupted scene of noise and revelry.'

The habits, occupations, and amusements of the Chilians, and particularly of the inhabitants of Valparaiso and Santiago, are described by Captain Hall with clearness and elegance. In those towns, as, indeed, in all he visited, Captain Hall made it his business to pry even into the most minute circumstances connected with the nature of their society, the manners of the people, and the state of public feeling. He was a frequent visiter to the Ramadas, a constant attendant at the bull-fights, a keen observer of the populace, and, in the houses of the higher orders, a welcome guest. We extract the following sensible remarks on the state of political feeling among the lower orders.

• Our curiosity was naturally directed towards politics, and, knowing that we should eventually have ample opportunities of learning the state of feeling in the upper classes, we occupied ourselves, upon this occasion, in ascertaining the sentiments of the peasantry. At first we felt disappointed with their calmness, and wondered to hear them speaking with so little enthusiasm, and in terms so little vindictive, of the Spaniards; while the upper classes, in the same town, were filled with animation when the subject was mentioned, and never allowed themselves to think of their ancient rulers without expressing the bitterest animosity.

• It must, however, be remembered that, with regard to the effects of the Revolution, the upper and lower classes were differently circumstanced. The peasant's station in society had not been materially changed by the subversion of the Spanish authority ; while that of his landlord was essentially altered in almost every point. The lower orders here, as in all countries, are not those who feel the oppression of bad government most sensibly: and although, unquestionably, their prosperity must, iu process of time, be greatly augmented by the operation of such wholesome changes, their immediate benefit cannot be so direct or manifest as that of the upper classes.

• In Chili, while the peasant remains where he was, his superior has gained many advantages. He has obtained political independence ; he is free, and secure in bis person and property; for the first time in his life, he has a share in the government of his country; he may aspire to the highest offices of profit or distinction; the value of his property is enhanced by the market which has been opened to carry off its produce; and he feels no reserve in displaying his wealth, or in expressing his opinions ; in short, he is in possession of civil liberty.

• The benefits resulting from free trade, as compared with the restrictions and monopolies of old, are those which come home the soonest to the appreliension of all ranks; and although it cannot be denied, that even the lowest peasant in the country has felt the change which the Revolution has produced on the price of goods, yet the advantage to the upper classes has been much more extensively felt ; for they are not only greater purchasers, but have more home produce to give in exchange. All classes, therefore, both high and low, share, though not equally, in the benefits resulting from the change of government; and this universality of advantage is the characteristic circumstance which, with one exception, distinguishes the South American revolutions from all others with which we are acquainted. These are real and solid advantages. That they should be fully understood, or even appreciated at once, is too much to expect ; and many errors and extravagancies will be committed before such blessings can have their full exercise ; but as they are of a nature to work themselves clear, if left alone, every successive hour of freedom will have the effect of enlarging the circle of knowledge and virtue throughout the country' Vol. I. pp. 24–26.

“Of civil liberty, I am not sure that the Chilians have, as yet, equally clear and correct notions ; but nothing is more decided than their determination not to submit again to any foreign yoke : and. I should conceive, from all I have been able to learn, that under any circumstances, the Spanish party in Chili would be found small and contemptible. Every day deepens these valuable sentiments, and will render the re-conquest of the country more and more remote from possibility. The present free trade, above all, maintains and aug. ments these feelings; for there is not a single arrival at the port, which fails to bring some new article of use, or of luxury, or which does not serve, by lowering the former prices, to place within reach of the inferior ranks many things known before only to the wealthy; to extend the range of comforts and enjoyments, and to open new sources of industry.

' Amongst a people circumstanced as the South Americans have been, debarred for ages from the advantages of commerce, tiis change is of the last importance; and it is pleasing to reflect, that while our merchants are consulting their own interests, and advancing the prosperity of their country, they are, at the same time, by stiniulating at once and gratifying the wants of a great people, adding incalculably to the amount of human happiness. By thus creating higlier tastes and newer wants, they produce fresh motives to exertion, and give more animating hopes io whole nations, which, without such powerful and immediate excitements, might, for ought we know, have long remained in their ancient state of listlessness and ignorance. Every man in the country, rich or poor, not only practically feels the truth of this, but knows distinctly whence the advantage is derived; and it is idle, therefore, to suppose that blessings which come home so directly to all men's feelings, and which so manifestly influence their fortunes and happiness, can be easily taken from them.

• There are, no doubt, many defects in the administration of affairs

[ocr errors]

in Chili; occasional bad faith, and occasional oppression; and sometimes very inconvenient disturbances, and partial political changes ; but these are of no moment in so vast a question. The barrier which has so long dammed up the tide of human rights, and free action, has been at length removed ; and the stream is assuredly not to be stopped by any thing from without: and what is internal, that might produce mischief, is rapidly improving as men advance in intelligence, and acquire a deeper interest in good order. An invasion, indeed, might cause much misery and confusion, and tend, for a time, to keep back the moral and political improvement of the country; but the re-action would be inevitable, and, ere long, the outraged country would spring forward to life and liberty with tenfold vigour.

• By means of foreign intercourse, and by the experience and knowledge of themselves, acquired by acting, for the first time, as freemen, they will come to know their own strength: by learning also to respect themselves, which they could hardly have done before, they will be ready to respect a government formed of themselves; and instead of despising and hating their rulers, and seeking to counteract their measures, will join heartily in supporting them when right, or in exerting a salutary influence over them when wrong. At all events, even now, all parties would unite upon the least show of an attack; and so the result will prove, should any thing so wild and unjust be attempted.' Vol. 1. pp. 182–5.

A considerable portion of the work is occupied with details relating to the origin and history of the Revolution ; and a highly interesting sketch is given of its progress in Chili, from its commencement, to the period of the full establishment of the National independence. This extensive country threw off the Spanish yoke in 1810; but the disputes of the different parties respecting the form of government and the law of election, with other causes of disagreement, arising out of the ambition of turbulent individuals, and the inexperience of the new-born nation in political affairs, enabled the Spaniards to regain their lost authority, by sending an army from Peru, The government of Buenos Ayres, naturally dreading that the next march of the Spaniards would be towards their capital, resolved to prevent it by becoming themselves the invaders. Troops were raised, and an army of 4000 men entered the Chilian territory with the view to re-establish its independent Government. The command of this expedition was given to San Martin,—the principal liberator of the southern portion of the New World; one of those extraordinary characters to whom a revolution so frequently gives birth,-a noble of nature. Captain Hall has given us an interesting portrait of this truly great man.

• There was little, at first sight, in his appearance, to engage the attention ; but when he rose up and began to speak, his' superiority

« PreviousContinue »