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Scenes on pacific shores; with a trip across South America Croasdaile, Henry E. 1873

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1S73.  places, which a more experienced writer would have
done, but contented himself with simply jotting
down his own experiences and thoughts, and any
little incident communicated to him in an ordinary
way which he considered might prove interesting.
If he may have been a little inaccurate in some -,M,MMm,WWWMi
age     4   For
JBead Yelling.-
„       20     „
Mont Diablo
„    Monte Diablo.
„     102     „
„    Alameda.
„     136     „
„     Guauacos.
„     148-9 „
Sail Louis
,,    San Luis.
»     148     „
„    Posada.
„    173    „
Tiie faeniles faces
„    The familiar faces PREFACE.
In offering to the Public these few imperfect sketches
of what the Author saw, did, and heard, while
sojourning in the far West, he desires not to lay claim
to originality—for he believes that many similar
incidents are far better described elsewhere by more
able pens than his, and he has trod on no new
ground—but to rest his plea for their acceptance
on whatever merit they may possess as being, to
some extent, the records of a naval officer's life
while serving on the Pacific station. He made little
or no effort to collect information about persons and
places, which a more experienced writer would have
done, but contented himself with simply jotting
down his own experiences and thoughts, and any
little incident communicated to him in an ordinary
way which he considered might prove interesting.
If he may have been a little inaccurate in some IV
statements, it is only in trivial points, for which he
would ask the indulgence of the reader, for there
is no intention to | extenuate or set down ought in
It may be objected, and perhaps rightly, that he
has entered too much into particulars of a certain
kind, so he must plead in the words of honest
Corporal Trim,—11 believe, an' it please your
honour," quoth the Corporal, "that, if it had not
been for the quantity of brandy we set fire to every
night, and the claret and cinnamon with which I
plied your honour off" — "And the Geneva, Trim,"
added my uncle Toby, "which did us more good
than all"—"I verily believe," continued the Corporal, "we had both, an' it please your honour,
left our lives in the trenches, and been buried in
"A Oastilla ya Leon
Nuevo miindo dio Colon."
Not many years since, it was ordered, by an economical Board of Admiralty, that the officers and crew
of the flag-ship on the Pacific station were to be
relieved, and a .new ship's company was sent out in
a line-of-battle ship (an almost disused class of vessel,
except for such purposes) to Panama, which Isthmus
they were to cross by train and take possession of
the flag-ship, the old crew of which was to return
again to "Merry England" in the line-of-battle
ship from Aspinwall. Amongst the new " lot" was
the writer of these pages, who will hereafter be distinguished by the personal pronoun "I," and who,
if the reader has enough spare time to follow him,
will introduce him or her to scenes and people in the
" Far West," and endeavour to interest to the best
of his powers.
As we leave the familiar waters of the Atlantic
behind, and approach the mighty continent—larga
districts of which are still new, and waiting to surrender the riches of their mountains and plains to
enterprising man—on which I hope to spend many
days and see something of its forests, prairies and
streams, and also to have a peep at brother Jonathan
in his own abode, I shall commence this journal and
jot down any incidents of travel, and of "flood and
field," which it may be interesting to refer back to
in future years.
It was in the month of January, 1870, we approached the shores of America. To many of us it
was a first visit, and, therefore, we eagerly watched
the nearing land, to gain an early impression of the
New World. The view of Colon, or Aspinwall, as
the Americans always call it, did not impress us
very deeply with a sense of its importance, its only
claim to notice being that it is the terminus of the
railway, which was, perhaps, the most enterprising
undertaking ever accomplished, until the Union
Pacific Railway was constructed. All that could be
seen from the ship were a few houses standing amid
some cocoa-nut trees, on a low shore, along which a
heavy surf was breaking—a long shed and buildings
on the right, showing the position of the railway
station. The neighbouring country was covered
with a mass of thick, impenetrable-looking jungle,
spread over ranges of low hills. The bay swarmed
with sharks, several of which we caught while lying
in the roads.    To facilitate the disembarking of the SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES. O
large number of men we had on board—nearly eight
hundred—we went alongside one of the wharves,
and thus had the benefit of a railway running almost
up to the ship's side, and were able to put all the
baggage and stores on the luggage cars as they were
Soon after the old ship had thus settled to rest
from the fatigues of her journey from England, some
of us sallied forth to have a look at the town. Drinking bars and hotels were the predominant features
in its long and one-sided street, and dirt, curs, and
ugly negroes abounded. Not long ago this place
was periodically the scene of great bustle and activity; the hotels crowded, the negroes, whom we
now see loitering idly about, busily employed as
porters, and trains travelling across the Isthmus
laden with passengers and freight. This was before
the railway from New York to San Francisco was
finished, and when great tides of people flowed to
and from California. In the first six months of '68,
thirty-six thousand passengers passed through As-
pinwall. The steamers from New York were frequently so crowded that there was not sufficient
accommodation in the town for them, and often the
steamers from Panama to San Francisco were not
large enough to carry them on. I have been told of
men offering three and four times the passage money,
in order that they might not be left behind.
Aspinwall is situated on a small island some three
miles in circumference, which is divided from the
mainland partly by lagoons and partly by swampy
morasses, which render its climate a most unhealthy one for Europeans.
The  Monday  following   our   arrival,   the   first
division of officers and men started to  cross  the
Isthmus.    We fell in on the wharf alongside the
ship, and marched up to the cars, the drums and
fifes leading.     It   was  something new  to  Jack,
crossing an isthmus by trains en masse, and everyone was in the highest spirits.    All were in,  the
engine  gave  its   hoarse  whistle,   and  we  slowly
glided away from our remaining men and officers,
through  a  crowd  of yellow,   chattering negroes,
along the street of Colon—for the line occupies its
centre—where, in the balcony of an hotel, we saw
the flagrcaptain—a general favourite,.    Cheer after
cheer saluted him as we passed, but the train moved
quickly on, and, in a short time,   we  took  what
seemed likely to be our last gaze at the Atlantic
for some years.
The Panama Railway was commenced in 1848,
and finished in about seven years, after many
difficulties and interruptions had been met with,
and successfully surmounted. The cost per mile
was something over thirty-three thousand pounds,
and it is said that a life was lost for every sleeper
laid down. The greatest difficulty was obtaining
labourers, for  the  climate  was dreadful, and the SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES. 5
powerful malaria arising from swamps and masses
of decaying vegetation was the deadly foe to be
encountered. Natives, Chinese, Negroes, Irish,
Germans, and Americans, were successively brought
to complete this mighty undertaking, and to nearly
all it proved fatal; for few, very few, out of the
hundreds who worked on that perilous railway,
survived. There were men breathing fever, wading
swamps, fighting pumas and alligators, eaten by
noxious insects, evading boa-constrictors and other
reptiles, all for a couple of dollars a day. Well may
it be called the " almighty dollar ! | Negroes from
the Southern states, and workmen from America,
bore the climate best, and finished the work.
The vegetation surrounding the line was most
beautiful. All the wild magnificent grouping and
colouring, only to be seen in the tropics, was here
visible to perfection. A rich, dense mass of mangoe
and palm, of oranges, limes, and plantains, and
thousands of shrubs and parasites, grew in glorious
confusion, while here and there we came across a
long half-hidden lagoon curving amongst the hills,
and occasionally a glade of green grass enhanced the
scene. How the enterprising Vasco de Balboa ever
crossed that Isthmus seems a mystery; what indomitable perseverance he must have possessed! I can
well understand his falling on his knees, when he
reached the summit of the hill from which the Pacific
was visible, and thanking God for prospering his 6 SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
work so far, and allowing him to be the first
European who had gazed on the peaceful blue waters
of the wide-spreading western ocean. Doubtless a
good deal of satisfaction at having his troubles almost
over must have mingled with his expressed thanks.
I He bravely accomplished his object, and took
possession of the sea and all its bordering lands—
having first waded into it, sword in hand—for His
Most Christian Majesty, the King of Castile and
Leon, his heirs and successors for ever." *
But to return to our train full of blue jackets.
The line at first led through low swampy jungle,
and, at times, over almost shaky morasses. We
soon, however, commenced the ascent of the low
range of hills which runs the whole length of the
Isthmus. The carriages appeared old and rickety,
and vibrated tremendously, although going at a
slow pace. About the time we gained the summit of
the ridge, the train coming across with the first half
of the old company of the flag-ship met us, and the
two trains stopped abreast of each other for some
minutes. There was great cheering, excitement,
shaking of hands among old shipmates, and enquiries
about friends at home, from neighbours who had
recently left; bottles were passed and re-passed
from train to train, and not half the little acts by
which the men expressed their goodwill towards one
* | West of the Mississippi."   Bichardson. SCENES ON  PACIFIC SHORES.
another was performed when the two trains separated and continued their respective journeys. We
made a descent of about 300 feet, the incline being
steeper on this side than the other, and found ourselves in the station, or under the railway sheds, of
The old town of Panama, which was situated
some miles to the southward of the modern one, is
barely discoverable now—some ruined walls and
grass-grown mounds being the only relics. Yet it
was here the first Christian settlement was formed—
the first impress of European footsteps made on the
sands of the great Pacific.
Vasco de Balboa, although the discoverer of the
passage across the Isthmus of Darien and the
existence of the rich countries of Peru and Chili,
on the shores of the western ocean, was not fated to
reap the benefits of his daring achievements, or to
be amongst the first settlers on that distant shore.
Pedrarias, who, though his father-in-law, was his
deadliest enemy, took occasion to prefer a charge
of disloyalty to the king against him, and, being
governor at Santa Maria, had the power of appointing the judges. Sentence of death was pronounced
on this brave and noble man, and, although every
exertion to mitigate the punishment was made by
the colonists, including even the men who had
passed his sentence, his father-in-law continued
inexorable,  and   Balboa was   executed;   and the 8
Spaniards beheld with  astonishment  and  sorrow
the death of a man who was universally esteemed
and admired, and  considered more  capable  than
any  other  of their  commanders  of forming  and
accomplishing great designs.    Pedrarias, notwithstanding the   injustice   of  his   proceedings,  was
shielded from the punishment he merited, and soon
after obtained permission to leave Santa Maria with
his colonists, and form a settlement at Panama, the
other side of the Isthmus—thus it was that in the
year 1517 the old town was founded.    The modern
town might well have been built even at a date
prior to that  I  have  mentioned—it was  built, I
believe, in the seventeenth century—so truly may it
be said that its glory has departed; what we behold
to-day makes us but think of it as it must have
been in former times.    There stands its remarkable
Cathedral, covered with moss, and showing many
signs of decay; the  front bears  traces of having
been at one time very handsome, and has the usual
number of images of saints let into niches; but
these sanctified old ladies and gentlemen look considerably the worse for time and wear.    There is
the old crumbling wall surrounding the town, which
must, in bygone days, have rendered it a place of
great strength.   There are the remains of monasteries
and convents, towers and strongholds, and evidences
of past wealth converted to the use of present mendicancy on every hand, and all—save the European SCENES ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
quarter — alike bearing the marks of dilapidation
and decay, The principal show of active life is at
the American liquor bars, and at the landing-place
where coolies are unloading lighters. There are
many Jamaica negroes both at Panama and at
Colon, the remains of the numbers imported to construct the railway; they all speak English, and do
the work of porters and servants. I was very much
amused one day, while waiting at the landing-place,
by a disreputable-looking gentleman of the race of
Ham coming up to me, in an independent manner,
and saying: " What man-of-war dat out dare, sar ? "
I told him her name. "Is she English?" continued my interrogator, ff Yes," I replied. " What
she do here, sar ? " he inquired. I gave him a short
account, when he said, with a manner half condescending and half apologetic: | You see, sar, me
British subject, and feel great interest in English
affairs, and wish to hear how she do, sar." After
which he stuck his dirty old make-shift for a hat on
one side of his head and walked off, evidently feeling
the full importance of being a British subject, and
hailing from the free and independent land of
From Panama we went to Tobago, one of the
many islands with which the bay of Panama is
studded, to take in coal and water, it being used as
a coal dep6t on account of the depth of water close
to the shore, and there is a beautiful clear spring 10
just behind the little village. The island is very
pretty and picturesque, and produces large quantities of fruit for the Panama market. Not long ago,
the Pacific Steam Navigation Company had their
chief dep6t here—their factories, store-houses, and a
large staff of skilled mechanics and engineers, but
they have now removed to Callao, and empty
buildings are all that remain. There are great
quantities of sea-fowl in the bay, as the many barren
rocks and small islands afford peaceful opportunities
for breeding. The great pelican is to be constantly
seen making his vicious dives after little fish, which
do not appear to have much peace, as they are chased
by their larger brethren in the water, and winged
tyrants when they show near the surface. The
pelican can swallow some twenty or thirty of its
puny prey whole, as I found on examination.
Having coaled, &c, at Tobago, we weighed anchor and commenced our first cruise in the Pacific,
intending, if time permitted, to visit the Sandwich
Islands; or, if otherwise, to steer for San Francisco.
As it is not my intention to enter into any description of a tedious and monotonous sea cruise, but
merely to speak of such places as we visit, I will lay
aside my pen for the present.
" Pass -we the joys and sorrows sailors find,
Cooped in their winged sea-girt citadel;
The foul, the fair, the contrary, the kind,
As breezes rise and fall, and billows swell
Till on some jocund morn, lo, land! and all is well." CHAPTER II.
We were about eight days from Panama, when we
found ourselves not far from the Galapagos Islands,
situated on the Line, a few hundred miles from the
coast of South America. Great excitement prevailed
on board when it became known that we should call
at Charles Island, for any break in a voyage is
pleasant and acceptable.
All our sportsmen were on the qui vive ; guns and
cartridges were brought to light, from cases where
they had lain undisturbed since our departure from
England ; no one talked on any subject but the prospective immense slaughter of wild cattle, pigs, and
wild-fowl; and, had all these anticipations been
carried into effect, our visit to Charles Island would
have become a famous incident in the annals of the
sporting world.
On nearing the island, its volcanic origin became
plainly visible, for most of the higher hills were
evidently extinct craters, and, so far as we could see
from the ship, the vegetation consisted solely of
dried-up brushwood, except towards the hills, where 12
scenes on pacific shores.
this occasionally assumed a greenish tint. Soon
after our anchoring we were boarded by a boat containing half-a-dozen Spanish Indians—a colony
numbering some five-and-twenty of whom we found
to be on the island. From one of these, an intelligent fellow, we learned that numbers of cattle and
wild-fowl were to be had, and that the reports we
had read and heard of their existence were founded
on fact. As the ship was only to remain till the
evening of the following day, we immediately formed
a shooting-party, leaving the ship in the natives'
boat about noon.
But oh! ye Gods! how the prospect of coming
sport warms the blood, raises the spirits, and makes
the true sportsman eager for the slaughter. A member of our party—one of the excitable sons of old
Erin—unable to restrain his passion for the sport
until our arrival on terra firma, made the rocky shores
ring again with his wild discharges at all chance sea
birds that came within a hundred yards of the boat.
Strange to say, however, these birds will carry a
large dose of shot comfortably, and one after the
other they sailed away in total indifference to the
efforts of our sportsman, till at last one stately man-
of-war bird, hovering for some seconds within fifteen
yards, was made to feel the skill of our friend, when
firing within a reasonable distance. We had to beat
up some three or four miles along the shore, to get
to the landing-place, which occupied a couple of SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
hours. Our landing was rather difficult, owing to a
heavy surf running on a shelving rocky shore ; but
it was at length effected on the shoulders of our
boatmen, and as some of us were fourteen-stoners,
considerable amusement was caused by their narrow
escapes from a ducking. At length we are all safe
on shore, and away we start along a pathway leading
straight inland, over nothing but dust and clinkers,
with a perfectly dead and leafless bush around us.
The farther we got from the beach, the more intense
became the heat, perspiration was oozing from every
pore; but onward we steadily plodded, till at last,
gasping and panting, we came in sight of what we
were informed was the settlement. It consisted of
some eight or ten tents, formed of dried bullock-hides
spread over frameworks of sticks, Their dusky
inhabitants were grouped around these with the
exception of some who remained stretched out
asleep under the tents, even our unaccustomed visit
being insufficient to arouse these listless, lazy creatures to curiosity. We received considerable civility
from the head-man, obtaining the requisite information as to the whereabouts of our game, and some
half-a-dozen of his people to act as guides and assist
to carry.
A two-mile walk, with a gradual ascent, brought
us to a much pleasanter atmosphere and increasing
signs of vegetation ; trees appeared here and there,
and the surrounding bush showed that it was pos- 14
sessed of some portion of vegetable life. Another mile
and, on rounding the base of a large hill, we came on
grassy glades, and in the distance patches of prairie,
with cattle grazing on them, were dimly visible.
Now we advanced more cautiously, taking advantage of every leafy covering which offered, and
peering through boughs into the openings. At length
a herd of some thirty or forty was discovered grazing quietly, in imagined safety, within a hundred
yards of us. Too much eagerness to fire, and the
spirit of rivalry which invariably shows itself amongst
a large party, prevented a proper amount of execution being done. One calf, however, bit the dust,
and a young bull was brought on his knees, though
he soon regained his footing and followed in the
wake of the rest of the herd, leaving a trail of blood
behind. We now divided into two parties, one going
in pursuit of the wounded animal, the other starting
for a lake some distance off, where we were informed
wild-fowl and more cattle would be met with. The
party which followed the herd of cattle consisted of
myself and two others. It was hard work pressing
on at a rapid pace over broken ground, through
thorny thickets and pathless jungle, but we were rewarded in the end by sighting the bull in a patch of
thick scrub close to a small clear stream of water.
He was lying down, and glared fiercely at us as we
approached, but a bullet from one of our guns entering the fleshy part of his shoulders served to rouse SCENES ON PACIFIC SHORES.
him, for, with a great effort, he staggered to his feet
and charged right at us; we leapt nimbly out of his
way, and, fortunately, saved ourselves. It was the result of his expiring strength, for, though the impetus
of the charge carried him on a little farther, he came
down head first, bending the neck half under the
body by the force of his fall. After the excitement
and hard work of the chase, we were very glad to
slake our thirst at the little stream and rest ourselves;
we then proceeded to our rendezvous, some large
rocks near where we had separated from our fellow
sportsmen. The scenery viewed from this spot
was very fine ; around all was green, except where
some huge barren rock reared its head from amidst
the foliage, the dark colouring of many of the tropical plants contrasting with the brighter grass. On
one side was the hill which lay between us and
the settlement, and which had presented a very
uninteresting appearance from the sea, having only
rocks and scrub right up to the edge of the crater.
But the view it now showed was very different; this
side of the crater had been entirely torn away by
some mighty convulsion of nature, and the interior,
being exposed, revealed one mass of beautiful vegetation sloping down from the opposite side. On the
other hand, the country declined down to the sea in
a succession of valleys, which were thickly wooded.
The plateau on which we stood was surrounded by
hills of various heights, many of them extinct vol- 16
canoes. Amongst the rocks we found the parent
spring of the stream filling a natural basin in the
centre of a thicket, which made a pleasant shady
retreat from the heat of the sun while we awaited
the return of the others. They had been very successful, and had bagged thirteen brace of ducks and
a young pig. As the shades of night closed over the
sylvan scene, we retraced our steps to the settlement
after a very fair day's work, considering we were
perfect strangers to the locality. It was now we
found the natives useful in carrying the meat down
to the settlement, and they engaged to bring our
prizes on board early the next morning. After a
wearisome march, we arrived at the village, and,
wishing to remunerate our attendants, we gave the
head-man a dollar and a half (value 6s.) to distribute
amongst them, but they would only take half a
dollar, a case of honest modesty beyond all understanding, a similar one, I may safely say, it had
never been my lot to witness previously. The headman in a civil manner offered any of us who liked to
stay on shore accommodation for the night—of what
kind I do not know—and promised plenty of shooting next morning, which was, he said, the best time
for sport. However, such a villainous stench pervaded the whole camp, from decaying meat and cattle
hides going through the process of drying, that none
of the party felt inclined to accept the offer; or, as
an   American  would   say,   could  prevail   on  his SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
nose to give a ticket to remain. After a couple of
miles' walk in the dark, during which some of us
were constantly knocking our shins against the
rough stones bestrewing the path, we arrived at the
landing-place, and were again carried through the
surf to the boat, getting on board about 10.30 p.m.
The next day another party went shooting, and
had good sport. Two boat loads of officers and men
also landed for the purpose of hauling the seine or
large net, supplied to the ship. The dress of officers
when going for a day's seining is of a very nondescript character; the opportunity is seized upon for
appearing in the oldest of coats and inexpressibles,
well provided with ventilation-boots, which are sure
of letting water out as well as in, and, in fact, the
general appearance is presented of gentlemen who
have had only naval half-pay for some time past upon
which to support themselves. A good supply of
stimulants is always provided to prevent catching
cold and rheumatism. Though going nominally for
the purpose of fishing, many took their guns, and
the scene was more likely to frighten a nervous
actor in it out of his wits, than to cause him to feel
perfectly at ease, as a continual popping of guns was
going on all around, and dead and wounded birds
were continually falling amongst the fishermen, for
many sea-birds—principally pelicans—were collected
round by the sight of fish on the beach and in the
shallow water.    Sharks also showed the greatest au-
c 18
dacity, following the captured fish in the net, close
up to the shore; several small ones were caught in
it. One of the officers was most pertinaciously attacked by a small shark, who followed him into
shallow water, and only that he fought hard with a
boat-hook which he had with him, and repelled the
attacks, he would most likely have supplied the shark
with a delicious meal.
The boats returned to the ship in the evening
with enough fish for several days' consumption, if
the heat of the weather had permitted of their being
On the 5th February, we spread our wings for a
very long flight—possibly, as I said before, to visit
the Sandwich Islands, and, if not, for San Francisco
—our orders being to arrive at Vancouver's Island
by the end of April. However, man only proposes,
and unfavourable zephyrs delayed us so long near
the Equator, that we shaped our course direct for
the Golden City, and had to look forward to visiting
the islands another time. Time hangs heavily at
sea, and, though perhaps it passes a little faster
when once the monotonous round of every-day routine is got into, still there is little active employment,
and few events to mark one day from another.
Seeing these things, the captain interested himself
very much to give us some amusement at least once
a week, and a debating society was started, which
met on Wednesday nights, and to which the crew SCENES   ON  PACIFIC   SHORES.
were admitted as listeners. Religion and present
politics were prohibited. A week's notice was given
of the subject, of the introducer of it, and the proposer and seconder of his vote of thanks. After
these prescribed speeches had been delivered, any
one was allowed to express his opinion. Some of
the best subjects we had were " Warren Hastings,"
" Charles I." " Superstition and Mesmerism," &c,
and though, occasionally, when business was dull, we
had to listen to dry discourses on "Salt Water,"
and some uninteresting statistics of the American
navy, yet, as a rule, these evenings were anxiously
looked forward to and much enjoyed.
After passing some sixty days at sea, the frigate to
which I belonged might have been seen, on a bright,
pleasant day, steaming and. sailing up the narrow
passage which leads to the harbour of San Francisco.
It is supposed by many that the large harbour of
San Francisco and its many bays, together with
San Pablo Bay, originally formed an inland sea,
which eventually burst its barriers at the "Golden
Gates" (as the entrance is called), and became
united with the ocean. The appearance of the gates
justifies this theory, for the headlands and bluffs on
each side are bold and massive, and, so far as can
be seen from the water, ranges of hills extend on
each hand, which appear calculated to keep the
waters back to all eternity. So it is probable that
the place where the Golden Gates now open was the
one weak link in the chain. Approaching the city
from the sea, a very fine view presents itself, and
one on which Californians properly pride themselves. SCENES   ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
The hills on either side are of a soft, undulating
appearance, and are clad in a bright verdure from
base to summit. How pleasant and refreshing they
looked, after a couple of months on board ship!
Here and there small villages, or the solitary homestead of the farmer, surrounded by the results of his
labour, nestling in some pretty valley. As we round
the last bluff which shuts in the city, the large bay,
bordered by picturesque hills, spreads itself out
before us. Many steamers and sailing craft ply
their busy mission across its peaceful waters,
pointing out by their course the direction where
many rising towns lie hid amidst the distant
valleys. Lying to the right of the bay is the golden
city itself, that proud boast of California, rising over
several hills, and presenting an uninterrupted view
of its lines of long, straight streets, and square
blocks of houses. There was a great deal of shipping
lying in the harbour and alongside the wharves,
but they were mostly small craft, engaged in the
coast and harbour trade.
The inhabitants of San Francisco we found most
kind and hospitable. On- a first visit to a port, it
takes some time to form an acquaintance with
people, but we soon found that here the inhabitants
were most willing to meet our advances half way;
invitations were issued for an afternoon dance on
board, and before long our slight friendship ripened
into intimacy.    Gaieties and amusements were the 22
order of the day. A box at the opera was kindly
placed at our disposal, and many of the officers took
advantage of it.
Game abounds in great quantities and varieties in
California—deer, bears, and almost every description of feathered game and wild-fowl. Unfortunately,
we arrived just at the termination of the shooting
season, and the only birds at all available were
snipe, which, as migrators, do not come under the
game laws.    My friend H and myself, when
on shore, soon after our arrival, heard of a very good
place some eighty miles up the San Joaquin river,
where, as a rule, the snipe remained later than elsewhere. The place named was a ranch or farm,
. situated in the Tule lands. These are large tracts
of low lying country bordering for many miles on
the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. Little of
these tracts is at present reclaimed, but they contain many a rich harvest for the agriculturist of the
future. We made up our minds to accept the invitation of Captain F , of the "Amador," one of
the San Francisco and Stockton river boats, to
accompany him on his upward trip; so, having
obtained a few days' leave, we packed up some
traps, and started from the wharf in the afternoon.
The "Amador" steamed through the long harbours
towards the Straits of San Pablo. Hills rose on
either side, their grassy slopes, dotted here and
there with herds of grazing cattle and sheep, looking SCENES ON PACIFIC SHORES.
beautiful in the soft light of the evening. Occasionally
we saw a farm-house peep out from amongst a clump
of trees, with its canopy of light smoke floating in
the evening air. Soon we passed the Straits, and
San Pablo Bay lay before us, surrounded by
similar green hills and grassy plains; while a
gorgeous sunset bathed the scene in a rich flood
of light, reflected in the rippling waves, and overhanging circles of clouds.
" Day closes, and the sun, though weary,
Still lingers in his own loved west,
And sheds around a golden glory,
Ere yet he sinks to his evening rest."
The scenery along the river was all fine, though
somewhat monotonous. The first town we touched
at was Benicia, from which Heenan, the prizefighter, took his now, de guerre of the " Benicia Boy."
We had no opportunity of visiting this classic spot,
for we just ran alongside the pier, and, with a bustle
and scramble, were off again. Two small towns,
called New York and Antioch, were our next
stoppages, around which a considerable quantity of
land was under cultivation. Antioch is a rising
town of some little importance. The coal is shipped
here from the Black Diamond mines of Mont Diablo,
whose summit is visible, towering like a giant above
the surrounding hills, from a considerable distance.
Undulating ranges occupy the space between Antioch
and the mines, and over these the coal descends on 24
trucks, coming  the  entire  distance  of thirty-five
miles without the use of steam power.
We originally intended to visit a ranch belonging
to a family named Webb, but, as police-constables
say, I acting on the information we received " as
to the scarcity of snipe there, we determined to go
some ten miles further up, and stop with a man
named Harrington, who was in charge of a large
ranch there.    About eleven o'clock we approached
Harrington's cottage, and a few shrill calls from the
steamer's whistle brought him down to the end of
a rough little pier he had run out for the convenience of communicating with the steamers.    We
tumbled out with our traps, and in a moment more
the   "Amador"   was   lost   sight  of in  the darkness, leaving  us   standing face  to face with the
man we had aroused out of bed at that untimely
hour, not quite knowing how to apologise for ourselves, and explain matters.    However, a word or
two put things all right, and he conducted us into
his house, which was a small wooden affair, containing three rooms; two on the ground floor, and
the one up above where my friend and self stretched
ourselves out for the first peaceful sleep in a steady
bed which we had   enjoyed   for   months.    Next
morning we sat down to breakfast at a little after
six o'clock, for early hours were always kept in this
establishment.   Mrs. H . was, of course, our cook,
and a very good idea she had of how to prepare a SCENES   ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
breakfast. We were suddenly transported from the
unpleasantness of salt meat and hard biscuit, to
which a mess is reduced at the end of a long sea
voyage, to a choice repast in a land literally
overflowing with milk and honey. Bittern was
our principal dish; it was the first time I had
tasted it, and liked it very much. Quantities of
nice, brown, home-made, wheaten cakes, cream,
butter and eggs, made up our meal. During our
stay, Mrs. H—— kept up the first impression she
made, by her continued good cooking. She gave
us a variety of American dishes, including the
miners' favourite, bacon and beans.
We spent our days in hard walking over soft
boggy land, and bagged a good number of snipe,
ducks, and bitterns, starting immediately after our
early breakfasts, taking lunch with us, and coming
home in the twilight to a cheerful inviting meal
ready spread, or waiting on the stove, and Mrs.
H——■ smiling a welcome. The good people were
very much pleased to have us with them, as for
weeks they sometimes went without receiving a
single visitor.
During our short stay I learnt more incidents of
rough American life than I before had had a chance
of doing. Harrington was a thorough specimen of the
enterprising shrewd American. He was born in Kentucky, and had been accustomed to the woods, and
the use of the rifle, from a child; he afterwards went
j 26
to Missouri, where he saw most of the turmoils and
lawlessness of that state, where street fights, election
rows, bowie-knives, and revolvers were the order of
the day. He afterwards crossed the plains of Central
America with a party for the gold mines; but, as
each evening was spent in listening to his stories
and anecdotes, I will give his account, in his own
words, as near as it was possible for me to write it
down during my stay. The narrative has no pretension to any extraordinary amount of interest,
but still, it is one applicable to large numbers of
cases, and descriptive of the dangers and trials the
all-powerful allurements of the gold mines are
capable of causing their votaries to pass through. CHAPTER IV.
" I know not if the tale be true,
'Twas told me as I tell to you."
When the news of the discovery of gold in California
first reached the Eastern States, it was not believed
by many to be true, but was looked on more as one
of those reports which were at that time frequently
circulated, to induce immigration into a particular
district or town. However, there was a great deal
of speculation on the subject, and many resolved to
try their luck. Some parties started away at once
to cross the plains, over a road which was then but
little used, and one beset with many dangers, from
Indians, starvation, and a want of guides. When the
first gold arrived in Kansas from the new diggings,
it was like a spark being applied to a barrel of gunpowder. Almost every one was for the diggings.
Men threw up good farms, paying professions, and
stores; loafers looked out for gangs, to take them as
I pals; " and there was a general move to the West
from all parts. It was not long before I caught the
fever, and gave up my business, which was princi- 28
pally horse-jobbing, and went into partnership with
some others for mutual protection and help during
our trip over. We got a waggon and team, and the
necessary tools for mining, and started to cross the
plains—a party of nine. There were many others
travelling the same road as ourselves, bound for the
golden land, where, according to popular rumour,
gold was to be picked up for the trouble of stooping;
all calculating on making a considerable pile in considerably less than no time. We thought we had
little to fear from the prairie Indians while there
was such a rush, and we were right; for though
they at times attacked small parties, when overcome
with fatigue or hunger, for the sake of robbing a
waggon or getting arms, they seldom cared to risk
their lives where the odds were not so much in their
We gained the foot of the Rocky Mountains in
safety, and here different tracks led away to the
various mines and finds of gold, through a country
which a year or two previously had only been explored by a few wandering Indians or trappers.
The road we were unlucky enough to choose led us
away by a mere trail to some new diggings, reported
to be most productive, through some of the roughest
travelling known amongst the Rockies, and to the
vicinity of some of the worst tribes of Indians.
However, we went on the principle, " nothing venture, nothing have," and trusted for safety to the SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
members of our party. For some days all went
well; once or twice we saw an encampment, but did
not come face to face with them. We kept a sharp
look out, and had always a watch set at night: but
at last good luck forsook us, our misfortunes commencing this way. We had been traversing a valley
during the best part of the day, a good hunting
country, and our having fired several shots at deer
may have attracted some stray Indian scouts, for the
ring of a rifle sounds for a long distance amongst
the mountains; but, any way, we were encamped
under shelter of a large rock, with our fire screened
in as much as possible. A man named Sanders was
keeping the second watch, and if he dozed a little
it was not to be wondered at, for we had had a weary
day's journey, often having to work hard to get the
waggon out of soft places, and over rough ground.
He was sitting in the shade, with his back against
the rock, dozing lightly, when he was of a sudden
brought to his senses by a little pebble striking him
on the face. Turning his eyes up, he saw the face
of a tarnation red-skin peering over the edge of the
rock, taking stock of the camp and ourselves.
Sanders moved his hand towards his rifle, but,
before he could use it, the red-skin had made tracks.
As we placed some value on our scalps, we felt it
was lucky for us he had no party with him. We were
pretty sure we would hear more about that visit, and
so we did, for towards evening on the next day we 30
were attacked from behind the rocks and trees, and
driven back into a narrow canon, where we,
fortunately, had only a small opening to defend.
They attacked us several times, using every artful
dodge they could devise: During three days we
killed or wounded some fifteen of them; but their
losses appeared to make them all the more determined, and, changing their tactics, they sat down to
starve us out. The canon was barren of shrub or
tree, and there was not a living thing to eat in it.
The back of it looked impassable, and the sides were
precipitous; so, if ever there was a catch in a trap,
or " possum up a tree," it was there. At last, when
our small stock of food was gone, we determined to
try and escape by the mountain at the rear. This,
with hard toil, we accomplished at night, having to
relinquish our waggon and all our traps to the
Indians, first, however, killing the horses. After
many perils and hardships, only five of us out of the
nine reached pur destination."
'Harrington's story was at the end a little more
detailed, but the above was its substance. The
Tule lands present great inducements for settling.
They have a rich, productive soil, many feet deep,
and will yield for many years without manuring.
Drainage would be the only expense to get the land
into good order, and, though labour is expensive,
the returns are sure and quick, with such a large
and high-priced market as that of San Francisco SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
near. Rivers and slews wind through the country
in every direction, the waters of which are tidal,
though, above a certain distance, fresh. The
method of drainage is therefore simple. At the end
of the drains are self-acting gates, which, as the
water goes down, open and empty the drain, and as
it rises they close again.
Our leave having expired, we carried our traps
down to the end of "the little pier, ready for the
steamer. We had previously seen her smoke, when
more than twenty miles distant by water, travelling
to the right and left, across the flat country, as
she followed the curves of the river, which winds
backwards and forwards often at less than a right
angle. At a signal from us she came alongside,
and, after saying good-bye to our host and his wife,
we were in another half-minute speeding back to
San Francisco.
Amongst seamen in the British Navy, there is a
great belief in the gold-to-be-picked-up character of
California, and many are, consequently, lost from
ships calling at San Francisco. The morning after
our arrival, when we had only two boats in the
water, one a steam launch, the other a pinnace,
despite of sentries, officers, and discipline, seventeen
men manned the pinnace smartly, and pulled on
shore,- before any other boats could be sent in pursuit, the launch not having steam up at the time.
On touching American soil all become free men, so 32
the terrors held forth against deserters are here
laughed at with impunity. The men, however, soon
find out their mistake, and bitterly do they regret
their rashness. Nine out of ten who "run" are made
insensible at the houses of the crimps, who infest
the various landing-places, and are then put on board
merchant ships, many of which are constantly
detained here, unable to go to sea through want of
hands. The crimps receive from two to four months'
pay in advance from the captains for their services ;
the ships immediately sail, and, when the sailors
recover from the effects of the drugs they have
taken, they find their short-lived dream of making
fortunes in California dispelled, and a mate's rough
voice singing out for them to move up, to reef topsails, or make sail. They must, however, grin and
bear it, for, if useless, or sulky, the captain can
always hand them over to the English authorities,
on arrival in port, as deserters. Those deserters
not taken in hand by the crimps, who are always
on the look-out, must be thoroughly useless, and for
whom  a merchant captain  would  give no  price.
These, as a rule, left to their own devices, sink
into a state of utter destitution, and often give themselves up to men-of-war, preferring to suffer the
heavy punishment awaiting them, than to linger on
in starvation.
Towards the end of April, we steamed once more
through the Golden Gates on our way to Vancouver's SCENES ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
Island, and many were the regrets, and many were
the pulls at the heart-strings of some of our susceptible young officers, on leaving the hospitable
A good many glasses were turned on the
Cliff House Hotel, which stands on the southern
promontory, as promises had been given by
friends of going there to see the ship pass out;
but distance did not lend enchantment on this
occasion, as we were unable to distinguish who
was who.
The day previous to our arrival, one of those sad
accidents occurred which are only too frequent on
board ship. A boy, who was taking his clothes
down from drying in the fore-rigging, fell overboard,
striking the ship's side in his fall. One of the sublieutenants, T , very courageously jumped overboard after him, though there was a very heavy sea
running at the time, and the ship was rolling considerably.     The boy, however, did not float long
enough for T to get hold of him.    T was
some fifteen minutes in the water, and was nearly
numbed and quite exhausted when the life-boat
picked him up.*
On the morning of the ninth day out, we sighted
Cape Flattery, the south point of the entrance to
the Straits of Juan de Fuca.    The cape terminates
* This officer has since been awarded a medal by The Humane
D 34
in a small island and reef of rocks. A range of hills
run inland, which, though small at first, gradually
increase in size till they at length transform themselves into the Olympian mountains, whose snowy
peaks are plainly to be seen from Esquimalt, and
make one long for a transit to that perpetually cool
region, when the summer's sun strikes warmly down
on Vancouver.
The harbour of Esquimalt, where the dockyard is
built, is most picturesque and beautiful, and, at
first sight, looks hardly large enough to contain
more than two or three ships, being entirely enclosed
with small hills, all covered with the graceful pine;
but, on longer acquaintance, it enlarges into a good-
sized harbour, with accommodation for a fleet. ■«!
" If thou art worn and hard beset
With sorrows, that thou wouldst forget;
If thou wouldst read a lesson that will keep
Thy heart from fainting, and thy soul from sleep-
Go to the woods and hills!   No tears
Dim the sweet look that nature wears."
Vancouver's is an island which must surely possess
some source of interest or attraction for every one,
for the man must be a cynic indeed who can see no
beauties or find no enjoyments in nature's own wild
and lovely abode; and here she has assuredly produced some of her master-pieces of scenery. Mountains and hills of every shape and form, yet all
clothed in a variegated mantle of graceful verdure ;
broad estuaries washing their silent shores, placid
lakes sleeping in their valleys, sparkling mountain
torrents, or rippling streams winding across the
plain—all these, picturesquely grouped, are the
component parts of a succession of the most charming
landscapes. For the sportsman, the dark, sombre
pine woods, intermingled with maple and birch,
and spreading over the greater part of the country,
shelter a large variety of game. For the angler,
stream, lake, and estuary alike teem with his shining
d 2 36
prey;-while, for the searcher after knowledge in
the vegetable and mineral worlds (about which I,
unfortunately, know nothing), it contains many
wide and untrodden fields.
The fishing season was just commencing at the
time of our arrival, but it was too early for trout to
take well, the nights being still frosty.   Many lakes
are a convenient distance from Esquimalt for a day's
fishing, and there are several larger and better ones
situated further off, to fish which it was necessary to
make an excursion for three days.   To one of these,
called Prospect Lake, myself and two companions
determined to go, and trust to our rods and guns to
keep the pot boiling, or rather to furnish the meal
when the pot was boiling.    We drove nearly all the
distance,  taking our  camp-gear with us,  which,
however, we had to carry ourselves during the last
couple of miles, making two trips.    We determined
to form our camp on a small island situated at a
convenient distance from the shore, so as to be safe
from Indians, and leave them no opportunity to
steal from the camp, if we should be away fishing or
shooting.    The first day we were principally employed in building a shelter, and getting our traps?
&c, across in a little boat to the island.    We had
also to cut down some small trees, and take them,
together with a quantity of pine branches, to our
island, as it boasted but one solitary tree.    The
camp was simply composed of two stout poles at SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
each end, which crossed at the top, and a transverse
beam, resting in the two forks; against this side
poles were placed, and one side and both ends
wattled in with young fir branches, thus leaving one
side only exposed, where the fire was lighted.
The lake, surrounded by its pine-clad hills, was
very beautiful, especially if one looked at it so as
to take in the little island, and its camp, with the
one solitary pine behind it; the blue smoke curling
up from the fire against the dark green bank beyond.
(See frontispiece.)
B and F , my two companions, were the
very men suited for this pleasant make-shift life—
always good-humoured, lively, and ready for any
amount of necessary work. We discovered an old
French trapper, who lived in a little log shanty at
one end of the lake, who gained a livelihood by shooting and trapping beavers at several beaver-dams on
the lake and in its vicinity. He gave us some venison the first day before we were able to procure any
for ourselves, but was rather uncommunicative,
though, perhaps, his slight knowledge of English
may have accounted for that.
The day after our arrival we were up at daybreak?
had a swim in the lake, then lit the fire, put the pot
on for cocoa,  and prepared our repast of broiled
venison and fish. F started after breakfast with
the old trapper for a day with the deer and grouse,
and B and myself stuck to the lake and gentler 38
craft. The weather was charming, and in a couple
of hours we got some three dozen trout, averaging
from l^lbs. to lflbs., one or two rather above that,
all of which were strong fish, and gave us plenty of
sport. We whiled the rest of the day pleasantly
away in finishing some work about the camp, and
cutting firewood until sun-down,  when  we heard
F 's cheery shout from the opposite shore of the
lake; in answer to which one of us took the boat
across and brought him back with the result of his
day's work, which consisted of the best parts of a
young buck he had shot, and a brace of grouse.
These haply insured us plenty of food for some days
to come.    We prepared our repast, and were not
long in falling-to with all the zest and enjoyment
which healthy exercise, bracing air,  and freedom
from all worldly cares  can give.    After dinner we
threw more logs on the fire, and were soon setting
round a roaring blaze smoking and spinning yarns
—an accomplishment in which both my companions
excelled, and we did not forget to pass the flowing
bowl—for, with a due regard for the preservation of
our healths, we had brought the ingredients with us.
Soon, however,   the effects of  unwonted exertion
began to make themselves felt, and, after replenishing the fire with good heavy logs, likely to burn for
some time, we rolled ourselves in our blankets, and
sunk into sound repose on our couches of spruce
tops. F*
The next day the order of our amusements was
reversed, F remaining on the lake, and B	
and myself going with the trapper to try our luck
after more difficult prey. We struck away, through
the pine forest, from the shores of the lake—up hill
and down dale—walking at a rapid pace, though
with little fatigue in our moccassins. The old Frenchman had four well-trained dogs with him, and, on
our arrival at the outskirts of a likely-looking cover,
generally a large thicket at the bottom of a valley,
we would station ourselves round it at different
points, and put the dogs in. The clumps of willows
were often too large to surround properly, and once
or twice deer got out, as we could tell by the dogs
breaking into full cry, but without our even seeing
them. However, We managed to bowl over a tolerably
fat doe, and with some grouse we were quite satisfied
as we returned to our island-home, in the evening.
The remainder of our stay we spent similarly employed, and with varying luck. There is no life so
pleasant to some men as that I have been describing,
to occasionally get away into the primitive forest,
away from the petty annoyances of this life, away
from all society and its obligations, away from disagreeable, though necessary, neighbours. I do not
mean to say that a continuance of such a life would
be agreeable to any civilized person, but, undoubtedly, it is delightful as a change. I know we
thoroughly regretted having to  leave our pre.ty 40
little camp when we had packed up to start back for
I And stern Duty rose, and frowning,
Flung her leaden chain around us."
Being anxious to visit as much of the neighbouring our limited periods of leave would
permit,   I,   after  the lapse of some time, started
for  a   district called  Cowichin,  some forty miles
to   the  northward   of  Victoria,   with  four   companions.     A   steamer    runs   there   weekly   with
mails, freight,  and passengers, but Tuesday being
her day of departure from Victoria, we could not
afford to wait, our leave expiring on the following
Sunday.     We,   therefore,  chose  another,   though
somewhat slower,  route,  which   took us through
twenty miles of the South Saanich district, and then
went on by water another five-and-twenty miles.
Having engaged a good two-horse trap, we packed
up and started from Esquimalt at half-past ten.   The
road for the first seven or eight miles passes many
houses and clearings, but after that it became rough
and narrow—little more, in fact, than a waggon-
trail.    At intervals the wheels would plunge into
deep ruts, and we frequently had to stoop to allow
the branches of trees to sweep over us.    Nearly the
whole distance was through dense forests, but we
occasionally caught glimpses of a settler's clearing,
with its deeply-cut cart-track leading off to it from
the main road.    The forest was composed chiefly of m—
cedar, maple, and pine, some of the latter grown to
an enormous height, being, I think, the " Douglas
Pine." The woods were alive with birds and gaily-
coloured insects. The pretty blue jay was constantly about us, and the large red-winged woodpecker was often disturbed by us from his boring
occupation, while, with a loud and startling whirr,
the humming-bird, the most beautiful and brilliant
of all the feathered tribes, would whisk past us,
allowing us just a glance of him as he flitted from
branch to branch of his favourite wild currant tree.
We constantly passed large beds of the wild rose
and hyacinth, filling the air with their sweet perfume. In fact, all nature was in a smiling and
pleasant humour as we jogged merrily along on that
June morning.
Saanich is divided into two districts—north and
south—the former being the most cultivated division,
and called the garden of the island. There the hops
are grown which are used for the Colonial breweries,
of which there are several doing a thriving business.
We at length arrived at a " store," as such country
inns are called. We found it one of the usual type
—a long, low bar, with the inevitable long lines of
brandy and gin bottles ranged at the back. There
was an Indian village near, where we hoped to hire
a canoe. We found a couple of farmers, their saddled horses being outside, refreshing the inner man.
Having entered into conversation, we exchanged 42
drinks, that being the proper thing to do. One of
them looked a somewhat striking man, not tall, but
strongly built, and very broad in the shoulders, with
a tanned, resolute face, the lower part being almost
hidden by a thick beard. He had a quick, daredevil eye, and altogether looked a "knowing shot."
During an hour's waiting for a canoe, we had a long
chat together; and he, evidently glad to meet some
one out of his ordinary circle, became very communicative, and told us some incidents of his own
life. I will relate his narrative almost in his own
11 am now forty-five years of age," he began,
" and have altogether led a pretty rough up-and-
down sort of life of it. I come from not many miles
from Portsmouth, which place I have no doubt most
of you, gentlemen, know well. I was always a wild
boy, and, when ten years old, ran away from home,
and took shelter with an old man whom I knew
before, who had been for many years in the habit of
carrying on a rather loose commercial business about
the Isle of Wight and the neighbouring coast—one,
in fact, which I am afraid required more the cloak
of night to prosper than the light of day. Some
thirty-five years back a brisk trade was still being
done in the smuggling line, and many boats ran
When I joined my old friend, I was, naturally,
not much up to the management of a boat or the ••«■
intricacies of his profession; but, being an apt
scholar, and taking kindly to that line of trade,
after a few trips across the Channel and in and out
around the islands, he considered me entitled to the
honour of being his only companion in running a
heavy cargo he was particularly anxious about. We
made the French coast safely, and, having shipped
our kegs and etceteras, stood over again, our intention being to make the coast about nightfall. At
first we had a spanking breeze, which ran us into a
heavy fog, where we lost it, when about two-thirds
across. We, however, kept slowly closing the land,
my aged preceptor having so much experience in
the navigation of those parts, that he could almost
fetch to a hair's-breadth. Well, I was at the helm,
steering the course which was to take us up to the
Needles, when the fog began to lift, with a shift of
wind, and I distinctly made out the south end of
the island some miles off, and saw we could just get
in. This somewhat cheered me up, for I was anxious
to get the boat well in without rousing the old man,
who, tired out with anxious watching on the previous
night, was asleep below. The Fates, however, were
against me; for, as the fog drifted more and more
to seaward, I saw a cutter, undoubtedly a revenue
cruiser, haul her wind, and stand on a course parallel
to ourselves, though a long way to leeward; and, so
far as I could judge, she would not nearly fetch the
Needles without standing off shore and tacking; so SCENES. ON PACIFIC SHORES.
there was still a good chance for us. But soon my
hopes were doomed to disappointment, for, with a
puff and a whiz, a shot from her nine-pounder came
splashing across our bows. The sound had not
reached us a second ere the old man sprung on deck,
alive at once to the difficulties of the case. A glance
around showed him the position, and, roughly
pushing me from the tiller, he bade me go below
and not show myself till I was told to : but I would
as lieve have gone to the bottom of the sea as out of
sight of the fun; so I laid myself down on the deck,
with just my head looking over the little gunwale
which surrounded our craft. Scarce another minute
ere a second messenger came ploughing up the
water ahead. I The next will be at us,' said the
old smuggler, jj but I don't care a curse so long as
he shoots clear of spars and rigging.' I well remember the half-complacent, half-calculating smile with
which the old fellow glanced at the cruiser and then
at the Needles, which were slightly on our lee bow.
A third puff soon came from the bows of the cutter,
and, before I had time to duck my head well down,
with the fond belief that the gunwale would keep
out shot, the iron smashed through our deck forward,
sending a shower of splinters into the air, and
plunged into the sea to windward of us. 'My lad,'
exclaimed the old man, ' go below, or worse may
happen.' I, however, vowed stoutly I would see it
out; so he desisted from pressing me further. SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
" The breeze had now freshened considerably,
and we were bowling along briskly, holding our own
with the cutter, which was closing the* shore fast,
and would soon be obliged to go on the other tack ;
and, directly we rounded the point, we were bound
to lose sight of her, and would be in safety; for
anywhere along the shore we could drop our kegs
overboard, and ..pick them up at a more favourable
time; evening was also fast closing in, so we had
every chance in our favour. The cutter was firing
at intervals, some shot grazing us, some going wide.
Fortunately, no more damage had been done us.
At length, however, a shot striking the quarter sent
a large splinter from a hollard, which struck the old
man, and felled him like an ox. I rushed from my
place to the tiller, in an agony of fear lest he should
have been killed; but, staggering to his feet, he
wildly waved me away, and steered the boat into
her course again, she having luffed up in the wind.
My old friend, speaking thickly and fast, now gave
me to understand that, if anything more was to
happen to him, I was to drop the kegs in a small
bay, for which we were bound, and where very
likely a boat would come off to my assistance, and
then keep on for Portsmouth harbour, as if nothing
had happened. The land had now shut out our enemy,
and night given us the protection of its veil, when,
from loss of blood and of the excitement which
had supported him, my companion  sunk into  a 46
swoon. I took the helm, and, with the help of
darkness, carried out his instructions to the letter.
Entering Portsmouth about midnight, I did not
answer the hail of the watch, fearful lest they
should detain me on seeing the evidences of our
having been fired at, but crept up amongst a lot
of other craft, and thus eluded the guard-boat which
followed. The old smuggler weathered his broken
head all right, but never tried on any adventures of
that kind again. As he had already saved a good
round sum, he thought it was best not to tempt the
fickle dame any more. I remained at the work
some years longer, but, having got mixed up in one
or two rather shady affairs, I emigrated to the
States, with the assistance of my father. Well, I
landed at New York, went westward, took to farming, but found that the steady, plodding work
necessary to make it pay well was not suited to my
taste. Hearing of the gold mines, I started away
across the plains, got a good claim, and went to
work hard. Ah, those were wild days—plenty of
money, and no need, apparently, to look out for the
future. We miners, after a ' haul,' would go on the
' burst' to some large town, San Francisco being
the favourite, and squander in a week the gold
which had taken months to accumulate. I have
known a miner, standing at a 'bar,' take out a
handful of twenty-dollar pieces, and fling them at
the large mirror behind the counter, telling the m
bar-keeper to pick them up  as payment for it.
Incidents of that kind were common enough then.
11 might at times have returned to England with
a comfortable fortune. I have always been a lucky
man in the actual mining part of the business, and,
after a while, began to sober down, and have sometimes had sixteen and seventeen thousand dollars;
but speculation was my ruin, and, what between
Mining Companies, Banks, and other bubbles, my
money vanished as fast as ever. At length I tired
of my continued rise and fall, and, gold being found
at Carriboo, I made tracks for that land of promise,
determining to drop speculation. I was lucky
enough, but, as I am growing old, I thought it
wise to invest in a farm; so I bought one some
miles from this, and have worked on it for several
years, till now it is in good order, and will keep me
in my old age. I expect I shall some day get the
old fit on again, and go roving and mining, though
I hear there is little money being made now, except
by companies; but, anyway, I shall always have
the consolation of knowing. there is a harbour of
refuge under my lee. It is high time for drinks all
round; so say, gentlemen, what will you take ? "
With these words, our communicative friend
finished his story, tossed off his drink, said adieu,
and, mounting his strong little horse, started at
full gallop on his road. CHAPTER VI.
" The hunter turned away from the scene
Where the home of his fathers once had been,
And heard by the distant and measuied stroke
That the woodman hewed down the giant oak;
And burning thoughts came o'er his mind
Of the white man's faith and love unkind."
An arm of the sea disconnects the district of Saanich
from the main part of the island, forming it into a
peninsula. This inlet runs nearly north and south,
and has two entrances, one to the northward, the
other to the east. Down and across this inlet we
had to continue our journey in a canoe, having
completed a bargain with an Indian, through the
assistance of an interpreter and the Indian's wife.
En passant, I would remark that, when engaged in
pecuniary or bartering transactions with Indians, it is
always advantageous to have their squaws present.
The inlet gradually widened as we proceeded.
The scene before us was calm and beautiful, miles
of unbroken forest covering the surrounding hills
down to where their bases were washed by the
waters, over which we gently glided, impelled by
sail and paddle.    Occasionallv a curl of blue smoke *M
ascended from amongst the trees bordering the
beach, where some small Indian village had been
built, or fisherman had taken up his abode; these
were the only signs of human life. There, hauled
up on the beach close to the wigwams, or anchored
near to the broken waters of a reef, is the never-
failing accompaniment of the coast-Indian—his
canoe. In it he spends most of his life, and by
it entirely supports himself and family; constantly
performing voyages in such tempestuous weather
that it appears incredible that such a fragile bark
can survive it, and spearing and skilfully catching
monstrous fish, a contact with which would inevitably upset his frail tenement. Evening's soft gloom
was descending over mountain and bay, forest and
stream, as our canoe grated on the shingly beach of
A district and also a river bear the name of
Cowichin, and near the mouth of the latter a powerful and warlike tribe, not many years ago, built
their lodges. These have now, in what appears to
be the natural order of things, given way, to be
replaced by the lodge of the white man; a small
village and occasionally a few hovels being the only
remaining habitations of what was once a numerous
tribe. It is a fertile and productive district, and
well settled.
That night the " John Bull" inn was our abode,
but anybody accustomed to the comforts generally
e .> 50
comprised under the term inn, when confined to the
old country, would be very much surprised at the
accommodation afforded us. We had salmon for
supper, for good salmon can always be obtained
along the coast, when in season, from the Indians.
After washing this down with potations of colonial
beer, which we fortunately obtained at the "bar,"
we had our pipes and a glass of grog; then, on
asking the landlord for our beds, he told us we
should find it all right upstairs; so, ascending a
steep narrow staircase, we came to a kind of loft,
through which a cooling current of air was whistling
from the chinks of the logs which composed our
dormitory. We looked round for our beds; but,
alas! no comfort-bringing pillows and sheets met
our gaze. A few rough boards were elevated above
the floor, and on these we were contented to stretch
ourselves, two on each, rolled up in our blankets,
with our knapsacks for pillows. We were up betimes
and out for a swim, the house being built on a
beach; had breakfast, and started in a canoe up
the river, on our way to Somenos Lake, where we
purposed spending our leave, having heard there
was good shooting in the vicinity, and fishing in
the lake.
Good nature and a willingness to assist strangers
is always a prominent feature in newly-settled
countries; and, as we were loading ourselves with
our heavy camp-gear, etc., preparatory to  a long m
tramp, we experienced the good results of this trait;
for a settler, who was riding past, dismounted, and,
loading his horse with our traps, insisted on walking
with us all the distance, taking him a long way out
of his own road. We found an old log hut on the
shores of the lake, and in it we established our
Nearly all the country between Cowichin and
Somenos Lake is settled, or has been so; a few of
the farms not turning out well, their owners have
tried elsewhere. On the opposite side of the lake
to where we were located is the farm of Mr. Green ;
he was at one time in the employment of the
Colonial Government as a civil engineer, and saw
a great deal of both British Columbia and Vancouver's Island, but at length quitted the theodolite
for the plough. He was very attentive and civil
to us, sending a can of milk every morning across
in a canoe. During our stay he raised a " bee,"
for the purpose of building a cow-house, with a hayloft over it. " Raising a bee "means collecting all
the neighbours from miles around, who assemble on
a certain day to build a house, barn, or whatever
object the " bee " is raised for. I went with one of
my companions to assist at Mr. Green's, as I had
often heard of these gatherings, and was anxious to
see one for myself. The men had been at work
some little time when we arrived, and had already
raised some six or seven feet of the barn.    It was
e2 52
perfectly astonishing to see how quickly the good-
natured builders run up a substantial building of
rough logs, calculated to last at least half a century.
These logs are prepared previously to the assembling
of the "bee ; " having all the bark stripped off, and
being cut to the required length, they are placed
according to their size, so as to cause no delay. The
barn at Green's was built in the form of a square,
no windows or doorway being cared for till after
the walls were finished, when they were cut out.
The ends of the logs are dovetailed into one
another. This is done by the corner-men, who
have the hardest work, and require to be well
skilled in the use of the axe. Four logs are rolled
up at a time, one placed along each of the sides;
the axes then go to work in each corner, dovetailing
and trimming off the ends. The corner-men remain
at work the whole time, rising higher and higher as
each succeeding log is placed. All the work is done
by eye—no plumb-line or square is necessary—yet
the structure grows as perpendicular and square as
any brick building where every precaution is taken.
In the middle of the day we all partook of a good
substantial lunch of ham, potatoes, home-made
bread and cakes, and in the evening separated to
our different habitations.
Each day of our stay we went out after game,
two going in one direction, and two in another.
One, who was chef de cuisine for the day, was left SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
behind at the old hut, his business being to wash-
up, cut firewood, and prepare dinner for the others
when they returned in the evening. I will not
enter into a tedious description of each day, suffice
it to say, that the fortunes of the chase were variable,
and not altogether as successful as we should have
Our days of rough and pleasant life on the shores
of Lake Somenos soon came to a termination, and
we reluctantly packed up and prepared to start back.
An Indian and his canoe were hired to take our
traps back to Cowichin, and save us their carriage
over a long and tedious road. I accompanied him,
while the others walked to the mouth of the Cowichin River. The first few miles we had very hard
work, as we had to force the canoe down a narrow
stream, which connects Lake Somenos with the
Cowichin River, and which was completely overhung
with willows and thick creepers. Through these we
had to make our way, and the obstruction was
often so great that it required all our strength,
shoving and pulling the canoe by the overhanging
branches, to get along. However, when once in
the main river, I was quite recompensed for past
troubles. The river—although wide and shallow—
is rapid, and swept us down at such a rate that the
Indian had all his work cut out to steer us, for there
was no necessity to use the paddles. Past solitary
wigwams and Indian villages, past wild forest and 54
settler's clearing, past hill and swamp, we rushed
rapidly on. Occasionally we came to Indian fishing-
weirs, running across the river at its most rapid
portions, and it required all the dexterity of my
skilful conductor to shoot us through the little openings left on each side. We also passed several
canoes returning from fishing, laboriously poling
themselves up against the rapid current, and taking
hours to do the distance we had done in thirty
minutes. We soon arrived at our destination, which
was the farm of two brothers, who had kindly
offered us the hospitalities of their house. My companions arrived shortly after, and we spent a most
pleasant and agreeable evening with these two
gentlemen, who were naturally glad of a little
society different to what is generally met with in
the backwoods.
The next morning we again took boat and crossed
the bay to our old quarters, the " John Bull" inn.
We here awaited the arrival of the steamer which
was to convey us on to Victoria, but she, like many
other things in this colony, was three hours behind
her time. During the time we were awaiting the
arrival of the steamer, Harris, the landlord of the
inn, told us some incidents of his life, which I will
give the reader the benefit of, as they struck me as
being rather interesting.
When young, he served as a lifeguardsman, during parts of the reign of George IV. and William SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
IV.; he, however, bought his discharge, and, strange
as the metamorphosis may appear, was, not many
years after, the captain of a vessel, which, from his
account of it, appears to have been a sort of half-
privateer, half-buccaneer ; he plied his calling in the
Gulf of Mexico. He told us of fabulous sums he
made, but, for some reason which I forget, he forsook
the sea and again took to the military profession,
becoming, through some of those strange vicissitudes
of life which men of his stamp often pass through, a
captain of militia and justice of the peace in Mosquito.
This part of the story I can vouch for, so far as
seeing his commissions for both offices justifies me
in doing. More changes having come " o'er the
spirit of his dream," he is now what we found him.
Instead of dispensing justice, he breaks the laws by
selling whisky to the Indians, which is a money-
making, though villanous, trade, and one punishable with a heavy fine by the laws of Vancouver's
Island. Old Harris was not long since " had up,"
I believe, for this offence, being about eighty years
of age at the time.
Through the hunting expeditions which I have
mentioned, and several other shorter trips which we
made during our stay, I picked up a great deal of
useful information. The time of the year was bad
for sport, and frequently, when we had got within
distance of our game, the enormous ferns, growing
from six to eight feet high, prevented us getting a shot.
»: 56
I will now describe what I consider the most
necessary articles to take with one when going
on a shooting expedition through a comparatively
wild country. A stout suit of Scotch tweed is the
best and most comfortable for ordinary wear; besides
a suit of flannel for a change and to sleep in. These
will be found sufficient clothing, whether you are
going for a week or amonth. When the nights are cold,
both a blanket and a rug will be required to sleep
in, but in mild weather either will be found sufficient. A frying-pan, a camp-kettle, and a tin platter
and cup for each person are indispensable, also a small
American axe. For provisions, of course, a great
deal depends on the kind of country in which you
intend to camp, and the likelihood of game; but, if
it is a good country, some lard for frying, and a
good stock of hard biscuits, and a little flour, and some
meat for immediate use, will always repay the
trouble of its carriage. You will discover this if
you find game scarce. A small wooden barrel, to
hold two or three bottles of whisky or brandy, should
also be provided. The romance of sleeping under
the starry expanse of an unclouded heaven is very
likely to be dispelled in a disagreeable manner,
except in very mild weather, by colds, rheumatic
pains, etc., unless one is an old hand at it, and can
stand getting wet through. Nature is much more
indulgent in this respect to the man who spends
most of his life on the open prairies or in the forest;
such a one will never fear rheumatism, and colds do
not come within the catalogue of his complaints; it
is the effeminate man of society, whom Nature knows
not, and whom she treats sharply, that must provide for himself a tent or build a hut of the
Not very long after our arrival at Esquimalt, the
Governor of the Island gave his annual ball on the
Queen's birthday, and invitations were sent to all
the officers of the men-of-war in the harbour. I took
advantage of the invitation, principally to see what
the rank, youth, and beauty of Victoria and its
environs were like, and I must candidly chronicle
that my first impressions of Victorian society were
anything but favourable. To judge from appearances, many of the fair guests were unearthed and
brought to light only for that one especial evening
during the year, for the invitations of the governor
of a small colony generally includes everybody of
any respectability in it. The male portion of the
assembly was formed principally of officials and
naval officers, and, with the young ladies, the amount
of gold lace worn appeared to carry the day. This reminds me of a story concerning one of these said
young ladies, who was, I believe, born and certainly
brought up in the colony. Being at a dance where,
as is usual in Vancouver's Island, the naval blue was
rendered conspicuous by the number of its wearers,
a midshipman  was   introduced  and  claimed   her
i 58
hand for a dance. She gave it, but they had not long
mingled "'mid the mazy throng" when she exclaimed, I What would my Ma say, if she knew I
was dancing with a midshipman ?" The middy,
possibly thinking a little rudeness in retaliation was
justifiable in such a case, undauntedly asked, "And
what would my Ma say, if she knew I was dancing
with a squaw ? "
Victoria, which is the capital of Vancouver's
Island and British Columbia, since the union of
the two colonies, I fear, has seen its best days, and
is on the road to insignificance and poverty, unless
some piece of good fortune visits it to effect its
rescue. It first sprung into notability in 1858,
when, gold having been discovered in apparently
great quantities up the Fraser River, a rush was
made for the new diggings. People passed through
Victoria on their way from California and all parts
of the globe, and owing partly to this and. its being
the terminus of the lines of steamers, Victoria
became important, and the sea-port and commercial
town of the mines. Stores and gambling saloons
were run up, wharves constructed, and the town
soon presented all the characteristics of that wild,
reckless, and, I may also say, villanous hot-bed, a
mining community. But the tide of prosperity
which had flowed so rapidly was soon discovered
to have also as rapid an ebb. The mines were not
sufficiently productive to remunerate for the expense SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
of working and carriage of the gold, and the disappointed gold-seekers had to retrace their steps,
and their attendant parasites endeavour to find
more profitable fields for their schemes.
Since that time the fortunes of Victoria have
frequently risen and again fallen, according as
mines have been discovered, or reported to have
been, which interested people thought profitable,
or led others to believe so. Thus every year
or two an excitement springs up for the hour,
bringing a few hundred more eager than wary
speculators from California or elsewhere. But
it quickly subsides, leaving the Victorians, who,
while it lasts, brighten up once more, and
congratulate each other on the good times which
are coming for the colony, to again ponder gloomily
over their blighted hopes. In 1862 all the crowds
had vanished, but the excitement caused by the
mines did serious damage to the colony from an
agricultural point of view. Many men who had
previously been steadily plodding on towards independence were led away into the whirl of speculation, and their neglected farms were again allowed
to relapse into a wilderness. Many colonists are
still holding on, like Mr. Micawber, "waiting for
something to turn up," unable to resume their old
occupation of farming, and still dreaming of making
their fortunes by some more speedy method. However, the majority of farmers, many of whom have 60
Come out since the gold excitement, are recoverrn
from the depressing effects of the reaction consequent on the rush, and are steadily building up their
future independence.
During our stay at Esquimalt a vessel arrived
from England with some forty girls on board,
brought to the Colony as domestic servants. They
were in great request, and readily got situations.
When returning from Cowichin in the steamer
I met a farmer on his way to Victoria, where he
was in hopes of getting a wife from among the new
arrivals. I heard afterwards that he was unsuccessful
in his wooings. He made overtures to many of the
damsels, but none seemed to care for a good and
comfortable home when it had attached to it a
rather unattractive husband. His last addresses
were paid to a girl whom the governor had hired
as a maid-servant. My persevering, but unfortunate, acquaintance had not, I believe, seen her until
going to the hall door. He rang the bell, and she
appeared in answer to it. Without very much introduction to the subject, he boldly asked her to come
away with him at once, and enter the holy state of
matrimony. The girl, not accustomed to Colonial
courtships, was naturally much overcome, and began
to cry, refusing however, to leave her situation. He
in vain urged his inducements, but, she remaininer
firm, he had to return to Cowichin, a dispirited and
disappointed, though, perhaps, a wiser man. After some months' stay at Vancouver's Island,
during part of which we paid a round of visits
to Nanaimo, the Fraser River, and the bone of
contention, the island of San Juan, we left the North
for other parts of the station, San Francisco being
our first port of call. CHAPTER VII.
" There was a sound of revelry by night."
The country surrounding San Francisco is of a very
unvaried nature, every hill being of the same smooth,
undulating appearance as its neighbour, and no
timber or brushwood is visible from the anchorage,
if we except the town and suburbs of Oaklands, on
the opposite side of the water; where, on an unusually clear day, we can distinguish the dim wave
of the miniature trees with which its streets are
lined. No, one sadly misses here the pleasant
woodland or pastoral scenes which surround nearly
every town in the old country, or which are within
easy reach of them. The valley, with its variegated
fields of corn or pasture—its hedgerows and lanes—
its sparkling rivulet and clusters of venerable trees—
its whitewashed cottages, peeping out from their
gardens—and the spire of a church rising amidst
the yews, is a picture not to be seen in the neighbourhood of San Francisco. Its inhabitants have to
be content with much less interesting scenery, and
with little variety, in its immediate neighbourhood.
" Will you come for a drive to Cliff House ? " was SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
an offer constantly made to us by our friends on
shore. It is the only drive or ride that San
Francisco possesses; and on the road the good folk
of the city show off their traps and endeavour to
outvie each other in the possession of the fastest
team. The Cliff House is a large hotel, built on a
bold promontory on the south side of the entrance
to the harbour, and is about six miles from the
town. The balcony of the hotel overhangs the
cliff, and right under one's feet the ocean comes
rolling and tumbling in, in one mass of seething foam.
There are several large rocks parted from the parent
cliff, and on these quantities of sea-lions disport
themselves, taking no notice whatever of the people
in the balcony overhead, though they are not a
hundred yards distant. It is altogether a charming
view on a fine day, for on the right the golden
gates show out well, the deep blue waters of the
Pacific stretching away till they almost become
blended with the sky in the distant horizon, dotted
here and there with the snowy canvas of a coasting
craft, or messenger from some other clime.
It is also a beautiful sight when (like fair Melrose)
it is visited by the pale moonlight, for then distant
objects are but dimly seen, and assume fantastic
and ghostly shapes, while nearer ones are bathed in
that misty, soft light which is so attractive; the sea
is surging and moaning in the half light down
below, and, mingling with the melancholy sound of 64
its waves, comes the plaintive cry of the sea-lion
from his rocky home.
About a mile on from the Cliff House is situated
the Ocean-side House, to which one gets by a pleasant drive along the hard sands, with the surf washing the wheels of the carriage, and heavy rollers
breaking in close proximity. A different road to
the direct one to Cliff House leads back from it to
the city. Both these hotels have large, commodious
rooms for dancing, etc., and parties frequently drive
out after dinner and make use of them. I accompanied a party of friends one night for a drive out
and dance. We numbered altogether fourteen, and
were at first going in a six-in-hand drag, but the
gentleman who invited us having come to the conclusion that smaller traps would be preferable, as
they were more sociable, determined to dismiss
the drag and order other vehicles.
I give an idea of the rate people here charge. He
had to give the man who brought the drag, for
waiting five.minutes, the sum of $10 (£2). At
length we got "fixed" all right in two pair and
two single-horse traps, and about 10.30 p.m. started
away at a good pace.
The Americans cultivate a trotting speed in their
horses in preference to galloping, and the trotting-
matches of the United States are famous everywhere.
The distance from San Francisco to the Cliff House
(six miles) has, I believe on one or two occasions, SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
been done in about twenty-two minutes. Though
our horses were hardly up to that speed, still they
were what would be considered, in England very
fast goers, and the rapid drive by moonlight was
very exhilarating. We stopped a few minutes at
the Cliff House, but determined to go on to the
Ocean-side House, as being quieter and more
select. A messmate and myself had brought some
bandsmen from the ship, and soon after our arrival
we commenced dancing in the large room of the
hotel. A good supper was served, and we enjoyed
ourselves so thoroughly that we did not start back
for the city till day was breaking. All felt that
we quite agreed with Tom Moore as to the best way
of lengthening our days being to steal a few hours
from the night. After a delightful drive back in the
fresh morning air, we got to bed about six a.m.,
having regularly "made a night of it."
A pleasant stay of eight weeks at San Francisco
closed with a farewell ball, given on the night previous to our departure, by the leading citizens, in
honour of our admiral and his officers. Everything
that could be done to render the ball as complimentary as possible was carried into effect by the good
taste of the committee of management. The envelopes, containing the cards of invitation, bore the
American and English flags entwined, with the
ship's name in the centre. The ball was held in a
spacious room called the Pacific Hall; at one end
1 66
was a gallery with seats arranged for those who
preferred looking on to dancing, so chaperones and
wall-flowers did not encumber the space intended
for dancers. There were two bands, one placed in
the gallery, to play operatic selections between the
dances, the other at the further end of the room,
almost hid by a semi-circle of moss and roses, which
was also a great ornament to the hall. On the
arrival of the admiral and the officers, the bands
played " God Save the Queen," and repeated the
compliment at our departure. The toilets and
supper were perfection, and all the arrangements
conducted on a magnificent scale. Everything that
tended to show that we carried with us the kind
wishes and friendship of our entertainers was said
and done.
We did not break up till late in the morning, and
I preferred accepting the offer of a bed at the house
of a friend to going on board at that hour. But
whether it was from the amount of physical exertion I had gone through, or from the number of
glasses in which I had pledged my friends and
drank to future meetings, or whether from the combination of both, I know not; however, I did not
get on board till the anchor was being weighed, and
deservedly received a "rubbing down" from the
" stern, cold man with nought of sympathy," whose
duty it is to administer these verbal chastisements
to erring subordinates. CHAPTER VIII.
I Te say they all have passed away,
That noble race and brave,
That their light canoe has vanished
From off the crested wave.
That in the forest where they roamed
There rings no huntsman's shout;
But their names are on your waters,
And ye may not wash them out."
As we gaze on the San Francisco of to-day, and
mentally compare it with what it was some five-and-
twenty years ago, we are filled with wonder and
admiration.    A few Roman Catholic missions had
been established through the country, but the site
of what is now the finest city of Western America
was then in  a most primitive condition.     A few
settlers had fixed their dwellings, not amounting in
all to more than a dozen houses, close to the water;
but these few settlers were the pioneers of one of
the mightiest achievements of civilization.    As each
succeeding gold mine was discovered in California,
and mother earth gave birth to more and more of
the precious metal, it became necessary that a seaport should be used.    The long, laborious journey
across the plains of Central America was too tedious
f 2 68
for the eager fortune hunters, whose goal was the
treasure-yielding land of the West, and the route
was too dangerous and precarious to trust to for the
transmission of the proceeds of their "toil, so lines of
steamers were put on from the Eastern States to
Aspinwall, and from Panama to the Golden City.
The railway was constructed across the Isthmus of
Panama, and San Francisco became the acknowledged city and harbour of the future. From that
time it became golden, not only in name, but in
reality. As year succeeded year, it continued
spreading its streets far back from the edge of the
bay, and its ample storehouses and spacious wharves
are now built on acres of land reclaimed from the
sea. On landing, one is surprised at the fine stores,
large markets, and handsome buildings which present themselves on every hand. Commodious and
substantial public offices, luxurious clubs, theatres,
and opera-houses now stand where, little more than
a quarter of a century back, the Indian built his
lowly wigwam.
Thus in our own day may we contemplate the
wondrous changes wrought by all-conquering man.
Till yesterday California was unknown. Its ex-
haustless treasures, the riches of its mountains and
valleys, its fertile plains, forests, and waters were
but as the visions of a dream to the civilized world,
and as a sealed book to the occupants of the country.
But where are they now?—these dwellers in the mma
land for centuries, whose code of honour and laws
of hospitality shamed the hollow show of civilization—where are they now? Gone, like leaves
before the autumn gale. For, like some mighty fire
sweeping through a forest, utterly withering up and
demolishing every root and branch, the onward
march of the white man is the fatal destroyer, from
which the Indian cannot hope to escape, and, except in some remote counties in California, it may
be almost said the red man is less often seen than
the grizzly bear.
The poor savage of America has indeed little left
him in the hunting grounds of his ancestors. Before
the white man, landing on the western coast, he has
rapidly been driven to the mountain ranges of the
interior, where he meets his longer hunted, though,
perhaps, braver and nobler, brother of the East, also
retreating before the grasping hand of the invader
of his birthright. No cheering prospect is left them
in this world; bereft of homestead, hunting grounds,
and the roving life they love, they are pent up in
some Indian reservation, or amidst the wild fastnesses of the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, quickly passing off the face of the land.
They are at war with all men, and all men's hands
are turned against them. The "brave" of the
battle-field, the sagacious adviser at the council fire,
the persevering, wily pursuer on the war trail, in
fact, the romantic, heroic Indian most of us have 70
read of and admired, is now a thing of the past.
The unfortunate remnant of that noble race, who
have lived to see the downfall of their tribes and
the utter departure of all their ancient glory, may
well gaze on the setting sun from summits of the
mighty mountains of their forefathers, and read their
fate in his departing rays.
But I must stop my pen-and-ink soliloquy, and go
on with my few crude impressions of modern San
Francisco. On first acquaintance with the country,
a stranger accustomed to the moderate prices of the
old world and the uses of copper coinage is forcibly
struck with the high prices charged for everything;
no I browns " are in use, and the lowest silver coin
(now almost obsolete) is worth twopence halfpenny.
The agricultural labourer gets from two to two and
a half dollars (eight to ten shillings) per day, and a
skilled mechanic, of course, very much higher pay.
But lodging, clothing, and food are all so expensive
that a labourer here has very nearly as much trouble to make both ends meet comfortably as he has
on the less imposing scale of wages given at home.
It is no exaggeration to say that in England a shilling goes as far as a dollar out here. When travelling
by a river steam-boat, I have had to pay four and
twopence, or one dollar, for a bottle of beer. I ordered
it without knowing the price, and avoided such expensive luxuries afterwards. To take a retrograde
look at prices, Captain L , of the Pacific S.S. SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
Co., told me that on his first landing at San Francisco, I think in the year 1847, he paid for his
breakfast the sum of nine dollars (one pound seventeen) !    This expensive meal consisted of two eggs
a cup of coffee, and some bread and butter.
The hotels of San Francisco are a source of surprise and admiration to all visitors.    Their number-
size, and flourishing condition appear unaccountable
to an Englishman, while their comfort, cleanliness,
. and good living please him.    With a population, I
believe, of only 150,000, it keeps up many first-class
hotels of enormous size. Amongst them are the Grand
Hotel, the Occidental, the Cosmopolitan, the Lick
House; and, amongst the less fashionable ones, the
Russ House, What Cheer House, besides very many
smaller ones, and boarding houses. The reason why
hotels in  America receive so much more support
than they do in the old country is owing to the
excessive   wages required   by  domestic   servants,
the high rate of house-rent and the large expense of
furnishing; so that many families, and I think I may
say almost all bachelors, find it the most economical to live in one of these monster hotels or at a
boarding house.    The charge at the good hotels for
board and lodging is from two to three dollars a day.
San Francisco is of too rapid a growth and too
young in years to have a proper elite or well defined
society, but, of course, like other places, it has
its " upper ten," though it is not to be asked " who ■I
they are? "—they must be taken as they come. And
so it must be in every rapidly-rising community,
where the man who cleans one's boots, or leaves the
butcher's meat to-day, may to-morrow, by some lucky
hit in real estate or other speculation (all Califor-
nians speculate more or less), become a rich man.
It is a strange thing that few men who start for
America in early life, with the intention of gaining
comfort and independence for their latter years, return
to England when their object is attained; although
at the commencement of their career the hope of
doing so is frequently the loadstone and guiding star
of their existence, and the thought bears then manfully through many a weary struggle. I do not
think that their love for their native land diminishes
much, I do not think they believe America to be a
happier country or nearly so well governed as their
own, but the great difficulty is for a man to tear
himself away from the every-day associations and
customs of the best part of a life-time. I speak
more of men who may be considered as belonging
to the shopkeeper or upper labouring classes in the
old country. When they rise a little in the world,
and are able to "guess" about their "real estate
lots," they find themselves eligible for the society of
those with whom they at first considered it an
honour to associate, but afterwards come to look
upon as a right. It is to a great extent this feeling
which prevents many from risking their gained posi- SCENES   ON PACIFIC SHORES.
tion by returning to their native towns, where they
know they can never succeed in banishing the recollection of what they once were. This money-
making-society's equality possesses the real charm.
There is also, possibly, a more neighbourly, free
and easy style of acquaintance kept up in American
cities. It is the usual custom, if time permits, to
ask a friend to take a drink, and it is never considered the correct thing to refuse unless for some
special reason. I have heard of cases, and I believe
they were not uncommon, which occurred some
years back in San Francisco, of men being shot dead
for refusing to drink when asked at a bar, for it was
at that time considered a direct insult to the inviter.
An American gentleman, who was speaking to me
of a visit he had recently made to England with the
possible intention of remaining there, gave one or
two of the reasons why he did not do so. He said
he always felt lonely and strange on going out into
the streets; there were no familiar faces to meet,
no old cronies to chat with on the events of the day,
and, what he seemed to consider the most important of all, he sighingly said, " No one ever asked
me to take a drink." He had near relations in
England, but ones he had not seen for many long
years, and who were, therefore, all but strangers to
him, so he thought it best to return to the land
where he had made his money and his friends.
San Francisco certainly is one of the fastest and SCENES ON PACIFIC SHORES.
most go-a-head places on the face of the globe. It
is nothing there to meet the man who shaved one in
the morning for a quarter of a dollar driving his
pair in the evening on the Cliff House Road, and
the probabilities are that he offers to race for half a
dozen of champagne; or to see a chief detective
officer sitting side by side in a trap with some noted
gambler or swindler, who, if one chances to meet
him at a bar on the roadside, will most likely ask,
"Well, cap'en, what will you take to drink ?" and
would feel himself grossly insulted if anyone considered himself too good to accept the offer. CHAPTER IX.
I Was man ordain'd the slave of man to toil?
Tok'd with the brutes and fettered to the soil?
Weigh'd in a tyrant's balance with his gold ?
No! Nature stamped us in a heavenly mould."
The reaction of a dull sea life, after a stay of
several weeks at a pleasant, lively place like San
Francisco, is very depressing. The little amusements generally resorted to on board ship to
while away time during a voyage appear very
slow, and one feels more inclined to seek consolation in a pipe, and ponder over bygone pleasures. This state of mind, however, soon passes
away, and we begin to enter once more into the
life around us, and to speculate on the manner of
country we are bound for, instead of wasting time-
in vain regrets. Looking at life at sea, when
divested of the false colouring with which many
people see fit to embellish it, one becomes aware of
a perfect blank in existence. It is keeping body
and soul together by eating, drinking, and sleeping,
but it is not living. A man is dead to all intents
and purposes for the time. Kingdoms may be
overthrown, empires rise or fall, republics be esta- 76
blished ; he is as little conscious of the changes as
he would be were he beneath the sea instead of
sailing over it. He is exiled, and cut off from home
and friends; and so a sailor goes through life,
alternately being buried to the world and restored
to it again. One thing, however, there is to be
said in favour of this chequered career, which is,
that, when he does return to life, he has always a
powerful zest for its enjoyments. That is a very
true saying of Dr. Johnson's—" A ship is a floating
prison, with the additional chance of being
After a quick passage from San Francisco, we
arrived at Panama, at the time Sir Charles Bright
was there with his expedition, for the purpose of
laying the shore end of the Aspinwall ■ and Jamaica
submarine telegraph. The good people of Panama
were just about giving a ball to him, to show the
high esteem they held him in for his many valuable
services to telegraphy. We received invitations,
and also a request for our band, which was, of
course, gladly complied with. The ball was held
in the Town-hall, or Court-house, where the scales
of Justice are balanced by the dingy alcaldes of
the place, who, I am afraid, look on dollars as testimony of weight, and, therefore, to be taken as
evidence. In the lower story was the guard-room
and lock-up, or every-day prison for ordinary
criminals, who were enabled to raise the spirits of SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
the guests as they passed up the stairs, by grinning
at them in a ghastly manner through their prison
bars. The ball-room was almost totally devoid of
ornament, and very rightly too, in the hot weather
of Panama ; but the verandah had designs in gas-
jets about it, and the pillars were enwreathed in
green-stuff, which produced quite a bowery appearance. The fairest—I cannot say fair—portion of
the guests were arrayed in high morning dresses,
of many gay and lively colours, some strangely
contrasting with the dark olive complexions of the
wearers. I will honestly confess, however, that the
grapes were sour to me that evening, for not only
were there some ten gentlemen to one lady, but the
majority of the charmers only spoke Spanish,
and, however musically the cadences of their
silvery voices fell on the ear, they fell upon our
understandings in a most unintelligible manner.
The heat of the room was excessive, so
cigars, iced drinks, and the verandah were more
in vogue amongst naval officers than the ballroom.
After a few days at Panama, the ship moved to
anchorage off the Island of Tobago, which I have
before mentioned, for the purpose of watering, and
giving leave to the men; unfortunately, the latter
was productive of fatal consequences. A number of
the men, composed chiefly of the younger seamen,
called ordinaries, who are in a state of transition 78
from boyhood to manhood, molested and insulted
the natives, committing one or two robberies of
spirits, etc.; this led to the natives mustering in
force, and driving these ordinary seamen (though
superior in numbers) down to the beach. There
was a great deal of stone throwing, and the Alcalde
of the village, whilst endeavouring to quell the disturbance, was struck on the head. Although he
received immediate medical assistance from the
ship, he died a few hours afterwards. The whole
affair was very much to the discredit of our men,
who, though numerically and physically the
stronger, and also the aggressors, ran away in a
most cowardly manner directly they met with any
opposition. After this affair, several perfectly
inoffensive and respectable men belonging to the
ship fwere attacked by the natives, as they were
returning quietly from walks in the country, though
none were injured severely.
These occurrences necessitated our remaining
several days longer at Tobago than had been
intended, as an investigation by the civil authorities
was instituted. During this time we had a
christening on board. A child of Mr. Wilson's,
the obliging manager of the Boston Ice House
Company, had been recently born, and its mother,
a New York lady, was glad of the opportunity
which our stay presented of obtaining the services
of  a  clergyman  of the   Episcopal Church.   The SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
christening was made the occasion for a large
gathering of the friends of the family. A steamer,
belonging to Mr. Wilson's father-in-law, was used
to bring the party on board. I chanced to be
sleeping on shore the night previous to the visit,
and was asked to join them in the trip across, and
breakfast on board the steamer. We had half a
mile to pull out to get on board, and then a ten-
mile passage to Tobago. There were preparations
for a most sumptuous breakfast being made, troops
of servants bustling about with turkeys, cases of
champagne, and pyramids of ice. I, for one, was
longing for the time to commence, as it was past
noon; but, unfortunately, all the ladies, and many
of the gentlemen, became horribly sea-sick—wliich
was very annoying for a sailor with a good appetite
—so the breakfast hour was deferred till such time
as we should be lying peacefully at anchor under
lee of the Island of Tobago. After breakfast was
over, the flag-ship's boats came to take the party to
the larger ship, where the operation of christening
was proceeded with. Our parson, unused, as I
suppose all naval parsons must be, to the duty,
nearly choked the unfortunate infant by baling
several handfuls of water into its mouth, eyes, and
nose, thereby making its mamma very wrath. We
finished up with a dance, for there were some five
and twenty ladies on board, who would otherwise
have   been   very    much   disappointed;   amongst 80
them many darked-eyed seiioritas, natives of
Panama, with whom dancing consisted of only the
mechanical action, no exchange of ideas taking
place, except when one could button-hole a gentleman who was fitted to act as interpreter, and
through him make complimentary speeches, smiling,
smirking, and bowing during the time of. their
translation, at the end of which the senorita would
smile and bow in return.
Towards evening the party returned to their
own steamer. On their way home they steamed
round us, fired a gun, and dipped their ensign,
while, as they departed, cheer after cheer came
across the water, to show their appreciation of our
After a few days further waiting we were enabled
to make a start for Payta, a port in Peru, where we
hoped to get a last mail from England before setting
out on a long cruise for the southern part of the
Payta is certainly one of the most forsaken and
uninviting looking places I have ever set eyes on. It
is built on a low shore between the beach and a line
of rough, broken sand hills. If one could imagine
a village, built in the very earliest days of village
building, with low one-storied houses, composed of
wicker-work and mud plaster, and roofed with reeds
and sticks, heated in a large furnace for a number
of years, and then set down on a small plain of SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
sand, with dirty, yellow-looking hills for a background, he can form an idea of the appearance of
Payta ; though, of course, the few Europeans have
much better dwellings. There is nothing green, or
fresh, or pleasing to be seen in the neighbourhood ;
there is no fresh water for twenty miles, and all that
distance it has to be conveyed on donkeys. So no
great inducements were offered for leaving the ship,
unless for a trip to the interior, or after alligators,
numbers of which can be shot at a river to the northward to Payta. Three of our officers paid it a visit,
and were successful in shooting some half-dozen, and
a quantity of pigeons.
Two fine, clean, and fast-looking merchant ships
were at anchor with us in the bay, and I have a
word or two to say, which I think will be interesting, concerning their line of commerce. Of late
years a prosperous trade has sprung up between
China, and Peru, and Chili, which promises fairly
to eclipse the old African slave-trade in its enormous returns and the impunity with which it is
carried on. Now, by the laws of the Celestial
Empire, and by virtue of decrees issued by the most
potent brother of the sun and moon, no one of his
pig-tailed subjects is allowed to emigrate, or, at
least, only with special permission. But the services
of our friend, John Chinaman, are in great requisition in many lands where wages are high and labour
scarce, and his country is overrun with fine strap-
G 82
ping young fellows, whom it is a pity to see wasting
their lives in idleness and want, when, if they only
knew it, they might be tilling the ground and
reaping the harvest in some more blessed land, and
so turning the rich gifts of Providence to account.
Seeing these things, some wise philanthropists put
their heads together, and hit upon a plan by which
the labour of Chinamen was to be imported into
countries in need of it; thus benefiting different
peoples and nations, and—putting dollars into their
own pockets.
The following is the course generally pursued, as
sketched to me by the captain of a merchant ship :
Macao is the port from whence the coolies are
usually shipped, for that place is in the hands of
the Portuguese, who are only too happy to have the
chance of turning a penny; besides, it is a business all
the more easily carried on by avoiding the interference
of the Chinese officials, who would naturally expect
something for themselves. Now, there is a law in
China by which if a Chinaman owes another a
certain sum of money he becomes his creditor's
property, bodily at least, if unable to pay the debt,
until he has worked a sufficient equivalent in labour
to liquidate the claim, when he is again free. It is
on this law that the whole of the coolie trade hinges.
The two great vices of Chinamen are gambling and
opium smoking. If enabled by any means to gratify
these degrading tastes to the full extent of their SCENES  ON  PACIFIC SHORES.
inclination, they become perfectly oblivious to all
else in life, sacrificing their comfort, health, and
frequently their lives, on the altars of their idols.
A cargo of coolies is required by some enterprising
merchant. Due notice is given, and the machinery
set to work. Natives, in the employ of the
Portuguese, or ships' agent, at Macao, spread themselves through the neighbouring country and
villages, and frequent the opium houses, cock fights,
and gambling hells; here they attach themselves to
the most likely men for their purpose—and they
have a large number to choose from—to whom, when
their money is spent and wasted, they advance
small sums, always taking care to have legal acknowledgments, till sufficient is lent to place the insatiable
borrower in their power, and render him their slave
by the law. The "runners," as they are called,
bring their gangs to Macao, when they have collected
a sufficient number, in readiness for the ship. The
coolies, as they may now be called, here have their
position explained to them. They are told of a
prosperous and healthy country, a land overflowing
with milk and honey (or, rather, opium and fighting-
cocks), where they can go and work themselves free
of their creditors, where they will get $1/50 a-week,
enormous wages for a Chinaman; everything is
painted to them couleur de rose. All that is required
of them is to bind themselves by contract for eight
years, at the end of which time they will again be free
G 2 84
men and able to return to China to their friends and
home, with their fortunes made; also, when they
have signed the agreement and shipped on board,
they will receive $75 and two good suits of clothes.
The unsuspecting pig-tail eagerly grasps at the
offer; in it he sees redemption from his present
state of utter destitution and want; visions of a
bright future shine on his cloudy brain; he would
never be the possessor of so much wealth as he
thinks he will acquire if he remained in China for
three men's lives, instead of one opium smoker's
short one, and lastly, and more immediately, his
good suits of clothes are very few and far between.
Things are done in a perfectly fair and above-board
manner. The coolies are taken on board the ship,
and one by one are brought into the cabin, where
the captain, the agent, and the 1 runners " receive
them. John Chinaman's eyes begin to glisten as he
sees a table covered with piles of shining, tempting-
looking dollars. He has never dreamt of, much less
seen, such wealth. The agent beckons him, and he
signs or marks his deed of agreement for so many
years, under the above stipulations. "Now here
are your $75," says the agent. John utters an
exclamation of ecstacy, and rushes towards the inviting heap. I But stay a minute," says Mr. Agent,
"this man (pointing to the 'runner') claims $40
which he has lent you, and for which he has your
acknowledgments."    John's face falls as he sees his m
dollars paid away, but he still feels pretty contented
at the prospect of getting the remainder. "Now,
what nice suits of clothes you have got," continues
his tormentor; "you cannot expect to have them
for nothing," and he sweeps the remaining $35 into
his pocket. And now John sets up his dismal wail
of lamentation, and will not be comforted for the
loss of so many dollars within his grasp. But he is
booked and done for, and must only go and work
out his stipulated period of service. Nothing in the
transactions can be termed illegal, all is down in
black and white, and the laws of the country, and
against the slave trade, strictly respected.
What is most to be feared is a mutiny amongst
the coolies during the passage, and against this
every precaution is taken. The ships are well and
comfortably fitted up, ventilation being thoroughly
looked to—very different from the old African
slavers—iron gratings are fitted over every hatchway, and iron partitions put up between decks, so
as to allow only a certain number of the coolies to
be together in one place. A large iron cage is made
to go over the waist of the ship, which confines
them to that part when they are allowed up for
their regular airings, a certain number only coming
up at a time. A broad bridge runs fore and aft
from the poop to the forecastle, where a watch can
be kept, and from which the coolies can be brought
to submission if necessary.    One means is some- 86
times very effectively resorted to when the coolies
become insubordinate or mutinous ; they invariably
turn their faces upwards towards the men on the
bridge, vociferating and yelling, when a few hand-
fuls of snuff and pepper sprinkled over them doubles
them all up, and sets them a coughing and crying,
and they soon quiet down again. The crew of the
coolie-ship is double the usual number—all picked
men and well armed. 1 do not intend to say that
all the ships engaged in this traffic are so well prepared and fitted up as the class I have described; if
they were, the mutinies, burnings, and sometimes
total loss of coolie ships at sea, no one living to tell
the tale, would not be so frequent.
The coolie costs the shippers to get him safely to
the port of destination, including the expenses of
runners, of the crew, provisions, time fitting the ship
up, etc., some $150 per head. On the arrival of the
ship at the market, some $350 and $400 are willingly
paid by the owners of estates, plantations, or works
for each Chinaman, which leaves a clear profit of
over $200 per head; by no means a bad speculation, if it is well conducted and all goes smoothly.
The two ships lying at Payta with us had been
very successful. One of them had only lost sixty
coolies out of some seven hundred or eight hundred,
during the passage from China, and the other had,
I believe, lost none at all. Another shipload was
expected shortly, the three belonging to the same mm
speculators. So, if all continues to go well, these
little trips will be the means of putting nearly one
hundred thousand pounds into the pockets of the
benevolent philanthropists aforesaid.
Huge rafts are used for loading and unloading
ships at Payta, as, owing to the shallowness of the
water, cargo-boats drawing much could not be got,
near the beach. For two days these rafts were
employed taking coolies on shore, and, as every
square inch of the conveyance was covered, they
became nearly submerged, and presented the strange
appearance of some hundreds of Chinamen moving
across the water without any apparent means of
support. A large building was used for housing
the coolies on shore; here they were strictly confined, not one being allowed ouside, except once
a-day, when the whole were formed into solemn
procession—four deep, with guards at intervals—•
and taken out for a constitutional airing along the
beach, Chinese music, in the shape of drums and
cymbals, heading the column, and making a discord
which even a Highlander's ear would have shrunk
from. The poor devils did not appear particularly
happy, and if any lagged behind, or got out of
place, which some often did in a sleepy sort of
manner, a gentle reminder over the head from the
stick of one of the guards soon brought them back
from any dream of the Celestial Empire in which
they might have been indulging. 88
There is one remark I would make in favour of
Payta, and that is touching its wonderful climate.
Situated within a few degrees of the line, on the
borders of a sandy desert, it enjoys a climate
which is denied to many towns and districts in
higher latitudes. Its water is cold, and at night a
covering is required, while during the day it never
appears too warm to carry on ordinary occupations.
All this is to be attributed to the antarctic current,
which, after its passage through warmer regions,
still strikes with much of its original coldness against
this favoured coast.
From Payta our course lay for Conception Bay,
in the southern part of Chili.    During this voyage
I saw a whaler's boats at work among a school of
whales.    It is a sight few sailors even—not engaged
in whaling—ever witness, and one of the most interesting and exciting spectacles I have ever seen.
After a tolerably quick passage, we anchored off
the town of Tome, which is the seaport of Conception, a town much larger in size and greater in importance, and the seat of the Provincial Government. The surrounding country, at first sight,
presents a very unattractive appearance, especially
in summer, as then the hills are barren of everything except a species of low bush, which patches
them here and there; but, if we land and ascend
these bleak-looking ranges, the valleys below, running into the interior, present a much more inviting SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
aspect. Green fields, lined with stately poplars,
blossoming gardens, trim and well-kept enclosures,
with their rows of refreshing vegetables ready for
market, these, with the house of the farmer, nestling
amongst shady evergreens, are before us ; while, like
a huge serpent, a river or stream meanders from side
to side of the valley, the origin and support of the
verdure which renders the picture so charming.
On the arrival of the ship at Conception Bay, I
received my promotion, and, being thus released
from my arduous duties, I started for several days,
with some brother officers, for some shooting near
the town of Conception, which is well worth a visit
in itself. Our object was, as I say, to have a shot
at wild fowl or anything we could come across fit
for a bag, for, though it was not the shooting season
in Chili, it was the time of year when in the old
country we naturally expect shooting; and a long
sea voyage gives a greater zest for a good walk over
wild country, gun in hand. Our unsportsmanlike
shooting was, however, not very productive, about
five-and-twenty brace of duck, snipe, pigeons, and
partridge constituting our bag.
The plains of Walpen, where we went, are situated
some eight miles from Conception, and, to judge
from appearances and report, there must be as good
snipe and duck shooting in the season as the fondest
sportsman need desire. Conception presents the
usual appearance of Chili towns,  straggling houses 90
with large gardens and quantities of fruit trees. It
possesses a very pretty, well-kept plaza, with beds
of flowers within the outer line of trees, and a space
in the centre with' a fountain and seats.
I travelled during this trip, for the first time, with
five horses abreast in a coach. It is the usual way
in Chili, though a great part of the outside horses'
drawing power is lost; however, over a steep, hilly
road, with abrupt turnings, the corners can be
"rounded" much more easily and safely with this
kind of team than any other.
I There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar (?)."
I will now pass on to the historical island of Juan
Fernandez, known to almost every English boy,
through Defoe's famous story of " Robinson Crusoe."
We sailed for it from Conception Bay, en route for
Alexander Selkirk was landed on it, from a man-
of-war (of those days), in English Bay, totally destitute of any means of supporting himself beyond
what nature had provided on the island; he, however, managed to support life for a miserable four
years and a half without ever seeing or speaking to
a living soul. A fresh little stream sparkles down
the centre of the valley where he was landed, and,
with the help of wild goats' meat, fish, &c, he
The cave, or rather large opening in the rock,
where Selkirk lived, still shows, by its black and
charred roof, and an appearance of being hollowed
out underneath, the uses to which it has been put. If
As stated in the tablet erected to his memory, he
was taken off the island by a privateer at the end
of the above period. He was a great friend of
Defoe's, and the narrative of his life and sufferings
on the island gave Defoe a foundation for the most
interesting book of its kind ever written.
This island, some years back, was used as a convict settlement by the Chilian Government, who
took possession of it on discovering that a considerable trade in sandal-wood had been carried on from
it by a party of settlers without paying the taxes
due to the Chilian Republic, to whom the island
nominally belonged. The Government caused all
the sandal-wood trees to be wantonly destroyed—a
most narrow-minded policy—and, when this was
apparently accomplished, they offered liberation to
any convict who should succeed in discovering
another. A second mode of effecting liberation
offered to the convicts was, I believe, to ascend the
highest mountain in the island—called the " Anvil,"
the summit of which is broad and flat-looking.
Its sides, in some-places, present sheer precipices of
hundreds of feet in height, whilst its base is covered
with thick, stunted, and almost impenetrable forest.
No ascent was ever made that I could hear of, and
several lives were lost in the attempt. These convicts were shamefully treated: confined in damp
caves cut out of the side of a hill, they had to pass
their lives on this lonely island, far from all civilisa-
tion or sympathy, without regular food or clothing.
The caves can still be seen, seven in number, sad
witnesses of the inhuman manner in which these
men were treated.
The island of Juan Fernandez presents the most
striking appearance of wild and abruptly precipitous
mountain scenery I ever remember to have seen.
Though small in actual circumference, from the
water's edge it rises, with the exception of Cumberland and English bays, in bold and massive mountains, which, towards the interior, shoot up into
lofty peaks or inaccessible table-like summits. The
slopes of these mountains, running down to the
valleys, are covered with a species of wild oat,
which gives luxuriant pasturage to the many flocks
of wild goats which abound on the island, rendering
their flesh unusually palatable. Pulling along
under the gigantic cliffs, hundreds of feet in height,
one constantly sees a herd of these extraordinarily
sure-footed animals, springing from one projecting
rock to another upon the face of the cliff, gaining a
greater height, scared by the strange sound of the
human voice echoing through their lonely haunts—
though puny man is, in this case, harmless. At
length they become no larger than flies, and the
head grows dizzy as the eye endeavours to follow
their gambols along the brink of the overhanging
Between two of the most lofty peaks is the spot 94
from where Alexander Selkirk kept his look-om.
The view it commands is magnificent.    Spread out
beneath and around one are valley, cliff, mountain,
glen, and forest, in the hundreds of different shapes
and moulds in which  nature has  thought fit to
fantastically cast the surface of this little island.
One cannot help trying to picture to oneself the solitary man, as morning after morning he drearily
plodded up the rugged path he had worn to his
look-out, and, as he reached the spot, turning his
weary eye to scan the broad, placid ocean which
spread   its   cheerless   face   before  him;   or how,
hoping against hope, he longingly gazed  on the
distant horizon, thinking that, as the heavy hours
dragged on, some messenger from the far-off world
might appear in sight, and rescue him from despairing solitude.    The following short history is  inscribed on a tablet: —
"In memory of Alexander Selkirk, mariner, a
native of Largo, in the county of Fife, Scotland,
who lived on this island in complete solitude for
four years and four months. He was landed from
the 'Cinque Ports' galley, 96 tons, 16 guns, a.d.
1704, and was taken off in the ' Duke' privateer,
12th February, 1709. He died lieutenant of H.M.S.
' Weymouth,' a.d. 1723, aged 47 years. This tablet
is erected near Selkirk's look-out by Commodore
Powell and the officers of H.M.S. 'Topaz,' a.d.
1868." Ill
Strange to say, nearly two centuries ago Juan
Fernandez was the abode of a former Robinson
Crusoe, about whom little is heard now-a-days. I
will, however, make an extract from Dampier, his
historian, who published between the years 1697
and 1709, so few of my readers are likely to have
read him for themselves:—
"March 22nd, 1684.—We came in sight of the
island, Juan Fernandez, and the next day got in
and anchored in a bay at the south end of the island,
in twentv-five fathoms of water, not two cables"
length from the shore. We presently got out our
canoe, and went ashore to see for a Moskito Indian,
whom we left here when we were chased hence by
three Spanish ships, in the year 1681, a little before
we went to Arrica; Captain Watlin being then our
commander, after Captain Sharpe was turned out.
" This Indian lived here alone above two years,
and although he was several times sought after by
the Spaniards, who knew he was left on the island,
yet they could never find him. He was in the
woods hunting for goats when Captain Watlin drew
off his men, and the ship was under sail before he
came back to shore. He had with him his gun and
a knife, with a small horn of powder, and a few
shot; which, being spent, he contrived a way, by
notching his knife, to saw the barrel of his gun into
small pieces, wherewith he made harpoons, lances,
hooks, and a long knife ; heating the pieces first in 96
the fire, which he struck with his gun-flint and a
piece of the barrel of his gun, which he hardened,
having learnt to do that amongst the English. The
hot pieces of iron he would hammer out and bend
as he pleased with stones, and saw them with his
jagged knife, or grind them to an edge by long
labour, and harden them to a good temper, as there
was occasion.
"All this may seem strange to those who are not
acquainted with the sagacity of the Indians, but it
is no more than these Moskito men are accustomed
to in their own country, where theymake their own
fishing and striking instruments without either forge
or anvil, though they spend a great deal of time
about them."
Such is the interesting account given by an old
buccaneer, who in after life was an officer of the
Royal Navy.
The inhabitants of the island are not numerous,
numbering some five and twenty in all: their
principal business is trading with passing whalers,
who make the island generally a place of call; in
vegetables, wood, fresh meat, and water. They
also have large quantities of sealkins for barter,
capturing the seals on a small island called Santa
Rosa, which is off the south-west extremity of Juan
Fernandez. The people live in a very simple style,
principally on fish and goats' meat; they dry a
large quantity of the former for sale.    There is a SCENES ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
little row of cabins built in a sheltered spot, a
necessary precaution to protect the frail dwellings
from the heavy storms which, at times, bursting
over the island, come rushing down the narrow
valleys with terrific force. Opposite each of these
cabins is its garden, and all appeared to be in a
flourishing condition. This produce must be thoroughly appreciated by the sailors of the whaling
ships, who are often four or five months at sea
without the chance of tasting anything much
greener than mouldy cheese.
We spent our Christmas here. As it is the custom
to give most of the men leave on that day, it is
fortunate if a quiet spot can be chosen where public-
houses and drinking bars—the sailor's paradise—do
not abound, as indeed they do in every seaport with
a town. These pitfalls and snares, so carefully laid
for " poor Jack," cause many a seaman to break his
leave and lose his good character; and, the downward road once begun, by unreflectingly indulging
in an extra glass or two, frequently leads in a short
time to imprisonment or flogging.
Our next port was Valparaiso, the most important
commercial town in Chili. I hardly expected to see
such a quantity of shipping as was lying in the bay;
the busy work going on amongst them with cargo
boats, and the number of daily arrivals and
departures, spoke well for the trade of the
H 98
The town is backed by a range of hills, and lies
between their base and the shore. The English
portion, in the suburbs of the town, is more elevated, being built on the slopes of the hills some
distance up.
The English residents here did not show much
inclination for entertainment; rather the reverse,
we thought—although comparisons are so odious—
to their American cousins at San Francisco. There is,
however, a good cricket club, a pastime one is always
sure to find supported and practised wherever there
is plenty of young English blood, as is the case at
Valparaiso, where nearly all the large commercial
houses employ English clerks. The principal thing
to be done, as far as I could see, was to ride about
the neighbouring country, an amusement the residents appear to indulge in a good deal; but one that
must, necessarily, become very monotonous. Some
years ago a very good pack of hounds was imported
by the English residents—for the country abounds
in foxes—but they have deteriorated sadly of late,
through want of support and enough new blood. It
was quite pitiable to see the poor mangy, listless
brutes mooning about, having lost nearly all their
former spirit. The huntsman told me that the
dogs' energy and pluck leave them more and more
every year, whilst their power of scent suffers excessively from the dry, barren, dusty nature of the
country.    A few fresh couples  of dogs are occa- SCENES  ON  PACIFIC SHORES.
sionally got from England, I believe, which just
keep the pack going.
Valparaiso is connected by rail with Santiago,
the capital of Chili, and to the latter place I determined, in company with a brother officer, to pay a
We slept on shore the night before starting, as
being most convenient, the train leaving at an early
hour. It was fortunate we. did so, as we laboured
under the impression that our train took its departure from a small station situated in the interior of
the town, whereas it was from the regular one, or
dep6t, on its outskirts. Using bribes, threats, and
entreaties to our driver, on discovering our mistake,
to flog his wretched horses on faster, we endeavoured
to reach the proper station in time, but, as it was
five minutes after the hour the train ought to
have started when we got there, the doors were shut
and admission refused. We were in despair, for the
next train did not leave for seven hours, and took
four hours longer than the express. But what is
this ? a ray of hope still!—we see a door standing
open to one side on the station, evidently giving
admittance to its precincts, though not in the legitimate way for passengers. But to it, and through
it, we rushed just in time to see the train, some
little way off, begin to glide with a shrill whistle on
its way. There was no good giving up this chance
without a struggle, so, turning on full steam, we sped
2 H 100
away in chase, and succeeded in just catching the
guard's van, the door of which was fortunately open ;
into it we threw our bags and bundled in after them
ourselves, much to the astonishment of the guard,
who commenced with many gesticulations to rave at
us in Spanish (Russian or Arabic would have been
as intelligible to us). Luckily, the train was now
going at full speed, so he could not put us out, and,
having pacified him with a cigar, we waited patiently
for our arrival at the first station to get tickets and
change into a carriage.
As we got more towards the interior of the country,
evidences of greater cultivation than is to be seen in
the immediate neighbourhood of Valparaiso became
apparent, the land being thoroughly irrigated by
canals fed by the Aconcagua River, which, as it
nears the sea, in consequence of this drain on it,
becomes very much smaller than when it first
appears from amongst the Cordilleras. The farming, so far as I could judge, is carried on in a very
primitive style, and side by side with one of the
foremost efforts of civilisation, the railway, may be
seen the rude plough centuries old, made simply of
wood, and only turning up the ground to the depth
of some three inches, followed by a lazy-looking
peon, who indolently guides the course of his oxen,
looking as if nothing could rouse him into any great
° JO
exertion; and not far off may also be seen an uninviting shed, with only three sides, run up with branches SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
and grass, where lives the aforesaid peon with his wife
and family, besides innumerable dogs and pigs. As
we get on, the fields are well enclosed with walls,
built of adobes (large blocks of hardened earth, some
four feet in length by two and a half), roofed over,
the eaves projecting some nine inches each side, to
protect them from the heavy rains. There are also
long straight lines of waving poplars, planted in
many places along the divisions of the fields or sides
of the roads; they add a most picturesque appearance to the country, and relieve it of the flat, unvaried look these large plains must otherwise possess.
Soon after leaving a station called Llai Llai, which
is a sort of half-way house where the trains stop to
enable the passengers to breakfast, etc., the ascent
to Santiago commences; it is very gradual, not
nearly so steep apparently as the Bhore .Ghaut
mcline near Bombay, but leads along the brink of
some very ugly-looking precipices, and has some
very sharp turnings in ticklish places.
Before reaching Santiago we pass over one vast
level plain; for miles and miles it stretches away,
with occasionally a clump of stunted trees, the tops
of which gradually rise above the horizon like the
mastheads of an approaching ship at sea.
At last the train approaches our destination. We
glide in amongst long streets, between rows of
stately poplars and bubbling streams, and are finally
deposited at the Santiago railway station. ■II I
I Hark ! as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!
Earth shook—red meteors flash'd along the sky,
And conscious Nature shudder'd at the cry!"
We were astonished, as we drove to our hotel
(ingles), at the width and length of the Alemeda ;
it is close on three miles long, I believe, and is lined
with double rows of trees on each side ; at intervals
are statues, bandstands, etc., and between the rows
of trees on either hand is a rippling stream constantly running, which thus keeps the trees verdant
and bleoming during the hottest weather, affording
a most pleasant and refreshing shade to the walks
beneath them.
As we drove along we passed the princely residence of a Mr. Maggs, the great contractor of this
country. It is a handsome structure, and the
grounds are most tastefully laid out. Turning off
to the left, some distance further on, we got into the
principal business streets of the city, and at length
arrived at our hotel, where, as is often the case,
English was only professed to be spoken; at least, no
sufficiently-accomplished linguist   to  enlighten us SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
produced himself on our arrival, though we certainly
did before the termination of our visit come across
an individual who performed the duty of interpreter
to the extent of some broken English.
However, having engaged our rooms and deposited our traps, we sallied forth for a view of the
city. We noticed that the shops were larger and
apparently better stocked than at Valparaiso ; handsome buildings and showy warerooms were devoted
to the sale of goods, all bespeaking a good demand.
We were wandering on in the usual imbecile style
of Englishmen who go sightseeing, but cannot speak
a word of the language of the country, or make their
wants known, when, being anxious to inquire the
way to an hotel where our Admiral and his suite
were stopping, we looked about for some charitable
Samaritan who was likely to be able to speak our
native tongue; we presently espied a florid, fat,
good-natured-looking unmistakable son of Britain,
slowly pounding his way towards us, on one leg of
flesh and one of wood. He had all the appearance
of being the right man in the wrong place, for,
except that the good city of Santiago was the last
place to see such a character, he looked for all the
world like some ancient defender of Britannia's
wooden walls, retired from public life on the pension
allowed by a grateful country. Him we accosted
with confidence, and found we were not wrong in
our  first  supposition;   but he proved to be, like 104
ourselves, but a visitor to the city.    He asked us to
accompany him  to  his brother's  in the   Bulness
Arcade, where, he said, we should receive every
information.    After accompanying him some little
way, we stopped in front of a shop devoted to the
sale of fancy goods—babies' dolls, caps, etc., etc.,—
the enterprising proprietor of which proved to be
the brother of the gentleman with the wooden leg,
our acquaintance with whom had now almost ripened
into friendship;  and, rejoicing in the euphonious
name of Jones, he proved   to be most kind and
assiduous in his attentions, and, after giving us the
directions we were in need of, expressed a hope that
we would join in a little soiree that was to take place
at his house that night.    Naturally very glad to
meet our countrymen in these regions, and to have
an opportunity of learning  something  about  the
town and its inhabitants from residents,  we cordially accepted his invitation, and, accordingly, after
dinner at our hotel, betook ourselves to the upstairs'
room of Mr.  Jones's fancy goods  establishment.
Here we found some other gentlemen assembled,
and, after the usual stimulants had been produced
and partaken of, the 'armony of the evening commenced.    Mrs. Jones graced the festive scene by
her presence, and warbled forth one or two very
pretty little songs.
Amongst the  guests were  two brothers named
Law, who were both dentists by profession; the SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
elder had, however, retired some time previously,
both from his profession and from Santiago, in
favour of his brother. He had practised for about
eleven years, during which period he had laid by
a considerable sum of money. On leaving Santiago
he purchased a merchant ship, called the " Great
Pacific," and for some time previous to our meeting
had commanded and sailed her himself. A rather
peculiar transition, from dentist to merchant captain ! At the time of our visit, his vessel was on her
way from Valparaiso to New York, under charge of
a captain he employed for the trip; from there he was
going to take a cargo to England, and then fit her
up to run in the coolie trade from Macao to Peru,
the profitable nature of which traffic he fully detailed
to me,—and which the reader will have found noticed elsewhere. Some days later, when I had known
him a little longer, and had on different occasions
chatted with him on the subject, he flattered me in
a most unexpected manner by offering me the command of his ship (one of the largest merchant ships
which had ever been in the Pacific) and a considerable share in the profits of the transaction. This
kind offer I was compelled to " decline with thanks."
I was astonished to learn what a money-making
business dentistry is in a country like Chili, though
it is scarcely surprising when every one here appears
to early ruin their masticators by an inordinate
affection for sweets.    The first evening I met the we
Laws, the younger one showed me a note for $100
he had that day received for stopping two teeth, and
for one row of false teeth he was generally paid I
believe $500 or £100. During the eleven years the
elder brother was at Santiago, there was, if I recollect aright, but one other dentist in the town ; and
Law used to clear some £3,000 a year. But many
more of the brotherhood have since pitched their
tents here, though there is still work for all.
We went for a drive to the mineral baths of Apo-
quindo, where, on a Sunday afternoon, a great many
of the Santiago folk resort. On our way we passed
a lordly monastery with massive belfries and arched
gateway. Far-spreading fertile vineyards and every
sign of prosperity and affluence generally surround
the dwellings of these holy men, who, resigning the
world, the flesh, and "him as shall be nameless betwixt you and me," devote themselves to the saving
of other souls from perdition, and by thus exhibiting
an example of total self-denial, they light the way
and guide the anxious wanderer back to the narrow
pathway of virtue ;—at least some would have us so
believe. But the visitors to Roman Catholic countries
can tell another tale; for when he views their abodes
and hears of the life of sensual gratification and
luxury which they lead, he can only wonder at and
pity the ignorance and bigotry of the poor benighted
creatures upon whose superstitious natures these
priests thrive.    The Englishman  who may thus SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
chance to wander, and see for himself the temporal
burden and spiritual thraldom which oppress the
poor in the countries of which I am speaking, may
well feel thankful, and ought to raise a grateful heart
in praise, for the blessings which were afforded to his
own more favoured land when the light of the Reformation dispelled the darkness of Popery. We
dined at the baths, and started in the evening for
our drive back, which promised to be pleasant and
cool, the heat, dust, and discomfort attendant on
a midday drive having passed away. A beautiful
sunset illumined the west. The towering peaks of
the Andes and their smaller off-shoots showed their
outlines clearly against the evening sky, the glorious
red of the setting sun tinging the snow-tipped summits with a rich crimson; the green fields of the
valleys surrounded by lines of graceful poplars, the
white walls of monasteries and farm-houses with
their little clusters of buildings around them, and
the blue smoke curling upwards in the calm atmosphere, all formed a charming picture of peace and
contentment. Would that the internal reality were
on a par with the external appearance, in all these
pleasant views!
When returning from spending the evening at the
house of an Englishman, we visited the spot on which
the Campana church once stood,—that church, the
burning of which filled every feeling person with
compassion and horror. All the ruins have now been 108
removed, and no building is allowed on the large
square.    It is a desolate, barren space in the midst
of a populous city.    The moon was shining brightly
down, all around was calm and silent, as we stood
listening to our companions, who, in low tones, suitable to the narrative and the scene of the catastrophe,
told us of friends they themselves had lost, of the
youth and beauty which had here been charred to
cinders, of the whole families swept off the face of
the earth, by the one fell swoop of the destroying
angel; in some cases not a living relative being left to
claim the property,—" the place thereof knew them
no   more;"—of   the fearful   pictures  of    mortal
agony which were   visible through   the  partially
opened door  of the   church.    But to  give  some
short account of the dreadful tragedy will perhaps
be more coherent.
It was some holy day or particular service—I
forget what exactly; and in Chili, as is also the
case, I am afraid, in our own country, the ladies are
the principal church-goers. The church was, then,
filled—crowded, I believe—by all that was fervent
and young and beautiful in the city of Santiago, it
being the largest and most popular church in the
place. To illuminate the building, and prepare it
specially for this solemn service, every exertion was
made. It was not considered that the ordinary
lighting would be sufficient, so a number of extra
lamps were suspended from a single wire extending SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
from one side to the other: to this, I believe, is to be
attributed the subsequent conflagration.
The church was crowded, as I before said, to
excess, the ladies being dressed in quantities of
light muslin (crinolines were then the fashion) and
decked with all the accessories used to make the
female dress captivating, which it is considered as
necessary to do when attending masses in Chili as
when going to service in our own country. It
appears that in the middle of the service the wire
broke, and the contents of the lamps covered all
beneath. The fire spread with fearful rapidity, and
a most heartrending panic ensued. There were
nearly—it is supposed there may have been more
than—three thousand people in the building, few of
whom got out before the tremendous pressure,
caused by the rush of the frantic crowds inside,
almost closed the folding-doors, which, as if to
favour the devouring element, opened inwards ; but
through the small opening left, the eager mass,
with all the energy of despair, endeavoured, of
course fruitlessly, to escape. Some clambered along
over the platform of tightly-wedged heads and
shoulders, and, in so doing, had their clothes
stripped off, the people below trying to hold them
back, or draw themselves up to them. Some children
were, I heard, thrown out. One man on horseback,
outside, threw his lasso in, and, having succeeded in
securing it round the body of some person, drew him 110
out by main force. This he did several times successfully, but at length the lasso settled round the neck
of some victim and the head was drawn off.
But the most disgusting and revolting circumstance of all, if reports are to be implicitly believed,
was the conduct of the priests. Not one of the
holy men was lost. Retreating immediately into
the sacristy, they closed and secured its door, thus
shutting off the only other means of escape^ besides
the principal entrance. A Miss Armstrong was the
last to effect her escape by this means, and it was
only through the strength given her by her desperate situation that she was successful in forcing the
door as the priests were shutting it, and at the
expense of all her clothing. What motive could
have prompted the wanton cruelty I am unable to
conceive ; that such cruelty actually occurred there
can be little doubt. All the vestments and furniture, down even to some worthless matting, were
saved out of the sacristy, and yet the priests, in
pure selfishness, or dread of being at any loss—it is
hard to suggest a reason—sacrificed hundreds of
their fellow beings to an awful death. The great
bell after some time fell down, red hot, burying
several people under it. Naturally, when the behaviour of the priests became generally known,
popular feeling ran high against them, and many
men were for exercising a little beneficial lynch-
law; but, strange to say, the women all took their SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
part, and, despite their heartlessness, defended, and,
in all probability, saved them.
The burning of the cathedral occurred on the 8th
December, 1863, and about a month before our visit
another large building was destroyed on the same
day, 8th December, and which was very nearly
causing as great a loss of human life. Carlotta
Patti was singing; and when a star of any magnitude does shine in their firmament the Chilians
attend in full force. Such was the case this evening,
and some two thousand five hundred people had
only left the opera-house half an hour when the
flames burst forth, and entirely consumed the
The Chilians are not, as a rule, handsome, though
occasionally faces are seen which retain to perfection all the attributes of the romantic Spanish
type of beauty. They almost all possess, however,
an exquisite carriage and grace in all their movements, which are in themselves a charm to the
My affairs being settled, and my commission
having arrived—which had been a fortnight delayed,
owing to the breaking down of a mail steamer—a
brother officer and myself availed ourselves of the
opportunity of joining two other gentlemen, who
were about to cross over the Cordilleras de los
Andes into the Argentine Republic. There are
several different passes over the Andes, but, as our I
time was limited, we chose the most direct, though,
perhaps, not the most picturesque, by Uspallata.
Our journey was to be performed first by train to
Llai Llai, then by diligence to Santa Rosa de los
Andes, and on mule back to Mendoza, after which
we had the option of proceeding on horseback or by
diligence across the Pampas to Rosario. We calculated the expenses of the trip would be about
equal to, if not under, the cost of the ordinary
passage to England in the mail steamer, via the
Straits of Magellan.
Well, it is the last day of my stay in Valparaiso.
I had been living on shore for some time. My
traps are packed with only necessary clothing for
the cross-country journey, my heavier luggage
going round the Cape to meet me the other side.
I My boat is on the shore, and my bark is on the
sea," or, in other words, I am all ready for a start;
but, before I do so, I must go and pay a farewell
visit to my old ship, say a last good-bye to many,
but only a long good-bye, I hope, to others of my
old messmates. " Parting is such sweet sorrow,'' it
has been said, and so, to smooth down the rousrh
edge, and render our parting on this occasion as
long as possible, I invited some dozen old messmates on shore to pass the evening with me, and
finish with a supper. We kept up our festivities
to such a late hour, and sang so much about " Auld
Lang Syne," and being all "jolly good fellows," SCENES ON PACIFIC SHORES.
that the manager of the hotel at last turned my
friends out, and assured me he would not have sup-
lied supper for $500 if he had known there was
going to be such an affectionate farewell. We were
called at six o'clock next morning, and I must confess I found my head very heavy, and my eyes
still hot and watery, from the effects of my grief
at parting overnight, but I dressed hastily, and,
swallowing an apology for breakfast, we started to
catch the seven o'clock train, seated comfortably
in which we commenced our journey homewards,
and I—
I With aching temples, on my hand reclin'd,
Muse on the last farewell I leave behind." CHAPTER  XII.
"Where Andes, giant of the Western star,
With meteor standard to the winds unfurl'd,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world."
Our tickets were taken for Llai Llai, where we
arrived about ten o'clock, but found ourselves unable
to proceed to Santa Rosa at once, no coach being
obtainable. At length we got one large enough to
contain the whole of our party, in number six—for
two friends were accompanying us to Santa Rosa to
see us off—cutting out the American minister (to
Santiago) and his party, who were also waiting for
means of conveyance to Santa Rosa. Our route from
Llai Llai wound up the side of a steep hill, and, as
we rose above the plain, we obtained a splendid
view of the great fertile valley below. The harvest
was being gathered in in some parts, and the process of threshing going on, which is accomplished
by galloping a troop of mares round and round in
a carral—the ancient method of treading out the
The mares here, as in most countries of South
America, are only used for this purpose, or some I'll
other light work—never  being put to saddle or
draught except in extreme cases.    The village of
Llai Llai itself, like most Spanish built towns, looked
very much better from a distance than from a close
inspection.    Its streets, cutting each other at right
angles, looked neat and orderly; and, except just
round the station, the houses only appeared at intervals, half hid amidst large gardens, which, with
their quantities of fruit trees and vineyards, looked
temptingly cool and inviting.    The whole valley
forms a large amphitheatre, enclosed on the left by
the ranges of the Andes, whose summits were hid in
clouds or capped with snow, while on  the right
their lesser offspring completed the circle.    The hill
we were ascending divided two valleys, and, as we
crossed its ridge, an equally fertile and well cultivated country as that we had just lost sight of met
our view.    At the upper end of the valley we now
descended into lay Santa Rosa, our resting place for
the night.    For nearly ten miles our road was lined
almost continuously with poplars, which made it
shady and tolerably cool, and the drive would have
been very pleasant but for clouds of dust in which
we were constantly enveloped.    We changed horses
twice   during  the  afternoon,   and travelled about
thirty miles.   We were not at all sorry when at length
we trotted into the town of Santa Rosa, and alighted
at our hotel, situated on one side of its pretty little
plaza.   Santa Rosa de los Andes is the Chilian termi-
i 2
uJL 116
nus of the line of route between Chili and the Argentine Republic, via the Uspallata Pass, and it is, therefore, of considerable importance. The large droves
of cattle which are driven annually across from the
East are put into grazing grounds in its vicinity to
recruit them after their long and tedious journey
over the Andes, during which they get scarcely any
feeding whatever. It is also the great mule station
—mules forming its principal source of wealth. All
traffic by the Pass is done on them, troops of as
many as two and three hundred going across at a
time. Their wonderful powers of endurance on
hardly any food, coupled with their capability to
carry heavy loads over broken and unsafe ground—
where they pick their steps with extraordinary precision and certainty—render them the only beasts
of burden fit for this journey. Here we engaged
ours, four for ourselves to ride, three for our luggage,
' ' Do    O    I
three the vacqueanos rode, two spare ones, and a
bell-mare which was led by the guide, and is always
necessary for a troop of mules to keep them from
straying, as they will follow the sound of the bell
when no other means of persuasion would answer.
Somewhat later on the evening of our arrival the
American minister and his party put in an appearance. He was also going across to Mendoza, and
was taking a photographer, as it was his intention
to spend some three weeks amongst the mountains
We had a delay of twenty-four hours at Santa
Rosa, the cause of which I will shortly explain.
One of our party, being duly impressed with
the importance of our undertaking, had had a
box packed with many of the good things of this
life—potted meats, etc.—and, above all, some
bottles of champagne, which we were to drink
on the top of the Cumbre, as the point of
highest elevation we should attain is called, and
which is situated on the line of division between
the two Republics. Unfortunately, however, this
gentleman's servant had forgotten to send the
box to the station in time for our train, owing,
I believe, to the bewilderment of his faculties
consequent on having got " drunk exceedingly"
the night before to drown his sorrow on losing his
master. A telegram had been sent from Llai Llai
to forward the missing box at once, but in spite of
our day's waiting we had to make up our minds to
start without it, for we heard nothing more concerning it. The night before we left we had a bowl
of punch brewed from Kinahan's LL, which I
had brought from the flag-ship with me. One of
the American minister's party (a general, of
course) came over to our rooms and joined in
our conviviality, so we, of course, sung Sherman's
" Dashing Yankee Boys," etc., and toasted both
countries, though afterwards we degenerated into
a discussion on the relative value of English and 118
American heavy guns, which, however, ended very
We were off next morning, and the owner of our
mules rode the first stage, to see us safely on our
way. Our little train made quite an imposing
appearance, being thirteen in number, and we, with
our ponchos floating in the breeze, and broad
Panama hats slouched over our faces, which gave
us a very brigandish look, brought up the rear. The
first stages of our march led us up the valley through
which the Aconcagua flows on issuing from amongst
the Andes. Side by side with the turbulent river lay
our road, crossing it at times, according to the nature
of the country, and gradually ascending as we went
onwards. The valley was fertile and cultivated
where we passed during the early part of the day,
but as we progressed it narrowed and became more
and more barren, till at length we found ourselves
travelling a mere gorge, at the bottom of which the
river tumbled and foamed, at times over a level bed,
again dashing in a small cataract over a ridge of
rocks, but in all cases rushing on with great velocity.
The sides of the gorge were at times precipitous, at
others sloping downwards, and were covered with a
stunted growth of trees; but we were as yet only
amongst the smaller mountains. About noon we
came to the last guard-house, a small building, where
some troops were stationed to levy custom duties.
We halted at a little distance from it and unloaded SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
the mules for rest, lighted a fire, and ate the first
meal of our own cooking on the journey. This
halting place was  some fifteen miles from Santa
Rosa, and Don (I forget what), from whom we
hired the mules, parted with us, his last words of
advice and warning being to be sure and keep
always close to the baggage mules, on account of
robbers, as last year a party of three merchants and
three peons had been attacked, and four of them
killed. Having sufficiently rested, our arrieros proceeded to load the mules, and it was a source of
great surprise to me, the expeditious and clever
way they fastened on the heavy packs with long
strips of hide, which they passed under and over
and round about in a most perplexing, though
skilful, manner. A mule has a cloth tied over its
head during the operation of packing, which is the
only way to make it stay quiet.
We were now on the road again, and had started
in good earnest; the vacqueano, or guide, went
merrily on ahead, leading the bell-mare, and
whistling or humming tunes to himself; our spare
mules came next, then the baggage mules, with
the troopero driving them, then our worthy selves,
four in number, all with revolvers, and two with
guns at saddle-bow, ready to do and die, if need be,
in defence of our property; and, lastly, our mozo, or
boy, told off expressly to look after our creature
comforts.    Our party consisted of a  Mr. W , 120
going home, like myself, on promotion from the
flag-ship;   Mr. B ,   a   paymaster,   also  going
home, on promotion from H.M.S. " Nemesis" ; Mr.
M , a Valparaiso   merchant;   and,  lastly,  the
'unible writer.    We were all in capital spirits, and
jogged pleasantly on, looking forward to dangers
and adventures which never occurred, and anticipating, as much as possible, the pleasures and pains
of our undertaking.    After first leaving our halting
place, our road took us across the river, back some
little distance along its opposite bank, and then,
leaving the valley we had been travelling  since
morning, over the slope of a mountain into another
ravine, through which the Rio de la Biscacho flows.
This river is a tributary of the  Aconcagua, and
the  spot where they unite  forms  a very pretty
meeting  of waters.     This   gorge  was   in   places
very picturesque,   spreading out at intervals of a
few miles into little plains, which were  covered
with trees,  and at times,  through  defiles in the
mountains, we could catch glimpses of the snow-clad
ranges, amongst which we had not yet arrived.
We did about fourteen miles that afternoon, and,
coming   to   a hut, rudely built  of branches  and
earth, we halted for the night.   We had a good fire,
and, opening our bag of provisions, proceeded to
culinary operations at once.    We had beef, mutton,
onions, and potatoes bundled indiscriminately up
together.   I tried my hand as cook, and went in for SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
an Irish stew, which was rather too salt, but was
pronounced otherwise very good; after it we had a
glass of grog, a smoke, and then rolled ourselves up
for the night in our rugs, with our pistols and money
under our heads. An early start was necessary in
the morning, as a long day's ride was before us. It
was still dark when we were awakened by the men
loading the mules with the heavy part of the luggage;
so, arousing ourselves, we rolled our rugs, etc., up,
and, performing our toilet at a brook, we were ready
for the saddle. We got away about 5-30, our route
continuing to follow the course of the river, and
ascending considerably. The river ran very rapidly
here indeed, but its muddy appearance—caused by
the debris washed down from the mountain sides
by the melting snow—prevented its looking so
picturesque as it would have done had it been clear
and sparkling. At times we were some hundred
feet above the river, with, perhaps, a precipice,
going sheer down to the foaming, dashing torrent
beneath; at others, we were almost on its level,
according as the ground afforded the safest pathway.    The mountains became much grander as we
got more
them.     Often great boulders
stood out from the cliffs, in gigantic masses, with,
perhaps, a cleft in the centre, through which some
small stream came tumbling down in a silvery thread.
What struck me as being peculiar, and what certainly rendered the scenery more varied and pleasing, 122
was the absence of any regular range in this portion
of the Andes. Every few miles or less we passed a
gorge or ravine, separating huge mountains, and
through which a stream, large or small, generally
became tributary to the main artery we were following. These valleys always looked green and pleasant by the edge of the water.
" A ride of five hours brought us to the place
where I am now writing (i.e., my notes). It is one
of the most charming spots possible to imagine.
The valley which we have been following for
the last forty-five miles (for one was but a connection of the other) ends here, and forms a regular
little amphitheatre, surrounded by lofty and massive
mountains, several, I believe, over 15,000 feet above
where we now are. Some of the summits are clad
in snow, which looks so soft and beautiful against
the clear blue sky, that it makes one long to sink
into it and rest awhile, it is so like a bed of down.
The river is here lost in a number of smaller
streams, fed principally by the snow. They are of
icy coldness, and I can hardly keep my hand in for
twenty seconds; they only left the snow-fields a very
short time ago. A savoury mess of mutton, onions,
and potatoes is stewing on the fire for breakfast,
and before it is ready I am going to have a bathe
in one of the streams, which will be pretty cold, I
expect." After breakfast we began the regular
ascent.    Up to this we calculated we had ascended
some five or six thousand feet by a gradual rise, but
the valley having terminated among the higher
ranges, we had nothing to do but go at it in real
earnest. Soon after leaving our pleasant little
resting place, we crossed over a small range of hills,
then over' some level ground to the foot of another
ascent, up that, and again over more irregular
ground. We were now getting up close to the
snow regions, and in many crevices and shady
valleys, on a level with us, the snow was lying.
Some three miles to the left of the track, and on the
other side of a steep and apparently impassable line
of small hills, we saw a beautiful little lake, lying
imbedded amongst the mountains. It is called the
Laguna de los Altos.
At length we came to the foot of a high, steep
mountain, which presented to us some three thousand feet of precipice, to all appearances. I could
not at first make out how we were to overcome this
obstacle, but, as we got nearer, I perceived a pathway winding zig-zag up the face of it, worn into the
shingle of which it was composed. The ascent
was terribly steep and laborious. The baggage
mules could only go on for half a minute or so, and
were then compelled to stop for two or three to take
breath. At times, the leading part of our line was
right above—overhanging, as it were—the latter
part, and if one of the mules had lost its footing it
would have rolled right down on top of the others. 124
However, after some hour and a half of real hard
work, we reached the crest of this mountain safely,
and found ourselves on a rough, irregular, tableland, which lay between us and the highest ridge
we had to cross. When starting, early that morning,
it was warm weather, and apparently likely to
remain so, and I had only a thin shirt and a light
suit on, but now that we had ascended this great
distance, and were exposed to the bleak cold winds
which blew over the neighbouring snow-fields,
together with the great rarity of the air, I suffered
most intensely from the bitter cold, and it was
impossible to get my warmer clothing out, as there
was no time to lose, for we still had a considerable
distance to go before we rested. Though this prevented my enjoying to any great extent the magnificent scenery which we beheld, it did not prevent
my observing and mentally noting it, though, perhaps, more imperfectly even than usual.
While we were ascending, our thoughts and eyes
were too much fixed on the bleak hill-side up which
we were toiling to find time to pay any attention
to the views behind us, which became more and
more varied and enlarged as our altitude increased;
but, halting at the apex of the mountain, which was
like a huge wedge, undoubtedly one of the finest,
most magnificent, and, to Europeans at least, the
rarest of landscapes lay spread out before us on all
sides.    Behind us, in the direction from which we SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
had come, lay Chili.    Winding  away, till lost in
the distance, was the long valley that we had been
travelling for many hours,  the gloom cast by the
mountains rendering it impossible to see to the
bottom of it,  or distinguish the rivers; mountain
after mountain succeeded each other in countless
numbers  as we turned  towards  the coast.    The
contrast between their dazzling summits and the
darkening   and   dimly   perceptible    valleys   and
ravines below was most striking.    For miles and
miles this varied panorama spread alternately light
and shade,   brilliant white reflecting the evening
sun and gloomy depths which the eye could not
pierce.    Before us lay the Argentine Republic, perhaps the most enticing picture of the two.    From
our very feet the mountain sloped rapidly downwards, across which slope the path was occasionally
to be seen winding to the valley some five thousand
feet below.    The other side  of this valley, right
opposite to us, rising up abruptly, was a mountain
of great height and grandeur; it looked quite close,
so transparent was the air,  and I thought I could
feel the cold of its icy clothing, as if I were within
a yard or two of some giant iceberg.    Sweeping
round its base, a broad valley extended to the right
and left; it was brightly green, and along its centre
ran a river, though only dimly to be seen, as the
shades of evening were already closing round the
lesser elevations.    I now felt  a severe headache I HI -
and dizziness,  from the rarity of the atmosphere
at fourteen thousand feet,  and the lowness of the
temperature, so I was very anxious to descend as
quickly as possible to the shelter and warmth of the
valley.    By the time we had   accomplished  the
descent it was nearly dark, and we had still some
miles to go to arrive at a place where we hoped to
find some wood to make our camp fire. We were all
very weary and knocked up with the long day's ride
and sudden changes of temperature through which
we had passed, and I for one longed to roll myself
up and enjoy nature's sweet restorer.    Presently it
got pitch dark where we were journeying, and one
had to trust entirely to his sure-footed mule to pick
its way through the rough and broken ground. But
gazing upwards, the summit of the large mountain I
have before mentioned was to be seen, crimsoned by
the setting sun, shining like a great beacon above its
lesser neighbours.    Tired and hungry, we at length
arrived at a kind of beehive-shaped building, with
an entrance some ten feet  up.    Two or three of
these have been built at intervals by the Government to afford shelter to travellers.    The entrance
is placed high, I believe, to keep out wild beasts, or
prevent mules being brought in.  Having clambered
up to examine the interior, we found a circular
room of some ten or twelve feet in diameter, into
which we got our bedding and traps.    But, alas!
we were disappointed about the wood, and a few SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
armfuls of brambles was all that Was obtainable.
With these, however, we essayed to heat a little
water, which, having got about lukewarm, we
mixed some cocoa in, and, with some meat in
an uncooked state, were content to satisfy the
cravings of our appetites, and return to our dormitory and sleep the sleep of exhaustion. We had
been fifteen hours on the road this day and passed
over the most tedious and difficult part of the
journey. How our mules were able to stand the
fatigue is, to me, beyond understanding; the baggage ones were, of course, the heaviest laden,
and to look at them as they toiled up a mountain
side, amongst loose rolling shingle, one would
think they could hardly last another hundred yards,
for they swayed from side to side, and trembled
with each fresh exertion, tottering and stumbling,
but never coming down.
There was one peculiar characteristic of our route
which this day's journey brought particularly to my
notice, that is, the extraordinary number of bones
and carcases of dead cattle which one meets at almost
every turn. Very soon after leaving Santa Rosa we
had begun to meet them, but this day, as we passed
the foot of several precipices and steep inclines, we
saw great quantities in every stage of decomposition.
It is a most lucrative business driving cattle across
from the Eastern side to Chili, and it is by this pass
they generally cross the Andes, but some ten to 128
fifteen per cent, are lost, though, to judge from
what I saw, I should have thought more. When
they come to a turn in the track at the top of a precipice, which not unfrequently occurs, or when the
pathway is very narrow and insecure, the leading
ones, not seeing which way to turn, or unable to
help themselves, are pushed over by the hinder
ones pressing on, and so go headlong down. The
gauchos have neither the inclination nor the time to
look after them, if by any chance they are not
killed; and so one which is only a little stunned or
bruised may often lie there till it dies of starvation
and thirst.
I Par in the West there lies' a desert land, where the mountains
Lift, through perpetual snows, their lofty and luminous summits.''
The next day we had to start nearly as hungry as
we arrived the previous night, but, fortunately, we
had not a very long ride before breakfast, which we
were to get at the famous Puente del Incas. Unlike
the mountains through which we had passed in
Chili, we now travelled along the foot of the continuous range which forms a great natural bulwark
between the two Republics.
I was much struck with the number and varieties
of beautiful flowers with which the smaller hills and
undulating ground in the valley were covered. I
gathered some eight or ten of different brilliant
colours and kinds, which I hoped to bring home with
me, to learn the names; but later on our servant,
finding a bunch of withered, dried weeds (I suppose
he considered them) amongst the baggage, and, unaware of the value I attached to them, threw them
The Puente del Incas is interesting, on account of
its mineral springs, which are powerfully impreg-
K 0S3H
natedwith sulphur.    It derives its name from its
having been a favourite resort of the old kings of
Chili, the healing properties of its waters, then as
now, being held in high estimation, far and wide.
The vacqueanos and gauchos invariably have a bath
as they pass here (the only one in which they indulge during the journey, I fancy).    We also determined not to let the opportunity pass; so, while our
Irish stew was cooking, we took our towels and went
for a bathe.    We found there are several different
springs, one of which supplied two baths, the upper
one of which was a natural basin, worn perfectly
smooth by the action of the water, the rock being
turned yellow by the mineral substances it contained.
It was situated in a little cave, the tops and sides of
which were formed of stalactites, which hung in
beautiful festoons, and would have made it a charming grotto in which to undress, only the continual
dropping from the roof rather damped our admiration of it for this latter purpose.    This upper bath
was large enough to hold three of us comfortably;
the water was at a temperature, as near as we could
guess, of about 90°, and for all the world like soda-
water bubbling up to the surface, and covering one
all over with little globules of air.   The smell of the
sulphur was at first very disagreeable, but we soon
got accustomed to it.'    We thoroughly enjoyed the
water, for the atmosphere was tolerably cold; and,
after some hour and a half's revelling in its warmth, SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
we dressed, and proceeded to discuss the aforementioned Irish stew, which, being the first regular meal
we had had for four and twenty hours, we thoroughly
Still continuing along the course of the valley,
that afternoon's ride brought us to the Puente del
Vacas (the Bridge of Cows), and the first signs of
civilisation we had met since entering the Argentine
Republic. It is a regular little oasis in the midst of
a vast sterile tract of country. The owner, a man
from San Juan, has very cleverly constructed a
canal, by means of which he irrigates some fifteen
acres or so of pasturage, and for which he charges
so much per head a night to the passing trains of
We here found ourselves in the lap of luxury—we
actually had a table-cloth for dinner, and soup-plates,
out of which we took our caswela with spoons, besides several bottles of country wine, which, although
none of the best, was a treat to our thirsty throats.
We slept also on a floor, which was not more than a
couple of inches deep in dust.
Yes; I think nothing could equal the annoyance
and discomfort we continually suffered from dust
during nearly the whole of this journey, except at
the highest elevations—the wind always blowing,
and the dust always rising, literally impregnated us
and our belongings with the subtlest particles. Dust
in our eyes, throats, and noses; dust in our stews,
k 2 132
our grog, our bread; dust before us, behind us, and
around us; and on no day did we suffer more than
the day we left the Puente del Vacas and started for
Uspallata. We started about 6.30 a.m., and had a
journey of some twenty leagues before us. It would
not be so much on a good road, or over country like
the Pampas, with a fast horse; but over the broken,
irregular ground—often round shingle—which we
had to travel on mule-back, and attendant on our
baggage, I consider that ride was almost equal in
fatigue and annoyance to double the distance under
favourable circumstances.
For the first thirty or forty miles our road lay
partly through a defile and partly along the broad
bed of a river course, which at times widened to a
mile, and at others contracted to a fourth of that
width. During the early part of the day we passed
over the worst piece of road in the journey. It led
us, in one place, regularly along the brow of a precipice—the least slip would have sent us over. Our
troopero made us dismount, as he said it was not
■ safe to ride the mules; the men also dismounted,
and drove the mules on before, we following. A
great number of cattle are annually lost at this point,
I believe. We soon afterwards got into the dry bed
of the river I mentioned above, and along this we
had the most dismal, dreary, melancholy ride I ever
remember in my life. Not a vestige of vegetation
was to be seen anywhere; brown, rugged mountains SCENES ON PACIFIC SHORES.
begirt our way; while along the valley and down
the neighbouring gorges a perfect gale of wind was
blowing, which raised clouds of dust from the dry
sandy soil; and, as the sun poured his fierce heat
down upon us, parching our throats and blistering
our faces, we suffered considerably. We rode on
steadily for eight hours, with only the cup of chocolate we had had before starting in the morning to
support us; but at last, coming to a little mountain
stream, which rushed down a ravine from the now
distant snow hills, we determined to break our fast
—and such a breakfast as it was, composed of charque
and onions pounded together, and full of dust. Two
of us had a bathe in the cold water, which was deliriously refreshing while it lasted; but, during the
process of drying, the dust and heat reduced us to
nearly our former state. One of our party, Mr.
W , nearly gave in at this period. He had suffered the most severely from the heat, but after a few
mouthfuls of the wretched provender provided and a
little brandy, he came to again.
We continued along the same valley for some
three hours more, and from the number of skeletons,
dead horses, cattle, and mules which we met, we
christened it the " Valley of Death." One curious
object I noticed—a dead ox, with a large hole in its
body ; just visible at this hole was the head of a fox,
also dead, and grinning out at us in a most life-like
though ghastly manner. 134
At last, turning over a low range of hills on the
left, we bade good-bye to the melancholy road we
had been plodding. Soon after we had the evening's
cool and refreshing shade to be thankful for, and we
pushed on more rapidly and pleasantly. The moon
also lent its aid to light up the neighbouring country,
which, as we proceeded, showed a growth of stunted
trees, besides other signs of vegetation. Some ten
miles on we could distinguish the hills, through
which is the Pass of Uspallata; and a little on the
near side of them was the hamlet of that name,
where we were to pass the night. Our poor mules
seemed to know that they were approaching the end
of their day's journey, and often broke into a brisk
trot.    Soon we got amongst irrigated enclosures:
O O O 7
these signs of cultivation, the distant glow of fires,
the barking of dogs and lowing of cattle, and at
O O O 7
length the sound of human voices, apprised us also
that we had come near to our night's rest.
At Uspallata several roads meet, it being the
Eastern Terminus of the traffic across the mountains,
corresponding to Santa Rosa on the west. Although
it is literally amongst the Andes, roads branch off to
different parts of the Argentine Republic, the two
principal ones leading to Mendoza and San Juan. It
is the last stage of a two days' journey from each of
these places.
Quantities of cattle and mules were resting or
feeding in the many enclosures in the neighbourhood SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
of the house; large piles of goods lay about the
partio, or yard, whilst their owners and the troo-
peros and gauchos belonging to the herds of cattle
were preparing themselves in various ways for
passing the night comfortably. Some had fires lit
outside the large yard in front of the house; surrounding these were groups of swarthy men, in the
picturesque dress of the gaucho, which looks all the
better for being a little dimly seen. Again, inside
the partio were more fires, each with recumbent or
standing forms around, while the mule packs of each
party were piled up in a little circle, forming a
partial barricade round the owner's fire. The moon
was shining over all, lighting up the hill sides, and
pouring in bright streams through the poplars surrounding the house.
Now supper, and then to our rugs. The following
twenty-four hours we had thirty leagues to get over,
as we wanted to accomplish the distance to Mendoza
within the six days from Santa Rosa. So an early
start in the morning, first drinking a couple of jugs
of fin ilk and eating some biscuits, obtained at the
About an hour after leaving we found the country
change again for the worse, irrigation and vegetation
ceased, and barren, treeless plains stretched away
for miles on our left, whilst on the right were equally
uninviting looking hills; amongst them, however,
our pathway soon led us. 136
What strange object is this, which, rearing its
head over some intervening rocks, would—were all
the surrounding objects changed into big square
buildings and dingy smoky piles—make one think
himself in the " Black Country ? " A tall chimney,
and its attendant smelting house; for here we come
upon the remains—or, rather, all the buildings,
nearly completed—of the Mina de para Meio. One
shaft I noticed sunk to some depth, but the speculation was abandoned, owing to its natural difficulties
and the want of capital to overcome them, though
very large sums were spent fruitlessly; and there
remain shaft and chimney, storehouse and miner's
cottage, alike deserted, not a sign of living man
amongst them, thousands of feet above the level of
the sea, objects only of derision to the passer-by,
and a proof of the difficulties weak man meets with
in endeavouring to rob the strongholds of nature of
her precious stores.
Passing on from these preliminaries to mining,
we presently emerged from amongst the hills on to
a large plateau, covered with a dry, scant herbage.
We were now on the look-out for juanackos, as they
are constantly to be met with along these slopes
of the Andes. Our vacqueano stops soon after
getting out on the open, and, holding up his hand
as a signal for caution, indicates he is in sight of
game. Riding slowly up to where he stands, he
shows us the tall and graceful head of a juanacko, SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
watching us with curiosity. To unpack my gun,
put it together, and start round the foot of a sheltering incline, was the work of little more than a
minute; but I was unsuccessful in getting a shot,
as one of our party, moving in its direction, sent it
off at once. Later on we had a most exciting chase
—two of us and the troopero very nearly succeeded,
after some hard galloping, in surrounding two. Unfortunately, my companion's montero (kind of saddle)
slipping under his mule, he was unseated at a critical
time, and our quarry got away. But the chase was
a pleasure in itself—a wild hunt up hill and down
dale, going with safety at great speed on our mules,
down steep inclines, where a horse could hardly be
About midday we got our first glimpse of the distant Pampas, some seven thousand feet below us;
they looked exactly like the sea on a hazy day,
stretching away in one great unbroken flat to the
horizon; immediately before us were intervening
ranges of mountains, over the summits of which we
were looking.
We now commenced the last descent, our path
winding through wooded hills, and often along the
beds of watercourses. The slopes of the mountains
on this side are much less abrupt than on the other,
and have more soil and vegetation. A long day's
march, without anything to eat from the time of starting, brought us, at about seven p.m.,  to a wretched 138
little shanty, where we were, however, able to obtain
a roast of kid's flesh, and some water and pasturage
for our mules. We got a little sleep for some three
hours, and then in the saddle again, about eleven
p.m., to finish the remaining fifteen leagues. A bright
moon fortunately shone over our path, and we felt
the benefit of it fully in descending the last part of
the decline, which was very rough and stony.
By sunrise we had reached the commencement of
the Pampas, those mighty plains which extend from
the Andes to the coast, and from the Parana to
Patagonia, with hardly an elevation on them, for the
low ranges about Cordoba and San Louis cannot be
considered anything in comparison to their extent.
We passed through a desert that possesses no one
interesting feature—except perhaps to the naturalist
—consisting of a dry, sandy soil, with a scant growth
of thorny dwarf brush-wood; no water, no grass, no
trees, and this belt of useless country extends for
many miles along the foot of the Andes, lying
between them and the more fertile portion of the
Onward we wearily plodded, longing for some
appearance above the dreary waste to herald our
approach to Mendoza. At length we are relieved
by the sight of dim lines of poplars which intercept
the horizon and speak to us of hotels, cooling baths,
and all the luxuries of civilisation, over which they
preside as shade-giving sentinels, and so awakening
renewed energies within us. The sun's morning
rays shining right in our faces, after an almost sleepless night, became an annoyance, while inward monitors reminded us that we had had but one meal—
not counting the bread and milk the previous morning—during the last thirty-six hours. So as we
approached the trees we felt that our privations
and discomforts would soon terminate for good. But
alas! how fallacious are all human expectations—
how doomed to disappointment are earth-born hopes!
Amongst these trees where we fondly hoped to obtain
breakfast, and all the comforts of an hotel, were no
such things ; so we naturally felt more dejected and
dispirited than before. We certainly got into a
good road when we arrived at the deceptive spot,
but only an occasional house met our view, surrounded
by its garden. About another ten miles in the hot
sun served to render us tolerably uncomfortable,
before we drew up at the custom house of Mendoza
to have our luggage passed; close to it smiled the
wished-for entrance to the Hotel de Paris. CHAPTER XIV.
I An Earthquake's spoil is sepulchred helow."
I will commence my few remarks about Mendoza
with a description of a little man through whose
agency I became acquainted with the town and the
circumstances of the dreadful earthquake which at
one time caused it to be so famous. My friend—as I
may call him—rejoices, if he still lives, in the name of
Brown. He is a Jew, was born in Poland, and brought
up, as nearly as I remember, partly in Russia and
partly in England. He speaks several languages, is
devotedly attached to England, and proud of being,
as he considers he is, an Englishman. In business he
follows the ancient and honourable profession of a
barber. The great object of his life, and, in fact,
the only pleasure he allows himself, as he told me
one morning while cutting my hair, is to make himself agreeable to English gentlemen who travel this
route (which is a rare occurrence) and enjoy their
society during their stay at Mendoza. He says he
cannot work whilst they are there, as he gets too
excited, and feels himself above his business. The
last time, previous to our visit, " he had pleasure,' SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
as he expresses himself, was some two years ago,
when the famous traveller, Captain Burton, and a
party came across.
After a welcome night's rest, I started early in
the morning, accompanied by my little friend, the
barber, to visit the remains of the old town. Never
could one, I think, walk through scenes so speakingly sad—scenes which so completely tell their
own tales of death and destruction. Confused
masses of ruin piled in every shape and form ; here
the half of a street laid level with the ground; there
a wall and chimney left standing. Now we are
amongst the ruins of the principal church, where
hundreds were crushed beneath great solid masses
of masonry, seven or eight feet thick, which came
toppling down; we pass under a graceful arch,
which once led into the sacristy ; a grisly, grinning
line of human skulls meets us, which have been
thrown in here.
"What can that man want to dig there for?
Surely he is not going to plant among these old mud
walls ?" " No, he digs where he thinks he is most
likely to find some human remains, for the sake of
any jewellery or money, and thus gains a livelihood." "But are not the remains of the victims
protected from pillage ? I asked. " Well, no;
few of the living care to spend money on the dead;
so they are left to the mercy of anyone who likes
to dig for the sake of what they can find."    A r
nice state of things in a Christian country, I thought
to myself, as we wandered on through grass-grown
streets, over broken walls and desolate hearths, on
every hand seeing human bones, hair, and rags,
lying about. One of the diggers showed us some
small pieces of money he had that morning found.
What was, perhaps, the most melancholy picture
of all was the deserted plaza, where once all the
business and bustle of a city of nineteen thousand
inhabitants were carried on. It is still surrounded
by its lines of green trees, but how uncared for and
straggling they look. In the centre is the broken
fountain; the ground surrounding it is turned into
a swamp, through the water running from its
proper channel. Desolation and ruin stamp the
forsaken spot.
I Tis now the raven's bleak abode;
# # # # #
And there the fox securely feeds;
And there the pois'nous adder breeds,
Oonceal'd in ruins, moss, and weeds;
While, ever and anon, there fall
Huge heaps of hoary, moulder'd wall."
It is sad to think of the thousands cut off in their
prime, and in the glow of youth; though one
relieving thought suggests itself, hundreds were at
divine service. It was the Semana Santa, or Holy-
week, and at the time of the earthquake service
was going on at the churches—those not attending
being principally indoors.    First comes a prelimi- SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
nary motion of the earth, terror speaks terror from
face to face, and a fearful moment intervenes, then
comes the great wave, and twelve thousand human
beings are immured beneath tumbling walls and
crumbling masonry. Like at the fire at Santiago,
whole families were lost sight of. I was told of a
large merchant's house, in connection with Valparaiso, which was passing through a state of bankruptcy at the time. Its debts were paid in full,
and accounts cleared, by its principals and employes
being called on to pay the great debt of nature. It
is a strange feeling, to know, as one walks along
over masses of masonry or the heavy roof of some
church, that a ghastly multitude is sleeping below,
whose death and burial came on them with lightning swiftness ; for this great charnel house
remains as nature left it, except what the exertions of the enterprising gentlemen of the pick and
shovel are able to accomplish.
At intervals, towards the outskirts of the ruins,
are the old gardens, flourishing in rank neglect;
the vine, the peach, and the pear mingling in rich
confusion. We went to the cabin of a poor woman
who had taken up her abode amongst the old ruins,
and had a very good fruit garden, for the purpose
of enjoying a cool repast. Her husband was an
Englishman, who had deserted her, leaving her
without any means of supporting their family, so our
little offering for the fruit we had was acceptable. 144
The new town of Mendoza is beautifully laid out,
extensive gardens surrounding all the good houses,
and plenty of room given between the streets.
Like most of the Chilian towns, it has a good-sized
stream of water running down each side of the
principal street, which keeps the lines of trees with
which it is lined fresh. This custom of having
watercourses along the thoroughfares appears to be
peculiar to towns west of the Andes, and those close
to them on the eastern side. There is at present, I
believe, a population of about seven thousand in
Mendoza, and prior to the earthquake it was computed to be nineteen thousand, so the remnant does
not appear to have increased or diminished. Our
hotel was tolerably comfortable, considering the
out-of-the-way town and country we were in;
though the landlord troubled himself little about the
wants of his guests, being a well-to-do man, and
not caring much, I fancy, whether the hotel was
carried on or not. He has been a large speculator
in the wines grown in the Mendoza district. He
has now some $100,000 worth of wines in store
at the hotel, to which he has paid great attention,
manipulating and maturing them. He was offered,
about the time of our visit, $2,500 for 1,000 bottles
of his best wine, and refused it. He says that if
men who thoroughly understand the business came
out to this country from Europe with capital, it
could be made one of the best wine-growing coun- SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
tries in the world, and its wines would compete with
any in the market.
The country around Mendoza is at present a
great grass country, where the cattle for Chili are
got into condition, preparatory to their long journey, without any pasturage, over the Andes.
At Uspallata we had heard from two travellers,
one of whom was a wealthy San Juan merchant, who
was acquainted with Mr. M of Valparaiso—a
member of our party—stories of a large band of
gauchos and Indians who had been committing
many depredations in the surrounding country.
There were said to be some forty of the former, well
armed, and one hundred of the latter. These
accounts we heard confirmed at Mendoza; but also
that there were troops out after the brigands, and
that they had shifted the field of their exploits further north to the San Juan province. All this was
not very assuring, for these bands moved long distances very rapidly, and especially as, not long
before, four Englishmen had been attacked at Rio
Cuatro, who were travelling by diligence, as we
were also about to do. However, we were all well
armed; four double-barrelled guns and five revolvers
promised us  security against any moderate number
of gauchos and Indians.
We were obliged to pay a very high price for a
diligence to take us on to Villa Nueva; we endea
voured to get up competition between two or three 146
proprietors, but unsuccessfully; so we at length engaged one from the Messageria, which, I believe, is
the largest company. We had to pay 270 dols. for
a distance of about 510 miles, which the reader will
not consider a high price, when he has seen the difficulty there is in obtaining horses along the route.
Our bill is paid, we have the yapa (or stirrup-cup)
with the landlord, our luggage is piled up behind a
large and roomy coach, which we have all to ourselves, revolvers are handy, and a couple of guns
ready overhead, the others under the seat, and we
are off at a merry pace, speeding pleasantly along
with our five horses at full galop, and our five postilions (each horse carries one), dressed in red
shirts and slouch hats, bobbing up and down, like
so many peas in a pan, the capitano, or first whip,
sporting a black coat. Our conductor, a most
respectable and hearty old gentleman, sits in front,
surrounded by small articles of luggage, amongst
which are a couple of jars of Mendoza wine—our
supply for the road.
Near Mendoza the country is very fertile, and
streams run in all directions. The snow regions of
the Andes form their reservoirs, so this neighbourhood is unaffected by drought, that dreaded visitant
m most grazing countries.
At noon on the 25th January, we left Mendoza,
our road to Villa Nueva taking us over Pampas,
following the whole way deeply-cut wheel tracks. SCENES  ON PACIFIC SHORES.
We passed on through pasture lands for the first
fifteen leagues, seeing a house now and then,—in all,
a well-to-do looking district. At the end of that
distance we arrived at a place called Ramblon, where
we dined and passed the night, rolled up in the old
fashion, under the verandah of a house. Next day
we were up betimes and started at 5.30. We now
found ourselves passing into a more barren and deserted looking district, seeing few signs of inhabitants except at the village of La Pas, where there is
a small garrison, it being a frontier town. It was
attacked at the time of the last great raid of Indians
which occurred some two years before, when, as is
often the case in these parts, the garrison all deserted
to the Indians, becoming brigands and plunderers,
as the easier and pleasanter life of the two. During
the inroad every animal worth the trouble of driving
was taken away and many of the male inhabitants
murdered. Last year a terrific hailstorm occurred
in the neighbourhood, at a place called the Finca
de Santa Rosa; the stones are said to have been as
large as a man's hand, destroying many vineyards
and causing much loss.
There is little to speak of during this journey, the
country over which we travelled being flat, uninteresting, and for many leagues destitute of all signs
of vegetation, except a stunted brush-wood which
seems to thrive wherever there is no soil, water, or
other apparent necessary to vegetable existence.
The night ©f the second day we passed at the
Rancho Totoras, having travelled thirty-five leagues
since the morning. We changed horses about every
three leagues; and, as a rule, enough for two more
changes were sent on from the Posados (or posting-
house), as they are only at long intervals, so we constantly travelled in company with our next team.
On this, the second day, we had to go through
twenty leagues of country, destitute of water or any
support for horses; so consequently there was no
Posado. Thirty horses were therefore driven on before
us and halted at different spots, to be ready for us to
change. Frequently the ground was so soft that the
wheels sank over a foot deep in the sand, and even
with the diligence emptied and the postilions dismounted, flogging on their horses, it was often with
difficulty that the clumsy old vehicle was got along.
The third night we passed at San Louis, which is
the capital of the province of that name. It is a
poor and unimportant little town, and obliged to get
all its stores, wines, &c, sent from Mendoza. The
town is much the same as all others built by the
Spanish-Indian race; high adobe walls enclosing
fertile gardens, but everything besides them dusty,
dirty, and baked-looking.
We slept this night in a dark and miserable room
belonging to the building, which glories in the name
of hotel. Our diligence brought us to it, as it is here
they change horses and regularly stop the night. SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
Next morning for some leagues our road took us
through the Sierra de San Louis, winding round the
foot of hills and avoiding ascents as much as possible.
There are a number of low ranges without any particular attraction; however, they break the monotonous level of the Pampas. This day we passed from
the dried-up, miserable country through which we
had been travelling into the green portion of the
Pampas. Plains of fine rich pasturage stretched
away as far as the eye could reach, seldom with even
a gentle undulation. Occasionally we saw deer,
disturbed by the diligence, rapidly disappearing
towards the far off horizon. It is next to an impossibility to get within a shot of them on these level
plains, where there is no cover whatever, and the
only way of capturing them is by riding them down
on horseback. This, although dreadfully severe on
the horse, is often done by settlers and gauchos.
To-day we crossed the Rio Quinto, which is the
only river of good water for many leagues. It was
quite cheering to see trees and thickets once more,
and all the vegetation which in this climate only
grows near water. Numbers of birds were congregated in its neighbourhood, and pigeons were
cooing in the trees. As I was going after these to
try and get some for our pot, a large South American
partridge got up, which was the first of these birds
I ever shot. They are larger than our own, and
very numerous over, the Pampas. 150
This day's travelling was one of the pleasantest
we had. We were often going at full gallop over
smooth grass lands, our postilions shouting, joking,
and laughing, plying their heavy leather thongs
with might and main, and the old diligence, bumping and jumping from side to side, rolled merrily on.
However, through having had heavy, bad roads
during the early part of the day, before arriving at
the Rio Quinto, we only did eighteen leagues,—
six short of our proper day's journey,—so we camped
on the open Pampas. It is perfectly delicious,
sleeping the fresh, balmy air of the open
camp; the atmosphere was clear and dry, and the
sky presented an almost Italian brilliancy. So we
slumbered peacefully, our men huddled together
round the coach, and ourselves some little way off,
some package or a rug on bunches of grass forming
our pillows. The morning air was very chilly,
though; so we were up and off at five o'clock, in
order to make up to some extent our short journey
of the previous day.
About 7.30 we arrived at Morro, a pretty village,
where we ought to have passed the night. It was
quite strange to see this prosperous, pleasant-looking
little town in the middle of a great wilderness. It is a
regular stopping-place of the diligences. On again,
after breakfast, getting into the province of Cordoba,
#after crossing the Rio de la Cruz. That night we
stopped at a small house where we obtained some SCENES ON PACIFIC SHORES.
mutton, a great help to our larder. During the
evening a large number of men, with women mounted
behind them, arrived. They were seeing one of their
party a short way on some journey she was making,
and had come here to pass the night in festivities.
They had first a good supper of roast meat, washed
down by aguadiente, and then having obtained
the services of one of our postilions to play the
guitar, they commenced dancing. It was a very
measured, stately kind of performance. Sometimes
a species of quadrille, during which they glided
about in a most unbending manner; again they
would break into a sort of old-fashioned waltz,
to a pretty, and occasionally plaintive, air. The
whole of their actions and behaviour being most
ceremonious, formal, and courteous, almost giving
a stranger the idea that they had never met before.
These gaities were kept up to an early hour in the
morning; but long before their finish I had sunk
to sleep, stretched out on the grass, at some distance
from the house.
We started at 4.30, and arrived at Rio Quarto
about eleven o'clock, where we found a table d'hote
breakfast being served in a small hotel, supported
principally by the officers of the troops stationed
here. We met three young Englishmen who were
doing a walking trip through part of the country,
having just come from Cordoba. They were full of
strange rumours which professed to be the latest I
news from Europe, and as we ought to have had
three weeks' later news than when we left Valparaiso,
we hardly knew whether to believe the reports of
Gladstone's Grovernment being out of office, England
at war with Prussia, and several other stories which
we afterwards learnt were equally absurd. We did
hope somewhat earlier in the journey to have reached
Villa Maria (or Nueva) on this afternoon, but we
now gave up all hopes of doing so, determining,
however, to push on as far as we could. CHAPTER XV.
| Olouds burst; skies flash; oh, dreadful hour!
More fiercely pours the storm!"
That evening's drive made me acquainted with a
scene, the like of which residents in England, I do
not think, have ever witnessed; for in this country
no warfare of the elements ever equals that fearful
letting loose of them, as it were, which so often
occurs in less favoured climes. The storm I am
about to speak of was an unusually fierce one, as
may be supposed when the reader is informed that
it was the forerunner of the first rain that had fallen
for many months in the part of the country we were
travelling in.
The afternoon was rather hot and sultry; as it
advanced, heavy dark clouds began to appear above
the horizon right before us. As evening drew on
they rose heavier and heavier in a great black arch,
which spread a gloom before it and caused the
Pampas and all objects on them to look hazy and
indistinct, totally obliterating the horizon beneath
it, and giving one an uncomfortable, disagreeable
feeling.    Darker grew the great mass of clouds as it 154
overspread   the  heavens  till premature night set
in.    Occasional flashes played about the  clouds,
lighting up for a moment the plains, and at times
showing us the forms of terrified cattle and horses
belonging   to   the  estancia  over  which we  were
driving.    Our road, as I before said, led us right for
the thickest of the  storm,   and soon we found it
almost impossible to see the forms of our postilions,
who were urging their frightened   horses  on as
rapidly as was consistent with safety, for the road
was in deep ruts, worn into the soft grass land, and
not easy to distinguish in the pitchy darkness which
now enveloped us.    The lightning soon became so
dazzlingly brilliant as to blind one for some seconds
after each flash, though there was no thunder as yet
to be heard; there was scarcely a breath of wind,
and this extreme quiet, only disturbed by the wild
cries of our riders and the jumbling of the diligence,
under these peculiar circumstances served to render
the scene more impressive, and instil into one a
peculiar feeling of awe.
I was by no means sorry,—in fact, I must confess
I was greatly relieved,—when a bright flash lit
up a ghostly-looking, square, white tower, close
to which we could distinguish a low house, the
dwelling, as we afterwards learnt, of Mr. Sclater,
the managing partner of the large estancia over
which we had been driving since leaving Rio
Mr. S. met us with a most cordial welcome to
the shelter and board of his dwelling, of which we
were only too glad to avail ourselves, for though
there was no rain falling yet, and if one had shut
his eyes, there was nothing unusual to be felt; still
it was that kind of night that an only moderately
brave individual would prefer sitting in a cozy
room by candle-light, and chatting to his opposite
neighbour, to standing face to face with visible conflict going on amongst the elements.
Some few minutes after our arrival, however, we
began to hear the thunder in the distance ; it grew
closer and closer, till within an hour deafening
peals shook the air about Us, and a heavy downfall
of welcome rain commenced. I say welcome,
because it put Mr. S. in great spirits. He told us
that this was the first rain they had had for ten
months, and was the termination of one of the
longest droughts on record in the Argentine.
While our asado (or roast) was preparing, we stood
for a short time in the verandah, watching the
wild night outside, for we took a friendly interest
in the storm now we were in comfortable quarters.
We could now enjoy the brilliancy of the lightning,
and gaze admiringly at all the changes in the clouds,
as dense masses of them passing over carried this
much needed restorative to the thirsty soil.
Mr. S. was heartily glad to have our companionship, as most men are who seldom see one of their 156
own rank in life, or meet anyone capable of exchanging two ideas beyond those purely local.
After a bottle or two of very good wine, which he
produced in our honour, we settled down to our
grog, smoking, and a chat.
Mr. S. has suffered much from the inroads of the
Indians, who, entering the Argentine on the south,
cross a belt of uninhabitable country of great extent,
commit many depredations on the settlers, and then
retreat before any force sufficiently strong to encounter them has been collected together. The
worst and most daring of these inroads occurred
some two years before the time of which I am speaking. Mr. S. told me many things in connection
with it, and I will give a short portion of his
" Previously to the time when the Indians made
their great raid, I had always treated them as kindly
and hospitably as I could. Parties of them, at that
time, constantly travelled by this road on various
errands to Rosario, and sometimes their chiefs were
invited to a conference at Buenos Ayres. Now,
at any time they wanted to halt here, to feed or
pass the night, I used to send them firewood and
what mare's meat they wanted to eat; so in
time they came to look on me as a friend, and
sometimes said in a half-joking way, that when they
were in this part of the country driving off cattle,
they would respect mine; but as they had never up SCENES  QN  PACIFIC  SHORES.
to that time made any marauding excursion, I
thought, despite the entire absence of humour in
their composition, they merely said it as a joke.
But I was soon undeceived ; for one day a number
of peones and country people, with what few goods
they had been able to collect, came galloping into
my potero (enclosure), crying out, "Loslndios!
Los Indios! " and telling a dreadful story of robbery
and rapine. I hardly knew whether to believe it
really was the Indians or only some party of gauchos, who often, when in want, steal from and ill-
treat the poor people. However, towards evening
a large body of Indians were seen advancing from
the southward. Among them were many gauchos
and some troops; the latter had in some cases, when
the Indians approached the frontier forts, deserted,
or murdered their officers, and gone over en masse to
the enemy. These Christians (as they are termed,
to distinguish them from the Indians), were responsible for all the cruelty and bloodshed during the
incursion; the sole object of the Indians being plunder, and having no hatred or spite to gratify, they
would have driven away horses and cattle, and left
human beings unmolested, but it was otherwise with
these Christians I
The evening they arrived on my estancia they
were driving a lot of stock before them. They soon
surrounded the buildings and sent parties to the
neighbouring country to drive in more cattle.    The i
only benefit I derived from my former kindness, was
in their not molesting my servants or their wives,
or taking anything from the house; but my cattle
and horses shared the common fate. Off this estancia they drove about sixteen hundred horses and
eleven hundred head of cattle, leaving me only such
as they could not conveniently go after, and such as
were weak or thin, and did not appear equal to the
journey across the tract of desert which lies between
this and the Indians' country.
"It was after this visit of theirs that I had that fort
built as a protection for myself and my people,
against any further attacks."
It was this fort that I had first seen lighted up by
a flash of lightning on our arrival that evening. It
was a simple square substantial building, with a door
high up, and would I believe afford perfect protection, as the Indians are very much afraid of fire-arms,
when used from behind any covering.
Mr. S  told us his estancia contained forty-
eight square leagues of country; not a bad-sized
When we started next morning, the rain was
steadily coming down, but the old diligence was
fortunately water-proof, and our men were the only
ones that suffered from wet; but they seemed as
cheerful and jolly as ever, although their clothing
clung dripping to them.
The country seemed to have already somewhat SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
benefited by the much wanted rain; its dried, parched-
up look had vanished, and a greenish tint could be
distinguished. It also changed considerably in its
character : first bushes, then small trees, appeared,
and finally we found ourselves travelling through a
pretty park-like district.
We stopped at a native house to cook some breakfast ; and in the afternoon arrived at Villa Maria,
having taken seven, instead of six, days to do the
510 miles; but this was principally owing to the
great drought that there had been, which, in some
cases caused us long delays, horses having to be sent
for to a considerable distance, the usual supplies of
water having failed.
We heard at Villa Maria that two diligence loads
of passengers for Mendoza had been detained for a
fortnight on account of the bands of gauchos and
Indians. The Messageria company refusing to allow
their diligences to start, and prefering to pay the
hotel expenses of all the passengers, while they were
waiting. These two diligences we had met in the
Pampas, a day or two previously.
The first train starting for Rosario, after our arrival, was at twelve o'clock the next day; so during
the interval, we put up at an hotel in connection
with the railway station. A table d'hote was spread
on tables on the platform of the station, and the employes of the railway sat down with us. A capital
table was kept, fresh fish, sent up from Rosario, beijig
1 160
an especial treat to us; a good light claret was put
on as free table-wine, and the charge made was very
We were not sorry to be once more in a civilized
conveyance, as we moved away from Villa Maria
station in the train, chatting over mishaps and annoyances now passed and done with, and rather
looking forward to the comforts and little luxuries
of cities, which Englishmen know so well how to
And now, having arrived at the bona fide haunts of
man once more, having shaken the dust of the desert
off our feet, dressed decently and prepared for again
entering a civilised portion of the world, I would
wish to say a word or two about my short sojourn
in the wilderness, far from every anxiety beyond
providing for the animal necessaries of life.
To ask if I really enjoyed the journey—which I
have been endeavouring shortly to describe—as a
whole, would, I fear, extract an answer in the negative ; but, at the same time, I must record that I did
enjoy some portions of it very much, and had we
had plenty of time at our disposal, and all the party
been sportsmen, we might have enjoyed it still more :
for to have wandered at will through valleys and
ravines amid the Andes, enjoying their wildly beautiful scenery, camping in favourable spots and trusting to our guns to keep the pot boiling, would have
thoroughly recompensed us for the trouble of getting SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
there, and to an artist or photographer would have
afforded opportunities of taking or sketching views,
which, of their kind, are not to be equalled in the
world. But in musing on what might have been,
I am forgetting my intention of speaking of what
was. The scenery which we did see was splendid;
and the very fact of being amongst those majestic
mountains—thousands of feet above the sea—far
away from any trace of civilisation, gave elasticity
to the spirits and mind, which, although it cannot
come under the category of positive enjoyment,
was certainly pleasurable feeling. Also travelling
where few of one's countrymen have travelled, where
all is novel, and constant changes occurring in the
route, one is compensated to a great extent for long
marches and uncomfortable " board and lodging."
So, on the whole, I would advise an enquirer—if any
such be—to go the trip once, but I think—like myself—he would decline doing so again, unless with
some time at his disposal, and an inclination to go
in for the digressions from the regular journey,
which I have mentioned.
But revenons a nos montons. The land on both
sides of the railway, to the extent of, I believe, three
leagues, has been granted by charter to the company,
and of course they offer many inducements to emigrants or settlers in search of land, to come on to
their property. We constantly passed horses, cattle,
and other  signs that the country was   occupied.
M gsm
The railway stations, as a rule, have a few houses in
their neighbourhood, used by the employes of the
company or as stores, but we rarely saw the dwelling
of an estanciero; though at times they themselves
were to be seen in riding-boots and the rough dress
of the camp, and revolvers in belt.
Some time before arriving at Rosario night closed
in, and we saw a very pretty sight, though one
common enough on the Pampas. Smoke had been
drifting along the horizon during the twilight, and,
as we advanced, we came in sight of its origin—a
low, bright line of fire, which was sweeping over the
country, feeding on the tall, dry grass. It did not
burn very high, but the overhanging canopy of
dense smoke, with the bright line underneath, had
a very pleasing effect.
Like a sheet of liquid silver the broad Parana
now came in sight, showing our proximity to
Rosario. The moon was shining brightly on its
placid surface, and it looked most invitingly cool
and tempting after our long and monotonous journey
over hot and dusty plains. When we arrived at the
station we were besieged by a host of applicants for
employment in transferring our persons and luggage
to an hotel. Our stay at Rosario was short, and I
had not time to notice anything worth recording
about the town. There is plenty of business transacted here, as it is the centre of all the up-country
trade.    We left Rosario on the day succeeding our SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
arrival, in one of the river steamboats which ply
between it and Buenos Ayres, calling at several
intermediate towns.
I have travelled in palanquins in India and China,
have been jolted in a primitive Japanese conveyance (the name of which I forget), I have enjoyed
the spicy breezes of Ceylon while travelling beneath
the shade of her forest trees, I have galloped over
a Persian desert and seen the weary caravan resting, the camels glad of even a sandy bed; during
my career I have  visited  most  countries  in the
world, and "progressed" by all the ordinary, and
some of extraordinary, means of conveyance employed in them, and have ploughed the " briny " in
yachts, merchantmen,  and men-of-war, but before
all these, for a pleasant way of getting over the
distance,   give me a  clean,  comfortable  steamer,
speeding along a picturesque river.     There is  a
charm in the ever-changing landscape never long
enough before you to get tired of it; in the cool
breeze on the calmest and sunniest day, in the gentle
ripple of the water from the bows.   In the very fact
of being free from dust and dirt, from tired horses
and the dozen little annoyances incidental to motion
when the motive power depends on flesh and blood,
from heavy   roads   and drunken  coachmen,  from
robbers, wild beasts, and railway collisions, whilst,
above all, no unpleasant upheaving of the internals
reminds the landsman that he is afloat.
m2 I
The Parana opposite to Rosario is some thirty
miles in width, but filled up, to a great extent, with
a number of islands; over some of these were many
horses and cattle grazing, and flocks of wild ducks
were constantly disturbed from their reedy shores
by the noise of the steamer. The right bank of the
river was high with some low-lying land immediately
along the shore. We passed some towns prettily
built on the summit and slope of the bank. San
Nicholas was especially noticeable through its picturesque and English-like appearance.
On awaking next morning we found ourselves
moored alongside a wharf, some way up a small
tributary of the Rio de la Plata, or River Plate, as
it is commonly called. Landing with our goods
and chattels, we found a train ready to convey us to
the environs of Buenos Ayres. CHAPTER XVI.
"Enough! it boots not on the past to dwell,—
Pair scenes of other lands a loner farewell."
The Capital of the great Argentine Republic,
Buenos Ayres, is not a particularly interesting
city for a visit of more than a day or two, and I
was not sorry when the day of our departure
I was kindly made a visiting member of two
clubs, which was a great boon, as time would otherwise have hung heavily on my hands. I visited the
lions of the place, rode out to one of the salederos,
or great slaughter-houses, where they were killing
and skinning lean and miserable cattle by the hundred, and rapidly slicing off the little meat that
was on them, which was then hung up in long strips
to dry, preparatory for exportation to the Brazils,
for the use of the slaves and for home consumption
among the poorer classes. These slaughter-houses,
from which Buenos Ayres and neighbouring estates
derive so much wealth, are certainly a most revolting
sight to the stranger.
The peones, with their sleeves rolled up, wading 166
about in pools of blood and smeared all over with it,
wielding their huge knives in such an artistic way
that it would be enough to frighten timid persons
out of their five senses, if not previously prepared
for the spectacle, and then shouldering masses of
the still almost quivering flesh, and carrying it to
the drying-sheds. Others, equally sanguinary looking, wheel away the hides and refuse, while channels
flowing with blood run at the side of the slaughtering shed. The stench also arising from such whole-
sale massacres, added to these sights, makes one care
little for a second visit. The fact is, I think I saw
pretty well all that was to be seen, but will not
delay to give descriptions, as I want to press on
with my readers over the many miles we have to
travel before reaching home, where I wish to leave
him safe and comfortable at the end of this chapter.
Yellow fever had just began to make its unwelcome presence felt at Buenos Ayres at the time of
our arrival. The little cloud had appeared in the
horizon—the faint murmur of the coming storm was
heard. These few cases were the commencement
of that dreadful scourge which was destined in so
short a time to make so many hearths and homes
desolate, sweep off its thousands, stop all mercantile
life in the- city, and change the busy voice of its
inhabitants to a prolonged wail of terror and distress.
Previously to the period I am writing of, but few
deaths had occurred, and they had been hushed up SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
and made as little of by the authorities as possible;
but the time had now come when they were compelled to acknowledge the stern fact that the dread
enemy had established his position in their midst.
When the official announcement became known,
intimation arrived from other ports on the river that
ships and vessels from the infected city must undergo
quarantine. It had been our intention to have gone
to Monte Video and proceeded thence to England
in one of the Pacific Steam Company's ships, as
being most convenient for us in its sailing, and also
as it was the steamer which was conveying our
heavy luggage round the Cape from Valparaiso, but
quarantine being established changed our decision ;
for the discomforts and horrors of a few days even
in quarantine at Monte Video were painted to us in
most striking colours; and though they may have
been a little exaggerated, we had no wish to test the
accuracy of the account. So we determined to bide
our time until the sailing of the next Royal Mail
Company's steamer from the roadstead of Buenos
On the day of sailing a small steamer conveyed
us from the wharf to the mail steamer, which soon
after weighed and proceeded for Monte Video, at
which port we found ourselves next morning. Here,
of course, communication with the shore was stopped,
so far as landing for us was concerned. Our principal occupation during the day being to watch the 168
cargo-boats as they came off from the shore. As
soon as they were alongside, the men in them got
into smaller boats and lay off, while the sailors from
the steamer went down to sling the bales and get
the cargo on board. At last the disagreeable,
though necessary, delay is finished; mails and a
few fresh passengers are on board, we let go our
moorings, steam away down the broad estuary of
the Rio de la Plata, soon losing sight of the white
walls of Monte Video, and feel ourselves homeward
bound in real earnest at last.
Lengthy descriptions of passengers on board ship,
and records of their doings, have been so frequently
and ably given, and what is written of one passenger-ship is applicable in so many ways to another,
that I do not intend, novice as I am in mail steamer
travelling, to attempt to tread the well-worn path
and depict again the numberless scenes comically
entertaining which are so constantlv occurring. So
I will only present to the reader, who has had
sufficient powers of endurance to accompany me so
far, a slight sketch of my fellow citizens for the time
being of that little floating town, " The Douro."
Our company was composed of what I suppose
are the usual elements to be found on board mail
steamers from the Plate, unsuccessful votaries at the
shrine of the fickle goddess in the great territory we
were leaving behind us, and others on whom she
had  richly showered  her favours;   but these last SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
bore a very small proportion to the former. Some
Brazilians, among whom was Sefior Paranhos, who
had just been recalled from the Argentine to form a
ministry in the Brazils—the ministry to which, if I
am not mistaken, the slaves of that vast empire owe
their emancipation. He was an intellectual-looking
man, of most polished and agreeable manners, and
looked to me much more like " a fine old English
gentleman " than a Brazilian. We had one woman
following a husband absconding from his creditors,
and another who was leaving a husband behind.
There was also a gentleman who had been through
the Crimean war in our army, and afterwards gone
out to Paraguay in the service of Lopez ; he remained
faithful to him through good and bad fortune, and
for some time before the culmination of that madly
daring attempt of a puny republic to uphold what
she considered her rights against the Brazils and
her allies, he had occupied the position of director-
general of hospitals to Lopez's army—an empty title
enough, some may now say. With this gentleman I
became as intimate as one well could in a month's
voyage, and many an hour we sat together enjoying
our cigars in the cool night air in the tropics, while
he entertained me with tales of siege and battle, of
disasters and retreats, narrating many stirring incidents of the part he had taken in them; for, though
nominally in the civil branch, he constantly assumed
executive command as occasion required. 170
There was another gentleman, a doctor also, who
had formerly been in Lopez's service, whose name
might have been seen soon after our arrival in
England figuring in the reports of the law courts of
Scotland, in connection, I believe, with the will of
Lopez, and in which stakes of considerable value
were at issue. Witnesses of his were among the
passengers, and a legal gentleman who had been
collecting evidence on his behalf in Paraguay.
There was a young man who had been sent out by
a London house to visit El Gran Chaco, and see
about founding a colony there. He was now on his
way home to take out a number of families. Since
his return to South America with these emigrants, I
have seen an account of his murder by the Indians
in a raid on the colony he was founder of. There
were, of course, many others interesting at the time
or otherwise who have almost all passed from my
A newspaper was started, as is often done amongst
passengers who have little to occupy them, as a
safety-valve for the exhuberant genius of the writing,
and a supposed source of amusement for the non-
writing public ; but, I fear, there were more articles
than readers, and I think it died a natural death
after its first publication. The worthy Scot, whom
I before mentioned as the legal gentleman, undertook
the editorship, and it was not through want of zeal
on his part that the "Douro Herald" ceased to exist. SCENES  ON PACIFIC  SHORES.
What a magnificent harbour is that of Rio de
Janeiro, both for accommodation and scenery, from
a nautical and artistic point of view. Steaming in
through its narrow entrance, a long, winding sheet
of water lies before one; ranges of hills on the left,
studded with pretty suburban villas, which peep
out coyly from the midst of gardens and shrubberies;
further on, on the same hand, the spires and towers
of the city rise. We steamed up the harbour and
went alongside a wharf at a coaling island. The
" Douro " was no sooner moored than many of us
made a rush for the boats which were crowding
alongside to convey us to the mainland, and started
off to pay a visit to the capital of the fertile and
wealthy Brazils.
The Carnival was in full swing, and I must candidly confess that, though new to me, it proved
anything but entertaining, and I never wish to
see such a spectacle of idiotic buffoonery again.
Some of the decorations and dresses were pretty
enough, but the antics and conduct of the actors in
the various performances and displays in the streets
were, to my taste, simply disgusting. The amusements and entertainments of the higher classes of
the inhabitants I had, of course, no opportunity of
The feather-flower shops at Rio are well worth a
visit; the gardens, and many pretty spots in the
neighbourhood, also repay the traveller who has a I
few days to spare for going. But a fairer and
happier land to myself and companions lay before
us, and we felt no regret at not having the time to
extend our rambles very far inland, or when the
screw again commenced its monotonous revolutions,
much as there is to admire and interest in the lovely
Onward we glide over the glassy sea, rapidly
shortening our distance from Bahia. Arrived there,
many of us laid in a stock of its gigantic oranges;
some pine-apples and bananas also were not forgotten for those at home.
From the Brazils we had a large addition to our
number of passengers, and no very pleasant one
either, as the majority of them were Portuguese, by
no means desirable companions on board ship.
At last we are fairly in for our run across the
Atlantic, and the interest in the daily distance run
increases greatly. Fair winds are more devoutly
wished for, and head winds more fervently abused.
As the nights lengthen and get colder, and the land
of promise gets steadily though almost imperceptibly nearer, one gradually begins to realize that
we shall soon be at home once more. Awaking
more and more from that dreamy, misty state one
generally gets into about places and people still
distant, but among whom he expects soon to be,
one thinks more and more of the old home—of the
one hearth  above all   others,   around which   are SCENES  ON  PACIFIC  SHORES.
gathered the families, faces, and voices he hopes
to see and hear again ere long—he anticipates, in
imagination, the kindly, loving welcome, which
makes him feel each time he experiences it, that
wherever his lot may call him, or whatever the
amount of pleasure or happiness he may have been
fortunate enough to meet with elsewhere, that there
still is no place like home.
We experienced strong head winds nearly the
whole way to St. Vincent, where we stopped to
coal, proceeding from thence to Lisbon. Here I
should have liked to have had a run on shore, and
visited the town which was well-known to me in
bygone days, when wintering up' the " Muddy
Tagus" in Her Majesty's Channel Squadron; but
the inexorable quarantine kept us prisoners, and we
went very little further in than Belem Castle.
The land we are bound for is now in sight. We
approach it rapidly, and are soon steaming up
Southampton Waters. A small steamer brings us
news of what has been lately happening, and takes
the ready passengers on shore. And the eager
longings felt to be off to those we left behind us
o     o
when last outward bound, are about to be gratified
at last.
W H. & L. Oollingridge, 117 to 120, Aldersgate Street, London, B.C.         


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