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After leaving the Brazilian outposts, which were held by black troops, our author soon reached the republican lines. His description of the Patriot forces is by no means flattering. They had a most wretched and wild appearance: they were all mounted on half wild horses, no shoes or stockings, with tremendous large spurs fastened to their naked heels by strips of hide: their long black hair hung down their backs, huge black mustachios, red caps, and blue pouches lined with red, underneath which, as they galloped to and fro, appeared a brace of pistols in front, and a large long knife stuck behind; added to all this, they carried a sabre and blunderbuss: those that had not the latter had old muskets, fowling pieces, &c.' These men were in arms against the treaty for giving up the Banda Oriental to the emperor. They were little better than a set of banditti, and to increase the romance of the scene, there were numerous armed deserters from both lines, who were employed in pillaging and murdering in all directions.
Lieutenant Brand was fortunate in having for his travelling companions three Englishmen and a Spaniard. They were guided for three leagues by a fine little child only five years old, who was mounted on a noble horse, and sang all the way a native song of the country, in which the only words our author could make out meant in substance-"stand. to your arms, brave Orientals; the enemy are coming-fight, and be bold." Generally speaking, the guides are 'beautiful horsemen : instantly they mount, they cry "vamos senores!" (let us go, gentlemen,) and start off at full speed; nothing stops them-through mud, water, brooks, and every thing you must follow, or be left behind.' The tigers, vultures, vermin, robbers and starvation of the Banda Oriental having been all surmounted, our travellers crossed the Rio de la Plata in an open boat, and found Buenos Ayres a perfect London, or Paris, compared with the savage country they had just traversed. In a political point of view, however, the republican metropolis was in a sad condition enough. 'Paper money was falling to a mere nothing-sixty-four paper dollars to the doubloon, and daily expected to be lower.'
From Buenos Ayres, Lieutenant Brand proceeded across the Pampas, galloping as usual in that wild district as quickly as the animals would go. The reason for this velocity of movement he
states as follows:
'It may be a matter of surprise to some of my readers, why travellers should gallop over the Pampas at the amazing rate they do. In order, in some measure, to account for this, it must be taken into consideration, the total discomfort and wretchedness which reigns throughout the dreary waste; and it may well be imagined, that a man has no inclination to remain there longer than he can possibly help. It must also be taken into consideration, that, probably at all times, there may be Indians, or Monteneros, hovering about; and if, by any chance, they get informa
tion of a traveller being on the road, no doubt but they would endeavour to waylay him; therefore the best and most secure way of avoiding this, is by riding at that rate which would prevent them (even should they get such information) from being able to overtake you: added to this, the natural pace of the horses is such, that really the animals appear to be sensible of the journey they have to perform, and seem to be as eager to get over it as the riders themselves; neither is their labour so great as may be imagined, for there is no up-hill or down-hill, windings or turnings, obstructions of blocked-up roads, or any thing of the sort: in short, nothing to impede the straight-forward progress; and also there is a peculiar pleasure and buoyancy of spirits in riding over a dreary waste, with nothing to attract the attention; the mind gets absorbed in pleasing reflections, building castles in the air, which are scarcely broken by the galloping of the horse, or till the post-house rises in the horizon of the desolate plain, like a strange sail seen from a ship at sea, which serves only to break the monotony for a few passing moments, until he changes his horse, and gallops on again, anticipating and calculating how long it may be before he gets to the end of his monotonous journey: thus it is, having no inducement to stop, onward he goes, from daylight till dark, as long as he can get relays of horses; never thinking of the journey he has performed, only how much more remains to be accomplished.'-pp.
From this portion of the journal, which describes the author's route across the Pampas, we shall only extract his notice of the family of a good-humoured host whom he found at Las Manantiales, or the Springs, and the general character of the natives of the Pampas.
This is not a regular post-house, not having a post-room, but our laughing host, who is a fat, jolly, good-natured man, did every thing to make his miserable abode as comfortable to us as possible. These people have many amiable qualities-that of urbanity of manners in particular: I wish I could say that my own countrymen possessed half their politeness give way a little to their humour, and they may be made any thing of. This poor man, humbly and miserably as he was situated, living with his wife and two daughters, in a perfect desert, gave up the only room he had for our service; and when he sat down to eat with us, did not touch his meat without crossing himself, and breathing a prayer of thanks to his Maker. While we were at our supper inside, we had a noble view without the thistles had been set on fire to clear the land, and for miles it was to be seen blazing and marching majestically along the horizon, a wilderness of fire. Our Peons had also two blazing fires, which they were assembled close round, cooking their suppers; not a breath of wind moved over the quiet scene, which only tended to add melancholy to its dreariness. We all slept on the mud floor in our host's small room, which did not appear to incommode either himself or his family, for his wife and daughters came and undressed just as if no person had been there. Shortly after, between talking and laughing, we heard them at their prayers, stopping now and then to chat in the middle of them. I could not but think of the good qualities which were evidently innate in this family; and what they might be brought to with a little cultivation and education.' -pp. 43, 44.
In the same kindly spirit, Lieutenant Brand speaks of the natives of the Pampas generally.
Indolence and gambling appear to be their existing propensities: the former I am not astonished at, on account of their very few wants; as long as they have beef, water, and a cigar, all are supplied. The natives of the Pampas are a remarkably fine, handsome race of men, with expressive intelligent countenances. From necessity, being driven entirely to their own resources for a livelihood, they have acquired a very independent air; and from living almost on horseback, it approaches even to nobleness. Their good qualities are very conspicuous: treat them civilly, they will always return it in kind far beyond what may be expected. A cigar presented in due season, and with a proper degree of politeness, will effect more than all the harsh words you can give them, for they will not brook it; and why should they? Living as free and independent as the wind, they cannot, and will not acknowledge superiority in any fellowmortal. They are fond of asking questions, but it will be done with all the air and manners of a courtier, fearing to give offence; nevertheless, they will expect to be answered with equal civility. Their ideas are all equality the humble peon, and my lord, would be addressed equally alike by the simple Gaucho with the title of "Senor."-pp. 73, 74.
We must add our author's account of two travellers, brothers, and natives of Mendoza, who accompanied him over the Pampas. They had purchased an old English travelling carriage, of which they were ludicrously vain; and we rather suspect, that in order to crown their pretensions to grandeur, they exhibited our naval Lieutenant as a "lion," on their arrival at Mendoza.
They purchased the carriage on the strength of meeting with two Englishmen, who paid them a hundred and twenty-five silver dollars each for their seats, and for which they paid two thousand paper dollars, or shillings, which was the current rate of exchange at the time. It was ridiculous to see with what pride they surveyed this vehicle every day; and they did not, positively, know how to open or shut the door, or let down the steps. Every wretched post-house we stopped at, a description of the carriage was given, a general survey held, the door opened and shut, the glasses let up and down half a dozen times, very much to the amusement of the simple Gauchos, who stared with astonishment, while the gallant colonel and his brother would stand with folded arms, eulogizing its various qualities, with an air of self importance not to be equalled by the Dey of Algiers himself; taking care, as we advanced in distance, that they advanced in the price they gave for it; for not being very particular with regard to their veracity, it increased to the amount of three thousand five hundred dollars by the time we arrived at Mendoza. Independent of this, they carried with them various articles of merchandize, in a small way, such as snuff-boxes, watches, rings, fans, &c. &c. much resembling our hawking pedlars in England. A gold, musical snuff-box was a grand display, every place we stopped at; it confirmed their grandeur, by the surprise and astonishment of the natives, who had never seen such a thing in their lives even the Indians had a laugh and roar at it, and I verily believe would have smashed it on the ground, from pure delight, could they have got it into their hands. A trumpery watch was shewn to me
as a chronometer, and some bauble paste rings as diamonds; fans smeared over with gold and silver spangles and stars, were represented as very superb, and in high request among the ladies of Mendoza, to whom we were to have the honour of being introduced, which ceremony took place soon after our arrival, a dinner and ball being given for the purpose. Frequently were we asked, very seriously, if this carriage really did belong to the M.'s, such a thing never having before been seen in Mendoza; for 1 have observed it was not one of the vehicles of the country, but a light English travelling carriage. The day of days arrived -the carriage was flying about the town, with a couple of mules, to bring all the ladies to dinner, in order to meet the foreign gentlemen.
We were all seated higgledy-piggledy at table; dish after dish came in; every one helped themselves; no carving was required, being all made dishes. The master of the house was walking round the room, with his coat off, very comfortably smoking his cigar; and between every fresh dish, of which there were some thirty or forty, the ladies amused themselves eating olives soaked in oil; and the colonel, to prove that he understood foreign manners and customs, got the ladies, one after the other, to ask the foreign gentlemen to drink wine with them, which was no small ordeal for us to run through. After these half-hundred dishes came the sweets; then the gentlemen's flints and steels were going, the room soon filled with smoke, and the ladies retired to dress for the ball, which went off very well, as they were really very pretty, and uncommonly well dressed. It was a painful reflection when I found several pointed out to me that could not absolutely write; such is the state of society in Mendoza, and the bigotry of some of the fathers of families, to this day, that they will not allow their daughters to learn to write, for fear of their holding correspondence with whom shall I say? -most probably, persons who would improve their minds, and save them from the ignorance and folly of seeking admiration from the men, which is all they appear to think about, and which is amply repaid with the most profound respect and adulation to their personal charms, but decided contempt for their understandings. At the ball the whole town attended, the waltz and Spanish dance went on the gentlemen were smoking and spitting about the room, and I retired to the dirty miserable inn, thinking that I should soon be performing a very different dance over the mighty Andes, now stretching close to this town, appearing a huge mass of impenetrable snow, towering most solemnly aloft, as if in attempt to reach the heavens itself.'-pp. 76-80.
The sight of the Andes, under such circumstances, must have been rather formidable. At any time it is no journey of pleasure to ascend them. The natural dangers of the passes were now terribly augmented by the snow, and so severe a winter had not been known for many years. The reports brought to Mendoza of the state of the Cordillera, of course magnified the perils that were to be encountered. It would appear, however, that many lives had been lost; and that the intercourse with Chili had been altogether suspended for five weeks. None of these circumstances deterred Lieutenant Brand from proceeding; and we must say that his description of this part of his journey, besides being highly curious,
reflects not a little credit upon his personal character for enterprize and courage.
Having made the necessary preparations for his undertaking, he quitted Mendoza on the 14th of August, with a train of five-andtwenty mules. He had only six persons at first, but others joined him on the road. It was no pleasant intelligence to his ear, that only a few days before, one of his attendants, together with eleven others, had been blocked up in a miserable hut at Villavicencia, only fifteen leagues from Mendoza, during a snow storm which lasted twelve days; that they had been compelled to subsist on the remains of a mule, which they had providentially picked up in the snow, and that one of the number perished. After reaching the top of the first range of mountains, the snow, in many places of their path, began to lay very thick, hard, and slippery. Several carcasses of mules, which had died from fatigue, strewed their way. It was surprising to see in what a state of preservation they appeared; the rarified atmosphere, I suppose, having that effect upon them. Some seemed as if they had only died the previous day. On examining them, the skin was, as it were, baked, but adhered to the bones, leaving a mere skeleton covered with skin, so that I' could with ease lift up any one of them in my arms, being so very light.' This singular effect of the atmosphere has been observed in many parts of the Pampas, and also in Peru. To the same cause, we presume, it is to be attributed that our traveller, on touching any part of his woollen clothing while he was in these elevated regions, observed electric sparks fly out wherever he put his hand.
It is not difficult to imagine what the author's feelings must have been, when after entering the valley of Uspallata, the mighty Cordillera first broke upon his view, clothed in its winter mantle from head to foot. This was the first full view we had of it, while on the eastern side of the mountains we had just crossed, the summits only were visible; but now, the whole mass broke upon our right like a world of snow. I was struck with amazement; most wistfully did I throw my head back to gaze at its mighty summits, towering amidst the clouds, and thought it almost presumption to attempt such an undertaking as crossing them.'
The following passage describes some of the difficulties which our author experienced :
"Our ascent now became very rapid into the snowy region, passing over many deep falls. The fourth pass, the Ladera de las Vacas, was dreadful; plainly could we see that our difficulties and troubles were now only commencing, as at the first, no vestige of a track was left; the mountain ran smooth for about one thousand two hundred feet, right down into the river, and half of it was covered with snow. We were detained a considerable time making our road; the mules were again unloaded, and we proceeded over till we came to the snow, where our work of distress began; we literally crawled over on our hands and knees, frequently slipping a few feet, but supporting ourselves on our sticks. The mules came next,