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U. S. ship Vandalia—Valparaiso-Santiago-Vicente Pazos—Preparatory
orders-Lima-Means of information-Conquests of the Incas in the Montaña-First explorations of the Spaniards–Madame Godin.
Attached to the U. S. ship Vandalia, of the Pacific squadron, lying at anchor in the harbor of Valparaiso, in the month of August, 1850, I received a communication from the Superintendent of the National Observatory, informing me that orders to explore the Valley of the Amazon would be sent me by the next mail steamer.
The ship was then bound for the Sandwich Islands, but Captain Gardner, with that kindness which ever characterized his intercourse with his officers, did not hesitate to detach me from the ship, and to give me permission to await, in Valparaiso, the arrival of my instructions,
The officers expressed much flattering regret at my leaving the ship, and loaded me with little personal mementos——things that might be of use to me on my proposed journey.
On the 6th of August I unexpectedly saw, from the windows of the club-house at Valparaiso, the topsails of the ship mounting to the mastheads; I saw that she must needs make a stretch in shore to clear the rocks that lie off the western point of the bay; and desirous to say farewell to my friends, I leaped into a shore-boat, and shoved off, with the hope of reaching her before she went about. The oarsmen, influenced by the promise of a pair of dollars if they put me on board, bent to their oars with a will, and the light whale-boat seemed to fly; but just as I was clearing the outer line of merchantmen, the ship came sweeping up to the wind; and as she gracefully fell off on the other tack, her royals and courses were set; and, bending to the steady northeast breeze, she darted out of the harbor at a rate that set pursuit at defiance. God's blessing go with the beautiful ship, and the gallant gentlemen, her oflicers, who had been to me as brothers.
Owing to the death of President Taylor, and the consequent change in the Cabinet, my orders were delayed, and I spent several weeks in
Valparaiso, and Santiago, the capital of Chili. This time, however, was not thrown away: my residence in these cities improved my knowledge of the Spanish language, and gave me information regarding the Bolivian tributaries of the Amazon which I probably could have got nowhere else.
The commander of the English naval forces in the Pacific, Admiral Hornby, was much interested in my mission, and searched for mo, through his valuable library, for all that had been written upon the subject. I am indebted to him, and the officers of his fleet, for much personal kindness.
I must also return thanks to Messrs. George Hobson, H. V. Ward, George Cood, and Commodore Simpson, of the Chilian navy, for the loan of books and maps which assisted me in forming my plans, and deciding as to route.
Mr. Bridges, an English florist and botanist, who had descended the Chaparé and Mamoré, tributaries of the Madeira, as far as the mouth of the Beni, and who sent the first specimen of the Victoria Regia to England from this country, gave me such a description of it as enabled me to point out to Mr. Gibbon the most practicable route to the head waters of those streams.
I also had long conversations with General Ballivian, ex-President of Bolivia, then an exile to Chili. He lent me a map of Bolivia, execute:3 under his orders whilst President of that republic, of which I took a tracing, but which I had afterwards the misfortune to lose.
At Santiago I received information regarding the river Beni, and the interior of Bolivia and Peru, from a French gentleman named Pissis, an engineer in the employment of the Chilian government; and also from a gentleman named Smith, an employé in the large mercantile house of Huth, Gruning, & Co., who had travelled much in those countries.
To Don Jose Pardo, chargé d'affaires of Peru to the republic of Chili, I owe much for information and advice. IIe gave me copies of letters from Vicente Pazos, a citizen of Buenos Ayres, who has always manifested much interest in the improvement and advancement of South America, and who, in 1819, published a series of papers on the affairs of that country, directed to llenry Clay. These letters I deem of sufficient interest to give a translation of.
BUENOS AYRES, July 14, 1850. To Don Jose PARDO,
Minister of the Peruvian Republic, near the Government of Chili. Sır: In a journal of this capital of the 2d inst., I have seen a transcript of a letter from you to the editor of a periodical of this place, in which you say, under date of the 25th of April last, that you
have ceived special notice of the discovery, in the province of “Carabaya," of the ore and washings of gold. In consequence, the government of Peru invites all who desire it to take advantage, and make use of the natural productions of these regions, where emigrants of all nations shall have all the political and religious guarantees necessary in the exercise of their industry.
This announcement fills me with pleasure, because it is an evidence of the elevation of ideas which obtains in the government, and which will carry this part of Upper Peru to the height of prosperity to which it is called by its topographical and territorial position; and particularly because it has in its midst navigable rivers which connect it with the Atlantic—I allude to the navigation of the Amazon.
I have been now engaged some ten years in the thought and study of the political, social, and commercial relations concerning this matter, as is shown in my many publications which have circulated in Europe and America. These show the pains I have taken with the government of Louis Philippe, King of France, in order to open a new line of commercial communication between Cayenne and French Guyana and the republics of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.
But I have always thought that our America, by the intelligence of its people, was to make a great social and commercial change; and I have always thought that this change would operate by means of its gigantic and navigable rivers. This conception is corroborated by the announcement of the discovery of the gold regions of Carabaya. Its upper parts, which belong to the Andes, feed sheep of the most exquisito wool; and as it goes on descending, vegetation springs up with a fecundity and ease unknown in the Old World. The land is cut up with mountain torrents, whose banks contain gold, and which unite to form the river “ Purus," one of the greatest tributaries of the Amazon.
Of this river, our celebrated botanist, D. Tadeo Há-énke, in a special report, says: “Purus, or Cachivara, is a river of the first order. It arises in the cordillera of Vilcanota, a little to the east of the mountains of Carabaya, from which descend many considerable streams, rich in gold.” To the testimony of this wise naturalist I add that of Conda
mine, and of the English naval officer, Smyth, and lastly the works of the Count of Castelnau, who descended the Amazon from Cuzco.
The scientific and hydrographical works of these travellers persuade me that the “Purus" will be the best channel of interior commerce, and will put the centre of Peru in communication with the industrial, commercial, and manufacturing nations of Europe and North America.
For this effect it is proper not only to speak of and familiarize people with this easy line of communication, but also to stimulate foreign emigration, and the civilization of the inhabitants of our forests—a people of a gentle disposition and an active intelligence.
The first sight I had of steam in the United States of America, in 1818, gave me the idea that our rivers were equally susceptible with theirs of this motive power, so that, in a work which I published in New York in 1819, I said that the day would arrive in which vessels moved by steam would navigate upon the gold-bearing rivers of Peru, as upon the fabulous Pactolus. This prediction is not now to me a fable, and, therefore, my conviction is unshaken, as will be seen by a letter which I have written to the President of the republic, Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. The note to which I refer in it is very long, which prevents me from copying it, but some day it will be published.
In the mean time, I congratulate you, and your government, that in its administration should have taken place a measure so necessary for the common good. Permit me, also, to offer you my respects, and to subscribe myself, Your obedient servant,
BUENOS AYRES, February 2, 1850. To His Excellency Prince Louis NAPOLEON BONAPARTE,
President of the French Republic. Prince: In bringing to the notice of your excellency the adjoined copy, which is a duplicate of my note, laid before the executive power which governed republican France in June, 1848, my object is to call the attention of your excellency to the same project which Napoleon, your august uncle, conceived for the aggrandizement of the most important colony which France possesses in the New World—French Guyana. Before the application of steam to navigation, this tutelar genius of France comprehended that Cayenne would some day be the key to a vast commerce in all those regions, where might be created great empires.
This sublime conception infused into my spirit the idea that the time had arrived to realize the views of the Emperor; and, with this object, I addressed myself to the French government, in April, 1810, when the Chambers decreed trans-atlantic steam navigation, to the end that there should also be established a river line between French Guyana and the republics of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. All the ministers who governed until February, 1848, including also the monarchy, approved my project, and took the preliminary measures necessary for beginning a system of navigation without equal since the days of Columbus and Vasco de Gama.
Officers of the French navy, stimulated by the example of those of the English, who had preceded them in the exploration of the Amazon, made also important hydrographical observations of the course of that river, which show that its principal outlet is along the shores of French Guyana, whence France may command the fluvial navigation and the commerce of those vast regions.
I thought that this advantage, which a glance at the geographical position of French Guyana shows, would work effectually in the judgment of M. Arago, then Minister of Marine and member of the provincial government of the French republic.
The reply of this wise astronomer, of April 14th, to my note of the 220 April preceding, smothered, not only my hopes, but closed the doors to the prosperity of the French colonies, and to that of those nations whose streams form the Amazon, and whose people desire with eagerness this new and short way of communication between Europe and meridional America.
The grandeur of this plan, which is found set forth in my notes, memorials, and writings, which may be found in the different ministerial bureaus of France, together with the opinions of many French writers and travellers, among whom the most distinguished is M. Castelnau, demonstrate the utility of encouraging the growth of Guyana.
To all the information furnished by these ought to be added the verbal communications which I have received from the commander of the “Astrolabe,” M. Montravel, who is now on the station of the river Plate, under the order of Vice Admiral Le Predour. M. De Montravel, in the corvette Boulognaise, is the officer who made the exploration of the Amazon, and whose most valuable information, which exists in the department of the French marine, corroborates all that I have expressed to the French government for these ten years, and now animates me to