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and generous spirit which we love, and which all mankind loves. Captain Head was an officer of engineers, when he became enlisted by the directors of one of the Bubble Schemes, as superintendant and manager of a mining adventure. This scheme seems to have been, what is called in the lingua franca, a regular risco. Miners and mining implements, commissioners, surveyors, and assayers, were all dispatched to America in the most beautiful order ; nothing appears to have been omitted but the mines : they were to follow as a matter of
Was not capital forthcoming, and where capital is, can any thing be wanting? Honest Head seems to have been very much begone on finding that no mines were to be found, where the directors at home had told him they were only waiting_impatiently waiting, to be worked. However, mines it was necessary to have; and though not, perhaps, the mines mentioned in the prospectus in such glowing colours, yet other mines that would do just as well, as the glowing colours were always ready to gild any mine-gold or silver. Accordingly the Chief Commissioner Head set off on a galloping tour in search of some convenient hole, down to which he might set his Cornish train : as, in the mean time, the Cornish men were likely to be doing little else but getting drunk, and as their wages were going on all the time, it was necessary to make haste and discover a mine as soon as possible. It is in this “ Tour in Search of a Mine,” that these Rough Notes were made, and these were the reasons that induced the note-taker to get on as fast as he could.
The Pampas are extensive plains, which spread from the Rio de la Plata to the Andes--they are productive chiefly of long grass and thistles; roads are scarcely tracked through them; in some parts they are marsh, in some bog, in some loose sand. Inhabitants are thinly scattered over this vast and almost interminable extent of level territory; such property as they have, is in droves of wild horses and other cattle; poverty is much more common than property; but with a horse, and a lasso, and a pair of spurs, the galloping Gaucho, which is the name of the dweller in the Pampas, never knows, or at least never regards, privation. His food is strips of jerked beef, his drink is water; his pleasure is galloping, and his pursuit either catching horses and bullocks in his lasso, or throwing the bolas at the guanaco, or the ostrich. During the hours of exertion he is on horse, no fatigue can touch him ; during the hours of repose he lies him down in the open air, and sleeps all night with no covering but his poncho (or cloak), and with no bedding but his saddle, or the skeleton of a horse's head for a pillow. His life is hard, but so is he; privations are his daily fare. His luxury is freedom. He lives the life of
perfect liberty-restriction of any kind, excepting the natural ones of fatigue and labour, seems unknown in the Pampas. The Gaucho is as happy, and pretty nearly as uncivilized, as when “wild in woods the noble savage run.”
The Pampas, as has been said, spread from the Atlantic, and are stopped in their course to the Pacific, by the Cordillera of the Andes, which runs down the continent of South America, pretty much after the manner of the chine in pigs, and the spine in man ; excepting, indeed, that it is a good deal on one side, being much nearer to the Pacific than the Atlantic. Neither does the country on the other side of the Andes, in the least correspond with the Pampas, as ribs correspond to ribs. On the Pacific side extend perpetually. to the ocean, innumerable ramifications of the mountains, which consequently dissect the country of Chile into alternations of lofty hill and deep valley. Both sides of the Andes-both the Pampas and Chile, are the scenes of Captain Head's observations. He commences at Buenos Ayres ; we shall follow him, and make a selection of some of bis most amusing or characteristic passages.
There is a very interesting and well written description of the Pampas, of which we have been speaking, in the commencement of the book.
The great plain, or Pampas, on the east of the Cordillera, is about nine bun ired miles in breadth, and the part which I have visited, though under the same latitude, is divided into regions of different climate and produce. On leaving Buenos Aires, the first of these regions is covered for one hundred and eighty miles with clover and thistles ; the second region, which extends for four bundred and fifty miles, produces long grass ; and the third region, which reaches the base of the Cordillera, is a grove of low trees and shrubs. The second and third of these regions have nearly the same appearance throughout the year, for the trees and shrubs are evergreens, and the immense plain of grass only changes its colour from green to brown ; but the first region varies with the four seasons of the year in a most extraordinary manner. Jn winter, the leaves of the thistles are large and luxuriant, and the whole surface of the country has the rough appearance of a turnip-field. The clover in this season is extremely rich and strong ; and the sight of the wild cattle grazing in full liberty on such pasture, is very beautiful. In spring, the clover has vanished, the leaves of the thistles have extended along the ground, and the country still looks like a rough crop of turnips. In less than a month the change is most extraordinary; the whole region becomes a luxuriant wood of enormous thistles, which have suddenly shot up to a height of ten or eleven feet, and are all in full bloom. The road or path is hemmed in on both sides; the view is completely obstructed ; not an animal is to be seen; and the stems of the thistles are so close to each other, and so strong, that independent of the prickles with which they are armed, they form an impenetrable barrier. The sudden growth of these plants is quite astonishing; and though it would be an unusual misfortune in military history, yet it is really possible, that an invading army, unacquainted with this country, might be imprisoned by these thistles before they had time to escape from them. The summer is not over before the scene undergoes another rapid change : the tbistles suddenly lose their sap and verdure, their heads droop, the leaves shrink and fade, the stems become black and dead, and they remain rattling with the breeze one against another, until the violence of the pampero or hurricane levels them with the ground, where they rapidly decompose and disappear-the clover rushes up, and the scene is again verdant.
Although a few individuals are either scattered along the path which traverses these vast plains, or are living together in small groups, yet the general state of the country is the same as it has been since the first year of its creation. The whole country bears the noble stamp of an Omnipotent Creator, and it is impossible for any one to ride through it, without feelings which it is very pleasing to entertain ; for although in all countries “ the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work,” yet the surface of populous countries affords generally the insipid produce of man's labour; it is an easy error to consider that he who has tilled the ground and has sown the seed, is the author of his crop; and, therefore, those who are accustomed to see the confused produce, which in populous and cultivated countries is the effect of leaving ground to itself, are at first surprised in the Pampas, to observe the regularity and beauty of the vegetable world when left to the wise arrangements of Nature.
The vast region of grass in the Pampas for four hundred and fifty miles is without a weed, and the region of wood is equally extraordinary. The trees are not crowded, but in their growth such beautiful order is observed, that one may gallop between them in every direction. The young trees are rising up, others are flourishing in full vigour, and it is for some time that one looks in vain for those which in the great system of succession must necessarily somewhere or other be sinking towards decay, They are at last discovered, but their fate is not allowed to disfigure the general cheerfulness of the scene, and they are seen enjoying what may literally be termed a green old age. The extremities of their branches break off as they die, and when nothing is left but the hollow trunk, it is still covered with twigs and leaves, and at
last is gradually concealed from view by the young shoot, which, born under the shelter of its branches, now rises rapidly above it, and conceals its decay. A few places are met with which have been burnt by accident, and the black desolate spot, covered with the charred trunks of trees, resembles a scene in the human world of pestilence or war. But the fire is scarcely extinct, when the surrounding trees all seem to spread their branches towards each other, and young shrubs are seen rising out of the ground, while the sapless trunks are evidently mouldering into dust.
The rivers all preserve their course, and the whole country is in such beautiful order, that if cities and millions of inhabitants could suddenly be planted at proper intervals and situations, the people would have nothing to do but to drive out their cattle to graze, and, without any previous preparation, to plough whatever quantity of ground their wants might require.
We have already given a slight idea of the life and character of a Gaucho. Captain Head is well acquainted with it, and his delineation of it is peculiarly successful.
Born in the rude hut, the infant Gaucho receives little attention, but is left to swing from the roof in a bullock's hide, the corners of which are drawn towards each other by four strips of hide. In the first year of his life he crawls about without clothes, and I have more than once seen a mother give a child of this age a sharp knife, a foot long, to play with. As soon as he walks, his infantine amusements are those which prepare bim for the occupations of his future life : with a lasso made of twine he tries to catch little birds, or the dogs, as they walk in and out of the hut. By the time he is four years old he is on horseback, and immediately becomes useful by assisting to drive the cattle into the corral. The manner in which these children ride is quite ex., traordinary: if a horse tries to escape from the flock which are driven towards the corral, I have frequently seen a child pursue him, overtake him, and then bring him back, flogging him the whole way; in vain the creature tries to dodge and escape from him, for the child turns with him, and always keeps close to him, and it is a curious fact, which I have often observed, that a mounted horse is always able to overtake a loose one.
His amusements and his occupations soon become more manly-careless of the biscacheros (the holes of an animal called the biscacho) which undermine the plains, and which are very dangerous, he gallops after the ostrich, the gama, the lion, and the tiger; he catches them with his balls: and with his lasso he daily assists in catching the wild cattle, and in dragging them to the hut either for slaughter, or to be marked. He breaks in the young horses in the manner which I have described, and in these occupations is often away from his hut many days, changing his horse as soon as the animal is tired, and sleeping on the ground. As his constant food is beef and water, his constitution is so strong that he is able to endure great fatigue ; and the distances he will ride, and the number of hours that he will remain on horseback, would hardly be credited. The unrestrained freedom of such a life he fully appreciates ; and, unacquainted with subjection of any sort, his mind is often filled with sentiments of liberty which are as noble as they are harmless, although they of course partake of the wild habits of his life. Vain is the endeavour to explain to him the luxuries and blessings of a more civilized life; his ideas are, that the noblest effort of man is to raise himself off the ground, and ride instead of walk-that no rich garments or variety of food can atone for the want of a horse--and that the print of the human foot on the ground is in his mind the symbol of uncivilization.
The Gaucho has by many people been accused of indolence; those who visit his hut find him at the door with his arms folded, and his poncho thrown over his left shoulder like a Spanish cloak; his hut is in holes, and would evidently be made more comfortable by a few hours' labour : in a beautiful climate, he is without fruit or vegetables; surrounded by cattle, he is often without milk; he lives without bread, and he has no food but beef and water, and therefore those who contrast his life with that of the English peasant accuse him of indolence ; but the comparison is inapplicable, and the accusation unjust; and any one who will live with the Gaucho, and will follow him through his exertions, will find that he is any thing but indolent, and his surprise will be that he is able to continue a life of so much fatigue. It is true that the Gaucho has no luxuries, but the great feature of his character is, that he is a person without wants : accustomed constantly to live in the open air, and to sleep on the ground, he does not consider that a few holes in his hut deprive it of its comfort. It is not that he does not like the taste of milk, but he prefers being without it to the every day occupation of going in search of it. He might, it is true, make cheese, and sell it for money, but if he has got a good saddle and good spurs, he does not consider that money has much value : in fact, he is contented with his lot; and when one reflects that, in the increasing series of human luxuries, there is no point that produces contentment, one cannot but feel that there is perhaps as much philosophy as folly in the Gaucho's determination to exist without wants; and the life he leads is certainly more noble than if he was slaving from morning till night to get other food for his body, or other garments to cover it. It is true he is of little service to the great cause of civilization, which it is the duty of every rational being to promote ; but an humble individual, living by himself in a boundless plain, cannot introduce into the vast uninhabited regions which surround him eith arts or sciences : he may, therefore, without blame be permitted to leave them as he found them, and as they must remain, until population, which will create wants, devises the means of supply. ing them.
The character of the Gaucho is often very estimable ; he is always hospitable-at his hut the traveller will always find a friendly welcome, and he will often be received with a natural dignity of manner which is very remarkable, and which he scarcely expects to meet with in such a miserable-looking hovel. On entering the hut, the Gaucho has constantly risen to offer me his seat, which I have declined, and many compliments and bows have passed, until I have accepted his offer, which is the skeleton of a horse's head. It is curious to see them invariably take off their hats to each other as they enter into a room which has no window, a bullock's hide for a door, and but little roof,
The journey across the Pampas is more than nine hundred miles. The huts, which are termed posts, are at an average about twenty miles, and whether the traveller is proceeding in a carriage or on horseback, the owners of these huts supply him with horses. The carriages which alone can stand the roughness of the tracks, are of a peculiar kind, without springs either of wood or iron, but suspended on hide ropes. Previous to starting, nearly the whole of the woodwork of the carriage, together with the wheels, the spokes, and even the fellies on the circumference of the wheels, are bound with strips of soaked hide. When the hide dries, it becomes perfectly hard, and by its contraction holds every thing perfectly tight. Raw hides seem indeed to be the most useful commodity known in the Pampas ; of it they plait their lassos, make their harness, and bind their carriages. A raw hide serves for door and window-shutter, and sometimes for bed-linen, and always for a cradle. This is an account of the manner of travelling across this extraordinary country.
The manner in which the peons drive is quite extraordinary. The country being in a complete state of nature, is intersected with streams, rivulets, and even rivers, with pontanas (marshes), &c., through which it is absolutely necessary to drive. In one instance the carriage, strange as it may seem, goes through a lake, which of course is not deep. The banks of the rivulets are often very precipitous, and I constantly remarked that we drove over and through places which in Europe any military officer would, I believe, without hesitation report as impassable.
The mode in which the horses are harnessed is admirably adapted to this sort of rough driving. They draw by the saddle instead of the collar, and having only one trace instead of two, they are able, on rough ground, to take advantage of every firm spot; where the ground will only once bear, every peon takes his own path, and the horses' limbs are all free and unconstrained.
In order to harness or unharness, the peons have only to hook and unhook the lasso which is fixed to their saddle; and this is so simple and easy, that we constantly observed when the carriage stopped, that before any one of us could jump out of it, the peons had unhooked, and were out of our sight to catch fresh horses in the corral.
In a gallop, if any thing was dropped by one of the peons, he would unhook, gallop back, and overtake the carriage without its stopping for him. I often thought how admirably in practice this mode of driving would suit the particular duties of that noble branch of our army, the horse artillery.
The rate at which the horses travel (if there are enough of them) is quite surprising. Our cart, although laden with twenty-fire hundred weight of tools, kept up with the
carriage at a hand-gallop. Very often, as the two vehicles were going at this pace, some of the peons, who were always in high spirits, would scream out, “ Ah mi patron!” and then all shriek and gallop with the carriage after me; and very frequently I was unable to ride away from them.
But strange as the account of this sort of driving may sound, the secret would be discovered by any one who could see the horses arrive. In England, horses are never seen in such a state ; the spurs, heels, and legs of the peons are literally bathed with blood, and from the sides of the horses the blood is constantly flowing rather than dropping.
After this description, in justice to myself, I must say, that it is impossible to prevent it. The horses cannot trot, and it is impossible to draw the line between cantering and galloping, or, in merely passing through the country, to alter the system of riding, which all over the Pampas is cruel.
The peons are capital horsemen, and several times we saw them at a gallop throw the rein on the horse's neck, take from one pocket a bag of loose tobacco, and with a piece of paper, or a leaf of the Indian corn, make a segar, and then take out a flint and steel and light it.
The post-huts are from twelve to thirty-six miles, and in one instance fifty-four miles, from each other; and as it would be impossible to drag a carriage these distances at a gallop, relays of horses are sent on with the carriage, and are sometimes changed five times in a stage.
It is scarcely possible to conceive a wilder sight than our riage and covered cart, as I often saw them,t galloping over the trackless plain, and preceded or followed by a troop of from thirty to seventy wild horses, all loose and galloping, driven by a Gaucho and his son, and sometimes by a couple of children. The picture seems to correspond with the danger which positively exists in passing through uninhabited regions, which are so often invaded by the merciless Indians.
In riding across the Pampas, it is generally the custom to take an attendant, and people often wait to accompany some carriage; or else, if they are in condition, ride with the courier, who gets to Mendoza in twelve or thirteen days. In case travellers wish to carry a bed and two small portmanteaus, they are placed upon one horse, which is either driven on before, or, by a halter, tied to the postilion's saddle.
The most independent way of travelling is without baggage, and without an attendant. In this case, the traveller starts from Buenos Ayres or Mendoza with a postilion, who is changed at every post. He has to saddle his own horses, and to sleep at night upon the ground on his saddle; and as he is unable to carry any provision, he must throw himself completely on the feeble resources of the country, and live on little else than beef and water.
It is of course a hard life ; but it is so delightfully independent, and if one is in good riding condition, so rapid a mode of travelling, that I twice chose it, and would always prefer it; but I recommend no one to attempt it, unless he is in good health and condition.
When I first crossed the Pampas, I went with a carriage, and although I had been accustomed to riding all my life, I could not at all ride with the peons, and after galloping five or six hours was obliged to get into the carriage ; but after I had been riding for three or four months, and liad lived upon beef water, I found myself in a condition which I can only describe by saying that I felt no exertion could kill me. Although I constantly arrived so completely exhausted that I could not speak, yet a few hours' sleep upon my saddle, on the ground, always so completely restored me, that for a week I could daily be upon my horse before sunrise, could ride till two or three hours after sunset, and have really tired ten and twelve horses a day. This will explain the immense distances which people in South America are said to ride, which I am confident could only be done on beef and water.
At first, the constant galloping confuses the head, and I have often been so giddy when I dismounted, that I could scarcely stand; but the system, by degrees, gets
+ I was one day observing them, instead of looking before me, when my horse fell in a biscachero, and rolled over upon my arm. It was so crushed that it made me very faint; but before I could get into my saddle, the carriages were almost out of siglit, and while the sky was still looking green from the pain I was enduring, I was obliged to ride after them, and I believe I had seven miles to gallop as hard as my horse could go, before I could overtake the carriage to give up my horse.