Since the independence of Peru this fortress has often been the seat of partial revolutions. Its death-doom has been pronounced by different governments, and it will be a fortunate event for the country when it ceases to exist as a place of warlike defence. It has lately been found useful for other purposes, and a great portion of its vast space has been converted into custom-house warehouses.
The siege of Callao by the Chilians, of which we were eye-witnesses, was by no means such a serious affair as that undertaken by the patriots. The squadron was weak, and the land army inconsiderable. Callao was only cannonaded during the night by some Chilian gun-boats commanded by Englishmen. The artillery of the castle was inefficient, but the Chilian bombs did considerable damage. One Sunday afternoon the little Chilian brig, "Colocolo," sailed in close under the walls of the fortress, and threw in some shot. The fire was immediately returned by all the guns that could be directed to the sea-side; but in vain did the Peruvians expend their shot. Every ball went over the "Colocolo," and fell among the neutral ships. The commander of the French squadron then sent a boat to the fortress, with a declaration that he would attack it in good earnest if the fire was not discontinued. The message had due effect.
A few days after the affair with the "Colocolo," the Peruvians had an opportunity of avenging the provocations they had received. The Chilian admiral sent an officer, with seven sailors, to our ship to purchase shoes. The garrison having observed the Chilian boat, sent out a shallop with twenty-five men, which came close alongside of us. In spite of our opposition the Chilian officer leaped into his boat and stood off. He was, however, too late; for, just as he was leaving the ship's side, the hostile shallop passed under our bowsprit, and fired a volley into the Chilian boat. Five sailors fell into the sea, either killed or wounded. Of three men picked up, one was the officer, who had received two wounds from musket balls. We saved one of the wounded sailors by throwing him a rope, by which we pulled him up, covering him with the French flag.
The Peruvians had no longer a fleet strong enough to keep at sea; but soon after their government purchased the "Edmond," and some other merchantmen, and fitted them up as privateers. The command was given to M. Blanchet, who had been first pilot of the "Edmond" during our voyage from Europe. After he had taken the "Arequipena," an old Chilian ship of war, and burnt several transports, he attacked three Chilian corvettes in the harbor of Casma. They had already struck their flags, when Blanchet was shot while boarding one of them. His loss damped the courage of the Corsairs, and the contest was soon given up. The shock of Blanchet's death had such an effect on the crew of the "Edmond," that they all went down between decks in great grief, except the cook, who fired a gun he had charged to the brim, and killed some men who were on a bowsprit of one of the hostile vessels. He then sprang to the helm, and steered the ship safely into one of the inlets of the bay.
The lover of natural history finds in the bay of Callao numerous opportunities for gratifying his curiosity. The mammalia are not very numerous. Sea otters and sea dogs are found there, as on all parts of the South American coast. Two species (the Otaria aurita, Humb., and the O. Ulloae, Tsch.) inhabit the southern declivity of the Fronton. I went to hunt seals on the rock with the officers of a French ship of war. When we landed, which was difficult on account of the breakers, we fired at the animals and killed a number of them. A sailor waded through the breakers and bound the dead seals with a rope, by which he drew them on board. As we shot a great number of birds, the Chilian admiral, on hearing the firing, thought that one of his ships must be engaged with the Peruvian Corsairs; and, therefore, sent out the "San Lorenzo" brig of war to see what was going on.
The bay abounds in fine water-fowl. Amongst the most remarkable is Humboldt's penguin (Spheniscus Humboldti, Mey.). A few are smaller than the common grey penguin, and one is somewhat different in color on the back and breast. The Peruvians call it Paxaro nino (the child bird). It is easily tamed, becomes very social, and follows its master like a dog. It is amusing to see it waddling along with its plump body and short legs, and keeping itself in equilibrium by moving its floating wings. I had one completely tame, which I bought from an Indian. It was named Pepe, and it answered readily to the name. When I was at my meals he regularly placed himself beside my chair, and at night he slept under my bed. When he wished to bathe he went into the kitchen and beat with his bill on an earthen pan until somebody threw water over him, or brought him a vessel full of water for a bath.
I brought away a few of the marine birds which appeared the most remarkable. Among them was the banded cormorant (Carbo Gaimardi, Less.). On the back it is grey, marbled by white spots; the belly is fine ash-grey, and on each side of the throat there runs a broad white stripe or band. The bill is yellow and the feet are red. The iris is peculiar; I never saw its like in any other bird. It changes throughout the whole circle in regular square spots, white and sea-green. Thousands of the spotted gannet (Sula variegata, Tsch.) inhabit the rocks of the island of San Lorenzo. This bird is the greatest producer of guano. The inca tern (Sterna luca, Less.) is without doubt the finest of the whole tern family. The color of the head is brown-grey; getting darker towards the tail, and brighter on the lower body. From the root of the bill on either side there shoot out some white feathers slightly curving, so that they give the appearance of white moustachios. Among the land birds are some very fine colibri (Trochilus Amazilia, and Tr. Cora, Less.). The horse-protector (Crotophaga sulcata, Swains.) is a singular animal. It is about the size of a starling, with a short, compressed and curved bill, having several deep furrows along its sides. The tail is long and fan-shaped. The whole body is of a deep blue color, with a slight metallic brightness. The bird is very social with cattle of all kinds, and more particularly with horses. It is fond of perching on the back of a horse or an ass, and searching for insects which it finds there in abundance. These animals are very sensible of the service thus rendered to them, and by the manner in which they move about when the bird is perched on their heads or necks, show how much they are gratified by its presence.
Foreigners, when they visit the coast of Peru for the first time, are much surprised at the immense number of birds of the vulture species which they meet with about the roads and on the roofs of the houses. In Callao and in all other ports the Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura, Illig.) is frequently seen. It is called by the Spaniards Gallinazo a cabeza colorada (red-headed vulture). Further in the interior of the country it is frequently seen, though there it is less common than the black gallinazo (Cathartes foetens, Illig.). The color of the former is dark brownish-black; the unplumed head and throat are red; the throat is full of wrinkles and warts. The latter is very like it in size and color, only the head and neck are greyish black. These birds are the size of a turkey-cock; but they are lanker and more angular in form. The black-headed gallinazo is inactive, heavy, and seldom flies far. When seeking food he hops about on the ground in short, regular springs. When he wishes to move faster forwards he helps himself with his wings, but without flying. Its cry is seldom heard and never long continued. At noon, sometimes from sixty to eighty of these birds perch themselves on the tops of the houses or on the adjoining walls, and with the heads under the wing they all go to roost. They are extremely voracious, and devour every sort of animal substance they can find, however filthy it may be. They are not in the least degree shy, for they hop about among men and cattle in the most populous places. The Turkey vulture is far more lively, and its movements are more light. It flies faster, and continues longer on the wing than the black-headed gallinazo. It is, however, more timid. It nestles in sandy rocks and uninhabited islands. The female lays three or four whitish eggs, which are hatched in February and March. The common gallinazo usually builds its nest on the tops of houses, churches, ruins, and high walls. The female lays three or four eggs, which are whitish brown and speckled, and are hatched in the same months as the eggs of the Turkey vulture.
Among the amphibia in Callao, the iguana and land agama are numerous. Snakes abound in the low bushes at the mouth of the Rimac, and some kinds, which are venomous, live on the arid sand-banks. All the sea tortoises have been driven out of the bay, and now inhabit the detached creeks of the uninhabited parts of the coast.
The kinds of fish are numerous.—Sharks, rays, ballancers, corvinas, bonitos, &c., are caught in abundance. Most of the corvinas and bonitos are carried to market. The flesh of the latter is firm, dry, and less savory than the corvina. The Pexe-rey (king-fish) is superior in flavor to the Pexe-sapo (toad-fish), which is a little larger, and has a thick, fleshy head. These fish are taken on rocks and under water, where they are struck by a kind of harpoon hooks and drawn out.
When, on board the "Edmond," I first saw the towers of Lima gilded by the beams of the setting sun, and the chains of hills behind, rising by gradations, until in the farthest background they blended with the cloud-capped Cordilleras, I felt an inexpressible desire to advance towards those regions, that I might breathe the air of the Andes, and there behold nature under her wildest aspect. But these wishes were vain, and I was compelled to turn again to the desolate ocean; for it was understood that our further voyage must be towards the north, and from there that we should proceed to the coast of Asia. I did not then foresee that my longing might be fulfilled, and that so much of enjoyment, together with so much toil and danger, awaited me in the mountainous regions of Peru.
Notwithstanding the insecurity of the road to Lima I resolved to proceed thither. Carriages and horses were not to be procured in Callao, for the latter were all either seized for the service of the government or concealed. I could therefore travel only on foot. Don Manuel de la Guarda, the commander of the fortress, observed, whilst giving me a passport, that he would advise me to use speed, and to get as soon as possible out of the range of the guns, for he expected every moment to be obliged to order the firing to commence. I did not neglect to follow his advice. However I had not got more than a hundred paces from the castle when the artillery began to play, and balls fell around on every side. I quickened my pace, and soon got near some fences, where men were firing with muskets. There I was seized by some Chilian cuirassiers, who sent me forward from post to post, until at last in one of the posts I met with an officer with whom I had been acquainted in Chile. When I was dining one day on board the corvette Confederacion in the bay of Valparaiso, the young officer whom I have just alluded to sat next me. The conversation happening to turn on phrenology, he insisted on my examining his head, and pronouncing a phrenological diagnosis on it. Though I assured him that I attached no value on this alleged science, he continued to urge me to make the examination. After feeling his head I observed to him, with great gravity: "Here is the organ of mathematics pretty well developed, and it is probable that you may distinguish yourself in that branch of knowledge." The fact was, I had observed from his uniform that he belonged to the artillery, and since I was obliged to say something, I thought it would be best to make my remarks refer to his profession. Don Antonio had not forgotten it, for as soon as he saw me at the outpost, he ran up to me quite overjoyed, and told me that I had judged rightly of his talent, for the guns which he commanded always sent their balls direct into the fortress, and did more execution than any other. By following my advice and cultivating his mathematical organ, he assured me, he was enabled to direct a gun better than any other officer, and his aim could always be relied on. He immediately procured me a pass, by which I was conducted all the remainder of my journey.
The distance from Callao to Lima is two Spanish leagues. The road is covered with deep sand, and on either side are uncultivated fields and low brushwood. After leaving Callao I came to Bella Vista, then to the ruins of an old Indian village, and farther on inland reached some plantations. Halfway between Callao and Lima is the convent of la Virgen del Carmen, and also a chapel. The convent is now abandoned, but in front of the chapel there constantly stands a monk, who begs for alms. Close to the convent there is a Tambo, in which brandy, lemonade, and bananas are sold. This place, which is called La Legna, is a Spanish league from both towns. The hired horses are so used to put up at this place, that it is only with great trouble they can be got to pass it.
Though much wearied by my journey on foot, I tried in vain to obtain some refreshment here. Unluckily the Tambero, a Zambo, had decamped, as his house had often been plundered.
In the most oppressive heat I wandered over the shadeless plain, and at last reached the fine road called the Alameda del Callao, which extends from the Callao Gate of Lima to nearly half a league beyond the city. Don Ambrosio O'Higgins, an Irishman by birth, first a small shopkeeper in Lima, then a soldier in Chile, and finally viceroy of Peru, with the title of Marques de Osorno, built the fine Callao Gate and laid out the Alameda. On the 6th of January, 1800, it was solemnly opened. The whole undertaking cost 340,964 dollars. Resting-places are made in the Alameda at regular distances; and there are on each side charming gardens, with luxuriant fruit-trees. Happy in having reached the end of my wearisome journey, I quickly passed through the Callao Gate, and entered the City of the Kings.
[Footnote 2: Natural History and Geology of the countries visited by the Beagle.]
[Footnote 3: Mr. Darwin, in the work just quoted, says in reference to this subject, "Since our voyage, Dr. Tschudi has come to the conclusion, by the comparison of old and modern maps, that the earth both north and south of Lima has certainly subsided."—T.]
[Footnote 4: Tambo is an Indian word, signifying an Inn. Tambero means Inn-keeper.]
Lima—Situation and extent of the City—Streets, Houses, Churches and Convents—San Pedro—The Jesuits—Nunneries—Beatarios—Hospitals—San Andres—The Foundling House—The Pantheon—The Palace—The Plaza Mayor—Pizarro—The Cabildo—Fountains—Palace of the Inquisition—The University—National Library—Museum of Natural History and Antiquities—Academy of Design—The Mint—The Theatre—Circus for Cock-fighting—The Bridge—The City Wall—Santa Catalina—Barracks.
Lima is built on both banks of the river Rimac, which divides the town into two unequal parts. The larger part (the town, properly so called) is situated on the southern bank of the river; the smaller part, consisting of the suburb San Lazaro, or the fifth section, is on the northern bank. The greatest extent of Lima is from east to west; from the Gate of Maravillas to the Monserrate. Between those two points the distance is 4471 varas, or two-thirds of a Legua, or Spanish league; and the greatest breadth of the city, that is to say, from the Bridge (the suburb of San Lazaro not included) to the Gate of Guadalupe, is 2515 varas, or two-fifths of a Legua. The utmost circumference of Lima is about ten English miles. The plain on which the city is built, takes rather a decided slope from east to west.
The streets of Lima intersect each other in right lines, and consequently groups of houses form quadrangles: these are called manzanas. Each side of one of these manzanas measures on the average from 140 to 145 varas; and it may therefore be computed that, collectively, they occupy a superficies of from 148,000 to 160,000. There are in all 211 manzanas, of which those situated on the Periphery are the smallest and most irregularly constructed. Lima is divided into five sections, which are again subdivided into ten districts and forty-six Barrios. It contains about 3380 houses, 56 churches and convents (the latter occupying at least one-fourth of the superficies of the city), 34 squares or open areas in front of the churches, and 419 streets. On the average the streets are about 34 feet wide and 386 feet long. Most of them are very badly paved, but they have lateral footpaths. According to the original plan for building Lima, it was intended that all the streets should run in one direction, viz., from southeast to northwest, so that the walls of the houses might afford shade both morning and afternoon. Between the Plaza Mayor and Santa Clara this plan has been pretty uniformly carried out; but in other parts it has been less rigidly observed. At noon there can be no shade, as the city is situated in 12 deg. of south latitude.
The impression produced at first sight of Lima is by no means favorable, for the Periphery, the quarter which a stranger first enters, contains none but old, dilapidated, and dirty houses; but on approaching the vicinity of the principal square, the place improves so greatly that the miserable appearance it presents at first sight is easily forgotten.
Most of the houses in Lima are only one story high, and some have only the ground-floor. The larger class of houses correspond one with another in the style of building. In front they have two doors: one is called the Azaguan, and is the principal entrance to the house; and next to it is the door of the Cochera (coach-house). Either above the cochera door, or on one side of the house door, there is frequently a little chamber, having a window closed by a wooden railing. At this little railed window the ladies are accustomed to sit and watch the passers-by—nor are they very much displeased when some of the latter occasionally make free to reguardar la reja (to look at the railing). The azaguan opens into a spacious court-yard called the Patio, on either side of which there are little rooms. Directly facing the azaguan, is the dwelling-house, round which there usually runs a balcony. Two large folding-doors lead into the Hall (Sala), in which the furniture consists of a sofa, a hammock, and a row of chairs: the floor is covered with straw matting. From the sala a glazed door opens into a smaller apartment, called the Cuadro, which is elegantly, often splendidly furnished, and the floor is carpeted. This is the room into which visitors are shown. Adjoining the cuadro are the sleeping-rooms, the dining-room, the nursery, &c. These apartments communicate with a second court-yard, called the Traspatio, the walls of which are often adorned with fresco paintings. This Traspatio, a portion of which is usually laid out as a little garden, communicates with the kitchen and the stable (corral). A small avenue, called the callejon, forms a communication from the first to the second Patio, and is used as a passage for the horses. When there is no callejon, as is often the case in the poorer class of houses, the horses are led through the sala and the cuadro. In the upper story the arrangement of the rooms differs from that of the ground-floor. Above the azaguan is the cuadro, opening into a balcony, which is attached to most of the houses in Lima. The sala in the upper story forms an ante-room to the cuadro; and the rest of the apartments are built above the ranges of ground-floor rooms on either side of the patio. Above the sala and cuadro of the ground-floor, there are no upper rooms. The roofs of those two apartments form a kind of large terrace called the Azotea, which is paved with freestone, and surrounded by a railing. This azotea serves as a play-ground for the children of the family; it is ornamented with flower-pots, and covered with an awning to shade it from the sun. The upper story has a flat roof, composed of bamboos and mats, overspread with mortar or light tiles. In the houses of Lima, as in those of Callao, the windows of some of the rooms are made in the roofs. The other windows, of which there are but few, are on each side of the house door; they are tastefully ornamented, and often have richly gilt lattices.
The style of house-building here described must of course be taken merely as a general example; that there are numerous deviations from it may naturally be supposed. In the large houses the walls are of brick, faced with ornamental tiles (adobes). In the smaller houses, the walls consist of double rows of bamboos, covered with plaster, and afterwards painted white or yellow. The fronts of the houses are usually quite plain, but here and there may be seen a house with a finely ornamented facade. The house of Torre Tagle, near San Pedro, and some others, are remarkable for the beauty of their ornaments, which attract the notice of all strangers visiting Lima.
Owing to the heat of the climate, the doors and windows are almost always kept open, so that the houses have not the privacy and comfort of European dwellings.
Of the numerous churches and convents in Lima, some are deserving of particular mention. The cathedral occupies the whole eastern side of the Plaza Mayor. The foundation stone of this edifice was laid on the 18th of January, 1534, by Don Francisco Pizarro, who named it the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. Ninety years elapsed before the building was completed, and on the 19th of October, 1625, it was consecrated by the Archbishop, Don Gonzalo de Ocampo. Such was the pomp observed at this ceremony, that, though mass commenced at six in the morning, it was five o'clock in the afternoon before the host was raised.
The interior of the cathedral is exceedingly beautiful. The grand altar is ornamented with seven Ionic columns of silver, twelve feet high, and one and a half thick, and is surmounted by a massive silver gilt crown. The tabernacle is seven feet and a half high, and composed of exquisitely wrought gold, set with a profusion of diamonds and emeralds. On each side of the altar there are massive silver candelabra, each weighing four and a half arobas (712-1/2 pounds). On high festival days, the gorgeous splendor of the cathedral of Lima probably exceeds that of the principal churches in Rome. The robes and ornaments worn by the priests correspond with the magnificence of the altar; they are embroidered in gold, and set with precious stones. The cathedral service is performed by the canons (Canonigos).
Among the Churches of Lima, San Lazaro is distinguished for its tasteful exterior, and the chaste simplicity of its internal decoration. The bodies of persons unknown, found dead in the streets, are conveyed to the door of the church of San Lazaro, and there exposed for the space of twenty-four hours.
The convent of San Francisco, the largest of the monastic establishments in Lima, is an immense building, situated in the vicinity of the Plaza Mayor. In this convent mass is read daily every half-hour, from five in the morning till noon. A small chapel within the convent is called the Capilla de los Milagros, and a superstitious tradition records that during the great earthquake of 1630, the image of the Madonna, which surmounts the chapel door, turned towards the grand altar, and with folded hands invoked the divine grace in favor of the city. By this intercession it is believed that Lima was saved from total destruction. The monk who conducted me over the convent, and who related to me this miracle, observed with much simplicity that it was singular that the Madonna did not repeat her gracious intercession in the year 1746.
The carved work which adorns the ceilings in the corridors is admirably executed, though not very beautiful in design. The cells of the monks are very simple, but perfectly comfortable for habitation. The spacious and well-arranged gardens within the area of the convent form a pleasing contrast to the gloomy appearance of the external walls.
To the Franciscan monks also belongs the convent of Los Descalzos, situated in the suburb of San Lazaro. A broad avenue planted with six rows of trees leads to Los Descalzos. It is a neat but not large edifice, and stands at the foot of a sterile hill. The extensive garden which surrounds it, and which is in a very neglected condition, contains three palm-trees, the only ones to be seen in the near vicinity of Lima. The situation of the convent is not healthy, and in consequence the monks frequently suffer from intermittent fever. These monks go barefooted, and live entirely on alms. Every morning two lay brethren ride on asses to the city, where they visit the market-place, and obtain from the different saleswomen charitable donations of fish, vegetables, or meat.
Another convent is the Recoleta de San Diego. During Lent, and especially in Passion Week, many men retire to this place to prepare themselves by mortification and prayer for confession and participation in the Holy Sacrament.
The convent of Santo Domingo is very rich. It enjoys a yearly revenue of from seventy to seventy-five thousand dollars, for the most part accruing from the ground-rents of houses in the city. The steeple of Santo Domingo is the loftiest in all Lima. It is 188 feet high, and is visible at the distance of three leagues. It is built of wood, and inclines so considerably in its upper part, that there is little probability of its surviving another earthquake like that of 1746. The interior of the church is splendid. The grand altar almost vies with that of the cathedral.
San Pedro must, doubtless, at a former period, have been the principal convent in Lima. It belonged to the Jesuits, and was their Colegio maximo. This establishment possessed enormous revenues, for all the finest plantations and best houses in Lima were the property of the order. In 1773, the king of Spain, instigated by the celebrated Bull of the 21st of June of that year (Dominus ac redemptor noster), dispatched an order to the viceroys of the provinces of South America, directing them to arrest the Jesuits all in one night, to ship them off to Spain, and to confiscate their wealth. Of course the utmost secresy was observed, and it is a well-authenticated fact, that in Peru, with the exception of the viceroy, and those of his agents whose assistance was indispensable, no one knew anything of the affair. But the same ship which conveyed the king's commands to the viceroy, had on board the necessary instructions to the vicar-general in Lima, from the superior of the Jesuits in Madrid, who was fully acquainted with the king's design. The preparatory arrangements were made under the seal of perfect secresy, and at ten o'clock at night the viceroy assembled his council, and communicated to them the royal commands. It was determined that no one should be permitted to leave the council-chamber until the blow was struck. At midnight some confidential officers, with the requisite assistance, were despatched to arrest the Jesuits, an accurate list of whose names lay on the table before the viceroy. The patrols knocked at the gate of San Pedro, which was immediately opened. The commanding officer desired to see the vicar-general, and the porter ushered him into the great hall of the convent, where all the members of the order were assembled, evidently expecting his visit. The holy brethren were prepared for immediate departure, each being provided with a bag or trunk containing such articles as were requisite on a sea voyage. Similar preparations had been made in all the other convents belonging to the Jesuits. The surprise and disappointment of the viceroy on receiving this information may be easier conceived than described. Without delay he ordered the whole brotherhood to be conducted under a strong escort to Callao, where they embarked. In the course of a few days inventories were made of the effects in the convents. At San Pedro it was expected that vast treasures in specie would be found; but how great was the dismay, when, instead of the millions which it was well known the order possessed, only a few thousand dollars could be collected. All the keys, even that of the treasury, were politely laid out in the chamber of the superior. This was a cruel mockery! The Jesuits could not have taken a more ample revenge on the treachery that had been practised on them.
It was suspected that the treasures were concealed partly in the convent of San Pedro, and partly in the plantations. According to the evidence of an old negro, at that time in the service of the convent, he, together with some of his comrades, was employed during several nights in carrying heavy bags of money into the vaults of the convent. Their eyes were bandaged, and they were conducted by two of the brethren, who helped them to raise and set down the bags. The negro, moreover, declared his conviction that there was a subterraneous spring near the spot where the treasure was deposited. The searches hitherto made have been very superficial, and it seems not impossible that by dint of more active exertions this concealed wealth may yet be brought to light.
At present San Pedro is occupied by about a dozen lay priests. They perform the spiritual service of the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri. They live on the revenues derived from the rents of the few plantations which have not been confiscated or sold. The chapel is prettily fitted up in the interior, and the midnight mass at Christmas is performed there with great solemnity. The external walls of both the chapel and the convent are painted a reddish-brown color, which has a very sombre and ugly effect.
The convents of Nuestra Senora de la Marced and San Agustin are situated at the back of San Pedro. The former is spacious, but not largely endowed; the latter is a poor-looking edifice, but it possesses rich revenues. To San Agustin is attached the once eminent but now very inferior college of San Ildefonso.
Besides the monastic establishments above named, Lima contains several smaller convents for friars, and sixteen nunneries. Of the latter the largest is the Monasterio de la Concepcion. It is very rich, and has an annual revenue of upwards of 100,000 dollars; in other respects it is remarkable for nothing except the not very pious habits of its inmates. Santa Clara and the Encarnacion are also large establishments, and well endowed. The nuns who observe the most rigorous conventual rules are the Capuchinas de Jesus Maria, the Nazarenas and the Trinitarias descalzas. For extremely pious women, who wish to lead a cloistered life without taking the veil, there are three establishments called Beaterios, which may be entered and quitted at pleasure: these are the Beaterio de Patrocinio, the Beaterio de Santa Rosa de Viterbo, and the Beaterio de Copacabana. This last was originally established exclusively for Indian females. The Refugio de San Jose is a place for the reception of married women who wish to withdraw from the ill treatment of bad husbands. On the other hand husbands who are of opinion that their wives may be improved by a little temporary seclusion and quiet meditation, can, with the permission of the archbishop, send them for a while to the Refugio. The Recojidas is another institution of the same kind, but destined for females of the poorer class.
Lima possesses a great many hospitals, but all are lamentably defective in internal arrangement, and above all in judicious medical attendance. The largest of the hospitals, San Andres, was founded in the year 1552 by the Licentiate Francisco de Molina. Three years afterwards, the Viceroy Don Andres Hurtado de Mendoza, first Marquis de Canete, placed it under the direction of the Government. Down to the year 1826 this hospital was exclusively destined for the reception of sick Spaniards. San Andres contains five large and four smaller wards, with 387 beds. One part of the establishment is set apart for incurable patients. The annual outlay of the hospital amounts to between 45,000 and 50,000 dollars. In the hospital of San Andres insane patients are received, and their number is always considerable. On the 30th of November (St. Andrew's Day) this hospital is opened for the admittance of the public, and one of the favorite amusements of the inhabitants of Lima is to go to San Andres to see the lunatics. It is melancholy to observe these unfortunate beings, thus made the objects of public exhibition, and irritated by the idle throng who go to stare at them. The collection of alms from the numerous visitors is, doubtless, the motive for keeping up this custom, which, nevertheless, is exceedingly reprehensible.
The hospital Santa Ana was founded in the year 1549, by Don Fray Geronimo de Loyza, first Archbishop of Lima, and was destined for Indians of both sexes. The benevolent founder, with the most earnest self-devotion, attended the patients, and with true Christian charity performed the humblest duties of a sick-nurse. He died in 1575 in the hospital, to which he bequeathed a yearly revenue of 16,000 dollars. The building contains five large wards, and 336 beds. Since the declaration of independence no Indian has been received into it. This hospital, alternately with those of San Andres and San Bartolome, was used as a military lazaretto; but since 1841 it has been allotted exclusively to female patients of all classes; for it was found necessary to abandon the former female hospital of La Caridad, on account of its damp situation.
San Bartolome was an hospital founded in the year 1661, for negro patients; but it has lately been closed. It contains eleven wards and 217 beds.
Under the name of Santo Toribio an hospital for incurable patients was established in the year 1669, by Don Domingo Cueto.
In 1702 it was consigned to the superintendence of an order of monks, called the padres Belemitas, and in 1822 it was incorporated with the hospital of San Lazaro. The latter establishment was founded by Anton Sanchez, in the year 1563, and was exclusively destined for leprous patients. Persons afflicted with cutaneous diseases, and especially maladies of a contagious nature, are sent thither.
In the convent of San Pedro there is a small hospital for poor priests. Attached to it is a dispensary, from whence the poor were supplied gratuitously with medicines, at the time when the convent was in the possession of the Jesuits.
Lima also possesses a Foundling Hospital. Luis Ojeda, who humbly took to himself the title of Luis el Pecador (Luis the Sinner), bequeathed all his fortune to the foundation of this establishment, which received the name of "Collegio de Santa Cruz de los ninos expositos."
The refuge for female penitents was founded in the year 1670 by the viceroy, Count de Lemos. The funds were derived from a legacy bequeathed for that object by Don Francisco Arcain in 1572. The establishment has but few inmates.
In former times it was the custom in Lima to bury the dead in graves dug within the churches; but the heat of the climate, and the difficulty of making the graves sufficiently deep, rendering this practice exceedingly objectionable, the viceroy, Don Jose Fernando Abascal, determined on making a burial place beyond the boundaries of the city. A piece of ground was allotted for the purpose, and it was consecrated on the 1st of January, 1808. It is called the Cementerio general or Panteon, and is situated eastward of the city on the high road leading to the Sierra de Tarma. It consists of two gardens, very prettily planted, and inclosed by high walls. Along the walls, on the inner side, there are niches, about a thousand in number, ranged in sixteen different classes, and they may be purchased by those who wish to possess them. Many of them belong to families and convents. The graves are watched and kept in order by criminals who are condemned to this duty as a punishment. It is calculated that it will be five years before this cemetery is filled. When room is wanting, the niches which have been first occupied will be cleared, and the bones deposited in a bone-house, of simple but appropriate construction. At the entrance of the Panteon there is a neat little chapel, where the funeral obsequies are performed. Burials are permitted to take place only in the morning; and when a funeral retinue arrives too late, the body remains uninterred until the following morning. The rich are buried in coffins, the poor merely in winding sheets, which are made after the pattern of the habits worn by the barefooted friars of the order of San Francisco.
The grand square of Lima, the Plaza Mayor, though not in the centre of the city, is nevertheless the central point of its life and business. It is 426 feet distant from the Rimac, and presents a regular quadrangle, each side of which is 510 feet long. From each of the four corners two handsome straight streets run at right angles. There is no pavement, but the ground is covered with fine sand. The cathedral and the archbishop's palace occupy the eastern side of the square. The latter adjoins the sanctuary, and has rather a fine facade. The windows of the principal apartments open into a balcony, commanding a view of the Plaza.
On the north side of the square stands the government palace, formerly the residence of the all-powerful viceroys. Its exterior aspect is mean. It is a square building, and the front next the Plaza is disfigured by a long range of shabby little shops (called La rivera), in which drugs are sold. These shops are surmounted by a balcony. A large double door opens from the Plaza into the great court-yard of the palace. Along the western side of the building there are also a number of little shops occupied by saddlers and dealers in old iron. The street, running in this direction, is called the Old Iron Street (Calle del Fierro Viego). The principal entrance to the palace is on this side. On the south the building has no entrance, and it presents the gloomy aspect of a jail. On the east a door opens into a small yard or court, within which are the office and prison of the police. A few long flag-staffs, fixed on the roof of the palace, do not add to the beauty of the edifice. The interior of the building corresponds with its outward appearance, being at once tasteless and mean. The largest apartment formerly bore the name of the Sala de los Vireyes. It is now used as a ball room when entertainments are given by the government. Under the Spanish domination this room was hung round with portraits of the viceroys, the size of life. The series of vice-regal portraits from Pizarro to Pezuela, forty-four in number, completely filled the apartment at the time when the patriot army in Lima revolted, and consequently the last viceroy, Don Jose de la Serna, who owed his elevation to the military revolution, could not have a place assigned for his portrait among those of his predecessors. The other apartments of the palace are small and inelegant. Some of the rooms are used as government offices.
The present palace was, as far as I have been able to ascertain, built about the beginning of the seventeenth century. In the great earthquake of 1687 it was almost totally destroyed, but it was subsequently restored. The palace which Don Francisco Pizarro built for his own residence, stood, not on the site of the existing edifice, but on the southern side of the Plaza, on the spot where now a narrow dirty alley, called the Callejon de petateros, forms a communication between the Plaza and the Silversmith's street (Calle de Plateros). It was in that old palace that Juan de Herada, the friend and partisan of Don Diego de Almagra, carried into effect his plot against Pizarro. On the 26th of June, 1546, the viceroy was seated at table with a party of his friends, when the insurgents surrounded the palace, shouting "Death to the tyrants!" Pizarro, though warned of his danger, had scarcely time to seize his sword. One of his principal officers, Don Francisco de Chavez, was killed at the door of the apartment, and several of the viceroy's friends and servants escaped by the windows. Among others who attempted to save themselves in this way was Pizarro's counsellor, Juan de Velasquez. Only on the previous evening this man had been heard to declare that no one would be found bold enough to join in an insurrection as long as he held in his hand his staff of authority. This declaration was in a certain measure verified, for Velasquez, whilst descending from the window, held his staff between his teeth, that he might be the better able to support himself with his hands. Martin Pizarro, together with two noblemen and two pages, were the only persons who remained faithful to the viceroy. The latter, with the bravery of a lion, made a long stand against his assailants. "Courage, brother! Down with the traitors!" exclaimed Martin Pizarro, who, the next moment, lay dead at the viceroy's feet. At length Pizarro, exhausted by his efforts to defend himself, could no longer wield his hitherto victorious sword: he was overpowered, and one of his assailants having stabbed him in the throat, he fell, mortally wounded. With his last faltering accents he implored the aid of a confessor; and after losing the power of utterance he traced with his finger, on the ground, the sign of the cross, kissed it repeatedly, and breathed his last. Such was the sad end of one of the greatest heroes of his age; a man guilty of many crimes, but also unjustly accused of many of which he was innocent. His acts were consistent with the spirit of his age, and were influenced by the frightful circumstances in which he was placed. In short, there can be little doubt that Pizarro was "better than his fame."
The west side of the Plaza Mayor is occupied by the Cabildo, or senate-house (formerly called the Casa Consistorial), together with the city jail, and a row of houses of no very handsome appearance. The south side is filled by a range of private dwelling-houses, with balconies looking to the Plaza. The houses, both on the west and south sides of the square, are built above a colonnade, in which there are numerous shops.
In the middle of the Plaza is a magnificent bronze fountain with three basins. From the middle basin rises a pillar, surmounted by a figure of Fame spouting the water from her trumpet. In the other two basins the water is ejected from the mouths of four lions. The pillar and figures for this triple fountain were cast in the year 1650, by the able artist Antonio Rivas, by order of the then reigning viceroy, Count de Salvatierra. Besides this principal fountain, there are several smaller ones, from which the public are permitted to supply themselves with water.
The second large public square in Lima is the Plaza de la Inquisicion, which, since the war of independence, has received the name of the Square of Independence (Plazuela de la Independencia). It is of trapezi-form, widening in the eastern part, and is certainly no ornament to the town, for it is always in a very dirty condition. Being the public market-place, it presents a very busy aspect during the fore part of the day. Two buildings on this Plazuela attract attention, viz.—the Palace of the Inquisition and the University. There are now but few remaining traces of the internal arrangements of the fearful tribunal; for, on the suppression of the Inquisition by the Cortes, the enraged populace forced their way into the building, where they gutted the rooms, and destroyed the furniture. Lima was the seat of spiritual jurisdiction for the whole western coast of South America; and the rigor of its despotism was not far short of that of the Inquisition of Madrid. Every year vast numbers of persons convicted or suspected of crimes were brought from all the intervening points between Chiloe and Columbia to the Tribunal of the Inquisition, and most of them were doomed to the most dreadful punishments. Autos da fe were frequently held in Lima, and cases of other kinds of martyrdom were exceedingly numerous. The lists, which have been only partially preserved, present melancholy results. One part of the Palace of the Inquisition is now converted into a store-house for provisions, and the other part is used as a prison.
The University of Lima was once the most important seat of education in South America. It owes its origin to a decree of the emperor Charles V., issued at the solicitation of the dominican monk Maestro Fray Tomas de San Martin. The decree was dated the 12th of May, 1551, but it did not reach Lima until two years after that time. A papal bull of Pius V. confirmed the imperial decree, and conferred on the institution the same privileges as those enjoyed by the Spanish university of Salamanca. The Lima university was originally established in the convent of Santo Domingo, but after the lapse of three years it was removed to the building now occupied by San Marcel, and in 1576 it was installed in the site it now occupies. It received the name of Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Marcos. In the year 1572 the first lay rector was elected in the person of Gaspar Menendez, a doctor of medicine.
The building is situated on the east side of the Plaza de la Independencia, next to the hospital of la Caridad. The facade is not handsome, but is remarkable for a style not belonging to the age in which it was erected. The building is entered by a lofty door, opening into a spacious quadrangular court, along the four sides of which there are pillared corridors. On the walls of these corridors the different branches of science are allegorically represented in fresco paintings, and beneath these paintings are inscribed quotations from ancient classic authors. The lecture rooms open into the corridors which run round the court. Facing the entrance door, in the left angle of the court, are great double doors opening into the Aula, which is spacious, and has rather an imposing aspect. In the middle of the wall, on the right-hand side, stands the rector's chair in a sort of niche, surmounted by a canopy. On either side of this chair are ranged the seats of the professors, and the members of faculties. Opposite to the rector's seat, on the left-hand side of the Aula, is an elevated chair occupied by the president, when academic prizes are distributed. Below it is an arm-chair for the candidate. On each side of the president's seat are several rows of benches, for the members of the university and visitors. Over the entrance door there is a gallery to which the public are admitted, and which, on the occasions when prizes are distributed, is usually occupied by ladies. On the walls of the Aula are hung portraits of celebrated learned men.
The National Library, situated near the convent of San Pedro, was founded by a decree, dated the 28th of August, 1821. The books belonging to the university of San Marcos formed the nucleus of the National Library. To them were added the libraries of several of the monasteries, some sequestrated works, and the collections of a few private individuals. Of these latter, the most considerable was the collection of General San Martin, and a library of 7772 volumes bequeathed, together with a legacy of a thousand dollars, by Don Miguel de la Fuente y Pacheco. In November, 1841, the National Library of Peru contained 26,344 printed volumes, 432 manuscripts, and a small collection of maps and copperplate engravings. It is particularly rich in old works on religious and historical subjects. The books relating to the Conquest, and to the early period of the Spanish dominion, form in themselves a complete historical series. Of modern works there are but few. The pecuniary support of the establishment is very inconsiderable. The government exacts from it the import duty, three per cent., on European books, making an average annual sum of 400 dollars. In addition to this the salaries of the librarians amount annually to 2794 dollars. The library is open to the public every day (Friday and Sunday excepted) from eight in the morning till one in the afternoon, and from four in the afternoon till six in the evening.
In the left wing of the same building is the museum, containing a collection of objects of natural history, antiquities, and other curiosities. This collection was first formed in the year 1826, in some of the spare rooms of the palace of the Inquisition, and was afterwards removed from one place to another, until at length the government allotted to the purpose the two fine apartments in the building above mentioned. As yet the establishment is quite in its infancy. It contains nothing of scientific value, and but for the series of historical portraits already described, it would differ but little from the collections of curiosities frequently formed by amateurs, in which all sorts of heterogeneous objects are jumbled together. The museum of Lima bids fair to remain for some time to come on the footing on which it was when I saw it, for the establishment has no funds, save a monthly allowance of thirty-two dollars, and out of that scanty pittance the expense of fitting up the rooms, the glass cases, &c., has yet to be defrayed. The museum is open to the public four days in the week.
Two other apartments in the same building are set aside for the Academy of Design (Academia de Debujo). On three evenings every week pupils are admitted to this academy to receive gratuitous instruction in drawing. The number of the pupils amounts to between 80 and 100; but there is convenient room for 200. The collection of models and drawing copies for the use of the students is but indifferent.
The mint is situated in the vicinity of the Plazuela de la Independencia. It was founded in Lima in the year 1565; in 1572 transferred to Potosi, and in 1683 removed back to Lima. For the space of seventy years this establishment was in the hands of private individuals; but in the year 1753 the Spanish government took the management of it, and erected the building in which it is still located. It is a large and handsome structure, but very defective in its internal arrangement. Until the year 1817 the machinery for casting was worked by mules, ninety-two of those animals being employed daily. Subsequently, under the direction of an Englishman, water-power was introduced, by which expense was diminished and time saved. A few years ago a French merchant made an arrangement with the government for the use of a complex machine, which he proposed to bring from Europe. The machine arrived, but by an unlucky fatality it proved perfectly useless. For the space of four years repeated attempts were made to work it, but in vain; it fulfilled none of the required conditions. Its faults are manifold, and it reflects but little credit on the person by whom it was contrived. It has cost no less than 250,000 dollars, and has never been of the least use.
In the mint of Lima there are annually cast from two to two and a half millions of dollars, which yield a profit of from 140,000 to 180,000 dollars, out of which are paid the salaries of the persons employed. Under the Spanish government these salaries amounted annually to 48,906 dollars; now they make, together with other customary outlays, the sum of 85,105 dollars.
The value of a mark of silver in the mint is 8 dollars 4 reales; that of a mark of gold is 144 dollars 4 reales. The standard worth of the gold is 21 carats; that of the silver 20 grains.
Next to the arena for bull-fights, situated in the Plaza firme del Acho, the theatre is the principal place of public amusement in Lima. The first theatre, erected in the year 1602, was situated near the convent of San Augustin, in the street which still bears the name of "Comedia vieja." It was destroyed in the earthquake of 1630, and rebuilt on the same site. In 1662 it was pulled down to make room for a new street, and afterwards the present building was erected. Its external appearance is very ugly and the interior is not much better. Before the orchestra there are some commodious inclosed seats or stalls. The boxes, which are completely separated one from another by partitions, are narrow but deep: the smaller ones are capable of containing eight persons, and the larger ones twelve. In the centre of the first tier of boxes, and fronting the stage, is the government box, which occupies the space of two of the others. It contains seats for the prefect, the sub-prefect, and the members of the Cabildo. The president's box is likewise on the first tier, and on the left of the stage. Adjoining it there is a small cabinet, closed on the side next the pit by a wooden railing. Into this cabinet the president retires between the acts of the performance. The stage is small, and the scenery very indifferent.
The performances are for the most part wretched, both as regards the merit of the pieces and the talent of the actors. Nothing can be in worse taste than the little farces called saynetes, which, according to Spanish custom, always close the performances, whether the principal piece be a tragedy or a comedy. Common-place intrigues form the subjects of these saynetes, and their dialogue consists of vulgar jokes. They are altogether calculated to banish any gratifying impression which might by possibility be produced by the principal piece.
For some years past a company of Italians, settled in Lima, have given operatic performances on a small scale. One of them, Signora Pantanelli, is an excellent singer, and would be heard with pleasure even in Europe. Some other members of the company have middling talents, but the rest are decidedly bad. The operas performed are Giulietta y Romeo, Parisina, Lucia di Lammermuir, Marino Faliero, La Sonnambula, and Il Barbiere di Seviglia: these, together with a mutilated Norma, and a much curtailed Semiramide, form almost the whole repertory. Want of stage room is an obstacle to the representation of operas demanding grand scenery and machinery. The costumes are for the most part exceedingly elegant, though seldom historically correct. The orchestra is defective, and ought to be much improved, to give satisfaction to a public passionately fond of music.
But if the inhabitants of Lima are great lovers of music, dancing has no less powerful attractions for them. Though the time is gone, when the dress of any opera-dancer may be expected to reach below the knee, yet the drapery of a Limanese Terpsichore appears to have attained even an ultra degree of curtailment. The representation of ballets, properly so called, is not attempted; but the Bolero, the Fandango, the Cachucha, and Don Mateo, are favorite and often repeated performances.
During the long intervals between the acts, smoking is permitted in the pit and in the outer court of the theatre. There is also a plentiful supply of very bad and very dear refreshments.
An intolerable annoyance experienced in visiting the theatre at Lima is caused by the swarms of fleas which infest every part of the house, but most especially the boxes. Unfortunately, this nuisance is irremediable, and the visitor must be blessed with a large amount of endurance who can patiently sit out a whole evening's entertainments.
Not far from the theatre is situated the circus for cock-fighting (Coliseo de gallos), where fights (peleas) take place daily. The Coliseo is a large amphitheatre, with an arena in the middle. The game-cocks trained for this sport have the spur removed from the right foot and in its stead is substituted a small sharp steel blade, curved and shaped like a scythe. One or other of the animals is frequently killed at the first spring; and when that is not the case they continue fighting until they die of wounds and exhaustion. It is a cruel sport, and a worthy pendant to bull-fighting. The first Coliseo was erected in 1762, by Don Juan Garrial. The present building, in the Plazuela de Santa Catalina, is a very handsome structure, and Lima may fairly boast of possessing the finest circus for cock-fighting in all the world.
In the same square with the Coliseo de gallos is the tennis-court, a spacious area, surrounded by high walls. It is not now so much resorted to as formerly, for the Creoles are not so fond of tennis as the Spaniards.
A beautiful stone bridge unites the town with the suburb of San Lazaro. This bridge was built in the years 1638-1640, when the Marquis de Montes Claros was viceroy of Peru. The plan was designed by Fray Geronimo Villegas, an Augustine monk. It is 530 feet long, and has six arches rising thirty-seven feet above the surface of the water. The foundation of the piers is composed of square blocks of stone, the piers themselves are of brick, and the parapet of cemented stone work. The erection of this bridge cost 400,000 dollars. A sufficient proof of its strength and solidity is the fact that it survived the earthquakes of 1687 and 1746, which shattered all other parts of Lima. In the earthquake of 1746 the first arch, on which stood an equestrian statue of Philip V., was destroyed, but it is now restored. It has on one side two towers, with a dial in the middle.
The city of Lima, with the exception of a portion of the north side, and the suburb of San Lazaro, is surrounded by a wall built of brick. This wall was constructed in the year 1585, when the Duque de la Plata was viceroy. It is the work of a Fleming, named Pedro Ramon. This wall is between eighteen and twenty feet high. Its breadth at the base is from ten to twelve feet, and at the top nine feet. It does not therefore afford sufficient space for mounting large guns. Along the whole extent of the wall there are thirty-four bastions. In the year 1807, this wall, which had fallen into a very ruinous condition, was repaired by order of the viceroy Abascal, and put into a condition to be mounted with artillery. On each side commodious pathways were made, and along the inner side powder magazines were constructed. At present these fortifications are in a state of complete dilapidation. The paths, which are obstructed by rubbish, are almost impassable, and the powder magazines are destroyed. The city wall of Lima has nine gates (Portadas). Of these, six only are now open, viz., the Portadas of Maravillas, Barbones, Cocharcas, Guadelupe, Juan Simon, and Callao; the three others, the Portadas of Martinete, Monserrat, and Santa Catalina, are walled up. At every one of the open gates there are stationed custom-house guards, whose chief duty consists in preventing the smuggled introduction of unstamped silver (plata de pina). In the direction of the suburb of San Lazaro, the city cannot be closed, as the wall does not extend to that part. Between San Lazaro, and the high road to Cero de Pasco, is the Portada de Guias; this, however, is not properly a gate, but a small custom-house. In this direction it is easy to gain entrance to the city from the river, and consequently it is here that most of the contraband silver, brought from the mountains, is smuggled.
Among the fortifications of Lima may be included the pretty little castle of Santa Catalina, situated at the eastern end of the city, between the Portada de Cocharcas and the Portada de Guadelupe, at the distance of about two hundred yards from the city wall. It is surrounded by rather high walls, and is flanked by two bastions. The interior of this citadel is very well arranged, and is kept much cleaner than such places usually are in Peru. It contains stores of arms and barracks for the artillery. The largest barracks in Lima are those of the infantry, Quartel de Infanteria, in the Colegio. They are remarkable for want of cleanliness, and like most of the public buildings in this interesting city, going fast to decay.
[Footnote 5: The city of Lima was founded by Don Francisco Pizarro on the 6th of January, 1534. As it was the day of the Epiphany, Lima received the title of Ciudad de los Reyes (City of the Kings). Historical records vary respecting the day and the year of the foundation of Lima; but I have reason to believe that the date I have mentioned above is perfectly correct.]
[Footnote 6: The Vara Castellana is equal to 33 inches English measure.]
[Footnote 7: The females who retire to these establishments are called Beatas (Bigots). The term Beaterio signifies a house for Bigots.—T.]
[Footnote 8: According to some accounts this establishment was instituted in 1654, by Mateo Pastor de Velasco, a native of Portollano in Spain.]
[Footnote 9: In these shops any one may purchase for a trifle one of the most deadly poisons (Strichnos Ignatia, L.). It is made up into what are called Pepitas de Cabalonga. It is used in Lima for poisoning dogs.]
[Footnote 10: This highly valuable and interesting collection of portraits is now removed from the palace to the museum. It is curious to mark the progressive changes of costume, and to observe the various physiognomies, especially if we reflect on the history of the men whose traits denote such striking differences of character. Almost all these portraits are distinguished by an air of tranquil gravity which in some is combined with true kingly dignity, and in others with an expression of fierceness. The handsomest head of the whole series is decidedly that of Francisco Pizarro. His features bear the stamp of manly energy, and his whole countenance is characterized by courage and candor. The nose has the prominent Arabic form, and the forehead is high and expanded. The thick beard, covering the mouth and chin, gives a gloomy and resolute character to the face. In this series of portraits there is one representing a priest with the vice-regal insignia.]
[Footnote 11: By a singular coincidence, the title of Conde de los Andes (Count of the Andes) was conferred on La Serna by King Ferdinand at Madrid on the 9th of December, 1824, being the very day on which he gained the battle of Ayacucho, the results of which gave the Spanish dominion in South America its death-blow.]
[Footnote 12: The above particulars are collected from the Historia del descubrimiento y conquista de la Provincia del Peru, by Augustin de Zarate.]
Population of Lima—Its diminution—Different races of the Inhabitants—Their characteristics—Amusements—Education—The women of Lima—Their Costume—The Saya y Manto—Female domestic life—Love of dress—Beatas—Indians—Slaves—Bosales—Free Creoles—Negroes—Negresses—Black Creoles—Their varieties—Mestizos—Mulattoes—Palanganas—Zambos—Chinos—Foreigners in Lima—Corruption of the Spanish language.
Proceeding from the shell to the kernel, we will now take a glance at the inhabitants of the capital of Peru: first, surveying the native in his fatherland, and next, the foreign settler in his adopted country.
The population of Lima has at various periods undergone remarkable fluctuations. In the year 1764 the number of the inhabitants was stated to be 54,000; in 1810, 87,000; in 1826, 70,000; in 1836, 54,600; and in 1842, 53,000. Of most of these estimates I entertain some degree of distrust, as they are merely founded on general calculations, and are not the results of careful numbering. Certain it is, however, that the population of Lima has very considerably decreased since the declaration of independence. This is sufficiently proved by the fact that several parts of the city are now totally uninhabited: the houses falling to decay, and the gardens lying waste.
The cause of this diminished population is easily explained by the physical and political condition of the country. Earthquakes have, at various times, buried thousands of people beneath the ruins of their own dwellings; the war of independence was attended by vast sacrifices of life; banishment and voluntary emigration have removed from Lima the families of some of the principal citizens; and epidemic disease, the natural consequence of defective police regulations, has swept away countless multitudes of the inhabitants. The number of new settlers is very inconsiderable; and for several past years the number of deaths has nearly doubled that of the births. There appears no reason to doubt that this decrease of population will continue; because, as will presently be seen, the causes to which it is assignable cannot be checked, inasmuch as they are intimately blended with the character of the nation. Most of these causes operate not only in the capital, but over the whole country; indeed, in the latter their influence is in some instances much greater; for example, in the interior of Peru the loss of life attendant on the war was relatively much greater than in Lima. This favored country, which extends from the 3d to the 22d degree of south latitude, and which contained at the time of its conquest by the Spaniards an immense population, though its amount is not known with numerical exactitude, now counts only 1,400,000 inhabitants.
In the tax registers, drawn up during the protectorate of Santa Cruz, in 1836, the number of the inhabitants of Lima is represented as follows:—
Male. Female. Total.
1. White Creoles (being the descendants of foreigners, but chiefly of Spaniards) 9,423 10,170 19,593
2. Indians 2,561 2,731 5,292
3. People of Color (mixed races) 11,771 12,355 24,126
4. Slaves 2,186 3,606 4,792
5. Ecclesiastics (Lay and Monastic) 475 350 825 ——— ——— ——— In all 26,416 29,212 54,628
From the above it appears that in every class (No. 5 excepted) there is a preponderance of females; and that on the whole population of 54,628 individuals there is a surplus of 2796 women. About one in every sixty-six individuals belongs to the priesthood.
Possibly in no other place in the world is there so much variety of complexion and physiognomy as in Lima. From the delicately fair creole daughter of European parents, to the jet black Congo negro, people of every gradation of color are seen living in intimate relation one with another. The two extreme classes—the whites and blacks—are as distinct in character as in color, and of either of those it is no difficult task to give an accurate portraiture. But it is different with the mixed races. To define their characteristics correctly would be impossible, for their minds partake of the mixture of their blood. As a general rule, it may fairly be said that they unite in themselves all the faults, without any of the virtues, of their progenitors. As men they are greatly inferior to the pure races, and as members of society they are the worst class of citizens. Here, as well as in the following delineations of the different races, I wish my observations to be understood only in a general sense. I have met with some honorable exceptions; though, unfortunately, they were mere solitary luminaries, whose transient light has been speedily obscured by the surrounding darkness.
The white Creoles, who, with very few exceptions, are the descendants of Spaniards, constitute somewhat less than a third part of the population of Lima. They are slender in figure and of middling height. Their features are strongly marked, their complexions fair and pale, and their hair is of the darkest black. The men are feeble and look prematurely old. Their countenances, though not devoid of dignity, have a sort of sensual expression. They are effeminate, and disinclined to any kind of active exertion. If they ride the distance of ten miles, they think they have performed a feat of heroism worthy to be recorded in the state archives. If the white Creoles are inferior to the Spaniards in physical organization, they are no less beneath them in qualities of mind. They shrink from anything that demands intellectual exertion. In short, they are sworn enemies to business of every kind, and those who are obliged to work for their own support, make choice of some occupation which, like that of a shopman, affords them ample time to smoke cigars and to gossip with their neighbors. The richer classes give themselves up wholly to idleness. They walk about and visit their acquaintances, or they lounge in shops or at the corners of streets, and in that manner they often amuse themselves for half a day. Those who are owners of plantations occasionally ride through them to receive reports from their mayordomos. Their afternoons are usually spent in the Coliseo de gallos, in the coffee-houses, or at the gaming-table. The white Creoles are as passionately fond of gaming as the Spaniards, and sums equal to those staked at the gaming-tables of Mexico and the Havannah are daily lost and won in Lima. Though games of hazard are prohibited, yet they are very publicly played, and it is only now and then that the police enforce the regulations of the law by the seizure of a bank.
Gaming in Lima is carried on very quietly, and the most determined gamblers do not show themselves very much excited either by losses or winnings. The discovery of false dice, however, creates bitter feelings of animosity, which not unfrequently lead to assassination. Of this I knew several instances when I was in the interior of the country.
The intellectual culture of the white Creole of Lima is exceedingly defective. He is not wanting in talent; but an imperfect system of education affords him no opportunity for the development of his faculties, and innate indolence is a bar to his self-improvement by study. He seldom rises above the level of every-day life, and is ignorant of everything beyond the boundary of the city, or, at all events, of the province in which he was born. I have often been amazed at the monstrous ignorance of so-called educated Peruvians, respecting the situation, the extent, the physical formation, and the productions of their native country.
On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that Lima has been the birthplace of several white Creoles, whose talents and learning have honorably distinguished them from the rest of their countrymen. For example, Don Tomas de Salazar, author of the "Interpretaciones de los Leyes de Indias." Don Miguel Nunez de Rojas, the learned Judge of Confiscations in the Spanish war of succession, and Don Alonzo Conde de San Donas, who in the reign of Philip IV. was Spanish Ambassador at the Court of France. Among those eminent in literature may be named Don Pedro de la Reyna Maldonado, and the poet Don Diego Martinez de Rivera, of whom Cervantes in his "Galatea" says—
Su divina ingenio ha producido En Arequipa eterna Primavera.
Several monks distinguished for learning have been white Creoles, and an eminent individual of that race was Don Hipolito Unanue, the author of the "Guide to Peru," and "Observations on the Climate of Lima, and its Influence on organized Beings, especially Man;" a Treatise on the Cocoa-tree, &c. In more recent times, Don Mariano Eduardo de Rivero has zealously devoted himself to the study of natural history and antiquities.
But in spite of his faults, the Lima Creole has his good qualities. He is an enemy to strong drinks. When he takes wine it is usually of some sweet kind, and of that he partakes very sparingly. A white Creole in a state of intoxication would, indeed, be a rare sight. Not so in the interior of the country, where the whites are remarkable for intemperate drinking.
Far superior to the men, both physically and intellectually, are the women of Lima. Nature has lavishly endowed them with many of her choicest gifts. In figure they are usually slender and rather tall, and they are especially remarkable for small, elegantly formed feet. Their fair faces, from which the glowing breath of the tropics banishes every trace of bloom, are animated by large, bright, dark eyes. Their features are pleasing—the nose being well formed, though in general not small—the mouth invariably adorned with two rows of brilliant white teeth, and their long black hair, arranged in plaits, falls gracefully over the bosom and shoulders. Add to all this a captivating grace of manner and deportment, joined to an exceeding degree of gentleness and amiability, and it will be readily admitted that the Limena is a noble specimen of female loveliness.
At home, especially in the summer season, the ladies of Lima dress lightly and even negligently. For visiting, or going to the theatres, they adopt the French fashion. When walking in the streets, attending church, joining religious processions, &c., they appear in a very singular costume, peculiar to Lima, and consisting of two garments called the Saya and the Manto. Of the saya there are two kinds. The one called the Saya ajustada, was formerly in general use, but is now seldom seen. It consists of a petticoat, or skirt of thick stiff silk, plaited at top and bottom, in small fluted folds, drawn very close together at the waist and widening towards the ankles, beneath which the saya does not descend. It is tight to the form, the outline of which it perfectly displays, and its closeness to the limbs naturally impedes rapid movement. When wearing the Saya ajustada, the ladies find it no very easy task to kneel down at church, and at the termination of every genuflexion, they are obliged to twist and twirl about for a considerable time before they can again stand on their feet.
The other description of saya is called the Saya culeca, or the Saya desplegada. It is plaited close at the waist, and from thence downwards it stands out like a hooped petticoat. This sort of saya is made by first being plaited both at top and bottom like the Saya ajustada; but, afterwards, the lower plaits are undone to form the Saya desplegada. The saya is always made of some dark-colored silk, black, green, blue, or cinnamon color.
The Manto is a veil of thick black silk fastened by a band at the back of the waist, where it joins the saya. From thence it is brought over the shoulders and head, and drawn over the face so closely that only a small triangular space, sufficient for one eye to peep through, is left uncovered. A rich shawl thrown over the shoulders conceals the whole of the under garment, except the sleeves. One of the small, neatly-gloved hands, confines the folds of the manto, whilst the other holds a richly embroidered pocket-handkerchief.
At first sight this costume has a very singular effect, and it is long before the eye of a foreigner becomes reconciled to it. The narrow saya is by no means graceful; the wide saya, on the other hand, is very becoming, and sets off to great advantage a good figure and elegant deportment. When I first arrived in Lima and saw the ladies closely muffled up in their mantos, and carrying embroidered cambric handkerchiefs and nosegays in their hands, it struck me that the nuns enjoyed greater freedom in that country than in any other part of the world. After vespers, that is to say half-past seven in the evening, the police regulations prohibit any woman from appearing in the streets dressed in the saya.
As this garment may be worn over a dress of the ordinary kind, it is found to be very convenient, inasmuch as it saves the trouble of a careful toilette. During short visits the ladies do not take off the saya; but when making long visits they usually lay it aside.
The Saya y Manto are found to be very useful auxiliaries in the numerous intrigues in which the Limenas frequently engage.
A Tapada indulges in a vast deal of freedom when in the streets, and scruples not to make satirical observations on anybody or anything that strikes her as strange or ludicrous. The veil, or manto, is sacred, and should a man attempt to remove it by force, he would run the risk of being severely handled by the populace.
In intrigues of gallantry the Saya y Manto play a conspicuous part. A lady has been known to arrange an assignation with a gentleman in the street, whilst her husband, standing at the distance of a few yards and conversing with a friend on some matter of business, has little suspected that the Tapada whose graceful figure he admired, was his own faithful better-half. It frequently happens that Dona Mariquita obliges Dona Merceditas, or Dona Panchita, with the loan of her saya, for the purpose of hood-winking the Argus-eyes of a jealous husband;—the lady being well convinced that her kind friends will render her the like service in similar circumstances. Sometimes a lady may be seen in an old tattered saya, such as scarcely the poorest female might be expected to wear; but the costly shawl, the worked pocket-handkerchief, the silk stockings, and satin shoes, betray the rank of the Tapada, and plainly denote that she has sallied forth on an adventure. It is difficult, nay almost impossible, to recognize a lady thus muffled up. The one eye alone visible, is, as may be supposed, a very uncertain token of identity, and the figure and walk may be easily disguised.
It will readily be supposed that these concealments sometimes occasion mortifying mistakes. On beholding a tall slender figure whose symmetrical contour is discernible even through the unwieldy saya, and a bright dark eye beaming beneath the folds of the manto, one may be induced to imagine that the charms of a Hebe are concealed beneath the disfiguring garb. But how great is the disappointment when an accidental movement of the manto discloses the wide mouth of an ugly mulatta grinning from ear to ear.
Most foreigners who marry Limenas stipulate that from the time of betrothal, their wives shall no longer wear the saya y manto. The condition is agreed to; but how far it is faithfully observed the husbands best know. Many, no doubt, lull themselves in the confidence of their wishes being implicitly obeyed; but female ingenuity readily devises opportunities for deception. The women of Lima never willingly renounce the saya y manto, for it is inseparably associated with customs to which they are, heart and soul, devoted.
If we follow the Limena (the white Creole, be it understood) into the retirement of domestic life, we find that she is an affectionate mother, but not a very clever housekeeper. Every lady has at her command a great many more domestics than are necessary: some are servants, but most of them slaves. The establishment usually consists of a cook, a nurse-maid, one or two house-maids, a needle-woman, several men-servants, and a little negro or Indian, whose chief business is to carry a carpet behind his mistress when she goes to church. These servants all do as they please, and the lady of the house concerns herself very little about the indolence which her want of vigilance encourages. She rises at a late hour, and having dressed herself and decorated her hair with sprigs of jasmine and orange blossom, she takes her breakfast. That meal being ended, she goes out to make visits. During the sultry hours of mid-day she reposes, either by swinging in a hammock or reclining on a sofa, and meanwhile smokes a cigar. After dinner she again makes visits, and the evening is spent in the theatre, on the plaza, or on the bridge. Some few ladies employ themselves in needle-work, in which they are often most accomplished adepts; they especially excel in embroidery and fancy work; but they never pursue these employments before company.
The ladies of Lima are passionately fond of music. Most of them play the piano-forte or the guitar, and also sing; but for want of good instruction neither their playing nor their singing is above mediocrity. Smoking is pretty general among females, at least those of mature age; but they indulge in this practice only in their own apartments. Of late years the custom of smoking has been on the decline in Lima, in proportion as it has been increased on the continent of the old world. Though snuff-taking is prohibited in the convents, yet the nuns practise it to a great extent. They use an exceedingly fine kind of red snuff, which has the effect of closing the breathing passage through the nostrils, and of producing a peculiar nasal tone of voice.
With the ladies of Lima, vanity and the love of dress appear to have reached their climax. To this passion for personal adornment they sacrifice everything. Formerly, when none but real pearls and diamonds were worn, many a lady was known to have ruined her husband by the purchase of those costly articles; now, however, thanks to French mock jewelry, they are enabled to bedeck themselves in glittering ornaments at trivial expense. Another of their passions is a fondness for perfumes. They are continually besprinkling themselves with eau de Cologne, esprit de Lavande, agua rica, or mistura. The latter is a fragrant yellow-colored water, prepared from gillyflower, jasmine, and flor de mistela (Talinum umbellatum). They perfume their apartments daily with Sahumerios (pastiles). When the lady of the house wishes to show particular attention to her visitors, she offers them perfumed water, dropping it into the bosoms of the ladies, and on the pocket-handkerchiefs of the gentlemen. Considering their free use of perfumes, it is not surprising that the fair Limenas should be constantly complaining of headache, vertigo, and other nervous ailments, or, to use their own phrase (los nervios).
Above all things the Limenas pride themselves in the excessive smallness of their feet. Whether walking, standing, sitting, swinging in the hammock, or reclining on the sofa, the grand object invariably is to display to advantage the tiny foot. To praise her virtue, her intelligence, her wit, or even her beauty, would be less complimentary to a Limena than to admire the elegance of her feet. All possible care is taken to preserve the small form of the foot, and the Lima ladies avoid everything that may tend to spread or enlarge it. Their shoes are usually made of embroidered velvet or satin, or of very fine kid, and are so exceedingly small, that they cannot be drawn on and off without difficulty. It is usual to have two new pairs every week, and the expense of a lady's shoes not unfrequently amounts to two hundred dollars per annum. A large foot is a thing held in horror by the Limenas: they call it una pataza inglesa (an English paw). I once heard some Lima ladies extolling in high terms the beauty of a fair European; but all their praises ended with the words:—"Pero que pie, valgame Dios! parece una lancha." (But what a foot, good Heaven! It is like a great boat.) Yet the feet of the lady alluded to would not, in Europe, have been thought by any means large.
Gourmanderie is one of the evil habits of the female inhabitants of Lima. Between meals they are continually eating sweetmeats and a variety of things. At one moment they order tamal, next omitas, then pan de chancay (a sweet sort of bread), and biscuits, then masamorita morada, or frijoles coladas, &c.; and yet dinner is partaken with as hearty an appetite as though none of these interludes had been introduced. Can it be matter of surprise that the good ladies are constantly complaining of indigestion and mal de estomago?
In the interior of the houses cleanliness does not extend beyond those apartments which are open to visitors, namely, the sala and the cuadro. The other rooms of the house frequently bear more resemblance to a stable than a human habitation, and their condition reflects little credit on the domestic habits of the female inmates. But even this is typical of the national character,—a great outward show and little inward worth.
At first a stranger is struck with the singularity of the names of many of the women of Lima. A child receives the name of the saint or of the festival whose celebration falls on the day of its birth. Those who happen to come into the world on the days on which the Romish Church celebrates the several manifestations of the Virgin receive the most extraordinary names. For example, a child born on the anniversary day of the manifestation to St. Francis on the Snow Mountain, is named Nieves (snow). Pilar (fountain-basin) is another strange name, conferred in honor of the manifestation of the Virgin at the Fountains in Saragossa. Then there are Conceptions, Natividads, and Asuncions, without number. A girl born on Candlemas-day is named Candelaria, and one born on the first day of the year receives the name of Jesus. The singular effect of these names is heightened by the Spanish custom of using diminutives, formed by adding to the name the particle ito or ita, the former being the masculine, the latter the feminine. It may be readily imagined that a foreigner is not a little startled on hearing a young lady called Dona Jesusita. In some names the diminutive takes a form totally different from the full name; as, for example, Panchita for Francisca, Pepita for Josefa, Conchita for Concepcion. A married woman does not take the family name of her husband, but retains her own, adding to it her husband's name preceded by the particle de, as, for example, Dona Maria Juana Rodriguez de Salazar.
On attaining a certain age, the Limenas totally alter their habits of life. When their beauty fades, and they cease to be the objects of compliment and flattery; or when weary of an idle, luxurious, and, in too many instances, a no very virtuous life, they betake themselves to piety, and become Beatas. The Limena who thus renounces the vanities of the world attends church two or three times every day, confesses at least once every week, retires during Lent to a house of penitence; fasts, prays, and receives the visits of her confessor, to whom she sends presents of sweetmeats;—and should the holy man, as is usually the case, prefer riding to walking, she shows her piety by giving him the use of her Calesa to convey him from place to place.