In consequence of the ignorance of the medical attendants, and the neglect of the police, the statistical tables of deaths are very imperfectly drawn up, and therefore cannot be entirely depended upon. I may, however, here subjoin one of them, which will afford the reader some idea of the mortality of Lima.
The annual number of deaths in Lima varies from 2,500 to 2,800.
In the ten months, from the 1st of January to the 30th of October, 1841, the number of marriages was 134, of which 46 were contracted by whites, and 88 by people of color.
DEATHS IN LIMA FROM JANUARY 1, TO OCTOBER 30, 1841:-
Diseases. Men. Women. Children. Total.
Dysentery 171 105 59 335 Fevers, chiefly intermittent 57 88 71 216 Typhus 14 7 24 45 Pulmonary Consumption 87 110 11 208 Inflammation of the Lungs 78 75 26 179 Dropsy, for the most part a consequence of intermittent fevers 33 32 7 72 Hooping-cough 36 36 Small Pox 3 1 4 Sudden death 23 13 1 37 Shot 3 3 Various Diseases 271 228 610 1,109 —- —- —- ——- 740 658 846 2,244
The number of births were:—
Boys. Girls. Total.
In marriage 410 412 822 Not in marriage 432 428 860 —- —- ——- 842 840 1,682
The number of births not in marriage (860) is remarkable, and no less so is the number of dead children exposed, which, during the above interval, was 495. These are most decided proofs of the immorality and degraded state of manners prevailing in Lima, particularly among the colored part of the population. Though there is no certain evidence of the fact, yet there is reason to conjecture that a considerable number of those infants are destroyed by the mothers. Of the children born out of marriage, nearly two-thirds, and of those exposed dead, full four-fifths are Mulattos.
The important annual surplus of deaths over births is a matter of serious consideration for Lima. The above tables show, in the course of ten months, a surplus of 562 deaths. By a comparison of the lists of births and deaths from 1826 to 1842, I find that on an average there are annually 550 more deaths than births. It would lead me too far to endeavor to investigate all the grounds of this disparity, but I may observe that one of the causes, unquestionably, is the common, though punishable crime of producing abortion.
Along the whole coast of Peru the atmosphere is almost uniformly in a state of repose. It is not illuminated by the lightning's flash, or disturbed by the roar of the thunder: no deluges of rain, no fierce hurricanes destroy the fruits of the fields, and with them the hopes of the husbandman. Even fire appears here to have lost its annihilating power, and the work of human hands seems to be sacred from its attack. But the mildness of the elements above ground is frightfully counterbalanced by their subterranean fury.
Lima is frequently visited by earthquakes, and several times the city has been reduced to a mass of ruins. At an average forty-five shocks may be counted on in a year. Most of them occur in the latter part of October, in November, December, January, May, and June. Experience gives reason to expect the visitation of two desolating earthquakes in a century. The period between the two is from forty to sixty years. The most considerable catastrophes experienced in Lima since Europeans have visited the west coast of South America, happened in the years 1586, 1630, 1687, 1713, 1746, 1806. There is reason to fear that in the course of a few years this city may be the prey of another such visitation.
The slighter shocks are sometimes accompanied by a noise; at other times, they are merely perceptible by the motion of the earth. The subterraneous noises are manifold. For the most part they resemble the rattling of a heavy loaded wagon, driven rapidly over arches. They usually accompany the shock, seldom precede it, and only in a few cases do they follow it; sounding like distant thunder. On one occasion the noise appeared to me like a groan from the depth of the earth, accompanied by sounds like the crepitation of wood in partitions when an old house is consumed by fire.
Of the movements, the horizontal vibrations are the most frequent, and they cause the least damage to the slightly-built habitations. Vertical shocks are most severe; they rend the walls, and raise the houses out of their foundations. The greatest vertical shock I ever felt was on the 4th of July, 1839, at half-past seven in the evening, when I was in the old forests of the Chanchamoyo territory. Before my hut there was an immense stem of a felled tree, which lay with its lower end on the stump of the root. I was leaning against it and reading, when suddenly, by a violent movement, the stem rose about a foot and a half, and I was thrown backwards over it. By the same shock the neighboring river, Aynamayo, was dislodged from its bed, and its course thereby changed for a considerable length of way.
I have had no experience of the rotatory movements of earthquakes. According to the statements of all who have observed them, they are very destructive, though uncommon. In Lima I have often felt a kind of concussion, which accords with that term in the strictest sense of the word. This movement had nothing in common with what may be called an oscillation, a shock, or a twirl: it was a passing sensation, similar to that which is felt when a man seizes another unexpectedly by the shoulder, and shakes him; or like the vibration felt on board a ship when the anchor is cast, at the moment it strikes the ground. I believe it is caused by short, rapid, irregular horizontal oscillations. The irregularity of the vibrations is attended by much danger, for very slight earthquakes of that kind tear away joists from their joinings, and throw down roofs, leaving the walls standing, which, in all other kinds of commotion, usually suffer first, and most severely.
Humboldt says that the regularity of the hourly variations of the magnetic needle and the atmospheric pressure is undisturbed on earthquake days within the tropics. In seventeen observations, which I made during earthquakes in Lima with a good Lefevre barometer, I found, in fifteen instances, the position of the mercury quite unaltered. On one occasion, shortly before a commotion, I observed it 2.4 lines lower than it had been two hours before. Another time, I observed, also on the approach of the shock and during the twelve following hours, a remarkable rising and sinking in the column. During these observations the atmosphere was entirely tranquil.
Atmospheric phenomena are frequent, but not infallible prognostics of an earthquake. I have known individuals in Lima, natives of the coast, who were seldom wrong in predicting an earthquake, from their observation of the atmosphere. In many places great meteors have been seen before the commotion. Before the dreadful earthquake of 1746, there were seen fiery vapors (exhalaciones encendidas) rising out of the earth. On the island of San Lorenzo these phenomena were particularly remarked.
Many persons have an obscure perception—a foreboding, which is to them always indicative of an approaching earthquake. They experience a feeling of anxiety and restlessness, a pressure of the breast, as if an immense weight were laid on it. A momentary shudder pervades the whole frame, or there is a sudden trembling of the limbs. I, myself, have several times experienced this foreboding, and there can scarcely be a more painful sensation. It is felt with particular severity by those who have already had the misfortune to have been exposed to the dangers of an earthquake.
I will here only briefly mention the celebrated earthquake of 1746, as all its details are fully described in many publications. The reader need scarcely be reminded that it happened on the 28th of October, the day of St. Simon and St. Jude. During the night, between ten and eleven o'clock, the earth having begun to tremble, a loud howling was heard, and, in a few minutes, Lima became a heap of ruins. The first shock was so great, that the town was almost completely destroyed by it. Of more than 3000 houses, only twenty-one remained. Still more horrible was the destruction in the harbor of Callao. The movement of the earth had scarcely been felt there, when the sea, with frightful roaring, rushed over the shore, and submerged the whole town with its inhabitants. Five thousand persons were instantly buried beneath the waves. The Spanish corvette San Fermin, which lay at anchor in the port, was thrown over the walls of the fortress. A cross still marks the place where the stern of the vessel fell. Three merchant vessels, heavily laden, suffered the same fate. The other ships which were at anchor, nineteen in number, were sunk. The number of lives sacrificed by this earthquake has not been, with perfect accuracy, recorded. Humboldt, in his Cosmos, mentions that during this earthquake a noise like subterraneous thunder was heard at Truxillo, eighty-five leagues north of Callao. It was first observed a quarter of an hour after the commotion occurred at Lima, but there was no trembling of the earth. According to the old chronicle writers, the earthquake of 1630 was more disastrous.
The serious commotions which take place on the Peruvian coast appear to acquire progressively greater extension, but only in the southern and northern directions. A shock, of which Lima is the centre, though felt fifty leagues towards the north, and as far towards the south, may, nevertheless, be imperceptible in the easterly direction (towards the mountains) at the distance of ten or twelve leagues. This peculiarity is made manifest, not only by the terraqueous oscillations, but also by the undulations of the sound, which usually proceeds still further in a direction towards the south or the north.
Slight shocks are usually only local, and are not felt beyond the limits of a few square miles.
The atmospheric phenomena during and after earthquakes are very different. In general, the atmosphere is tranquil, but occasionally a stormy agitation is the harbinger of a change. I was unexpectedly overtaken by a violent commotion on the sand-flat between Chancay and Lima. The whole surface of the plain presented a kind of curling movement, and on every side small columns of sand rose, and whirled round and round. The mules stopped of their own accord, and spread out their legs as for support and to secure themselves against apprehended danger. The arieros (mule-drivers) leaped from their saddles, threw themselves on their knees beside the animals, and prayed to heaven for mercy.
The effect of earthquakes on the fertility of the soil is sometimes remarkable. Numerous observations tend to show that after violent commotions luxuriant lands often become barren wastes, and for several years produce no thriving vegetation. Several Quebradas in the province of Truxillo, formerly remarkable for their fertility in grain, were left fallow for twenty years after the earthquake of 1630, as the soil would produce nothing. Similar cases occurred at Supe, Huaura, Lima, and Yca. All kinds of grain appear to be very susceptible to the changes produced by earthquakes. Cases are recorded in which, after slight shocks, fields of maize in full bloom have withered; and in the course of a day or two the crops have perished.
The causes of the frequent earthquakes on the coast of Lima are involved in an obscurity too deep to be unveiled. That they are connected with volcanic phenomena seems probable. Lima is more than ninety leagues distant from the nearest active volcano, that of Arequipa. But the earthquakes of the Peruvian capital are uniformly independent of any state of activity in that volcano, and it is certain that the town of Arequipa, which lies at the foot of the mountain, experiences fewer earthquakes than Lima. Of the six serious earthquakes, the dates of which I have mentioned, only that of 1687 stands in connection with a decided shock in Arequipa, and an eruption of the volcano. Earthquakes are of rarer occurrence in the mountainous districts than on the coast, yet Huancavellica, Tarma, Pasco, Caramarca, have been visited by heavy shocks; and within a recent period the village Quiquijana, in the Province of Quipichanchi, Department of Cusco, suffered from a serious commotion. In a letter from an eye-witness I received the following account of it.
"In November, 1840, the earth began to move faintly back and forward, and a dull, distant, subterraneous noise continued without interruption. The first powerful shock occurred on the 23d of December. During the whole month of January, 1841, heavy thunder prevailed, but without any motion of the earth. On February 11th, we again had a smart shock, and from that day the vibrations recommenced, which, strange enough, were always most violent on Mondays and Thursdays. The subterraneous noise resounded incessantly; but it was heard only in the village; for at the distance of half a league from it all was tranquil. The heaviest shocks were felt in a circuit within the radius of three leagues. From May 21st to June 2d, all was tranquil; after the last-mentioned date the vibrations recommenced, and frequently became heavy commotions. They continued until the middle of July, 1841. From that time we have not been disturbed, and we have now returned to the ruins of our village."
The volcano of Arequipa, which is forty-five leagues distant from Quiquijana, manifested, during the whole of this time, no unusual phenomena, a circumstance which speaks forcibly against the idea of any local connection between the earthquake and the volcano.
On most men earthquakes make a powerful and extraordinary impression. The sudden surprise, often in sleep, the imminent danger, the impossibility of escape, the dull subterraneous noise, the yielding of the earth under the feet,—altogether make a formidable demand on the weakness of human nature.
Humboldt in the Cosmos truly observes—"What is most wonderful for us to comprehend is the undeception which takes place with respect to the kind of innate belief which men entertain of the repose and immovability of the terrestrial strata." And further on he says—"The earthquake appears to men as something omnipresent and unlimited. From the eruption of a crater, from a stream of lava running towards our dwellings, it appears possible to escape, but in an earthquake, whichever way flight is directed the fugitive believes himself on the brink of destruction!" No familiarity with the phenomenon can blunt this feeling. The inhabitant of Lima who, from childhood, has frequently witnessed these convulsions of nature, is roused from his sleep by the shock, and rushes from his apartment with the cry of "Misericordia!" The foreigner from the north of Europe, who knows nothing of earthquakes but by description, waits with impatience to feel the movement of the earth, and longs to hear with his own ears the subterraneous sounds which he has hitherto considered fabulous. With levity he treats the apprehension of a coming convulsion, and laughs at the fears of the natives. But as soon as his wish is gratified he is terror-stricken, and is involuntarily prompted to seek safety in flight.
In Lima, the painful impression produced by an earthquake is heightened by the universality of the exercise of the devotions (plegarias) on such a calamity. Immediately on the shock being felt, a signal is given from the cathedral, and the long-measured ten-minute tollings of all the church bells summon the inhabitants to prayers.
Taking a comprehensive view of the whole coast of Peru, we perceive that Lima lies in one of those oases which break the continuity of the extensive sand-flats. These valleys present themselves wherever a river, after a short course from the Cordilleras, falls into the sea; they are always fan-shaped widenings of the mountain ravines. The valley of Lima lies in the widest extension of the Quebrada of Mutucamas. This narrow gorge, which has its main direction from E.N.E. to W.S.W., widens at Cocachacra, and extends into San Pedro Mama, where the Quebrada of San Geronimo unites with it. It then runs down to the coast, extending more and more in width, and is intersected by the Rimac. This river rises in two branches, the largest of which has its source in some small lagunes, in the upper part of Antarangra, on a height 15,600 feet above the level of the sea. The second and shorter branch takes its source from a small lake in the heights of Carampoma, flows through the valley of San Geronimo, and near San Pedro unites with the Rimac. The most considerable streams of the south-eastern confluence are those which rise in the heights of Carhuapampa, and near Tambo de Viso, flow into the main stream. During winter the Rimac is very inconsiderable, but when the rainy season sets in it swells greatly, and in the upper regions, particularly between Surco and Cocachacra, causes great devastations. In the lower part where the bed becomes broad and the banks are not much built on, no considerable damage occurs.
Several small conduits are brought from the Rimac, some for giving moisture to fields, and others for filling the street trenches of Lima. The water for supplying the fountains of the Capital does not, however, come from the river, but from two springs situated 1-1/4 league from Lima in a thicket near an old Indian settlement, called Santa Rosa, in the valley of Surco. They are inclosed within a building called the Puello, or Atarrea, whence the waters are conveyed by a subterraneous trench to the Reservoir (Caja de Santa Tomas), from which it is distributed by pipes to 112 public and private fountains. During the insurrection of the Indians in 1781, which was instigated by the unfortunate Cacique Don Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru, one of the sworn determinations of the participators in that very extensive conspiracy was to drive the Spaniards out of Lima by artifice or force. Among the numerous plans for accomplishing that object, I will mention two which have reference to the water of Lima. One scheme was to poison the whole of the inhabitants. For this purpose a rich Cacique of the vale of Huarochirin went to an apothecary near the bridge, and asked for two hundred weight of corrosive sublimate, saying that he would pay well for it. The apothecary had not entire confidence in the Indian, but he did not think it right to forego the opportunity of making a very profitable sale; so, instead of the sublimate, he made up the same quantity of alum for the Cacique and received the price he demanded. Next morning all the water in Lima was unfit for use. On examination it was found that the enclosure of the Atarrea was broken down, and the source saturated with alum. The offender remained undiscovered.
The second plan was formed with more circumspection. The conspirators resolved on a certain day to send into the city a number of Indians, who were to conceal themselves on the roofs of the shops (Pulperias), in which quantities of firewood were kept for sale. The moment the cathedral struck the hour of midnight, the concealed Indians were to set fire to the wood. Another division of Indians was immediately to dam up the river at the convent of Santa Clara, and thereby lay the streets under water. During the unavoidable confusion, which must have taken place, the main body of the Indians was to enter the town and massacre all the whites. This well-combined plan was by mere accident discovered, when it was of course frustrated.
The fertility of the soil round Lima is very great when irrigation is practicable. Where this cannot be accomplished, the earth withholds even the most scanty vegetation. The riego, or irrigation, is thus effected. On certain days the water conduits are closed, and the fields are laid under water. When there is a deficient supply of water, the trenches, or conduits, are not opened till the following day. When, however, the supply of water is abundant, the riego takes place early every morning.
As the same identical plants are cultivated along almost the whole coast, I will here notice them, to save the necessity of returning to them hereafter.
COTTON is cultivated only in a few plantations in the immediate vicinity of Lima; but it abounds more in the northern districts, particularly in the department de la Libertad, in the coast province Piura, in Lambayeque, and in Truxillo. In the southern province, Yca, a considerable quantity is also reared for exportation. The brown cotton was chiefly cultivated in the time of the Incas. Most of the bodies found in the ancient graves on the coast are enveloped in this kind of cotton.
The SUGAR CANE is cultivated with success in all plantations where there is sufficient moisture of soil; and of all the agricultural produce of the country, yields the greatest profit. The sugar estates lie on the sea-coast, or along the banks of rivers. The vertical limit of the sugar cane growth is on the western declivity of the Cordilleras, about 4500 feet above the level of the sea, at which height I saw fields covered with it. The largest plantations, however, do not rise above 1200 feet above the level of the sea; while those of the same extent on the eastern declivity are at the height of 6000 feet. Within the last forty years the introduction of the Otaheitan cane has greatly improved the Peruvian plantations in quality, and has more especially increased the quantity of their produce; for the Otaheitan canes are found to yield proportionally one third more than the West India canes, which were previously cultivated.
The preparation of the sugar is, as yet, conducted in a very rude and laborious manner. In most of the plantations the cane is passed through wooden presses with brass rollers. These machines are called trapiches or ingenios. They are kept in motion by oxen or mules. In some large estates water power is employed, and in San Pedro de Lurin a steam-engine has been put up, which certainly does the work quickly; but it often has to stand for a long time idle. A part of the sugar cane juice is used for making the liquor called guarapo, or distilled for making rum; for since the independence, the law which strictly prohibited the distillation of spirituous liquors in plantations has been repealed. The remainder is boiled down into a syrup, or further simmered until it thickens into cakes, called chancacas, or brown sugar. After a careful purification it is made into the white cakes called alfajores, or prepared as white sugar. In fineness of grain and purity of color it is inferior to the Havannah sugar, which, however, it exceeds in sweetness. The regular weight of the sugarloaf is two arobas; only for convenience of transport into the mountainous districts their weight is sometimes diminished. The consumption of sugar in the country is great and its export is considerable, but it goes only to Chile.
Of the different kinds of grain, maize is most generally and most successfully cultivated in Peru. It grows on the sandy shore, in the fertile mountain valleys, and on the margin of the forest, where the warmth is great. There are several varieties of maize, which are distinguished one from another by the size of the head and by the form and appearance of the grain. The most common kinds on the coast are—1st, the Mais Morocho, which has small bright yellow or reddish brown grains; 2d, the Mais Amarillo, of which the grain is large, heart-shaped, solid and opaque; 3d, Mais Amarillo de Chancay, similar to the Mais Amarillo, but with a semi-transparent square-shaped grain, and an elongated head. The Morocho and Amarillo maize are chiefly planted in the eastern declivity of the Andes. They run up in stalks eight or nine feet high, and have enormously large heads. In one of them I counted seventy-five grains in a single row.
Maize forms the bread of the Peruvians. It is almost the only sustenance of the Indians of the mountains, and is the principal food of the slaves on the coast. Like the potatoe in Europe, it is cooked in a variety of ways. Two of the most simple preparations of maize are those called choclas and mote. Choclas are the unripe maize heads merely soaked in warm water; they form a very agreeable and wholesome article of food. Mote consists of ripe maize first boiled and then laid in hot ashes, after which the husks are easily stripped off.
As to whether maize is indigenous to Peru, or when it was introduced there, much has already been written, and I shall refrain from entering into the investigation of the question here. I may, however, mention that I have found very well preserved ears of maize in tombs, which, judging from their construction, belong to a period anterior to the dynasty of the Incas; and these were fragments of two kinds of maize which do not now grow in Peru. If I believed in the transmigration and settlement of Asiatic races on the west coast of America, I should consider it highly probable that maize, cotton, and the banana, had been brought from Asia to the great west coast. But the supposed epoch of this alleged immigration must carry us back to the earliest ages; for, that the Incas were (as the greater number of inquirers into Peruvian history pretend) of Asiatic origin, is a mere vague hypothesis, unsupported by anything approximating to historical proof.
Since the earthquake of 1687 the crops of maize on the Peruvian coast have been very inconsiderable. In the mountainous parts it is somewhat more abundant, but still far from sufficient to supply the wants of the country. Chile supplies, in return for sugar, the maize required in Peru. Of the other kinds of grain barley only is raised; but it does not thrive on the coast, and is cultivated successfully at the height of from 7000 to 13,200 feet above the level of the sea. The assertion of some travellers, that barley was known to the Peruvians before the arrival of the Spaniards, is groundless. It is true that barley is sometimes found in pots in Indian graves. Those graves, however, as I have had repeated opportunities of being convinced, belong, without exception, to modern times, chiefly to the seventeenth century.
Potatoes are not planted on the coast, where, it appears, the climate and soil are unfavorable to them. In those parts they are small and watery. On the higher ridges which intersect the coast at short distances from the sea, the potatoe grows wild. I am inclined to believe that the root is indigenous in these parts, as well as in Chiloe and Chile, and that the ancient Peruvians did not obtain this root from the south, but that they removed it from their own high lands in order to cultivate it on a more favorable soil. The best potatoe grows about twenty-two leagues from Lima, in Huamantanga, which is about 7000 feet above the level of the sea, to the north-west of the Quebrada of Canta. This potatoe is small and round, with a thin white skin, and when bisected the color is a clear bright yellow. It is called the Papa amarilla, and there is much demand for it in the markets, where it fetches a good price. The other potatoes come chiefly from the Quebrada of Huarochirin, and they are very well flavored.
The Camotes (Convolvulus batatas, L.), not improperly called sweet potatoes, grow to a considerable size. There are two kinds of camotes, the yellow and the violet; the latter are called Camotes moradas. These two kinds are much liked for their excellent flavor. Beyond the height of 3500 feet above the level of the sea they cease to grow.
The Aracacha (Conium moschatum, H. B. Kth.) grows on the coast, but it is more abundant on the projecting ridges of the Cordilleras, and on the eastern declivity of the Andes. It is a very agreeable and nutritive kind of tuberous vegetable, in flavor not unlike celery. It is cooked by being either simply boiled in water, or made into a kind of soup. In many districts the aracacha yields two crops in the year.
The Yucca (Jatropha manihot) is one of the finest vegetables of Peru. The stalk of the plant is between five and six feet high, and about the thickness of a finger. The roots are from one to two feet long, somewhat of the turnip form. Internally they are pure white; but the external skin is tough, somewhat elastic, and of a reddish-brown color. The roots are the edible parts of the plant. They are very agreeable in taste, and easy of digestion. When raw they are hard and tough, and their taste somewhat resembles chestnuts. When boiled in water the root separates into fibres, and is rather waxy, but when laid in hot ashes it becomes mealy.
In some parts of Peru the Indians prepare a very fine flour from the yucca, and it is used for making fine kinds of bread, and especially a kind of biscuits called biscochuelos. The yucca roots are not good after they have been more than three days out of the earth, and even during that time they must be placed in water, otherwise green or black stripes appear on them, which in the cooking assume a pale red color. Their taste is then disagreeable, and they quickly become rotten.
To propagate the yucca the stalk is cut, particularly under the thick part, into span-long pieces, which are stuck obliquely into the earth. In five or six months the roots are fit for use, but they are usually allowed to remain some time longer in the earth. The stalks are sometimes cut off, and the roots left in the earth. They then put forth new leaves and flowers, and after sixteen or eighteen months they become slightly woody. The Indians in the Montana de Vitoc sent as a present to their officiating priest a yucca, which weighed thirty pounds, but yet was very tender. On the western declivity of the Cordillera, the boundary elevation for the growth of the yucca is about 3000 feet above the level of the sea.
Among the pulse there are different kinds of peas (garbanzos) on the coast; beans (frijoles), on the contrary, occupy the hilly grounds. All vegetables of the cabbage and salad kinds cultivated in Europe will grow in Peru. The climate, both of the coast and the hills, suits them perfectly; but the hot, damp temperature of the eastern declivity of the Andes is adverse to them. Numerous varieties of the genus Cucurbita are cultivated in the chacras, or Indian villages, on the coast. They are chiefly consumed by the colored population. I did not find them very agreeable to the taste. They are all sweetish and fibrous.
Among the edible plants which serve for seasoning or spicery, I must mention the love-apple (Tomate), which thrives well in all the warm districts of Peru; and the Spanish pepper (Aji), which is found only on the coast and in the mild woody regions. There are many species of the pepper (Capsicum annuum, baccatum, frutescens, &c.), which are sometimes eaten green, and sometimes dried and pounded. In Peru the consumption of aji is greater than that of salt; for with two-thirds of the dishes brought to table, more of the former than of the latter is used. It is worthy of remark that salt diminishes, in a very striking degree, the pungency of the aji; and it is still more remarkable that the use of the latter, which in a manner may be called a superfluity, has no injurious effect on the digestive organs. If two pods of aji, steeped in warm vinegar, are laid as a sinapism on the skin, in the space of a quarter of an hour the part becomes red, and the pain intolerable; within an hour the scarf-skin will be removed. Yet I have frequently eaten twelve or fifteen of these pods without experiencing the least injurious effect. However, before I accustomed myself to this luxury, it used to affect me with slight symptoms of gastritis. On the eastern declivity of the Cordilleras I found no capsicum at a greater height than 4800 feet above the level of the sea.
Lucern (Medicago sativa), called by the natives alfa or alfalfa, is reared in great abundance throughout the whole of Peru, as fodder for cattle. It does not bear great humidity, nor severe heat or cold; yet its elevation boundary is about 11,100 feet above the level of the sea. On the coast it flourishes very luxuriantly during the misty season; but during the months of February and March it is almost entirely dried up. The maisillo (Paspalum purpureum, R.) then supplies its place as fodder for cattle. In the mountainous districts it is also most abundant during the humid season; but, as soon as the first frost sets in, it decays, takes a rusty-brown color, and remains in a bad state until the beginning of the rainy season. On an average, the alfalfa may be cut four times in the year; but in highlying districts only three times; and in humid soils on the coast, particularly in the neighborhood of rivers, five times. Once in every four or five years the clover-fields are broken up by the plough, and then sown with maize or barley. In the sixth year clover is again raised.
The olive-tree is cultivated chiefly in the southern provinces of the coast. In flavor, its fruit approximates to the Spanish olive. That the oil is not so fine is probably owing to the bad presses which are used, and the rude manner in which the operation is performed. The olives (Aceytunas) are preserved in a peculiar manner. They are allowed to ripen on the tree, when they are gathered, slightly pressed, dried, and put up in small earthen vessels. By this process they become shrivelled and quite black. When served up at table pieces of tomato and aji are laid on them: the latter is an excellent accompaniment to the oily fruit. Some preserve them in salt water, by which means they remain plump and green.
The castor-oil plant (Ricinus communis) grows wild, but it is also cultivated in many plantations. The considerable quantity of oil which is pressed out of the seeds is used unpurified in Lima for the street lamps, and also in the sugar plantations, for greasing the machines employed in the works. The purified Ricinus oil required for medicine is imported from England or Italy.
The Pinoncillo tree (Castiglionia lobata, R.) is cultivated only about Surco, Huacho, and Lambayeque, in some of the Indian chacras; but it grows wild in considerable abundance. Its bean-like fruit, when roasted, has an agreeable flavor. When eaten raw, the etherial oil generated between the kernel and the epidermis is a strong aperient, and its effect can only be counteracted by drinking cold water. When an incision is made in the stem, a clear bright liquid flows out; but after some time it becomes black and horny like. It is a very powerful caustic, and retains its extraordinary property for years.
The fruits of the temperate climates of Europe thrive but indifferently in the warm regions of the coast of Peru. Apples and pears are for the most part uneatable. Of stone fruits only the peach succeeds well. Vast quantities of apricots (called duraznos) grow in the mountain valleys. Of fifteen kinds which came under my observation, those called blanquillos and abridores are distinguished for fine flavor. Cherries, plums, and chestnuts I did not see in Peru, yet I believe the climate of the Sierra is very favorable to their growth. Generally speaking, the interior of the country is well suited to all the fruits and grain of central Europe; and doubtless many of our forest trees would flourish on those Peruvian hills which now present no traces of vegetation. But as yet no system of transplantation has been seriously set on foot. The praiseworthy attempts made by many Europeans, who have sent seeds and young plants to Peru, have failed of success, owing to the indifference of the natives to the advancement of those objects.
All the fruits of southern Europe thrive luxuriantly in the warm regions of Peru. Oranges, pomegranates, lemons, limes, &c., grow in incredible abundance. Though the trees bloom and bear fruit the whole year round, yet there are particular times in which their produce is in the greatest perfection and abundance. On the coast, for example, at the commencement of winter, and in the woody districts in the months of February and March, melons and Sandyas (water melons) are particularly fine.
The figs are of two kinds: the one called Higos, and the other Brevas. In the former the pulp is red, in the latter it is white. They are usually large, very soft, and may be ranked among the most delicious fruits of the country. Fig-trees grow frequently wild in the neighborhood of the plantations and the Chacras: and the traveller may pluck the fruit, and carry away a supply for his journey; for, beyond a certain distance from Lima figs are not gathered, being a fruit not easy of transport in its fresh state; and when dried, it is not liked. Pomegranates and quinces seldom grow on the coast: they are chiefly brought to the Lima market from the neighboring Quebradas. The mulberry-tree flourishes luxuriantly and without cultivation; but its fruit is not thought worth gathering, and it is left as food for the birds. In the southern province of Yca, the cultivation of the vine has been attended by most successful results. In the neighborhood of Lima grapes are seen only in a few Huertas (orchards); but for size, sweetness, and aromatic flavor, there are no such grapes in any other part of the world.
Of tropical fruits, the number is not so great in Peru as in the more northerly district of Guayaquil. But there are some Peruvian fruits, the delicious flavor of which cannot be excelled. One of these is the Chirimoya (Anona tripetala). Hanke, in one of his letters, calls it "a master-work of Nature." It would certainly be difficult to name any fruit possessing a more exquisite flavor.
In Lima the Chirimoya is comparatively small, often only the size of an orange. Those who have tasted it only in Lima, can form but a very imperfect idea of its excellence. In Huanuco, its indigenous soil, it grows in the greatest perfection, and often attains the weight of sixteen pounds, or upwards. The fruit is of roundish form, sometimes pyramidal, or heart-shaped, the broad base uniting with the stem. Externally it is green, covered with small knobs and scales, and often has black markings like net-work spread over it. When the fruit is very ripe, it has black spots. The skin is rather thick and tough. Internally, the fruit is snow-white and juicy, and provided with a number of small seeds well covered with a delicate substance. The Chirimoyas of Huanuco are also distinguished from those of the coast by having only from four to six seeds; whereas on the coast they are found with from twenty-five to thirty. The question as to what the taste of this fruit may be compared with, I can only answer by saying, that it is incomparable. Both the fruit and flowers of the Chirimoya emit a fine fragrance, which, when the tree is covered with blossom, is so strong as to be almost overpowering. The tree which bears this finest of all fruits is from fifteen to twenty feet high. It has a broad flat top, and is of a pale-green color.
The Palta (Persea gatissima, Gaert.) is a fruit of the pear form, and dark-brown in color. The rind is tough and elastic, but not very thick. The edible substance, which is soft and green, encloses a kernel resembling a chestnut in form and color. This fruit is very astringent and bitter, and on being cut, a juice flows from it which is at first yellow, but soon turns black. The taste is peculiar, and at first not agreeable to a foreigner; but it is generally much liked when the palate becomes accustomed to it. The fruit of the Palta dissolves like butter on the tongue, and hence it is called in some of the French colonies beurre vegetale. It is sometimes eaten without any accompaniment, and sometimes with a little salt, or with oil and vinegar. The kernels make very good brandy. The Palta-tree is slender and very high, with a small dome-like top. On the eastern declivity of the Andes, I have seen some of these trees more than sixty feet high.
The Platanos (Bananas) thrive well in most of the Peruvian plantations. They require great heat and humidity. They grow in the greatest perfection on the banks of small rivulets. On the coast the tree does not yield such abundance of fruit as in the woody regions, where it is not unusual to see a tree with three hundred heads of fruit lying one over another, like tiles on a roof. In the country adjacent to Lima, and also on other parts of the coast, three favorite species are cultivated. The Platano de la Isla, or of Otaheite, was introduced from that archipelago in 1769. The fruits are from three to four inches long, generally prismatic, as they grow thickly on the stem, and lie one over another. The skin is yellow, the fruit of a palish red, and rather mealy. The Limenos prefer this to any other species of the platano, and they consider it the most wholesome. The fruits of the Platano Guineo are not longer, but much thicker than those of the Platano de la Isla, but they are so full that they burst when quite ripe. They are straight and cylindrical in form, as they grow on the stem at some distance one from the other. They are of a bright yellow color, but near the stem spotted with black. The edible part is whiter and softer than that of the Platano de la Isla, to which it is greatly superior in flavor and aroma. The natives believe this fruit to be very unwholesome, and they maintain that drinking brandy after eating Platanos Guineos causes immediate death. This is, as my own often-repeated experiments have shown, one of the deep-rooted, groundless prejudices to which the Peruvians obstinately cling. On one of my excursions I had a controversy on this subject with some persons who accompanied me. To prove how unfounded their notions were, I ate some platanos, and then washing down one poison by the other, I immediately swallowed a mouthful of brandy. My Peruvian friends were filled with dismay. Addressing me alternately in terms of compassion and reproach, they assured me I should never return to Lima alive. After spending a very agreeable day, we all arrived quite well in the evening at Lima. At parting, one of my companions seriously observed that we should never see each other again. Early next morning they anxiously called to inquire how I was, and finding me in excellent health and spirits, they said:—"Ah! you see, an herege de gringo (a heretic of a foreigner) is quite of a different nature from us." A piece of the Platano Guineo soaked in brandy retains its color unchanged; but the rib-like fibres which connect the rind with the pulp then become black, and imbibe a bitter taste.
The fruit of the third kind of platano, the Platano Largo, is from six to eight inches long, rather narrow, and curved crescent-wise. The rind is of a light straw color, and when the fruit is very ripe it has large black spots. The edible part is of a whitish hue, harder and drier than that of the two species already described; and its flavor its quite as agreeable. Its fruit is less abundant than that of the Platano Guineo, and it requires longer time to become fully ripe. A fourth kind, which grows in the forest regions, I have never seen on the coast. It is the Platano Altahuillaca. It bears at most from twenty to twenty-five heads of fruit. The stem is more than two inches thick, and above an ell long. The color of the husk is light yellow, the enclosed substance is white, tough, and hard. In the raw state it is flavorless, but when roasted in hot ashes, or cooked with meat, it makes a fine dish.
When the platanos of the uppermost row, that is, those which form the base of the conical-formed reflex cluster, begin to turn yellow, or, as the natives say, pintar, the whole is cut off, and hung up in an airy, shady situation, usually in an apartment of the Rancho, or hut, where it may quickly ripen. The largest fruits are cut off as soon as they are yellow and soft, and so the cutting goes on gradually up to the top, for they ripen so unequally that those at the base show symptoms of decay while those at the top are still hard and green. As soon as the cabeza, or cluster of fruit, is cut, the whole branch is immediately lopped off, in order to facilitate the shooting of the fresh sprouts. Each branch bears only one cabeza, and eight or ten months are the period usually required for its complete development.
The platanos belongs indisputably to the most useful class of fruit trees, especially in regions where they can be cultivated extensively, for then they may very adequately supply the place of bread. In northern Peru and Guayaquil, the platano fruit is prepared for food in a variety of ways.
Pine-apples (Ananas) are not much cultivated on the coast of Peru. The market of Lima was formerly entirely supplied with this fruit from the Montana de Vitoc. When brought from thence they used to be cut before they were ripe, and packed on the backs of asses. The journey is of sixteen or twenty days' duration, and the road lies across two of the Cordilleras. After being several days in the cold snowy region of the Puna, the fruit came to Lima in a very indifferent state; but since the communication by steam navigation with Guayaquil, pine-apples are brought from the latter place in large quantities. They are large, succulent, and very sweet.
The Granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis) is about the size of an apple, but rather oblong. The skin is reddish-yellow, hard, and rather thick. The edible part is grey and gelatinous, and it contains numerous dark-colored seeds. The fruit is very agreeable, and in taste resembles the gooseberry, and is very cooling. The Granadilla is a shrub or bush, and it twines round the trunks of trees, or climbs up the walls of the Ranchos. It is less abundant on the coast than in the adjacent valleys.
The Tunas are fruits of different species of Cactus. The husk, which is covered with sharp prickles, is green, yellow, or red in color, and is easily separated from the pulp of the fruit. When being plucked, the tunas are rubbed with straw to remove the prickles, which, however, is not always completely accomplished. It is therefore necessary to be cautious in handling the husks, for the small prickles cause inflammation when they get into the fingers.
The Pacay is the fruit of a tree of rather large size (Prosopis dulcis, Humb.), with a rather low and broad top. It consists of a pod from twenty to twenty-four inches long, enclosing black seeds, which are embedded in a white, soft, flaky substance. This flaky part is as white as snow, and is the only eatable part of the fruit. It tastes sweet, and, to my palate at least, it is very unpleasant; however, the Limenos on the coast and the monkeys in the woods are very fond of the pacay.
The Lucuma is produced only in the southern provinces of the coast of Peru, and is chiefly imported from the north of Chile. The fruit is round. The grey-brown husk encloses a fibrous, dry, yellow-colored fruit with its kernel.
The Guayava (Psidium pomiferum) grows on a low shrub, chiefly in the valleys of the coast, and on the eastern declivity of the Andes. It is of the form and size of a small apple. The rind is bright, yellow, and thin. The pulp is either white or red, and is full of little egg-shaped granulations. Its flavor is pleasant, but not remarkably fine. In Lima it is not a favorite, for numerous insects lay their eggs in it, and, when the fruit is ripe, larvae are found in it.
The Pepino (a cucurbitacea) is grown in great abundance in the fields. The plant is only a foot and a half high, and it creeps on the ground. The fruit is from four to five inches long, cylindrical, and at both ends somewhat pointed. The husk is of a yellowish green color, with long rose-colored stripes. The pulp or edible part is solid, juicy, and well-flavored. The kernel lies in the middle, in a long-shaped furrow. By the natives the pepino is, and not altogether unreasonably, believed to be injurious. They maintain that this fruit is too cold in the stomach, and that a glass of brandy is necessary to counteract its injurious properties. This much is certain, that the pepinos are very indigestible, and that eating them frequently, or at improper times, brings on fits of illness.
The Mani, or Earth Almond (Arachis hypogaea), is produced in the northern provinces. The plant is from a foot and a half to two feet long, and very leafy. The kernels have a grey, shrivelled husk: they are white, and contain much oil. When roasted and crushed, they are eaten with sugar.
The Capulies (Prunus capulin, Ser.) grows in the open fields. In towns it is planted in gardens or in pots. The fruit is a little bigger than a cherry. It is of a deep yellow color, and has an acid taste. The capulies are not frequently eaten. On account of their very pleasant odor, they are used in making Pucheros de flores, or with other odoriferous flowers, they are besprinkled with agua rica, and laid in drawers to perfume linen. The ladies of Lima wear them in their bosoms. The same uses are made of the Palillos (Campomanesia lineatifolia, R.), which grow on trees from twenty to thirty feet high. The bright yellow fruit is as large as a moderately-sized apple. The palillo emits an exceedingly agreeable scent, and is one of the ingredients used in making the perfumed water called mistura. When rubbed between the fingers, the leaves smell like those of the myrtle; but they have an acid and a stringent taste.
The coast of Peru is poorly supplied with Palm-trees, either wild or cultivated. The Cocoa Palm is grown only in a few of the northern provinces, and the Date Palm chiefly about Yca. With a very little care, these trees would thrive excellently in all the oases of the coast of Peru.
[Footnote 37: A great fire is a thing almost unknown in Lima. The houses are of brick, and seldom have any wooden beams, so there is little food for a fire. The only fire which I heard of in Lima was that of the 13th January, 1835, when the interior of the Capilla del Milagro of San Francisco was destroyed. The repairs cost 50,000 dollars. On the 27th November, 1838, it was again solemnly consecrated.]
[Footnote 38: The date of this catastrophe recalls the following passage in Schiller's William Tell:—
"'s ist heut Simons und Judae Da ras't der See und will sein Opfer haben."
"'Tis the festival of Simon and Jude, And the lake rages for its sacrifice." ]
[Footnote 39: RIMAC is the present participle of rimay, to speak, to prattle. The river and the valley were known by this name among all the ancient Indians. The oracle of a temple with an idol, which stood in the neighborhood of the present city of Lima, conferred the name. It is said that before the time of the Incas persons suspected of magic were banished to the valley of the Rimac, on which account it obtained the name of Rimac-malca, that is, the WITCHES-VALLEY. This account, which is given by some early travellers, requires farther historical and philological inquiry, before its correctness can be admitted.]
[Footnote 40: The Quichua language has no word for potatoe, but in the Chinchayauyo language, which is spoken along the whole coast of Peru, the potatoe is called Acsu.]
Robbers on the coast of Peru—The Bandit Leaders Leon and Rayo—The Corps of Montoneros—Watering Places near Lima—Surco, Atte and Lurin—Pacchacamac—Ruins of the Temple of the Sun—Difficulties of Travelling on the Coast of Peru—Sea Passage to Huacho—Indian Canoes—Ichthyological Collections—An old Spaniard's recollections of Alexander Von Humboldt—The Padre Requena—Huacho—Plundering of Burial Places—Huaura—Malaria—The Sugar Plantation at Luhmayo—Quipico—Ancient Peruvian Ruins—The Salinas, or Salt Pits—Gritalobos—Chancay—The Piques—Mode of extracting them—Valley of the Pasamayo—Extraordinary Atmospheric Mirrors—Piedras Gordas—Palo Seco.
All the inhabited parts of the coast of Peru, especially the districts adjacent to Lima and Truxillo, are infested by robbers, and travelling is thereby rendered extremely unsafe. These banditti are chiefly runaway slaves (simarrones, as they are called), free negroes, zambos, or mulattos. Occasionally they are joined by Indians, and these latter are always conspicuous for the cruelties they perpetrate. Now and then a white man enters upon this lawless course; and, in the year 1839, a native of North America, who had been a purser in a ship of war, was shot in Lima for highway robbery. These robbers are always well mounted, and their fleet-footed steeds usually enable them to elude pursuit. It is no unfrequent occurrence for slaves belonging to the plantations to mount their masters' finest horses, and after sunset, when their work is over, or on Sundays, when they have nothing to do, to sally forth on marauding expeditions.
Most of the highway robbers who infest the coast of Peru belong to an extensive and systematically-organized band, headed by formidable leaders, who maintain spies in the towns and villages, from whom they receive regular reports. They sometimes prowl about in parties of thirty or forty, in the vicinity of the capital, and plunder every traveller they encounter; but they are most frequently in smaller detachments. If they meet with resistance they give no quarter; therefore, it is most prudent to submit to be plundered quietly, even when the parties attacked are stronger than the assailants, for the latter usually have confederates at no great distance, and can summon reinforcements in case of need. Any person who kills a robber in self-defence must ever afterwards be in fear for his own life: even in Lima the dagger of the assassin will reach him, and possibly at the moment when he thinks himself most safe.
Foreigners are more frequently waylaid than natives. Indeed, the rich and influential class of Peruvians are seldom subjected to these attacks,—a circumstance which may serve to explain why more stringent police regulations are not adopted.
The most unsafe roads are those leading to Callao, Chorillos, and Cavalleros. This last place is on the way to Cerro de Pasco, whither transports of money are frequently sent. A few weeks before my departure from Lima a band of thirty robbers, after a short skirmish with a feeble escort, made themselves masters of a remittance of 100,000 dollars, destined for the mine-workers of Pasco. The silver bars from Pasco are sent to Lima without any military guard, for they are suffered to pass unmolested, as the robbers find them heavy and cumbrous, and they cannot easily dispose of them. These depredations are committed close to the gates of Lima, and after having plundered a number of travellers, the robbers will very coolly ride into the city.
The country people from the Sierra, who travel with their asses to Lima, and who carry with them money to make purchases in the capital, are the constant prey of robbers, who, if they do not get money, maltreat or murder their victims in the most merciless way. In July, 1842, I was proceeding from the mountains back to Lima, and, passing near the Puente de Surco, a bridge about a league and a half from Lima, my horse suddenly shied at something lying across the road. On alighting I found that it was the dead body of an Indian, who had been murdered, doubtless, by robbers. The skull was fractured in a shocking manner by stones. The body was still warm.
The zambo robbers are notorious for committing the most heartless cruelties. In June, 1842, one of them attacked the Indian who was conveying the mail to Huacho. "Shall I," said the robber, "kill you or put out your eyes?" "If I must choose," replied the Indian, "pray kill me at once." The barbarian immediately drew forth his dagger and stuck it into the eyes of the unfortunate victim, and then left him lying on the sand. In this state the poor Indian was found by a traveller, who conveyed him to a neighboring village. The following anecdote was related to me by an Indian, in whose dwelling I passed a night, at Chancay:—About half a league from the village he met a negro, who advanced towards him, with musket cocked, and commanded him to halt. My host drew out a large riding pistol, and said, "You may be thankful that this is not loaded or you would be a dead man." The negro laughing scornfully, rode up and seized the Indian, when the latter suddenly fired the pistol, and shot him dead.
When these Peruvian banditti are attacked by the military or the police, they defend themselves with desperate courage. If they can effect their escape they fly for concealment into the woods and thickets, which, if not too extensive, are surrounded and set on fire, so that the fugitives have no alternative but to surrender, or to perish in the flames.
Within the last few years, two negroes, named Escobar and Leon, were daring leaders of banditti. Leon, who was originally a slave, commenced his career of crime by the murder of his master. He eluded the pursuit of justice, became a highway robber, and for many years was the terror of the whole province of Lima. The police vainly endeavored to secure him. Leon knew the country so well, that he constantly evaded his pursuers. When the price of 2000 dollars was set upon his head, he boldly entered Lima every evening and slept in the city. At length placards were posted about, calling on Leon's comrades to kill him, and offering to any one who might deliver him up dead into the hands of the police the reward of 1000 dollars and a pardon. This measure had the desired result, and Leon was strangled, whilst asleep, by a zambo, who was his godfather. The body was, during three days, exposed to public view in front of the cathedral.
Another celebrated bandit was the zambo, Jose Rayo. He took an active part in several of the political revolutions; and having, during those commotions, been serviceable to the president, he was raised to the rank of a lieutenant-colonel, and made chief of the country police, called the Partida montada del campo. This post he still fills, and he is admirably well adapted to it, as experience has rendered him thoroughly acquainted with banditti life, and he knows every hiding-place in the country round Lima. Nevertheless he could not catch the negro Leon, or possibly he would not seize him, for Leon was his godfather, a relationship which is held sacred throughout all classes in Peru. When Rayo speaks of the president and ministers he always styles them sus mejores amigos (his best friends). I fell in with him once, when travelling on the road to Chaclacayo, and rode in company with him as far as the Hacienda de Santa Clara. I found him exceedingly complaisant and courteous in his manners; but his true zambo nature was not wholly concealed beneath the smooth surface.
Robbers, when captured and brought to Lima, undergo a very summary trial, and are then sentenced to be shot. The culprits have the privilege of choosing their place of execution, and they generally fix on the market-place. They are allowed the assistance of a priest for twelve hours prior to their death, and they are conducted from the chapel to the place of execution, carrying a bench, on which they sit to undergo the punishment. Four soldiers fire at the distance of three paces from the culprit; two aiming at his head, and two at his breast. On one of these occasions a singular instance of presence of mind and dexterity occurred a few years ago in Lima. A very daring zambo, convicted of highway robbery, was sentenced to death. He made choice of the Plaza de la Inquisicion as the scene of his execution. It was market time, and the square was crowded with people. The culprit darted around him a rapid and penetrating glance, and then composedly seated himself on the bench. The soldiers according to custom levelled their muskets and fired; but how great was the surprise, when the cloud of smoke dispersed, and it was discovered that the zambo had vanished. He had closely watched the movements of the soldiers, and when they pulled the triggers of their muskets, he stooped down, and the balls passed over his head. Then suddenly knocking down one of the guards who stood beside him, he rushed into the midst of the crowd, where some of his friends helped him to effect his escape.
In time of war a corps is raised, consisting chiefly of highway robbers and persons who, by various offences against the laws, have forfeited their freedom or their lives. This corps is called the Montoneros, and they are very important auxiliaries when the coast is the theatre of the war. The Montoneros, not being trained in military manoeuvres, are not employed as regular cavalry, but only as outposts, scouts, despatch-bearers, &c. They are good skirmishers, and they harass the enemy by their unexpected movements; sometimes attacking in front and sometimes in the rear. They have no regular uniform, and their usual clothing consists of dirty white trousers and jacket, a poncho, and a broad-brimmed straw hat. Many of them are not even provided with shoes, and their spurs are fastened on their bare heels. Their arms consist of a short carbine and a sword. When the corps is strong, and is required for active service, it is placed under the command of a General of the Army. In 1838, General Miller, now British Consul at the Sandwich Islands, commanded a corps of 1000 Montoneros, who were in the service of Santa Cruz. They are held in the strictest discipline by their commanders, who punish theft with death. There is, however, one sort of robbery which they are suffered to commit with impunity, viz, horse-stealing. The horses obtained in this way are used for mounting the cavalry; and detachments of Montoneros are sent to the plantations to collect horses. They are likewise taken from travellers, and from the stables in the capital; but sometimes, after the close of the campaign, the animals are returned to their owners. When the war is ended the Montoneros are disbanded, and most of them return to their occupation as highway robbers.
In all campaigns the Montoneros are sent forward, by one or two days' march in advance of the main army, either in small or large detachments. When they enter a village they experience no difficulty in obtaining quarters and provisions, for the inhabitants are not disposed to refuse anything that such visitors may demand. A troop of Montoneros is a picturesque, but, at the same time, a very fearful sight. Their black, yellow, and olive-colored faces, seared by scars, and expressive of every evil passion and savage feeling; their motley and tattered garments; their weary and ill-saddled horses; their short firelocks and long swords;—present altogether a most wild and disorderly aspect. The traveller, who suddenly encounters such a band, may consider himself exceedingly lucky if he escapes with only the loss of his horse.
A universal panic pervades the city of Lima whenever a detachment of Montoneros enters within the gates. On every side are heard cries of "Cierra puertas!" (close the doors!) "Los Montoneros!" Every person passing along the streets runs into the first house he comes to, and closes the door after him. In a few moments the streets are cleared, and no sound is heard but the galloping of the Montoneros' horses.
Within the distance of a few leagues from Lima there are several pretty villages, to which the wealthier class of the inhabitants of the capital resort in the summer seasons, for sea-bathing. The nearest, situated about three-quarters of a league from Lima, is Magdalena, where the Viceroy of Peru formerly had a beautiful summer residence. Miraflores, about midway between Lima and Chorillos, is a small village containing a plaza and some neatly-built houses. Though the heat is greater here than in the capital, yet the air is purer, and Miraflores may be regarded as the healthiest spot in the neighborhood of Lima. The sultry atmosphere is refreshed by the sea breezes. Surrounded by verdant though not luxuriant vegetation, and sufficiently distant from the marshes, Miraflores appears to combine within itself all that can be wished for in a summer residence. For asthmatic patients the air is particularly favorable. An old Spaniard of my acquaintance, who was engaged during the day in business in Lima, used to go every night to sleep at Miraflores: he assured me that if he slept a night in the capital he suffered a severe attack of asthma.
Chorillos is a poor, ill-looking village. The streets are dirty and crooked, and the houses are mere ranchos. It is built close to the sea, on a steep sandy beach; but, though anything but a pleasant place, Chorillos is the favorite resort of the wealthy Limayan families. Not a tree is visible in the neighborhood of the village, and the unshaded rays of the sun are reflected with twofold power from the hot sand. A broad, steep road leads down to the bathing-place on the sea-beach, which is rough and shingly. A row of small huts, covered with matting, serve as dressing-rooms. Both ladies and gentlemen use bathing dresses, which are very neatly made of a kind of blue cloth. The ladies are accompanied by guides (banaderos). These are Indians, who dwell in the village. In winter they employ themselves in fishing, and in summer they live by what they get from the visitors who resort to Chorillos. They are a good-looking, hardy race of people.
The time for bathing is early in the morning. The interval between breakfast and dinner is devoted to swinging in the hammock, either in the sala or in the corridor. The afternoon and evening are spent on the promenade, and the later hours of the night at the gaming-table. The routine of the day's occupations and amusements is much the same as in most of the watering-places of Europe, excepting that, in the latter, the hammock is suspended by the chair in the reading-room and coffee-house, or the bench on the promenade. The sultry nights in Chorillos are rendered doubly unpleasant by the swarms of vermin which infest the houses. Fleas, bugs, mosquitoes and sancudos, combine to banish rest from the couch of even the soundest sleeper.
Surco is situated about half a league from Chorillos, and further into the interior of the country. It is a poor but pleasant village, surrounded by tropical trees and luxuriant vegetation. The climate is not so hot as that of Lima or Chorillos. Surco is a very pretty spot, though seldom resorted to by the inhabitants of the capital; because it boasts neither baths nor gaming-tables.
Two leagues eastward of Lima, in the direction of the mountains, is the village El Ate. It lies in a fertile valley, and enjoys a pure and equal temperature. It is much resorted to by invalids suffering from pulmonary disorders, which, if not cured, are at least relieved by the pure air.
Lurin is situated five leagues south from the capital, and a quarter of a league from the Rio de Lurin, which intersects the Quebrada of Huarochirin. Fine gardens, and well-cultivated lands, impart beauty to the surrounding scenery. At Michaelmas Lurin is visited by many of the inhabitants of the capital, St. Michael being the patron saint of the place. The village stands about a thousand paces from the margin of the sea-shore, which is two miles distant from the rocky islands of Tarallones, Santo Domingo, and Pacchacamac. Prior to the Spanish conquest, the valley of Lurin was one of the most populous parts of the coast of Peru. The whole of the broad valley was then called Pacchacamac, because near the sea-shore and northward of the river, there was a temple sacred to the "Creator of the Earth." Pacchacamac was the greatest deity of the Yuncas, who did not worship the sun until after their subjugation by the Incas. The temple of Pacchacamac was then dedicated to the sun by the Incas, who destroyed the idols which the Yuncas had worshipped, and appointed to the service of the temple a certain number of virgins of royal descent. In the year 1534, Pizarro invaded the village of Lurin: his troops destroyed the temple, and the Virgins of the Sun were dishonored and murdered.
The ruins of the temple of Pacchacamac are among the most interesting objects on the coast of Peru. They are situated on a hill about 558 feet high. The summit of the hill is overlaid with a solid mass of brick-work about thirty feet in height. On this artificial ridge stood the temple, enclosed by high walls, rising in the form of an amphitheatre. It is now a mass of ruins; all that remains of it being some niches, the walls of which present faint traces of red and yellow painting. At the foot, and on the sides of the hill, are scattered ruins which were formerly the walls of habitations. The whole was encircled by a wall eight feet in breadth, and it was probably of considerable height, for some of the parts now standing are twelve feet high, though the average height does not exceed three or four feet. The mania of digging for treasures every year makes encroachments on these vestiges of a bygone age, whose monuments are well deserving of more careful preservation.
Travelling on the coast of Peru is difficult and tedious. The roads lead through plains of sand, where often not a trace of vegetation is to be seen, nor a drop of water to be found for twenty or thirty miles. It is found desirable to take all possible advantage of the night, in order to escape the scorching rays of a tropical sun; but when there is no moonlight, and above all, when clouds of mist obscure the directing stars, the traveller runs the risk of getting out of his course, and at daybreak, discovering his error, he may have to retrace his weary way. This extra fatigue may possibly disable his horse, so that the animal cannot proceed further. In such an emergency a traveller finds his life in jeopardy; for should he attempt to go forward on foot he may, in all probability, fall a sacrifice to fatigue and thirst. Numbers of beasts of burden sink every year under the difficulties of such a journey; and their bones serve to mark the direction of the road. Long journeys over these sand plains should be undertaken only with good and well-tried horses. For the most part the horses cannot stand hunger and thirst forty-eight hours without becoming so exhausted that the rider has the greatest difficulty in making them drag on; and if he is inconsiderate enough to force the animal to take a quicker pace, the horse lies down and dies. The mule, which more easily supports the difficulties of a severe journey on the sparest food, is, in Peru, the camel of the desert. Without mules, a long journey on most parts of the coast would be impracticable. The horse obeys the spur until he falls dead under the rider. Not so the mule: when too weary to journey onward he stands stock still, and neither whip nor spur will move him until he has rested. After that he will willingly proceed on his way. By this means the traveller has a criterion by which he can judge of the powers of his animal.
Excursions along the coast have been greatly facilitated by the introduction of steam navigation, and travellers now eagerly avail themselves of that rapid and secure mode of conveyance. Even in sailing vessels voyages from south to north can be conveniently performed in consequence of the regularity of the tradewind.
During my residence in Lima, in the commencement of the year 1841, I visited the port of Huacho, situated to the north. A packet bound to Panama had permission to touch at Huacho, without casting anchor, as she had to convey political prisoners under sentence of transportation to Panama. I was one of five passengers who landed at Huacho, and among the number was the pastor of the town, that very original individual, "the Cura Requena." The passage, which is usually made in fourteen hours, lasted two days and a half. Off the port we fell in with a Peruvian sloop of war, which, on our sailing from Callao, had been sent to watch us, and to stop the prisoners in case they attempted to escape. Our captain lay to, and we stepped into a boat. Our movements were observed from the shore, where, for some days, a report had prevailed that Santa Cruz was coming with Corsairs, to make a descent. The inhabitants believed that our ship must belong to that expedition. They were the more confirmed in their notion, inasmuch as the appearance of a sloop of war, which had sailed about for some hours in the bay, could not otherwise be explained. Accordingly the alarm bell was rung. The custom-house officers and the coast guards, headed by the port captain, and followed by a crowd of people, came down to the shore, some armed with muskets and pistols, others with swords and cudgels, to repel the intended attack.
At the entrance to the port of Huacho the breakers are so dangerous that an ordinary-sized boat cannot put in. Landing is therefore effected in the small canoes of the Indians. When we approached the shore we made signals, and called loudly for canoes, but in vain. The dismayed Huachanos showed no inclination to assist their supposed enemies. Our captain, who was with us in the boat, said, that as a fresh wind from the shore was springing up he could wait no longer, and that he must take us with him to Panama. This very unpleasant piece of information prompted us to put into execution a plan which was suggested by despair. The tall, lank pastor, wrapped in the black ecclesiastical robe, called the talar, was placed at the prow, where he stood up, making signs of peace and friendship to the natives. This had the desired effect. The port captain had a good glass, with which he quickly recognized the marked features of the Cura, and several Indian boats were instantly despatched to convey us on shore. These Indian canoes consist of long narrow stumps of trees, hollowed longitudinally. On either side is nailed a palo de balzas, viz., a beam of a very porous kind of wood. One Indian sits forward, another more backward, each having a short wooden shovel-shaped oar, with which they strike the water right and left, and thus scull the boat onward. The passengers must crouch or kneel down in the middle, and dare not stir, for the least irregularity in the motion would upset the boat. We landed safely, and amused ourselves by referring to the mistake of the brave guardians of the coast. Horses were provided for us, and we rode to the town, which is situated at about half a league up the gently-rising coast.
My principal occupation, during a six weeks' residence on this part of the coast, which is very rich in fishes, was to augment my ichthyological collection, and to make myself well acquainted with the environs of Huacho. Every morning, at five o'clock, I rode down to the shore, and waited on the strand to see the boats returning with what had been caught, during the night, by the fishers, who readily descried me at a distance, and held up, in their boat, such strange inhabitants of the deep as had come into their possession. I succeeded in making out, from several hundred individual specimens, one hundred and twenty distinct species of sea and river fish. But an unlucky fate hovered over this fine collection. The fishes were all put into a cask with brandy, which, by neglect of the commissary of the port, was left on the Mole at Callao, for several months, in the burning heat of the sun: in consequence its contents were utterly destroyed. A second collection was prepared, and immediately shipped for Europe, and in the packing the greatest care was observed. Nevertheless it arrived, after a voyage of fifteen months, in a state quite useless. Thus the fruits of much labor and a considerable expense were entirely lost.
Huacho is a little village, which, since the war of Independence, has received the title of "city." It has more than 5000 inhabitants, of whom four-fifths are Indians and the rest mestizes. Very few whites have settled here. Among them I met an old lame Spaniard, "Don Simon," who, at the beginning of the present century, accompanied the celebrated Alexander von Humboldt to the beds of salt situated a few miles to the south. In relating, with enthusiastic pleasure, his recollections of the youthful and indefatigable traveller, he told me that, some years ago, he had read through the book which Humboldt wrote on America, and he added, with great simplicity, "pero, Senor, ahi he perdido los estribos."
The natives employ themselves in fishing, agriculture, and the breeding of poultry. Most of the poultry brought to market in Lima comes from Huacho. Every Friday large caravan-like processions of Indian women repair to the capital with fowls, ducks, and turkeys. Fifteen or twenty are tied together by the feet, and make a sort of bunch; and two of such bunches are hung at the pommel of the saddle, so that one hangs down on either side of the horse. The chola sits in the middle. Under this burthen the poor animal has to travel two days and a half. Only when the caravan halts does he enjoy the relief of being unsaddled and fed. Some of the Indians of Huacho work in the salt-pits. The women plait coarse straw hats, and a kind of mats called petates, which they carry to Lima for sale.
The Huachanos cannot be ranked among the best classes of the Indians. They are malicious, revengeful, and knavish. Their character has evidently deteriorated amidst the numerous revolutions which preceded the establishment of the Republic, and the frequent passage of troops through the town. The Padre Requena sketched to me a terrible picture of his Indios brutos; but truly, under the guidance of such a shepherd, it were unreasonable to expect the flock to be very good. This venerable Cura was a fair type of the Peruvian priesthood. He was passionately fond of hunting, and for the enjoyment of that recreation he kept a number of excellent horses, and several packs of hounds, particularly galgos (greyhounds), for some of which he paid 150 or 200 dollars. In the most shameless way he violated the ecclesiastical vow of celibacy, and he was usually surrounded by several of his own children, who called him uncle, addressing him by the appellation of tio, the term usually employed in Peru to express that sort of relationship. The Padre used to boast of his alleged friendship with Lord Cochrane, in which he affected to pride himself very greatly. He died in a few weeks after his return to Huacho. He refused so long to make his confession, that the Indians, uttering furious menaces, assembled in crowds about his house. Some even compelled a priest to go in to him, to represent the awful consequences of his obstinacy. On the approach of death, he declared that the thought which most occupied him was his separation from his hounds, and when his hands were becoming cold he called to his negro to fetch a pair of buckskin hunting gloves, and desired to have them drawn on.
In Peru the clergy have no fixed stipend. Their emoluments are derived from the fees and perquisites which their ecclesiastical functions bring in. For baptisms, marriages, and masses, fixed sums are established; but it is not so with burials, for which the priest receives a present proportional to the circumstances of the deceased. The interment of a poor person (entierro baxo) costs at least from eight to ten dollars, which sum is extorted from the survivors with the most unrelenting rigor. For the burial of a rich person (entierro alto) the sum of two hundred dollars is frequently paid. If a wealthy man should express in his will his desire for an entierro baxo, the priest sets this clause aside, and proceeds with the costly ceremonies, the payment for which is insured by the pious feelings of the family. Hence some of the richer comunerias, of which Huacho is one, yield to the priest annually from 12,000 to 14,000 dollars. When a priest dies, the clergy of the neighboring villages meet and bury him with great pomp, free of any payment except a good banquet.
A rich Indian of Huacho made a bargain with his countrymen that, on their paying him weekly a medio (the sixteenth part of a dollar), he would defray the expenses of their funerals. By this agreement he realized a considerable sum of money. The Cholos made it a condition that they should be buried in coffins, which is not common with the lower classes in Peru. The Indian complied with this condition. When a Cholo died, a coffin was sent to his residence. If too short, the corpse was bent and forced into it. The interment then took place according to the ritual of the Church. On the following night the Indian who had contracted for the burials repaired with a confidential servant to the churchyard, dug up the coffin, threw the body back into the grave, and carried off the coffin, with the mortaja (the funeral garment), which served for the next customer. The contractor made each coffin last as long as the boards would hold together. This system, at all events, secured the Cholos against the danger of being buried alive.
The churchyard of Huacho presents a revolting spectacle. A low wall surrounds a space of sandy ground, which is strewed with skulls, bones, fragments of burial clothes, and mutilated human bodies. The coffin plunderer, on replacing the corpse in the grave, merely throws some loose sand over it, and the consequence is that the remains of the dead frequently become the prey of dogs, foxes, and other carrion feeders. When the family of a deceased person can contribute nothing to defray the funeral expenses, the body is conveyed privately during the night to the churchyard. In the morning it is found half consumed.
The environs of Huacho abound in fine fruit gardens, and productive Indian farms. The climate is healthful, though very hot. The vicinity of the sea and the convenience of good bathing would render it an agreeable place of residence, were it not infested with vermin. Fleas propagate in the sand in almost incredible multitudes, especially in the neighborhood of the Indian huts, and any person entering them is in a moment covered with hundreds of those tormentors. Bugs, too, swarm in the lime walls; though that description of vermin is less numerous in Huacho than in some of the more northern towns.
In a fine valley, about two short leagues from Huacho, the little town of Huaura is situated on the bank of a river of the same name. This Rio de Huaura is formed by the union of two rivers. The larger of the two rises in the Cordillera de Paria, and flows through the wild ravine of Chuichin: the smaller river, called the Rio Chico de Sayan, rises from a lake of considerable size in the Altos de Huaquimarci. Both unite below the village of Sayan. In the vicinity of Huaura the river forms several marshes, in which malaria is generated. In very few places have I seen the stratum of malaria so distinctly separated from the atmosphere as here. It lies at an average about two, or two and a half feet above the marsh, and is carried over it by strong atmospheric currents. It is distinguished by a peculiar kind of opalization, and on certain changes of light it exhibits a yellowish tint. This is particularly perceptible in the morning, on coming down from the high grounds. The marshy plain then appears overhung with a thick color-changing sheet of malaria. Malignant intermittent fever and diseases of the skin are frequent in Huaura. The town is thinly peopled; the number of inhabitants being not more than 2000.
A great sugar plantation, called El Ingenio, is situated at about a quarter of a league from Huaura. It formerly belonged to the Jesuits, but is now the property of a rich Lima family. The trapiche, or sugar-mill, is worked by a water-wheel, the first ever established in Peru, a circumstance of which the owner proudly boasts.
The valley which opens here is magnificent, and to ride through it easterly eleven leagues towards Sayan is one of the finest excursions which can be made in Peru. Over this beautiful district are scattered many rich plantations. The one next in importance to El Ingenio is Acaray, which, though not very large, is most carefully cultivated: another, called Huillcahuaura, has a splendid building erected on it. In the middle of the valley is the extensive sugar plantation of Luhmayo. Near this place I saw, in a negro's hut, an ounce of immense size, which had been killed a few weeks previously. More than fifty Negroes and Indians had been engaged in subduing this ferocious animal, which was not killed until after a conflict of two days, in the course of which several negroes were dangerously wounded. This gigantic specimen measured, from the snout to the tip of the tail, eight feet three inches; the tail itself measuring two feet eight inches.