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[Illustration: THE AUTHOR AND HIS GUIDES THREE FAITHFUL MEN]
THROUGH FIVE REPUBLICS ON HORSEBACK
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF MANY WANDERINGS IN SOUTH AMERICA
G. WHITFIELD RAY, F. R. G. S.
Pioneer Missionary and Government Explorer
With an Introduction by the Rev. J. G. Brown, D. D.
Secretary for the Foreign Missions of the Canadian Baptist Church
EVANGELICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE
C. HAUSER, Agent
CLEVELAND, OHIO, U. S. A.
[Illustration: SOUTH AMERICA]
The _Missionary Review of the World_ has described South America as
THE DARKEST LAND. That I have been able to penetrate into part of its
unexplored interior, and visit tribes of people hitherto untouched
and unknown, was urged as sufficient reason for the publishing of
this work. In perils oft, through hunger and thirst and fever,
consequent on the many wanderings in unhealthy climes herein
recorded, the writer wishes publicly to record his deep thankfulness
to Almighty God for His unfailing help. If the accounts are used to
stimulate missionary enterprise, and if they give the reader a
clearer conception of and fuller sympathy with the conditions and
needs of those South American countries, those years of travel will
not have been in vain.
"Of the making of books there is no end," so when one is acceptably
received, and commands a ready sale, the author is satisfied that his
labor is well repaid. The 4th edition was scarcely dry when the
Consul-General of the Argentine Republic at Ottawa ordered a large
number of copies to send to the members of his Government. Much of it
has been translated into German, and I know not what other languages.
Even the _Catholic Register_ of Toronto has boosted its sale by
printing much in abuse of it, at the same time telling its readers
that the book "sold like hot cakes." A wiser editor would have been
discreet enough not to refer to "Through Five Republics on
Horseback." His readers bought it, and--had their eyes opened, for
the statements made in this work, and the authorities quoted, are
Seeing that there is such an alarming ignorance regarding Latin
America, I have, for this edition, written an Introductory Chapter on
South America, and also a short Foreword especially relating to each
of the Five Republics here treated. As my portrayal of Romanism there
has caused some discussion, I have, in those pages, sought to
incorporate the words of other authorities on South American life and
That the following narratives, now again revised, and sent forth in
new garb, may be increasingly helpful in promoting knowledge, is the
earnest wish of the author.
G. W. R.
"Through Five Republics on Horseback" has all the elements of a great
missionary book. It is written by an author who is an eye-witness of
practically all that he records, and one who by his explorations and
travels has won for himself the title of the "Livingstone of South
America." The scenes depicted by the writer and the glimpses into the
social, political and religious conditions prevailing in the
Republics in the great Southern continent are of thrilling interest
to all lovers of mankind. We doubt if there is another book in print
that within the compass of three hundred pages begins to give as much
valuable information as is contained in Mr. Ray's volume. The writer
wields a facile pen, and every page glows with the passion of a man
on fire with zeal for the evangelization of the great "Neglected
Continent." We are sure that no one can read this book and be
indifferent to the claims of South America upon the Christian Church
of this generation.
To those who desire to learn just what the fruits of Romanism as a
system are, when left to itself and uninfluenced by Protestantism,
this book will prove a real eye-opener. We doubt if any Christian
man, after reading "Through Five Republics on Horseback," will any
longer conclude that Romanism is good enough for Romanists and that
Missions to Roman Catholic countries are an impertinence. We trust
the book will awaken a great interest in the evangelization of the
Latin Republics of South America.
Of course, this volume will have interest for others besides
missionary enthusiasts. Apart from the religious and missionary
purpose of the book, it contains very much in the way of
geographical, historical and scientific information, and that, too,
in regard to a field of which as yet comparatively little is known.
The writer has kept an open mind in his extensive travels, and his
record abounds in facts of great scientific value.
We have known Mr. Ray for several years and delight to bear testimony
to his ability and faithfulness as a preacher and pastor. As a
lecturer on his experiences in South America he is unexcelled. We
commend "Through Five Republics on Horseback" especially to parents
who are anxious to put into the hands of their children inspiring and
character-forming reading. A copy of the book ought to be in every
Sunday School Library.
J. G. Brown.
626 Confederation Life Building, Toronto.
A PRELIMINARY WORD ON SOUTH AMERICA
The Continent of South America was discovered by Spanish navigators
towards the end of the fifteenth century. When the tidings of a new
world beyond the seas reached Europe, Spanish and Portuguese
expeditions vied with each other in exploring its coasts and sailing
up its mighty rivers.
In 1494 the Pope decided that these new lands, which were nearly
twice the size of Europe, should become the possession of the
monarchs of Spain and Portugal. Thus by right of conquest and gift
South America with its seven and a half million miles of territory
and its millions of Indian inhabitants was divided between Spain and
Portugal. The eastern northern half, now called Brazil, became the
possession of the Portuguese crown and the rest of the continent went
to the crown of Spain. South America is 4,600 miles from north to
south, and its greatest breadth from east to west is 3,500 miles. It
is a country of plains and mountains and rivers. The Andean range of
mountains is 4,400 miles long. Twelve peaks tower three miles or more
above ocean level, and some reach into the sky for more than four
miles. Many of these are burning mountains; the volcano of Cotopaxi
is three miles higher than Vesuvius. Its rivers are among the longest
in the world. The Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata systems drain an area
of 3,686,400 square miles. Its plains are almost boundless and its
forests limitless. There are deserts where no rain ever falls, and
there are stretches of coast line where no day ever passes without
rain. It is a country where all climates can be found. As the
northern part of the continent is equatorial the greatest degree of
heat is there experienced, while the south stretches its length
toward the Pole Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is on the equator, and
Punta Arenas, in Chile, is the southernmost town in the world.
For hundreds of years Spain and Portugal exploited and ruled with an
iron hand their new and vast possessions. Their coffers were enriched
by fabulous sums of gold and treasure, for the wildest dream of
riches indulged in by its discoverers fell infinitely short of the
actual reality. Large numbers of colonists left the Iberian peninsula
for the newer and richer lands. Priests, monks and nuns went in every
vessel, and the Roman Catholicism of the Dark Ages was soon firmly
established as the only religion. The aborigines were compelled to
bow before the crucifix and worship Mary until, in a peculiar sense,
South America became the Pope's favorite parish. For the benefit of
any, native or colonist, who thought that a purer religion should be,
at any rate, permitted, the Inquisition was established at Lima, and
later on at Cartagena, where, Colombian history informs us, 400,000
were condemned to death. Free thought was soon stamped out when
death became the penalty.
Such was the wild state of the country and the power vested in the
priests that abuses were tolerated which, even in Rome, had not been
dreamed of. The priests, as anxious for spiritual conquest as the
rest were for physical, joined hands with the heathenism of the
Indians, accepted their gods of wood and stone as saints, set up the
crucifix side by side with the images of the sun and moon, formerly
worshipped; and while in Europe the sun of the Reformation arose and
dispelled the terrible night of religious error and superstition,
South America sank from bad to worse. Thus the anomaly presented
itself of the old, effete lands throwing off the yoke of religious
domination while the younger ones were for centuries to be content
with sinking lower and lower. [Footnote: History is repeating itself,
for here in Canada we see Quebec more Catholic and intolerant than
Italy. The Mayor of Rome dared to criticize the Pope in 1910, but in
the same year at the Eucharistic Congress at Montreal his emissaries
receive reverent "homage" from those in authority. No wonder,
therefore, that, while the Romans are being more enlightened every
year, a Quebec young man, who is now a theological student in
McMaster University, Toronto, declared, while staying in the writer's
home, that, as a child he was always taught that Protestants grew
horns on their heads, and that he attained the age of 15 before ever
he discovered that such was not the case. Even backward Portugal has
had its eyes opened to see that Rome and progress cannot walk
together, but the President of Brazil is so "faithful" that the Pope,
in 1910, made him a "Knight of the Golden Spur."]
If the religious emancipation of the old world did not find its echo
in South America, ideas of freedom from kingly oppression began to
take root in the hearts of the people, and before the year 1825 the
Spanish colonies had risen against the mother country and had formed
themselves into several independent republics, while three years
before that the independence of Brazil from Portugal had been
declared. At the present day no part of the vast continent is ruled
by either Spain or Portugal, but ten independent republics have their
different flags and governments.
Since its early discovery South America has been pre-eminently a
country of bloodshed. Revolution has succeeded revolution and
hundreds of thousands of the bravest have been slain, but, phoenix-
like, the country rises from its ashes.
Fifty millions of people now dwell beneath the Southern Cross and
speak the Portuguese and Spanish languages, and it is estimated that,
with the present rate of increase, 180 millions of people will speak
these languages by 1920.
South America is, pre-eminently, the coming continent. It is more
thinly settled than any other part of the world. At least six million
miles of its territory are suitable for immigrants--double the
available territory of the United States. "No other tract of good
land exists that is so large and so unoccupied as South America."
[Footnote: Dr. Wood, Lima, Peru, in "Protestant Missions in South
America."] "One of the most marvellous of activities in the
development of virgin lands is in progress. It is greater than that
of Siberia, of Australia, or the Canadian North-West." [Footnote:
The Outlook, March, 1908.] Emigrants are pouring into the continent
from crowded Europe, the old order of things is quickly passing away,
and docks and railroads are being built. Bolivia is spending more
than fifty million dollars in new work. Argentina and Chile are
pushing lines in all directions. Brazil is preparing to penetrate her
vast jungles, and all this means enormous expense, for the highest
points and most difficult construction that have ever been
encountered are found in Peru, and between Chile and Argentina there
has been constructed the longest tunnel in the world. [Footnote: One
railway ascends to the height of 12,800 feet.]
Most important of all, the old medieval Romanism of the Dark Ages is
losing its grip upon the masses, and slowly, but surely, the leaven
is working which will, before another decade, bring South America to
the forefront of the nations.
The economic possibilities of South America cannot be overestimated.
It is a continent of vast and varied possibilities. There are still
districts as large as the German Empire entirely unexplored, and
tribes of Indians who do not yet know that America has been
This is a continent of spiritual need. The Roman Catholic Church has
been a miserable failure. "Nearly 7,000,000 of people in South
America still adhere, more or less openly, to the fetishisms of their
ancestors, while perhaps double that number live altogether beyond
the reach of Christian influence, even if we take the word Christian
in its widest meaning." [Footnote: Report of Senor F. de Castello]
The Rev. W. B. Grubb, a missionary in Paraguay, says: "The greatest
unexplored region at present known on earth is there. It contains, as
far as we know, 300 distinct Indian nations, speaking 300 distinct
languages, and numbering some millions, all in the darkest
heathenism." H. W. Brown, in "Latin America," says, "There is a pagan
population of four to five millions." Then, with respect to the Roman
Catholic population, Rev. T. B. Wood, LL.D., in "Protestant Missions
in South America," says, "South America is a pagan field, properly
speaking. Its image-worship is idolatry. Abominations are grosser and
more universal than among Roman Catholics in Europe and the United
States, where Protestantism has greatly modified Catholicism. But it
is _worse_ off than any other great _pagan_ field in that it is
dominated by a single mighty hierarchy--the mightiest known in
history. For centuries priestcraft has had everything its own way all
over the continent, and is now at last yielding to outside pressure,
but with desperate resistance."
"South America has been for nearly four hundred years part of the
parish of the Pope. In contrast with it the north of the New World--
Puritan, prosperous, powerful, progressive--presents probably the
most remarkable evidence earth affords of the blessings of
Protestantism, while the results of Roman Catholicism _left to
itself_ are writ large in letters of gloom across the priest-ridden,
lax and superstitious South. Her cities, among the gayest and
grossest in the world, her ecclesiastics enormously wealthy and
strenuously opposed to progress and liberty, South America groans
under the tyranny of a priesthood which, in its highest forms, is
unillumined by, and incompetent to preach, the gospel of God's free
gift; and in its lowest is proverbially and habitually drunken,
extortionate and ignorant. The fires of her unspeakable Inquisition
still burn in the hearts of her ruling clerics, and although the
spirit of the age has in our nineteenth century transformed all her
monarchies into free Republics, religious intolerance all but
universally prevails." [Footnote: Guiness's "Romanism and
Prelates and priests, monks and nuns exert an influence that is all-
pervading. William E. Curtis, United States Commissioner to South
America, wrote: "One-fourth of all the property belongs to the
bishop. There is a Catholic church for every 150 inhabitants. Ten per
cent. of the population are priests, monks or nuns, and 272 out of
the 365 days of the year are observed as fast or feast days. The
priests control the government and rule the country as absolutely as
if the Pope were its king. As a result, 75 per cent. of the children
born are illegitimate, and the social and political condition
presents a picture of the dark ages." It is said that, in one town,
every fourth person you meet is a priest or a nun, or an ecclesiastic
of some sort.
Yet, with all this to battle against, the Christian missionary is
making his influence felt.
_La Razon_, an important newspaper of Trujillo, in a recent issue
says: "In homage to truth, we make known with pleasure that the
ministers of Protestantism have benefited this town more in one year
than all the priests and friars of the Papal sect have done in three
"Last year," writes Mr. Milne, of the American Bible Society, "one of
our colporteurs in Ayacucho had to make his escape by the roof of a
house where he was staying, from a mob of half-castes, led on by a
friar. Finding their prey had escaped, they took his clothes and
several boxes of Bibles to the plaza of the city and burnt them."
It was not such a going-back as the outside world thought, but, oh,
it was a deeply significant one, when recently the leading men of the
Republic of Guatemala met together and solemnly threw over the
religion of their fathers, which, during 400 years of practice, had
failed to uplift, and re-established the old paganism of cultured
Rome. So serious was this step that the _Palace of Minerva_, the
goddess of trade, is engraved on the latest issue of Guatemalan
postage stamps. Believing that the few Protestants in the Republic
are responsible for the reaction, the Archbishop of Guatemala has
promised to grant one hundred days' indulgence to those who will pray
for the overthrow of Protestantism in that country.
"Romanism is not Christianity," so the few Christian workers are
fighting against tremendous odds. What shall the harvest be?
THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC
The country to which the author first went as a self-supporting
missionary in the year 1889.
And Nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying, "Here is a story book
Thy Father hath written for thee."
"Come, wander with me," she said,
"Into regions yet untrod,
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God."
And he wandered away and away
With Nature, the dear old nurse,
Who sung to him night and day
The rhymes of the universe.
THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC
The Argentine Republic has an area of one and a quarter million
square miles. It is 2,600 miles from north to south, and 500 miles at
its widest part. It is twelve times the size of Great Britain.
Although the population of the country is about seven millions, only
one per cent, of its cultivable area is now occupied, yet Argentina
has an incomparable climate.
It is essentially a cattle country. She is said to surpass any other
nation in her numbers of live stock. The Bovril Co. alone kills
100,000 a year. On its broad plains there are _estandas_, or cattle
ranches, of fifty and one hundred thousand acres in extent, and on
these cattle, horses and sheep are herded in millions. Argentina has
over twenty-nine million cattle, seventy-seven million sheep, seven
and a half million horses, five and a half million mules, a quarter-
million of donkeys, and nearly three million swine and three million
goats. Four billion dollars of British capital are invested in the
Argentina has sixteen thousand miles of railway. This has been
comparatively cheap to build. On the flat prairie lands the rails are
laid, and there is a length of one hundred and seventy-five miles
without a single curve.
Three hundred and fifty thousand square miles of this prairie is
specially adapted to the growing of grain. In 1908-9 the yield of
wheat was 4,920,000 tons. Argentina has exported over three million
tons of wheat, over three million tons of corn, and one million tons
of linseed, in one year, while "her flour mills can turn out 700,000
tons of flour a year." [Footnote: Hirst's Argentina, 1910.]
"It is a delight often met with there to look on a field of twenty
square miles, with the golden ears standing even and close together,
and not a weed nor a stump of a tree nor a stone as big as a man's
fist to be seen or found in the whole area."
"To plant and harvest this immense yield the tillers of the ground
bought nine million dollars of farm implements in 1908. Argentina's
record in material progress rivals Japan's. Argentina astonished the
world by conducting, in 1906, a trade valued at five hundred and
sixty million dollars, buying and selling more in the markets of
foreign nations than Japan, with a population of forty millions, and
China, with three hundred millions." [Footnote: John Barrett, in
To this Land of Promise there is a large immigration. Nearly three
hundred thousand have entered in one single year. About two hundred
thousand have been going to Buenos Ayres, the capital, alone, but in
1908 nearly five hundred thousand landed there. [Footnote: "Despite
the Government's efforts, emigration from Spain to South America
takes alarming proportions. In some districts the men of the working
classes have departed in a body. In certain villages in the
neighborhood of Cadiz there arc whole streets of deserted houses."-
Spanish Press.] In Belgium 220 people are crowded into the territory
occupied by one person in Argentina, so yet there is room. Albert
Hale says: "It is undeniable that Argentina can give lodgment to
100,000,000 people, and can furnish nourishment, at a remarkably
cheap rate, for as many more, when her whole area is utilized."
Argentina's schools and universities are the best in the Spanish-
speaking world. In Buenos Ayres you will find some of the finest
school buildings in the world, while 4,000 students attend one
Buenos Ayres, founded in 1580, is to-day the largest city in the
world south of the equator, and is "one of the richest and most
beautiful places of the world." The broad prairies around the city
have made the people "the richest on earth."
Kev. John F. Thompson, for forty-five years a resident of that
country, summarizes its characteristics in the following paragraph:
"Argentina is a _land of plenty_; plenty of room and plenty of food.
If the actual population were divided into families of ten persons,
each would have a farm of eight square miles, with ten horses, fifty-
four cows, and one hundred and eighty-six sheep, and after they had
eaten their fill of bread they would have half a ton of wheat and
corn to sell or send to the hungry nations."
BUENOS AYRES IN 1889.
In the year 1889, after five weeks of ocean tossing, the steamer on
which I was a passenger anchored in the River Plate, off Buenos
Ayres. Nothing but water and sky was to be seen, for the coast was
yet twenty miles away, but the river was too shallow for the steamer
to get nearer. Large tugboats came out to us, and passengers and
baggage were transhipped into them, and we steamed ten miles nearer
the still invisible city. There smaller tugs awaited us and we were
again transhipped. Sailing once more toward the land, we soon caught
sight of the Argentine capital, but before we could sail nearer the
tugs grounded. There we were crowded into flat-bottomed, lug-sailed
boats for a third stage of our landward journey. These boats conveyed
us to within a mile of the city, when carts, drawn by five horses,
met us in the surf and drew us on to the wet, shingly beach. There
about twenty men stood, ready to carry the females on their backs on
to the dry, sandy shore, where was the customs house. The population
of the city we then entered was about six hundred thousand souls.
After changing the little gold I carried for the greasy paper
currency of the country, I started out in search of something to eat.
Eventually I found myself before a substantial meal. At a table in
front of me sat a Scotsman from the same vessel. He had arrived
before me (Scotsmen say they are always before the Englishmen) and
was devouring part of a leg of mutton. This, he told me, he had
procured, to the great amusement of Boniface, by going down on all
fours and _baa-ing_ like the sheep of his native hills. Had he waited
until I arrived he might have feasted on lamb, for my voice was not
so gruff as his. He had unconsciously asked for an old sheep. I think
the Highlander in that instance regretted that he had preceded the
How shall I describe the metropolis of the Argentine, with its one-
storied, flat-roofed houses, each with grated windows and centre
_patio_? Some of the poorer inhabitants raise fowls on the roof,
which gives the house a barnyard appearance, while the iron-barred
windows below strongly suggest a prison. Strange yet attractive
dwellings they are, lime-washed in various colors, the favorite
shades seeming to be pink and bottle green. Fires are not used except
for cooking purposes, and the little smoke they give out is quickly
dispersed by the breezes from the sixty-mile-wide river on which the
The Buenos Ayres of 1889 was a strange place, with its long, narrow
streets, its peculiar stores and many-tongued inhabitants. There is
the dark-skinned policeman at the corner of each block sitting
silently on his horse, or galloping down the cobbled street at the
sound of some revolver, which generally tells of a life gone out.
Arriving on the scene he often finds the culprit flown. If he
succeeds in riding him down (an action he scruples not to do), he,
with great show, and at the sword's point, conducts him to the
nearest police station. Unfortunately he often chooses the quiet side
streets, where his prisoner may have a chance to buy his freedom. If
he pays a few dollars, the poor _vigilante_ is perfectly willing to
lose him, after making sometimes the pretence of a struggle to blind
the lookers-on, if there be any curious enough to interest
themselves. This man in khaki is often "the terror of the innocent,
the laughing-stock of the guilty." The poor man or the foreign
sailor, if he stagger ever so little, is sure to be "run in." The
Argentine law-keeper (?) is provided with both sword and revolver,
but receives small remuneration, and as his salary is often tardily
paid him, he augments it in this way when he cannot see a good
opportunity of turning burglar or something worse on his own account.
When he is low in funds he will accost the stranger, begging a
cigarette, or inviting himself at your expense to the nearest
_cafe_, as "the day is so unusually hot." After all, we must not
blame him too much--his superiors are far from guiltless, and he
knows it. When Minister Toso took charge of the Provincial portfolio
of Finance, he exclaimed, "_C-o! Todos van robando menos yo!_"
("Everybody is robbing here except I.") It is public news that
President Celman carried away to his private residence in the country
a most beautiful and expensive bronze fountain presented by the
inhabitants of the city to adorn the principal _plaza_. [Footnote:
Public square.] The president is elected by the people for a term of
three years, and invariably retires a rich man, however poor he may
have been when entering on his office. The laws of the country may be
described as model and Christian, but the carrying out of them is a
very different matter.
Some of the laws are excellent and worthy of our imitation, such as,
for example, the one which decrees that _bachelors shall be taxed_.
Civil elections are held on Sundays, the voting places being Roman
Both postmen and telegraph boys deliver on horseback, but such is the
lax custom that everything will do to-morrow. That fatal word is the
first the stranger learns--_manana_.
Comparatively few people walk the streets. "No city in the world of
equal size and population can compare with Buenos Ayres for the
number and extent of its tramways." [Footnote: Turner's "Argentina."]
A writer in the _Financial News_ says: "The proportion of the
population who daily use street-cars is _sixty-six times greater in
Buenos Ayres than in the United Kingdom_."
This _Modern Athens_, as the Argentines love to term their city, has
a beautiful climate. For perhaps three hundred days out of every year
there is a sky above as blue as was ever seen in Naples.
The natives eat only twice a day--at 10.30 a.m., and at 7 p.m.--the
common edibles costing but little. I could write much of Buenos
Ayres, with its _carnicerias_, where a leg of mutton may be bought
for 20 cts., or a brace of turkeys for 40 cts.; its _almacenes_,
where one may buy a pound of sugar or a yard of cotton, a measure of
charcoal (coal is there unknown) or a large _sombrero_, a package of
tobacco (leaves over two feet long) or a pair of white hemp-soled
shoes for your feet--all at the same counter. The customer may
further obtain a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer (the latter
costing four times the price of the former) from the same assistant,
who sells at different prices to different customers.
There the value of money is constantly changing, and almost every day
prices vary. What to-day costs $20 to-morrow may be $15, or, more
likely, $30. Although one hundred and seventy tons of sugar are
annually grown in the country, that luxury is decidedly expensive. I
have paid from 12 cts. to 30 cts. a pound. Oatmeal, the Scotsman's
dish, has cost me up to 50 cts. a pound.
Coming again on to the street you hear the deafening noises of the
cow horns blown by the streetcar drivers, or the _pescador_ shrilly
inviting housekeepers to buy the repulsive-looking red fish, carried
over his shoulder, slung on a thick bamboo. Perhaps you meet a beggar
on horseback (for there wishes _are_ horses, and beggars _do_ ride),
who piteously whines for help. This steed-riding fraternity all use
invariably the same words: _"Por el amor de Dios dame un centavo!"_
("For the love of God give me a cent.") If you bestow it, he will
call on his patron saint to bless you. If you fail to assist him, the
curses of all the saints in heaven will fall on your impious head.
This often causes such a shudder in the recipient that I have known
him to turn back to appease the wrath of the mendicant, and receive
It is not an uncommon sight to see a black-robed priest with his hand
on a boy's head giving him a benediction that he may be enabled to
sell his newspapers or lottery tickets with more celerity.
The National Lottery is a great institution, and hundreds keep
themselves poor buying tickets. In one year the lottery has realized
the sum of $3,409,143.57. The Government takes forty per cent. of
this, and divides the rest between a number of charitable and
religious organizations, all, needless to say, being Roman Catholic.
Amongst the names appear the following: Poor Sisters of St. Joseph,
Workshop of Our Lady, Sisters of St. Anthony, etc.
Little booths for the sale of lottery tickets are erected in the
vestibules of some of the churches, and the Government, in this way,
repays the church.
The gambling passion is one of Argentina's greatest curses. Tickets
are bought by all, from the Senator down to the newsboy who ventures
his only dollar.
You meet the water-seller passing down the street with his barrel
cart, drawn by three or four horses with tinkling bells, dispensing
water to customers at five cents a pail. The poorer classes have no
other means of procuring this precious liquid. The water is kept in a
corner of the house in large sun-baked jars. A peculiarity of these
pots is that they are not made to stand alone, but have to be held up
At early morning and evening the milkman goes his rounds on
horseback. The milk he carries in six long, narrow cans, like
inverted sugar-loaves, three on each side of his raw-hide saddle, he
himself being perched between them on a sheepskin. In some cans he
carries pure cream, which the jolting of his horse soon converts into
butter. This he lifts out with his hands to any who care to buy.
After the addition of a little salt, and the subtraction of a little
buttermilk, this _manteca_ is excellent. After serving you he will
again mount his horse, but not until his hands have been well wiped
on its tail, which almost touches the ground. The other cans of the
_lechero_ contain a mixture known to him alone. I never analyzed it,
but have remarked a chalky substance in the bottom of my glass. He
does not profess to sell pure milk; that you can buy, but, of course,
at a higher price, from the pure milk seller. In the cool of the
afternoon he will bring round his cows, with bells on their necks and
calves dragging behind. The calves are tied to the mothers' tails,
and wear a muzzle. At a _sh-h_ from the sidewalk he stops them, and,
stooping down, fills your pitcher according to your money. The cows,
through being born and bred to a life in the streets, are generally
miserable-looking beasts. Strange to add, the one milkman shoes his
cows and the other leaves his horse unshod. It is not customary in
this country for man's noble friend to wear more than his own natural
hoof. A visit to the blacksmith is entertaining. The smith, by means
of a short lasso, deftly trips up the animal, and, with its legs
securely lashed, the cow must lie on its back while he shoes its
Many and varied are the scenes. One is struck by the number of
horses, seven and eight often being yoked to one cart, which even
then they sometimes find difficult to draw. Some of the streets are
very bad, worse than our country lanes, and filled with deep ruts and
drains, into which the horses often fall. There the driver will
sometimes cruelly leave them, when, after his arm aches in using the
whip, he finds the animal cannot rise. For the veriest trifle I have
known men to smash the poor dumb brute's eyes out with the stock of
the whip, and I have been very near the Police Station more than once
when my righteous blood compelled me to interfere. Where, oh, where
is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? Surely no
suffering creatures under the sun cry out louder for mercy than those
As I have said, horses are left to die in the public streets. It has
been my painful duty to pass moaning creatures lying helplessly in
the road, with broken limbs, under a burning sun, suffering hunger
and thirst, for three consecutive days, before kind death, the
sufferer's friend, released them. Looking on such sights, seeing
every street urchin with coarse laugh and brutal jest jump on such an
animal's quivering body, stuff its parched mouth with mud, or poke
sticks into its staring eyes, I have cried aloud at the injustice.
The policeman and the passers-by have only laughed at me for my
In my experiences in South America I found cruelty to be a marked
feature of the people. If the father thrusts his dagger into his
enemy, and the mother, in her fits of rage, sticks her hairpin into
her maid's body, can it be wondered at if the children inherit cruel
natures? How often have I seen a poor horse fall between the shafts
of some loaded cart of bricks or sand! Never once have I seen his
harness undone and willing hands help him up, as in other civilized
lands. No, the lashing of the cruel whip or the knife's point is his
only help. If, as some religious writers have said, the horse will be
a sharer of Paradise along with man, his master, then those from
Buenos Ayres will feed in stalls of silver and have their wounds
healed by the clover of eternal kindness. "God is Love."
I have said the streets are full of holes. In justice to the
authorities I must mention the fact that sometimes, especially at the
crossings, these are filled up. To carry truthfulness still further,
however, I must state that more than once I have known them bridged
over with the putrefying remains of a horse in the last stages of
decomposition. I have seen delicate ladies, attired in Parisian
furbelows, lift their dainty skirts, attempt the crossing--and sink
in a mass of corruption, full of maggots.
In my description of Buenos Ayres I must not omit to mention the
large square, black, open hearses so often seen rapidly drawn through
the streets, the driver seeming to travel as quickly as he can. In
the centre of the coach is the coffin, made of white wood and covered
with black material, fastened on with brass nails. Around this
gruesome object sit the relatives and friends of the departed one on
their journey to the _chacarita_, or cemetery, some six miles out
from the centre of the city. Cemeteries in Spanish America are
divided into three enclosures. There is the "cemetery of heaven,"
"the cemetery of purgatory," and "the cemetery of hell." The location
of the soul in the future is thus seen to be dependent on its
location by the priests here. The dead are buried on the day of their
death, when possible, or, if not, then early on the following
morning; but never, I believe, on feast days. Those periods are set
apart for pleasure, and on important saint days banners and flags of
all nations are hung across the streets, or adorn the roofs of the
flat-topped houses, where the washing is at other times dried.
After attending mass in the early morning on these days, the people
give themselves up to revelry and sin at home, or crowd the street-
cars running to the parks and suburbs. Many with departed relatives
(and who has none?) go to the _chacarita_, and for a few _pesos_
bargain with the black-robed priest waiting there, to deliver their
precious dead out of Purgatory. If he sings the prayer the cost is
double, but supposed to be also doubly efficacious. Mothers do not
always inspire filial respect in their offspring, for one young man
declared that he "wanted to get his mother out of Purgatory before he
A Buenos Ayres missionary writes "There are two large cemeteries
here. From early morn until late at night the people crowd into them,
and I am told there were 100,000 at one time in one of them. November
1 is a special day for releasing thousands of souls out of Purgatory.
We printed thousands of tracts and the workers started out to
distribute them. By ten o'clock six of them were in jail, having been
given into custody by a 'holy father.' They were detained until six
in the evening without food, and then were released through the
efforts of a Methodist minister."
The catechisn reads: "Attend mass all Sundays and Feast days. Confess
at least once a year, or oftener, if there is any fear of death. Take
Sacrament at Easter time. Pay a tenth of first-fruits to God's
Church." The fourth commandment is condensed into the words:
"Sanctify the Feast days." From this it will be seen that there is
great need for mission work. Of course Romanism in this and other
cities is losing its old grip upon the people, and because of this
the priest is putting forth superhuman effort to retain what he has.
_La Voz de la Iglesia_ ("The Voice of the Church"), the organ of the
Bishop of Buenos Ayres, has lately published some of the strongest
articles we have ever read. A late article concludes: "One thing
only, one thing: OBEY; OBEY BLINDLY. Comply with her (the Church's)
commands with faithful loyalty. If we do this, it is impossible for
Protestantism to invade the flowery camp of the Church, Holy,
Catholic, Apostolic and Roman."
Articles such as this, however, and the circulation of a tract by one
of the leading church presses, are not calculated to help forward a
losing cause. The tract referred to is entitled, "Letter of Jesus
about the Drops of Blood which He shed whilst He went to Calvary."
"You know that the soldiers numbered 150, twenty-five of whom
conducted me bound. I received fifty blows on the head and 108 on the
breast. I was pulled by the hair 23 times, and 30 persons spat in my
face. Those who struck me on the upper part of the body were 6,666,
and 100 Jews struck me on the head. I sighed 125 times. The wounds on
the head numbered 20; from the crown of thorns, 72; points of thorns
on the forehead, 100. The wounds on the body were 100. There came out
of my body 28,430 drops of blood." This letter, the tract states, was
found in the Holy Sepulchre and is preserved by his holiness the
Pope. Intelligent, thinking men can only smile at such an utter
An "Echoes from Argentina" extract reads: "Not many months ago,
Argentina was blessed by the Pope. Note what has happened since:--The
Archbishop, who was the bearer of the blessing and brought it from
Rome, has since died very suddenly; we have had a terrible visitation
of heat suffocation, hundreds being attacked and very many dying; we
have had the bubonic pest in our midst; a bloody provincial
revolution in Entre Rios; and now at the time of writing there is an
outbreak of a serious cattle disease, and England has closed her
ports against Argentine live stock. Of course, we do not say that
these calamities are the _result_ of the Pope's blessing, but we
would that Catholics would open their eyes and see that it is a fact
that whereas Protestant countries, _anathematized_ by the Pope,
prosper, Catholic countries which have been blessed by him are in a
BUENOS AYRES AT THE PRESENT TIME.
Perhaps no city of the world has grown and progressed more during
this last decade than the city of Buenos Ayres. To-day passengers
land in the centre of the city and step on "the most expensive system
of artificial docks in all America, representing an expenditure of
seventy million dollars."
To this city there is a large emigration. It has grown at the rate of
4,000 adults a week, with a birthrate of 1,000 a week added. The
population is now fast climbing up to 1 1-2 millions of inhabitants.
There are 300,000 Italians, 100,000 Spaniards, a colony of 20,000
Britishers, and, of course, Jews and other foreigners in proportion.
"Buenos Ayres is one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world.
There are 189 newspapers, printed in almost every language of the
globe. Probably the only Syrian newspaper in America, _The Assudk_,
is issued in this city." To keep pace with the rush of newcomers has
necessitated the building of 30,000 houses every year. There is here
"the finest and costliest structure ever built, used exclusively by
one newspaper, the home of _La Prensa_; the most magnificent opera
house of the western hemisphere, erected by the government at the
cost of ten million dollars; one of the largest banks in the world,
and the handsomest and largest clubhouse in the world." [Footnote:
John Barrett, In Munsey's Magazine.] The entrance fee to this club is
$1,500. The Y.M.C.A. is now erecting a commodious building, for which
$200,000 has already been raised, and there is a Y.W.C.A., with a
membership of five hundred. Dr. Clark, in "The Continent of
Opportunity," says, "More millionaires live in Buenos Ayres than in
any other city of the world of its size. The proportion of well-
clothed, well-fed people is greater than in American cities, the
slums are smaller, and the submerged classes less in proportion. The
constant movement of carriages and automobiles here quite surpasses
that of Fifth Avenue." The street cars are of the latest and most
improved electric types, equal to any seen in New York or London, and
seat one hundred people, inside and out. Besides these there is an
excellent service of motor cabs, and _tubes_ are being commenced.
Level crossings for the steam roads are not permitted in the city
limits, so all trains run over or under the streets.
"The Post Office handles 40,000,000 pieces of mail and 125,000 parcel
post packages a month. The city has 1,209 automobiles, 27 theatres
and 50 moving picture shows. Five thousand vessels enter the port of
Buenos Ayres every year, and the export of meat in 1910 was valued at
$31,000,000. No other section of the world shows such growth."
[Footnote: C. H. Furlong, in The World's Work.]
The city, once so unhealthy, is now, through proper drainage, "the
second healthiest large city of the world." The streets, as I first
saw them, were roughly cobbled, now they are asphalt paved, and made
into beautiful avenues, such as would grace any capital of the world.
Avenida de Mayo, cut right through the old city, is famed as being
one of the most costly and beautiful avenues of the world.
On those streets the equestrian milkman is no longer seen. Beautiful
sanitary white-tiled _tambos_, where pure milk and butter are sold,
have taken his place. The old has been transformed and PROGRESS is
South America, of all lands, has been most torn asunder by war.
Revolutions may be numbered by hundreds, and the slaughter has been
incredible. Even since the opening of the year 1900, thirty thousand
Colombians have been slain and there have been dozens of revolutions.
Darwin relates the fact that in 1832 Argentina underwent fifteen
changes of government in nine months, owing to internal strife, and
since then Argentina has had its full share.
During my residence in Buenos Ayres there occurred one of those
disastrous revolutions which have from time to time shaken the whole
Republic. The President, Don Juarez Celman, had long been unpopular,
and, the mass of the people being against him, as well as nearly half
of the standing army, and all the fleet then anchored in the river,
the time was considered ripe to strike a blow.
On the morning of July 26, 1890, the sun rose upon thousands of
stern-looking men bivouacking in the streets and public squares of
the city. The revolution had commenced, and was led by one of the
most distinguished Argentine citizens, General Joseph Mary Campos.
The battle-cry of these men was "_Sangre! Sangre!_" [Footnote:
"Blood! Blood!"] The war fiend stalked forth. Trenches were dug in
the streets. Guns were placed at every point of vantage. Men mounted
their steeds with a careless laugh, while the rising sun shone on
their burnished arms, so soon to be stained with blood. Battalions of
men marched up and down the streets to the sound of martial music,
and the low, flat-roofed housetops were quickly filled with
The Government House and residence of the President was guarded in
all directions by the 2nd Battalion of the Line, the firemen and a
detachment of police, but on the river side were four gunboats of the
The average South American is a man of quick impulses and little
thought. The first shot fired by the Government troops was the signal
for a fusilade that literally shook the city. Rifle shots cracked,
big guns roared, and shells screaming overhead descended in all
directions, carrying death and destruction. Street-cars, wagons and
cabs were overturned to form barricades. In the narrow, straight
streets the carnage was fearful, and blood soon trickled down the
watercourses and dyed the pavements. That morning the sun had risen
for the last time upon six hundred strong men; it set upon their
mangled remains. Six hundred souls! The Argentine soldier knows
little of the science of "hide and seek" warfare. When he goes forth
to battle, it is to fight--or die. Of the future life he
unfortunately thinks little, and of Christ, the world's Redeemer, he
seldom or never hears. The Roman Catholic chaplain mumbles a few
Latin prayers to them at times, but as the knowledge of these _resos_
does not seem to improve the priest's life, the men prefer to remain
The average Argentine soldier is a man of little intelligence. The
regiments are composed of Patagonian Indians or semi-civilized
Guaranis, mixed with all classes of criminals from the state prisons.
Nature has imprinted upon them the unmistakable marks of the savage--
sullen, stupid ferocity, indifference to pain, bestial instincts. As
for his fighting qualities, they more resemble those of the tiger
than of the cool, brave and trained soldier. When his blood is
roused, fighting is with him a matter of blind and indiscriminate
carnage of friend or foe. A more villainous-looking horde it would be
difficult to find in any army. The splendid accoutrements of the
generals and superior officers, and the glittering equipments of
their chargers, offer a vivid contrast to the mean and dirty uniforms
of the troops.
During the day the whole territory of the Republic was declared to be
in a state of siege. Business was at a complete standstill. The
stores were all closed, and many of them fortified with the first
means that came to hand. Mattresses, doors, furniture, everything was
requisitioned, and the greatest excitement prevailed in commercial
circles generally. All the gun-makers' shops had soon been cleared of
their contents, which were in the hands of the adherents of the
That evening the news of the insurrection was flashed by "Reuter's"
to all parts of the civilized world. The following appeared in one of
the largest British dailies:
"BUENOS AYRES, July 27, 5.40 p.m.
"The fighting in the streets between the Government troops and the
insurgents has been of the most desperate character.
"The forces of the Government have been defeated.
"The losses in killed and wounded are estimated at 1,000.
"The fleet is in favor of the Revolutionists.
"Government house and the barracks occupied by the Government troops
have been bombarded by the insurgent artillery."
That night as I went in and out of the squads of men on the
revolutionary side, seeking to do some acts of mercy, I saw many
strange and awful sights. There were wounded men who refused to leave
the field, although the rain poured. Others were employed in cooking
or ravenously eating the dead horses which strewed the streets. Some
were lying down to drink the water flowing in the gutters, which
water was often tinged with human blood, for the rain was by this
time washing away many of the dark spots in the streets. Others lay
coiled up in heaps under their soaking _ponchos_, trying to sleep a
little, their arms stacked close at hand. There were men to all
appearances fast asleep, standing with their arms in the reins of the
horses which had borne them safely through the leaden hail of that
day of terror. Numerous were the jokes and loud was the coarse
laughter of many who next day would be lying stiff in death, but
little thought seemed to be expended on that possibility.
Men looted the stores and feasted, or wantonly destroyed valuables
they had no use for. None stopped this havoc, for the officers were
quartered in the adjacent houses, themselves holding high revelry.
Lawless hordes visited the police offices, threw their furniture into
the streets, tore to shreds all the books, papers and records found,
and created general havoc. They gorged and cursed, using swords for
knives, and lay down in the soaking streets or leaned against the
guns to smoke the inevitable _cigarillo_. A few looked up at the
gilded keys of St. Peter adorning the front of the cathedral, perhaps
wondering if they would be used to admit them to a better world.
Next day, as I sallied forth to the dismal duty of caring for the
dead and dying, the guns of the Argentine fleet [Footnote: British-
built vessels of the latest and most approved types.] in the river
opposite the city blazed forth upon the quarter held by the
Government's loyal troops. One hundred and fifty-four shots were
fired, two of the largest gunboats firing three-hundred and six-
hundred pounders. Soon every square was a shambles, and the mud oozed
with blood. The Buenos Ayres _Standard_, describing that day of
fierce warfare, stated:
"At dawn, the National troops, quartered in the Plaza Libertad, made
another desperate attack on the Revolutionary positions in the Plaza
Lavalle. The Krupp guns, mitrailleuses and gatlings went off at a
terrible rate, and volleys succeeded each other, second for second,
from five in the morning till half-past nine. The work of death was
fearful, and hundreds of spectators were shot down as they watched
from their balconies or housetops. Cannon balls riddled all the
houses near the Cinco Esquinas. In the attack on the Plaza Lavalle,
three hundred men must have fallen."
"At ten a.m. the white flag of truce was hoisted on both sides, and
the dismal work of collecting the dead and wounded began. The
ambulances of the Asistencia Publica, the cars of the tram companies
and the wagons of the Red Cross were busily engaged all day in
carrying away the dead. It is estimated that in the Plaza Lavalle
above 600 men were wounded and 300 killed. Considering that the
Revolutionists defended an entrenched position, whilst the National
troops attacked, we may imagine that the losses of the latter were
"General Lavalle, commander-in-chief of the National forces, gave
orders for a large number of coffins, which were not delivered, as
the undertaker wished to be paid cash. It is to be supposed that
these coffins were for the dead officers."
"When the white flags were run up, Dr. Del Valle, Senator of the
Nation, sent, in the name of the Revolutionary Committee, an
ultimatum to the National Government, demanding the immediate
dismissal of the President of the Republic and dissolution of
Congress. Later on it was known that both parties had agreed on an
armistice, to last till mid-day on Monday."
Of the third day's sanguinary fighting, the _Standard_ wrote:
"The Plaza Libertad was taken by General Lavalle at the head of the
National troops under the most terrible fire, but the regiments held
well together and carried the position in a most gallant manner,
confirming the reputation of indomitable valor that the Argentine
troops won at the trenches of Curupayti. Our readers may imagine the
fire they suffered in the straight streets swept by Krupp guns,
gatlings and mitrailleuses, while every housetop was a fortress
whence a deadly fire was poured on the heads of the soldiers. Let
anybody take the trouble to visit the Calles [Footnote: Streets]
Cerrito, Libertad and Talcahuano, the vicinity of the Plazas Parque
and Lavalle, and he will be staggered to see how all the houses have
been riddled by mitrailleuses and rifle bullets. The passage of
cannon balls is marked on the iron frames of windows, smashed frames
and demolished balconies of the houses.
"The Miro Palace, in the Plaza Parque, is a sorry picture of
wreckage: the 'mirador' is knocked to pieces by balls and shells; the
walls are riddled on every side, and nearly all the beautiful Italian
balconies and buttresses have been demolished. The firing around the
palace must have been fearful, to judge by the utter ruin about, and
all the telephone wires dangling over the street in meshes from every
house. Ruin and wreckage everywhere.
"By this time the hospitals of the city, the churches and public
buildings were filled with the wounded and dying, borne there on
stretchers made often of splintered and shattered doors. Nearly a
hundred men were taken into the San Francisco convent alone." Yet
with all this the lust for blood was not quenched. It could still be
written of the fourth day:
"At about half-past two, a sharp attack was made by the Government
troops on the Plaza Parque, and a fearful fire was kept up. Hundreds
and hundreds fell on both sides, but the Government troops were
finally repulsed. People standing at the corners of the streets
cheering for the Revolutionists were fired on and many were killed.
Bodies of Government troops were stationed at the corners of the
streets leading to the Plaza, Large bales of hay had been heaped up
to protect them from the deadly fire of the Revolutionists.
"It was at times difficult to remember that heavy slaughter was going
on around. In many parts of the city people were chatting, joking and
laughing at their doors. The attitude of the foreign population was
more serious; they seemed to foresee the heavy responsibilities of
the position and to accurately forecast the result of the
"The bulletins of the various newspapers during the revolution were
purchased by the thousand and perused with the utmost avidity; fancy
prices were often paid for them. The Sunday edition of _The Standard_
was sold by enterprising newsboys in the suburbs as high as $3.00 per
copy, whilst fifty cents was the regulation price for a momentary
peep at our first column."
Towards the close of that memorable 29th of July the hail of bullets
ceased, but the insurgent fleet still kept up its destructive
bombardment of the Government houses for four hours.
The Revolutionists were defeated, or, as was seriously affirmed, had
been sold for the sum of one million Argentine dollars.
_"Estamos vendidos!" "Estamos vendidos!"_ (We are sold! We are sold!)
was heard on every hand. Because of this surrender officers broke
their swords and men threw away their rifles as they wept with rage.
A sergeant exclaimed: "And for this they called us out--to surrender
without a struggle! Cowards! Poltroons!" And then with a stern glance
around he placed his rifle to his breast and shot himself through the
heart. After the cessation of hostilities both sides collected their
dead, and the wounded were placed under the care of surgeons, civil
as well as military.
Notwithstanding the fact that the insurgents were said to be
defeated, the President, Dr. Celman, fled from the city, and the
amusing spectacle was seen of men and youths patrolling the streets
wearing cards in their hats which read: _"Ya se fue el burro"_ (At
last the donkey has gone). A more serious sight, however, was when
the effigy of the fleeing President was crucified.
Thus ended the insurrection of 1890, a rising which sent three
thousand brave men into eternity.
What changes had taken place in four short days! At the Plaza
Libertad the wreckage was most complete. The beautiful partierres
were trodden down by horses; the trees had been partially cut down
for fuel; pools of blood, remnants of slaughtered animals, offal,
Since the glorious days of the British invasion--glorious from an
Argentine point of view--Buenos Ayres had never seen its streets
turned into barricades and its housetops into fortresses. In times of
electoral excitement we had seen electors attack each other in bands
many years, but never was organized warfare carried on as during this
revolution. The Plaza Parque was occupied by four or five thousand
Revolutionary troops; all access to the Plaza was defended by armed
groups on the house-tops and barricades in the streets, Krupp guns
and that most infernal of modern inventions, the mitrailleuse, swept
all the streets, north, south, east and west. The deadly grape swept
the streets down to the very river, and not twenty thousand men could
have taken the Revolutionary position by storm, except by gutting the
houses and piercing the blocks, as Colonel Garmendia proposed, to
avoid the awful loss of life suffered in the taking of the Plaza
Libertad on Saturday morning.
At the close of the revolution the great city found itself suffering
from a quasi-famine. High prices were asked for everything. In some
districts provisions could not be obtained even at famine prices. The
writer for the first time in his life had to go here and there to beg
a loaf of bread for his family's needs.
A reporter of the _Argentine News_, July 31st of that same year,
"There is a revolution going on in Rosario. It began on Saturday,
when the Revolutionists surprised the Government party, and by one on
Sunday most of the Government buildings were in their hands. It is
now eight in the morning and the firing is terrible. Volunteers are
coming into the town from all parts, so the rebels are bound to win
the stronghold shortly. News has just come that the Government troops
have surrendered. Four p.m.--I have been out to see the dead and
wounded gathered up by the ambulance wagons. I should think the dead
are less than a hundred, and the wounded about four times that
number. The surprise was so sudden that the victory has been easy and
with little loss of life. The Revolutionists are behaving well and
not destroying property as they might have done. The whole town is
rejoicing; flags of all nations are flying everywhere. The saddest
thing about the affair is that some fifty murderers have escaped from
the prison. I saw many of them running away when I got upon the spot.
The order has been given to recapture them. I trust they may be
caught, for we have too many of that class at liberty already. * * *
* It is estimated that over 100,000 rounds of ammunition were fired
in the two days. * * * The insurgents fed on horse-meat and beef, the
former being obtained by killing the horses belonging to the police,
the latter from the various dairies, from which the cows were
In 1911 the two largest Dreadnoughts of the world, the _Rivadavia_
and the _Moreno_, were launched for the Argentine Government. These
two battleships are _half as powerful again_ as the largest British
_THE CRIOLLO VILLAGE_.
The different centres of trade and commerce in the Argentine can
easily be reached by train or river steamer. Rosario, with its
140,000 inhabitants, in the north; Bahia Blanca, where there is the
largest wheat elevator in the world, in the south, and Mendoza, at
the foot of the Andes, several times destroyed by earthquake, five
hundred miles west--all these are more or less like the capital.
To arrive at an isolated village of the interior the traveller must
be content to ride, as I did, on horseback, or be willing to jolt
along for weeks in a wagon without springs. These carts are drawn by
eight, ten, or more bullocks, as the weight warrants, and are
provided with two very strong wheels, without tires, and often
standing eight and ten feet high. The patient animals, by means of a
yoke fastened to their horns with raw-hide, draw these carts through
long prairie grass or sinking morass, through swollen rivers or
oozing mud, over which malaria hangs in visible forms.
The _voyager_ must be prepared to suffer a little hunger and thirst
on the way. He must sleep amongst the baggage in the cart, or on the
broader bed of the ground, where snakes and tarantulas creep and the
heavy dew saturates one through and through.
As is well known, the bullock is a slow animal, and these never
travel more than two or three miles an hour.
Time with the native is no object. The words, "With patience we win
heaven," are ever on his lips.
The Argentine countryman is decidedly lazy.
Darwin relates that he asked two men the question: "Why don't you
work?" One said: "The days are too long!" Another answered: "I am too
With these people nothing can succeed unless it is begun when the
moon is on the increase. The result is that little is accomplished.
You cannot make the driver understand your haste, and the bullocks
understand and care still less.
The mosquitoes do their best to eat you up alive, unless your body
has already had all the blood sucked out of it, a humiliating,
painful and disfiguring process. You must carry with you sufficient
food for the journey, or it may happen that, like me, you are only
able to shoot a small ring dove, and with its entrails fish out of
the muddy stream a monster turtle for the evening meal.
If, on the other hand, you pass a solitary house, they will with
pleasure give you a sheep. If you killed one without permission your
punishment would perhaps be greater than if you had killed a man.
If a bullock becomes ill on the road, the driver will, with his
knife, cut all around the sod where the animal has left its
footprint. Lifting this out, he will cut a cross on it and replace it
the other side uppermost. This cure is most implicitly believed in
The making of the cross is supposed to do great wonders, which your
guide is never tired of recounting while he drinks his _mate_ in the
unbroken stillness of the evening. Alas! the many bleaching bones on
the road testify that this, and a hundred other such remedies, are
not always effectual, but the mind of the native is so full of
superstitious faith that the testimony of his own eyes will not
convince him of the absurdity of his belief. As he stoops over the
fire you will notice on his breast some trinket or relic--anything
will do if blessed by the priest--and that, he assures you, will save
him from every unknown and unseen danger in his land voyage. The
priest has said it, and he rests satisfied that no lightning stroke
will fell him, no lurking panther pounce upon him, nor will he die of
thirst or any other evil. I have remarked men of the most cruel,
cutthroat description wearing these treasures with zealous care,
especially one, of whom it was said that he had killed two wives.
When your driver is young and amorously inclined you will notice that
he never starts for the regions beyond without first providing
himself with an owl's skin. This tied on his breast, he tells you,
will ensure him favor in the eyes of the females he may meet on the
road, and on arrival at his destination.
I once witnessed what at first sight appeared to be a heavy fall of
snow coming up with the wind from the south. Strange to relate, this
phenomenon turned out to be millions of white butterflies of large
size. Some of these, when measured, I found to be four and five
inches across the wings. Darwin relates his having, in 1832, seen the
same sight, when his men exclaimed that it was "snowing butterflies."
The inhabitants of these trackless wilds are very, very few, but in
all directions I saw numbers of ostriches, which run at the least
sign of man, their enemy. The fastest horse could not outstrip this
bird as with wings outstretched he speeds before the hunter. As Job,
perhaps the oldest historian of the world, truly says: "What time she
lifteth herself up on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider."
The male bird joins his spouse in hatching the eggs, sitting on them
perhaps longer turns than the female, but the weather is so hot that
little brooding is required. I have had them on the shelf of my
cupboard for a week, when the little ones have forced their way out
Forty days is the time of incubation, so, naturally, those must have
been already sat on for thirty-three days. With open wings these
giant birds often manage to cover from twenty-five to forty-five
eggs, although, I think, they seldom bring out more than twenty. The
rest they roll out of the nest, where, soon rotting, they breed
innumerable insects, and provide tender food for the coming young.
The latter, on arrival, are always reared by the male ostrich, who,
not being a model husband, ignominiously drives away the partner of
his joys. It might seem that he has some reason for doing this, for
the old historian before referred to says: "She is hardened against
her young ones as though they were not hers."
As the longest road leads somewhere, the glare of the whitewashed
church at last meets your longing gaze on the far horizon. The
village churches are always whitewashed, and an old man is frequently
employed to strike the hours on the tower bell by guess.
I was much struck by the sameness of the many different interior
towns and villages I visited. Each wore the same aspect of indolent
repose, and each was built in exact imitation of the other. Each town
possesses its plaza, where palms and other semi-tropical plants wave
their leaves and send out their perfume.
From the principal city to the meanest village, the streets all bear
the same names. In every town you may find a _Holy Faith street_, a
_St. John street_ and a _Holy Ghost street_, and these streets are
shaded by orange, lemon, pomegranate, fig and other trees, the fruit
of which is free to all who choose to gather. All streets are in all
parts in a most disgraceful condition, and at night beneath the heavy
foliage of the trees Egyptian darkness reigns. Except in daylight, it
is difficult to walk those wretched roads, where a goat often finds
progress a difficulty. Rotten fruit, branches of trees, ashes, etc.,
all go on the streets. A hole is often bridged over by a putrefying
animal, over which run half-naked urchins, pelting each other with
oranges or lemons--common as stones. When the highways are left in
such a state, is it to be wondered at that, while standing on my own
door-step, I have been able to count eleven houses where smallpox was
doing its deadly work, all within a radius of one hundred yards?
Even in the city of La Plata, the second of importance in Argentina,
I once had the misfortune to fall into an open drain while passing
down one of the principal streets. The night was intensely dark, and
yet there was no light left there to warn either pedestrian or
vehicle-driver, and _this sewer was seven feet deep_.
Simple rusticity and ignorance are the chief characteristics of the
country people. They used to follow and stare at me as though I were
a visitor from Mars or some other planet. When I spoke to them in
their language they were delighted, and respectfully hung on my words
with bared heads. When, however, I told them of electric cars and
underground railways, they turned away in incredulity, thinking that
such marvels as these could not possibly be.
Old World towns they seem to be. The houses are built of sun-baked
mud bricks, kneaded by mares that splash and trample through the oozy
substance for hours to mix it well. The poorer people build ranches
of long, slender canes or Indian cornstalks tied together by grass
and coated with mud. These are all erected around and about the most
imposing edifice in the place--the whitewashed adobe church.
All houses are hollow squares. The _patio_, with its well, is inside
this enclosure. Each house is lime-washed in various colors, and all
are flat-roofed and provided with grated windows, giving them a
prison-like appearance. The window-panes are sometimes made of mica.
Over the front doors of some of the better houses are pictures of the
Virgin. The nurse's house is designated by having over the doorway a
signboard, on which is painted a full-blooming rose, out of the
petals of which is peeping a little babe.
If you wish to enter a house, you do not knock at the door (an act
that would be considered great rudeness), but clap your hands, and
you are most courteously invited to enter. The good woman at once
sets to work to serve you with _mate_, and quickly rolls a cigar,
which she hands to you from her mouth, where she has already lighted
it by a live ember of charcoal taken from the fire with a spoon.
Matches can be bought, but they cost about ten cents a hundred. If
you tell the housewife you do not smoke she will stare at you in
gaping wonder. Their children use the weed, and I have seen a mother
urge her three-year-old boy to whiff at a cigarette.
Bound each dwelling is a _ramada_, where grapes in their season hang
in luxuriant clusters; and each has its own garden, where palms,
peaches, figs, oranges, limes, sweet potatoes, tobacco, nuts, garlic,
etc., grow luxuriantly. The garden is surrounded by a hedge of cacti
or other kindred plants. The prickly pear tree of that family is one
of the strangest I have seen. On the leaves, which are an inch or
more in thickness, grows the fruit, and I have counted as many as
thirteen pears growing on a single leaf. When ripe they are a deep
red color, and very sweet to the taste. The skin is thick, and
covered with innumerable minute prickles. It is, I believe, a most
refreshing and healthful food.
Meat is very cheap. A fine leg of mutton may be bought for the
equivalent of twelve cents, and good beef at four cents a pound.
Their favorite wine, _Lagrimas de San Juan_ (Tears of Holy John), can
be bought for ten cents a quart.
All cooking is done on braziers--a species of three-legged iron
bucket in which the charcoal fire is kindled. On this the little
kettle, filled from the well in the _patio_, is boiled for the
inevitable _mate_. About this herb I picked up, from various sources,
some interesting information. The _mate_ plant grows chiefly In
Paraguay, and is sent down the river in bags made of hides. From the
village of Tacurti Pucu in that country comes a strange account of
the origin of the _yerba mate_ plant, which runs thus: "God,
accompanied by St. John and St. Peter, came down to the earth and
commenced to journey. One day, after most difficult travel, they
arrived at the house of an old man, father to a virgin young and
beautiful. The old man cared so much for this girl, and was so
anxious to keep her ever pure and innocent, that they had gone to
live in the depths of a forest. The man was very, very poor, but
willingly gave his heavenly visitors the best he could, killing in
their honor the only hen he possessed, which served for supper.
Noting this action, God asked St. Peter and St. John, when they were
alone, what they would do if they were Him. They both answered Him
that they would largely reward such an unselfish host. Bringing him
to their presence, God addressed him in these words: 'Thou who art
poor hast been generous, and I will reward thee for it. Thou hast a
daughter who is pure and innocent, and whom thou greatly lovest. I
will make her immortal, and she shall never disappear from earth.'
Then God transformed her into the plant of the yerba mate. Since then
the herb exists, and although it is cut down it springs up again."
Other stories run that the maiden still lives; for God, instead of
turning her into the mate plant, made her mistress of it, and she
lives to help all those who make a compact with her, Many men during
"Holy week," if near a town, visit the churches of Paraguay and
formally promise to dedicate themselves to her worship, to live in
the woods and have no other woman. After this vow they go to the
forest, taking a paper on which the priest has written their name.
This they pin with a thorn on the mate plant, and leave it for her to
read. Thus she secures her devotees.
Roman Catholicism is not "_Semper Idem_," but adapts itself to its
Mate is drunk by all, from the babe to the centenarian; by the rich
cattle-owner, who drinks it from a chased silver cup through a golden
_bombilla_, to his servant, who is content with a small gourd, which
everywhere grows wild, and a tin tube. Tea, as we know it, is only to
be bought at the chemist's as a remedy for _nerves_. In other
countries it is said to be bad for nerves.
Each house possesses its private altar, where the saints are kept.
That sacred spot is veiled off when possible--if only by hanging in
front of it a cow's hide--from the rest of the dwelling. It consists,
according to the wealth or piety of the housewife, in expensive
crosses, beads, and pictures of saints decked out with costly care;
or, it may be, but one soiled lithograph surrounded by paper flowers
or cheap baubles of the poorer classes; but all are alike sacred.
Everything of value or beauty is collected and put as an offering to
these deities--pieces of colored paper, birds' eggs, a rosy tomato or
pomegranate, or any colored picture or bright tin. Descending from
the ridiculous to the gruesome, I have known a mother scrape and
clean the bones of her dead daughter in order that _they_ might be
given a place on the altar. Round this venerated spot the goodwife,
with her palm-leaf broom, sweeps with assiduous care, and afterwards
carefully dusts her crucifix and other devotional objects with her
brush of ostrich feathers. Here she kneels in prayer to the different
saints. God Himself is never invoked. Saint Anthony interests himself
in finding her lost ring, and Saint Roque is a wonderful physician in
case of sickness. If she be a maiden Saint Carmen will find her a
suitable husband; if a widow, Saint John will be a husband to her;
and if an orphan, the sacred heart of the Virgin of Carmen gives
balsam to the forlorn one. Saint Joseph protects the artisan, and if
a candle is burnt in front of Saint Ramon, he will most obligingly
turn away the tempest or the lightning stroke. In all cases one
candle at least must be promised these mysterious benefactors, and
rash indeed would be the man or woman who failed to burn the candle;
some most terrible vengeance would surely overtake him or his family.
God, as I have said, is never invoked. Perhaps He is supposed to sit
in solitary grandeur while the saints administer His affairs? These
latter are innumerable, and whatever may be their position in the
minds of Romanists in other lands, in South America they are distinct
and separate gods, and their graven image, picture or carving is
worshipped as such.
When religious questions have not arisen, life in those remote
villages has passed very pleasantly. The people live in great
simplicity, knowing scarcely anything of the outside world and its
At the Feast of St. John the women take sheep and lambs, gaily
decorated with colored ribbons, to church with them. That is an act
of worship, for the priest puts his hand on each lamb and blesses it.
A _velorio_ for the dead, or a dance at a child's death, are
generally the only meetings beside the church; but, as the poet says:
"'Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout
All countries of the Catholic persuasion,
Some weeks before Shrove Tuiesiday comes about,
The people take their fill of recreation,
And buy repentance ere they grow devout,
However high their rank or low their station,
With fiddlling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking,
And other things which may be had for asking."
Carnival is a joyous time, and if for only once in the year the quiet
town then resounds with mirth. Pails of water are carried up to the
flat roofs of the houses, and each unwary pedestrian is in turn
deluged. At other times flour is substituted, and on the last day of
the feast ashes are thrown on all sides. At other seasons of the year
the streets are quiet, and after the rural pursuits of the day are
over, the guitar is brought out, and the evening breeze wafts waves
of music to each listening ear. The guitar is in all South America
what the bag-pipes are to Scotland-the national musical instrument of
the people. The Criollo plays mostly plaintive, broken airs--now so
low as to be almost inaudible, then high and shrill. Here and there
he accompanies the music with snatches of song, telling of an exploit
or describing the dark eyes of some lovely maiden. The airs strike
one as being very strange, and decidedly unlike the rolling songs of
In those interior towns a very quiet life may be passed, far away
from the whistle of the railway engine. Everything is simplicity
itself, and it might almost be said of some that _time itself seems
at a standstill_. During the heat of the day the streets are entirely
deserted; shops are closed, and all the world is asleep, for that is
the _siesta_ time. "They eat their dinners and go to sleep--and could
they do better?"
After this the barber draws his chair out to the causeway and shaves
or cuts his customer's hair. Women and children sit at their doors
drinking mate and watching the slowly drawn bullock-carts go up and
down the uneven, unmade roads, bordered, not by the familiar maple,
but with huge dust-covered cactus plants, The bullocks all draw with
their horns, and the indolent driver sits on the yoke, urging forward
his sleepy animals with a poke of his cane, on the end of which he
has fastened a sharp nail. The _buey_ is very thick-skinned and would
not heed a whip. The wheels of the cart are often cut from a solid
piece of wood, and are fastened on with great hardwood pins in a most
primitive style. Soon after sunset all retire to their trestle beds.
In early morning the women hurry to mass. The Criollo does not break
his fast until nearly mid-day, so they have no early meal to prepare.
Even before it is quite light it is difficult to pass along the
streets owing to the custom they have of carrying their praying-
chairs with them to mass. The rich lady will be followed by her dark-
skinned maid bearing a sumptuously upholstered chair on her head. The
middle classes carry their own, and the very poor take with them a
palm-leaf mat of their own manufacture. When mass is over religion is
over for the day. After service they make their way down to the river
or pond, carrying on their heads the soiled linen. Standing waist-
high in the water, they wash out the stains with black soap of their
own manufacture, beating each article with hardwood boards made
somewhat like a cricketer's bat. The cloths are then laid on the sand
or stones of the shore. The women gossip and smoke until these are
dry and ready to carry home again ere the heat becomes too intense.
In a description of Argentine village life, I could not possibly omit
the priest, the "all in all" to the native, the temporal and
spiritual king, who bears in his hands the destinies of the living
and the dead. These men are the potentates of the people, who refer
everything to them, from the most trivial matter to the weightier one
of the saving of their souls after death. Bigotry and superstition
Renous, the naturalist, tells us that he visited one of these towns
and left some caterpillars with a girl. These she was to feed until
his return, that they might change to butterflies. When this was
rumored through the village, priest and governor consulted together
and agreed that it must be black heresy. When poor Renous returned
some time afterwards he was arrested.
The Argentine village priest is a dangerous enemy to the Protestant.
Many is the time he has insulted me to my face, or, more cowardly,
charged the school-boys to pelt and annoy me. In the larger towns the
priest has defamed me through the press, and when I have answered him
also by that means, he has heaped insult upon injury, excluded me
from society, and made me a pariah and a byword to the superstitious
people. I have been stoned and spat upon, hurled to the ground, had
half-wild dogs set on me, and my horse frightened that he might throw
me. I have been refused police help, or been called to the office to
give an account of myself, all because I was a Protestant, or
infidel, as they prefer to term it. At those times great patience was
needed, for at the least sign of resistance on my part I should have
been attacked by the whole village in one mass. The policeman on the
street has looked expectantly on, eager to see me do this, and on one
occasion he escorted me to the station for snatching a bottle from
the hand of a boy who was in the act of throwing it at my head.
Arriving there I was most severely reprimanded, although,
fortunately, not imprisoned.
Women have crossed themselves and run from me in terror to seek the
holy water bottle blessed by the father. Doors have been shut in my
face, and angry voices bade me begone, at the instigation of this
black-robed believer in the Virgin. Congregations of worshippers in
the dark-aisled church have listened to a fabulous description of my
mission and character, until the barber would not cut my hair or the
butcher sell me his meat! Many a mother has hurriedly called her
children in and precipitately shut the door, that my shadow in
passing might not enter and pollute her home. Perhaps a senorita,
more venturesome, with her black hair hanging in two long plaits
behind each shoulder, has run to her iron-barred window to smile at
me, and then penitently fallen before her patron saint imploring
forgiveness, or hurried to confess her sin to the wily _padre_. If
the confession was accompanied by a gift, she has been absolved by
him; if she were poor, her tear-stained face, perhaps resembling that
of the suffering Madonna over the confessional, has moved his heart
to tenderness, for well he knows that
"Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,
And Mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair."
The punishment imposed has only been that she repeat fifty or a
hundred _Ave Marias_ or _Paternosters_. Poor deluded creature! Her
sin only consisted in permitting her black eyes to gaze on me as I
passed down the street.
"These poor creatures often go to confession, not to be forgiven the
wretched past, but to get a new license to commit sin. One woman, to
whom we offered a tract, refused it, and, showing us an indulgence of
three hundred days, said: 'These are the papers I like.'"
A young university man in the capital confessed that he had never
read the New Testament and never would read it, because he knew it
was against the Church of Rome. The mass of the people have not the
slightest notion of goodness, as we count piety, and lying is not
considered wrong. A native will often entreat the help of his
favorite saint to commit a theft.
"To the Protestant the idea of religion without morals is
inconceivable; but in South America Romanism divorces morals and
religion. It is quite possible to break every command of the
Decalogue and yet be a devoted, faithful Romanist." [Footnote: Rev.
J. H. La Fetra, in "Protestant Missions in South America"]
I can only describe Roman Catholicism on the South American continent
as a species of heathenism. The Church, to gain proselytes, accepted
the old gods of the Indians as saints, and we find idolatrous
superstition and Catholic display blended together. The most ignorant
are invariably the most pious. The more civilized the Criollo
becomes, the less he believes in the Church, and the priest in return
condemns him to eternal perdition.
"It is not necessary to detail the multitude of pagan superstitions
with which the religion of South America is encumbered. It is enough
to point out that it does not preach Christ crucified and risen
again. It preaches Mary, whom it proclaims from the lips of thousands
of lecherous priests to be of perpetual virginity. And it is by its
deliberate falsehood and deceit, as well as by its misrepresentation,
that the Roman Catholic Church in South America has not only not
taught Christianity, but has directly fostered deception and untruth
of character." [Footnote: Missions in South America. Robert E.
When I desired respectfully to enter a church with bared head and
deferential mien, they have followed me to see that I did not steal
the trinkets from the saints or desecrate the altar. If I have
touched the font of holy water, instead of it purifying me, I have
defiled it for their use; and when I have looked at the images of the
saints the people have seen them frown at me. After my exit the
priest would sprinkle holy water on the spots where I had stood, to
drive away "the evil influence."
In those churches one may see an image, with inscription beneath,
stating that those who kiss it receive an indulgence for sin and a
promise of heaven. When preaching in Parana I inadvertently dropped a
word in disparagement of the worship of the Virgin, when, quick as
thought, a man dashed towards me with gleaming steel. The Criollo's
knife never errs, and one sharp lunge too well completes his task;
but an old Paraguayan friend then with me sprang upon him and dashed
the knife to the ground, thus leaving my heart's blood warm within
me, and not on the pavement. I admired my antagonist for the strength
of his convictions--true loyalty he displayed for his goddess, who,
however, does not, I am sure, teach her devotees to assassinate those
who prefer to put their faith rather in her Divine Son. Had I been
killed the priest would on no account have buried me, and would most
willingly have absolved the assassin and kept him from the "arm of
justice." That arm in those places is very short indeed, for I have
myself met dozens of murderers rejoicing in their freedom. Hell is
only for Protestants.
On the door of my lodging I found one morning a written paper, well
pasted on, which read:
MUERA! VIVA LA VIRGEN CON TODOS LOS SANTOS!
"_Die! Live the Virgin and all the Saints!_" That paper I took from
the door and keep as a souvenir of fanaticism.
The Bible is an utterly unknown book, except to the priests, who
forbid its entrance to the houses. It, however, could do little good
or harm, for the masses of the people are utterly unlettered. All
Protestant literature stolen into the town is invariably gathered and
burned by the priest, who would not hesitate also to burn the bringer
if he could without fear of some after-enquiry into the matter.
[Illustration: THE WORLD'S LARGFST ROCKING STONE, TANDIL, ARGENTINA.
This immense stone is so evenly poised that the wind or the slightest
touch of the hand sets it in motion but the storms of the centuries
have failed to dislodge it.]
Rome is to-day just what she always was. Her own claim and motto is:
_Semper idem_ (Always the same). But for this age of enlightenment
her inquisitorial fires would still burn. "Rome's contention is, not
that she does not persecute, but only that she does not persecute
_saints_. She punishes heretics--a very different thing. In the
Rhemish New Testament there is a note on the words, 'drunken with the
blood of saints,' which runs as follows: 'Protestants foolishly
expound this of Rome _because heretics are there put to death_. But
_their_ blood is not called _the blood of saints_, any more than the
blood of thieves or man-killers, or other malefactors; and for the
shedding of it no commonwealth shall give account.'"
During my residence in Argentina a Jesuit priest in Cordoba publicly
stated that if he had his way he would burn to death every Protestant
in the country.
The following statements are from authorized documents, laws and
decrees of the Papacy:
"The papacy teaches all her adherents that it is a sacred duty to
"Urban II. issued a decree that the murder of heretics was excusable.
'We do not count them murderers who, burning with the zeal of their
Catholic mother against the excommunicate, may happen to have slain
some of them.'" [Footnote: "Romanism and Reformation."]
In Argentine life the almanac plays an important part; in that each
day is dedicated to the commemoration of some saint, and the child
born must of necessity be named after the saint on whose day he or
she arrives into the world. The first question is, "What name does it
bring?" The baby may have chosen to come at a time when the calendar
shows an undesirable name, still the parents grumble not, for a saint
is a saint, and whatever names they bear must be good. The child is,
therefore, christened "Caraciollo," or "John Baptist," when, instead
of growing up to be a forerunner of Christ, he or she may, with more
likelihood, be a forerunner of the devil. Whatever name a child
brings, however, has Mary tacked on to it.
All names serve equally well for male or female children, as a
concluding "o" or "a" serves to distinguish the sex. Many men bear
the name of Joseph Mary. Numbers, also, both male and female, have
been baptized by the name of "Jesus," "Saviour," or "Redeemer." If I
were asked the old question, "What's in a name?" I should answer,
"Very little," for in South America the most insolent thief will
often boast in the appellation of _Don Justice_, and the lowest girl
in the village may be _Senorita Celestial_. _Don Jesus_ may be found
incarcerated for riotous conduct, and I have known _Don Saviour_
throw his unfortunate wife and children down a well; _Don Destroyer_
would have been a more appropriate name for him. _Mrs. Angel_ her
husband sometimes finds not such an angel after all, when she puts
poison into his mate cup, a not infrequent occurrence. Let none be
deceived in thinking that the appellation is any index to a man's
Dark, needy people--Rome's true children!
The school-books read: Which is the greatest country? _Ans._, Spain.
Who is the greatest man? _Ans._, The Pope. Why? Because he is
It is his wish, and the priest's duty, to keep them in this darkness.
Yet,--One came from God, "a light to lighten the Gentiles," and He
said, "I am the Light of the world." Some day they may hear of Him
and themselves see the Light.
Already the day is breaking, and superstition must prepare to hide
itself. The uneducated native no longer pursues the railway train at
thundering pace to lasso it because the priest raved against its
being built. He even in some cases doubts if it is "an invention of
hell," as he was taught.
The educated native, Alberdi, a publicist and an advocate of freedom,
in the discussion over religious rights of foreigners in the
Argentine, wrote: "Spanish America reduced to Catholicism, with the
exclusion of any other cult, represents a solitary and silent convent
of monks. The dilemma is fatal,--either Catholics and unpopulated, or
populated and prosperous and tolerant in the matter of religion."
TEE PRAIRIE AND ITS INHABITANTS.
The Pampas, or prairie lands of the Argentine, stretch to the south
and west of Buenos Ayres, and cover some 800,000 square miles. On
this vast level plain, watered by sluggish streams or shallow lakes,
boundless as the ocean, seemingly limitless in extent, there is an
exhilarating air and a rich herbage on which browse countless herds
of cattle, horses, and flocks of sheep. The grass grows tall, and
miles upon miles of rich scarlet, white, or yellow flowers mingle
with or overtop it. Beds of thistles, in which the cattle completely
hide themselves, stretch away for leagues and leagues, and present an
almost unbroken sheet of purple flowers. So vast are these thistle-
beds that a day's ride through them only leaves the traveller with
the same purple forest stretching away to the horizon. The florist
would be enchanted to see whole tracts of land covered by the
_Verbena Melindres_, which appears, even long before you reach it, to
be of a bright scarlet. There are also acres and acres of the many-
flowered camomile and numberless other plants; while large tracts of
low-lying land are covered with coarse pampa grass, affording shelter
for numberless deer, and many varieties of ducks, cranes, flamingoes,
swans and turkeys. Wood there is none, with the exception of a
solitary tree here and there at great distances, generally marking
the site of some cattle establishment OP _estancia_. An _ombu_, or
cluster of blue gums, is certain to be planted there.
On this prairie, man, notwithstanding the fact that he is the "lord
of creation," is decidedly in the minority. Millions of four-footed
animals roam the plains, but he may be counted by hundreds. Let us
turn to him, however, in his isolated home, for the _Gaucho_ has been
described as one of the most interesting races on the face of the
earth. A descendant of the old conquerors, who, leaving their fair
ones in the Spanish peninsula, took unto them as wives the unclothed
women of the new world, he inherits the color and habits of the one
with the vices and dignity of the other. Living the wild, free life
of the Indian, and retaining the language of Spain; the finest
horseman of the world, and perhaps the worst assassin; the most open-
handed and hospitable, yet the accomplished purloiner of his
neighbor's cattle; imitating the Spaniard in the beautifully-chased
silver trappings of his horse, and the untutored Indian in his
miserable adobe hovel; spending his whole wealth in heavy gold or
silver bell-shaped stirrups, bridle, or spurs (the rowel of the
latter sometimes having a diameter of six inches), and leaving his
home destitute of the veriest necessities of life--such is the
Gaucho. A horn or shell from the river's bed makes his spoon, gourds
provide him with his plates and dishes; but his knife, with gold or
silver handle and sheath, is almost a little fortune in itself.
Content in his dwelling to sit on a bullock's skull, on horseback his
saddle must be mounted in silver. His own beard and hair he seldom
trims, but his horse's mane and tail must be assiduously tended. The
baked-mud floor of his abode is littered with filth and dirt, while
he raves at a speck of mud on his embroidered silk saddle-cloth.
The Gaucho is a strange contradiction. He has blushed at my good but
plain-looking saddle, yet courteously asked me to take a skull seat.
He may possess five hundred horses, but you search his kitchen in
vain for a plate. If you please him he will present you with his best
horse, waving away your thanks. If you displease him, his long knife
will just as readily find its way to your heart, for he kills his
enemies with as little compunction as he kills the ostrich. "The
Gaucho, with his proud and dissolute air, is the most unique of all
South American characters. He is courageous and cruel, active and
tireless. Never more at ease than when on the wildest horse; on the
ground, out of his element. His politeness is excessive, his nature
fierce." The children do not, like ours, play with toys, but delight
the parents' hearts by teasing a cat or dog. These they will stick
with a thorn or pointed bone to hear them yell, or, later on, lasso
and half choke them. "They will put out their eyes, and such like
childish games, innocent little darlings that they are." Cold-blooded
torture is their delight, and they will cheer at the sight of blood.
To describe the dress of this descendant of Adam I feel myself
incapable. A shirt and a big slouch hat seem to be the only articles
of attire like ours. Coat, trousers or shoes he does not wear.
Instead of the first mentioned, he uses the _poncho_, a long, broad
blanket, with a slit in the centre to admit his head. For trousers he
wears very wide white drawers, richly embroidered with broad
needlework and stiffly starched. Over these he puts a black
_chiripa_, which really I cannot describe other than as similar to
the napkins the mother provides for her child. Below this black and
white leg covering come the long boots, made from one piece of
seamless hide. These boots are nothing more than the skin from the
hind legs of an animal--generally a full-grown horse. The bend of the
horse's leg makes the boot's heel. Naturally the toes protrude, and
this is not sewn up, for the Gaucho never puts more than his big toe
in the stirrup, which, like the bit in his horse's mouth, must be of
solid silver. A dandy will beautifully scallop these rawhide boots
around the tops and toes, and keep them soft with an occasional
application of grease. No heel is ever attached. Around the man's
waist, holding up his drawers and chiripa, is wound a long colored
belt, with tasseled ends left hanging over his boot, down the right
side; and over that he invariably wears a broad skin belt, clasped at
the front with silver and adorned all around with gold or silver
coins. In this the long knife is carried.
What shall I say of the domestic life of these people? Unfortunately,
marriage is practically unknown among them. The father gives his son
a few cattle, and the young man, after building himself a house,
conducts thither his chosen one. Unhappily, constancy in either man
or woman is a rare virtue.
Of the superstitious side of the Gancho race I might speak much. In
the saints the female especially implicitly believes. These, her
deities, are all-powerful, and to them she appeals for the
satisfaction of her every desire. Saint Clementina's help is sought
by the girl when her lover betrays her. Another saint will aid her in
poisoning him. If the wife thinks her husband long in bringing the
evening meal, she has informed me, a word with Saint Anthony is
sufficient, and she hears the sound of his horse's hoofs. Saint
Anthony seems to be useful on many occasions of distress. One evening
I called at a _rancho_ made of dry thistle-stalks bound together with
hide and thatched with reeds, Finding the inmates very hospitable, I
stayed there two or three hours to rest. Coming out of the house
again, I found to my dismay that during our animated gossip my horse
had broken loose and left me. Now the loss of a horse is too trivial
a matter to interest Anthony the saint, but a horse having saddle and
bridle attached to him makes it quite a different matter, for these
often cost ten times the price of the horse. One of the saint's
especial duties is to find a lost saddled horse, if the owner or
interested one only promises to burn a candle in his honor. The night
was very dark, and no sign of the animal was to be seen. Mine host
laid his ear to the ground and listened, then, leaping on his horse,
he galloped into the darkness, from whence he brought my lost animal.
I did not learn until afterwards that Mrs. Jesus, for such was the
woman's name, had sought the help of Saint Anthony on my behalf. I am
sure she lost her previous good opinion of me when I thanked her
husband but did not offer a special colored candle to her saint.
Among these strange people I commenced a school, and had the joy of
teaching numbers of them to read the Spanish Bible. Boys and girls
came long distances on horseback, and, although some of them had
perhaps never seen a book before, I found them exceedingly quick to
learn. In four or five months the older ones were able to read any
ordinary chapter. In arithmetic they were inconceivably dull, and
after three months' tuition some of them could not count ten.
I have said the saints are greatly honored among these people. My
Christmas cards generally found their way to adorn their altars.
Every house has its favorite, and some of these are regarded as
especially clever in curing sickness. It being a very unhealthful,
low-lying district where my school was, I contracted malarial fever,
and went to bed very sick. Every day some of the children would come
to enquire after me, but Celestino, one of the larger boys, came one
morning with a very special message from his mother. This
communication was to the effect that they did not wish the school-
teacher to die, he being "rather a nice kind of a man and well
liked." Because of this she would be pleased to let me have her
favorite saint. This image I could stand at the head of my bed, and
its very presence would cure me. When I refused this offer and smiled
at its absurdity, the boy thought me very strange. To be so wise in
some respects, and yet so ignorant as to refuse such a chance, was to
him incomprehensible. The saints, I found, are there often lent out
to friends that they may exercise their healing powers, or rented out
to strangers at so much a day, When they are not thus on duty, but in
a quiet corner of the hut, they get lonely. The woman will then go
for a visit, taking her saint with her, either in her arms or tied to
the saddle. This image she will place with the saint her host owns,
and _they will talk together and teach one another_. A saint is
supposed to know only its own particular work, although one named
Santa Rita is said to be a worker of impossibilities. Some of them
are only very rudely carved images, dressed in tawdry finery. I have
sometimes thought that a Parisian doll of modern make, able to open
and close its eyes, etc., would in their esteem be even competent to
raise the dead! [Footnote: Writing of Spanish American Romanism,
Everybody's Magazine says: "To the student of human nature, which
means the study of evil as well as good, this religious body is of
absorbing interest. One would look to find these enthusiasts
righteous and virtuous in their daily life; but, apart from the
annual week of penance, their religion influences them not at all,
and on the whole the members of the Brotherhood constitute a
desperate class, dangerous to society."]
In cases of sickness very simple remedies are used, and not a few
utterly nonsensical. To cure pains in the stomach they tie around
them the skin of the _comadreka_, a small, vile-smelling animal. This
they told me was a sovereign remedy. If the sufferer be a babe, a
cross made on its stomach is sufficient to perfectly cure it. I have
seen seven pieces of the root of the white lily, which there grows
wild, tied around the neck of an infant in order that its teeth might
come with greater promptitude and less pain. A string of dog's teeth
serves the same purpose. To cure a bad wound, the priest will be
called in that he may write around the sore some Latin prayer
backwards. Headache is easily cured by tying around the head the
cast-off skin of a snake. Two puppies are killed and bound one on
each side of a broken limb. If a charm is worn around the neck no
poison can be harmful. For a sore throat it is sufficient to
expectorate in the fire three times, making a cross. Lockjaw is
effectually stopped by tying around the sufferer's jaws the strings
from a virgin's skirt; and they say also that powdered excrement of a
dog, taken in a glass of water, cures the smallpox patient,
As Mrs. Jesus sent her boy to my school, so Mrs. Flower sent her
girl. The latter was perhaps the most deluded woman I have met. Her
every act was bad in itself or characterized by superstitious
devotion. She was one of the Church's favorite worshippers, and while
I was in the neighborhood she sold her cows and horses and presented
the priest at the nearest town with a large and expensive silver
cross--the emblem of suffering purity. Near her lived a person for
whom she had an especial aversion, but that enemy she got rid of in
surely the strangest of ways, which she described to me. Catching a
snake, and holding it so that its poison might not reach her, she
passed a threaded needle through both its eyes. When this was done
she let it go again, alive, and, carefully guarding the needle,
approached the person from behind and made a cross with the thread.
The undesired one disappeared, having probably heard of the
enchantment, and being equally superstitious, or--the charm worked!
Mrs. Flower was a most repulsive-looking creature. Her skin was
exactly the color of an old copper coin. She did not resemble any
_flower_ I have seen in either hemisphere. Far was she from being a
rose, but she certainly possessed the thorn. Her love for the saints
was most marked, and I have known her promise St. Roque that she
would walk six miles carrying his image if he would only grant her a
certain prayer. This petition he granted, and off she trudged with
her divine (?) load. Those acquainted with dwellers on the prairie
know that this was indeed a great task, horses being so cheap and
riding so universal. Mrs. Flower was unaccustomed to walk even the
shortest distance. I myself can bear witness to the fact that even
strong men find it hard to walk a mile after spending years in
equestrian travel. The native tells you that God formed your legs so
that you might be able to sit on a horse rather than to walk with
them. A favorite expression with them is, "I was born on horseback."
Stone not being found on the pampas, these people generally build
their houses of square sods, with a roof of plaited grasses--
sometimes I have observed these beautifully woven together. Two or
more holes, according to the size of the house, are left to serve for
door and window. Wood cannot be obtained, glass has not been
introduced, so the holes are left as open spaces, across which, when
the pampa wind blows, a hide is stretched. No hole is left in the
roof for the smoke of the fire to escape, for this to the native is
no inconvenience whatever. When I have been compelled to fly with
racking cough and splitting head, he has calmly asked the reason.
Never could I bear the blinding smoke that issues from his fire of
sheep or cow dung burning on the earthen floor, though he heeds it
not as, sitting on a bullock's skull, he ravenously eats his evening
If entertaining a stranger, he will press uncut joint after joint of
his _asado_ upon him. This asado is meat roasted over the fire on a
spit; if beef, with the skin and hair still attached. Meat cooked in
this way is a real delicacy. A favorite dish with them (I held a
different opinion) is a half-formed calf, taken before its proper
time of birth. The meat is often dipped in the ashes in lieu of salt.
I have said the Gaucho has no chair. I might add that neither has he
a table, for with his fingers and knife he eats the meat off the
fire. Forks he is without, and a horn or shell spoon conveys the soup
to his mouth direct from the copper pan. So universal is the use of
the shell for this service that the native does not speak of it as
_caracol_, the real word for shell, but calls it _cuchara del agua_,
or water spoon. Of knives he possesses more than enough, and heavy,
long, sharp-pointed ones they are. When his hunger is appeased the
knife goes, not to the kitchen, but to his belt, where, when not in
his hand, you may always see it. With that weapon he kills a sheep,
cuts off the head of a serpent--seemingly, however, not doing it much
harm, for it still wriggles--sticks his horse when in anger, and,
alas, as I have said, sometimes stabs his fellow-man. Being so far
isolated from the coast, he is necessarily entirely uneducated. The
forward march of the outer world concerns him not; indeed he imagines