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mountains, dotted over with the pale evergreen Quillay tree, and with the great chandelier-like cactus, are certainly more to be admired than the bare eastern valleys; but I cannot quite agree with the admiration expressed by some travellers. The extreme pleasure, I suspect, is chiefly owing to the prospect of a good fire and of a good supper, after escaping from the cold regions above: and I am sure I most heartily participated in these feelings.
8th.—We left the valley of the Aconcagua, by which we had descended, and reached in the evening a cottage near the Villa de St. Rosa. The fertility of the plain was delightful: the autumn being advanced, the leaves of many of the fruit-trees were falling; and of the labourers,-some were busy in drying figs and peaches on the roofs of their cottages, while others were gathering the grapes from the vineyards. It was a pretty scene; but I missed that pensive stillness which makes the autumn in England indeed the evening of the year. On the 10th we reached Santiago, where I received a very kind and hospitable reception from Mr. Caldcleugh. My excursion only cost me twenty-four days, and never did I more deeply enjoy an equal space of time. A few days afterwards I returned to Mr. Corfield's house at Valparaiso.
COAST-ROAD TO COQUIMBO.
Coast-road to Coquimbo-Great loads carried by the miners-CoquimboEarthquake Step-formed terraces-Absence of recent deposits-Contemporaneousness of the Tertiary formations-Excursion up the valleyRoad to Guasco-Deserts-Valley of Copiapó-Rain and earthquakes— Hydrophobia The Despoblado-Indian Ruins-Probable change of climate-River-bed arched by an earthquake-Cold gales of wind--Noises from a hill-Iquique-Salt alluvium-Nitrate of soda-Lima-Unhealthy country-Ruins of Callao, overthrown by an earthquake-Recent subsidence-Elevated shells on San Lorenzo, their decomposition-Plain with embedded shells and fragments of pottery-Antiquity of the Indian Race.
NORTHERN CHILE AND PERU.
April 27th.-I SET out on a journey to Coquimbo, and thence through Guasco to Copiapó, where Captain Fitz Roy kindly offered to pick me up in the Beagle. The distance in a straight line along the shore northward is only 420 miles; but my mode of travelling made it a very long journey. I bought four horses and two mules, the latter carrying the luggage on alternate days. The six animals together only cost the value of twenty-five pounds sterling, and at Copiapó I sold them again for twenty-three. We travelled in the same independent manner as before, cooking our own meals, and sleeping in the open air. As we rode towards the Viño del Mar, I took a farewell view of Valparaiso, and admired its picturesque appearance. For geological purposes I made a detour from the high road to the foot of the Bell of Quillota. We passed through an alluvial district rich in gold, to the neighbourhood of Limache, where we slept. Washing for gold supports the inhabitants of numerous hovels, scattered along the sides of each little rivulet; but, like all those whose gains are uncertain, they are unthrifty in their habits, and consequently poor.
28th.-In the afternoon we arrived at a cottage at the foot of the Bell mountain. The inhabitants were freeholders, which is not very usual in Chile. usual in Chile. They supported themselves on the pro
duce of a garden and a little field, but were very poor. Capital is here so deficient, that the people are obliged to sell their green corn while standing in the field, in order to buy necessaries for the ensuing year. Wheat in consequence was dearer in the very district of its production than at Valparaiso, where the contractors live. The next day we joined the main road to Coquimbo. At night there was a very light shower of rain: this was the first drop that had fallen since the heavy rain of September 11th and 12th, which detained me a prisoner at the Baths of Cauquenes. The interval was seven and a half months; but the rain this year in Chile was rather later than usual. The distant Andes were now covered by a thick mass of snow; and were a glorious sight.
May 2nd. The road continued to follow the coast, at no great distance from the sea. The few trees and bushes which are common in central Chile decreased rapidly in numbers, and were replaced by a tall plant, something like a yucca in appearance. The surface of the country, on a small scale, was singularly broken and irregular; abrupt little peaks of rock rising out of small plains or basins. The indented coast and the bottom of the neighbouring sea, studded with breakers, would, if converted into dry land, present similar forms; and such a conversion without doubt has taken place in the part over which we rode.
3rd.—Quilimari to Conchalee. The country became more and more barren. In the valleys there was scarcely sufficient water for any irrigation; and the intermediate land was quite bare, not supporting even goats. In the spring, after the winter showers, a thin pasture rapidly springs up, and cattle are then driven down from the Cordillera to graze for a short time. It is curious to observe how the seeds of the grass and other plants seem to accommodate themselves, as if by an acquired habit, to the quantity of rain which falls on different parts of this coast. One shower far northward at Copiapó produces as great an effect on the vegetation, as two at Guasco, and as three or four in this district. At Valparaiso a winter so dry as greatly to injure the pasture, would at Guasco produce the most unusual abundance. Proceeding northward, the quantity of rain does not appear to decrease in strict proportion to the latitude. At Conchalee,
which is only 67 miles north of Valparaiso, rain is not expected till the end of May; whereas, at Valparaiso some generally falls early in April: the annual quantity is likewise small in proportion to the lateness of the season at which it commences.
4th.-Finding the coast-road devoid of interest of any kind, we turned inland towards the mining district and valley of Illapel. This valley, like every other in Chile, is level, broad, and very fer tile: it is bordered on each side, either by cliffs of stratified shingle, or by bare rocky mountains. Above the straight line of the uppermost irrigating ditch, all is brown as on a high road; while all below is of as bright a green as verdigris, from the beds of alfarfa, a kind of clover. We proceeded to Los Hornos, another mining district, where the principal hill was drilled with holes, like a great ants'-nest. The Chilian miners are a peculiar race of men in their habits. Living for weeks together in the most desolate spots, when they descend to the villages on feast-days, there is no excess or extravagance into which they do not run. They sometimes gain a considerable sum, and then, like sailors with prize-money, they try how soon they can contrive to squander it. They drink excessively, buy quantities of clothes, and in a few days return penniless to their miserable abodes, there to work harder than beasts of burden. This thoughtlessness, as with sailors, is evidently the result of a similar manner of life. Their daily food is found them, and they acquire no habits of carefulness; moreover, temptation and the means of yielding to it are placed in their power at the same time. On the other hand, in Cornwall, and some other parts of England, where the system of selling part of the vein is followed, the miners, from being obliged to act and think for themselves, are a singularly intelligent and well-conducted set of men.
The dress of the Chilian miner is peculiar and rather picturesque. He wears a very long shirt of some dark-coloured baize, with a leathern apron; the whole being fastened round his waist by a bright-coloured sash. His trowsers are very broad, and his small cap of scarlet cloth is made to fit the head closely. We met a party of these miners in full costume, carrying the body of one of their companions to be buried. They marched at a very quick trot, four men supporting the corpse. One set having run as hard as they could for about two hundred yards,
were relieved by four others, who had previously dashed on ahead on horseback. Thus they proceeded, encouraging each other by wild cries: altogether the scene formed a most strange funeral.
We continued travelling northward, in a zigzag line; sometimes stopping a day to geologise. The country was so thinly inhabited, and the track so obscure, that we often had difficulty in finding our way. On the 12th I stayed at some mines. The ore in this case was not considered particularly good, but from being abundant it was supposed the mine would sell for about thirty or forty thousand dollars (that is, 6000 or 8000 pounds sterling); yet it had been bought by one of the English Associations for an ounce of gold (37. 8s.). The ore is yellow pyrites, which, as I have already remarked, before the arrival of the English, was not supposed to contain a particle of copper. On a scale of profits nearly as great as in the above instance, piles of cinders, abounding with minute globules of metallic copper, were purchased; yet with these advantages, the mining associations, as is well known, contrived to lose immense sums of money. The folly of the greater number of the commissioners and shareholders amounted to infatuation;-a thousand pounds per annum given in some cases to entertain the Chilian authorities; libraries of well-bound geological books; miners brought out for particular metals, as tin, which are not found in Chile; contracts to supply the miners with milk, in parts where there are no cows; machinery, where it could not possibly be used; and a hundred similar arrangements, bore witness to our absurdity, and to this day afford amusement to the natives. Yet there can be no doubt, that the same capital well employed in these mines would have yielded an immense return: a confidential man of business, a practical miner and assayer, would have been all that was required.
Captain Head has described the wonderful load which the Apires," truly beasts of burden, carry up from the deepest mines. I confess I thought the account exaggerated; so that I was glad to take an opportunity of weighing one of the loads, which I picked out by hazard. It required considerable exertion on my part, when standing directly over it, to lift it from the ground. The load was considered under weight when found to