Letters from the Battlefields of Paraguay/Letters 19-27

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LETTER XIX. FROM humaitA to guardia tacuAra.

Guardia Tacuara, August 29, 1868,

My dear Z ,

I was not sorry to leave Humaita as soon as its interest was sucked dry. Two men had deserted from the Linnet, and doubtless joined the service ; one unfortu- nately had been drowned^ and the steward was missing for some days. All looked forward with anxiety to the next six months. On the 26th of August the wet season began to break up^ and the change was heralded by a storm of sheet lightning. At 3 a.m. on the 27th there was a blaze of forked lightning, which lit up the thick black clouds^ and which was accompanied by loud, sharp thunderings, here said to be rare. The United States screw-steamer Wasp, Lieutenant-Commander Kirkland, arrived in the evening, and steamed off for Asuncion. All was darkness and mystery : the soldier and the sailor politician are usually extra political. They are converts opposed to old churchmen, volunteers contrasted with the regulars. Although there is a letter- bag for the British detenus on board the Linnet, I could not find out their names, and, as for their numbers, it was succinctly and roundly said that the English-speaking em- ployes might number one hundred, and the total of foreigners one thousand.

The chart gives thirty-two miles between Humaita and Tacuara ; but we shall cover fifty-two between 10 a.m. and night. The current may average 1'5 knots per hour. Passing the Andai redoubt, we saw that the ditches were


864 FROM HUMAITA TO GUARDIA TACUARA.

â– filled^ the parapet was levelled^ the abatis was pulled up,, and the garrison was being shipped off. After Timbiithe banks became lower_, and were not so easily to be defended. About noon we steamed past Tayi^ pronounced Taji : it is so named from a tree also called the Lapacho,, one of the BignoniacisBj which supplies a fine cabinet wood. Here on the eastern bank were batteries subtending the normal horseshoe : it had been judged necessary to dislodge from them the Paraguayans in order to surround and completely to cut off the communications of Humaita The line sweeps to the east and forms a narrow; its tall barranca is about one mile long^ and falls above and below into woods and lowlands. Being shelving^ and not^ as usual_, perpendicular, it is easier to attack ; still it commands the mouth of the Bio Bermejo, and it sweeps the stream with a cross fire up and down from two to two miles and a half : the settle- ment shows nothing but a dwarf cross and a tall mangrullo on a bald point of land ; its few wattle and dab tents and hovelsj near the whitewashed church, are abandoned by all living things save the vulture. There is also a little bridge on the high road to the capital. At the far side of the river is the paddle-wheel of another small Paraguayan steamer sunk by the Brazilians.

Here again, on July 9, 1868, two ironclads, the Barroso and the Rio Grande, were attacked by twenty-four canoes, each carrying ten " bogabantes,^ as the corps trained to such service was called. The affair repeated that of Humaita ; and the crew of the Rio Grande, when boarded by the enemy, shut themselves up under hatches, and the Barroso, which had been passed by the assailant, came up and cleared the decks of her consort with grape and canister. After this affair the Brazilians thought it wise to bar the stream with a boom.

We then passed a narrow gap in the eastern bank, an


FROM humaitA to guardia tacuAra. 305

entrance to the lagoon wliicli forms a short cut to El Pilar. This feature is the '^ furado/' the *^ parana-mirim/' and the " ypoeira of Brazilian rivers. In Lieutenant Day's chart it is laid down as the Rio and Guardia of Monte Rico, an error for La Monterita — the Little monte. At 12'40 p.m. we sighted that classical and important influent the Rio Bermejo (Red River), alias Rio Grande. Here, in 1528, " El buen Gaboto ^' first saw the savages adorned with gold and silver, and imagined the grand misnomer " Rio de la Plata. The valuables, according to Herrera, were taken by the Payaguas, who had entered into the dominions of Huana Ceapac : Charlevoix, however, asserts that they were the spoils of the Portuguese Alexis Garcia, who crossed the continent from the Brazil to Peru, and who was killed in Paraguay by the Payaguas, not without suspicion of foul play on the part of the Spaniards.

The general opinion now is that the streams feeding the main artery from the west run through red saliferous marls and sandstones, whereas that the waters of the Parana are clear, sweet, and wholesome. But DobrizhofFer declares that the Bermejo is especially salubrious in cases of vesical disease ; and all the travellers who have lately investigated it assert that the colouring matter is merely oxide of iron from the red clay, probably the drift of Professor Agassiz. The Bermejo draining the Eastern Andes and the Gran Chaco plain, averages five feet deep from Oran in the Salta Province to the Paraguay. About ] 856 Sor Arce, a Bolivian^ navigated 2000 miles with a raft, and in 1862-3, Captain Lavarello took up the steamer Gran Chaco.

The mouth of the great influent is about 200 yards across. The southern or right jaw is low, sandy, and densely grown with bush : that opposite is high and per- pendicular, and the two contain a small delta of monte and water-grass. Fine timber appears up stream, where


360 FROM htjmaitA to guardia tacuAra.

the land is evidently on a higher plane. A reddish-yellow line crosses the mouthy and for a short distance forms a distinct vein along the right bank of the Paraguay.

Above the Bermejo the vegetation is on a larger scale : the current of the main artery slackens,, and the vrater becomes limpid as that of the Parana. The eastern bank is concealed by the long, narrow river-curves which the furado forms. Presently, where Lieutenant Day^s chart (1858) shows " narrow pass, 21 to 24 feet/^ we found an island splitting the channel, and growing trees twenty-five feet high. This place adds a fresh instance to Dobriz- hofPer^s chapter upon " The creation of fresh islands, and the destruction of old ones." The extent of physical change may be estimated by comparing the chart with the running survey of Captain Sullivan, R.N., between Parana and Corrientes, in 1847 ; and a careful study of the current-action might detect some natural law governing the oscillatory movements of meridional waters.

About three miles above the newly created island is the little town with the long name. Villa de Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Neembucu, which formerly was tout bonnewent Neembucu. The latter word, also written Nembucu, is the name of a large estero lying to the east of the Paraguay, and it is translated " palavra larga," — a long word, possibly from the extent of the swamp. Between El Pilar and the Parana river, the surface of 7 to 8 Paraguayan leagues,* forming the Guazucua Department, is said to be all mud and water. The distance from Humaita is computed at fifteen miles along the land road, and seven leagues by the river. Between El Pilar and the Estancia de Yacare, where the Brazilian headquarters now are, is a seven- league march.


  • The Paragua3'an league reckons 5000, and the Correntine 6000 varas :

both, however, are estimated, not measured.


FROM humaitA to guardia tacuAra. 367

During the days of Dr. Francia, El Pilar, I have told you, was the terminus of ship navigation and the gaol of foreigners. With its 3000 souls, which travellers have exaggerated to 8000 and 9000, it ranked third amongst Para- guayan towns; Asuncion and Villa Rica taking higher rank. The solid land immediately about it grows, besides oranges, small maize, porongos or pumpkins, and excellent cotton : it might also be made to produce rice.

El Pilar was occupied on September 20, 1867, by the late Brigadier the Barao do Triumpho (Jose Joaquim de Andrade Neves) and by the Argentine General Hornos. About 200 Paraguayan defenders were killed, and two guns were cap- tured ; it is said that when the enemy entered he found some women shot. It had before been a Paraguayan hospital, and almost every house bore upon it the word " enfermeria.^^ Here, as well as at Asuncion and all other places where there was anything to plunder, the Brazilians are said to have committed outrages. This is possible ; some 2243 serviles were bought for the army between November 13, 1865, and April 20, 1868. On the other hand, it is certain that the Basque and Italian sutlers and camp-followers were the vilest of the vile, and they were still murdering one another when we passed. Our own countrymen also distinguished themselves : one walked off with a church bell ; and two others, having dressed up a life-sized image from a crucifix in blue jacket and duck pants, walked down with it arm-and-arm to the port, pre- tending that their comrade was much the worse for liquor.

At El Pilar the bank lowers, and, as usual, slopes inland. The riverward face shows a few straggling white huts, only one being an azotea, and the rest thatched or tiled roofs. The capitania is a mere bungalow, and its neighbouring tenement has come to grief, probably by a shell. Over the foreground move a few carretas, or Cape waggons, drawn by


'S6S FROM HUMAITA TO GUARDIA TACUARA.

six oxen. There is no sign of fortification. The main features of the interior are a church dedicated to the Virgin of El Pilar^ an elemental square, and a long grass-grown street^ the Calle del catorce de Maio^ running parallel with the barranca. It is backed by orange groves, with sweet fruit. In the stream lie two wrecks, and one Brazilian cannoniere rides at anchor.

Resuming our way from El Pilar of the Oranges, we passed on the left bank the Arroyo Neembucii and the Laguna de Oro. About four miles above the town, and thirty below our destination, was the bad bend, the Cancha de Gadea. Here, on September 4, the Linnet ran aground in a falling river, and narrowly escaped detention during the dry season. A cold south wind set in, and before night we anchored off the Guardia Tacuara — '^ the bamboo,^^ which Lieutenant Day corrupts to " Tacuava.^^ The port did not look so busy as that of Humaita, but the appearance of the craft was much more business-like. Here lay the mass of armoured fleet, fourteen in number. Five ironclads and floating batteries anchored up stream, looking much like dredges, with all but the central bit of bulwark cut away. From afar they resembled coffins or hearses upon gondolas or half-swamped barges. There were two double- turret ships, with 150-pounder Whit worths, and the rest were monitors. Battered chimneys, deeply-pitted towers, and bows pierced by steel-pointed cones, told the staunchness of the Paraguayan gunners; whilst the strong boarding-nets spoke volumes for the valour of the enemy. The flanks of the Brazil had been severely peppered by the shot of Curupaity, while the Lima Barros had her bulwarks converted into lace-work by the grape of her consort, which relieved her of Paraguayan boarders. Higher up the river were steamers embarking the wounded for the several hospitals down stream ; and the proveduria or


FROM HUMAITA to GUARDIA TACUARA. 369

commissariat Inilks awaited the bread and meat boats from Humaittl.

We lost no time in visiting the transport which bore the flag of the late Vice- Admiral Jose Joaquim Iguacio. As the lack of surname shows, he did not owe his promotion to high family; in fact, he was a Portuguese, and he was succeeded by a fellow-countryman, Vice- Admiral Elisiario. Upwards of sixty years old, he was one of Lord Dundonald^s (as w'ell of Lord Howe's) boys ; still active, despite the hard work which he had seen, a veteran with stiff grey hair, weather-beaten face, and burly form. The old soldier of a sailor — absit verbo invidia — received me with courtesy, though much occupied ; sent my card to the Commander-in- Chief, whom I was anxious to visit, and gave us both a general invitation to dinner. Lieutenant-Commander Bushe was very popular in the Brazilian fleet, and he has ably kept up the position of a neutral. It is no easy task to stand firm when so many influences are brought to bear upon one man — the public at home, the Admiralty, the diplomates at Buenos Aires, and last, but not least, the combatants.

The Vice- Admiral, speaking fluent English, began to en- large upon the " atrocities of Lopez,'"* and the necessity of the Brazil carrying on the war to the bitter end. Popular rumour declares that he is not fond of going to the front, and that once, after receiving two shots in his hull, he retreated. " You really must not expose yourself so reck- lesslyj my dear Admiral \" said to him a facetious French Secretary of Legation. " Where would be the Brazil if any accident happened to you ?" " No, I really must not !" was the reply. He is well known for a series of predictions that the campaign could not last above six weeks. Upon one point he was then very sore. The U.S. steam-ship TVasp had received orders to remove from Asuncion the American Charge d'Affaires. Her commander, however, was not per-

24


370 FROM humaitA to guardia tacuAra.

mitted to pass the Brazilian lines without promising that the neutral flag should not cover Marshal-President Lopez, whom all naively expected to run away from their valours ; or to convey his treasure, which was afterwards reported to have been embarked in the French gunboat La Decidee. In this matter the Brazilians acted unwisely : they should have been the first to build the golden bridge for a flying foe. But the old salt well knew that the President of Paraguay would make capital out of the appearance of the Wasp, and that other nations would also send up cruisers to visit their representatives ; effectively the North American craft was followed by four others within a few weeks.

Lieutenant-Commander Kirkland objected to pledge him- self, and a reference was sent to Rio de Janeiro. There the U.S. representative, General Webb, whose friends urged him not to endure Brazilian outrecuidance, and whose enemies accused him of a passion for ultimatums, declared that he would suspend relations unless Mr. Washburn was communicated with by a U.S. cruiser. The Empire vainly off'ered to embark the Minister at Paraguay in one of the Imperial vessels, but this was rejected; and finally, in her hour of need, she yielded to the Republic, or rather to its representative.

Lieutenant-Commander Kirkland then came up the river in triumph. He had lived long and had married in Monte Video, where he was considered to be a sympathizer with the Blanco party — that is to say, with Paraguay against the Allies. Arrived at Guardia Tacuara, he called upon the Vice-Admiral, and officially requested to be accompanied by a Brazilian ship of war carrying a white flag : when this was refused he dropped a few words touching his being uncourteously hindered in the performance of his duty. This offence, of course, rankled deep. Moreover, he steamed slowly up stream, anchoring (August 29) off the Tebicuary


FROM humaitA to guardia taciAra. 371

River, where hostilities were actually going on, with the object, said the Brazilians, of impeding their progress.

After his return to Monte Video, Lieutenant-Commander Kirkland was of course discreet. But greatly to the an- noyance of the Paraguayans, he took up with him a friend, acting interpreter, and Mr. Charles F. Davie did not hold himself equally bound to silence. From him it was gene- rally understood that the President of Paraguay expected to be driven by the superior weight of the Allies, from La Villeta his last resistance-point upon the river, but that he would then retire into the interior and offer all the new difficulties of a guerilla warfare. This style of campaign is here called guerra de recur sos — sem recursos (without ma- terials of war), added the Brazilians.

At Guardia Tacuara I was surprised by the Brazilian free- and-easy system of operations. The fall of Hiimaita has left their squadi'on free to advance, and yet they have moved during the last month only half a direct degree. Their ironclad vanguard squadron have already thrown shot into Asuncion. Why do they not do it again — or rather, why do they not occupy the capital? It is reported that Marshal- President Lopez is falling back fiom La Villeta. Why do they not reconnoitre ? Some petty hostilities are going on along the line of the Tebicuary. The ironclads unbank fires every morning, breakfast, leisurely steam up stream, bang away with their big guns at everything they see — we dis- tinctly hear their distant thunder — return before dark, dine, and sleep in all possible coziness.

This is comfort, Mais ce n'est pas la guerre !

Farewell.


24—2


LETTEE XX,

TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

Guardia Tacuara, August 31, 1869.

My dear Z ,

I visited the front sundry times^ and tlius had an opportunity of inspecting the Brazilian forces and of conversing with the chief officers. You shall have in this letter an account of my last day.

The first thing was to reconnoitre Guardia Tacuara. Its site resembles that of Curupaity, but it is even stronger. The E/ibera, or left bank^ perpendicular above and sloping below^ is tall and curving, whilst the stream is narrower and swifter than below. The Albardon or spit on the Gran Chaco opposite is an impassable swamp, with mud to the neck. North of the eastern shelf, where it is broken by swamps and hollows, are the old guard-house, the orange clumps, and the mangrullo, without any attempt at a forti- fication. The corral is composed of single or double palm- trunks, and the entrances are barred with three or four cross-pieces mortised into bevelled holes ; these easily-made stockades are very efficient. The pise walls are tunnelled by the house wasp (Vespa Polistes of Latreille), the Lechi- guana of Dobrizhoffer, and the modern Echiguano and Lecheguana. The thatch is made of the flat stalks of the Sape cane (d, saccharum), laid close upon laths below^ and plastered outside with clay.

Beyond the bank -ridge the plain is flaky with the last year's mud, and the fine new green grass appears to be ex- cellent fodder ; it is, however, bitter and acrid, and it killed


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 373

off the horses of the Brazilian cavalry. In some cases the bellies clove to the backs, as if the animals were starved ; in others the stomachs were enormously distended. As a rule, any sudden change of Querencia* (place of birth or habitual pasturage) is dangerous to animals : here it is deadly. More- over, it abounds in poisonous plants, locally known as Ro- marillo, Chucho, and Mio-mio. Many Brazilian officers of cavalry assured me that such was the case; yet M. Ben- jamin Poucel (Le Paraguay Moderne, Marseille, 1867), re- marking upon the assertion of an English newspaper, The very grass of Paraguay is, I am told, poisonous,^^ refers, in derision, ce monsieur the author, to the " first Gaucho venu,^^ and pathetically laments the manifold evils arising from " I am told/'

The common capim is undoubtedly deadly ; the " capim peludo â– â– ' being the only grass used for forage. This is, how- ever, rare ; and the Brazilians found it necessary to import up stream from Buenos Aires, Rozario, and other ports, countless cargoes of pressed alfalfa {medicago sativa). In favourable places down the river three crops a year are produced. The article was cheap, but it soon rose to 8/. per ton. It was terribly wasted by exposure to wind and weather, and in places I have seen it used to bridge swamps. This unexpected obstacle added prodigiously to the diffi- culties and to the expenses of the invader.

I passed an estancia, deserted since the war began — a long, low barn like that of the Guardia. Attached to it was an extensive potrero or paddock, made of palm-trunks: the term is sometimes applied to natural clearings in a forest. The potrero is larger than the corral, and it is a familiar feature in a land whose main industry is breeding. Here the camp-


  • Hence, aquerenciado is said of cattle confined to particular grazing

grounds.


374 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

road enters the bush ; it is already trodden into dust and mirC; with ruts eighteen inches deep. Of course, the freights are enormously high.

Entering the bush/^ I found a familiar vegetation. The grassy soil of the highest levels was scattered over with tree mottes, called Islas or Isletas de monte. Most of them were thorny aromas and aromitas (perfumed mimosas), bear- ing purse- nets that swung in the fresh breath of morning, and hung with fluffy golden balls, whose scent recalled the Fitnah of Egypt. Many were leguminous, especially the algaroba — the French carroubier and the carobbe of Italy — and the nandubay (acacia cavenia), which is found petrified in the Uruguay waters. Tillandsias were rampant upon the bough, and on the ferns sat pink-flowered bromelias, so com- mon in the Brazil. The absence of inundation was shown by huge ant-hills, low domes of loose dark earth. Where the floods did not extend regularly the surface was spotted with the wax-palm (Copernicia conifera). Its fan-shaped and thorn-fringed leaves were those of the curnahuba, as it appears upon the Rio de Sao Francisco ; but the trunk was prickly only in the upper part, denoting a diff"erence of species. Here it is termed carandai, or palma blanca, op- posed to the carandai-hu, or palma negra. Of the ^' vege- tation rabougrie,^^ the cactus and the caraguata bromelia ap- peared to be the most general. The birds were the anum (coprophagus), ^partridges f a large woodpecker, parroquets, and vultures soaring in search of carrion. Three snakes lay dead upon the path, and many snailshells were scattered about.

The road was easily told by broken-down commissariat carts and dead cattle ; a thousand head had been expended by the Brazilian Government between Humaita and this place. Here, as in the Brazil, the railway must take the place of the common highway. Further on, the road


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 375

became worse ; deep bailados had to be passed on ox-skulls, billets of wood, and bundles of pressed hay. Of these bridges each provedor made his own, and, after a few hours' use, the loads floundered through the mire. Carts, drawn by six to eight teams of bulls or bullocks, were tended by drivers on foot and on horseback, goading and flogging with shout and noise even louder than the creakings of the greaseless axles ; disputing the way, and not unfrequently using their daggers. The noisiest and most violent w^ere the negroes,

" a black infernal train : The genuine oflfspring of th' accursed Cain."

After trudging northward one short league from the Guardia Tacuara, I found a long field of black viscid mire which led to the Arroyo del Yacare — of the Cayman. This is a streamlet averaging four to five feet deep, and about fifty broad, which, after forming sundry swamps, discharges into the Tebicuary, the main drain of the valley. Here carts were hopelessly stuck, and wretched bullocks, with patient faces, slowly dying of hunger and thirst, sad- dened the eye. The din of war became tremendous — all spoke, none listened. The pontoon bridge having been removed, I persuaded a fellow, by means of a dollar, to let me cross the waist-deep ford upon his horse's crupper.

The right bank of the Arroyo showed the remnants of earthworks. To this point extended the much talked-of reconnaissance made (June 4, 1868 J by General Menna Barreto. That dashing officer, with 3000 cavalry, reaching the Yacare from Tuyucue, fell in with and cut up a picquet of some 50 Paraguayan troopers, Presently a larger body of Paraguayan horse, supported by infantry and backed by field fortifications, coming up, he was compelled to retreat with a trifling loss. Such is the Brazilian account. Lieutenant- Colonel Thompson (Chap. XX.) gives a very different version.


376 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

Beyond the Yacare extends east and west along the southern bank of the Tebicuary^ a loQg and swelling line of loma^ broken and fronted by banados. Upon the crest of the land-wave stood the h e ad quarter s_, and below it the tents of the body-guard. This was a mixed corps of Brazilians and foreigners^ commanded by a Prussian officer,, Comman- dante Meyer, who is in high favour and well spoken of. The Commander-in-Chief had occupied the Estancia Yacare, or de la P atria, a State property, or, as the Brazilians called it, the Fazenda of Marshal-President Lopez. Tt was a mere Paraguayan farmhouse, a stockade surrounding half a dozen ranchos or sheds, and rooms walled with wattle and dab. Near it rose a very solid mangrullo, whose three sets of ladders commanded a view to the mouth of the Tebicuary, distant about four miles.

A few orderly officers, seated under a verandah facing north, eyed me as the pioii-piou often does the pekin. My letters, one introductory and public from the Coun- cillor Paranlios, and the other containing a few private lines from certain relatives, were delivered, and presently an aide-de-camp told me to walk in, as the Commander-in-Chief was visible.

The room wore an aspect of Spartan plainness ; its only articles of furniture were a few chairs, a camp-bedstead, and a table covered with foolscap, clean and unclean. The tenant received me courteously, not cordially; glanced at the letters, ordered " du PeFel,^ which we drank, a la Bresi- lienne, in silver cups, and began to chat.

The " octogenarian lieutenant'^ numbers, they say, seventy- two summers, and appears hale and vigorous as if fifty-two. This " Rish safed,'"* or whitebeard of the Allied army, remark- ably resembles the excellent portrait of the late Lord Clyde by the late Mr. Phillips. I recognised the forehead with deep transverse lines, the stiff grey hair, the white, bristly mus-


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 377

tachiOj the hard network of wrinkles contrasting with the fresh, ruddy complexion, and the trick of bending slightly forwards as if to seek information. The brow of the Generalissimo is, however, narrower, and the eyes are closer set. Tough and spare, well knit, and of moderate height, he can endure great fatigue, and sit his horse for twelve hours together.

The career of Marshal Caxias is well known ; at least in the Brazil. He fought at Monte Caseros Feb. 3, 1852, and the next year he was employed in reducing Monte Video. He has ever been a devoted Conservative, personally hostile to the Liberal party ; and he took the field against them in the provinces of Sao Paulo and Minas Geraes.* His enemies openly declare that he would not strike a decisive blow whilst his friends were out of office, and while his partisans were being recruited in a lawless manner. It is hard to say of any general that he wittingly commits high treason : in the Brazil, however, men are not particular, and the army Marshal has certainly given a handle to scandal. I have spoken of General Osorio^s success at Humaita, and I shall have to speak of Marshal-President Lopez' escape from Loma Valentina. Moreover, the Generalissimo gave up his high office in an unofficer-like way; after entering Asuncion he de- clared that the war was ended, that he had fulfilled his en- gagement, and that he was determined to retire on a certain day. The excuse was a fainting-fit caused by the heat of a buttoned-up uniform at mass ; the public impression, how- ever, was that his illness was by no means serious, and, despite all official honours, he had no honour at home.

Like " Lord Khabardar, Marshal Caxias has been ac- cused of being painfully slow in his military movements.


  • I have alluded to this subject in Vol. II., " The Highlands of the

Brazil."


378 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

His friendsj however,, reply that if slow he is sure ; and that he has never failed in the long run to succeed. Again^ he is charged with great arrogance^ and with being a hater of foreigners. His entourage of mediocrities is accounted for by his wishing to stand alone in his glory ; he objects to be supplied with brains^ as Marshal Pelissier was with General de Martinprey. Doubts have lately been cast upon his personal gallantry^ but these, I believe, are simply hostile inventions. He aj)pears to want initiative, the power of sudden action ; and amongst the Paraguayans he was famed for selecting the strongest point to attack. The principal merit of the " Wellington of South America " is that of being an excellent organizer. Before he took charge, the Brazilian army was in the worst possible condi- tion ; now it can compare favourably as regards the appli- ances of civilization with the most civilized.

The Commander-in-Chief remarked that the strength of the country, and the temerity of the enemy, had made the campagna a war sui genei'is, an affair of earthworks, a succession of sieges, and not " des sieges a Veau de rose.'* He compared the difficulties of obtaining transport with those of our march from Silistria, and he assured me that the Brazilians had lost by cholera four hundred men in one day. He estimated his disposable men (July 31) at 28,000 — the general opinion being 35,000. The Paraguayans might be 14,000, which the chief engineer reduced to 12,000. General Gelly i Obes increased the total to 15,000, and was followed by the Standard; whilst General Urquiza said 20,000 — probably the most correct estimate. He repeated what I had often heard, namely, that the Paraguayan bull- dogs, who fight so fanatically for their Marshal-President, and who die rather than accept quarter, when once made prisoners, and well treated, generally volunteer to serve against El Supremo ; adding that he preferred deporting


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 370

them down stream to encouraging so " immoral ^' a pro- ceeding. On the other hand, I could observe that none of the information given by the spies, deserters, or captives was ever to be relied upon, especially when it concerned Marshal- President Lopez. Possibly this arose from the fixed belief that their country^s cause would ultimately be successful, and from fear of engaging in open treason ; and it is also probable that, once made prisoners, they do not want to return. Moreover, they have found out that they are ex- ceptionally well treated at Rio de Janeiro and Sta. Catherina. M. Duchesne de Bellecourt is certainly not justified in asserting that the Brazil applies her Paraguayan prisoners to painful labour, that they may die the sooner of ^' misery, or nostalgia — these men are certainly not made of such soft stuff. The semi-" Indians " affect, when under examina- tion, a peculiar simplicity, or rather stupidity of manner, which effectually conceals their cunning. To my question about the battalions of women. Marshal Caxias replied that the rumour had gone abroad, but that nothing of the kind had appeared in the field.

The papers salaried by, or interested in, the Brazilian cause had printed upon the subject of '^ Amazons sundry solid and circumstantial lies, ending by way of colophon with deductions and morals squeezed out of the premisses which they had themselves invented. It is amusing enough to see at the same time El Cabichui, the Punch of Para- guay, caricaturing Her Imperial Majesty the Empress of the Brazil, recruiting and reviewing a body of soldieresses intended for the war.

I cannot see any serious objection against the use of feminine troops, especially in a country where, as in Mexico and other parts of South America, it is said El Fraile, the priest, is the captain of the gun, and the woman is the gunner. The mythical Amazons were the first cavalry.


380 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

Amongst the Arabs of Chivalry^ the Hadiyah^ a young girl of good family and chosen for courage, rode her dromedary in the front of war, " stigmatizing the cowards and making braver the brave/' Indeed, the Virgo bellatrix or Vira belli, has always been an institution amongst semi-barba- rous peoples. The ladies of Sienna did not disdain to assume the uniform. The Iberian peninsula has supplied some select heroines, witness the Padeira of Aljubarrota and the artil- leryman^'s widow, known to history as the Maid of Saragossa. In South America the sex had often imitated the example of the Chilian Araucanians, whose ranks when cleared of males, were refilled by their wives and sisters. In Peru, the adjutant of a certain corps summoned at roll-call the women of Cochabamba, who were headed by the Governor's spouse. "They are dead upon the field of honour !" re- plied a Serjeant. D. Juana Azurduy, wife of D. Manuel Asencio Padrilla, took at Laguana, with her own hands, the Spanish banner. In England we have heard of the heroine concerning whose captain it was sung,

" And he made her first lieutenant Of the gallant Thunder-bomb."

In the Brazil the case of Maria da Ponte and of many others, proves that popular enthusiasm would have produced, if encouraged, a copious crop of feminine volunteers.

The Paraguayan woman has always been the man of the family ; she tilled the ground and she got in the crop. Enthusiastically patriotic, and devoted to the cause of the Marshal-President, the ladies of Asuncion even gave up to him their jewels, just as the Santiageilas, in 1818, stripped themselves voluntarily of all their plate as an offering to the safety of their country. As young women in Prussia have lately learned to tend the wounded campaigners, so possibly their sisters in Paraguay formed, when men began to be scarce, an army- works corps, and perhaps they adopted some


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 381

quasi-military dress. But the arming and fighting of 4000 " Amazons " ended there. I should have been strongly- tempted by the remembranee of " our mothers/^ the Ama- zo]is of Dahome,, to have raised — when the guerilla stage of the war began — a corps d'armee of some 25^000^ and to have fallen upon Asuncion and other half-defended posts. I would also have been answerable for the success of the movement.

The Commander-in-Chief ended with an offer of horses and sundry courteous expressions. I then proceeded to the tent occupied by the Chief of Staff and a relative of the Marshal^ Brigadier- General Joao de Souza da Fonseca Costa. He was a handsome soldier-like man of thirty-eight or forty, with slightly greyish hair and sympathetic expression; his aquiline features and plain uniform gave him the look of a United States officer. He told me of the affair which, as the booming of the guns proved, was actually going on. The Brazilians were clearing the tete de pont, a straight cur- tain with cunettes that defended the neck of the Albardon or land-point projected from the right bank of the Tebi- cuary river. Here is the main pass which leads across the stream to the Estancia of San Fernando, where the President of Paraguay, after quitting Humaita, established his headquarters in March, 1868. The Brazilians succeeded (August 28) with a total ioss of 203 officers and men killed and wounded. Marshal-President Lopez sacrificed on this occasion seven officers and seventy-four men killed, five officers and 105 men wounded, and three guns, of which one was rifled, without mentioning horses and cattle. He is not only a general a dix mille hommes par semaine, he seems to take a pride in this unmeaning, hopeless waste of life. Yet he cannot afford to expend a drummer-boy.

An orderly then led me to the tent of Lieutenant-Colonel R. A. Chodasiewicz, now in the Braziliaj) engineers. When^


382 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

in May 1853^ a certain Prince GortschakofF, leading a miglity host across the Pruth^ occupied Wallachia, and awoke Europe by the roar of the cannon at 01tenitza_, he thought fitj being a Pole, to quit the Kussian army. He was made a captain in the Secret Service Department of the British Crimean force, and he still possesses the commission and the medal granted to " Captain Robert Hodasiwich — the simplified form of the name. In 1857, going to England, he published " A Voice from the Walls of Sevastopol/^ and then he went further afield. He served with the Turks during their campaign in El Hcjaz, and afterwards, becoming a citizen of Philadelphia, he fought in the ranks of the Federal army. At the beginning of the Paraguayan war he joined the Argentine service as a major, and he narrowly escaped with his life at the " battle of Acayuasa."*^ Nothing saved him in that sauve qui pent but his presence of mind : he threw himself into the bush and allowed the enemy to rush past him in pursuit of the fugitives. As the Argentines would not pay him — they still owe 300/. — he transferred his services to Marshal Caxias, who was sensible enough to appreciate them.

Lieutenant-Colonel Chodasiewicz received an order from the Generalissimo to show me his surveys of the forts, his plans of the first campaign, and his projects for the future. I only hope that His Imperial Majesty of the Brazil will cause these excellent illustrations to be printed on a large scale, with detailed letter-press. Thus alone can this most memorable campaign be made thoroughly intelligible to the present generation and to posterity.

At breakfast, under the little tent, the ex-British officer — whose nickname, by-the-bye, is *^ O Balao — gave me some details touching the balloons which had been tried in the earlier part of the campaign. The first of these articles was brought by P. L. D. Doyen. It cost ten contos of


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 383

Reis (say 1000/.), and was made of silk : the dimensions were 19.8 metres in length by 12.6 in diameter : the total weight was 395 lbs. (viz. 250 silk + 25 basket-boat + 120 netting) ; it was 973 kilogrammes lighter than the atmo- sphere, and it was easily managed by four men. Unfor- tunately, it was utterly spoilt by being burnt in varnishing.

Messrs. James Allen and Brother, citizens of the United States, afterwards brought two balloons, which were both " captive "^ — the '^ free ^^ form was not tried here. One was small. The other measured 12 metres + 9, weighed 143-59 kilogrammes (viz., 5920 silk + 9*15 boat + 1377 ballast -h 39*47 netting, and +22*0 for the strong stays), and its specific gravity was 190*37 kilogrammes lighter than air. It was so constructed as to become a parachute if struck by a shot. The hydrogen was made with flakes and filings of thin iron, placed in two connected wooden tanks, and presenting the greatest amount of surface to the diluted sulphuric acid. The latter came, like the tanks and bottles, from New York.

This balloon effected some fourteen or fifteen ascents at Tuyu-ti and Tuyu-cue. It rose from twelve to eighteen metres, and Lieutenant-Colonel Chodasiewicz, who accom- panied the owners, could easily discern that Marshal-Presi- dent Lopez had about 200 guns in position and 100 field- pieces. After it had made the first profile reconnaissances, the Paraguayans began to fire at it; and they fired so well that a shell burst within fifty yards of the boat. They presently learned to defeat its object by burning large piles of damp grass. Presently Major, or Doctor, Amaral — here all engineers are doctors (of mathematics) — finding the sway of the wind a somewhat nervous matter, reported it useless, and the Aliens took their departure. The Generalissimo did not approve of the moveable mangrullo — a Cossack revival,, proposed to him by the Polish engineer.


S84 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

I took the opportunity of calling upon Crigadier-General the Barao do Triumpho. A son of Rio Grande do Sul, though upwards of sixty years old and six feet in height,, he is celebrated as the best horseman of the Brazilian army. He could sit without stirrups any " bucker, and use his sabre as if on foot with two pieces of money between his thighs and the saddle. After a glorious career^ he died on December 21^ 1868, of a typhus fever and a complication of disorders supervening upon a slight wound received at the Loma Valentina. Some months afterwards, when visiting Asuncion, I unexpectedly saw his unfinished tomb, inscribed " O Barao do Triumpho/ No man was more regretted, and Marshal Caxias justly called him " O bravo dos bravos do exercito Brazileiro."

" We hang this garland on his grave."

I also missed General da Motta, a ripe Guarani scholar, who could have assisted me in explaining Paraguayan names of geographical features. All are significant, and deserving of record. It will be a pity to imitate Chile, which has forgotten the meanings of Aconcagua and Tupungato.

En revanche, I saw General Osorio, commanding the third corps d'armee, the most popular man and the most brilliant officer in the Allied army. He was made Barao do Herval because he first landed upon the shores of Paraguay proper, and his subsequent services qualified him to become a Vis- conde. The title, I may explain, is taken from the Serra do Herval — of the mate-tea plantation : it lies in lat. 32° south, and is a continuation of the Serra Geral of Parana, whose eastern declivities have many " hervales."

General Osorio was lodged in a small thatched house, a little to the west of the headquarter farm. An orderly took in my card, and I found him sitting with a few friends. He was slippered and suffering from osthexy, and thus he


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 385

is compelled to be driven about — no small mortification. After seeinf^ so much of half-civilian oHiccrs, it was a plea- sui'e to hear his soldierly greeting, " Entre, caballcro '/' and the cordiality of his manners made me at once incline towards him. He is a stout, portly man of fifty to fifty- two, with the noble bearing of the Rio Grandense gentle- man. Despite grey hair and beard, his eye is bright and young; and his straight, handsome features bear the frankest and most kindly expression. He is the only general uni- versally loved and respected by the Argentines as well as the Brazilians, and this popularity has, it is said, excited the jealousy of his chief — certainly General Osorio^s name does not appear in orders as it deserves to appear. He is brave to temerity ; horse after horse has been shot under him, and the soldiers declare that he bears a charmed life, and shakes after battle the bullets out of his poncho. The Brazil need never despair of success when she can show such a noble example of gallantry and spirit as General Osorio.

It was early in the day, and I had not broken fast when the Generars servant brought me half a tumblerful of gin in a silver mug. It would hardly have been soldier-like to hang fire in presence of the commander of the third corjjs d'armee, more especially as another " tot " was handed to him. He complained of his legs, but declared that they should not force him from Paraguay till the last moment. A cloud came over his countenance as he spoke of his crippled state. Moreover, he anticipated but little difficulty in a campaign beyond the Tebicuary, where the land is solid and the fighting would be straightforward. Ill-omened words ! The worst action was yet to come, and he was fated to be shot through the mouth at the Loma Yalentina. After December 11, 1868, he was compelled, by exfoliation of the palate bone, to revisit his native province. He re-

25


386 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

mained there, however, for the shortest possible time, and he at once returned to take part in the closing scene of Act No. 2.

In the cool of the evening we strolled about the camp, to see what we could. Women — Brazilian mulatresses and Argentine " Chinas" — seemed to abound. Almost all were mounted en Amazone, and made conspicuous by mushroom straw hats, with the usual profusion of beads and blossoms. They distinguish themselves as the hardest riders, and it is difficult to keep them out of fire. They are popularly numbered at 4000, but this surely must be an exaggera- tion. It is bad enough to have any at all. Some of them have passed through the whole campaign, and these " brevet captains " must fill the hospitals. My Brazilian friends declared them to be a necessary evil. I can see the evil, but not the necessity. Anything more hideous and revolting than such specimens of femininity it is hard to imagine.

The artillery park stood to the north-west of the head- quarters. I counted twenty Whitworths — all kept in apple- pie order, as if by Hindu gunners. We saw the men of a field battery preparing to march with their twelve guns : larger and stronger than the soldiers of the line, they were very heavily laden. They are said to equal Paraguayans on the plain, but their enemies seldom meet them without throwing up an earthwork covering.

The Brazilian cavalry, the " eyes, feelers, and feeders of the army," were here in as good condition as those whom I saw at Humaita. The Carbineers had mostly the Spencer rifle, and had learned to use it tolerably w^ell. They wore upon the chest the cartridge belts which, after becoming obsolete in Europe and confined to Turks and Arnauts, are now being revived by the breechloader. The regiments con- sist of 400 men, as did those of the Paraguayans before the war ; but the latter gradually dwindled out of existence.


TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT. 387

The Brazilian infantry — as has been the case with certain Continental armies, and happily not of ours — appeared to be the refuse of the other arms. The veteran who commands well knows how to handle them ; he always masses his men in heavy columns,, and he gives the enemy an indigestion de negres/^ generally sending 20,000 to attack 7000. Mr. Consul Hutchinson ( " The Parana, with Incidents of the Paraguayan War, and South American Revolutions from 1861 to 1868 ") gives the portrait of a certain Sergeant Gonzalez, who,

" Terrible de port, de moustache, et de cceur,"

fought, single-handed, ten men. Negroes, however, will ad- vance when they are led, and these men become, after their blood is warmed, '^ teimosos " (stubborn and obstinate) as the Egyptians, who proved themselves such good soldiers in the Mexican campaign. But at all times the officer must say

  • ' Venite, non ite,' like those of our Sepoy corps, whose dis-

proportionate loss, compared with the officers of home regi- ments, has often been commented npon.

The battalions began with being 600 to 700 strong, and the light infantry 500 ; they may now average 400 to 500. The Paraguayans originally numbered the same, but soon fell off to half. Perhaps the most distinguished corps was the 7th Paulista Volunteers. In the first flush of the war it was joined by men of family and fortune, till it melted away amongst the swamps and fens of Lower Paraguay. It took part in almost every great action, till death and sickness so reduced it that the remnant was incorporated with other regiments. Amongst the number was an ex-officer of the British Navy, Alferez (Ensign) John King, who had been transferred to the 53rd Volunteers. I made inquiries about him, but he was not to be found, having been Iv^ounded in a late action and left in the Humaita hospital.

25—2


388 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT.

As a rule^ the Brazilians rejected foreigners^ and they did right in preferring to fight their own battles. At the be- ginning of the war the Empire might easily have enlisted experienced officers fresh from the Southern States, and these would soon have provided her with men. Foreign legions have been repeatedly proposed and rejected ; in this the Brazil certainly chose the nobler part_, and her spirit and consistency under the most adverse circumstances will ever be remembered in her honour.

Besides Mr. King, 1 knew of four English subjects that were allowed to enlist. One was a runaway Maltese sailor ; another was a mutinous British seaman who had been im- prisoned for the trifling off^ence of cutting '^ (i.e. stabbing) the cook ; and the other two were ne^er-do-weels, apparently of respectable family, who had absconded from their ship at Rio de Janeiro. Each of these received the normal $200, the price of a substitute, and one of them addressed to me sundry insolent letters, claiming British protection, and threatening to " write to the Times " if I failed to procure his discharge. His sole reason for claiming it was that he had twice deserted from the English Army.

I have instructed you upon the matter of Brazilian rations. The men are also well dressed. Their fatigue suits are blouses and overalls of brown drill, besides the kepi and strong highlows ; in grand' tenue they wear tunics and pants of good broadcloth, with red facings and black leathers — pipe-clay not being here a favourite. On the march they carry light knapsacks, and wear white forage caps with red bands, and white or blue trousers, tucked up, not tucked in. Amongst them I saw the disgraceful spectacle of soldiers begging. And yet the pay of the linesman is fixed at $6 (say twelve shillings) per mensem, whilst the volunteer has $30. In the United States war the men drew about the same ($16) ; but here half only is given in cash, and the


TO THE RRAZILIAN FRONT. 381)

rest is made to pay the etapa or etape^, rations, and other necessaries. Hence many assured me that they received only a dollar and a half per mensem, and that even this was irregularly paid. The officers appeared to have full pockets, and the pedlars made little fortunes by selling silver spoons, mugs, and similar notions. The campaign is everywhere termed a guerra de negocios,^^ a war upon the Brazilian Treasury ; and many are said to make money out of the un- happy soldier. The War-upon-the-Treasury system is known to us as to other people. Witness Mr. Calvert, with his little gang of thieves, at the Dardanelles ; he was supported at home till he began to insure non-existing ships. Here, however, it is believed that, with some brilliant exceptions^ no rank is free from corruption ; and it is popularly asserted that, whilst he had money. Marshal- President Lopez could purchase from his enemies whatever he wanted.

I had taken a letter of introduction, by no means one of the least useful, to Sor Leonardo Mendoza, an employe of the Commissariat Department. All the " provedores," with whom contracts were made at so much a head, are under an Intendente — Commissary-General and Chief of the Re- parti9ao Fiscal (Treasury) and the Caisse Militaire. The first arrangements were concluded with Messrs. Cabal (of Santa Fe) and Benitez, who gave general satisfaction. In those days, however, pasto or fodder w^as little required. About three years ago they were succeeded by Messrs. Lezica and Lanuz, of Buenos Aires, who, as ^^ fornecidores ^^ for the Brazilian and Argentine Armies, fairly amassed large fortunes. At the same time, Messrs. Cabal and Bravo (a supposed partner) supplied the pressed hay, till, on March 21, 1869, this contract was taken up by Messrs. Molina and Co. ; the latter have not found it pay. Besides these great houses, there were many Brazilian and other ^' fornecidores,^^ each of whom has '^ made his pile.^'


390 TO THE BRAZILIAN FRONT,

The waste appeared extensive even to an eye familiar with the loss and recklessness of the Crimean campaign. Boxes of preserved sugar were spread upon mats in the high wind, and bales of yerba (tightly packed in hides, each weighing 225 lbs.) were chopped open, allowing half the dust to fly away. T. & F. MartelFs cognac flowed like water, and AUsopp and Tennent were more common than tea.

I dined with the employes of the Proveduria in their large tent, and heard a fine collection of camp boias and cucos, " shaves^^ and " yarns." Chauvin and Dumanet are well-known characters here. The " Amazons'*^ were on the line of the Tebicuary River, and on July 21th, some 7000 of them had mutinied. The Bishop was in jail. General Resquin was the only superior officer not shot by Marshal- President Lopez, who was killing forty to fifty per diem. The Paraguayan forces were composed of 14,000, chiefly boys, and all were dying for want of salt. Caceres and ex- Governor Lopez (another Lopez) were marching upon Corrientes ; the women of Entre Bios were herding cattle, whilst 5000 of the men were proceeding under General Jordan to aid the two traitors. All severely blamed a circumstance which had lately occurred. Two troopers be- longing to the Barao do Triumpho^s command had bravely swum across the Tebicuary River, and at imminent risk had reconnoitred San Fernando. Instead of being made sergeants or receiving the V. C., they had been tipped with two sovereigns, one from Marshal Caxias, the other from General Fonseca.

I slept comfortably in M. Mendoza's tent, and after coming to the front on foot, I returned on horseback. Adieu.


LETTEE XXI.

TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

Off the Tebicuary River, September 3, 1868.

My dear Z ,

On September Ist^ at 2 p.m.^ the Brazilian sqnadron moved up to the mouth of the l^ebicuary, whose line had lately been abandoned by Marshal-President Lopez. The Linnets resolved, before following- their example, to honour the day by spending it amongst what Anglo- Indians call the " janwars.^ We heard shots all around as if we had been in Western Europe, but here '^ sport^^ was accompanied by much tailoring and wounding of game.

The river views above Tacuara are of the loveliest, a vista of successive lakes, diversified with isles and islets, with coves and inlets, soft as the scenery of a West African stream. The vegetation consists of the normal gnarled hard- wood trees, diversified by tall figs and a palm resembling the well-known cabbage-palm yatai (Areca oleracea) : the undergrowth is a lively-looking broom, a composite, in the Brazil called " vassoura.^"* The frechilla or arrow-caue grass, whicli much resembles the uba (a saccJiarum) of the Empire, shelters prodigious clouds of insects, especially sandflies ; it also supplies an oat-like seed said to fatten cattle as well as alfalfa.

We began by operating upon the caymans, with which the banks swarmed : one of them was seen floating with bleached body and supine like a woman, whilst a vulture was pulling at it as though the Paraguay had been the corpse- bearing bosom of Mother Ganges. The " yacare^' — in the


392 TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

Tupi " jacare^^ — is said to be largest and fiercest about the Laguua Piris. The red species_, confined to the marshes of the interior^ and known to devour children, is probably the " papo amarello (yellow throat) of the Brazil. When we had collected enough hide to make alligator boots, we soon wearied of blowing off the skullcaps of the big lizards. One full-grown specimen gave us a little excitement : the crew of the captain's gig took it in, and, luckily enough, lashed it tightly by both ends to the thwarts. Presently Jacare began to recover, and soon afterwards he became lively enough, causing much merriment by clapping his fine set of teeth and wagging his tail, which had a raised crest like the eel's.

We then began to operate upon the water-hog, known in the Urazil as capivarha or capibara, and here capincho — not carpincho. Its soft and highly porous leather is a favourite tor the tirador or drawer, a belt universally worn, and best bought at special shops. It is so called because the lasso is held against it to prevent the man's side being cut by the dragging of the hide rope. The next idea was to support the loins when riding, for which purpose it is made six inches broad and even wider. Three pockets with flaps were added, so as to act as purse, portfolio, and cigarette-case. Lastly, came the ornamentation, a compli- cated affair. The usual style is to have front buttons com- posed of the various dollars from Spain to Mexico, and in some cases the leather is hidden by a scale-armour of silver overlapping like the armadillo's. Englishmen sometimes send for plates engraved with their crests — not unlike car- rying about one's card. One man whom you know used, by way of buckle, electrotyped facsimiles of his medals. He was threatened with death at the hand of the Gaucho, who always covets everything new in the shape of accoutrements ; but he was careful to carry his revolver to the fore.


TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER. 393

" Capinchos/' we are assured by the South American Pilot (p. 194), "are about the size of our pigs, and their flesh is of fair taste, but they are reported as being un- healthy/' Captain Page (p. 93) found the carpincha's savoury odour very tempting, and seems to have enjoyed it. In this subtropical climate the boatmen eat the hydro- chserus, of course when young. These porcines live upon vegetable substances, and here represent the hippopotamus. They are larger than in the Brazil; I have seen one old hog weighing 130, and I heard of J^OO lbs. ; the male may average 100, and the female 90 lbs. My 10/. householder on board the Arno told me that he had shot capinchos as big as cows. Irritated by an expression of dissent, he as- sured us that it was his project to establish a graseria for extracting the fat of the said water-hog; he might as well have talked of building a boiling-house for grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains.

This excess of imagination supports a theory which long ago I had worked out upon the North American prairies. The Pampa plains, immense and limitless, those mysterious sea-like horizons of the solid land, stimulate the fancy like the unknown, and cause her to express herself in glowing language and exaggerated ideas. Such is the inspiration of the Argentine poet. On the other hand, the paucity of objects upon which the eye of sense can rest, the grand monotony of general, and the dwarfing of animal nature — here seals take the place of whales — compel the brain or mind to seek a stimulus within itself. " How bridle the imagi- natioDs, says President Sarmiento (Life in the Argen- tine Republic) " of those who inhabit an illimitable plain, bordered by a river whose opposite bank cannot be seen V Hence, in the prairies, we read of a man riding a hundred miles to accoucher of a lie. We find upon the Pampas the same phenomenon in an exaggerated form. The glo-


394 TO THE TEBICUARY HIVER.

rious, unblushing,, unmitigated economists of truth /' Kit Carson himself would have " kow-towed " to them !

And, curious to say, great mountains have the same moral eflPect upon those living in their recesses. The moun- tain is nearer and dearer to man than the plain. JHe dwells in the bosom of his hills — his hand can almost touch the horizon of his world. Thus with him also, the visible has little of variety; his imagination is excited by the aspect of the greater heights which he does not inhabit, and which often he cannot visit. I found the Andine liar by no means inferior to him of Pampasia.

Return we to our hogs, which looked like a blending of the guinea-pig and the hare. With bluff muzzles and brown skins they stared at us anxiously, and not without a comic air of defiance. Lieutenant-Commander Bushe, having ex- hausted his bullets, tried at close quarters a charge of buck- shot, which only made the pachyderms wriggle in their leaps like vicious mules. The crew sighted, in our absence, a ciervo (stag), which, at a distance, they mistook for a horse. This is the cua9U guazu, or cua9u pucu, the big, or long deer (C. paludosus), that haunts river banks; a fine animal with reddish-yellow coat, good for rugs. Though uneatable, it is the noblest game in this region. Mr. Darwin was fortunate, when failing to shoot, he drove off the ciervo by throwing stones : the male deer is apt, at seasons, to charge home with its large horns, and an onslaught might have left the glorious Darwinian theory in its earliest stage of development.

There are three other kinds of deer, which all give good meat. The cua9u mini (small stag) prefers plains, whilst the cuagu pita (Cervus rufus) and the cuafiibira, or cabra de los bosques, is generally found in the woods. Mborevi (the tapir) la grande bete, the largest of South American ruminants, has been killed out ; and guara or Aguara, the


TO THE TEBICUAUY RIVER. 395

wild dog, fancifully described by the ancieuts as half wolf, half bear, is uo longer common. Ounces (jaguars) are numerous as in the sporting grounds of the Brazil : they live in the islands, and dine upon the capinehos. I in- quired about the black ounce, a rare variety, which seems to correspond with the black leopard of the Niger. The jaguar-ete-hun is very uncommon and expensive in the Brazil; during my three years of residence I saw only one skin — black, like a cat's, with red spots perceptible only in the light : it was said to have been brought from Northern Paraguay. In these parts the people ignore it, and the only Englishman who could tell me anything about it was Mr. Bichard Hughes, of Paysandii. The albino ounce is as uncommon as its negro brother. Chin- chilla rats are said to be found here, but, as in the Banda Oriental, the skins are not valuable : they are well developed only in the frigid regions. Very common, however, is the opossum (didelphus), the gamba of the Brazil and the comadrija of the Plate, known to the Guaranis as micure : it is a deadly enemy to poultry. The viscacha (lagostomus visaccia) is unknown : it has never crossed the Paraguay river, whilst the Pampas, to the west, are riddled by it. Several times I saw the nutria (otter), a term also applied to the seal and to the sea-lion (otis) : it is probably of two species, large and small, like the cuiya (Intra Brasiliensis). The mataco (or tatu) peludo (Euphractus) and mnlita, various species of armadillos, abound ; some are eaten, the others are rejected as menschen-fresser.

We heard in the woods the nnmistakeable roar of the guariba, here called caraja (Stentor ursinus, or simia belze- buth) ; but the mud and water, combined with the cortadera or long razor-grass, and the bushy flowered aguararuguai or " fox-taiy prevented our getting within shot. The other two common simiadse are the red-furred bujus, the bugios of


396 • TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

the Brazil, and the pretty little oustiti now so well known at home. Miss Popkin, of Monte Video, had charged me to bring back for her one of these dwarfs, but they are confined, I was assured, to the upper country.

The birds, like the other fauna, are those familiar to the Brazilian traveller. Of that foul cheiropter, the vampire, here named Mbopi (vespertilio spectrum), thirteen species have been described by Azara. The iiandu ostrich (rhea Americana) does not inhabit the swamps. The red Ibis is common, but men complain that its flesh smells of ginger. That ciconian giant with the black head, here known as yabiru, and in the Brazil, jabiru, (Mycteria Americana, or Ciconia pillus), is often seen standing sentinel-like at the mouths of influents where fish travel. Under the name perdiz (partridge), are confounded many species such as nothura, tinamus, crypturus, eudomia, and rhyncotus. They are mostly of two kinds, the large and small; the former rises two or three times, and is then caught by dogs and mounted men; whilst the latter, objecting to fly, is noosed as in Sind. I saw but one specimen of the penelope, which Mr. Mansfield (page 311) calls a pheasant ; the natives have it as pavo del monte, bush peacock, and yacu-hun, the black jacii. It wore a dull grey coat, unfamiliar to me in the Brazil, but the genus was not to be mistaken. Lieutenant-Commander Bushe often brought back in the evening a varied bag of eighteen brace, no small assistance where eggs command sixpence each, fowls $2.50 (ten shillings), and sheep $4 to $5, when they would barely fetch $1 at Buenos Aires.

Amongst the birds were two of great interest. One was the ipeg-guazu, alias pato real, a truly royal duck. It is evidently the parent stock of the domesticated Moscovy {i.e. musque) or Manilla duck (anas moschata), and it is readily known by its size, and by the white markings of the


TO THE TEBTCUARr RIVER. 397

black winga. It flies high, and carries off a full charge of shot ; the flesh is excellent, and the weight is often 9 lbs. I have heard even of 13 lbs., rivalling a full-sized goose. A well- stuffed specimen may be found in the museum of Buenos Aires. The other is the Brazilian palamedea cornuta, here known as ja-kha, " let us go ! " " vamos ! " a good imitation of its dissyllabic cry, by us corrupted to chakhan-chaja, jaja, and even tajan. Mr. Mansfield (page 282) believes it to be a turkey, and it is probably the wild turkey or the " huge blue-grey bustard ^^ of Mr. Ross Johnson. It chooses the tops of the tallest trees, keeping a sharp look-out from under its erectile crest, but its loud cry soon betrays it. This bird is said to eat serpents like the Brazilian siriema, which so much resembles the South African secretary (Geronticus nu- difrons and ccerulescens.) Captain Johnston of Arazaty, a good observer, who has opened dead palamedeas, declared to us that he never found anything but vegetable substances in their crops. He easily domesticated them when in captivity; they are far better to look after poultry than the irritable agami (psophia), and, being armed with a pair of strong wing-spurs, they are not afraid of dogs.

The other birds are of little importance. Gulls (larus) appear everywhere up the river. Ducks, water-hens, (fulica), and parras abound in the swamps, and the mirasol (paddy-bird), so ugly in captivity, stands like a hunch- backed Narcissus to admire his own white image in the water. Familiar to me are the scissor-bird ; Joao de Barros, the oven-bird ; the pretty viuava or widow, robed in jet and snow, as if just from the latest mourning establishment ; the neat little swallow ; the woodpecker, the two species of the anura, coprophagus , and the pert tico-tico. Amongst the parrots and parroquets, of which seven or eight kinds are known, I saw nothing remarkable. According to old


398 TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

travellers the Paraguayans had preserved their ancestral art of artificially colouring the plumes.

At one p.M.^ Sept. 2, H.M.S. Linnet steamed up the broadening river and sighted sundry islets which are not on the chart. The faint wind which relieved us of the morraa90 or stifling calm was very pleasant, and we sincerely wished for a heavier sky than the thin windsbaume or cirrus which the Brazilians call algodao batido — whipped cotton. Trying even to the seasoned is the sudden change from raw cold to dry heat, and more trying still are the immundicities, Messrs. Borachudo So Co. The weather, which I have said here mainly depends upon the wind, will gradually gain warmth from a minimum of 45 deg. in the cold or south wind horizon to 85 deg., and even 100 deg. when Boreas, whose blustering is here gone, shall prevail.

The country still appeared mean, as that about Pekin described by travellers. After steaming two leagues we sighted five of the ironclads — the Monitors having been sent higher up — anchored ofi* the mouth of the Tebicuary River. This is usually laid down in south latitude 26° 39' and east longitude (G.) 58° 10'; at a distance of 108 miles from Corrientes. Lieutenant Day writes the word Tebiquari; Lieutenant- Colonel Thompson, Tebicuary or Tibicuary. Two derivations were given to me : one from Tebi the rear centre of the human frame, and Cuari broad : the compound word being the name of a Cacique or a tribe. Others translate it Tebi, cua source, and yg water — i.e. water flowing from a source which resembles a certain part of man. It is now a river with a name — a historic stream which has received its bapteme de sang.

The Tebicuary is the largest river wholly owned by Para- guay. It rises in two branches from the Cuchilla Grande or great knife-like ridge north of Villa Bica, not from the


TO THE TEBICUAHY RIVER. 39v)

Yerbales or mate fields of the Misiones. As in sundry of the ueo-Latiu languapjes the feminine form denotes something larger than the masculine, cuchillo, and this knife-shape "would be opposed to Sierra, a saw-like ridgy range. Thence it flows southward, and bending west it drains the Laguna Ypoa, the '^ lucky lake," which appears to have two — an upper as well as a lower outlet. All declared it navigable for four leagues from the mouth with a width of 200 to 400 metres. Others asserted that canoes have landed men at Villa Rica. This may be the case at certain seasons, but lately a light-draught Monitor grounded about five leagues up, and was not got off without difficulty. Our home papers boldly asserted that " the Tebicuary is navigable for many miles above Villa Rica."

After the Linnet had roosted we crossed in the gig the mouth of the Tebicuary. It was boiling and swirling as if very deep, and the flood rushed violently around the tree- trunks that formerly stood upon its banks. As usual, at the confluence of the various tributaries, there are shoals and gatherings of fish, the young ones being probably brought down by the smaller streams.

Striking over to the right jaw of the great affluent we landed upon the only quay, a few stakes, piles, and boards found useful at high river. The ground is here a false delta, or rather an island bearing the name of Fortin : it is formed in the south by the Tebicuary proper, and northwards by a carrisal wet with the percolation of the same stream.

At the angle where the Fortin fronts the Paraguay river, was an eleven-gun battery, in which the defenders had copied the invader. Here we saw gabions for the first time ; there were traces of sod-revetted embrasures, not mere platforms en barbette; curtains were raised behind to traverse side shots, and epaulements prevented the works being raked


400 TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

from the south-west. Facing the Tebicuary, disposed at a right angle and connected with the former by rifle-pits_, was a second battery of three field-pieces ; whilst about 200 feet higher up the stream a ditch and a small earthen parapet defended the ford, where a landing might have been effected at low water. In the rear of each battery was a separate magazine, rough but useful. The quarters for the soldiers had been fired, and the ill-savoured hides that covered them were charred : the whitewashed walls had been pulled down by the captors, and the ruins were occupied by vermin. The mangrullo and the large- sized cross alone remained intact. Pots and pans, bones and bullock- skulls, strewed the ground, but not a gun had been left— not a cartridge had been wasted. These trivial defences, evidently the work of a few men, had been leisurely evacuated, probably a sign that Marshal-President Lopez now deemed it neces- sary to economize material.

Walking up the Paraguayan side we observed that here the stream above the confluence of the Tebicuary narrows to 300 yards, and its increased swiftness compels ascending ships to hug as usual the left bank, which is low and sub- ject to floods. Remnants of a boom, intended to delay the ironclads in the face of the battery, lay upon the ground : it was composed of huge hard- wood trunks, iron-bound and connected by bolts, rings, and shackles, and it was sufficiently resilient as it sagged down stream to yield before craft at- tempting the up-passage. Near it we found cut blocks of sandstone, intended probably for anchoring torpedoes. The material was a kind of coticular itacolumite from the upper bed : a little above Asuncion mica schist appears, and eighteen leagues from the capital granite, like that of the Brazil, was worked by the natives.

Still further up the left bank of the Paraguay, and connected by rifle-pits with the south-western work, was a third battery,


TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER. 401

built for six guns. The floor and platforms had been raised to keep them above the mean level of inundation. All was of the poorest and simplest tracing. I afterwards saw a Brazilian sketch of these Tebicuary batteries, which under the artistes hand had grown to regular fortifications revetted with masonry, and vomiting volumes of smoke.

The carrizal behind this north-eastern work appeared to be somewhat higher than the river,, and its fetid waters were fit only for the habitation of mans pest, gnat and mosquito. The narrow strip of dark humus between it and the stream showed little plots of beans and vegetables, cotton and stunted maize. Such is Paraguay proper immediately to the north of the Tebicuary River, and there is very little to say in its praise. Higher up, however, about Angostura, infield '' will take the lead of " outfield " or moorland, and in the central region, around Villa Rica, the soil is, I am told, exceptionally rich.

Every strategist supposed that Marshal- President Lopez would mass his forces and fight the invader behind the frontier-line of the Tebicuary. But he knew that the mouth was open to Monitors, and that thus his force would have been placed between thi'ee fires. Moreover, as he had laid out a road with the normal lightning-dauk,^ through the Gran Chaco opposite, he foresaw that the enemy might soon become master of it and cut off his com- munications with the rear. He therefore hastened to with- draw his men and to concentrate himself higher up stream behind defences which were fated to give the Allies much trouble and to cause them severe losses. Meanwhile he established his provisional capital at Luque, a village seven to eight miles west of Asuncion.

My visit was now ended, and it afforded no opportunity of passing over to the Paraguayan lines. Mr. Gould was again expected in the Parana, and the cabin of the Linnet could

26


402 TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

hardly accommodate two guests ; I was also imwilling to tax any further Lieutenant-Commander Bushels hospitality. Moreover the Brazilian authorities were opposed to private visits amongst their enemies^ and, after the frankness and courtesy with which they had received me, it was impossible to ignore their wishes. Finally, I knew too well that, after the many tales told concerning the maltreatment of strangers by the Paraguayans, a report of my captivity, per- haps of my torture and death, would have at once been spread by a host of " friends,^^ and that the " sick leave,"*^ so freely granted to me, implied the condition that it must be used with due prudence.

At that time also an evil report was current concerning a certain Baron von Veren, whom the Tribuna of Buenos Aires called Major Barsen. This Prussian officer wishing to see service in the Far West, left Bordeaux, and was at once arrested at Rio de Janeiro upon the charge of intending to levy war against the Empire. When set free at the instance of his minister he j)^ii'sued his journey to Buenos Aires, where again, upon a similar count, he found himself in the same predicament. Compelled to give his word that â– ! he would not at once visit Paraguay, Baron von Versen crossed the Pampas, and, retracing his way, presented him- self to the President of Paraguay. For the third time he was arrested as a spy, and, on this occasion, only the action of December 27, 1868, saved him from being shot. After which he thought proper to revisit Europe. The fact is that almost all so-called pasados, or deserters from the Para- guayan army, are told off by their government to collect information, and the authorities naturally believe that all unknown strangers who visit them are in a similar category. Thus my trip to the upper waters was deferred hasta mejor opportunidad.

On the evening of September 3 I bade a regretful fare-


TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER. 403

Avell to my kind-hearted hosts, and transferred myself very unwillingly on board the Clyde steamer, Vale of Boon, Captain Smith. Early on the next morning wc ran up the Tebicuary. The flooded mouth was a mass of islets, and the huge figs, which formed the avenues of the sides, seemed to be growing like mangroves in the water. Presently passing the mouth of the Yacare influent the bank rose two feet high, and the tree bare trunks were bunchy with para- sites like the mistletoe. At last the ledge became tall and perpendicular, where the stream runs as that of the Para- guay, whilst that opposite was low and flooded. On the northern margin appeared an incipient sandstone with strata and cleavage.

The course was tortuous in the extreme, and the channel was so narrow that at every turn we scraped the bush and forest. After a tight loop, bulging to the south-east, and a run of some three miles, we came to a big bend where the northern bank projected southwards. It was a mere tongue of land opposite the pass described to you in Letter XX., and here the Brazilians had crossed to carry the works of San Fernando. Vultures rose from the bloated carcases of cattle ; and Paraguayan corpses, in leathern waist- wraps, floated face downwards, rising and falling after a ghostly fashion, w^ith the scour and ripple of the stream. At the apex of the re-entering angle of the southern bank were the Brazilian earthworks ; a kind of tete de pont was fronted by the best abatis that I had yet seen. Opposite it, and not connected by a bridge, was the lately captured redoubt which defended the San Fernando Pass, with the usual bar- racks and mangrullo.

I chanced upon an animated scene : it will ever be remembered by me with pleasure. At the '^ port five iron- clads were ferrying across the troops, who were that day to be followed by their Commander-in-Chief. On the left bank

26— a


404 TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER.

of the Tebicuary stood outposts and videttes, the comercio or camp bazar, and the host of women without which apparently the Brazilian camp cannot move. The glorious sun flashed through the clear morning air, gilding helmet and lance- headj bayonet and sabre, and the young day smiled upon the pomp and circumstance of war. Superior oflicers, each followed by his staff, moved slowly across the green plain, whilst adjutants and orderlies dashed about in all directions. With bands playing and colours flying, infantry in heavy marching order debouched upon the bank, marching in the loose, lithe French style, which looks so soldier-like after the heavy tread and stiff progress of our Islandry. After the signal of boot and saddle, cavalry corps came up at the trot, their round-backed horses neighing with excitement ;

" While trumpets sound their loudest point of tone."

There was a rumble of field-guns and a loud hum of men, and the absence of shout and clamour showed that military discipline had done its best. The sailors of the squadron, neatly clad in Glengarrys, with overalls and shirts of light- blue serge, not without the normal white flap or faliing collar, worked their hardest. Four thousand cutlasses are not to be despised in such guerilla warfare, and it is surprising that the Brazilian authorities refused to adopt the naval brigades which amongst us did such good service in India and elsewhere. The spectacle was pleasing in the extreme, and all the men appeared to enjoy the best health, and spirits in proportion.

As the Vale of Doon was about to turn her head down stream, a passenger came hurriedly up to me, and asked if I would land to see a ^' barbaridade.^^ Captain Smith, how- ever, was behind his time, and he could not afford us another minute. Close to the River Pass, according to report, were six corpses laid out straight^ with their feet towards the enemy.


TO THE TEBICUARY RIVER. 405

and each bearing pinned to his breast a paper inscribed — Asi perecen los traidores ! " — " Thus perish the traitors."" Amongst them was a hue, tall man, with gloved hands, and large black beard falling upon his breast. It was variously- suggested to have been Vice-President Sanchez, General Bruguez, or Sr Jose Maria Leite Pereira, the Acting Portuguese Consul, arrested 5 p.m., September 11, at Asun- cion. Before I reached Buenos Aires the figure of 6 had grown to 17, and included women and children: it there advanced, temporarily halting at 64 (Lieutenant-Colonel Cunha), at 70, and at 400 to 800 victims (Colonel Choda- siewicz), sacrificed to the furious suspicions of Marshal- President Lopez.

I shall retura to this subject in the next letter, meanwhile — Adieu !


LETTEE XXII.

RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES. THE CONSPIRACY.— THE

"atrocities of LOPEZ."

Buenos Aires, September 20, 1868.


My dear Z ,

Nothing remained for me after my short but most interesting visit but to run down south and to await the course of events, incertus quo fata f event. A single day sufficed for the forty-two leagues between S. Fernando and Corrientes; and a week or so at the latter afforded me a trip to the mysterious Gran Chaco. The old city was a return to civilization after a fashion,, and once more my ear was regaled with the cry of the gallo, and tortured by certain '^ solos and snatches of song ' happily unknown to camp.

From Corrientes I embarked upon the Argentine steamer Proveedor, paying Ql. IQs. for a two days' run. Concurrence on Thursdays reduces this to half-price, whereas we Sunday travellers were charged double. The diet was the usual thing, macaroni soup without Parmesan, the eternal pu- chero, caoutchouc-like mutton, peas fit for revolver balls, mangled fowl, and hard stringy salad. I deeply regretted the succulent feeds of the 17. An awful man of dignity was the skipper, and even the unwashed purser was a swell whose smile was a matter of favour. The ship went well, but our lives were literally in the hands of the drunken sots that drove her, and who passed their time draining the bottle or dancing bear-like to the colic-causing strains of travelling Italian zampognari.

  • * * -x- -Jf

You might have been spared this letter had Lieutenant-


RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES. 407

Colonel Thompson (Chap. XXV.) been explicit upon the subject of the alleged confederacy and atrocities. But that officer frankly tells you, " I know very little about the subject myself, and probably hardly any one knows much.^' It is therefore necessary to seek information out of Paraguay, and for that purpose to compulse even common report.

It would appear that shortly after February 22, 1868, when the Brazilian ironclads had fired into Asuncion, many Paraguayans began to despair of the cause. General Bruguez, who had risen to that rank in June, 1866 ; others say the Minister of Foreign Afi'airs, Don Maria Jose Berges, was deputed by the citizens to perform the pleasant operation which is popularly called '^ belling the cat.^^ I have already told you the result of the attempt.

Shortly after this time the Allied Army began to hear a succession of rumours touching the tortures and executions of Paraguayans, and of foreign employes, as well as refugees. The subject was new. Up to that time the Marshal-Pre- sident had preserved a certain character for moderation, and despite the reports which are always set on foot concerning an enemy, he could not be accused of cruelty. In July, 1864, we read in Mr. M. Mulhall ('^ The Cottonfields of Paraguay and Corrientes/-' p. 106) : " I thanked the President for his kindness, and withdrew very much disposed to view favourably a country with so intelligent, affable, and progressive a ruler.'"' He also remarked, " The govern- ment of President Lopez is not only the best adapted for the people of Paraguay, but a model, moreover, of order and progress, from which the Argentine, Oriental, Bolivian, Chilian, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Columbian, and other South American administrations, might advantageously borrow an idea.^^ (p. 91). After the fatal check at Riachuelo, we learn from Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson (Chap. VII.) : " A sailor was shot for cowardice the evening the steamers


408 RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES.

returned to Humaita^ having gone into the hold during action. Lopez gave some foreigners to understand that he was very much vexed it had been reported to him, but that, such being the case, he had no other course to pursue/^

The suspicion of treason, and the tirm resolve to fight his last man, seem to have acted unfavourably upon the Marshal- President. Moreover, it is generally believed that about this time he had become addicted to port wine and piety ; to mass-going and hard drinking. When T first visited the Allies (August to September, 1868), all were talking of the butcheries which disgraced his rule, and, as usual, they talked so much that the less credulous portion of the public began to disbelieve the reports generally. The victims were killed and brought to life again half a dozen times during the course of the year, and when I last left Paraguay, men still hesitated how much to credit. True, the Tri- buna of Buenos Aires had published (Feb. 20, 1869) a long list of the dead and slain, purporting to be an extract from General Resquin^s diary, which began with May 31, 1868. But even this paper was looked upon with suspicion. It might, after all, be nothing but a ruse de guerre.

The next important witness is the Honourable Charles A. Washburn, United States Minister, and the only Foreign Minister accredited to Paraguay. In September, 1865, 1 was introduced to this gentleman at Rio de Janeiro, before his departure for his post. After meeting with some obstructions from the Brazilians, or rather from the Allies, he reached Asuncion, and was favourably impressed by the cause and by the President of the small llepublic. He afterwards left his post early in 1865, on home leave ; and when he returned to it on November 1 of the same year, he had to force the blockade in a ship of war, the Shamokin, against the wish of the Generalissimo Mitre, and under protest from Admiral Tamandare. In early March, 1867, he ofi'ered to act as mediator between


RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES. 409

the combatants, and he passed three days in the Allied camp. The negotiations, however, were broken off, and the Minister once more retired.

The ill feeling between Marshal-President Lopez and Mr. Washburn began early in 1868, when Asuncion was placed under military law, and Luque was erected into a provisional capital. The United States Minister received an invitation to quit his hotel, and he positively refused to obey it, arguing that the Legation w^as part of the United States territory. I hardly think that such a proceeding would have been adopted by European diplomatists. Asuncion had been proved dangerous ; it might have been attacked at any moment by a squadron of ironclads, and the Marshal- President of the Republic was to a certain extent answerable for the lives of foreign agents accredited to him.

Thus the Minister was drawn into a by no means dig- nified correspondence with the Paraguayan Cabinet, espe- cially with the acting minister Gumesindo Benitez, who was shot, or reported shot, before the question was settled ; and with his successor, the notorious Luis Caminos. He was subjected to all manner of injurious imputations; of harbouring foreign traitors, when he had only given a home to two or three Americans and twenty-two English; of furthering his fortunes by receiving, in consideration of a percentage, " trunks, boxes, and iron safes of moneys and valuables which belonged to the State ; of being bribed by the Marquis de Caxias ; ^^ of covering with his seal treason- able correspondence forwarded to the Allied Army; and lastly, of being " implicated in a vast conspiracy '^ — in fact, of high treason. His only excuse for tolerating and replying to such insolent charges, was that he feared not only death, but torture for himself and his wife and child. Such a confession could hardly be palatable to the proud Republic which he represented.


410


RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES.


On August 31, 1868, Mr. Washburn received his passports, and early in the next month the U.S. steamer Wasp, Lieut.- Commander Kirldand, was sent up to remove him. As the gunboat lay about one league below the capital, the Paraguayan steamer Rio Apra was placed at his disposal. Whilst the Minister was embarking, two of the employes at the Legation, Messrs. Bliss and Masterman, were violently arrested for high treason in the streets of Asuncion. In the case of these individuals he admits a certain duplicity of " fencing and fighting " besides flattering his antagonist. But when Mr. Washburn was safely on board the Wasp, he heard that Marshal- President Lopez had threatened Lieutenant-Commander Kirkland to keep him a prisoner ; and instead of returning to his post and compelling the restitution of his attaches, he addressed (September 12) a violent letter, menacing to put the President of Paraguay under the ban of the civilized world.^

In the early autumn of 1868, I again met Mr. W^ash- burn at Buenos Aires. Physically, he was much changed; he had been living in a state of nervous excitement, in an atmosphere of terror and suspicion, happily unfamiliar to the free air of the United States. Many of his assertions were those of a man who was hardly responsible for his actions. He declared that all the foreigners at Asuncion were in prison, and that doubtless most of them would be killed, on the principle that '^ a dead cock does not crow.^ He asserted that Marshal-President Lopez was fighting wild, like an exhausted pugilist, furiously hitting right and left. He explained the ^' atrocities ' as the results of systematic plunder. A hole in the treasure chest '^ had


  • Of this missive Lieut.-Col. Thompson remarks: "Mr. Washburn sent

from on board the Wasp a letter to Lopez, which would probably have had the etTect of my receiving orders to fire at her as she went down, had he received it before that took place."


RETDRN TO BUENOS AIRES. 411

been found at Luque. The funds were never in the hands of a competent bookkeeper; consequently, the wealthy part of the community was accused of theft, and was ironed, tortured, and put to death, with the sole view of confiscation.

On September 29, 1865, Mr. Washburn published, in a supplement to the Buenos Ayres Standard, Diplomatic Notes concerning foreigners in Paraguay, beginning with a letter addressed to H.B.M.^s Minister Plenipotentiary. It after- wards appeared in Paris, much to the wonderment of civilized man ; and I regret to say Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson has largely quoted from a document which breathes in every line a spirit of fierce hatred against a quondam friend. Mr. Washburn complains of being watched by forty policemen; of living in a ^' deep and funereal-like gloom^' in a " Dionysius Gallery.^' Such an existence, he says, " is enough to render even the sleep of a brave man fitful and uneasy, and, of a man like me, without such pretensions, utterly inadequate to ' knit up the ravelled sleeve of care.^ This commendable candour is surely rare in the annals of diplomacy. He quotes Vattel, Martens, and Mr. Wheaton, " his own coun- tryman, generally regarded as the highest authority of modern times on matters of international law.^^ What do his fellow-citizens call speaking to Buncombe ?

I read with surprise these ^'^ windy notes.^^* They are a curious specimen of the " dense cloud of oflScial verbosity^^ which envelopes every official correspondence in Paraguay. The whole savours curiously of want of truth, and it is evidently the Guarani habit, like the Chinese, to " make a summary,^^ and during the course of the report to insert as many sneers and insinuations as possible. All


  • Mr. Washburn's would have made up 240 pages of a volume like this,

and were judged too lengthy for publication.


412 RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES.

purely complimentary terms of expression are accepted with the utmost gravity ; any slip of the memory or of the pen, however trivial, is dwelt upon at a suspicious length ; and lastly, the confessions of men who were probably tortured to confess are treated as the confidential communications of political criminals. Good-bye.


LETTEE XXIII.

TRIP TO ASUNCION, THE CIUDAD.

April 10, 1869.

My dear Z ,

On September 4^ 1868, I left, you may remember,, the Allied Army crossing the Tebicuary, and marching northwards to dislodge Marshal-President Lopez from his last river-stronghold, Angostura- cum -La Villeta. As they followed the high road up stream for some thirty- three to forty leagues from San Fernando, a few skirmishes occurred^ especially on November 25. This was distinguished by a reconnaissance en force by land and water, in which Marshal Caxias and Admiral Ignacio led. From San Fernando to the Guardia de las Palm as the invader spent eighteen days : he found seven " ports '^ where the ships could touch, and one at which his force could be provisioned. The Brazilian army had carried out its usual system of cutting a road through the Gran Chaco, and of throwing troops on the enemy's rear. Four great actions had been fought between December 21 and 27, 1868, and the Marshal- President had been driven by immense odds from the river- line which he had defended with such obstinacy. As I have told you, the arch enemy having fled to the interior, the war had been officially reported " ended.^^ The second phase had, it is true, passed away, but the third and final — the guerilla — was still to be fought, and the croakers declared that the real difficulties of the campaign were now to commence.

Meanwhile, Mr. William C. Maxwell and I had wandered


414 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

about quaint Cordoba^ the ex-Jesuit Seminary^ one of the oldest of the scattered cities with which the Spaniards had built up a kind of skeleton civilization. In company with Major Ignacio Kickard^ R.A._, we had inspected the Sierra de San Luiz, and visited the scene of the terrible earthquake at Mendoza. We then crossed the Andes by the Uspal- lata Pass, enjoying two views which amply requited us for all our little hardships. We rested at Santiago de Chile, known to you by the fire in the Jesuit church,, which destroyed some 2000 of the fairest of the fair Chilenas. We then embarked at Valparaiso for Peru, and saw what we could of the ports ruined by the last " sea-quake/^ per- haps the most destructive recorded in history, running some risk from the deadly typhus, called yellow fever, but really engendered from the putrefaction of unburied dead, human and bestial. Finally, we returned to the Plata River via Magellan, whose glaciers and contrasts of scenery,

" Where Chili bhifFs and Plata flats the coast,"

— the western half Andine, the eastern Pampasian — were a splendid novelty, a wonder, a delight, that electrified the most jaded of fellow-travellers.

At Buenos Aires, finding myself just too late for the homeward-bound Royal Mail, I embarked on Sunday, April 4, 1869, on board a former acquaintance, the Proveedor. She had, meanwhile, been much improved by the new com- mander. Captain Carboneschi. On this trip the party con- sisted of Messrs. Curtis and Palmer, of the United States, and my old friend, Mr. Charles H. Williams, of Bahia, who, having suffered a four-years^ infliction of newspaper leaders, wished to judge for himself the " crusade in Paraguay.'^ One of the first to greet me on board was my quondam host of San Fernando, D. Leonardo Mendoza, who had accompanied the Allied forces on their up-march to Asun-


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 415

cion, and whose local knowledge was invaluable. We car- ried also D. Francisco Martinez^ a Commissary General of the Argentine Contingent ; and a pretty Bostonian (N. E.) with two small girls en route to join her husband,, an army surgeon.

The rest on board were the veriest ruffians, riff-raff, raga- muffins, that I had seen in South America, even at Monte Video. The feminine camp-followers were clad in calico dresses, glowing shawls, and satin bottines. The masculine, surly because not permitted to be first class, slept on the quarter-deck, indulged in " eye-openers,^^ expectorated to windward, and smelt rancidly of cabbage and garlic, of sausage and bad ^baccy. Each travelled with his catre, or scissors-bed, his big bag, his bunch of bananas, and another article which must not be mentioned until we shall have learned to call a spade a spade. There were never less than three Italian grind-organs — in the mysterous heart of South America — and when one set landed, another came on board ; they stunned us during dinner, and they had the impudence to dun us for dinning ns. As the rain often confined us to the cabin we suffered immoderately.

Running swiftly past well-remembered spots^ we halted some three hours at Rozario. All the rain of the lower fir- mament had apparently combined to raise the mighty Parana. The memorable Flood of 1868-69 " began in November- December last, and the water was still twelve feet above the usual mark. The surface was everywhere green with cama- lotes or grass islets, some numbering a few inches, others large enough to carry a ship down stream. They undulated in the wake of our steamer with a grace which doubtless suggested the chinampas or moving gardens of Mexico, and those that did not hitch to the banks floated out to sea via Monte Video. In old days Buenos Aires was full of tales about ^' tigers '^ and other ravenous beasts being landed by


416 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

them in her streets. The lower town was obliterated, the Custom-house seemed an ugly bit of Venice, the gasworks threatened to fall, the jetty was denoted by a hillock of coal rising black from the rushing brown swirl, and nothing but the emerald- tinted weeping willows seemed to enjoy the mighty footbath. The land, before all sere and sunburnt, was now beautifully fresh and grassy, and the uplands were dotted with thickly -tufted trees. Here we landed for a few minutes in company with my colleague, Mr. Consul Hutchin- son, whom I had not met since 1861. During these long years he had lived at Rozario — verily he must have as many lives as Realmah.

We anchored off Corrientes city on a rainy day. How dull, and low, and miserable it looked, with its foul tanneries to the south, and its muddy lines of so-called streets ! I could not forget the pleasant time passed there, but — never return to a place where you have been happy ! Then the Proveedor span by the Cerrito Island and the Tres Bocas ; and, late at night, delayed for a few minutes at the once redoubtable Humaita. She passed the Tebicuary mouth also during the hours of darkness. This shows how little a man may see when travelling far by steamer ; my American friends, un- lucky during the down trip, never sighted these two most important positions. Better, far better, under such circum- stances, is the boat.

I rose betimes on Friday, April 9, for now we were ploughing strange waters. We had run out of the " sour mornings ^^ of Buenos Aires. The dawn was crystal clear, and the river had changed its muddy grey-brown for the limpid sarsaparilla, like the black hue of the Upper Missis- sippi. Glassy smooths alternated with ruffled streaks, where wavy ripples played with the fresh breeze ; and our stern drew after it the apex of a cone which spread out behind in a double line of dancing wavelets. The banks were curtains


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 417

of tliiu-leaved willows, fantastic clumps of creepers investing dead trunks, and leas of the broad succulent pistia, that show whence come the floating isles. We hailed with de- light, after the arid growth of the Pampas and the scanty- clothing of the desert Chilian shore, the fair Brazilian flora, tall mangui-hibiscus, cecropia or candelabrum-tree, and convolvulus, here white, there pink.

" Such towns are these V' said M. Mendoza, as he pointed to the few long white-walled Ranchos, known as Villa Franca. Its site is a clearing in the eastern bank, where it is somewhat higher than usual ; above and below it the raised ground falls into tree- clad hollows, and a long island occupies the centre of the stream. More interesting was the Vuelta Hermosa, which all remarked before they had heard its name — a regular horseshoe bend,^ in the western barranca, whose fifteen perpendicular feet of stiff" clay under- lie sixteen inches of dark vegetable mould, clad in grass and well-grown palms. It is a splendid site for a colony, but still — it is in the Gran Chaco. The only Paraguayan build- ings are in their clearings on the low shore opposite^ tattered stockades and tiled ranchos, almost swept away by the inundations. Such are the deserted Guardias of Gatrapi and La Zanjita.

Our attention was then called to Villa Oliva, another deserted hamlet, consisting of a chapel, El Rozario^ a white and tiled house, and half a dozen sunburnt ranchos : deserted all, and rising from a drowned land, at whose edge half a dozen pistia-islets were cutting themselves adrift. Carts, ambulances, and ammunition waggons, left by the Allies for want of draught, lay broadcast o\^er the country ; and in striking contrast rose the Marshal-President^s telegi'aph posts of well-trimmed hardwood (madera de ley). North of Villa Oliva was found a single bridge, and the swampy ground proved, Paraguayan-like, very unsound and treache-

27


418 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

rous to the invader. The same words may describe Villa Mercedes. It had its subtending pistia-swamp, its flat open clearing of carandaypalm^ its scatters of carts and ambulances, its church — N. S. de las Mercedes, a whitewashed, red- roofed shed — and its three big tiled ranchos. Here the line of telegraph was double : one running along the stream, the other striking inland.

And now the weather becomes fitful : the purple cloud at times discharges a few drops, and then a glowing sun- shine bursts upon the scene and gives the landscape life. This is the best of backgrounds for the new prospect which, after more than a thousand miles of luxuriant vegetation in the deadest flat, discloses itself about 3 p.m. The country again suggests that about Monte Video : its low rolling downs are truly refreshing, like a draught of water to a thirsty throat : we feel as if sighting land after a long sea voyage. You will think these expressions exaggerated, but the im- pression was almost universal. Low on the north-eastern horizon, with the subtended angles diminished by distance, rose five blue points, which, according to the pilots, may be seen from Villa Franca. Some called them Cerro de San Antonio, others Lambare, others the Peaks of Paraguari, whilst the best informed judged them to be the Altos, or southern outlines of the great Paraguayan Cordillera. In this direction the heights best known are the Cerros of Itaugua, which meet the Cordillera of Itaipacua ; the peak of Mbatovi ; the range of Santo Tomas, containing a cave inhabited by that Apostle ; the Cerro Porteno, near Para- guari, where Belgrano was defeated; the cones of Acai, near Villa Eica; and Yaguaron, where, in 1755, the Jesuits built the mission of St. Bonaventura.

Nearer, and swelling above the tall tree-curtain of the river bank, are Las Lomas — the ridges — grassy slopes, best fitted for the shock of armies, thwaites, and bits of stubbly


TRIP TO ASUNCJON. 419

ground, golden and ruddy ; yellow with grass below, and, higher, dark with monte and capoeira, gently rolling up to the hill-crest. Both plain and land-wave are scattered with " quinta/' Here the term is applied to groves of palms and oranges, whether accompanied by a house or not. To the north appears Loma Valentina — a reddish black-dotted upland, still topped by galpons or sheds ;* a single tree showing the headquarters on the south-western slope, which commands the landscape like a map.

On this spot some 4000 Paraguayans and 3000 Brazilians — some have increased the number to 15,000, and others even to 20,000 — fattened the soil. It was the hardest fighting in the whole war.

" No man gave back a foot ; no breathing space One took or gave within that dreadful place."

Marshal-President Lopez once more here risked his for- tunes, and lost ; whilst the Allies, especially the Brazilians, w^on, and gained nothing by their splendid, sterile victory.

The afiair at Loma Valentina is a mystery, and, I may say, one of the ugliest of the many ugly facts that have disfigured this war. After a week^s hand-to-hand fighting, a terrible bombardment, and perpetual rifle-firing, the Allies, headed by the Argentines, marched, on the morning of December 27, 1868, into the heart of the Marshal- Presi- dent's lines. They found the artillery completely dis- mounted, and the few Paraguayans who remained after the sauve qui pent were cut down or bayonetted. The arch- enemy never expected to escape : he had placed his family under the care of General Macmahon ; he rose from break- fast to mount his horse, and he left behind him his personal


  • The sheds were probably the remains of the immense house which,

according to Lt.-Col. Thompson, the President built at Ita Yvati (the high store}'), about four miles from the river, and two in rear of the Pikysiry trenches.

27—2


420 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

baggage and female slaves^ his private carriage, and even his clothes and papers. Dr. Stewart and others had sur- rendered to the enemy, but Marshal-President Lopez dashed through the scattered Brazilian forces and rode off accom- panied, some say by twenty, others by ninety men, to Cerro Leon, his hill stronghold.

The Brazilian General J. M. Menna Barreto had, before the action^ volunteered to capture the arch-enemy. During that day there were some 5000 Brazilian cavalry in the field, and hardly one-half of them had drawn a sabre. Yet Marshal Caxias refused to detach a troop in pursuit. His friends excuse him by saying that he had been forty-eight hours on horseback ; that his forces had been demoralized by the frightful fighting, and so forth. Similarly, when he returned on sick certificate to Rio de Janeiro, they declared that he was on the point of death when he was seen by the public riding a spirited horse about Tijuca and Andarahy. At length the Generalissimo detached Lieut. -Colonel Cunha and the 54th Volunteers — infantry to catch a man on horseback ! This battalion marched as far as Potrero Mar- iQore, where a large family of half-naked Paraguayans assured them that about two hours before Marshal-President Lopez had mounted a fresh horse. Having failed to throw salt on the fugitive, the pursuers sensibly returned to camp. Comment upon such a proceeding as this is useless. Any service in the world would have called upon Marshal Caxias to justify himself before a court-martial, and a strict service like the French or the Austrian vrould probably have condemned him to be shot. In the Brazil, he was created a Duke — the only Duke — on March 23, 1869, and he was relieved from the command-in-chief on the following 22nd of April.

A little gap in the eastern bank shows the mouth of the Suruby rivulet — Surubi-hy, the stream of the Surubi fish.


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 421

There was fierce fighting at this spot; and on September 23, an ambuscade of Parag^uayans fell upon the Bra- zilian vanguard, destroying many of it, and annihilating a whole battalion. As we advanced, hove in sight the Guard ia de las Palmas, the usual horseshoe in the eastern or left bank here, three to four feet high, and declining to the north and south. The large clearing showed a forest of poles and sticks; stretchers sheltered by remnants of roofs; grass still mangy and worn; green-painted litters and am- bulances, and long lines of broken huts and hovels ; in fact, the remnants of a big encampment. Here stood the general comercio or bazar, and the camp of the Argentines, who threw up a redoubt before attacking the Marshal President's last line of defence. The second mangruUo to the north denoted the Brazilian quarters, then sheltering some 20,000 men, and the Generalissimo Caxias occupied the Ildoriaga estancia not in sight of the stream.

The Gran Chaco side appeared low and wet, and a ruined Bancho denoted the station of the Brazilian telegraph. After Las Palmas both banks sank, and presently the eastern rose to three feet, whilst the stream broadened, forming a channel island. The latter sheltered the Para- guayan canoes, which attacked the Allied Commissariat. About this point. Marshal Caxias began the road through the Great Chaco, three leagues long, and intended, as usual, to take the enemy in rear. The operation was laborious in the extreme, but it proved exceptionally successful. A little higher up we could distinctly see to the north-west the Loma Cumbarity (the " Cumbari pepper-plantation ^'), separated from the Loma Valentina by a swampy tract. Here, early in September, Marshal- President Lopez took up his headquarters, some four miles from the river, and hence he could command a perfect view of Las Palmas and of the Angostura batteries.


422 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

Again a gap in the eastern bank shows the mouth of the ArroyOj or Estero Pikysyry.* It drains the northern Laguna Ypoa (lucky water) — the Laguna Ypao of Mr. Mans- field — and it falls into the Paraguay river just below the first or southern battery of Angostura. Unfordable^ and some sixty feet broad, it completely defended these works from the south, and connected them with the Loma Valentina. The important and strongly-fortified tren- cheira, or line of the Pikysyry, is 9104 metres in length, with 142 gun-platforms, not including those on the river side, thirty-three magazines, and thirty-four drains under the parapet. Lowlands flank the stream, and the Paraguayans had, according to custom, thrown over its mouth two reprezas or dykes — not three, as has been stated — and had thus raised to nearly five feet the waters overlying the swamps to the south and east. On the north-east of the Pikysyry is the rising ground communicating with the Loma Valentina, and a little north of the dykes was a redoubt, which the Paraguayans were too hard worked to finish building. When the main force of the Allies crossed over to the Gran Chaco, they here left, in front of the Paraguay lines which they intended to turn, the Argentines, the Orientals, and the Brazilian brigade of 1500 men. The defenders of the lines may have amounted to 4000 — not, as has been reported, to 7000 and 9000.

The end of a long march brought us to the celebrated Angostura, or narrowing â– " (of the river). Here the atream shrinks to 600 yards ; there is a strong current, more like a rapid, in the great bend to the east, and the channel is full of remansos, or dead water. I was told by an Eng-


  • The word is written in various ways : Pequisiry, Piquisari, Pykjciry,

and so forth. Lt.-Col. Thompson translates it " Shrimp-stream," from piky, a shrimp : and syry, a stream. May it not he the " water of the Pequi shrub ?" I have alluded to this tree in " The Highlands of the Brazil."


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 423

lish engineer, who had worked on board the steamer Salto, that he had once seen the river only four feet deep at the " gut/^ but it is doubtful if this was ever the case of late years. In 1863, vessels have had to throw out two anchors, and to be dragged over the bank into deep water. The much-feared ^' bitter batteries " occupied the usual position at the toe of the horseshoe, and where they could also flank the front of the land-lines : a few shapeless heaps upon a bank some four feet above the river were their only vestiges. The first, or southernmost " Bateria de Angos- tura,^' the " left battery of the Paraguayans, mounted eight guns, of which one was the " CrioUo, a 150-pounder, cast in the arsenal of Asuncion. The northern, or right battery, separated by a distance of 700 yards, was armed with seven guns, and others were placed singly, making a total of fifteen, and eleven magazines. The works were hurriedly built, and, as everywhere in Paraguay, they were open in the rear. After the flight of Marshal-President Lopez, they were surrendered at noon, December 30, 1868^ to the Allied generals, by Lieutenant-Colonels George Thompson and Lucas Carillo, the commanders, and the gallant garrison marched out with their arms and all the honours of war.

Behind the heaps remained a few rugged huts, and inland rose the mangruUo and the ranchos occupied by the Bra- zilians. Here we were boarded by a canoe crew of negro sailors belonging to an ironclad on guard. This ship was a great contrast to the Henry H. Davisofij a Mississippi boat bought for the navigation of the Bermejo, which presently came rushing past us. As a rule, only the refuse of steamers has been sent up to the war. Hereabouts the ground is much more simple and intelligible than that round Itapirii and Humaita. We were shown to the eastward the hill scattered with rude quintas, where the late Barao do


424 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

Triumplio (General Andrade e Neves)^ leading 2500 cavalry, surprised and captured^ at 1 a.m._, December 21, 1868, during a cessation of the rain whicli had poured two days, the out- lying picquets of the enemy. This feat enabled General Menna Barreto to take the Pikysyry trenches in the rear, and to open communication with the left of the Allied forces north of Las Palmas.

About one league to the north of Angostura, and on the left or eastern bank, we see La Villeta rising above the avenued trees of the bank. It is a classical place. Upon its Arroyo, called the " Paray^' by Lieutenant-Colonel Jose Arenales, the Payagua, or Canoe Indians, violently attacked, in 1536, D. Juan de Ayolas, who followed in the footsteps of Cabot. The gallant Spaniard, after almost annihilating his assailant, founded La Villeta. It is the normal village : a single square, open towards the river front, and the white- washed and tiled houses have verandahs, but, as usual, no back doors, so that each one may the better spy his neigh- bour. The " Palace" of the Marshal-President is a larger building than the rest, fronting north ; and the pauper church, with detached tower, has been turned into a hospital. Outlying tenements lie scattered amongst wasted gardens and torn orange groves, once so highly prized. On the bank is a battery, hastily thrown up by Marshal-President Lopez, who expected that the enemy, after the customary fashion of running his head at the hardest place, would here land. This is the only sign of the " selected and carefully prepared fortifications" here found by the Buenos Airian journalist. Behind the earthwork stands the white gate of the cemetery, and on the crest of the loma lies the quinta occupied by General Osorio when he marched upon Loma Valentina.

On the western or opposite bank, partially masked by one of many islands, is the Puerto del Chaco. Behind it appears a


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 425

^niandsome country" of flat meadow-land, dotted with tree- mottes and with the tallest carandai palms yet remarked. At present it is mostly under water, and the flood extends north to the Rio Confuso. After Marshal Argolo had cut his painful way through the Gran Chaco, the Brazilians reached this place on November 25, 1868. The river rising rapidly, threatened to drown out the camp : this precipitated operations in a manner not usual. The ironclads, which had run past the Angostura battery, at once embarked 8000 infantry and artillery, but not for La Villeta, as had been expected ; they chose San Antonio, four to five miles further up. The vanguard was followed by others till the force rose to 25,000 men. According to some of the Paraguayan prisoners. Marshal Caxias here completely outwitted Marshal- President Lopez. This I greatly doubt : moreover, the in- tended landing at San Antonio appeared in the Buenos Aires papers several days before it was efi'ected.

North of La Villeta is the wooded line of the " Abay,^** wrongly written Ivahy stream. The word means "Indian water^^ (Aba-yg). Here also, on the 11th December, in the midst of a violent storm, hard fighting took place. Some 5000-6000 Paraguayans and eighteen guns, under General Caballero,whom I have mentioned as the most gallant of their ofl&cers, held their ground for nearly five hours, until sur- rounded and cut up by the enemy^s cavalry. The Brazilians captured seventeen guns, and carried oflP 800 unwounded, besides 600 wounded prisoners, many of them officers of rank. Of these several at once escaped — General Caballero, Major Moreno, commanding the artillery, Major Mongelos, and others. The Brazilians had also some 4000 men hors de combat, and amongst these was the gallant General Osorio, who, badly wounded in the mouth by a musket-ball, was compelled to leave the field.

Here the Cerro de Santo Antonio, which from Angostura


426 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

appears a tumulus dark with monte_, and springing from a yellow plain, becomes a mere swell in the loma or upland. To the north-east we are shown theCapella delpane,, orYpane, where in peaceful times the citizens of Asuncion enjoyed their picnics. The word signifies " crooked water'^ (y-pane), and the streamlet must not be confounded with the large tributary of the Paraguay, at whose mouth, in S. lat. 23° 30', is Villareal, the port whence the Yerba used to be embarked for Asuncion. Near this place the Brazilian army en- camped after the battle of Itororo.

Further to the north-east a brown house in the bush was pointed out to me as the Potrero Baldovino, which won for itself a name on December 6. My informant "as a Para- guayan soldier of five years^ standing; he looked hardly sixteen ; he had been speared in the Gran Chaco fights ; he could show a silver Cross of the Order of Merit, and he was then in the service of M. Mendoza. A great bend to the east presently placed us in front and south of the Cerro de Lambare. It was the scene of the historic fight be- tween 40,000 " Indian^^ braves and D. Juan de Ayolas, before he disembarked at Asuncion on August 15, 1536. The name was that of a Cacique, and also of a well-known river-fish. It is a flat-topped hill — a truncated cone, whose table is 143*25 metres above the river level. Clad in dark monte, and said to be basaltic, it much resembles the curious knots which I have described as buttressing the course of the Rio de Sao Francisco. I had read ^' The Peak of Lambare is enchanting, with its cone-like elevation clad in luxuriant foliage, raising its lofty form to the skies" — and I was of course disappointed. Here was once a chapel, and people used to extract salt from the river mud.

Evidently we are now approaching a city. A made road, with avenues of trees, threads a succession of quintas, and runs over the hill on the eastern bank. Dwarf forest.


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 427

broken by orange groves and coquito palms in small clearings, clothes the ground, and the section of the tree- clad cliflf that faces the river is of ruddy sandstone deeply gashed by the streams that intersect it. An islet, a few hovels, and slanting telegraphic posts mark the mouth of the deep narrow Arroyo Itororo. The name has been wrongly written Itonoro : it is translated " tumbling water/^ from Tororo, a jet d^eau, or cascade. The little wooden bridge where the slaughter took place is about half a mile from the mouth.

At Itororo took place the fierce battle of December 6. The Brazilians, having effected a landing, marched south- wards upon La Villeta, and were compelled to cross the Arroyo. Field-Marshal Argolo led the attack with the second corps d^armee; the first being kept in reserve, and the third, under General Osorio, having been detached to the left in order to outflank the enemy. General Caballero commanded the Paraguayan force, and Major Moreno had charge of the artillery — twelve field-pieces. A hand-to-hand fight ensued, and three times the bridge was taken and re- taken. At last Marshal Caxias led in person his first corps d'armee, which, uniting with the second, easily cleared the bridge and captured six of the guns. The fight must then have been well nigh over, for of his staff" of thirty-three officers none were killed and only one was wounded. In this affair the Brazilians had upwards of 3000 hors de combat. The brave Colonel Fernando Machado de Souza was killed, and Field- Marshal Argolo was struck in the neck and thigh.

At a short distance northwards of the Itororo appeared Santo Antonio, of old the principal port for loading oranges. The " Capitania^' — export officers^ quarters — still remains ; a fresldy whitewashed barn with a roof of blackened tiles, and a huge flagstaff. Here the Brazilians skilfully effected


428 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

a landing. It is generally believed, however, that Marshal- President Lopez had purposely left the place undefended after stationing at Asuncion M. Luiz Caminos, his War Minister, with a flying column of 2000 men and eighteen guns ready to fall upon any corps that might land. There is little doubt that so strong a force attacking in the bush would have thrown the Brazilians into complete confusion. But the " Grouchy of the Paraguayan Waterloo,^^ as M. Caminos is now called, preferred retreating with his com- mand upon Cerro Leon, where the mountains promised him safety. M. Cuverville, the French Consul at Asuncion, so often reported to have been imprisoned by the bloodthirsty tj^rant,^^ declares that when Marshal-President Lopez and Madame Lynch first met him after the flight from Loma Valentina, the latter exclaimed, in great agitation, "We have had a terrible disaster" (un affreux desastre) — " we owe it to M. Caminos." Of course it was reported that M. Caminos had been shot.

And now, as we have been working up stream, whereas the fighting came down it, you may like to read an abstract of the events which distinguished the December of 1868. On the 5th the Brazilian army disembarked at Santo Antonio, whereas the enemy expected it at La Villeta. The battle of Itororo occurred as the invader was marching southwards to attack the headquarters of Marshal-President Lopez. Victorious at this point, the Generalissimo, having encamped at Ipane, pressed forwards, and, December 11, won the battle of Abay. On December 21 General Menna Barreto cleared the trenches of Pikysyry, and completely cut ofi' the Angostura batteries from the headquarters at Loma Valen- tina. Marshal Caxias then drove the enemy from the strong point of Ita Yvnti to a position in the woods about one mile further to the rear. On December 25 Marshal President Lopez lost his cavalry, and found himself reduced to 1000


TRIP TO ASUNCION. 429

meiij against 20,000 of the enemy. On the 27th he fled to Cerro Leon. It is the general opinion that Marshal Caxias "was determined not to capture the arch-enemy : he is known to be beyond the considerations of material fortune, but unhappily there are many in the Brazil with whom party feeling is stronger than conscience, or even than self- interest.

We now pass the fine landmark Lambare. Here the current becomes a rapid, a cachoeira, with a swish and a swell which again suggests past experiences. Nearly oppo- site it is the " Curuai/^ or southern arm of the Delta of the Pilcomayo (Bird river), the northern being a little below Asuncion. This river, also called Araguay, the "wise water,^^ or the water of "understanding/^ because, according to Garcilazo, care and experience are required to canoe through its curious mazes, is the second in importance from the west, draining the base of the Andes, and it is under- stood to be of little utility. Uncertain like the Salado, it spreads out wide over the plains : Bolivia, however, looks to it as her future line of communication, which will super- sede that via Cobija on the Pacific nearly 600 miles from Sucre, her capital. At present the mouths of the Pilcomayo can hardly be distinguished, owing to a lagoon on the left bank. At Asuncion no one seemed to know anything of it; in fact, the pilots difi*ered about the position of its debouchure; and in maps we may notice the same dissi- dence, some placing its infiuence north, and others south, of Asuncion.

Hereabouts we cannot disembark. The dead Paraguayans still lie unburied around La Villeta, and the live are prowling about, despite the ironclads, picking up in all directions arms and ammunition from those who want them no more. All manner of "pasados^^ (deserters) are hanging about; and there is a report that in the Gran Chaco opposite exists a


430 TRIP TO ASUNCION.

large quilombo^ or maroon settlement, where Brazilians and Argentines, Orientals and Paraguayan fugitives, dwell to- gether in mutual amity, and in enmity with all the world. The ground-plan of the campaign is, however, as I have said, simple ; and this glance from the steamer-deck explains to us the scene of the last seven months' lighting since April 10, 1869.

I hope that you have found this difficult letter intelligible, and that you will let me say, temporarily — Farewell.


LETTER XXIV.

DESCRIBING ASUNCION, EX-CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY.

Asuncion, April 15, 1869.

My dear Z ,

You will patiently endure a somewhat detailed description of the ex-capital of " Prester John's Country in the South. Unique in this world of Hanseatic cities^ it is one of the most characteristic^ and, allow me the word_, idiomatic of towns : a glance reads its history, and yet the plumitifs who called it the "most go-ahead city on the continent/' seem to have missed the peculiarities of its physiognomy.

It is old for these lands, being founded on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (August 15, 1536). Ayolas, its Romulus, had evidently a nice eye for sites. The Paraguay river, here 800 to 1000 yards broad, sags to the eastward, forming a bay or port of still, dead surface, like a little lake, and the bight is land-locked by a natural breakwater, a long green islet upon which cattle graze. Ships anchor in perfect safety along the shore, and extend in lines high up stream. Their presence adds not a little to the beauty and amenity of the scenery, which has all the softness and grace, without the monotony, of the fair, insipid shores about Humaita.

It is comparatively defenceless : even the half-river stockade shown in the maps of 1857 had been allowed to disappear. True, the invader must run the gauntlet of the Tacumbu ten-gun battery, which lies below a palm-tasselled hill, and separated by a neat glacis from the tall, red sand-


432 ASUNCION,

stone cliflP, which, scarped in case of attack,, commands the river. The old brick outwork, however, is open behind, and is raised so high that its plunging fire is little to be feared. On the east of it is a redoubt, with platforms for four guns, of which only two had been mounted : it shares all the defects of its larger neighbour, and both, at the time of my visit, were thoroughly dismantled. Here, I suppose, are the two casern ated batteries which the older charts caused to front the mouth of the Pilcomayo. In imme- diate rear of the guns stood ruins of the usual powder- magazines, not sloped as they should have been. Behind the works the green ground is made swampy by an unclean rivulet draining to the east ; and about 200 yards further are tattered sheds on the principle of the Humaita bar- racks.

The most striking object is the unfinished palace of the Marshal- President : it might have been built to great advantage upon higher ground, but it is evidently intended to attract the first glance of the arriver, and to be the last upon which the departing eye dwells. It is an extravagant construction — a kind of Buckingham Palace, built upon the abrupt slope of the river, from which only a narrow terrace divides it ; consequently, the inland fa9ade is not nearly so tall as that which looks riverwards. An utter absurdity, considering the size of the town, it consists of a body and two wings projecting southwards into a small square, provided with a fountain. The centre is capped by a substantial square tower, one of whose four pinnacles has been knocked away by the Brazilian ironclads : a little damage has also been done to the west flank. A fine broad staircase, boldly planned, enters the middle of the fa9ade, and abuts upon a terrace evidently intended to command the square, for the purposes of speechifying and of sight-seeing. Here are some wondrous attempts at art, emblematical sculptures,


EX-CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY. 433

such as a Liberty cap on a pole, supported by Religion and Patriotism. Also a pair of heraldic lions ; the lion of Paraguay, be it observed, is a jaguar, not a Britisher, nor, as M. Demersay says, a leopard. It is, in fact, the Icon de Ibera, a beast almost as harmless as an " Essex lion. Still, the Argentine National Hymn refers to it in the

line —

" Y a sus plantas rendido un leon."

These lions are made of Country grit ; they are grotesque with a witness, and they carefully present their posteriors towards the master of the house. The wings are laid out in large saloons and ball-rooms below, and above in about a score of small apartments, some of which have fire-places. The architect was an English master-mason, Mr. Taylor, and his workmen were Paraguayan lads and recruits, hired at eighteen- pence a day ; all things considered, they have not done badly.

Mr. Taylor was one of the unfortunates. One night, late in 1868, when he was returning quietly home, he was led off to the Capitania (Port Captain's office), where irons were rivetted to his legs. Without a word of accusation, he was tormented by being thrown, back downwards, in the sun, and by being cowhided when he called for water. Some are of opinion that these brutalities were the unauthorized work of underlings ; others again assert that nothing of the kind could take place without the cognizance of the chief authority. However, after the decisive defeat at the Lomas, Marshal- President Lopez happened to ride past where Mr. Taylor and the chief of the telegraph office, Mr. Fischer von Treuenfels, a Prussian of talent and education, hap- pened to be lying in irons. They appealed to him for mercy : he professed not to remember them — doubtless their imprisonment had worked great changes — and he at once, ignoring their offences, ordered them to be set at

28


434 ASUNCION,

liberty. Mr. Taylor retired to Buenos Aires^ leaving in the camp of Marshal-President Lopez^ his wife, an English- woman, and three children, of whom one was at the breast.

A few minutes more place us off an apology for a plank pier where men land. Opposite it is a small redoubt, dis- mantled like the rest, and supporting a few dirty little " pal ^â– '-tents, and huts called hotels : these are inscribed " Garibaldi, Au Petit rran9ais, Le Sapeur, and so forth. It is a kind of suburb of the comercio or bazar, which lies hard by to the south-west.

Here we have a general view of " La Ciudad, the capital townlet, seated upon its amphitheatre of red bank, which slopes gracefully down to the lake-like stream : formerly it fronted due north ; but Dr. Francia, with his own hands, changed the orientation to 25° east. Thus it occupies the riverward side of a hill, or rather the section of a ridge which is bounded by low drains to the east and west. The length from the pier to the railway station is about three quarters of a mile, and the depth from the river to Calle Pilcomayo, which crowns the ridge-top, is from 500 yards to half a mile. It may still be extended to the south, where six streets only, out of a total of thirteen on paper, have been partially laid out and named. Beyond them the ground droops towards a shallow valley, and the thorough- fares are mere holes or piercings in the dense bush, with here and there a rancho. The ridge-crest is seventy-five metres above the river. At present there is no plan of the city, but this want will soon be supplied.

On the right of the landing-place, between the two redoubts, is the much talked of Asuncion arsenal, where the

  • 'busy iron islanders, about thirty in a total of 150 hands,

are said to have cast upwards of a hundred guns. The large sheds, raised upon the site of an old convent, are of


EX-CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY. 435

fine brick, cased at the corners with the red porphyritic rock, here coarse and micaceous, there fine as gneiss, which crops out of the Tacumbii hill. The building, inscribed R.P. (my friends read " Rip '^), is well provided with a dry dock, with a floating dock, with slips for shipbuilding, with boiler-houses, and with machinery, of which few vestiges remain. Even in 1857 this dockyard was building two steamers of 500 tons : it had furnaces, steam-hammers, and portable engines, for working wood and iron. In 1863 it had built six of the eleven steamers which composed the Republican fleet. Mr. M. Mulhall remarked of it, " When the new offices are completed, this will be a grand arsenal, and the fire-eaters of Buenos Aires, who may be suffered to pass Humaita, can learn an instructive lesson in this 'retrograde^ country (page 88). Many English employes have served in this arsenal. Six years ago it was managed by Mr. Marshall, with Mr. Grant as foreman. They were stabbed by a native, and the latter was shot. The medical officer was Dr. Barton, who was allowed to leave the country some two years before my visit. The next superintendent was Mr. Whytehead, a mechanical inventor not unknown in England : he is said to have suicided himself; and his successor is Mr. Nesbitt, who, I told you, volunteered to remain in the country.

Between the landing-place and the arsenal is the Pro- veduria or Commissariat, a large rambling barn of brick and tile. It fronts the comercio, now laid out in streets ; the booths, which sell everything, and over which wave all manner of flags, the English included, are mostly double-poled canvas tents upon wooden foundations, raised some four feet high. They are composed in due succession of stolen doors, windows, and other furniture, then of cask staves, and lastly of lumber brought up by the ships. Foul with offal^ these pest-houses are fit to lodge

28—2


436 ASUNCION,

only the flies bred by the horses and the meat, whilst the chorus of drunken voices and the twanging of guitars tell all the low debauchery of a camp. We pass on, humming " She was a harlot, and I was a thief, to the new Custom- house opposite — a strip of whitewashed building conspicuous from the river, and therefore showing sign of shot. The long western face is arched, but not with Moorish arches, as a late traveller says ; and the depth being built up a slope which has not been levelled, gives to the arcade a peculiarly crooked and tumble-down aspect.

The landing-place is deep and slushy, with loose reddish sand contrasting well with the greenery, and with water in almost equal proportions. Here begin the tramway and telegraph posts, running eastward, and passing a casemated, stone-revetted battery of ten guns, which commands the landing-place and the river. It concludes the system of defence, and you would find it hard to explain how such miserable works put to flight a squadron of Brazilian iron- clads. The tramway runs up the Calle de Asuncion, alias de la Iglesia, the chief street near the river. As the road has been graded down, many houses are perched upon tall detached blocks of stiff" red clay and incipient sandstone. The formation of the Asuncion hill is of grit and pudding- stone, often covered with a cape of iron ; the rock is evidently ferriferous, and the metal occurs pure in pyriform grains. The surface is a sand composed of fragmentary quartz, milky and coloured pale -red by oxide: the pieces are all more or less polished, and water, often chalybeate, bursts through the covering. The streets of Asuncion are the streets of Buenos Aires, only these are on a flat, and those are on a slope ; moreover, the latter usually lack side-paths. Where they lead to the river the thorough- fares are deeply gashed by rain, and in some places water stained with oxide gushes from the ground, making them mere


EX CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY. 437

nullahs. I thought involuntarily of the streams that are taught to run down the wide avenues of Salt Lake City. They arc divided by bands of the roughest yellow or red sandstone grit (sangre de boi), sections of a mountain torrent, into parallelograms of sloppy mud and ooze, where guns and cattle stick. Here and there is a paved ramp of impracticable slope, and nowhere can a carriage be used. Offals lie all about : there is a dead animal in each line ; and where carts pass the wheels are often bogged in the quag- mire. The Brazilians declare that they have improved the streets, which they found overgrown with grass and weeds. Like all public works at Asuncion, nothing can be viler than the thoroughfares, and remember that I visited them in the heart of the dries. "^

A few paces lead us to the old Cathedral, now the Encar- nacion Church. Curious to say, no fane has been raised to San Bias, patron of Paraguay, and even San Francisco Solano, who in 1589 reached Asuncion, has not won the honour of a chapel. The shape is truly Paraguayan; a single belfry to the south boasts of more than usual pic- turesqueness : the simple old Spanish fa9ade, pointing east, with the spacious tiled atrio, and the three-arched porch leading to the doors, has the improvement of a more massive cornice than is usual in South America, and the body is a long dorsum of red tiles. The colours are pink and blue upon a white ground, forming the national tricolor, which we everywhere see at Asuncion, and the material is brick upon ashlar of boulders. To the north is a garden and lodgings for the Sor Cura, but both are sadly dilapidated. Inside the church the naves appear far too wide, and the rules of proportion are evidently ignored. The pulpit, font, and confessionals are of quaint forms, manifestly not modern. During mass, the worshippers, as everywhere in these regions, were separated by sex; similarly St. Charles Borrcmseus


438 ASUNCION,

divided his temple into male and female. At other times there were so few voices and so many echoes that imagina- tion took the mors au dents. I was once startled by the impudence of a French " Frere ignorantin/' who^ disturbed in fierce love-making to a pretty Paraguayan, stared fiercely at me from his stray corner, as if I, forsooth_, had been the ofi'ender. Here reposes the terrible Doctor Francia ; he never decreed for himself a monument,, holding, probably, that " pourrir sous du marbre on pourrir sous la terre, c^est toujours pourrir/^

A few steps lead to the main square, the Plaza de la Cathedral, or de Gobierno, the nucleus of the old town, which, however, has lost all its antique aspect. In the raised centre reviews were held, the public rejoiced in Christmas *^*^ tamashas,"*^ such as races of 200 yards, fire- works, the sortija or running at a ring, and the gomba or <( nigger-dance -" here Toros fought in real earnest, not like the bull-play of Lisbon and other places. It was, in fact, the site for spectacula and circenses. Facing the river side is the Cabildo, a ponderous two-storied building of the parallelo- pipedonic order. The central pediment bears the usual two medallions ; the upper one has Republica de Paraguay" in- scribed in crescent shape over a vulgar " lone star^^ — here with eight rays, and in other places with six — their sup- porters being crossed branches of yerba and tobacco, which show but little difference. The lower oval has the same external legend, half circling a medallion, whose rim bears the yerba and tobacco, whilst the centre is inscribed with " Paz y Jastiza,^' bisected by a pole which bears a Liberty cap and stands upon a lion passant. This Paraguayan coat of arms here appears everywhere, in place and out of place, from the buttons of the soldiers^ uniforms to the fa9ade of the cathedral. The Cabildo is supported by piers ; whilst under it are dungeons more terrible than the Piombi of


EX-CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY. 439

Venice. In the second story heavy pilasters, forming ten arches, make a deep verandah, equally efficacious against sun and rain, and provided with strong wooden balconies. The outlying sentry-boxes and the large flag-staff are painted tricolor, and remind us that wearing the national colours was once obligatory.

South of the Cabildo, and facing west, is the terrible " Palace " of Dr. Francia. It was originally a retreat for Jesuits' lay brethren, and after their expulsion it became the Government House. The whitewashed ground-floor tenement has verandahs about eight feet broad, with eighteen columns fronting the river, and ten facing the main square. These pillars, circular in the fayade and angular at the cor- ners, support heavy hard-wood beams, on which rest rafters, laths, and tiles. All the windows are jealously barred. It is literally hemmed in by barracks, the largest lying to the west, opposite the main entrance ; and there was hardly any difference between the palace of the Dictator and the quar- ters of his Prsetorians, Formerly it was backed by the public gaol, of which we read horrid descriptions ; and all the barracks had State prisons, " grillos/^ oubliettes, and underground ^^ puisards.^^

Facing the Palace,'^ on the opposite side of the square, is the new cathedral. It was built in 1845 by the elder Lopez upon the site of a chapel which he pulled down. Seen in profile, it is the normal barn, with the three distinct tiled slopes of nave, aisle, and sacristy or verandah. The fa9ade, approached by a spacious atrio and steps of brick and stone slabs, has two white towers banded with red ; the pilasters are in low relief, the weathercocks are extravagant, and the Cross rests upon the arms of the Republic. The doors are usually shut ; but a few Franciscans, with neuter-sex coun- tenances, hover about the building like birds of prey. The interior is a gloomy barn, whose piers support a flat roof


440 ASUNCION,

of common painted wood. The chapels are not recessed, and the sacristy looks poor and humble. The only remnants of antiquity are the gilt pulpit and the high altar, now a mass of tinsel. The river bank opposite the cathedral is here thirteen metres high; and the stranger who lingers there, delighted with the view, would not suppose that he is stand- ing upon the arched, oven-shaped dungeons where captivity was more deadly than in the cells of Harar. They were probably under some barrack, which has long disappeared. The discovery created much excitement amongst the Bra- zilians, but now, I supppose, the holes have been filled up.

At right angles with the cathedral is the palace of the elder Lopez and of La Seiiora, Madame Mere, as the Sora Presidenta, his wife, was always called. Fantastic and Para- guayan, its upper story is supported by fifteen pink pillars, with quaint Egyptian-like capitals, forming the normal deep verandah. A green-painted balcony, a back wall of pierced bricks, and a flying roof, distinguish the Paraguayan " "White House." The lower story, tinted to resemble marble, has two doors and twelve windows, looking over the square upon the beautiful river. The palace is connected, as usual, by long walls, with a substantial two-storied building in the rear, the property of General Barrios. Most of these houses having adobe walls are tiled down the weather side to prevent washing away. All have aljibes or tanks to col- lect the rain and to breed mosquitoes : here the cistern sup- plies the best drink ; well-water being hardened by saltpetre. The rest of the Cathedral square is occupied by four ground- floor bungalows, like that of Dr. Francia ; the south-western whitewashed building is the old theatre; the rest were in- habited by the Ministers and other dignitaries.

A few paces beyond the cathedral lead us to the Hotel de la Minute. The house once belonged to a Paraguayan of importance. It fronts a new theatre of ambitious size, said


EX-CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY. 441

to be built upon the model of " La Scala/^ and fitted for 1000 spectators. Its flanks are one hundred yards long ; in fact, it occupies a whole " cuadra.'^ The brick walls that back the three tiers of boxes are four feet thick; they must be fearless of fire, and, after the usual theatres of South America, they suggest the Coliseum. The building was un- finished, and of course a dead mule occupied the inside. South of the theatre is the plain ground-floor house of Madame Lynch, who did not live in the palace of the Mar- shal-President, and she had bought the next-door house in order to establish an hotel. In Paraguay money-making is a passion even more passionate than love-making.

Following the tramway, we presently reach the railway station, also built by Mr. Taylor. It occupies a whole " manzana/' and is not without pretensions. A tall central clock-tower, topped by a balconied Belvidere, the highest in the city, forms its fourth story ; the long upper rooms are used as offices, and there are quaint turrets at each of the corners. It is somewhat in the reduced Tuileries style, now afi'ected by New London between Westminster and Hyde Park Square. The zinc roofs of the ^^gare" and towers have been stripped ofi" to make canister shot, but the timbers are almost as hard as metal. Altogether it is a good solid building, far superior to anything at Buenos Aires.

Returning to the main square, we bisect the city's depth by means of the filthy Calle de la Cathedral, which runs from north to south. Looking down the Calle de la Palma, the Oxford opposed to Regent Street, we see, towering over the line of hut and hovel, the unfinished palace of D. Benigno


  • The cuadra of Asuncion varies. It is here assumed to measure 100 vares.

Travellers make the blocks eighty yards square and the streets fifteen yards wide. The " manzana" I have already explained to mean a cuadra cuadrada, or square cuadra.


442 ASUNCION,

Lopez^ in wliicli the Paraguayan type has been somewhat skilfully blended with Palladian architecture. Having become the headquarters of the Argentines, it is fronted by a fine lakelet of liquid mud. Cathedral Street here abuts upon the now deserted Plaza del Mercado, a large space of deep sand, surrounded by ground- floor tenements. At one corner is the " casa terrea '^ of Marshal-President Lopez ; the exterior is mediocre, but the inside is comfortable enough. Here General Osorio took up his quarters before occupying the house of Dr. Francia ; and here, in March last, the Brazilian Consul received the Councillor Jose Maria da Silva Paranhos. Ten years before (1858) the latter had been welcomed to the same house as Brazilian Ambassador by President Lopez, senior.

West of the building, and fronting the " Caile 25 de De- cembre,^ is the unfinished chapel of S. Francisco. The brick dome, of scantiest diameter, still bristles with its chetif scafiblding of bamboo and palm-trunk. I cannot understand how Senor Homem de Mello (Viagem ao Paraguay, February, March, 1869) calls this thing a " magnifica basilica.^ Further west again is a long ground-floor barn, the " Club Nacional,-" as we read upon the lamps that front its entrance. It was once civilized — as far, at least, as lodging its members at the rate of sixteen riyals (six shillings) per day ; and during fetes it was always well filled. The newspaper literature, however, was confined to the SemanariOy or weekly organ of the Government ; and to the Correo de Ultramar. The library contained a few volumes of silly stories, and Colonel du Graty^s " Paraguay -" whilst upon the table lay pictures of Parisian fashions ; in fact, the Petit Courrier. Billiards and cards were of course encouraged. Sentinels are now at the door, and the soldier seems lord of all he surveys at Asuncion. He is accused of excessive " looting,^^ and not a few of the officers are supposed to


EX-CAPITAL OF PARAGUAY. 443

have lent him a ready hand. But there could have been little to plunder, and the noise made about an old piano taken from the club suggests far more smoke than fire. And why should not the soldier be allowed to plunder a deserted place ? Why cut away from him half the inducement to fight ? Prize-money, all the world over, enriches mostly the non-combatant ; and the barefaced way in which it is habitually " shroffed^' has made the very word a scandal. Those who abuse the Brazilians will do well, before throw- ing the stone, to remember certain glass-houses at Hydera- bad, Sind, and the Summer Palace, China.

Passing through the market-place we find, further south, a third and a more extensive square, formed by smaller and meaner tenements. It is considerably larger than any- thing at Buenos Aires. Formerly the place '^ presented a most picturesque aspect at sunrise, several hundreds of women dressed in white being assembled to dispose of their different wares — fruits, cigars, cakes, and other comestibles.^' At present all is barren. In it is the United States Legation, which Mr. Washburn had insisted upon not transferring to Luque. The house is now the Gran Hotel de Cristo — devo- tional-sounding, but unusual. The Calle Pilcomayo hard by, on the ridge crest falling to the south, would be the finest site for a palace, and it commands a magnificent view of plain, hill, and river. The large whitewashed building to the south-west has become the Brazilian military hospital.

The population of Asuncion was made by Du Graty 48,000. Mr. Mulhall reduces the figure to one-half, in- cluding the suburbs. Mr. Mansfield lets it down to 20,000 ; and I would further diminish it to 12,000. We have now learned the ropes and mastered the peculiarity of its physiognomy. It is the true type and expression of Para- guay—of a people robbed and spoiled. The Presidential House would have paid the paving of half the town. Public


444 ASUNCION.

conveniences are nowhere; the streets are wretched ; drainage has not been dreamed of; and every third building, from the chapel to the theatre, is unfinished. The shops were miserable stores, like those of the '^ camp-towns '^ in the Argentine Republic. The post-office consisted of two small rooms in a private house. The barracks and churches, the dungeons, and the squares for reviews, are preposterous. Every larger house belongs to the reigning family Lopez. The lieges, if not in the caserne or the violon, must content themselves with the vilest ranchos, lean-tos, and tiled roofs supported, not by walls, but by posts. Nor may they dis- play their misery : it must be masked from the eye of opulence by the long dead brick walls that connect palace with palace. A large and expensively-built arsenal, river- side docks, a tramway, and a railway, have thrown over the whole affair a thin varnish of civilization ; but the veneer- ing is of the newest and the most palpable : the pretensions to progress are simply skin-deep, and the slightest scratch shows under the Paraguayan Republic the Jesuiticized Guarani.

I had expected to find Asuncion the last of the many little Moscows by which the Marshal-President marked the line of his retreat. Possibly, in their overweening national self-confidence, the Paraguayans e^spected, despite all dis- asters, soon to come to their own again. Even the railway had not been pulled up, and was allowed to save the Allied Army some two months' work. Farewell !


LETTER XXV.

AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

Asuncion, April 13, 1869.


My dear Z ,

I found at headquarters a complete change of masters. Marshal the Duke de Caxias had given up the command to General Guilherme Xavier de Souza, and had departed with his staff, including Brigadier Fonseca. Osorio and Argolo had left Paraguay badly wounded; and of the old hands only General Menna Barreto, who had fought through the war, remained. In the fleet, Admiral Carvalho, the Barao da Passagem, who succeeded the Visconde de Inhaiima (at Rio de Janeiro, March 8,1869), had been re- emplaced by Admiral Elisiario, one of the best officers now sent up when no longer of use ; and the able and energetic Captain of the Fleet, Commodore Alvim, was no longer to the fore. The Councillor Jose Maria da Silva Paranhos, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet of Sao Christovao, had returned, after inspecting Asuncion, to the labours of his especial mission at Buenos Aires. This able diplo- matist, committed to a war policy, they say, since 1858, had been sent from the Brazil with orders to establish at the capital of Paraguay a provisional government, with an acting President.

For the chief magistracy there were many candidates. Those foremost in the field were Dr. Serapio Machain, an invalid hardly expected to live ; sundry members of the in- fluential and deeply-iujuredDecoud family; Colonel Iturburii, who long commanded the Paraguan Legion in the AlJied


446 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

Army ; Seiior Egisquiza_, who was believed to be a ^' Lopizta/^ and D. Carlos Saguier, an Argentine raercbant^ son of a French settler, and born in the little Republic. The latter 's brother was the D. Adolfo Sagnier, an Argentine captain who had distinguished himself by a highly sensa- tional report concerning the " atrocities of Lopez /^ It is to be feared, however, that Paraguayan blood will always lapse into the path of Francia and Lopez. Moreover, a President without subjects enough to form a ministry — as is at present the case — would be a palpable absurdity, and M. Paranhos could not lend himself to the farce of creating a nation out of a few war-prisoners.

Messrs. Prytz and Peterkin were absent on leave. M. and Madame Auguste Chapperon, of the Italian Consulate, had run down to Buenos Aires. The Portuguese Consul had been shot, they say, by " Supreme order. M. Cochelet, Consul de France,"^ had been succeeded by M. Cuverville, ex-Eleve Consulaire. I did not seek the acquaintance of this young person, who wore upon his arm four of the very broadest gold stripes — where will the broadcloth be when he shall become Consul General ? An ugly story, involving a serious breach of confidence, was current about him and the family of the unfortunate Mr. Taylor. Moreover, he was in the habit of setting afloat apocryphal tales which found their way into the papers. One was touching a silver handbell, with fleur-de-lis, which belonged to Madame Lynch, and which had been treated with especial distinction by M. Paranhos : the latter assured me that he had bought it at Buenos Aires.

The United States Minister, General Macmahon, was in the mountains with Marshal-President Lopez : no com- munication from him had reached the sorrowing sisters at


  • M. Libertal, the chancelier, universally reported to have been tor-

tured and shot, was removed from Asuncion by the French gunboat.


AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION. 447

Buenos Aires. The Brazilian party thereupon declared that he was in durance ; but Paraguay was not likely, under the circumstances, so gratuitously to offend her power- ful sister Republic. The anti-Brazilians asserted that his letters had been intercepted by the Allies. Commander Parsons, of Her Majesty's steamship Beacon, which had relieved the Linnet^ was awaiting permission to visit the Marshal- President, and to carry off the last of the English detenus. I have before referred to the success of this officer's first mission : he had not, however, been supplied with a list of all the British employes, and at the moment of his reception by the President of Paraguay, Messrs. Valpy and Burrell were within two to three miles of him. The Argentines favoured his visit. The Brazilians refused a flag of truce ; and although they would have perforce allowed passage through their lines, they would have left him alone and unescorted to find his way across the deserted tract separating them from the enemy. Their overweening self-confidence in their own prowess gives them an arrogance which is becoming very offensive to foreigners. The bullying manner of the subaltern officers, especially with strangers, contrasts most unfavourably with the cour- tesy of the Generals and Marshals. If any ridiculous asser- tion concerning ^^ Lop'z, as they pronounce the name, be received with the least reserve, they raise their voices, and, with open sneer, deprecate any "defence of the tyrant. I have before warned you not to confound this negraille — these sweepings of second and third class negroes and negroids — with the noble Brazilian nation. They all believe that such a campaign has never been fought ; that such hardships have never been endured ; that such battles have never been won. The Empire, for a couple of generations, has been essentially pacific, and the ignorant have of course no idea of what is war.


448 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

The Allies knew nothing about the plans or position of Marshal-President Lopez. He might have been at his pro- visional capital Pirebebm, the " light skin/^ east of the Pirajii terminus of the railway ; or at Cerro Leon, south-east of the Ypacaray Lake, whilst others placed his actual camp at Asciirra, further to the north-east. All these are places on the Cuchilla or ridge communicating with the main rangC;, and between ten to fifty miles distant. Of the geo- graphical features, only the names were known. Some declared that the Paraguayan position could be surrounded, which is not probable ; others that Ascurra is a table-land, upon which cavalry attacking from the river could operate. None could explain what there was to prevent the enemy retiring into the mountain fastnesses.

Marshal-President Lopez, on the other hand, was perfectly well informed by his many spies of all that happened in the Allied camp. A certain Hungarian Colonel (in the Para- guayan army), Wisner de Morgenstern, who printed his family arms upon his card, and who had become a great landowner in the Republic, had been imprudently allowed to reside at Asuncion. This is the individual who is said, in conjunction with Madame Lynch and the Coadjutor Bishop Palacios, to have tempted the Marshal -President to attack his neighbours, and, as chief military engineer, to have laid out the absurd entrenchments of Humaita. He was made prisoner by the enemy in due time, and he kept a small pulperia at the street corner, where officers came for their periodical dram, and visited a pretty daughter, who was reported to reward important intelligence. The Brazilians also confided unduly in two chief officers of the rebel Para- guayan Legion, Colonels Iturburu and Baes. The latter was a man of the kill-you-and-eat-you order. He had re- peatedly volunteered to set out with a few troopers under pledge to capture and to capouize the arch-enemy. All,


AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION. 449

however, believed that he was most unwilling to see the offer accepted.

Shortly before my arrival, the Paraguayan outposts had attacked the Brazilians with a '^ railway battery" of two guns, and had killed and wounded some forty men. The steam-engine w^as charged by the Rio Grandenses, lance in hand ; and no one had the presence of mind to lay a log, or to cut the throat of a horse across the rails in rear. The Paraguayans, after doing damage, leisurely retired, and stopped the train to pick up two of their wounded who had fallen out of it. After my departure they fell upon a vedette of cavalry, and drove off, it is said, all the horses. For the first few weeks after the " affreux desastre," they numbered at most 2500 men and youths, most of them hurt and wounded. The wonderful " morosidade" of the Allies allowed the prisoners — the lost and those placed hors de combat — to return to their colours; and in April, 1869, Marshal-President Lopez was supposed to have 6000 troops, which others exaggerated to 8000 to 9000. Arms and ammu- nition had become exceedingly scarce, but the former could always be picked up fi'om the enemy's field of victory, whilst the women were kept to hard labour making cartridges.

A good new hotel — de Paris — is preparing at Asuncion. We lodged at the Hotel de la Minute, which has succeeded the " Hotel de Francia, a fifth-rate inn, with exorbitant charges for small rooms." We paid, everything included, $3*50 per diem — a moderate charge for unexpected good treatment. The French owner was an old soldat d'Afrique, and he was chafing under an insulted nationality, having been lately " shopped" under the pretext that he was re- ceiving stolen goods, when he was only buying furni- ture for his inn. At the same time sundry tobacco-bales, the property of a foreigner, were confiscated because he had carried arms against the Allies. This gave rise to a report

29


450 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

that the invaders^ who professedly declared war against the Government of Paraguay only, were about to appropriate the belongings of all who had opposed them in the field. As the whole of the Paraguayan population was in this category, the result would have been general spoliation. Nothing of the kind was, I believe, intended; but it was impolitic in the extreme to raise any such question. Marhal-President Lopez could hardly fail to make capital out of the report, and to show his vassal-citizens that they had nothing to expect except by fighting to the last. Mean- while, money was being coined. I was asked if my claim upon Paraguay had been settled, and was assured that by the easy sacrifice of half of what did not belong to me, the rest could be recovered in hides or in yerba. Afterwards, on board the Arno, I met a Brazilian ^^ fornecidor,^^ who, accompanied by his Traviata and his Traviata^s mamma and daughter, openly boasted that in three days he had cleared 30,000 silver dollars. This " flogs" even the Anglo-Indian commissariat officer whom we subalterns used to greet with the stock question about the date when he expected trans- portation.

At Asuncion I again met Lieutenant-Colonel Chodasie- wicz : he was amiable as ever, and ready to impart his stores of information ; but his position had not improved after the departure of his patron Marshal Caxias. He had proposed to attack the last Paraguayan position on the Lomas, by marching up stream 10,000 men and twelve guns, escorted by the Monitors. The rest of the army having for base the line of the Tebicuary river, would have advanced, not by the Gran Chaco, but eastward of the Laguna Ypoa, and by Caapucu, till they reached the apex of the triangle, Ita, which lies in the rear of Angostura. But such combined movements are hazardous, even when at- tempted by the best troops.


AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION. 451

Fortunately for me, my good friend Dr. Newkirk, for- merly of Corrientes, had shifted his quarters further north. He had enjoyed an excellent practice, and in one month was able to clear 600/. Now he complained that the cli- mate, which to me appeared odious, was exceptionally healthy. Asuncion, situated in the southern third of the western length of Paraguay, is nearly on the parallel of Rio de Janeiro. Yet here, when we landed, the raw, uncomfort- able south wind, which prevails in the cold season, made me remember ague for the first time upon the river. It was presently succeeded by a burst of the tremulous molecular action called heat, damp and stifling as that of Panama, with a copious evaporation, which generally ends in fearful storms of thunder, lightning, and rain. At 3 p.m. 96° (F.) in the shade, and at 11 a.m. 97°, are not uncom- mon. The north wind, which prevails during the wet half of the year, is as full of misery as a norther at Buenos Aires. At the springs and changes of the moon, the people expect tempests and shifting of winds. Bad weather at these epochs sometimes lasts through the quarter. It is popularly said here, as in the Brazil, that summer and winter meet in one day, and that Paraguay combines the four seasons in twenty-four hours. Between midnight and 6 A.M., it is spring ; summer then extends to noon : the third quarter is autumn ; and from 6 p.m. to midnight it is winter. As in Sao Paulo, the whole season between March and September is the only time to travel. Furious tempests and torrents of rain are usual about the end and beginning of the year.

Dr. Newkirk occupied in Calle Liber dad the house be- longing to Dr. Stewart, formerly Physician-General to the Paraguayan forces. This gentleman had married a rich native, the niece of Colonel Baes, who brought him also a neat quint a or finca, and some half a dozen estancias^ large


452 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

cattle farms. No stranger, I may observe, may hold landed property in the Republic ; and those who marry Para- guayan women become de facto naturalized citizens and subjects. Dr. Stewart had yielded himself prisoner after the battle of the Lomas, when Marshal-President Lopez dashed away from or through the enemy. He afterwards re- turned to England, landing at Buenos Aires and at Rio de Janeiro, where he was honoured by the Emperor with a lengthened interview. His low estimation of the Marshal President found its way into the newspapers, and thus, it is feared, the safety of his wife and children, who were marched north with the Paraguayan headquarters, may be terribly compromised.

Mr. Williams met at Asuncion an old Bahiano acquain- tance, Lieutenant-Colonel da Cunha, commanding 54th Volunteers. He had been badly wounded in the action of December 21, 1868, and only four of his twenty-one officers, and 90 out of 560 men, remained unharmed. These figures prove that, when manfully led, the Brazilian negro will fight. He praised the steadiness of the Paraguayans under arms ; also their intelligence, of which I could not discern a trace. He was severe upon the ferocity of their officers, and he spoke of the Duke de Caxias pretty much in the tone adopted by our cavalrymen in the Crimea when dis- cussing Lord Cardigan.

We were presently introduced to the foreigners at Asun- cion, and I owe the subjoined list of present prices^ to the


  • Tug steamers are paid according to the tonnage of what they tow,

400Z. being the general sum from the sea to Asuncion. The ton pays $16 (f.) from Montevideo to Asuncion ; a ton of coal from Eozario the same. Pressed hay 6/. per fardo of 20 arrobas (each 25 lbs.). Washing, per shirt, 3*. Riding horse, per trip, 2/. Provisions are dear. Two lean chickens are worth $2 to $5 (f.) ; the arroba of beef, |3 (f.) ; the sheep (small and poor) fetches $6 (f.) ; cabbages (half grown) per dozen, |5 to $10 (f.). Meat averages 6c?. per lb. wheu at the cheapest. Bread is 1 piastre


AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION. 453

kindness of Mr. Wingaard^ a Swede, and Mr. Bertram, who had a Casa de Remate, or auctioneer's office, in the Calle de la Palma. Of the two staples, yerba and tobacco, the first- named once formed half the exports of the Republic j now it is procured with difficulty at the rate of $2 per lb. The latter is equally scarce. Before the war the comercio, or common quality, ranged between 9 ryals and $1 40 (f.). The ^' amestizado '^ was worth $2 (f.). The species most prized in Paraguay are the pety-hobi, or " green to- bacco,^^ which is cultivated about Villa Rica, and the pety- par^, a " spotted " or " speckled petun. The latter, known by the large yellow discolorations which appear with the flower, grows only in certain places. The plant is carefully topped, and the leaves, selected by the " acopia- dor,'" were tied up into small bundles. A man lately bought for $5 (f.) an arroba of the latter^ but it was pro- bably stolen. The canela, or cinnamon-coloured variety, was ever so rare that it could be purchased only by making interest with a village chief: the value was $4 to $6 (f.) per arroba. Little care was taken in curing the weed. My friend Mr. George Thompson, of Buenos Aires, gave me several varieties of small specimen cigars, made about 1860, and then costing 1/. 126*. per thousand. One of them had a smooth greenish leaf, like the Manilla; another had a " capa '"' of pety-hobi wrapped round common ^' comer- cio."*' All were too rough in appearance to suit the Eng-


(8 riyals) per twenty-four rolls, each of \\ oz. Paraguayan diet chiefly consists of maize and manioc, oranges and mate. All prices are in " pata- coons" of ten ri\'als each. The Boliviano, or Bolivian dollar, is worth two riyals less, or almost three shillings. Wanting small change, the common people have chopped up these pieces into two and four bits ; and the half dollar is popularly termed a " Boliviano." House-rent formerly varied from one to three dollars per month, and a pair of lodging-rooms could he had for $6 to $7 (f.). Furniture is rare; the citizens mostly slept in ham- mocks lushed to rings built in the wall.


454 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

lish markets, and though mild in flavour were very heady. Yet, as you know, certain connoisseur friends in London did not dislike them.

We wished to visit the French colony of Nueva Burdeos, which I have said proved an utter failure. The site of this place and of other small towns on the far hank of the river may be seen from the uplands, but they may not be visited without the permission of the Brazilian Admiral, who is apt to refuse, judging the trip unsafe. We ascended the highest ground behind Asuncion, despite the dreadful effluvia from the carcases of cattle, and enjoyed a charming view of the little city, the noble expanse of the river valley, the grand sweep of the stream, and the sinuosities of the Pilcomayo's mouth. On the summit is a mangrullo, with three ladders and a solid roof, guarded by a detachment of Bra- zilians, and behind it is a cemetery, small and new.

We visited more than once Dr. Stewart^s quinta, east- ward and out of town. The road runs by the railway w^orkshops, which are unimportant ; and past the little church of S. Boque, a single-steepled aff*air, like most of the others. It then crosses two small wooden bridges thrown across the " Chorro," a rivulet of spring water, at whose mouth ships fill their tanks, and under whose dwarf falls the citizens in happier days enjoyed their douches. Then leaving the railway to the left, our route winds across deep sand, and we pass the house occupied by the Oriental army of 150 men, under General Castro. They are detained here by the general want of transport. On the right is the garden in which are encamped 350 Paraguayan soldiers in charge of two brass guns. I confess that Asuncion appeared at that time eminently open to a coy p -de -main. The garrison consisted of some thousand Brazilians, dispersed in barracks ; in case of a surprise these men, who are subject to panics, however stoutly they may have stood up in the field, would


AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION. 455

probably have barricaded themselves ; and, if not, they cer- tainly would have marched up too late. A few corps of Paraguans might, I believe, have entered Asuncion before dawn, cut the throats of the unarmed residents, and retired with plenty of booty : they would probably have been joined by the 420 men under Colonel Baes.

Beyond the Oriental headquarters we passed dwarf trin- cheiras, or earthworks, supported by palm-trunks, and commanding the land approach, with platforms for two guns ; of these barricades many are scattered across the seve- ral roads. Fording a stream and giving a wide berth to a dead mule, we turned into the gardens that lay on our left. It was impossible not to remark how Brazilian the fauna and flora had become. The chattering ainuns, the parroquets with thrilling flight, and the bem-te-vis were noisy as ever; the charming white and black viuva flitted from bush to bush as on the banks of the Rio de Sao Fran- cisco ; and the tame little doves ran along the ground, whilst the large blue pigeons, swifter than the hawk, winged their arrowy flight high above. The quaint staccato voice of the frog contrasted with the monotonous chirping of the nyaciingra or chicharra, a large cicada. Here and there we started a lizard or an iguana, resembling the dragon of Saint George in pictures. There were beetles of many kinds, and achatina shells, mostly tenantless at this season ; the spider wove on almost every tree her large web-like nest, and the ant was, as usual, busily engaged in useless labour.

The monarchs of the woods were the flgs, especially the bunchy Ympomen and the Tavumen, with dark-coloured fruit. The characteristic trees were mimosas and acacias, especially the inga, the quebracho, and the jacaranda, or palo de rosa. Of these woods a beam has been found bearing the date Octobre xx. 1633. I recognised the


456 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

cedro_, thougli young, by its hard fruit ; and saw a tree wLich much resembled the ibirapitanga, or true Brazilian dye- wood. Mr. Mulhall (p. 99) mentions " a tree called by a Guarani name, signifying ' red wood.' " The napinday, a prickly mimosa, which closes its leaves at sunset and before showers, was pointed out to me. The palms were the coquito, with the usual raceme, and the fan-leaved carandai, that useful ceroxylon, which is cut for house-roofs only when the moon wanes. Here and there a Persian lilac, "margoso,'^ or Nini tree grew well, whilst the Brazilian araucaria did not thrive. The myrtle and papaw, the ara9a and caju, flourished wild in the bush; and there was an abundance of the banana, whose fruit before the war was looked upon as "basura"' or sweepings. The orange tree is here fifty- five feet tall, far exceeding that of the Brazil, and even of Corrientes ; till thirty years old, it is half- grown, and when arrived at full age it averages per annum 500 fruits. I have heard of its producing thousands. These aristocrates du regne vegetal are intolerant of neighbours as the European conifers. Every traveller remarks how clear of grass is the ground which they shadow ; but none explain whether the soil becomes barren by imbibing the acid juice of the fallen fruit, or whether it results from some deleterious emanation.

The shrubs were the fedegoso, so well known in the Brazilian interior ; arrowroot ; wild indigo, now seeding ; the verbena ; the white oleander, here a stranger ; the wild prickly solanum, or " Devil's tomatoes •" the castor-oil plant; the lantana; the pinhao bravo, which gives croton oil ; wild tobacco ; the broca, or burr ; and the vidreira from the Gran Chaco, a juniper-like plant, whose ashes reduced to a calx are used by the glass-maker. There are not less than seven species of cactus, chiefly the cylindrical and the quadrangular. The wild flowers are the familiar vincas.


AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION. 457

whose lustrous green leaves, contrasting well with its pink blossoms, have recommended it to Europe, and even to Egypt ; and the diamela, or Paraguayan jasmine, which resembles a small white camelia, with a rich but feeble perfume. The sensitive plant clothed the campo like clover or lucerne ; its flower is a pink catkin ; and its stem, armed with small thorns, resembles the feathery mimosa. Convolvulus hung upon the dead stumps ; air plants sat upon the tree-forks ; and the birds had planted the red- berried parasite wherever it could take root. There was an abundance of sarsaparilla ;^ of the red-stemmed sugar- cane ; of melons ; of the arachis or ground-nut, which here takes the place of the olive ; of mandioca, the local parsnip ; of oats, which, formerly unknown by name in the Republic, now grow wild ; whilst the cotton, which at one time pro- mised to become a staple of Paraguayan export, was black with neglect.

The house was the normal quinta of the country ; strong and substantially built. A deep verandah, fronting a lawn to westward, and commanding through the shady trees a fine view of the city, led to a hall and four rooms remarkable for nothing but their ceilings. The offices were to the south, and the interior was in disorder : torn books lay in the corners, a huge mirror had been smashed, and the fur- niture was represented by the foul beds of the Paraguayan " care-taker and his friends — ruffians like himself, who sleep all night and half the day. He has given up the tene- ment to these " four great orders of knighthood " —

" The earwig, the midge, the bedroom B., Never forgetting the gladsome flea."

A companion, Mr. M'Nab, gave him a sovereign to fetch


  • From " zarza," a thorn ; and " parilla," a vine : not a gridiron, as Do-

brizhoffer has it.


458 AT AND ABOUT ASUNCION.

an " asa^o " for breakfast. He returned after three hours, swearing that the coin had slipped out of his pocket. Even a negro would hardly have done this.

Thence we walked northwards to the house of the Seiiora Dona Macedonia, a niece of General Berges, aged eighteen, and a great favourite with foreigners. As she was absent we entered the pulperia, or drinking-shop, upon the ground- floor, and failed to buy a tin of sardines, because the house had no change for a gold piece. All about were pretty ^' villas /' and the roads, which were adorned with the noble palma real, so much admired at Rio de Janeiro, showed signs of careful hedging.

We also visited the finca of Madame Lynch, which was said to grow some two hundred arrobas of coffee. The bun- galow was neat, and fronted by a lawn through which brick conduits led to a plunge-bath in a grassy hollow. The Mocha was not forthcoming, but there was a vinery which, trained to arbours, as are all in these regions, must have produced a quantity of grapes. The aged stems lay help- less upon the ground, and all was desolation ; the only inhabitants were a few Paraguayan peasants, who were eat- ing their chipas, or coarse brioches and chocolo, the " buta^^ of Hindostan, young maize roasted or boiled.

Our excursions about Asuncion were always short. The climate, to strangers at least, is exceedingly enervating; and very few miles in deep sand suffice for the best-girt walker. Adieu.


My dear Z-


LETTER XXVI.

AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT.

Asuncion, April 15, 1869.


There are two ways of making Luque, the ex-provisional capital village, where the Allied headquarters lie : by horse along the old road, or by the railway which I told you the Paraguayans neglected to tear up. It is believed that the whole is open as far as Pirayii terminus, 54 miles, which would lead into the heart of Lopez-land; and that the enemy contented himself, after sending down his locomotive battery, with destroying three bridges, in- cluding the Juquery, which is one league and a half beyond the headquarters.

We had been warned that the journey by rail would not be pleasant, and, expecting nothing, we were not dis- appointed. The first daily train, at 6 a.m., is held dangerous. Of late, certain waggoners have been arrested for cutting the trestles, holding that the caminho de ferro spoils their trade. Every train, in fact, 'does the work of nine carts, which can carry only two bales of pressed hay each, and without the iron road, the Brazilian operations, I have told you, would have been greatly delayed.

Mr. Williams and I were introduced to the Major, who, stick in hand, ruled the station. Under the military system of Marshal-President Lopez, all the railway officials were captains and lieutenants, and a military band played on each arrival of the train. We found M. Petersen, a Dane, and inspecting engineer, exceedingly civil. The second


460 AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT.

train had started before its time ; apparently the departures are never exacts except when you reckon upon their in- exactitude. We passed the time in inspecting the fine barracks of San Francisco, and the " banquillo" or benchlet, facing east, a seat between two posts,, where criminals were shot at daybreak against a dead wall. Traitors, as usual in these lands, were fired into from behind.

The Major had promised us places by the third train, which leaves at 10 a.m., and for this time we were careful not to be late. Every appliance was of the rudest description. The asthmatic little engine — which, after serving its time upon the Balaklava line, and being condemned as useless at Buenos Aires, had been shipped ofi" to Paraguay — was driven by a Brazilian officer in goggles. Passenger-carriages there were none; and the shallow waggons piled three stories high with sacks of maize and bales of pressed alfalfa, each weighing 300 to 400 lbs., formed a perch from which a fine act of flying into the nearest field could be performed. Something of the kind happened to the next batch of travellers, with due fracture of nose, limb, and head.

Dr. Newkirk was accompanied by his faithful servant, a Correntino, who hardly lost a moment in getting drunk, and in addressing us generally with japii — a lie. After the usual delay, we wound slowly through the eastern suburbs, hard stared at by a few ^' half-sarkit •" and cotton drawered natives, an ill-favoured race, of whom no ^' pathetic fallacy^^ could make a provisional government. Our eyrie was lined with a body of Paraguayan dames and damsels, all more or less tinged by red-skin blood. They screamed lustily when the smoke and steam combining to blow in our faces, spotted skin and raiment with blacks, as though we had been peppered. The dress was a red or white cloth over the shoulders, a tipoi or chemisette very open in front, and a petticoat with lace flounces ; shoes were rare, and


AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT. 461

the hair was plaited behind, and formed into two bunches, somewhat like the coiffures of Harar. They spoke Guarani to one another, Spanish to us. Amongst the detached houses one was shown to me where the redoubtable Francia had passed a considerable portion of his manhood, poring over a scanty library, meditating upon the future, and, doubtless, eating his ambitious heart, as must have been the case with a certain contemporary of ours who also rose to a throne. The curves were exaggerated ; the light engine seemed to jump rather than to run ; the canting over caused our fair neighbours — officially called fair — to clutch at us with iron fingers, and I never felt — even while racing against time over the unstuffed pots of the " Santos and Jundiahy^^ — that we were doing better to secure a spill.

The worst part was up a swelling loma that extended nearly to the half-way village. La Trinidad. Its single-steepled church, whose belfry spreads out above to support a huge vane, contains under a long triple profile of tile-roof, the mortal spoils of the late President Lopez (senior). Around this are scattered the picturesque " Summer Palaces,^' with quintas and naranjales, laid out by the reigning family for their conquerors, and huts smothered in dense copse and glorious trees. Trinity was celebrated for cock-fights, and still stood there a single large rinadero (pit), in the normal shape of a skeleton wooden circus, bared of its thatch. The scatter of upright poles and torn mattings, all now deserted, showed where the Argentine forces had lately been encamped. From this point the little city looks exceedingly well. At no great distance to the right of the road is the Recoleta, or original cemetery, so called from the " Recolets '^ of old authors.

Beyond La Trinidad the road greatly improved, and its long straight lines spanned in perspective the Campo Grande, a charming grassy plain, with rare " rolls" and " dips,"


462 AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT.

Tips and downs. Upon its further side rises the loma, which shows the Luque village^ a neat place seen from a distance. Here the bridges were in good repair ; the stations were for the most part remarkably substantial, as if made to last for ever ; and that opposite La Trinidad was a neat chalet. The carpenters will not take the trouble to whittle down their extremely hard timber^ and building material every- where abounds.

After a run of little more than seven miles in thirty minutes, during which the levels rose to 2(^0 feet, we reached the Luque station,^ and were greeted by one of the employes, Sefior Cordeiro, who remembered my former visit to the front. This gentleman gave me two parchment- bound volumes, containing the Life and Miracles of Saint Ignatius de Loyola. I also managed to procure a mutilated translation of Colonel du Graty, with notes by D. Carlos Calvo. This work was officially recommended to all good patriots, and hundreds of copies were found in store at Asuncion. The literature affected by foreigners in Paraguay seems mostly to have consisted of grammars, dictionaries, and ready letter- writers. Travellers remarked that, although all the natives could read and write, a village often con- tained only a single book.

We found Luque the normal settlement derived from the Jesuit ages ; a single quadrangle surrounded by some forty or fifty ground-fioor houses, with deep verandahs or corridors on wooden posts, whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs. All opened, for better espionage, upon the grassy space in front. To the east was a mean little chapel, and on the west was the great comercio, or camp-bazar. We chose the Hotel de Paz, a kind of booth, where for a sovereign we break-


  • For the rest of the line, as far as Itaugua (twenty-five miles), and a

visit to Pirayu, Paraguari, Yaguaron, and Ita, Mr. M. Mulhall (page 95) may be consulted to advantage.


AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT. 463

fasted decently, with bread and vin de paya, a stewed fowl, and the best beef that we had eaten in Paraguay. Drunken soldiers were loungiug about, and Dr. Newkirk, after in- specting the accounts of his fraudulent apothecary, at once recognised the brand of a favourite charger belonging to Dr. Stewart. The trooper who rode it was of the San Martin corps, but a dollar and a card sent to the commanding officer soon caused the restoration of the stolen property.

The country about Luque consisted of landwaves dotted with ant-hills and tussocky grass ; and belts of wood, espe- cially thorn-coppice, dividing open esteros, rivulets here called caiiadas, and marshes and mud-pools floored with hard clay. Here and there a bunch or bouquet of vegeta- tion somewhat better than usual, showed the " copuera,^"* or countryman's house. In this part of Paraguay the " capilla^'- village is not known ; the people live in detached farms with mud walls, and open ranchos surrounded by oranges, palms, and mamones, as papaws are named after the shape of their fruit. Cotton was formerly grown here in fields neatly kept as gardens, and some contained 300 lineos, or 20,000 hills. The shrub has now been allowed to run wild. Marshal-President Lopez had made, much like Mohammed Pasha of Egypt, the planting of tree- wool obligatory, and with 20,000 troops at his command, hands were never wanting. The soil is distinctly poor : the Brazilians declare that they are fighting for a country — unspoiled *^^ Arcadia of English capitalists,^' the " most interesting, loveliest, pleasantest in the world — which they would not accept as a gift. At present the surface is tolerably pure ; presently it will become a sheet of offal and garbage, and the waters will be turned into cess, and sink, stagnant and putrid, into animal and vegetable decay.

After breakfast we crossed the railway in order to call upon the Exmo. Sr General-in-Jefe del Ejercito Argentino,


464 AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT.

the Brigadier- General D. Emilio Mitre, to whom we car- ried letters from President Sarmiento, and from his dis- tingnished brother, D. Bartholome. I was astonished to find that officer in proximity with the Brazilians, the Saturday Review, usually so well informed, having lately " virtually dissolved the triple alliance of the two Plate (sic) Republics with the Empire."

The Argentine camp lay north-west of the comercio. The site was a pleasant slope facing eastward, where stood the lines of the several corps, most of the tents being bushed in with branches of orange trees mercilessly hacked down. Altogether you could hardly imagine a more pleasant place for a picnic in fine weather — in rain it must be hideous. There was an unmistakeable improvement in the aspect of things ; the men were cleaner ; their uniforms were more uniform ; they did not look discontented ; and their foul tents of hides had been exchanged for canvas. Still, however, almost all those we saw, officers excepted, were foreigners : Frenchmen, Germans, and Spaniards, and not a few who wore the easily-detected look of the runaway British seaman, completed the '^ collection of human zoology.'^ After the late events at Loma Valentina, there has been even less of entente cordiale between the Allies than before ; and the Argentines smart under the conviction that they had been robbed of their credit by the Generalissimo Caxias. I heard of but one Englishman, Colonel Fitzmorris, who bore a commission, but doubtless there are others.

We gave our cards to a sentinel who was pacing in the perfumed shade of the naranjal, and an aide-de-camp pre- sently led us up to where D. Emilio was sitting in uniform upon his easy-chair. Near him rose his small campaigning tent, and opposite it stood a carriage-bed, a kind of four- gon, somewhat like the old waggon of the Suez road, cap- tured from Marshal-President Lopez, after the flight from


AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT. 465

Loma Valentina, aud containing as you will see, a wealth of damaging documents. Good horses were tethered to the tree-stumps around. The General welcomed us, glanced at our letters, and asked if we had breakfasted — it is his generous practice to keep open house or tent. He then produced a box of the best Havannas, which were followed by cups of the fragrant Yungaz coffee. Originally from Mocha, this Bolivian variety is justly held in the highest esteem ; unfor- tunately it is rare as it is delicious. I first tasted it in the hospitable house of the Messrs. Duguid at Buenos Aires^ and the perfumed flavour faintly suggested the odour of incense.

The guest-rite concluded, we sat down to a table spread with charts, especially an enlarged copy of Captain Mou- chez^s excellent map, into which details taken from various informants had been filled. D. Emilio pointed out to us what he thought should be the future of a campaign, con- cerning which I can only say that it still drags its slow length along when it should have finished in the beginning of 1869. Commanding the Argentines during the latter part of the war, he has seen much service, and he wdll pro- bably see more. He is one of the few Platines that have ever shown aptitude for la grande guerre, and his country has done wisely to employ him. D. Emilio is a tall, stout figure, well known for personal strength, and he has the jovial look which often accompanies great physical force ; his beard is dark and full ; his hair, though not grey, is becoming scanty at the poll, and yet he appears much younger than his brother, D. Bartholome. Altogether he is a prepossessing and military figure, which must com- mend itself to the sex whose commendation he mostly values. His men are thoroughly satisfied with him, and he has something to say in favour of their dash, but little about that solidarite which he so much admires in the

30


466 AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT.

Paraguayans. They must win by the first charge, and they have a holy horror of playing long-stop to besieged bowlers. The foreign portion has probably never fought before. Gaucho warfare consists of scattering before the fight, gal- loping about, banging guns and pistols in the air, shouting the Redskin " slogan/^ and foully abusing one another^s feminine relatives. The infantry take shelter, and ad- vance under cover so as to steal a march upon the enemy. Both cavalry and infantry retire when a few men have been wounded or killed ; and, after the " battle the throats of all prisoners are cut, according to the fashion of the Mohawks. D. Emilio praised the persistency of the Brazilian whites, who, in this particular, apparently resemble the Russians. He numbered his men at 5000, and he did not seem to think an increase probable ; many a '^ tropilla ^' of horses must be forthcoming before even these can move.

On our taking leave, D. Emilio gave us a general invita- tion to dine with him, and in this case it is equivalent to a particular. Returning to the Luque village, we called upon Colonel Ferreira, Chief of Camp Police. His quarters, situated a little behind the only square, have been, to judge from the rudimental arms of the Republic painted upon the walls, an official residence. Then proceeding to the State House, at the north-eastern angle of the Plaza, we sent m our cards to the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Army, Marshal Guilherme Xavier da Souza. His adjudante d^ordens (aide-de-camp) courteously asked us to sit down whilst the Generalissimo was finishing some official business. Presently we entered, and found him in a camp chair before a plain deal table, which bore materials for making cigarettes. A tall thin man, with pallid, not to say yellow skin, high features, and straight thin black hair, together with an ex- pression of countenance peculiarly Brazilian, his nationality is not to be mistaken. He was dressed in mufti, black


AGAIN TO THE ALLIED FRONT. 467

from head to foot, without any sign of his rank, or even of his profession. Dr. Newkirk declared that he had never seen him look so well ; I thought his appearance almost corpse-like. He is evidently suffering from liver complaint, and at times sudden faintness compels him to dismount from his charger. His enemies declare that his ill-health began with a fall upon parade, when he struck with his sword at an officer. They also injuriously call him General da Corte — but what else was the gallant Lord Raglan ? Moreover, the Generalissimo is only acting temporarily, like a certain Jemmy Simpson"^ who was sent to uphold in the Crimea the honour of the British arms, when nearly a decade before he was pronounced superannuated in Sind. The Marshal spoke freely of the war. He numbers his men at 20,000, forming the two corps d'armee, commanded by Generals Machado Bittancourt and the highly-distinguished Menna Barreito ; and he would fain have a third of 10,000 more. The vanguard consisted of 4000 men, under the Brigadier Vasco Alves, who held the Juquery bridge. He was very severe upon the climate of Paraguay, with its immense variety of " immundicies,"'^ but he expected that the approach- ing winter would do him good.

From the Quartel General we walked about the camp, which is kept in far better order than the city; and we inspected the men, who seemed, like mulatto children, to grow darker every month. Except here and there an officer or a bandsman, all appeared to be deeply tarred. Again we found the unpleasant spectacle of begging soldiers, even amongst the highly-paid volunteers. Mr, Williams was assured by a liberated African whom he had seen at Bahia that the men had been in arrears for nine months. The officers could not wholly deny the fact, but they justify the non-payment for three to four months, as proposed by the Duke de Caxias, on the grounds that the soldiers have all

30— :i


468 AGAIN TO THE ALLIED ERONT.

they want_, and that the issue of money is a signal for all manner of disorders. When recounting my experience to high authorities at Uio de Janeiro^ I found that this style of procedure was there unknown.

At Luque we witnessed the unloading of three railway waggons^ under charge of a furious major of infantry, acting conductor. The maize sacks and hay bales were tossed one by one upon the muddy ground, and were slowly rolled up the bank of the little cutting by a score of negro Sepoys in fatigue suits. As usual in these lands of liberty, every boy gave his opinion, and obtained at least as good a hearing as his seniors. In France or Englandsome seven hundred men would have been told off, and they would have done in ten minutes the work which here occupied nearly an hour. This typical slowness in small matters illustrates the whole course of the long campaign. The Juquery bridge took nearly a month to repair, and a facetious editor at Buenos Aires allowed the Brazilians half a year before they could prepare a fresh base of operations.

As we left Luque in an unloaded train, pushed by the engine at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, we were cheered by a characteristic incident. Suddenly in the evening air appeared a bundle of something describing a parabola : it was a Brazilian soldier in uniform, who thought jumping the readiest way to leave the waggon. All sup- posed him a dead man, but his African head had alighted like a shell upon the loose sandy surface. He rolled over as might a toy tumbler, and at last, seated upon his broadest breadth, with highlows extending skywards, he displayed at us flashing ivories and widely-open eyes which recalled the inlayings of some Lower Empire statue.

We were not sorry to find ourselves, sound in limb, once more within the walls of the Hotel de la Minute.

Farewell.


LETTER XXVII.,

AND LAST.


My dear Z-


Buenos Aires, April 21, 1869.


H.R.H. the Comte d^Eu, with that devo- tion to the interests of his adopted country which has ever characterized his career^ volunteered his services as Com- mander-in-Chief of all the Brazilian forces operating in the Republic of Paraguay^ and they had been accepted on March 22, 1869. It was popularly said in the Brazil that only His Imperial Majesty and the people, supported through thick and thin the war policy, whilst the Conservatives who were in office showed signs of wishing to conclude an honourable peace. Many therefore believed that the gallant and amiable young Prince, still only twenty-seven, was a victim to poli- tics, and fated to fail. They predicted for him an enthusiastic reception at a banquet, with speechifying, boasting, and pro- mising in foison ; much hurry, bustle, and confusion ; a move- ment rather circular than progressive ; and at last, ill-health and resignation. The husband of the Princess Imperial, however, accepted without hesitation the task of pushing on the fight to which he was virtually pledged, and persevered with stout heart and all the energy of his house. On April 6, 1869, he reached Monte Video, accompanied by his staff, whose chief, by-the-bye, was the ex-Minister of War, Gene- ral Polidoro da Fonseca Uuintanilha Jordao. That officer, you may remember, succeeded (July 10, 1866) General Osorio in command of the Brazilian forces : he left in Para- guay a name by no means popular with either army.


470 CONCLUDING LETTER.

On April 14 the Comte d^Eu showed his promptitude by- hearing a salute at Asuncion, and by occupying the Cuartel General three days afterwards at Luque. Thence he ad- dressed to his men the following proclamation : —

" Having been appointed, by an Imperial decree of March 22nd ult., Commander-in-Chief of all the Brazilian forces operating against the Goyernment of Paraguay, I this day undertake the arduous task.

" Upon the heroic troops now united under my command the Brazil has reposed her dearest hopes.

" It is for us to attain, by a supreme effort, the full end which placed under arms the Brazilian nation ; to restore to our beloved country the peace and security indispensable to the full development of her prosperity.

With such holy objects presented in our minds, each of us will ever do his duty.

"This is the anniversary of the day when, led by a general of indescribable heroism, you effected, in face of the enemy, one of the most daring of military operations.

" Numberless proofs of bravery and endurance, displayed before and after that ever-memorable date by the Army, the Navy, and the Volunteers, have shed deathless glory upon the Brazilian arms.

" The God of Armies will not allow the fruits of so many sacrifices, of so much perseverance, to be in vain. He will again crown our efforts and those of our loyal Allies ; a final triumph will secure for four nations the benefits of peace and liberty, and victorious we will see again the delicious sky of our native land.

" Comrades ! you will find me ever ready to advocate before the powers of the State your legitimate interests.

" Obliged, when I least expected it, to take the place of generals whose experience had guided them through the


CONCLUDING LETTER. 471

trials of a prolonged war, I trust to receive from one and all of you the most cordial co-operation.

'^ Your support will enable me to fulfil all the demands of the arduous commission imposed upon me by my deep devotion to the greatness of Brazil.

" Long live the Brazilian nation !

" Long live the Emperor !

" Long live our Allies !

(Signed) ^' Gaston d^Orleans,

" Commander-in-Chief."

I will only say of this " Order of the day" that it shows the best intentions, but that it lacks flavour and originality, whilst the appeal to the " God of Armies" is an antiquated practice rapidly falling into decent disuse.

My task was now at end. I had now seen all the most interesting sites of the most heroic struggle known to the world since the "^ Beggars" of the Lower Provinces arrayed themselves against Philip of Spain. My companion and I had only to intone the pleasant words —

"Tralala — lalala, partons I

Oui, partons ! Prenous nos attributs."

We ran down to the river in the Osorio, Captain Smith,

an old acquaintance ; and enjoyed ourselves in the company

of the raw Scotch laddie ;" whilst Mr. Cawmell, the purser,

could complain only of over-fatigue — perhaps he was born

tired — induced by perpetually handling the " swizzle-stick."

The next day saw us at Humaita, whose batteries had clean

disappeared, whilst the church had not been repaired. The

rive]' bank looked low after the falaise of Asuncion, even as

the grand proportions of Bio (de Janeiro) Bay and

" The tow'ring headlands crowned with mist. Their feet among the billows,"

are dwarfed by contrast with the Platine mouth. Corrientes


472 CONCLUDING LETTER.

again looked exceedingly mean and unclean, and we then transferred ourselves, in a violent squall, to the neat little steamer Goija, Captain Bellesi.

The Goya landed as at Buenos Aires, not without a trifling adventure which might have turned out serious. When night was about its noon on Saturday, April 17, we were suddenly thrown clean out of our berths. The crushing and crashing of spars told us that a collision had taken place. We ran on deck, expecting an ugly swim and cold dreary night amongst the mosquitoes. But I was once more in luck, having just escaped the Santiago wrecked at mid- night in Mercy Bay, Straits of Magellan. Large loomed a hull, the Itapicuru steamer, which had just crossed our bows. Fortunately, however, as we were making thirteen knots an hour, the captain and the two English engineers were on the alert, and " Stop 'er V and " Back ^er V were ordered and obeyed in a few instants. We swept away the enemy^s three boats, whilst several of our plates were destroyed; the stanchions were twisted as if by machinery, and we sustained a total of damage estimated at $3000 (f.). We followed the foe, whistling her to stop, which of course she did not, and the results of the affair were legal pro- ceedings, in which the Goya will be happy if she receives half her claims.

My most obliging and accomplished friend, Mr. G. P. Crawfurd, at once carried me off to the office of the Buenos Aires " Tribuna," where I renewed acquaintance with a fellow traveller, D. Hector Varela, and was introduced to his brother, D. Rufino. The latter allowed me to inspect the documents taken at Loma Yalentina from the private carriage of Marshal-President Lopez ; and these prove him to be

" Cunning and fierce — mixture abhorred."

They range through upwards of a decade, and throw a fierce


CONCLUDING LETTER. 473

light upon the shades of Paraguayan civilization. Thus, whilst sundry partisans brazenly assert that the Republic decreed that from January 1, 1843, " the wombs of female slaves should be free" and manumitted all her serviles before 1851, 1 found a document, stamped '^ Sello Cuarto/ and dated April 19, 1858, in which serviles were sold to D. Miguel (now Colonel) Baes for 125 (f.) a head. The dollars were of full value, but in paper, as Paraguay lacked silver. Again, the Esclavos del Estado are alluded to in a rescript dated 1862. With these papers before me it was easy to understand how desertion from the Paraguayan army was next to im- possible. The soldiers never went out of camp alone, or in a lesser number than four ; and each answered for the other three with his life. A General Order, dated Paso la Patria, March 25, 1866, and signed by one of the most sanguinary officers, Francisco Z. Resquin, thus establishes the award of " levanting," and even of sleeping whilst on duty. The culprit was shot. The two men that stood on parade to his right and left received each twenty-five "palos" — lashes with a bulFs hide. The cabo or corporal of the section was degraded to the ranks for two months, and ran the gauntlet till some forty blows were dealt to him "^ en cir- culo." To the sergeant of the company were awarded fifty " palos de paradu," on foot ; moreover, he was ordered to serve one month as a soldier, and one as a corporal. The commissioned officer was " remitted to his Excellency the Marshal- President," and his penalty was arbitrary: usually, the oft'ender was reduced to march in the ranks with naked feet ; sometimes he forfeited life. All offences committed in the vanguard came under the especial jurisdiction of the President, and none ever found mercy. It was rumoured that in the most obstinate attacks the Paraguayans were formed, Roman-like, in three lines ; and that if oue fled the corps immediately to the rear was ordered to fire upon its


474 CONCLUDING LETTER.

comrades in arms. This also appeared to be confirmed by a General Order. The mothers or wives of the bravest officers, who were compelled by the fate of war to yield themselves prisoners^ were forced publicly to disown their sons and husbands as traitors to the country; and failing to do so they were imprisoned^ exiled,, or flogged to death. It is generally believed that the Draconian edicts issued against desertion became with time still more bloodthirsty, and that shooting the collateral offenders was preferred to flogging.

An original and sundry copies of courts martial (consijos de guerra) were given to me as specimens. They were of the most summary and drum-head nature. Paper^ like salt, had become exceedingly rare, one of the reasons being that affairs of the most trivial nature were lengthily documented, and forwarded to headquarters. Two pieces about the size of your hand, coarsely made out of caraguata, or fibre of the wild bromelia, and, to judge from the red lines, torn from some account-book, were tacked together and covered with writing. A man's life is in each one of them, and the tenor usually is as follows : —

" Long live the Republic of Paraguay !

" Relation of the soldier Candido Ayala, of the company of Grenadiers, and of the battalion No. 3, and it is as follows : —

" The said soldier, when standing at night around the fire with other men of his own company, repeated to them the sayings and the offers made to him by the enemy, as he was going in the vanguard under Serjeant-major Citizen Benito Rolon, on occasion of finding himself where he and they could hold communication. One of them said to him, ^ Come you amongst us; throw away your hide-ponchos; here


CONCLUDING LETTER. 475

we are well, you will want nothing, and forget your Presi- dent, an Indian, old and pot-bellied ! ' And the moment that the commandant of the corps happened to be near them and heard their conversation, he reproved them and cut them short, saying ' Silence ! who authorized you to repeat such words uttered by that canaille ? and how dare they speak against or insult our Marshal, he being the handsomest and most gracious (gracioso) sovereign in all the American continent ? ' Upon which he called up the soldier, and asked him with what idea he had repeated a conversation which tended to wound and personally to injure our Lord ( Senor) President. The other replied that he had repeated it without evil thought, not knowing it to be blameable, and at once he was placed in the stocks at the colour guard, where he remains, the report being thus sent to the Commandant of the Division.

" Encampment of San Fernando, April 4, 1868.

Signed, Julian N. Godoy.

" By order of the Most Excellent Lord Marshal President of the Republic, and General-in-Chief of its Armies, let the above-named soldier, Candido Ayalo, of the battalion No. 3, be shot (pasese por las armas), and let the individuals of his company who were with him, listening to his words, be chastised with fifty blows (palos) ; the execution of this sentence being committed to the sergeant-major commandant of the said corps, who, in carrying out the order, will ascertain the names of those chastised with blows, for the purpose of reporting them.

" Encampment at Tebicuary, April 4, 1868.

Signed, " P. Z. Resquin.

" In carrying out the present order, received with due respect, to shoot the soldier Candido Ayala, of the battalion


476 CONCLUDING LETTER.

No. 3, for the reason above stated, I had this done to-day according to command, and I caused to be chastised with fifty blows the sergeant Faustino Sanabria, and the corporals Jose Jiqueredo and Bias Jimenes, and the soldiers Baltazar Medina, Mathilde Piro, Tomas Duarste, Cecilio Maciel, and Canuto Galeano, who had given ear to the provoking words of the said Ayala ; and as the soldier Canuto Galeano was chastised by some mistake of the corporal with forty-nine blows, I ordered the fifty to be completed, upon which he turned to me as if offended, and asked me to chastise him still more if necessary. For which insolence I had him chastised with twenty-five more blows, and left him in the stocks.

All which I respectfully report to your Lordship (V. Senoria).

"Encampment at S. Fernando, April 4, 1868.

Signed, " Julian Nicanor Godoy.^

In almost all cases the men were shot for leaving camp to visit their families or relatives. On April 20, 1868, private Pedro Guanto was charged by two boys, respectively aged twelve and fifteen years, with having asserted some months before that Paraguay was not strong enough to support the war — " parece que vamos a perder He was "passed under arms.'^ Amongst the orders was one dated August 15, 1868, by the Secretary of War and Marine, degrading General the Citizen Vicente Barrios, married to D. Ynocencia, the President's elder sister, and transferring his rank to the honorary Colonel Luis Caminos, officer of the National Order of Merit. Another, dated December, 1868, acquits and releases D. Venancio Lopez, whom all at Buenos Aires had " put to death by that species ol" torture known as the Cepo Uruguayana.^' After September 10, 1868, nothing transpired concerning the fate of D. Benigno


CONCLUDING LETTER. 477

Lopez. Some declare that on the road to execution he said to an acquaintance, " Take my hat ; a man about to die wants no head covering/' Others reported that he had been flogged to death by Aveiros, a government clerk, and by Matias Goiguru, a captain of cavalry ; while others assert him to be still living. The same is the case with Vice- President Sanchez ; whilst a few saw his body at San Fer- nando, many are convinced that he still breathes the upper air.

The women of Paraguay were not less arbitrarily treated. I saw one order for 700 of them, and another 810, to proceed, guarded by an officer and thirty troopers — who probably had no sinecure — with all possible despatch to the Capilla de Caacupe, where they were to " occupy themselves usefully in agriculture,^' maize and mandioca. The Allies may therefore give up all hopes of starving out this stubborn foe. Another document (S«pt. 26, 1867), establishes a central commission for receiving money, or, that failing, jewellery and precious stones, required for the defence of fatherland. La Senora, the President's mother, subscribes fifty ounces, and D. Elisa Alicia Lynch, one hundred. It is, therefore, vain to say that Marshal-President Lopez must put his subjects to death in order to plunder their property.

Yet amidst the papers of sternest import, the instruments of tyranny which riveted chains upon a free people, are others which show heart of a softer stuff. The President of Paraguay, compared with Tiberius and Nero, is anxious about his eldest son " Panchito" (F. Lopez), who was so often reported to have been slain in battle when only about thirteen to fourteen years old. He shows much tenderness to his youngest child Leopoldo. I saw the original of the following, which he addressed before the affair of Loma Valentina, to Major-General Macmahon : — •


478 CONCLUDING LETTER.

"Piquisiri, December 23, 1868.

" Sir, — As the representative of a friendly nation, and to provide against all that may happen, allow me to entrust to your care the subjoined document, by which I transfer to Doiia Elisa Lynch all my private effects of whatever description.

" I beg you will have the goodness to keep the document until it can be securely delivered to the aforesaid lady, or returned to me, in the unforeseen event of my having no personal communication with you.

Allow me also to entreat you from this moment to do all in your power to put into effect the intentions named in the document.

" Receive, beforehand, all the thanks I can give you. — Your faithful servant,

" Francisco S. Lopez/^


[same to same.]

" Sir, — As you have had the extreme goodness to offer to take charge of my children, I now recommend them to your protection should anything happen to me.

" I authorize you to adopt any means in their favour you may consider best for the welfare of those poor little creatures, more particularly Leopoldo, whose tender age fills me with anxiety.

^^ You will thus gain my eternal gratitude, since the fate of those children is what will most trouble me in the ter- rible period I dedicate to the fortunes of my country. They will be safe under the protection of a gentlemau whose qualities I have been able to appreciate, not, indeed, during a long acquaintance, but to me a happy one.

^' It is thus. General, I venture to trouble you, with


CONCLUDING LETTER. 479

motives which make no other call than in that gentlemanly feelins: I congratulate myself in having found in your Excellency, to whom I now oflfer my friendly acknow-

gmen s. ^^ Francisco S. Lopez/'

Another was a paper (December 23, 1868) in which he appoints Madame Lynch universal legatee. This will is, I am informed, illegal, the mother in Paraguay being under such circumstances heir-at-law. He is said to be not an unaffectionate son, although public report made D. Juana a suicide, and Mr. Washburn declared at Buenos Aires (Sept. 20, 1868) that " Lopez" had imprisoned, flogged, and tortured his mother and his sisters.

This letter is a curious mixture of sympathy, of stern- ness, and of natural grief. It evidently alludes to the much talked-of conspiracy, and it proves, if credible, that D. Benigno Lopez was then living, although his death had often been reported.

And the following is a literal translation : —

" To the Senora Da. Juana Paula Carrillo de Lopez.

September 10,1868. " My dear Mother,

" I have received your welcome letter of the 3rd instant, and I still live to acknowledge this upon the sixth anniversary of my father's death, through the mercy of God, who has vouchsafed to spare me, despite so many machinations of my own ones and of strangers.

" Several weeks have elapsed, it is true, since my last letter to you, and I highly prize your affectionate reproach, when on other occasions a longer neglect would be of no im- portance. My silence is owing partly to my bad negligent habits, but now, especially, to the moral suff'erings which have for some time been my lot. The singular circum-


480 * CONCLUDING LETTER.

stances which have taken place in our house make me stand ashamed before the world ; and, but for your letter, I should perhaps have felt a repugnance to taking up my pen and to tracing a word upon subjects as monstrous as they are horrifying. You invoke, however, the sad memories of the day, and you ask me to write to you. This overcomes my objections, and I still write, although hardly knowing what to say.

" I cannot express to you, mamma, all the pain with which I read your letter, because, after all my requests to Senor Sanchez, that he would disclose to you from me the know- ledge which I possess of the unhappy affair to which you refer, I should have expected, however hard it might have been, something more natural and frank. Poor mamma ! You, perhaps, do not know that I have already passed through every possible bitterness in this monstrous affair without daring to complain. But, I thank you, my mar- tyrdom reached its crisis when I learned the facts. I fear on my part further to embitter this day by dwelling upon a subject not less bitter than the worst which happened six years ago. Useless were all my endeavours, and vain were all my hopes ; and again I explain — or rather others explain for me — the cause. All arrayed themselves against me, and none busied himself save with his victim. But God permitted light to shine through the darkness ; my enemies were confounded, and I am still here. I am all in all to you, and would to heaven ! — would to heaven ! that I could be so for all those who did not think to require my help.

'^ Venancio, Benigno, and Ynocencia, are in good health.

" "Were I allowed a word of advice, I would recommend you not to show excessive alarm concerning all that is hap- pening : it would hardly be prudent, although a mother's tender heart requires some expansion.


CONCLUDING LETTER. • 481

" I receive your welcome letter rather as that of a mother to her son, than as of a suppliant to the magistrate : the latter case would only do harm.

" Please convince yourself, mamma, of all the love with which your blessing is begged, by

'^ Your most obedient son,

(Signed) ^^F. S. Lopez.'^

A few hurried last hours amongst friends in Buenos Aires, the open-hearted, made me regret that such a distance was to separate us. Once more on board the comfortable Arno, Captain Thwaites, I found myself at home. Followed a glance at the old familiar scenes of Rio de Janeiro, which you have been told were somewhat stunted by contrast with the Plate, the Andes, and Magellan. And lastly, by way of finale, three weeks on board the Douro, bound to Southampton, with 365 passengers, of whom 86 were at an age delightful only to their mammas. The passengers were mostly Portuguese, whose main characteristic was expectoration ; and the feeding was worse than anything I had yet seen on board a Paraguayan river-steamer. The cabins, with their berths disposed athwartship, were stuffed full : the kitchen — I should say galley — and the store- room were not.

With which parting grumble I bid you — Farewell !

  • * * ^ -x- •}«•

Thus much I have written out where as the Arab says, the warm south is blowing ; the cool waters are flowing ; the flowers and fruits are growing ; and Nature looks up to the All-Knowing. Adieu ! bright skies of the Bourbonnais, and fair valley of the AUier, and park vocal with the rustling music of the broad-leaved, green-berried palm-trees. Adieu, Vichy ! and may the world treat thee as thou hast treated the passing guest.