Page images

Calbuco, Rio Bueno, Carampangue, Lebu, Colcura, Lota, Lotilla, Penco, Lirquen, Curanipe, Buchupureo, Llico, Tuman, San Antonio, San Antonio de las Bodegas, Algarrobo, San José, Zapallar, Papudo, Pichidangui, Los Vilos, Tongoi, Guayacan, Totoralillo, Huanta, Carrizal Bajo, Sarco, Peña Blanca, Flamenco, Chañaral de las Animas, Paposo, Tartal, Cobre, Pan de Azúcar, Obispito, Dichato, San Vicente, Quinteros, Copiapó, Pajonal, Totoral, San Lorenzo.

The islands appertaining to Chili are numerous. The most important, and indeed the only ones of much intrinsic value to the republic are those of Chiloé and its archipelago. Possessed of a healthy though moist climate, a soil of extraordinary fertility, and with no elevation above 2,600 feet, a temperature in which ice does not form, and frost and snow are exceedingly rare, Chiloé may well be called the garden of the Pacific. It yields fine crops of wheat, barley, and potatoes every year, and the domestic animals propagate rapidly, and contribute largely to the commerce of the island. The potato is indigenous here, and by cultivation has reached a high degree of excellence. The inhabitants are amiable and hospitable, but, owing in part, probably, to the beneficence of nature in providing them a support with but little labor, they are inclined to indolence. The principal islands of the archipelago are San Pedro, Lilchuapu, Caylin, Tanqui, Lemuy, Quehuy, &c., &c. There are in all more than one hundred of these islands, of which twenty are settled, and have good harbors. These all abound in seals, otters, and shell-fish, and are well supplied with wood and water. Southward of these are the Guaytecas group and Huafo, similar in their general character. On the coast above Chiloé are several smaller islands, the principal of which are Mocha, lat. 38° 23'; Santa Maria, lat. 37° 3'; and Quiriquina, in the mouth of Concepcion Bay.

The most renowned of all the Chilian islands is the group rendered immortal in connection with De Foe's "Robinson Crusoe," Juan Fernandez. Aside from the fictitious interest thus bestowed upon them, these inconsiderable islands (for there are two principal and several smaller ones) have played a conspicuous part in the history of the South Pacific. First discovered by Juan Fernandez, in 1563,, they were abandoned in a short time by

the colonists, who left their goats and fruit trees. Subsequently, they became a favorite resort for pirates and buccaneers, and afforded to Lord Anson for three months, a refuge where his crew might recover from the scurvy, and his vessels be refitted. They were visited by Ulloa in 1741, and in 1751 an attempt was again made for their colonization by the Spanish. Government An attempt twice repeated during the present century by the Chilian republic has not been quite successful.


The vegetable and animal kingdom of Chili present a singular contrast, the latter being very deficient. There are, consequently, no magnificent wild beasts in the country. No lions, tigers, leopards; neither the small, ferocious reptiles which are the curse of most South American countries. It has been observed that Chili, being the healthiest country in the South, is precisely the one which produces most medicinal plants, and, at the same time, is free of all venomous animals or reptiles.

The potato is an aboriginal of Chili, as well as a very delicious kind of bean, called by the aborigines porotos, and a great many kinds of sago roots are found wild, particu larly on the banks of the Biobio. A very sweet kind of juice called chuño is made out of this fruit.

Many of the forest trees are of great value for building and ornamental purposes. The araucaria, a species of pine, the alerce, a cypress, with a dark rich heart-wood, the roble, tiqui, mañu, muermo, and mayten are all valuable and durable woods. The coligue, a species of bamboo, is in very considerable demand for thatching roofs.

The animals of Chili are not as numerous as those of the countries east of the Andes. The mammals are compar-. atively few. M. Gay, an eminent French naturalist, enumerates seven species of cheiroptera, mostly of the bat tribe; twelve species of carnivora, embracing four of the cat tribe, three foxes, one weasel, two polecats, the nutria and the otter; six species of the phocida, embracing the seal and his congeners; one marsupial, the didelphys elegans, peculiar to Chili: twelve genera and twenty-five species of rodents, of which twelve belong to the mouse family; the

chinchilla and its congeners, and the cavy or mountain rabbit. There are only two species of the edentata, the dasypus and pichiciego, the latter a very rare animal, found only in Chili. There are three ruminants, the guanaco, the largest of the llama tribe, and two of the deer tribe, the pudu and the huemul. There are four species of cetacea, two dolphins, the sperm whale, and the right whale. There are eleven species of reptilia, five of which are saurians, four ophidians, one frog, and one toad. The birds are more numerous. The raptores, embracing the condor, the vultures, hawks, and owls, are largely represented. The great order of incessores has numerous representatives of its every tribe and family, many of them of superb plumage, and some of wonderful powers of song. The dove and pigeon tribes are also found in considerable numbers, and the waders (grallatores) and swimmers (natatores) are almost numberless, several of the species being peculiar to the western coast of South America.

Among the fishes, we find three species of the perch tribe, all new; one of the atherinido, the kingfish; three of the silurida, one a new genus and species; two clupida both new, one a new species of the shad; one cheirodon, a new genus of the characini family, and a new myxinoid, having an affinity with the lamprey eel of our northern waters. Crustaceans and mollusks are abundant, especially in Chiloé and the other southern provinces, but have not been very fully examined. The choros, a peculiar species of oyster, exists in great quantities along the coast, and forms a favorite dish with the inhabitants, particularly those of the Quiriquina, in the bay of Talcahuano, which have really a delicious flavor.


The history of Chili, as well as that of all the European colonies of North and South America, offers very little interest up to the time in which they shook off the bonds of their mother countries.

Of aboriginal Chili little is known. Prior to 1450, the present territory was inhabited by the ancestors of the Indian tribes no longer to be found there, who seem to have all descended from a common stock, and called themselves by the general title of Mapu-che, people or children of the

[ocr errors]


land. They were subdivided into a number of tribes, but all spoke a common language. In 1450, the reigning Inca of Perú, Yupanqui, formed the project of extending his sway over the Chilian territory, and having stationed himself with a powerful army in Atacama, despatched his trusty lieutenant, Chinchiruca, with ten thousand men, southward to subdue the Mapu-che.With that tact which characterised the policy of the Incas, Chinchiruca sought to win rather than conquer these rude and warlike tribes; and such were his powers of persuasion, that tribe after tribe yielded to the "children of the sun,' and in six years' time the inhabitants of Northern Chili, for six hundred miles, from the Atacama frontier, paid fealty to the Peruvian monarch. But his sway was destined to receive a check. Pushing further south, his officers and soldiers encountered, on the further bank of the river Maule, a warlike tribe known as the Promaucaes, who returned a defiant answer to the summons and representations of the Inca, and refusing all overtures for peace, attacked the Peruvian troops. A desperate battle followed, lasting three days, in which both armies were too thoroughly shattered to renew the conflict. Upon hearing of the result of this battle, Yupanqui wisely resolved to forbear offensive warfare, and to maintain only what he already possessed.

When some eighty years later, the Spaniards had overthrown the empire of the Incas, they found Chili owning a nominal allegiance to the Peruvian monarch, and resolved to subjugate that country also; and Diego Almagro, from the double motive of glory and gold, led an expedition across the mountain passes of the Andes. When he reached Copiapó, one-fourth of his Spanish troops and two-thirds of his Indian allies had perished from cold, fatigue and starvation. They were received by the people very kindly, and met no opposition till they reached the territory of the Promaucaes, where, like their predecessors, they found a foe so brave that they were fain to pause and retrace their steps.

Almagro and the remainder of his force returned slowly and sadly to Perú, and five years elapsed ere another expedition to Chili was attempted. Pedro Valdivia, a prudent and able commander, was selected for this service, and so well did he arrange his plans that, though occasion

ally meeting with hostile bands of Indians, he penetrated, without serious difficulty, to the river Mapocho, and encamped upon the present site of Santiago. Finding the location pleasant and the adjacent country fertile, he here founded a city, to which he gave the name of the patron saint of Spain.

Scarcely had he fortified himself in his new town, however, before the Indians, availing themselves of his temporary absence, assailed it, and would have taken it but for the hasty return of the commander; but though balked of their intended prey, they returned again and again to the charge, till Valdivia was compelled to send for re-enforcements from Perú. After the arrival of these he proceeded southward, and though the Promaucaes, the ancient foes of Almagro and of the Inca's forces, seem to have offered no effectual opposition to his progress, he found, after crossing the Itata, which formed their southern boundary, a new foe, braver, fiercer, and readier for the fray than any he had hitherto encountered-the Araucanians, for the first time appearing on the page of history. So terrible and unexpected was their first attack, that it well nigh annihilated Valdivia's army, and compelled him to retreat to Santiago, and eventually to return to Perú for further re-enforcements.

He returned in 1550 with a large and well-appointed force, and founded the city of Concepcion, on a site now known as Penco. Here the Araucanians rallied their forces, and with four thousand men under Caupolican, atatcked the new city, and with a more determined valor than any Spanish general had before witnessed, resisted the skill and bravery of the Spanish troops. It was not until the fall of their leader that they would yield an inch of ground. Conflict after conflict followed. The Indians, after a time, were led by a young Auraucanian captive named Lautaro, who had been reared in Valdivia's family, whose skill as a commander made him a formidable foe.

In 1553, Valdivia was captured by the Indians, and put to death. Emboldened by their success, the Indians destroyed Concepcion, resisted all attempts to rebuild it, and eventually marched upon Santiago, and placed it in great peril, but were finally repulsed, and the brave Lautaro fell.

During the next two hundred and fifty years, a protracted

« PreviousContinue »