« PreviousContinue »
On a chily night, thirty years ago, a shepherd made a fire in the mountains of Copiapó, and next morning he saw at his feet a stream of silver, which the heat had melted. That was the discovery of the mines of Copiapó, which have produced in thirty years more than $100,000,000. Now they are rather in the decay; but the produce of the last year was $1,638,272-a sum inferior to that of Guanajuato and Real del Monte, which the anonymous and ominous company of Napoleon and Maximilian wishes to develop, against the decided opinion of the old and glorious President Monroe.
IMMENSE PRODUCTION OF COPPER.
Next follows the province of Coquimbo, whose capital, the beautiful town of La Serena rests, a real syren at the foot of the hills by the sea side, supporting a population of thirty thousand inhabitants, and containing some of the most beautiful and syren-like daughters of Chili.
The wealth of that province is almost indescribable. There is, indeed, a mountain, that of Famaya, formed, if it could be so said, of pure copper ore. The value of this single product, as it is manufactured in Chili, was, in 1864, $9,506,957, and that of the copper regulus, or in its more imperfect state, $4,716,912, making in the whole (and not taking in consideration the raw ore sent to England, and which is worth several millions), the immense amount of $14,221,849.
Now you will be able to form an idea of the deep alarm awakened in England on the arrival of the the news that through the mere wicked and cowardly caprice of a vulgar sailor, such a fountain of so valuable and indispensable an article was shut off from the commerce and urgent necessities of the world. The London Times, denouncing to all civilized nations, in warm and eloquent language, the unwarrantable conduct of Spain, declares in its leading article of the 19th inst., that out of 498,780 cwt. of manufactured copper imported last year into England, 304,380 cwt., that is to say, more than two-thirds, came from Chili, and that out of 25,000 tons of regulus 22,000 tons, or almost the whole quantity, came from that source.
And now I beg to ask, in the presence of these data, if such a country, young, energetic, and industrious, and which sends to Europe every year more than twenty millions of dollars, in only two standard articles, is to be
conquered, to be humiliated by Spain, ruled, as she is, by a corrupt court, without credit whatever in the markets of the world, and whose name is perpetually placed on the black slate of the hopeless debtors, at the very hour that the bonds of Chili are quoted at a higher rate than those of any other nation, England, France, or the United States included? (Long applause.)
ITS AGRICULTURAL WEALTH.
Now, I will detain you a little while in Santiago, the capital of Chili, as the remainder of the country southward is merely a rich but mountainous series of agricultural valleys and plains, with large but rather dull oldfashioned Spanish towns. It will be interesting, nevertheless, to establish the fact that this part of the country after providing liberally for the interior wants of all classes, leaves a surplus of flour and wheat of the value of millions of dollars, which are paid to us by Peru, Brazil, and even England. The statistical report of last year shows an exportation of $2,231,090 flour, and $1,039,071 wheat. In the golden days of the discovery of California these values amounted to several millions more, being ourselves during three or four years, the sole source of agricultural supplies for El Dorado.
THE SOCIETY OF CHILI.
Let us now rest for a while in the capital of Chili, the sunny land of my boyhood, where my heart first beat to the tender feelings of hope and love, and where yet God is willing to rejoice my home with the presence of all that there is dear in life, fathers, brothers, friends. [Applause.]
But before going any further in the social consideration of my native land, I will call your kind attention to a very singular idea prevailing in this country, and almost everywhere in the Atlantic nations, and about the habits, morals, and social condition of the South American republics. The other day a friend of mine, and a man of undoubted superiority in this country, looking at my clothes in Broadway, asked me with surprise, if such things were used in Chili, or if I had bought them in New York. [Great laughter.]
But the explanation of these curious errors consists in the fact that a great majority of the people forming their ideas through reading novels and sensation books, believe
us to be pure Indians, as those described by the masterly pen of Cooper; or cavaliers of the style of the old conquerors of Peru and Mexico, so admirably described by Irving and Prescott, and who adored only two things during their dark days, the Inquisition and the bull-fight. [Laughter.]
But the truth is, that we live, dress, eat, walk, drive, and expend our money in much the same way that the sons of the beautiful and mighty Manhattan Island dress, drive, and spend their money. (Laughter.) The only substantial difference being, I must say, that there the mildness of the climate permits us to use more light clothing, for although Crinoline has already imposed her despotic rule, the ladies of Santiago do not yet wear hooks and waterfalls. (Laughter and applause.) it may be possible, though, that Pareja will let them have some nice hooks out of his old flagship, the Villa de Madrid.
Santiago possesses a theatre which is considered the third in the world after that of San Carlos of Naples, and the Scala of Milan, by its immense proportions, having been built ten years ago at an expense of nearly $400,000; and I mention these circumstances only to give a small proof of the taste and comforts of life in that capital of 120,000 inhabitants, which contains 5,000 large houses, possesses more bronze statues of national heroes than the imperial city of New York, and supports in luxurious garb few less churches than Rome itself. But, gentlemen, upon this matter it will appear to me something like a shame to try to convince you that we are a civilized community, and at the same time to contradict the foolish and childish stories of vulgar travelers. About this class of informants, I will say only that I know a single one sincere and earnest in what he tells about my country. I refer to the wellknown German traveler, Gerstaker, once a fireman on a Mississippi steamer, and who, having seen some of the large courts of our houses in Santiago paved with small bones, forming beautiful ornamental patterns, declares solemnly that the vindictive character of the Chilians has led them to pave their houses with the bones of the Spaniards killed in the war of Independence. (Laughter.)
Now, passing from society to the political institutions of the country, I will only mention that Chili was discovered in 1535 by Diego de Almagro, about fifty years after the first voyage of Columbus. That great soldier, Pedro Valdivia, conquered the Indians north of the Biobio, in a war of more than ten years' duration, in which he himself fell a victim, and that since those days up to the beginning of the present century, Chili, like all the Spanish colonies, has slept a melancholy and undisturbed sleep, but yet a long, long, miserable dream of slavery, darkness, and humiliation.
During two centuries, indeed, there did not exist more life in those countries than that lent by Spain itself, once a year, when the galeon arrived with all the goods and all the news for the coming twelve months. The only historical record of those days is of a dispute between the judges and the canons for the precedence of seats in public festivals or processions, the burning of a wealthy heretic, or the prayer-days fixed upon by proper authority, when the news was brought that some of the chaste Bourbon princesses or queens were to be delivered of a prince or princess. (Laughter.)
And it is to those days that Spain desires now to bring again her lost sons on this side of the water. And she has attacked successively San Domingo, Mexico, Peru, and Chili, forgetting that she has already a grown-up daughter much nearer to us than to her, and to which, perhaps, in no distant day, we shall pay our compliments, being ourselves ready to receive her at any time in the common home of the American Republics, and she quite ready to come. (Long and enthusiastic applause.)
But that state of things did not last long with us. The influence of the French revolution of '89, the old wrongs of Spain to our country, the secret support of commercial and enterprising England, and above all things, the direct pressure of the independence of the North American colonies, brought us to a war with Spain.
That war lasted sixteen years. Spain was beaten every day on all the shores, in all the mountains, in all the valleys of South America, and at last Bolivar and San Martin, our two great liberators, standing like the giants of the Andes in the plains of Ayacucho, on the 9th of December
1824, cut for ever, with the sword of victory, the hateful bond of colonial royalty.
INFLUENCE OF THE UNITED STATES.
I have just mentioned that the independence of the United States forcibly aided ours, and I hope I shall be allowed to state that since those days the influence of American institutions (if not of all American Presidents and Cabinets) has been powerfully reflected in our public life. Madison and his great secretary, James Monroe, were the first to come to our help. The earliest diplomatic agent ever sent to the revolutionary colonies was the famous Joel Poinsett, of North Carolina, who fought with us our own battles.
Next to that, the American Government, passing from the sympathy of principles to the responsibility of doctrine, wrote in the infallible code of her public institutions, and of her own existence as a nation, those two principles, which shall live as long as there will be life and honor in the country of George Washington and of Abraham Lincoln, viz:
1st-"The American continents, by the free and independent conditions which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.
2nd "The United States consider any attempt on the part of European Powers to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to their peace and safety."
HONORS PAID TO WASHINGTON AND LINCOLN.
And in this part of my discourse, I beg leave to halt for a while, and take the liberty of reading to you a brief paragraph from a speech delivered in behalf of the interests of the United States, on the eve of the Fourth of July, of 1864, in the Chilian Congress, of which I had the honor of being a member, and which translated faithfully will wholly explain my thoughts.
"But allow me, at least," I said on that occasion to my fellow-Representatives, " to bring to your mind that since the United States became a free nation, that is to say, since they ceased to be a mere appendix to a monarchy, they have always stretched out to us the hand of friendship and of brotherhood. They sent to us, in 1812, the first