« PreviousContinue »
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 adniirably 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 printing establishment, by which means the early light of our freedom broke out among us. They were the first to accredit a diplomatic agent to our country, Consul Poinsett, who enlisted as a volunteer in our revolutionary army. They furnished General Carrera with a fleet worth over a million of dollars, though he landed on this soil a poor, proscribed, and unknown man. All their great statesmen have been ardent friends of South America.Madison acknowledged our independence ; Adams cooperated with Bolivar to lay down the basis of American Union at the Congress of Panama ; Monroe raised up the protecting shield of his famous doctrine over both continents; and lately, the honest and immortal Abraham Lincoln, the rail-splitter, dispatched friendly messengers to each of the Spanish-American Republics to settle their old difficulties with the United States."
And further, let me add, that when the appalling martyrdom of this great magistrate reached my country, I saw many, many tears in my own home, and many, many pale and mournful faces everywhere, as a testimony of how pure and how sincere was our love for that rew redeemer of mankind. For myself, I take the liberty of stating that I wrote a short biography of that eminent man, and moved in the House of Representatives a law, to be passed according to the following resolutions, which I copy from the Journal of Congress :
"Resolved, That the portraits of George Washington and of Abraham Lincoln, the first and last Presidents of the United States of America, be executed at the expense of the nation, and placed on the walls of the reception-room of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a tribute rendered by the Chilian people to those of the United States, on the occasion of the happy re-establishment of their internal peace, and as a remembrance of the sorrowful loss suffered in the death of their first magistrate.
Resolved, That this resolution be inscribed, as an appropriate motto, at the foot of the aforesaid portraits, and that it be communicated by the Government of Chili to the President of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, as an expression of the sentiments of the Chilian Congress.”
(Loud and prolonged cheers.)
Šuch were the feelings, the ideas, the sympathies of the two countries, so taking every one by surprise, and the whole country unarmed. What will these feelings be in the future. ? Gentlemen, that is a question which it does not belong to me to answer.
There is a mighty people in this country, there is a Congress replenished from the whole intelligence and good and honest hearts of the land, there is a noble-minded President full of confidence in the will of his fellow-citizens, and it is for them to answer and to solve such a question.
But I observe that I have digressed a little from my original plan of showing you the present condition of Chili and its prospects for the future, and now I return again fully to my path.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS.
Chili having won her independence, with the best blood of her sons, devoted herself to the fruitful labors of peace and industry ; gave herself a constitution based on the general principles of self-government, with a President eligible every five years, with a House of Representatives returnable every three years, and a Senate of twenty members to be elected every seven years. Every community of twenty thousand inhabitants is entitled to return a member of the House, and the Senators are elected by provinces. The President governs, with a responsible Cabinet of four Secretaries and a Council of State, appointed from among the most distinguished persons in the community.
Chili is perhaps the country in the whole world least taxed, 90 cents being the average proportion of taxes among all classes of individuals ; and yet those taxes are voted only every eighteen months by Congress.
The duties on foreign goods are high only in the articles of luxury, and free or slightly taxed when of gene
In a comparative statement of the duties paid in the Custom-houses of France, England, the United States, and Chili, made lately by the eminent French economist, Courselles de Seneuil, it is ascertained that the latter country is by far the more liberal. It is owing, probably, to this liberality that the Custom-house in Valparaiso produced in 1863 $4,259,533.
The administration of justice is organized very much on the same footing as that of the United States, with a Supreme Court at its head. There is, nevertheless, one