Original manuscript

The plough used by the Creoles and Spaniards and adopted by the indians
is a piece of crooked wood, generally part of the trunk and one of the
principal branches of a tree. The portion which is intended to move the
soil, for it cannot properly be called ploughing, is about five feet
long and six inches broad. One end is pointed and sometimes charred; at
the other a handle rises about three feet high, forming with the bottom
piece an obtuse angle, greater or less according to the will of the
maker, or the chance of finding a piece of wood suitable for the
purpose. One end of the beam is inserted at the angle and is supported
about the middle of the lower part of the plough by a piece of wood
passing through it into a mortise made in the lower part, where it is
secured, as well as in the beam, by small wedges. The removal of those
in the beam serves to raise or depress it for the purpose of making the
furrow deeper or shallower. The beam is from ten to twelve feet long,
the one end fastened as already mentioned, and the other lashed to the
yoke, which is tied with thongs just behind the horns of the bullock.
Instead of harrows they use a bunch of thorns, generally of the
_espino_. One would imagine that this rude implement had been found in
the hands of the indians at the time the country was discovered; but
according to Townsend’s description of the plough used in some parts of
Spain, it was one of the improvements carried to America by the earliest
settlers. Indeed, rude as it is, it is seen in every part of South
America which I visited, having in some places the addition of a piece
of flat iron, about a foot long and pointed at one end, attached by
thongs to that of the lower part of the plough, and called _reja_:
probably from the verb _rajar_, to split or divide.

When a farmer selects a piece of ground for cultivation he cuts down the
trees, with which he makes a fence by laying them around the field. He
then ploughs or breaks the ground, sows his wheat or barley, and harrows
it in with a bunch of thorns: here the cares of husbandry cease until
harvest. The corn is now cut, tied into sheaves, and carried to the
thrashing floor, where it is trodden out by a drove of mares, which are
driven round at a full gallop, till the straw becomes hard, when it is
turned over, and the trampling repeated two or three times, so as to
break the straw into pieces of two inches long. At this stage it is
supposed that the grain is freed from the ears. The whole is shaken with
large forks, made of wood or forked branches of trees; the chaff and
grain fall to the ground, and are formed into a heap, which is thrown up
into the air with shovels. The wind blows away the chaff, and the grain
remains on the floor. It is now put into sacks made of bullocks’ hides,
placed on the backs of mules, and carried to the owner’s house; but not
before the tythe or _diesmo_ has been paid, and one bushel, _primicia_,
to the parson. The straw is occasionally preserved for the horses in the
rainy season; at other times it is burnt or left to rot.

For a thrashing floor a piece of ground is selected, and having been
swept and cleared, is enclosed with a few poles and canes. It is seldom
used twice, and the size is proportioned to the quantity of corn to be
trodden out.

Maize, sometimes called indian corn, is cultivated in great quantities
in this as well as in every other part of South America. Four varieties
are to be found here, all of which are very productive and much
appreciated. It is sown in lines or rows, two, three, or four plants
standing together, at the distance of half a yard from the other
clusters. Each stem produces from two to four cobs, and some of them are
twelve inches long. The indians prepare the maize for winter, whilst in
the green state, by boiling the cobs, from the cores of which are taken
the grain, which is dried in the sun and kept for use. It is called
_chuchoca_, and when mixed with some of their hashes or stews is very
palatable. Another preparation is made by cutting the corn from the core
of the green cobs, and bruising it between two stones until it assumes
the consistency of paste, to which sugar, butter and spices, or only
salt is added. It is then divided into small portions, which are
enclosed separately within the inner leaf of the cob or ear and boiled.
These cakes are called _umitas_. The dry boiled maize, _mote_, and the
toasted, _cancha_, are used by the indians instead of bread. One kind of
maize, _curugua_, is much softer when roasted, and furnishes a flour
lighter, whiter, and in greater quantity than any other kind. This meal
mixed with water and a little sugar is esteemed by all classes of
people. If the water be hot the beverage is called _cherchan_, if cold

M. Bomare considers the maize as indigenous to Asia alone, and C.
Durante to Turkey; but Solis, Zandoval, Herrera and others prove that it
was found at the discovery of the New World in the West Indies, Mexico,
Peru and Chile. Indeed I have opened many of the graves, _huacas_, of
the indians, and observed maize in them, which was beyond all doubt
buried before the conquest or discovery of this country.

There are two kinds of _quinua_, a species of chenopodium. The seed of
the one is reddish, bitter, and used only as a medicine. The other is
white, and is frequently brought to table. When boiled it uncurls and
has the appearance of fine vermicelli. It is sometimes boiled in soup,
and is also made into a kind of pudding, seasoned with onions, garlic,
pepper, &c.

Of the bean, _phaseolus_, they have several kinds, which are grown in
abundance, constituting both in a green and dried state a great part of
the support of the lower classes of Creoles and indians. The bean is
indigenous, and was cultivated before the arrival of the Spaniards.

Seven or eight varieties of potatoe of an excellent quality are raised,
and in some shape or other introduced to every table and almost at
every meal. Indeed Chile is considered by many naturalists to be the
native soil of this vegetable. The small potatoes are often preserved by
boiling them and drying them in the sun, or among the Cordilleras
covering them with ice, until they assume a horny appearance. When used
they are broken into small pieces, soaked in water, and added to many of
their stews. A species called _pogny_ is very bitter, and is considered,
with probability, to be poisonous. For use it is soaked in water till
the bitterness is removed, then dried, and sometimes reduced to powder,
called _chuno_. For food it is prepared like arrow root, which it

They have the white and the yellow flowered gourd. Of the former,
generally called calabashes, there are about twenty varieties, but only
two of them are sweet and eatable. However, the bitter kinds are
remarkably serviceable, for when dried and cleaned their shells are
substitutes for dishes, bowls, platters, bottles, tubs, or trays. The
largest serve the purposes of barrels for water, cider, and other
liquids, as well as baskets for fruit, butter and eggs. They are
sometimes very curiously cut and stained, and for certain uses bound or
tipped with silver. The yellow flowered, known to us by the name of
pumpkin or pompion, and here called _zapallo_, are excellent food,
whether cooked with meat as a vegetable, or made into custard with sugar
and other ingredients. That the gourd is a native of South America seems
to be supported by several striking circumstances. The seeds and shells
are found in the graves, or _huacas_; the plant was universally met with
among the different tribes of indians at the time of their discovery;
Almagro states that on his passage down the Maranon some of the indians
had calabashes to drink with; and lastly, those who bring their produce
from the woods of Maynas to Cusco, Quito and other places, always use
gourd shells.

The pimento, guinea, or cayenne pepper, _capsicum_, is much cultivated
and valued by the natives, who season their food with it. Although at
first very pungent and disagreeable, strangers gradually habituate
themselves to, and become fond of it. There are several varieties.

I have been thus particular in mentioning these indigenous plants,
because from the slender or exaggerated accounts given to the public no
perfect idea can be formed of the native productions of this country.

European vegetables prosper extremely well in Araucania, and abundance
of them are to be seen in every garden.

In some parts of the Araucanian territory there is a great stock of
horned cattle, which is well grown, and often tolerably fat. The beef is
savoury, owing perhaps to the prevalence of aromatic herbs, more
particularly a species of venus’ comb, called by the indians _loiqui
lahuen_, by the Spaniards _alfilerilla_; and trefoil, _gualputa_. There
is no scarcity of sheep; but pigs are not much bred, as the indians are
averse from eating their flesh: a prejudice which has supplied some
fanatical priests with a reason for considering the natives of Jewish
extraction! Turkeys, barn door fowls and ducks thrive extremely well. I
never saw any geese here, and though they may be found in other parts,
the indians have a dislike to them for food.

The tract of country which may be properly called Araucania extends from
the river Bio-bio in 36° 44´ south latitude, to Valdivia in 39° 38´, the
province of Conception bounding it on the north, and the _Llanos_ or
plains of Valdivia on the south. The Cordillera forms the eastern limit,
and the Pacific the western. It is divided into four governments, or
tetrachates, called _uthal mapus_:–1. _lauguen mapu_, the maritime
country; 2, _lelbun mapu_, the plain country; 3, _mapire mapu_, the
foot of the Cordilleras; 4, _pire mapu_, the Andes. Each tetrachate is
again divided into nine _allaregues_, or provinces, and these are
subdivided into nine _regues_, or districts. This division existed prior
to the arrival of the Spaniards, but the date of its establishment is
unknown. It evinces, however, more wisdom than civilized countries are
willing to allow to what they term barbarous tribes, who no doubt return
this compliment, by adjudging those nations to be barbarous who observe
any rules or laws different from their own.

Such is the common characteristic of civilization and uncivilization!
But can that country be called barbarous which, although its code of
laws is not written on vellum, or bound in calf, has an established mode
of government for the administration of justice and the protection of
property? The Araucanians have ever been a warlike race, and yet their
government is aristocratical. They are prompt to resent an insult, but
they possess virtues of a private and public nature, which deny to
civilization its exclusive pretensions to patriotism, friendship or

The four _uthalmapus_ are governed by four _Toquis_, or tetrachs, who
are independent of each other in the civil administration of their
respective territories, but confederated for the general good of the
whole country. The Apo-ulmenes are subordinate governors of provinces,
under the respective Toquis; and the Ulmenes, the prefects of the
counties, or districts, are dependent on the Apo-ulmenes. All these
dignities are hereditary in the male line, attending to primogeniture,
but when there is no lineal male descendant of the person reigning, the
vassals enjoy the privilege of electing a new governor from among
themselves, and on reporting their choice to the Toquis, they
immediately order it to be acknowledged.

The badge of a Toqui is a battle-axe; that of an Apo-ulmen a staff, or
baton, with a ball of silver on the top, and a ring of the same metal
round the middle: the Ulmen has the baton without the ring.

To the hypothetical historian this aristocracy in the most southern
limits of the new, so similar to the military aristocracy of the dukes,
the counts, and the marquises in the northern parts of the old world,
would prove that the latter was peopled by migrations from the former,
at a time beyond the reach of record, or even of oral tradition.

The Araucanian code of laws is traditionary, (composed of primordial
usages, or tacit conventions, formed in such general councils as are yet
assembled by the Toquis in cases of emergency) and is called
_aucacoyog_. Molina, Ulloa, and other writers are silent upon the
curious fact of the possession by this people of the _quipus_, or
Peruvian mode of knotting coloured threads as a substitute for writing
or hieroglyphics. That they do possess this art at the present day, the
following narrative will testify. In 1792 a revolution took place near
Valdivia, and on the trial of several of the accomplices, Marican,[1]
one of them, declared, “that the signal sent by Lepitrarn was a piece of
wood, about a quarter of a yard long, and considerably thick; that it
had been split, and was found to contain the finger of a Spaniard; that
it was wrapped round with thread, having a fringe at one end made of
red, blue, black, and white worsted; that on the black were tied by
Lepitrarn, four knots, to intimate that it was the fourth day after the
full moon when the bearer left Paquipulli; that on the white were ten
knots, indicating that ten days after that date the revolution would
take place; that on the red was to be tied by the person who received it
a knot, if he assisted in the revolt, but if he refused, he was to tie
a knot on the blue and red joined together: so that according to the
route determined on by Lepitrarn he would be able to discover on the
return of his _chasqui_, or herald, how many of his friends would join
him; and if any dissented, he would know who it was, by the place where
the knot uniting the two threads was tied.”

Thus it is very probable, that the Toquis of Araucania preserve their
records by means of the quipus, instead of relying on oral tradition.
The principal crimes of this people are murder, adultery, robbery and
witchcraft. If a murderer compound the matter with the nearest relations
of the deceased, he escapes punishment. Such is also the case in robbery
and adultery; the composition in robbery being restitution of property
stolen; in adultery, maintenance of the woman. Witchcraft is always
punished with death. In murder, however, retaliation is generally called
in to decide; and in most instances the injured relatives collect their
friends, enter and despoil the territory or premises of the aggressor.
These _malocas_, as they are stiled, are sources of great confusion.

When a general council has resolved to make war, one of the Toquis is
usually appointed by his brethren to take the command in chief; but
should the four agree to nominate any other individual in the state, he
becomes duly elected, and assumes the Toquis’ badge, a war axe–the four
Toquis laying down their insignia and authority during the war. The
person thus elected is sole dictator. He appoints his subalterns, and is
implicitly obeyed by all ranks. War being determined on, and the Toqui
chosen, he immediately sends his messengers, _werquenis_, with the
signal; and as all Araucanians are born soldiers of the state, the army
is soon collected at the rendezvous assigned.

The arms of the infantry are muskets, which from the Spaniards they have
learned to use with great dexterity, though bows and arrows, slings,
clubs and pikes are their proper weapons. They have also their cavalry,
in imitation of their conquerors; and, possessed of a good and ample
breed of horses, are very excellent riders. The arms of this branch of
their force are swords and lances, their system being to come to close
quarters with the enemy as soon as possible. Their standards have a fine
pointed star in the centre, generally white, in a field of bluish green,
which is their favourite colour. Military uniforms are not used, but a
species of leather dress is worn under their ordinary clothing, to
defend the body from arrow, pike and sword wounds. This is doubtless of
modern invention, for before the arrival of the Spaniards they had no
animal of sufficient size to afford hides large or thick enough for such
a purpose.

The whole of the provisions of an Araucanian army consist of the
_machica_, or meal of parched grain. Each individual provides himself
with a small bag full, which diluted with water furnishes him with
sustenance until he can quarter on the enemy, an object of the last
importance to the leaders. In the camp or resting-place every soldier
lights a fire: a practice which during the first wars with the Spaniards
(so beautifully recorded by Ercilla in his Araucania) often deceived the
enemy as to their numbers. What Robertson says in praise of the Chileans
must be wholly ascribed to the Araucanians, in order to avoid the
confusion which would be created were we to consider the present
inhabitants of Chile as the persons spoken of by that author.

After a general action or a skirmish the booty taken is equally divided
among the individuals who were at the capture. They judiciously consider
that rank and honours repay the leaders, and that a larger share of the
booty would probably induce them to be more attentive to spoil than to
conquest, to personal good than to national welfare: a policy worthy of
the imitation of all nations.

Abbé Molina, in his History of Chile, speaks of sacrifices after an
action; but although I inquired, when at Arauco in the year 1803, and
more particularly in the province of Valdivia in 1820, I never could
obtain any account from the natives which gave the least countenance to
this assertion. It is possible, however, that during the first wars with
the Spaniards the barbarous proceedings of the latter to the captured
Indians gave rise to a retaliation which was confounded with sacrifice.
Among the religious ceremonies of Araucania human sacrifices are
decidedly not included.

The independent spirit of the Araucanians prevents their ever sueing for
peace. The first overtures have always been made by the Spaniards, who
are the only nation with which they have contended; for although the
Inca Yupanqui invaded Chile about the year 1430, the northern limit of
his acquired territory was, according to Garcilaso, the river Maule.
When the proposals are accepted by the indians, or rather by the
commanding Toqui, he lays down his insignia, which the four Toquis of
the uthalmapus resume, and accompanied by the Apo-ulmenes and principal
officers of the army, they adjourn to some appointed plain, generally
between the rivers Bio-bio and Duqueco. The two contending chiefs, with
their respective interpreters, meet, and the Araucanian claiming the
precedence, speaks first, and is answered by the Spaniard. If the terms
offered to the indians meet their approbation, the baton of the Spanish
chief, and the war axe of the Toqui are tied together, crowned with a
bunch of _canelo_, and placed on the spot where the conference was held.
The articles of the treaty are written, but agreed to rather than
signed, and they generally state the quantity and quality of the
presents which the indians are to receive. The negociation ends in
eating, drinking, riot and confusion. Raynal, treating of the
Araucanians, says–“As these Araucanians are not embarrassed by making
war, they are not apprehensive of its duration, and hold it as a
principle never to sue for peace, the first overtures for which are
always made by the Spaniards.”

Their religion is very simple. They have a Supreme Being, whom they call
_Pillian_, and who is at the head of a universal government, which is
the prototype of their own. Pillian is the great invisible Toqui, and
has his Apo-ulmenes and his Ulmenes, to whom he assigns different
situations in the government, and entrusts the administration of certain
affairs in this world. _Meulen_, the genius of good and the friend of
mankind, and Wencuba that of evil, and the enemy of man, are the two
principal subordinate deities. Epunamun is their genius of war; but it
appears that he is seldom invoked as a protector, being only the object
by which they swear to fight, destroy, &c. These three may be considered
their Apo-ulmenes; and their Ulmenes are a race of genii, who assist the
good Meulen in favour of mortals, and defend their interests against the
enormous power of the wicked Wencuba. The Araucanians have no places of
worship, no idols, no religious rites. They believe that as their God
and his genii need not the worship of men, they do not require it; that
they are not desirous of imposing a tribute or exacting a service,
except for the good or interest of their servants; and that they thus
resemble the Toquis and Ulmenes, who can call upon them to fight for
their country and their liberties, but for no personal offices. They,
nevertheless, invoke the aid of the good Meulen, and attribute all their
evils to the influence of the wicked Wencuba.

The Spanish government has taken great pains to establish the Christian
religion among the different tribes of indians in South America, and
for the education of missionaries for the conversion of the Araucanians
a convent of Franciscan friars, called de propaganda fide, is
established at Chillan. These individuals, however, are chiefly natives
of Spain, and being ordained presbyters can easily obtain a mission; and
as pecuniary emoluments are attached to the employment, the order has
always endeavoured to preclude Americans. There are also minor convents
at Arauco, Los Angeles and Valdivia. As the missionaries only require
the young indians to learn a few prayers, attend mass on particular
days, and confess themselves once a year, they make some proselytes; but
in the year 1820, when the Spanish government was overthrown at
Valdivia, the indians immediately accused their missionaries of being
enemies to the newly-established system, and requested their removal.
Another proof of dislike to the priests, if not to the religion, is,
that they are generally massacred when any revolution takes place among
the indians. Such was the case in 1792 at Rio-bueno.[2] According to the
confessions of those who were taken and tried upon that occasion, their
plan was to burn all the missions, and murder the missionaries.

Witchcraft and divination are firmly believed by the Araucanians. Any
accident that occurs to an individual or family is attributed to the
agency of the former, and for a due discovery they consult the latter.
Particular attention is paid to omens, such as the flight of birds, and
dreams. These are either favourable or otherwise according to the bird
seen, or the direction of its flight, &c. An Araucanian who fears not
his foe on the field of battle, nor the more dreadful hand of the
executioner, will tremble at the sight of an owl. They have also their
ghosts and hobgoblins: but is there any nation on earth so far removed
from credulity as not to keep the Araucanians in countenance in these

The belief of a future state and the immortality of the soul is
universal among the indians of South America. The Araucanians agree with
the rest in expecting an eternal residence in a beautiful country, to
which all will be transferred. Pillian is too good to inflict any
punishment after death for crimes committed during life. They believe
that the soul will enjoy the same privileges in a separate state which
it possessed whilst united to the body. Thus the husband will have his
wives, but without any spiritual progeny, for the new country must be
peopled with the spirits of the dead. Like the ancients, they have their
ferryman, or rather ferrywoman, to transport them thither. She is called
_Tempulagy_, being an old woman who takes possession of the soul after
the relations have mourned over the corpse, and who conveys it over the
seas to the westward, where the land of expectation is supposed to

When an indian becomes enamoured of a female, or wishes to marry her, he
informs her father of his intention, and if his proposals be accepted,
the father at a time agreed upon sends his daughter on a pretended
errand. The bridegroom with some of his friends is secreted on the route
she has to take: he seizes the girl, and carries her to his house, where
not unfrequently her father and his friends have already arrived to
partake of the nuptial feast, and receive the stipulated presents, which
consist of horses, horned cattle, maize, ponchos, &c. The ceremony is
concluded by the whole party drinking to excess.

On the death of an individual the relations and friends are summoned to
attend, and weep or mourn. The deceased is laid on a table, and dressed
in the best apparel he possessed when alive. The females walk round the
body, chaunting in a doleful strain a recapitulation of the events of
the life of the person whose death they lament; whilst the men employ
themselves in drinking. On the second or third day the corpse is carried
to the family burying place, which is at some distance from the house,
and generally on an eminence. It is laid in a grave prepared for the
purpose. If the deceased be a man, he is buried with his arms, and
sometimes a horse, killed for the occasion: if a woman, she is interred
with a quantity of household utensils. In both cases a portion of food
is placed in the grave to support them and the _Tempulagy_, or
ferrywoman, on their journey to the other country. Earth is thrown on
the body, and afterwards stones are piled over it in a pyramidal form. A
quantity of cider or other fermented liquor is poured upon the tomb;
when, these solemn rites being terminated, the company return to the
house of the deceased to feast and drink. Black is here as in Europe the
colour used for mourning.

The indians never believe that death is owing to natural causes, but
that it is the effect of sorcery and witchcraft. Thus on the death of an
individual, one or more diviners are consulted, who generally name the
enchanter, and are so implicitly believed, that the unfortunate object
of their caprice or malice is certain to fall a sacrifice. The number of
victims is far from being inconsiderable.

In my description of Araucania I have in some measure followed Molina’s
ingenious work; but I have not ventured to state any thing which I did
not see myself, or learn from the indians, or persons residing among

The Spaniards founded seven cities in Araucania. The Imperial, built in
1552 by Don Pedro Valdivia, generally called the conqueror of Chile, is
situated at the confluence of the two rivers Cantin and Las Damas, 12
miles from the sea, in an extremely rich and beautiful country, enjoying
the best soil and climate in Araucania. In 1564 Pius IV. made it a
bishop’s see, which was removed to Conception in 1620. In 1599 it was
taken and destroyed by the indians, and has never been rebuilt. The site
at present belongs to the _lauguen mapu_, or tetrachate of the coast.

Villarica was also founded by Valdivia in 1552, on the shore of the
great lake Sauquen, 65 miles from the sea. It was destroyed by the Toqui
Palliamachu, and its site forms part of the tetrachate of the _mapire
mapu_. Report speaks of rich gold mines in the environs of the ground
where Villarica stood and from which it took its name. The climate is
cold, owing to the vicinity of the Cordillera.

Valdivia bears the name of its founder. Of this city I shall have
occasion hereafter to give a circumstantial account.

Angol, or La Frontera, was established by Pedro Valdivia in the year
1553. It was razed by the Indians in 1601, and has since remained in
ruins. It is now in reality the frontier, though Valdivia little
surmised that it would be so when he founded it. The river Bio-bio
bounded it on the south side, and a small rapid stream on the north. The
soil and climate are excellent, and the situation was well chosen for a

Cañete was founded in 1557 by Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendosa, and
destroyed during the first long-contested war with the Araucanians, by
the Toqui Antiguenu. It was built on the site where Valdivia was
defeated and slain, and now forms part of the _lelbum mapu_ tetrachate.

Osorno is the most southern city in South America, being in 40° 20´, at
the distance of 24 miles from the sea, and 212 south of Conception. It
was founded in 1559 by Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendosa, and destroyed by
the indians in 1599. It was again founded on the old site, on the banks
of Rio-bueno, by Don Ambrose Higgins, who was afterwards president and
captain general of Chile, and promoted to the vice-royalty of Peru.
Charles IV. conferred on Higgins the title of Marquis of Osorno, as a
reward for his services in Araucania. The first supreme director of the
Chilean republic, Don Bernardo O’Higgins, was the natural son of Don

Conception is the seventh city founded by the Spaniards, but as it is
not included in the Araucanian territory I shall defer any description
of it for the present.

Cesares is a place about which much has been said and written. I have in
my possession original mss. relating to it, a translation of which will
be published.

In all the treaties between the Spaniards and the indians one of the
principal articles has been, that the latter were to oppose with force
of arms the establishment of any foreign colony in their territory. This
stipulation they obeyed in 1638, at the island of Mocha, where they
murdered the remains of a crew of Dutchmen, who went to take possession
of that island after their ship had been wrecked by bad weather; and
also when the Dutch Admiral Henry Brun attempted in 1643 to form a
settlement at Valdivia, and met with the same fate: a fate, however,
which might have been occasioned by the natural hatred entertained at
that period by the natives against all foreigners who attempted to
obtain possession of any part of their country. This jealousy and hatred
of Europeans has always been promoted by the Spaniards, whom the indians
stile _chiape_, vile soldier; but all other foreigners they call _moro
winca_: winca signifying an assassin, and moro a moor. These epithets
proceed from the same source; for the Spaniards are in the habit of
calling all who are not of their own religion either jews or moors, thus
wishing to impress upon the minds of the indians that all foreigners are
worse than themselves! Notwithstanding the late wars, caused by the
revolution of the colonies, have tended very materially to civilize the
Araucanians, the greater part of them joined the Spaniards against the
creoles, or patriot forces; but the ejection of the last remains of the
Spanish soldiers from Araucania in 1822 has induced the indians to
despise them for what they call their cowardice. The new government of
Chile have not availed themselves of this favourable opportunity to
conciliate the indians, by soliciting their friendship, or, after the
manner of the Spaniards, acquiring it at the price of presents. Thus the
Araucanians, having become accustomed to some species of luxuries, find
themselves deprived of them by the fall of the Spanish system in Chile,
and the nonconformity of the new institutions to the old practices; and
thus a chasm has been formed that might be filled by a colony from some
other nation, which by attention and courtesy to the indians might
conciliate their good will and obtain from them whatever was solicited.
Kindness makes an indelible impression upon the minds of most
uncivilized people, while ill-treatment exasperates and drives them to
revengeful extremities.

The existence of gold mines in Araucania is undoubted, although they are
not regularly wrought. I have seen fine specimens of ore, some of which
were procured from the indians, and others found by accident in the

The soil and climate are very good, and in some parts both are excellent
for grain, pasturage and European fruits. In trade little could be done
at present; but should the indians become acquainted with the use of
those commodities which produce real comforts to society, I have no
doubt that white and greenish blue flannels, salt, sugar, tobacco,
bridle-bits, knives, axes, hatchets, nails, buttons, glass beads and
other trinkets would be exchanged for hides, ponchos, and some gold. The
ponchos, particularly those of good quality called _balandranes_, would
find a ready market in Peru or Chile.

This interesting part of South America is less known than any other
accessible portion. Others are less known, but they are interior
countries, lying between the range of the Andes and Buenos Ayres,
Paraguay, Brazils and Colombia–immense tracts of the earth kept in
reserve for the speculations of coming ages! But Araucania, from its
locality, climate, and productions, appears destined to become one of
the first and fairest portions of the new world; and should the eyes of
philanthropical speculators be directed to its shores, their capitals
would be more secure in the formation of new establishments than in
loans to many of the old.

The following account of the city and province of Valdivia is partly
extracted from mss. in my possession, found in the archives of that

Valdivia, situated in 39° 50´ south latitude, and in longitude 73° 28´,
is one of the best ports on the western shores of South America: it is
also the strongest, both from its natural position and its
fortifications. The mouth of the harbour is narrow, and the San Carlos
battery on the small promontory on the south, with that of Niebla on the
north side, commands the entrance, their balls crossing the passage.
There are likewise on the south side the batteries Amargos, the high and
low Chorocamayo, and at the bottom of the bay the castle Corral,
commanding the anchorage. In the small island of Mansera is a battery
for the protection of the mouth of the river leading to the city,
besides an advanced post on the south side at Aguada del Ingles, and
two, La Avansada and El Piojo, on the north. At the taking of Valdivia
by Lord Cochrane in 1820, one hundred and eighteen pieces of cannon, of
eighteen and twenty-four pounds calibre, were found mounted. Some of
them were beautiful brass pieces, particularly two eighteens at Mansera,
which measured eleven feet in length, were handsomely carved and
embossed, and bore the date of 1547. His lordship sent them to
Valparaiso, where I had the mortification to see them broken up and
converted into grape shot, by the orders of Governor Crus; who thus
deprived Chile of a noble monument of her naval glory, and Chilean
posterity of the pleasure of viewing, as their property, part of those
engines brought from the old, for the purpose of enslaving the new
world! The anchorage is good, being most completely sheltered, and
capable of holding a great number of ships.

On the north side of the harbour is the river, which leads to the city.
Its banks are covered with trees, suitable for ship-building and many
other purposes. Among them are the white and red cedar, _alerces_; the
_pellinos_, a species of oak, and the _luma_. The river abounds with
fish, particularly the _pege rey_, the _lisa_, and the _bagre_. At its
mouth are caught _robalo_, _corbina_, _choros_, _xaiba_ and _apancoras_.

The city of Valdivia stands on the south side of the river, and is
sixteen miles from the port. On the left, ascending the river, are some
few remains of the Dutch settlements. The natives call them _hornos de
los Olandeses_; supposing that Henry Brun’s vessels anchored here, and
that these ruins are the wrecks of the ovens built by the Dutch for the
purpose of baking their bread. The tradition is quite incredible, for
vessels cannot enter the river, there not being above four feet water in
some places, and the channel being so extremely narrow, that a launch
cannot pass. Indeed at low water the large canoes of the inhabitants
have to wait for the tide.

The city was built in 1553, and bears the name of its founder. The
indians took it from the Spaniards in 1599, and destroyed it in 1603,
when the inhabitants fled to the port, from whence some of them passed
to Chile. In 1642 the Marquis of Mansera, Viceroy of Peru, sent the
Colonel Don Alonzo de Villanueva as governor, with orders to capture the
city, which he effected by a singular ruse de guerre. Landing to the
southward of Valdivia, he introduced himself alone among the indians,
with whom he remained two years, and having gained the confidence and
esteem of some of the Caciques, he solicited them to appoint him their
governor in Valdivia; assuring them that such an election would produce
a reconciliation with the Spaniards, and insure the annual presents.
This request was acceded to; and in 1645 the city was rebuilt and
repeopled. Some of the inhabitants are descendants of noble European
families, but the greater part are those of officers and soldiers who
have been sent at different times to garrison the place; some are
indians, and a few slaves. The population amounted to 953 in 1765, and
in 1820 to 741: a decrease attributable to the emigration to Osorno, and
to many being employed in the armies of the contending parties. This
census does not include the garrison, which in 1765 consisted of 249
individuals, and in 1820, when taken by Lord Cochrane, of 829, besides a
remainder of 780 of the royal army.

Under the Spanish regime the government was administered by a military
officer, dependent on the President and Captain-general of Chile; but in
1813 the inhabitants declared themselves independent of all Spanish
authority. They however restored the old government in the year
following, and submitted to it until 1820, when Valdivia was
incorporated with the Republic of Chile. For the support of Valdivia a
_situado_ was annually sent from the royal treasuries of Lima and
Santiago. In the year 1807 this remittance amounted to 159,439 dollars,
and according to the original statement was distributed as follows:–

Staff expenses 10210
Ecclesiastical state 10530
Military expenses 89846
Workmen 1512
Presents to Caciques 306

Supernumeraries 3365
Building and repairs of }
fortifications, hospital, &c.} 18670
Provisions for exiles, &c. 25000
Total 159439

In 1765 the _situado_ was 50992 dollars, and in 1646 it was only 28280.

Whilst the Spaniards held Valdivia the resources of its government were
very limited. Being a close port all foreign commerce was prohibited,
and the few taxes collected in the whole province, including the diesmo,
never exceeded 500 dollars.

In the city there is a parish church, another belonging to the
Franciscan convent of missionaries, formerly of the Jesuits, and a
chapel appertaining to the hospital of San Juan de Dios. The
ecclesiastical department was dependent on the see of Conception, but
the conventual was a branch of the establishment at Chillan, subject to
the provincialate of Santiago de Chile.

Valdivia was a place of exile, _presidio_, to which convicts were sent
from Peru and Chile. Their number was but small, and they were employed
in the public works.

The province of Valdivia extends from the river Tolten in 38° to the
Bueno in 40° 37´ south, and from the Andes to the Pacific, being about
52 leagues long and 45 wide. The three principal rivers in this province
are Tolten, Bueno and Valdivia. Their origin is in three separate lakes
of the Cordillera, from whence they run in a westerly direction,
receiving in their progress several smaller streams and emptying
themselves into the sea. Valdivia river enters the harbour of the same
name, which is the only one in the province. This river, after uniting
its waters to those of San Josef, Cayumapu, Ayenaguem, Putabla, Quaqua
and Angachi, besides a great number of rivulets and estuaries, becomes
navigable for canoes of 200 quintals or 20 tons burthen. Between the
fort Cruces and Valdivia several small but beautiful islands are found:
the principal are Realexo, Del Almuerso, Balensuela, El Islote, De Mota,
San Francisco, De Ramon, De Don Jaime and Del Rey, which is the largest,
being about seven leagues in circumference. There are besides a great
number of smaller ones. In all the streams and ravines in the
neighbourhood of the city and port are to be seen the vestiges of gold
washings, _labaderos_, which are at present totally neglected. After
heavy rains grains of gold as large as peas are often found, but there
are no accounts in the treasury of the working of any mines since the
year 1599, when the first revolution of the indians took place, and the
city fell into their hands. At Valdivia I saw two chalices made of the
gold thus accidentally collected.

“Tolten el Bajo is the northernmost mission. Situated between the rivers
Tolten and Chaqui, it extends about four miles along the sea coast, and
is one of the largest missions, _reducciones_, in the province,
containing about 800 indians. The Tolten rises in the lake Villarica. It
has no port, but is navigable with canoes; being too deep to be
fordable, it has a bridge, which gives the indians the command of the
road between Valdivia and Conception. Horned cattle and sheep are not
scarce here; and maize, peas, beans, potatoes, barley, and a small
quantity of wheat are cultivated; but in general the soil is not very
fertile. Though the indians are more submissive than those of some other
missions, they are equally prone to the common vices of drunkenness and
indolence. Their commerce consists in bartering coarse ponchos for
indigo, glass beads, and other trifles. At the annual visit of the
_comisario_ a kind of market is held for such traffic: at this visit the
indians renew the _parlamento_, or promise of fidelity to the King of
Spain. The comisario assures them, in a set speech, of the spiritual and
temporal advantages which they will derive from remaining faithful to
their King; and the Cacique, having in a formal harangue acknowledged
his conviction of the truth of this assurance, the indians, being on
horseback, make a skirmish with their lances and wooden swords,
_macanas_, and, riding up to the comisario, alight, and point their arms
to the ground, in sign of peace, which is all they ever promise. They
worship Pillian, and their ceremonies are the same as those of the rest
of the Araucanian nation: for although they call themselves Christians,
their religion is reduced to the ceremony of attending at mass, &c.

“Querli extends from Purulacu to the river Meguin, being about 18 miles,
and containing 70 indians. Their commerce is an exchange of coarse
ponchos, sheep and hogs, for indigo, beads, &c.

“Chanchan, which extends about 12 miles, contains 40 indians, produces
maize, peas, beans, barley, and a little wheat. Owing to the vicinity
of the fort de Cruces the indians are more docile and domesticated.

“Mariquina is about 54 miles in circumference, and contains 110 indians.
The soil is good, and there is an abundance of apples, some pears and

“Chergue is 42 miles long and 4 broad. It contains 135 indians. Its
produce and commerce are similar to those of the places above mentioned.

“Huanigue is situated near the Cordillera, on the banks of lake Ranigue,
the source of the river Valdivia. This lake is about 20 miles in
circumference, and is rich in fish, particularly _pege_, _reyes_, and a
species of trout. In 1729 the indians of this mission revolted, and they
have never been sufficiently reconciled to admit of a missionary to
offer peace or fealty. The indians of Huanigue wear nothing on their
heads: for shirts they substitute a species of scapulary, made of raw
bullock’s hide, covering it with the poncho. They are expert fishers,
and pay little attention to the cultivation of the soil, which is very

“Villarica. The ruins of this city are yet visible, particularly those
of the walls of orchards and of a church. The town stood on the side of
a lake, bearing the same name, about 25 miles in circumference, and
abounding with fish. The soil is very fertile, and the indians raise
maize, potatoes, _quinua_, peas, beans, barley and wheat. Apple, pear,
peach and cherry-trees are seen growing where they were planted by the
Spaniards before the destruction of the city. The indians neither admit
missionaries nor comisario. They have all kinds of cattle and poultry,
which they exchange with other tribes for ponchos, flannels, &c. being
very averse to trade with the Spaniards.

“Ketate and Chadqui, containing about 280 indians, are at the distance
of 34 leagues from Valdivia. There is plenty of fruit, vegetables and
cattle; the soil is good, and the inhabitants docile; subject to
missionaries and comisario.

“Dongele, or Tolten Alto, is on the banks of a rapid river of the same
name. It is distant from Valdivia 120 miles, and possesses a rich soil,
productive of maize, peas and other pulse, fruit and cattle: there are
80 indians of manageable habits.

“Calle-calle and Chinchilca, 45 miles from Valdivia, contain some small
fertile vallies. The maize grown here is very large; indeed all the
vegetable productions are good, and the meat from their cattle is fat
and well-tasted. They have 70 peaceable Indians, who receive
missionaries and comisario.

“Llanos is the most fruitful part of the province of Valdivia. It is
about 48 miles long, from Tunco to the lake Rames, and on an average 15
broad. It produces wheat of an excellent quality, barley, all kinds of
pulse, and fruit. The beef and mutton are very fat and savoury. The
number of indians residing in the Llanos is 430. They are docile, and
not so drunken and indolent as other tribes. From a place called
Tenguelen to another, Guequenua, there are many vestiges of gold mines,
_labaderos_, where at some remote period a great number of persons must
have been employed in mining, which is at present entirely

As any authentic accounts of this almost unknown but highly interesting
country cannot fail to be acceptable, I shall here introduce some
extracts from the journal kept by Don Tomas de Figueroa y Caravaca,
during the revolution of the indians in the year 1792, Figueroa being
the person who commanded the Spanish forces sent against the Indians by
the government of Valdivia.

“October 3d I left Valdivia with an armed force of 140 men, and the
necessary ammunition and stores. We ascended the river
Pichitengelen, and the following morning landed at an appointed
place, where horses and mules were in readiness to convey us to
Dagllipulli; but the number of horses and mules not being
sufficient, I left part of our baggage and provisions behind, under
guard, and proceeded with the rest to Tegue, about six leagues
distant, where we arrived in the afternoon, and owing to the
badness of the road did not reach Dagllipulli before the 6th. I
encamped; and being informed in the afternoon, that some of the
rebels were in the neighbourhood, with a party of picked soldiers
and horse I scoured the woods, and burned twelve indians’ houses,
filled with grain and pulse. After securing what I considered
useful for ourselves, I followed the indians in the road they had
apparently taken towards Rio-bueno, but on my arrival I learnt that
they had crossed the river in their canoes. I therefore immediately
returned to Dagllipulli. On the 10th the Caciques Calfunguir,
Auchanguir, Manquepan, and Pailapan came to our camp, and offered
to assist me against the rebels Cayumil, Qudpal, Tangol, Trumau,
and all those on the other side of Rio-bueno.–13th. An indian who
had been taken declared to me that the Cacique Manquepan was acting
a double part, he having seen him go to the enemy at night with his
_mosotones_.–16th. Burnt twenty-four houses belonging to the
indians, and seized thirty-two bullocks.–19th. I told the Cacique
Calfunguir that I doubted the fidelity of Manquepan, and that he
had been playing the _chueca_ (a game already described); at night
an indian came to my tent and told me that Calfunguir had joined
Manquepan; that both had gone to the rebels, taking with them their
mosotones, and that they would probably return immediately, in the
hopes of surprising me. However this did not occur; and on the
following morning I advanced with part of my force to Rio-bueno,
but did not arrive until the two Caciques had taken to a small
island in the river, leaving in my possession a number of horses
and cattle. Whilst stationed here two indian women were observed
to ride full speed towards the river, apparently determined to pass
over to the enemy, but some of the friendly indians took one of
them, and brought her to me, having killed the other. I questioned
her as to her motives for joining the rebels, but received no
answer; when the indians observing her obstinacy, put her and a
small child which she had in her arms to death. I retired to my
camp, taking with me the cattle, &c. left by the enemy on the bank,
of Rio-bueno.–21st. The traitor Manquepan came again to our camp,
and having consulted the whole of the friendly Caciques as to the
punishment which he and his comrades deserved, it was unanimously
determined, that he and all those who had come with him as spies
should be put to death. I immediately ordered my soldiers to secure
them, and having convinced them that I well knew their infamous
intentions and conduct, I ordered that Manquepan, and the eighteen
mosotones who had come with him into our camp as spies, should be
shot. This sentence was put in execution in the afternoon of the
same day.–29th. We finished a stackade, and mounted four
pedereroes at the angles, as a place of security in the event of
any unexpected assault. I sent to Valdivia forty women and
children, captured at different times in the woods.–Nov. 1st.
Three large canoes were brought to our camp, having ordered them to
be made, for the purpose of crossing Rio-bueno, should the rebels
persist in remaining on the opposite banks, or on the islands in
the river.–10th. After mass had been celebrated at three A. M. and
my soldiers exhorted to do their duty in defence of their holy
religion, their king and country, we marched down to the river
side, and launched our three canoes, for the purpose of crossing
over to one of those islands where the greater number of the rebels
appeared to have been collected. I embarked with part of the
troops, and arrived on the island without suffering any loss from
the stones, lances and shot of the enemy.

“Having landed, I observed a party of about a hundred indians on
mount Copigue, apparently determined to attack the division I had
left behind, which being observed, the division advanced and routed
the rebels.–During the night the indians abandoned their
entrenchments on the island, and we took possession of them.–On
the 11th, in the morning, I immediately landed part of my force on
the opposite shore and pursued the rebels. At eleven A. M. I came
up with part of them, commanded by the Cacique Cayumil, who was
killed in the skirmish. I ordered his head to be cut off and
buried, being determined to take it on my return to Valdivia. We
continued to pursue the enemy, and in the course of the day killed
twelve indians, one of whom was the wife of the rebel Cacique
Quapul. As it was almost impossible for me to follow the enemy any
further, our horses being tired, and it being insecure to remain
here, we returned to our camp on the 13th, taking with us 170 head
of horned cattle, 700 sheep and 27 horses, which had been abandoned
by the fugitives. A female indian was found in the woods, on our
return, with a murdered infant in her arms; she declared that her
child was crying, and that being fearful of falling into our hands
she had destroyed it.–21st. We marched to the banks of the Ravé,
where I had a _parlamento_ with the Caciques Catagnala and Ignil,
who, as a proof of their fidelity, offered to surrender the city
and territory of Osorno.–22nd. The Caciques Caril and Pallamilla,
with Ignil and Cataguala and all their mosotones, joined us, and we
marched towards the ruined city of Osorno, and having arrived at
the square or _plasa_, I directed the Spanish flag to be placed in
the centre, and in the presence of all the indians I asked the
Caciques if they made cession of this city and its territories to
his Majesty the King: to which they answered they did. I
immediately ordered the erection of an altar, and having placed the
troops and indians in front, high mass was chaunted by the
chaplain; after which I took the Spanish flag in my hand, and
placing myself between the altar and the troops, called attention,
attention, attention, and proclaimed three times Osorno, for our
Lord the King Charles the fourth and his successors: to which the
priest replied, amen, and the troops and indians gave repeated
_vivas_. A discharge of our pedereroes and small arms then took
place, and the Caciques came forward, and pointing their arms to
the ground in token of peace and fidelity, kissed the flag. The
remainder of the day was spent in feasting and rejoicing.”

The above extract affords a fair specimen of the mode of warfare pursued
by the Spaniards and indians. The following is from a letter written in
the Araucanian tongue, as it is pronounced:–

“Ey appo tagni Rey Valdivia carapee wilmen Lonco gneguly mappu
ranco fringen. Carah nichfringen, fenten tepanlew pepe le pally
cerares fringuey Caky Mappuch hyly eluar Rupo gne suniguam Caaket
pu winca; engu frula Dios, gnegi toki el meu marry marry piami Jesu
Cristo gne gi mew piami.”


“The King’s Governor of Valdivia, to any person who may be at the
head of the people or congress of the Spaniards supposed to be
living at Lonco:–assured that some of my dear countrymen are
residing in the fear of God among the infidels of the country, I
send you health in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true health.”

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