صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

an elevation. The streets in Santiago are straight, broad, and clean, the shops almost Parisian in style and display, many of the dwelling-houses large and handsome, and some of the public buildings would be no disgrace to a European capital. True, all the buildings, with the exception of the cathedral, which is of stone, are of brick; but they are well covered with hard plaster, which is kept clean and fresh-looking; and many of them are of very good designs and ornamented with well-executed friezes and cornices in plaster.

The Plaza, in the centre of which stands a handsome bronze fountain, is surrounded on three sides by public buildings, such as the Cathedral, Town Hall, &c.; and when the new pile of buildings on the south side, now in course of erection, is finished, the square will not brook comparison with the Plazas of Lima or Valparaiso.

The Museum, the University, and the Mint, are perhaps the most spacious and best-looking public buildings out of the Plaza; then there are at least two large theatres, and one or two not unhandsome churches. One of the latter, not yet finished, promises to excel any of those at present existing. Some of the private dwelling-houses are built with great taste, and evidently with no regard to expense; one is especially noticeable-an elaborate imitation of the style of the Alhambra.

To the north of the city is the Pantheon, a very tasteful cemetery, adorned with many fine cypress-trees and many well-carved monuments. Among the plainer tombs is one of very sad interest; its inscription tells that it covers the remains of about two thousand persons who were burnt in the church of La Compania, on December 8, 1863. Of these two thousand persons by far the greater number were women, and of the women a very large proportion were members of the best families in Santiago. Since the

[blocks in formation]

days when every household in Pharaoh's capital mourned a first-born dead, a mourning so sudden and so universal has scarcely come upon any city in the world."

The people of Santiago are much more thoroughly European by descent than the inhabitants of most of the towns on the west coast; indeed, Chilians in general have less mixture of Indian blood in their veins than Peruvians, Bolivians, or Central Americans. This is traceable not only in their features, but in their habits, which are more active and more manly, as well as more neat and cleanly, than those of their neighbours. To this, too, must be partly due the fact that their government is a comparatively stable one, and that they have been troubled with few revolutions, compared with those which have so often torn asunder most of the other republics of South America.

In Santiago European customs and manners seem much more prevalent that in Lima; one minor custom we may mention, which we do not think obtains in any other South American city-the practice of the wealthiest class keeping landaus and barouches, and driving daily along their spacious Alameda, or out by some of the welllaid roads which lead from the city in more directions than one.

One of these good roads leads nearly due east to the Baths of Apoquindo, a little watering-place established at the foot of a ravine leading up into the Cordillera, and deriving its medicinal waters from a hot spring, which throws up its ferro-sulphureous liquid not far above the baths. These baths, with the adjoining hotel, have not long

1 Quite recently, in December 1870, Santiago was very nearly being the scene of another catastrophe of a similar nature. The largest theatre in the city took fire on one evening in that month, not a quarter of an hour after it had been vacated by a large audience assembled to hear Malle. Carlotti Patti, and was burnt to the ground.

been established, but are said to be already becoming a favourite resort of the Santiago people.

But there is a more extensive and better bathing establishment, which the proprietor has even been bold enough to call the Chilian Baden-Baden, some seventy miles to the southward of Santiago, and further in among the Andes.

Taking a train on the southern line, which runs now as far as Curico, but will probably soon be continued to Concepcion, we roll along at a gentle pace for three hours across the Santiago plain, and through a low range of mountains into the adjoining plain of Rancagua. All along the route we cannot fail to notice the richness of the plains, and the healthy look of their crops of wheat and barley, and of their plantations of the mulberry and the vine ; nor can we but admire the splendid and constantly changing views to the eastward of the snowy Cordillera.

Arrived at a station sixty miles south of Santiago, we leave the train and get into a diligencia 'bound for the baths of Cauquenez. Four horses, harnessed all abreast, take us up and down hill, through rivers and along the level, at a most varying, but generally racketty, pace; the driver now letting them tear down one incline and up another at full gallop, anon allowing them to creep along at a shambling trot, or to stop entirely to recover breath. In the first few miles of the road magnificent views of the rich plain which we are rapidly leaving behind and below us, of the scattered mountains to the westward, and of the peaks and passes of the great range into the heart of which we are advancing, break upon us at every fresh corner; as we get further in among the mountains the views become more contracted, and we see nothing but steep slopes rising up on either side of us, deep valleys branching away from the one whose course we are folle wing, or an occasional snowy point visible over a gap in the nearer

[blocks in formation]

mountains. A drive of twenty miles brings us to the baths of Cauquenez, which are all contained in one large straggling hotel, built on the steep side of the gorge of a rushing glacier-stream, the Cachapoal.

This hotel owes its origin to the energy of a Gerinan, who has sought, and with some success, to attract the good people of Valparaiso and Santiago to Cauquenez by setting up an establishment after a European model. The hotel contains one hundred rooms, not to mention the spacious Spa-room, which is surrounded with a series of bath-rooms into which the sulphur and iron waters are conducted, at temperatures varying from 50° to 95°, from the natural springs.

Mountain weather is almost proverbially uncertain, and the weather in the Andes seems no exception to this rule. We spend a whole day at Cauquenez in the condition known as “weather-bound.' From before daylight till late in the afternoon there is a constant downpour of heavy rain, accompanied by thick clouds which hang far down over the mountains around us, and by a coldness in the air which tells of snow falling at no great distance above us.

The only variation in the dreary scene is that the rain falls more heavily at some moments than at others, and that the Cachapoal seems to increase hourly in bulk and swiftness, and dashes over rock and boulder as if exulting in the addition to his strength and size.

But a calmer night ensues, and next morning the mountain-tops are clear of clouds, and glistening in their freshfallen coverings of snow.

We start on a ride to some smelting-works further up the valley, and to reach them follow a path leading over a ridge which separates two bends or reaches of the valley. An hour's ride up hill, through scanty brushwood, and across one or two flat glades of cultivated or pasture ground, brings us to the top of the ridge, at a point which commands a fine view up the valley and across to the main chain of the Andes. The valley lies 1,000 feet below us, and following with the eye its course upwards, we see it divide towards the east into two narrower gorges which wind their way between lofty precipices and bare mountain-sides far into the heart of the Cordillera.

Half-an-hour's descent from this point brings us down to the smelting-works. They are small in size, but enable us to see the process of melting down the copper ore, in its various combinations with sulphur, silver, and lead, into the export article termed regulus.' The mines which supply these works are eight leagues further up the Cachapoal gorge, and just at present the approach to them is

snowed up.

Before the setting in of winter the miners carry up with them to these mines provisions for four months, and are sometimes imprisoned at their lofty abode throughout that period. The mines are at an elevation of about 9,000 feet, yet are by no means the highest in Chili : a friend tells us of having visited a sulphur mine east of Copiapo at the height of 15,000 feet, which, of course, could only be worked for about three months in the year.

Immediately above the baths of Cauquenez rises a steep hill to the height of 3,600 feet above the sea (1,300 feet above the baths), from which an extensive view is obtained of the Cordillera. Encouraged by a fine night previous to our departure for Valparaiso, we rise before the sun on the succeeding morning, and after an hour's stiff climb we stand on the summit with as fine a mountain view before us as could well be wished.

Beneath us, and winding out in various directions, are deep valleys, threaded by almost silent rills, or by roaring torrents, and dotted with brushwood or patched with

« السابقةمتابعة »