Earthquakes

My present situation was very disagreeable. The government of Conception
had placed me on board a Spanish vessel, and had given orders to the
captain to deliver me up, the moment he should arrive at Callao, to the
governor of the fortress. At the same time he had been charged with
letters, containing perhaps an account of my having landed on the
Araucanian coast; of having visited part of that almost unknown
territory, as also part of the province of Conception. Such it was
reasonable to expect would be the information conveyed, if either the
reports prevailing at that time respecting the cruel system of Spanish
jealousy in their colonies were to be credited; or those which have been
more recently circulated, that all foreigners would be incarcerated,
sent to the mines or to places of exile, for having merely dared to
tread the shores of this prohibited country. I should have desponded,
had not practice taught me to regard those reports as exaggerated
tales, the fictions or dreams of the biassed, and not worthy of the
least belief. I was, at the time I landed, ignorant of the existence of
any prohibitory laws; but I now reflected, that no doubt foreigners were
not allowed to settle in a Spanish colony without having obtained those
permissions and passports which are considered equally as indispensable
here as in the British colonies; documents which are as essentially
necessary to Englishmen as to foreigners; but I also recollected the
kind treatment which I had received at Conception, as much a Spanish
colony as the place of my destination; I had learned, too, that
foreigners resided in this part of the country, some of whom were in the
actual employ of the government; it had come to my knowledge that an
Irishman, Don Ambrose Higgins, had filled the offices of Captain-General
of Chile, and of Viceroy of Peru.–These reflections contributed to make
me comparatively happy, and by adhering to a maxim which I had
established, never to allow the shadow of future adversity to cloud the
existence of present comfort, my life was always free from fear and
disquietude. My stay among the pastoral indians of Arauco, for barbarous
I cannot call them, had been one continued scene of enjoyment,
unalloyed with any apprehension of approaching evils, and this conduct
had not contributed a little to make me so welcome a guest. I had
followed the same principles whilst at Conception with equal success.

The ship in which I embarked had on board eight thousand fanegas of
wheat, with some other Chilean produce, and an abundance of poultry, for
the Lima market; she was built at Ferrol in the year 1632, of Spanish
oak, and was the oldest vessel in the Pacific; her high poop and clumsy
shape forming a great contrast with some of the recently-built ships at
Guayaquil, or those from Spain. The conduct of the captain, the officers
and passengers, was marked with every kindness. I had a small cabin to
myself, but I messed with the captain and passengers, and the eleven
days which we were at sea were spent in mirth and gaiety, not a little
heightened by the female part of a family going to settle in Lima. The
father kindly invited me, should an opportunity present itself, to
reside at his house during my stay in that city, an invitation of which
I should certainly have availed myself had not circumstances prevented
it. We were all anxiety to arrive at Callao, the sea-port of Lima, and
although I had fewer reasons to wish it than others, still the idea of
seeing something new is always pleasing, particularly to a traveller in
a foreign country; besides, I had been informed on my passage that war
had not been declared between England and Spain, and that the conduct of
the government was to be attributed to their wish to prevent any English
spies from residing at liberty in the country.

On the eleventh day after our leaving Talcahuano we made the island of
San Lorenzo, which forms one side of the bay of Callao. It exhibits a
dreary spectacle, not a tree, a shrub, nor even a blade of grass
presents itself; it is one continued heap of sand and rock. Having
passed the head land, (where a signal post was erected and a look-out
kept, which communicated with Callao, through other signals stationed on
the island) the vessels in the offing, the town and batteries at once
opened on our view. The principal fortress, called the Royal Philip,
_Real Felipe_, has a majestic appearance, although disadvantageously
situated; it is on a level with the sea, and behind it the different
ranges of hills rise in successive gradations until crowned with the
distant prospect of the Andes, which in some parts tower above the
clouds. These clouds, resting on the tops of the lower ranges seemed to
have yielded their places in the atmosphere to those enormous masses,
and to have prostrated themselves at their feet. As we approached the
anchorage the spires and domes of Lima appeared to the left of the town
of Callao. At the moment of landing, which is the most pleasing to
travellers by sea, the passengers were all in high spirits, expecting to
embrace ere long those objects of tender affection, from whom they had
been separated by chance, interest, or necessity.

Previous to our coming to an anchorage, the custom-house boat with some
others visited our ship, and I was sent ashore in that from the captain
of the port. I was immediately conveyed to the castle, and delivered to
the Governor. On my landing at Callao, I observed a considerable bustle
on what may be called the pier. This pier was made in 1779, during the
Viceroyalty of Don Antonio Amat, by running an old king’s ship on shore,
filling her with stones, sand, and rubbish, and afterwards driving round
the parts where the sea washes piles of mangroves, brought from
Guayaquil, and which appear to be almost imperishable in sea water. At
the landing place I saw several boats employed in watering their ships,
for which purpose pipes have been laid down, three feet under ground, to
convey the water from a spring; hoses being attached to the spouts, the
casks are filled either floating on the sea or in the boats.

The houses make a very sorry appearance; they are generally about twenty
feet high, with mud walls, flat roof, and divided into two stories; the
under one forms a row of small shops open in front, and the upper one an
uncouth corridor. About a quarter of a mile from the landing place is
the draw-bridge, over a dry foss, and an entrance under an arched
gateway to the castle, the Real Felipe. I was presented to the Governor,
a Spanish colonel, who immediately ordered me to the _caloboso_, one of
the prisoners’ cells: this was a room about one hundred feet long and
twenty wide, formed of stone, with a vaulted roof of the same materials,
having two wooden benches, raised about three feet from the ground, for
the prisoners to sleep on. A long chain ran along the bench for the
purpose of being passed through the shackles of the unhappy occupants,
whose miserable beds, formed of rush mats, were rolled up, and laid near
the walls. I had an opportunity to make a survey of this place before
the prisoners entered; until then I was left quite alone, pondering over
my future lot, for this was the first time I could consider myself a
prisoner; however, I consoled myself with the hope of release, or if
not, a removal to some more comfortable situation. In this hope I was
not mistaken, for before the prisoners, who were malefactors employed at
the public works, arrived, a soldier came and ordered me to follow him.
He took up my bed, while I took care of my trunk, and in this manner I
left the abode of crime and misery in which I had been placed. I was
conducted to the guard-house, where that part of the garrison on duty
are usually stationed. I now found myself among such a curious mixture
of soldiers as eyes never witnessed in any other part of the world; but
I reconciled myself to my lot, especially as it was not the worst place
in the castle. In a short time I was sent for to the officers’ room. I
there found several agreeable and some well-informed young men, with two
very obstinate and testy old ones, who, though of superior rank, were
heartily quizzed by their subalterns. Such is the ease and frankness of
the South Americans in general, that before I had been an hour in the
room, one of the officers, a young lieutenant, and his brother, a cadet,
had become as familiar with me as if we had been old acquaintance. They
were natives of Lima, both had been educated at San Carlos, the
principal college, and both lamented that the most useful branches of
science were not taught in the Spanish colleges to that extent, and
with that precision which they are in England. The lieutenant also
observed, that as the rectors and heads of their colleges were
churchmen, the studies were confined principally to theology, divinity
and morality, which circumstance caused them to neglect the useful
sciences; and this he ascribed as a reason why in those studies the
students made little progress. But, continued he, our libraries are not
destitute of good mathematical and philosophical books, which some of
our young men study, and they are at all times willing to instruct their
friends. I spent the time in a very agreeable chit chat with my new
acquaintance till ten o’clock, when the lieutenant rose and requested me
to wait his return, saying he was going to the governor for _el santo_,
the watchword, and for the orders of the night. He returned in about
half an hour, pulled off his uniform coat, put on a jacket, and then
told me, in the most friendly manner, that the governor had given orders
for my removal to Lima on the following morning; on which he
congratulated me, saying, that as that was a large city I should be more
comfortable, although a prisoner, than at Callao; he also informed me
that, it being the first day of the month, September, 1803, part of the
garrison would be relieved by detachments from the capital, and that he
was included in that number, and would be happy in giving me a seat in
the _valancin_, hackney coach, which he should hire. About twelve
o’clock my bed and trunk were carried to his sleeping room, and I
remained in conversation with him till day broke; we slept about an
hour, and then arose to breakfast, which consisted of a cup of very good
chocolate for each of us, some dry toast, and a glass of water. At
eleven o’clock, the detachment having arrived, we left Callao in a
valancin, which is a kind of carriage, having the body of a coach on two
wheels, drawn by two horses, one in the shafts and the postillion
mounted on the other.

The city of Callao, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1746 and
swallowed up by the sea, was at a short distance to the southward of the
present town. On a calm day the ruins may yet be seen under water at
that part of the bay called the _mar braba_, rough sea, and on the beach
a sentry is always placed for the purpose of taking charge of any
treasure that may be washed ashore, which not unfrequently happens. By
this terrible convulsion of nature upwards of three thousand people
perished at Callao alone. I afterwards became acquainted with an old
mulatto, called Eugenio, who was one of the three or four who were
saved; he told me that he was sitting on some timber which had been
landed from a ship in the bay, at the time that the great wave of the
sea rolled in and buried the city, and that he was carried, clinging to
the log, near to the chapel, a distance of three miles.

From Callao to Lima it is six miles, with a good road, for which the
country is indebted to Don Ambrose Higgins; but he unfortunately died,
after being Viceroy three years, leaving this useful work incomplete.
The finished part extends only about two miles from the gateway, at the
entrance to the city, and has a double row of lofty willows on each
side, shading the foot-walk. He also furnished it, at every hundred
yards, with neat stone benches; and at about every mile a large circle
with walls of brick and stone, four feet high, and stone seats are
erected. These circles are formed for carriages to turn in with greater
ease than on the road. On each side of the foot-walk runs a small stream
of water, irrigating the willows in its course, and nourishing
numberless luxuriant weeds and flowers. It was the intention of the
Viceroy to carry the road down to Callao in the same style as it now
exists near the city, but only the carriage road was finished. It has a
parapet of brick raised two feet high on each side, to keep together the
materials of the road. On the right hand side, going from the port, may
be seen the ruins of an indian village, which was built before the
discovery of South America. Some of the old walls are left, formed of
clay, about two feet thick and six feet high, and which perhaps owe
their present existence to the total absence of rain in this country. To
the right is the town of Bellavista, to which parish Callao is attached,
being called its _anexo_. Here is a hospital for seamen and the poorer
class of the inhabitants. Half way between the port and the city stands
a very neatly built chapel, to which is connected a small cloister; it
is dedicated to the Virgin of Mount Carmel, and many visit it to fulfil
some vow or other which they have made at sea to this Madonna, she being
the protectress of seamen. Near the chapel is situated a house at which
are sold good brandy and wine, and it may easily be guessed which
establishment has the most customers! On approaching the city the
quality of the soil appears to be very good; large gardens with
luxuriant vegetables for the market, and fields of lucern and maize are
here cultivated, and close to the city walls there are extensive
orchards of tropical fruit trees, all irrigated with water drawn by
canals from the river Rimac. The gateway is of brick, covered with
stucco, with cornices, mouldings, and pillars of stone: it has three
arches; the centre one for carriages has folding doors, the two lateral
posterns are for foot passengers.

The mind of a traveller is naturally led to expect to find the inside of
a city correspondent with the appearance of its entrance; but at Lima he
will be deceived. The distant views of the steeples and domes, the
beautiful straight road, its shady avenue of lofty willows, and its
handsome gateway, are contrasted, immediately on passing them, with a
long street of low houses with their porches and patios; small shops
with their goods placed on tables at the doors; no glass windows; no
display of articles of commerce; numbers of people of all colours, from
the black African to the white and rosy coloured Biscayan, with all
their intermediate shades, combined with the mixture of colour and
features of the aborigines of America:–the mere observation of this
variety of colours and features produces a “confusion beyond all
confusions.”

As a prisoner of war, although the two nations were at peace, I was
conducted by my kind friend to the city gaol, _carcel de la ciudad_,
where I remained shut up for eight months with about a hundred criminals
of the worst description. Owing, however, to a recommendation and the
promise of a remuneration from my good friend the lieutenant, the
alcalde lodged me in a room at the entrance of the prison, allotted to
persons of decent families, or to such as had the means of paying for
this convenience.

I was fortunate enough to find here a native of Lima, an officer in the
army, who was confined on suspicion of forgery. He was a very excellent
man, and conducted himself towards me in a manner which contributed, not
only to my comfort whilst I was a prisoner, but finally to my
liberation. My first object in my confinement was to make myself
perfectly master of the Spanish tongue, and to obtain some knowledge of
_Quichua_, the court language of the Incas, and used wherever their
authority had been established. I was the more desirous of becoming
acquainted with this language, because it is spoken in the interior of
Peru by all classes of people: the respectable inhabitants, however,
also speak Spanish.

Lima is the capital of Peru, and derives its name from _Rimac_, which
original name its river still retains; but the valley was called by the
indians _Rimac Malca_, or the place of witches; it being the custom
among the aborigines, even before the establishment of the theocrasia of
the Incas, as well as during their domination, to banish to this valley
those persons who were accused of witchcraft. Its climate is very
different from that of the interior, and having a great deal of marshy
ground in its vicinity, intermittent fevers generally destroyed in a
short time such individuals as were the objects of this superstitious
persecution. It is recorded, that when Manco Capac and his sister Mama
Ocollo were presented by their grandfather to the indians living at
Couzcou, and were informed by him that they were the children of the
sun, their God, the fair complexion of these strangers, and their light
coloured hair, induced the indians to consider them as rimacs, and they
were in consequence exiled to Rimac Malca, the place of witches, now the
valley of Lima.

In September, 1533, Don Francisco Pizarro arrived at Pachacamac, a large
town belonging to the indians, where a magnificent temple had been built
by Pachacutec, the tenth Inca of Peru, for the worship of Pachacamac,
the creator and preserver of the world. This rich place of worship was
plundered by Pizarro, and the virgins destined to the service of the
Deity, though in every respect as sacred as the nuns of Pizarro’s
religion, were violated by his soldiers; the altars were pillaged and
destroyed, and the building was demolished. However, when I visited it
in 1817, some of the walls still remained, as if to reproach the
descendants of an inhuman monster with his wanton barbarity. I wandered
among the remains of this temple, dedicated by a race of men in
gratitude to their omnipotent creator and preserver: a house unstained
with what bigots curse with the name of idolatry; unpolluted with the
blood of sacrifice; uncontaminated with the chaunt of anthems, impiously
sung to the Deity after the destruction of a great number of his
creatures; of prayers for success, or thanksgivings for victory; but
hallowed with the innocent offerings of fruits and flowers, and
sanctified with the incense breath of praise, and hymns of joyous
gratitude. It is difficult to describe the feelings by which we are
affected when we witness the ruins of an edifice destined by its founder
to be a monument of national glory, or even of personal honor; but when
we contemplate with unprejudiced eyes the remains of a building once
sacred to a large portion of our fellow creatures, and raised by them in
honour of the great Father of the universe, wantonly destroyed by a
being, in whose hands chance had placed more power than his vitiated
mind knew how to apply to virtuous purposes–we cannot avoid cursing
him, in the bitterness of our anguish. Cold indeed must be the heart of
that man who could view the ruins of Pachacamac with less regret than
those of Babylon or Jerusalem!

Pizarro having arrived at Pachacamac, and being desirous of building a
city near the sea coast, he sent some of his officers to search for a
convenient harbour either to the north or to the south. They first
visited the harbour of Chilca, which, though a good one, and near
Pachacamac, was still defective; the coast was a sandy desert, and the
poor indians who lived upon it for the purpose of fishing were often
forced to abandon their houses, because their wells of brackish water
became dry. The commissioners were obliged to look out for another
situation, and having arrived at Callao they found that its bay was very
capacious, with the river Rimac entering it on the north. They
afterwards explored the delightful surrounding valley, and reported
their success to Pizarro, who immediately came from Pachacamac, and
approving of the situation, laid the foundation of Lima, on the south
side of the river, about two leagues from the sea. On the 8th day of
January, 1534, he removed to it those Spaniards whom he had left for the
purpose of building a town at Jauja. Lima is called by the Spaniards La
Ciudad de los Reyes, from being founded on the day on which the Roman
Church celebrates the epiphany, or the feast of the worshipping of the
kings or magi of the east. Its arms are a shield with three crowns, Or,
on an azure field, and the star of the east; for supporters the letters
J. C. Jane and Charles, with the motto–_Hoc signum vere Regum est_.
These arms and the title of royal city were granted to Lima by the
Emperor Charles V. in 1537. Pizarro built a palace for himself, about
two hundred yards from the river, on the contrary side of the great
square, or _plasa mayor_, to that where the palace of the Viceroy now
stands; and the remains of it may yet be found in the _Callejon de
Petateros_, mat maker’s alley. He was murdered here on the 26th of June,
1541.

According to several Spanish authorities Lima is situated in 12° 2´ 51´´
south latitude, and in 70° 50´ 51´´ longitude west of Cadiz. To the
northward and eastward of the city hills begin to rise, which ultimately
compose a part of the great chain of the Andes; or rather they are parts
of the high mountains which run north and south about twenty leagues to
the eastward of Lima. These mountains gradually descend to the sea
coast, producing between each row beautiful and fertile valleys, of
which the Rimac is one. The chain opening at the back of Lima forms the
valley Lurigancho, which closes on its suburbs. That of the greatest
height, bordering on the city, is called _San Cristobal_, and the other
_Amancaes_; the former is 1302 feet above the level of the sea, and the
latter 2652. The mountains slope towards the west, and when seen from
the bridge appear to have reached the level about three miles from that
station, which extremity, viewed from the same place, is the point where
the sun disappears at the time of the winter solstice. To the south
west is the island called _San Lorenzo_; more to the south lies _Morro
Solar_, about eight miles distant, where large hills of sand are
observed, which, stretching to the eastward and gently rising, form with
the Amancaes a crescent, enclosing the picturesque valley Rimac, through
which the river of that name majestically flows, producing in its course
or wherever its influence can be obtained all the beauties of Flora and
the gifts of Ceres.

The site of Lima gradually inclines to the westward, the great square,
plasa mayor, being 480 feet above the level of the sea. Thus all the
streets in this direction, with many of those intersecting them at right
angles, have small streams of water running along them, which contribute
very much to the cleanliness and salubrity of the city and its
inhabitants. The water which runs through the streets, as well as that
which feeds the fountains and the canals for the irrigation of gardens,
orchards and plantations, which fill the whole valley, is drawn from the
river Rimac. This river has its origin in the province of Huarochiri,
and receives in its course several small streams, which descend the
mountains, and are produced by the melting of the snow on the tops of
the Andes, as well as by the rains which fall in the interior, at which
time the river swells very much, and covers the whole of its bed, which
at other times is in many places almost dry. The water in Lima is said
to be crude, holding in solution a considerable quantity of selenite,
besides being impregnated with abundance of fixed air; hence,
indigestions and other affections of the stomach are attributed to it;
but Dr. Unanue very justly asks, “may not these diseases be derived from
Cupid and Ceres?” The water is certainly far from being pure; for the
_artaxea_, which supplies the city fountains, and the _pugios_, which
supply the suburbs, called San Lazaro, are stagnant pools; both are
often full of aquatic plants, which decay and rot in them; they moreover
contain water that has been employed in the irrigation of the
plantations and farms at the back of the city, and not unfrequently
animals have been drowned in them.

The climate of Lima is extremely agreeable; the heat which would
naturally be expected in so low a latitude is seldom felt, and those who
have been accustomed to the scorching sun and suffocating heat of Bahia,
on the opposite side of the Continent, or to those of Carthagena, in the
same latitude, are astonished at the mild and almost equable climate of
Lima. The following thermometrical observations, made in the years 1805
and 1810, will evince the truth of what has been asserted:–

THERMOMETRICAL OBSERVATIONS,

MADE AT NOON IN THE SHADE OF AN OPEN ROOM AT LIMA.

1805. 1810.
____/\____ ____/\____
/ \ / \
Max. Min. Max. Min.
January 77 74¾ 76 73¾
February 79½ 76 77 74¾
March 78½ 74¾ 77 74¾
April 74¾ 72 74¾ 71¼
May 73¾ 67 71¼ 67
June 65¾ 65 66 64
July 65 63 64¾ 61
August 63½ 62¾ 63¾ 61
September 65 63½ 64¾ 64
October 65¾ 63½ 65¾ 63½
November 69½ 65¾ 69½ 65½
December 73¾ 69½ 71½ 70
—— —— —— ——
Mean height during} 79½ 62¾ 77 61
the Year. } ====== ====== ====== ======

The coolness of the climate is occasioned by
the wind and a peculiar state of the atmosphere.
The wind generally blows from different
points of the compass between the south
west and the south east. When from the
former direction, it crosses in its course a
great portion of the Pacific Ocean, and when
it comes from the eastward it has not to
pass over sandy deserts or scorching plains,
but to traverse first the immense tract of
woodland countries lying between the Brazils
and Peru, and afterwards the frozen tops
of the Cordillera, at a distance of twenty
leagues from Lima; so that, in both cases, it is
equally cool and refreshing. A northerly wind
is very seldom felt in Lima; but when it blows,
as if by accident, from that quarter, the heat
is rather oppressive. On the 6th of March,
1811, the wind being from the north, I made the
following observations with a Farenheit’s thermometer,
at one o’clock, p. m.

In the shade in an open room 80°
In the air, five yards from the sun’s rays 87°
In the sun 106°
Water in the shade from sunrise 74°
Water in a well 20 yards below the} 70°
surface of the earth }
Sea water at Callao at 4 p. m. 64°
Heat of the body, perspiring 96°
——————after cooling in the shade 94°

The heat of the sun in summer is mitigated by a canopy of clouds, which
constantly hang over Lima, and although not perceptible from the city,
yet when seen from an elevated situation in the mountains, they appear
somewhat like the smoke floating in the atmosphere of large towns where
coal is burnt; but as this material is not used in Lima, the cause and
effect must be different.

If I may be allowed to give an opinion different from that of several
eminent persons who have written on the climate of Lima, it is, that the
vapours which rise on the coast or from the sea are lifted to a
sufficient height by the action of the sun’s rays to be caught by the
current of wind from the southward and westward, and carried by them
into the interior; whilst the exhalations from the city and its suburbs
only rise to a lower region, and are not acted upon by the wind, but
remain in a quiescent state of perfect equilibrium, hanging over the
city during the day, and becoming condensed by the coolness of the
night, when they are precipitated in the form of dew, which is always
observable in the morning on the herbage.

Lima may be justly said to enjoy one of the most delightful climates in
the world; it is a succession of spring and summer, as free from the
chills of winter as from the sultry heats of autumn.

Notwithstanding this almost constant equability, some writers have
imagined that four seasons are distinguishable. Such persons, however,
must undoubtedly have either been endowed with peculiar sensibility, or
have been gifted with an amazing philosophy. Not content with the
beauties of this climate, some have attached to it the properties which
belong to the ultra-tropical countries–jealous perhaps of the
theoretical comforts from which they are practically free, and in the
full enjoyment of a climate the maximum heat of which seldom exceeds 78°
of Farenheit’s thermometer, and the minimum of which is seldom below
62°, wishing to perfect it by having the maximum at 100°, and the
minimum below zero! Peralta, in his 8th canto, has very quaintly
described the beautiful climate of this city:–

“En su orisonte el sol todo es aurora
Eterna, el tiempo todo es primavera
Solo es risa del cielo cada hora
Cada mes solo es cuenta del esfera.
Son cada aliento, un halito de Flora
Cada arroyo una Musa lisongera;
Y los vergeles, que el confin le debé
Nubes fragantes con que el ciclo llueve.”

One of the peculiarities of this climate, as well as that of the coast
of Peru from Arica to Cape Blanco, being a distance of about 16 degrees
of latitude, is, that it can scarcely ever be said to rain. Several
theories have been advanced to account for this anomaly of nature. The
following facts and explanations will, perhaps, tend to unravel the
difficulty.

In April or May the mists, called _garuas_, begin, and continue with
little interruption till November, which period is usually termed the
winter solstice. The gentle winds that blow in the morning from the
westward, and in the afternoon from the southward, are those which fill
the atmosphere with aqueous vapours, forming a very dense cloud or mist;
and owing to the obliquity of the rays of the sun during this season the
evaporation is not sufficiently rarified or attenuated to enable it to
rise above the summits of the adjacent mountains; so that it is limited
to the range of flat country lying between the mountains and the sea,
which inclines towards the north west. Thus the vapours brought by the
general winds are collected over this range of coast, and from the cause
above-mentioned cannot pass the tops of the mountains, but remain
stationary until the sun returns to the south, when they are elevated by
his vertical heat, and pass over the mountains into the interior, where
they become condensed, and fall in copious rains. That rain is not
formed on the coast from these mists is attributable, first, to a want
of contrary winds to agitate and unite the particles, and, secondly, to
their proximity to the earth, which they reach in their descent, before
a sufficient number of them can coalesce, and form themselves into
drops.

The figure of the coast also contributes to the free access of the water
that has been cooled at the south pole, on its return to the equatorial
regions. From Cape Pilares to latitude 18° the direction of the coast is
nearly N. and S.; and from 18° to 5° it runs out to the westward: thus
the cold water dashes on the shores, and produces in the atmosphere a
coolness that is not experienced in other parts, where the coasts are
filled with projecting capes and deep bays; because the current,
striking against those, sweeps from the coast, and the water in these
becomes heated by the sun, and is deprived by the capes of the current
of cold water, excepting what is necessary to maintain the equilibrium,
which is diminished by absorption in the bays. The heat increases with
astonishing rapidity from latitude 1° south to 10° north; the Gulph of
Choco being deprived of the ingress of cooled water from the south by
the Cape San Francisco, and from the north by Cape Blanco. The eastern
shores of the south Continent of America are much warmer than the
western, owing to the great number of capes and bays. The atmosphere
does not enjoy the cooling breezes from the pole, which are diverted
from a direct course in the same manner as the currents of water, nor
the refrigerated winds from the Cordillera.

The southern hemisphere is altogether much cooler than the northern:
perhaps in the same ratio that the surface land of the northern
hemisphere exceeds that of the southern.

During the months of February and March it sometimes happens that large
straggling drops of rain fall about five o’clock in the afternoon. This
admits of an easy elucidation. The exhalations from the sea being
elevated by the heat of a vertical sun, and impelled by the gentle winds
during the day towards the interior and mountainous parts of the
country, are sometimes arrested in their progress by a current of air
from the eastward, which, having been cooled on its passage over the
snow-topped Andes, is colder than the air from the westward; and
wherever these currents meet the aqueous particles are condensed, and
uniting become too heavy to continue in the upper region of the
atmosphere, when they begin to fall, and in their descent combine with
those that fill the lower regions, and hence some large drops are
formed.

The following table of the weather will perhaps furnish a better idea of
the climate of Lima than any verbal description:–

1805. 1810.
————————————— ————————–
Sun. Cloudy. Variable. Sun. Cloudy. Variable.
Jan. 5 days 10 days 16 days 6 days 11 days 13 days.
Feb. 8 5 15 7 4 17
March 12 2 17 13 2 16
April 7 9 14 6 10 14
May .. 17 14 1 15 15
June .. 21 9 .. 24 6
July .. 28 3 .. 31 ..
August .. 27 4 .. 30 1
Sept. 3 20 7 2 21 7
October 2 21 8 2 19 10
Nov. 4 16 10 5 15 10
Dec. 4 18 19 4 7 20
—- —- —- —- —- —-
During the } 45 184 136 46 189 129
year…. }
==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ====

_Sun_ indicates those days in which the sun was never clouded;
_Cloudy_, those in which the sun was not visible; and _Variable_,
those in which the sun was generally clouded in the morning but
afterwards became visible.

From the foregoing explanations it must naturally be inferred, that the
dry season in the interior occurs at the time that the mists or fogs
predominate on the coast, and vice versa: this is what really takes
place. The rivers on the coast are nearly dry during the misty weather,
but during the summer heat they often become impassable, owing to their
increase of water from the melting of the snow on the mountains and the
fall of rain in the interior. The _chimbadores_, or _badeadores_, men
who ford the larger rivers with goods and travellers, know from
experience and minute observation, according to the hour at which the
increase begins, at what place the rain has fallen.

It may be well here to advert to a phenomenon which has as yet remained
unnoticed. The heavy rains which fall on the Cordillera of the Andes are
the effect of evaporation from the Pacific Ocean, and these rains feed
the enormous streams which supply those rivers that empty themselves
into the Atlantic. It therefore follows, that the Atlantic is furnished
with water from the Pacific; and if, as some have believed, the
Atlantida existed between the coasts of Africa and America, its western
shores being opposite to the mouth of the river Amazon, its inundation
may have been occasioned by the heavy rains in the Andes.

The vegetable mould in the valley of Lima is about two feet deep, and
is extremely rich, amply repaying the labour of cultivation. Below the
mould is a stratum of sand and pebbles, extending about three leagues
from the sea-coast; and under this a stratum of indurated clay,
apparently of alluvial depositions. The latter seems to have been once
the bottom of the sea, and may have been raised above the level of the
surface by some great convulsion; for I cannot suppose with Moreno,
Unanue and others, that the water has retired from this coast so much as
to occasion a fall of more than four hundred feet in perpendicular
height, which the stratum of sand and pebbles holds above the level of
the sea at its extreme distance from the coast.

May not the same principles account for the general belief, that the
surface of the Atlantic on the eastern shores of the New World is above
the level of the Pacific on the western shores, notwithstanding the
apparent contradiction of the currents running round Cape Horn into the
Atlantic? Perhaps the asserted elevation, particularly in the Gulph of
Mexico, is owing to the prevailing winds that drive the surface water
into the gulf, its free egress by a sub-current being impeded by the
range of the Antilles, whose bases may occupy a greater space than
their surfaces, and also to the existence of rocks under water.

Although Lima is free from the terrifying effects of thunder and
lightning, it is subject to dreadful convulsions which are far more
frightful and destructive. Earthquakes are felt every year, particularly
after the mists disperse and the summer sun begins to heat the earth.
They are more commonly felt at night, two or three hours after sunset,
or in the morning about sunrise. The direction which they have been
observed to keep has generally been from south to north, and experience
has shewn, that from the equator to the Tropic of Capricorn the most
violent concussions have taken place about once in every fifty years.
Since the conquest the following, which occurred at Arequipa, Lima and
Quito, have been the most violent:–

AREQUIPA. LIMA. QUITO.

1582 1586 1587
1604 1630 1645
1687 1687 1698
1715 1746 1757
1784 1806 1797
1819

It has been remarked, that the vegetable world suffers very much by a
great shock, the country about Lima, and all the range of coast were
particularly affected by that which happened in 1678. The crops of
wheat, maize, and other grain were entirely destroyed, and for several
years afterwards the ground was totally unproductive. At that period
wheat was first brought from Chile, which country has ever since been
considered the granary of Lima, Guayaquil, and Panama. Feijo, in his
description of the province of Truxillo, says, “that some of the valleys
which produced two hundred fold of wheat before the earthquake in 1687
did not reproduce the seed after it for more than twenty years;” and
according to the latest information from Chile the crops have failed
since the earthquake in 1822. The following shocks were felt in Lima in
the years 1805 and 1810:–

1805. 1810.
______/\______ _________/\__________
/ \ / \
January 9, at 7½ P. M. January 7, at 9 A. M.
… 10, … 5 A. M. … 11, … 5 P. M.
… 27, … 9 P. M. May 3, … 7½ A. M.
February 17, … 6 P. M. … 15, … 5 A. M.
… 21, … 4½ P. M. … 16, … 7 P. M.
March 1, … 5 A. M. June 15, … 5½ A. M.
June 4, … 4½ P. M. Nov. 17, … 5 A. M.
July 1, … 5 A. M. … 21, … 7½ A. M.
Nov. 7, … 8 P. M. … 24, … 5 P. M.
… 9, … 8½ P. M. … 26, … 5½ P. M.
Dec. 5, … 7½ P. M.
… 14, … 4½ P. M.

When one or two faint shocks are felt in the moist weather, they are
supposed to indicate a change, and the same is expected in the dry or
hot weather.

The principal produce of the valley of Lima is sugar cane, lucern,
_alfalfa_, maize, wheat, beans, with tropical and European fruit, as
well as culinary vegetables.

The sugar cane is almost exclusively of the creole kind: fine sugar is
seldom made from it here, but a coarse sort, called _chancaca_, is
extracted, the method of manufacturing which will hereafter be
described. The principal part of the cane is employed in making
_guarapo_; this is the expressed juice of the cane fermented, and
constitutes the chief drink of the coloured people; it is intoxicating,
and from its cheapness its effects are often visible, particularly among
the indians who come from the interior, and can purchase this disgusting
vice at a low rate. The liquor is believed to produce cutaneous
eruptions if used by the white people, on which account, or more
probably from the vulgarity implied in drinking it, they seldom taste
it. I found it very agreeable, and when thirsty or over-heated preferred
it to any other beverage.

The manufacture of rum was expressly forbidden in Peru both by the
Monarch and the Pope; the former ordained very heavy penalties to be
inflicted, the latter fulminated his anathemas on those who should
violate the royal will. The whole of this strange colonial restriction
had for its object the protection and exclusive privilege of the owners
of vineyards in the making of spirits–a protection which cost the
proprietors upwards of sixty thousand dollars.

Great quantities of lucern, alfalfa, are cultivated, for the purpose of
supplying with provender the horses and mules of Lima; and not less than
twelve hundred asses are kept for the purpose of bringing it from the
_chacras_, small farms in the valley. It generally grows to the height
of three feet, and is cut down five times in the year; it prospers
extremely well during the moist weather, but there is a great scarcity
in the summer or hot season, because it cannot then be irrigated, for it
has been observed, that if, after cutting, the roots are watered they
rot; on this account fodder is not plentiful in summer, so that if a
substitute for the lucern could be introduced it would prove a source of
great wealth to its cultivator. I never saw dried lucern, and on
inquiring why they did not dry and preserve it, was told, that the
experiment had been tried, but that the green lucern when dried became
so parched and tasteless that the horses would not eat it, and that the
principal stems of the full-grown or ripe lucern very often contain a
snuff-like powder, which is very injurious to the animals, producing a
kind of madness, and frequently killing them. Fat cattle brought to Lima
are generally kept a few days on lucern before they are slaughtered; the
farmers are therefore very attentive to the cultivation of this useful
and productive plant. Guinea grass was planted near the city by Don
Pedro Abadia, but it did not prosper; whether the failure were
occasioned by the climate, or by ignorance of management, I cannot say,
but I am inclined to believe that the latter was the case.

Wheat is sown, but no reliance can be placed on a produce adequate to
repay the farmer, although the quality in favourable seasons is very
good. It often happens, that the vertical sun has great power before the
grain is formed, at which time the small dew drops having arranged
themselves on different parts of the ear into minute globules, these are
forcibly acted on by the sun’s rays before evaporation takes place, and
operating as so many convex lenses, the grain is burnt, and the
disappointed farmer finds nothing but a deep brown powder in its place.
I have sometimes seen a field of wheat or other grain most luxuriantly
green in the evening, and the day following it has been parched and dry;
this transition the farmer says is the effect of frost; which will
perhaps be admitted to be a correct explanation, if we consider that
during the night the wind has come from the eastward, and has passed
over a range of the Andes at a short distance. It sometimes also happens
that the moist season continues for a long period, or that after clear
weather the mists return; now should the farmer irrigate his fields
during this intermission, or should the mists continue, the plants shoot
up to such a great height that straw alone is harvested; but in this
case, aware of the result, he often cuts the green corn for fodder, or
turns his cattle on it to feed.

The growth of maize is much attended to, and very large quantities are
annually consumed in Lima by the lower classes, and as food for hogs,
some of which animals become extremely fat with this grain, and in less
time than if fed on any other kind. Three sorts of maize are cultivated
here, each of which has its peculiar properties and uses. It appears to
have been in very extensive use among the indians before the arrival of
the Spaniards; for, on digging the _huacas_, or burying grounds, at the
distance of forty leagues from Lima, I have often found great quantities
of it. A large deposit was discovered in square pits or cisterns, made
of sun-dried bricks, on a farm called Vinto, where no doubt there had
either been a public granary, or, as some people imagine, a depôt formed
by Huaina Capac, on leading his troops against the Chimu, a king of the
coasts, about the year 1420. The grain was quite entire when it was
taken up, although, according to the above hypothesis, it had been under
ground about four hundred years; owing its preservation perhaps to the
dry sand in which it was buried. Its depth beneath the surface was about
four feet, on the ridge of a range of sand hills, where no moisture
could reach it by absorption from below, its elevation being about 700
feet above the level of the sea, and 600 above that of the nearest
river. I planted some of it, but it did not grow: however its fattening
qualities were not destroyed, and the neighbouring farmers and
inhabitants of the adjacent villages profited by the discovery.

Large quantities of beans are harvested in this valley for the support
of the slaves on the estates and plantations, but the market of Lima is
principally supplied from _valles_, the valleys on the coast to the
northward.

Although abundance of tropical and ultra-tropical fruit trees are
cultivated in the gardens and orchards belonging to the farm houses, and
_quintas_, seats, in the valley, I shall defer an account of them until
I describe the gardens in and about the city.

Culinary vegetables are grown here in abundance, including a great part
of those known in Europe, as well as those peculiar to warm climates.
The _yuca_, casava, merits particular attention, on account of its
prolific produce, delicate taste, and nutritious qualities; it grows to
about five feet high; its leaves are divided into seven finger-like
lobes of a beautiful green, and each plant will generally yield about
eight roots of the size of large carrots, of a white colour, under a
kind of rough barky husk. In a raw state its taste is somewhat similar
to that of the chesnut, and of a very agreeable flavour when roasted or
boiled; the young buds and leaves are also cooked, and are as good as
spinage. It is propagated by planting the stalks or stems of the old
crop, cutting them close to the ground after about four inches are
buried in the mould, which must be light and rather sandy. Two species
are known; the crop of the one arrives at full growth in three months,
but this is not considered of so good a quality, nor is it so productive
as the other, which is six months before it arrives at a state of
perfection. They are distinguished by the yellowish colour of the
latter, and the perfectly white colour of the former. The disadvantage
attending these roots, is, that they cannot be kept above four or five
days before they become very black, when they are considered unfit for
use. Starch is made from them in considerable quantities, by the usual
method of bruising, and subjecting them to fermentation, in order to
separate the farina. The mandioc, a variety of this genus, is unknown on
the western side of the Continent: thus all danger of injury from its
poisonous qualities is precluded.

Several varieties of the potatoe are cultivated and yield very abundant
crops. They appear to have been known in this part of the New World
before it was visited by the Spaniards, and not to have been confined to
Chile, their native country. I found this probability on their having a
proper name in the Quichua language, whilst those plants that have been
brought into the country retain among the Indians their Spanish names
alone.

_Camotes_, commonly called sweet potatoes, and by the Spaniards
_batatas_, are produced in great abundance, of both the yellow and
purple kinds. I have seen them weighing ten pounds each; when roasted or
boiled their taste is sweeter than that of the chesnut, and all classes
of people eat them. They become much more farinaceous if exposed for
some time to the sun after they are taken out of the ground; and if kept
dry they will remain good for six months. They are propagated by setting
pieces of the branches of old plants, to procure which the camote itself
is sometimes planted.

Although the _arracacha_ which is grown in this valley is neither so
large nor so well tasted as that which is produced in a cooler climate,
it is nevertheless an exceedingly good esculent. It is cultivated in a
rich, loose soil, and has generally five or six roots, something like
parsnips, but of a different flavour; they are not very mealy, and
require but little cooking; they are, however, very easy of digestion,
on which account they are given to the sick and convalescent; the leaves
bear a great resemblance to those of celery. The plantation is either
from cuttings of the root, like potatoes, or from the seed; in the first
case the roots are full grown in three months, but in the latter in not
less than five. If allowed to remain in the ground double the time
mentioned the roots continue to increase in size, without any detriment
to their taste. Starch is sometimes made from the roots, and used in the
same manner as the arrow root is in other countries. Only the white
arracacha is here cultivated. The arracacha deserves the attention of
Europeans; it would, I am pretty certain, prosper in England, because
its natural temperature, where it thrives best, is in about 60° of
Fahrenheit.

The _tomate_, love apple, is very much cultivated, and is in frequent
use both in the kitchen and for confectionary, and produces a very
agreeable acid.

Capsicum, cayenne pepper, _aji_, is abundant; I have counted nine
different sorts, the largest, _rocotos_, about the size of a turkey’s
egg, and the smallest, which is the most pungent, not thicker than the
quill of a pigeon’s feather; the quantity of this spice used in America
is enormous; I have frequently seen a person, particularly among the
indians, eat as a relish, twenty or thirty pods, with a little salt and
a piece of bread. One kind called _pimiento dulce_ is made into a very
delicate salad, by roasting the pods over hot embers, taking away the
outer skin, and the seeds from the inside, and seasoning with salt, oil,
and vinegar.

It is rather a surprising fact, that manure is never used on the farms
or plantations. The astonishing fertility of the soil, which has been
under cultivation for upwards of three hundred years, and produced
luxuriant annual crops, appears to be supported by the turbid water from
the mountains, during the rainy season, with which it is irrigated. This
water, like that of the Nile, leaves on the ground a slimy film, which
is said to contain a considerable quantity of animal matter.

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