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rendering it of little consequence, more effec-
Costa Rica and Veragua.
The most important province depending on
had established their dominion in some of its northern districts; but in the greater part of the country, its gallant and high-spirited inhabitants maintained their independence. The Spaniards, allured by the fame of its opulence, early attempted the conquest of it under Diego Almagro; and after his death, Pedro de Valdivia refumed the design. Both met with fierce oppofition. The former relinquished the enterprize in the manner which I have mentioned. s) The latter, after having given many displays, both of courage and military skill, was cut off, together with a confiderable body of troops under his command. Francisco de Villagra, Valdivia's lieutenant, by his fpirited conduct, checked the natives in their career, and faved the remainder of the Spaniards from deftruétion. By degrees, all the champaign country along the coaft was subjected to the Spanish dominion. The mountainous country is ftill possessed by the Puelches, Araucos, and other tribes of its ori. ginal inhabitants, formidable neighbours to the Spaniards; with whom, during the course of two centuries, they have been obliged to maintain almost perpetual hostility, suspended only by a few intervals of insecure peace.
Excellence of its climate and soil.
That part of Chili then, which may properly be deemed a Spanish province, is a narrow
s) Book vi.
district, extending along the coast from the desert
Cause of its being negle&ed by the Spaniards.
country difiinguished by so many bleffings, we may be apt to conclude, would early beco me a favourite station of the Spaniards, and must have been cultivated with peculiar predilection and care. Infiead of this, a great part of it remains unoccupied. In all this extent of country, there are not above eighty thousand. white inhabitants, and about three times that number of negroes and people of a mixed race. The most fertile foil in America lies uucultivated, and some of its moft promising mines remain unwrought. Strange as this neglect of the Spaniards to avail themselves of advantages, which seemed to court their acceptance, may appear, the causes of it can be traced. The only intercourse of Spain with its colonies in the South Sea, was carried on during two centuries by the annual fleet to Porto bello. All the produce of these colonies were shipped in the ports of Callao, or Arica in Peru, for Panama, and carried from thence across the isthmus. All the commodities which they received from the mother-country, were conveyed from Panama to the same harbours. Thus both the exports and imports of Chili passed through the hands of merchants settled in Peru. These had of course a profit on each; and in both transactions the Chilefe felt their own subordination ; and having no direct intercourse with the parent
ftate, they depended upon another province for
Under such dif-
Profpe&' of its improvemerit.
But now that Spain, from motives which, I fhall mention hereafter, has adopted a new system, and carries on her commerce with the colonies in the South Sea, by ships, which go round Cape Horn, a direct intercourse is opened between Chili and the mother-country. The gold, the silver, and the other commodities of the province will be exchanged in its own harbours for the manufactures of Europe. Chili may speedily rise into that importance among the Spanish settlements to which it is entitled by its natural advantages. It may become the granary of Peru, and the other provinces along the Pacifick Ocean;, it may supply them with wine, with cattle, with horses, with hemp and many other articles for which they now depend upon Europe. Though the new system has been established only a few years, those effects of it begin already to be observed. t). If it shall be adhered to with any steadiness for, half a century, one may venture to foretel,