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has done justice to the great inquiry; and in the result has demonstratively refuted all those great works in proof of the truth of Revelation, which the principals of her school have not ventured to answer. Assuredly, the volumes before us bear the conspicuous proofs of a most powerful and "most severely-disciplined understanding. Beyond all controversy, her inquiries have been so comprehensive, so persevering, and so perfectly honest, and her conclusions so rationally and logically deduced, as to secure her conscience, both in life and death, from any possible alarm lest she may have been trifling with the truth of heaven, and sporting with destruction. Having indubitably studied all the Christian philosophers, and ascertained them to be shallow reasoners^ or deep hypocrites, or both, she at last finds her capacious mind quite at home in the enlightened and saintly company of Voltaire, Rousseau, Volney, and Helvetius, the last of whom especially she is fond of quoting. Itis a very pitiable spectacle, we think, —thatof an interesting young woman, sacrificing her reason.and her heart to such a depraved and treacherous fraternity. Who would not compassionate a beautiful fawn, (if it were ever possible to see it betrayed into so much simplicity) that should approach in friendly confidence toward a party of wolves, while they lay in apparent quiet at the edge of a wood, after a recent banquet, and be pleased, pretty innocent! with the sparkle of their eyes, at the very moment they were going to dart upon it and tear it in pieces!
Art. VIII. Travels in South America, during the Years 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804; Containing a description of the Captain-Generalship of Caraccas, and an Account of the Discovery, Conquest, Topography, Legislature, Commerce, Finance, and Natural Productions of the Country.; with a VJlW of the Manners and Customs of the Spaniards and the Native Indians. By F. Depons, late Agent to the French Government at Caraccas. Translated from the French. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. lii. 503—384. Price 14s. Longman and Co. 1807.
'T'HE enlightened author of these volumes possesses, in a very high degree, many of the important qualifications which are necessary to a writer of travels. No candid reader will feel disposed to call in question his scientific attainments, his curiosity, his perseverance, his discrimination, or his judgement. But as he seldom appears in the course of his travels, and as he does not trace the progress of his inquiries step by step, or make us acquainted with the different methods he employed in accumulating the vast body of information contained in this work, we cannot pretend to pronounce on those features of his character, which are only unfolded by circumstances and situation. Did not the formal method he has adopted impose restraints on his imagination and feelings, we should, from the cool accuracy which characterizes his descriptions, be led to question his veracity, when be informs us, in .the introduction to his work, that he made it a rule personally to inspect every thing he undertook to describeIn a,traveller wc expect to find a warmth of enthusiasm,, which will sometimes blaze forth, in spite of every effort to damp ir. But our readers will be disappointed, if they expect to find such ardour of feeling in the Travels of Depons. He will enlighten their minds and extend the boundaries of their knowledge, but we apprehend that few, from reading his work, will be induced to embrace the fortunes, in order to enjoy the pleasures or the fame of a traveller. He may have ascended the mountains, crossed the lakes, traversed the plains, or followed to their source the rivers he describes; he may have put on the manners and the dress of the different tribes he enumerates, in order more fully to study the secrets of their souls, and paint after nature the genuine features of their moral character; but we hesitate to affirm that he has. But though Depons may not class with such intrepid travellers as Bruce and Park, yet he is certainly qualified, perhaps better than either of them, to collect important information, and to arrange his facts in an order most adapted to the purposes of science. The arrangement, indeed, which he has adopted, is, in a scientific point of view, extremely judicious ;, as it enables the Politician, the Historian, the Geographer, the Chemist,, and the Moral Philosopher, to find, without difficulty, copious materials to enrich his particular department* , , , .. ■..-. .;.. ■
In his subject, Mr. D. is peculiarly fortunate. • From the jealousy of the Spanish laws, interdicting the intercourse of foreign nations ; from the strictness of the police, allowing no Spaniard to embark for South America without'permission from the king> which was never granted but for commercial purposes; and from the severity of the Inquisition prohibiting every work" of genius till it have first "received their sanction, the number of travellers in the Spanish American possessions had been extremely small; so that the work before us, though it were much less intrinsically excellent, would possess at least the attractions of novelty. At the present moment, also, when, the public mind is much excited and animated by the vast prospects which the projected establishment of an independent sovereignty in South America displays before it, whatever relates to that highly favoured continent will be read with peculiar interest.
The Captain-Generalship of Caraccas, which Depons undertakes to describe, is one of the-ten governments into which Spanish America is divided; arid comprehends the prcvitiCtc of Venezuela, (little Venice) Varinas, Maraca'iho, Cmnana, Spanish Guiana, and the Island of Margarita. Jt extends from 12° north latitude to the equator, and from"62* to 75° west longitude from the meridian of Paris, and contains a population of 128,000 souls. Of ail the Spanish possessions it might by cultivation be rendered the most beneficial to commerce, as it yields to none in point of fertility, or - in the quality and variety of its productions. Few mines of gold and silver have been discovered in these luxuriant regions; a circumstance, which would depreciate their value in the eyes of a Spanish adventurer, or his avaricious monarch, but which will afford pleasure" to every mind, enlightened, like our author's, by true philosophy. On this subject his remarks discover so much political wisdom and genuine philanthropy, that their insertion must gratify the feelings of every one of our readers. After describing the unsuccessful attempts to open gold and silver mines in the provinces of Caraccas, he adds,
'All these fortunate crosses have delivered the inhabitants from the evils attendant on the working of gold and silver mines, which, as long as they last, are the tomb of the greatest part of those who labour in them; which enervate, emaciate, and condemn to a languishing life those who are not stifled in their bosom; which destroy the germ of all the social and domestic virtues; which banish all regard to order and economy; which support debauchery and dissipation, with all the vices that follow w their train; and which, when they are exhausted, substitute poverty for prodigality; vagrancy, for labour; and disgorge into society the workmen whom they employed, without any other resource than to choose between beggary or robbery.
'It gives me pleasure to have it in my power to observe, that, if thes* provinces have not enjoyed nor are ever probably destined to enjoy, the transient lustre which the mines confer, they are amply, very amply, indemnified by the abundant, precious, and inexhaustible productions of a soil, which on account of its fertility, and extent,,will become the conitant abode of ease and happiness; and that too, when those countries, which boast of their mines, will ^resent but rubbish, ruins, and frightful excavations, the melancholy monuments of departed opulence.' p. 57.
This extensive "Had fertile country was unknown to the nations of the old world, till the year 1498, when the enlightened and enterprising spirit of Columbus conducted the Spaniards to the shores of Terra Firma, after havipg made two previous voyages to discover a passage to the East across the Atlantic Ocean. In consequence of the representation which he made to the Spanish court, it was resolved, that this discovery should be prosecuted, and the country annexed to the crown. By the bulls which Pope Alexander VI issued in the years 1493 and 1501, Ferdinand and Isabella were empowered to Wrest from the hands of the Indians all the country thev might discover. But many Spanish writers defend the
Vol. IV. F
claims of their monarch on principles very different from, those which regarded the see of Rome as the secretaryship of the divinity.
■ « The kings of Spain, say Sepulveda, Victor Gregoire Lopei, Joan Mayor, Guerrero, Bozius, Bannes, &c. have legal power of extending their supreme direct domain, even over the lands occupied and peopled by the Indians—because these same Indians were so barbarous, so gross and so savage, that they scarcely merited to be placed in the rank of men; and that it was necessary that some one should undertake to govern, firotect, and instruct them; so thai conducted to a humane, civil, social, and polite life, they might ie worthy to receive the faith, and to embrace the christian religion' p* 381.
Encouraged by the papal grant and the subtle reasonings of these celebrated lawyers, the Spanish monarch undertook, the conquest of a country far superior in extent to all his European possessions ;\ and by a perseverance, which would reflect honour on his character had he been engaged in a just cause, he at length afchieved a work more vast than what fiction has ascribed to the demigods of antiquity. To render this conquest permanent, as soon as. an Indian nation was subdued, a convenient site was chosen for building a town, and a hundred Spaniards formed this new city. Among these the Indians were shared, and to their superinlendance and guardianship they were committed. The object of this division, which is called repartinriendos de Trxdjos, was to prepare them for the duties and enjoyments of social life. But benevolent as was its design, like most other politico-philanthropic measures, its end was completely frustrated by the avarice and rapacity of those who were charged with its execution; so that before the middle of the seventeenth century encomiendas became extinct.
In the provinces of Caraccas the executive power is vested in the hands of a Captain-General, who superintends the whole military establishment, and is charged with all political concerns between the colonial government of foreign powers and his own particular district. To prevent him from abusing such excessive power, he is prohibited from acquiring property, from engaging in commerce, from contracting alliances by marriage, and indeed from forming any relation which might affect the impartiality of his conduct. At the expiration of his office, which is limited to seven years, he is obliged to render an account of his administration* or, as the Spaniards call it, dar residencia, to give the residence. A commissary is appointed by the king to receive this residence, who repairs to Caraccas, and, announcing by banns and placards the day on which the tribunal will be formed, incites all the citizens, both Indians and Spaniards, to make. their complaints against the late governor. A hundred and twenty days are allowed for hearing arid trying these complaints, at the expiration of which the proceedings are forwarded to the council qf the Indies, who decide on them definitively.'
Judicial proceedings are submitted to the cognizance of Cabildos and Governors. The former are established in every village founded by the Spaniards, and may be compared to the municipalities instituted in France by the constituent assembly. The latter are officers presiding over a whole province with the prerogatives of vice-patrons; and who, in the places oftheir residence, take cognizance of all civil and criminal, affairs. The decisions of these governors and municipal bodies, if considered unjust, may be laid before the Audience of Appeal; which, by a royal cedule of 1T86, is held at CaV raccas. The jurisdiction and powers of this court will appear extensive, when we are informed, that it receives appeals from ecclesiastical tribunals, and that the Captain-General is • recommended by the king to consult the Audience upon every extraordinary emergency. But the system of government es.ablished at Caraccas is so complicated, that it would be impossible for us to give an intelligible account of every separate department, without extending this article beyond proper limits. For complete information on its political economy, we must refer our readers to this valuable and comprehensive work, by which their curiosity will be fully satisfied.
As the religion here established is exclusively the Roman Catholic, the ecclesiastical orders and courts are in general similar to those in European kingdoms which acknowledge the authority of the See of Rome. Inquisitorial tribunals are erected in Caraccas, as in Spain. The principal functions of these tribunals consist, in anathematizing all, books on which they have not set the-seal of orthodoxy. The restraints they have imposed on the free discussion of religious, moral, and political truth are so singular, that we beg leave to subjoin the following summary.
• Every bookseller in the Spanish dominions is bound to furnish, in the two first months of every year, an inventory of the books he exposes for sale: to this must be subscribed his oath that he has no others than those contained in the inventory.
'He is forbidden to purchase or sell any book prohibited by the inquisition, under penalty, for the first offence, of interdiction from all commerce in books for two years, banishment during the same term to twelve leagues distance from the place in which he was established, and a fine of two hundred ducats to the profit of the inquisition. Repetitions of the offence are proportionally punished. The book forming the substance of the crime may hare been already sold, and in the hands of a third person.