« ПредишнаНапред »
ART. I.-1. Noticias Secretas de América, sobre el Estado Naval, Militar, y Politico de los Reyno del Perú, y Provincias de Quito, Costas de Nueva Granada y Chile: Gobierno y Regimen particular de los Pueblos de Indios: Cruel Oprésion y Extorsiones de sus Corregidores y Curas: Abusos escandalosos introducidos entre estos Habitantes por los Misioneros: Causas de su Origen y Motivos de su Continuacion por el espacio de tres Siglos; Escritas fielmente segun las Instrucciones del Excelentisimo Señor Marques de la Ensenada, Primer Secretario de Estado, y presentadas en informe secreto á Su Majestad Catolica, El Señor Don Fernando VI.: por Don Jorge Juan, y Don Antonio de Ulloa, Tenientes Generales de la Real Armada, Miembros de la Real Sociedad de Londres, y de las Reales Academias de Paris, Berlin, y Estockolmo. Sacadas á luz para el verdadero conocimiento del gobierno de los Españoles en la America Meridional, por Don David Barry. Londres, 1826. 4to.
2. Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos que hicieron por Mar los Españoles desde fines del Siglo XV. De Orden de su Majestad: Madrid, en la Imprenta Real: año de 1825. 2 tom.
WE conceive we shall be doing our readers some service in laying before them a tolerably full account of the extraordinary historical document, entitled Noticias Secretas de América; since the language in which it is written, and the inconvenient size of the volume, must, for the present at least, confine its circulation to a small portion of those by whom its contents would be most valued.*
Every one who has read Ulloa's Voyage-and who is here that has not?-will be glad to see another work from his pen t-a work too, as we think, of far superior interest, as well as importance, in every point of view. It had long been suspected by literary men, that the authors of the voyage in question had, on their return to Spain, given in a confidential account of the South American administration, but that the ministry of the day had sup
We are happy to know that the same gentleman, to whose exertions, personal and pecuniary, we owe the present volume, is now preparing an English version of it. Ulloa wrote the narrative parts of the Voyage, and the whole of these Noticias. VOL. XXXV. NO. LXX.
pressed it as discreditable to their country, and dangerous to the colonies. The Secret Report now before us appears, accordingly, to have lain in the archives of Madrid for more than half a century, till brought to light by the industry of Mr. Barry, who assures us he has printed it verbatim from the official manuscript. the
The value of every book of travels depends essentially upon character of the writer, and this is particularly the case where the work contains, besides matters of fact and mere narration, general reflections suggested on the spot, opinions springing out of incidents, which may not, perhaps, be described, or even alluded to. On this account, we think it of consequence to recal distinctly who the authors of this Report were, and what peculiar opportunities they enjoyed for observing the countries through which they travelled. About the year 1735, various scientific expeditions were undertaken for the purpose of measuring degrees of the meridian in different parts of the globe; and while Maupertuis and others went to the North, Bouguer, Godin, and Condamine employed themselves in Quito, and Ulloa and Juan, the authors of this work, were associated with them. Their geodesical operations were grievously interrupted by the political events of that period; for both the Spanish philosophers were called away from their scientific pursuits by the urgent requisitions of the local authorities in Peru, alarmed to the last degree by the descent of Lord Anson upon their coast. These interruptions, however, had the important effect of enabling them to see the country to much better purpose than they could otherwise have done. The energetic operations of our countrymen, in 1741, kept the whole shores of the Pacific in a state of agitation; and these two officers, apparently the only efficient public men in Spanish America, were hurried about from place to place, as the danger shifted its ground. They were everywhere intrusted with high powers; and, by their knowledge and decision of character, gained a great ascendancy over the minds of the inhabitants. By repeatedly crossing the country at all seasons, and under a great variety of circumstances, they had infinitely better opportunities of seeing the real state of affairs, than if they had merely gone round as Commissioners of Inquiry in a pompous, official style, professedly to investigate abuses, and report upon delinquencies. Their advantages in this respect are well described by themselves, when treating of the Indians.
"The persons who have been commissioned to inquire into these matters, heretofore, have done their business in a very superficial manner; some from want of adequate leisure, or the means in other respects, too many turned aside from their object by the all-engrossing occupation of making money. These causes did not influence us; the only gain we had in view was information, and the end of
all our investigations, the truth; and we assert with confidence, that we succeeded as completely as we could have wished. As our travelling party was always small, its appearance never alarmed the Indians, who soon learned that our real wish was to be cordial with them. We always treated them like rational beings, and as members of the same species with ourselves; so that they soon gained confidence in our presence, and communicated their feelings and wishes without reserve. Our payments, also, we took care should always be made with exactness and punctuality, and this being quite unusual, naturally led them to describe the very different manner in which they had generally been treated by others. These, and many other advantages, we enjoyed for a space of more than nine years of almost continual moving about from one province to another; during which, we had ample opportunities of verifying by actual observation whatever had been reported to us before.'-p. 295.
It is quite evident, then, that these distinguished travellers come before us with very different pretensions from any others, of whose works we had, up to this time, been in possession. There is no other account of South America, with which we are acquainted, that is not more or less open to the suspicion of bias, or to that of having been written without adequate personal knowledge. Such a dark picture, indeed, was generally given in books, not Spanish, of the practices of the Spaniards, that the more reasonable part of European readers were inclined to set down a considerable portion of these shadows to the influence of national prejudice, commercial disappointment,-especially the overflowings of passion caused by the imprisonments, confiscations, and banishments, to which all foreigners were liable, if they presumed to intrude upon the golden markets of the New World. From the slightest suspicion of such, or of any other undue influences, the writers of this work appear to stand entirely free. They were connected with no department of the colonial government; they were no desperate smugglers, engaged in the contraband trade of those coasts; they were no wily traders, stealing into the interior of the country at the imminent risk of their liberty and property; they held high official rank, without being mixed up in any local interests whatever ;they were, besides, men of honourable minds and virtuous habitspossessing great intellectual powers-and well versed in all the European knowledge of their day. It is difficult to imagine, that, employed as they were by the Spanish ministry to examine into, and report upon the state of South America, they could have any motive whatever to make things appear worse than they really were. They must have been aware that any unfavourable statements would be liable to a rigid examination-and would inevitably raise up a host of bitter enemies on both sides of the Atlantic: for any exposition of the abuses in South America, directly calculated to
injure all persons in office there, interfered also, and that most seriously, with the patronage of the men in power at Madrid, and, indeed, with a whole army of jobbers in the Peninsula, who from age to age had considered it their birthright to prey on the vitals of the transatlantic states. Every motive, in short, whether of national prejudice, or of personal interest, must have inclined them to the side of a cautious, rather than an exaggerated statement. Our readers, however, will find it necessary, at least we found it so, to recur perpetually to these circumstances, in order to believe it possible, that in any country, professing Christianity, such a monstrous system as this book exhibits could prevail.
This most important addition to the history of the American continent is written in a simple and pleasing Spanish style-here and there, perhaps, a little long-winded; but always clear, and delightfully unambitious: it abounds in judicious, and, we may say, kindly views of society, and in reflections, evidently suggested by the feelings of the writers, which are not only admirable in themselves, but of great value to the reader; for it will often happen, that while the most minute and elaborate description fails to convey a lively impression of the scene described, a single touch of a traveller's own feelings, casually dropped in conversation, or hastily jotted in a private journal, at once, through sympathy, kindles the imagination, and transports us to the spot.
The Secret Report' is divided into Two Parts;-the First of which is occupied almost entirely in describing the wretched state of defence of the towns along the coast, the unarmed and undisciplined condition of the troops and ships of war,-betraying, in short, the total disorganization into which this department of the colonial government had fallen. These details, though very curious in many respects, and interesting to persons acquainted with the localities, are of no great importance to the general reader. Had Don Antonio de Ulloa, who was captured by the English on his return to Europe, not succeeded in destroying this portion of his papers in the manner described in his Voyage, the liberation of those countries might, we think it far from improbable, have been ante-dated more than half a century.
The Second Part is so crowded with new and interesting matter, that we scarcely know where to commence our extracts, or how, with a due regard to our limits, to give a just conception of this extraordinary exposition. We have perused it several times, and on each occasion with increased surprise; for, with all our previous acquaintance with the subject, drawn from books and from some personal experience, we had no conception of the extent to which the misgovernment of those territories had been carried. The misery inflicted upon the aboriginal tribes was such, that our
surprise is not that their numbers in Peru should have decreased from six millions to half a million of souls, as it appears to have done, but that a single pair should have been left to continue the species. Altogether the picture is so full of injustice and cruelty, and exhibits civilized human nature in a light so much worse than we find it even in savage countries, that were it not for the consciousness that the remorseless tyranny which gave effect to the system is finally overthrown, we should have flung the book away in mere disgust and despair. At present, however, though its perusal, in many places, is very painful, we conceive it to be fraught with instruction to every lover of liberty and justice. In South America, the whole state, from the viceroy downwards, was corrupted to the core, and the most offensively so that portion of the community to which all the rest ought to have looked up for an example. So utterly without principle, indeed, was the whole executive government of the country, that at first sight it strikes us with wonder how it held together from year to year. But one ruling motive to action pervaded all public men's breasts, and this, by keeping every eye directed one way, and every hand engaged in the same task, lent a certain fatal vigour to a system which otherwise must speedily have fallen to pieces. The golden calf certainly was never worshipped with such single-hearted devotion in any other land.
We find it more convenient to depart from the arrangement adopted by the authors, and commence with the sixth chapter of the second part, which treats of the civil and political state of Peru; and shall endeavour, by translating at some places the very words of the writers, and at others by condensing the narration, to convey some idea to our readers of the curious state of things in South America.
'The flagrant abuses,' say our authors, which pervaded all classes in Peru, unfortunately took their rise in those sources which ought, according to every principle of good government, to have been the purest; since, if the evil did not, in perfect strictness, originate in the supreme head, it was always sanctioned with so little reserve in that quarter, that the sins of omission were to the full as mischievous to the state. But in the immense majority of cases the viceroys were really the main springs of this system of corruption;-and as Peru unfolded to the view of its governors an unbounded field of wealth and power, there were very few indeed who could resist the temptations offered them. From the moment a viceroy landed, he was treated with much greater state than his own sovereign. Alcaldes crowded round him, proud of being allowed to act as his grooms, and to run by his side on foot holding the bridle of his horse, while regidores and governors of provinces supported over his head a golden canopy.'-p. 452.
The king, it is observed, was placed at such a distance from