Page images

may without doubling Cape Horn arrive at the banks of the grand Para in Brazil. The sources even of the Rio Huanuco * which runs into the Guallaga, are only four or five leagues distant from the source of the Rio Huaura, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. The Rio Xauxa, also, which contributes to form the Apuremac and the Ucayale, has its rise near the source of the Rio Rimac. The height of the Cordillera, and the nature of the ground, render the execution of a canal impossible; but the construction of a commodious road, from the capital of Peru to the Rio de Huanuco, would facilitate the transport of goods to Europe. The great rivers Ucayale and Guallaga would carry in five or six weeks the productions of Peru to the mouth of the Amazons, and to the neighbouring coasts of Europe, while a passage of four months is requisite to convey the same goods to the same point, in doubling Cape Horn. The cultivation of the fine regions situated on the eastern declivity of the Andes, and the prosperity and wealth of their inhabitants, depend on a free navigation of the river

* See the maps given by Father Sobreviola, in the third volume of an excellent literary journal published at Lima, under the title of Mercurio Peruviano. The work of Skinner, on Peru, is an extract from this journal, of which some volumes, unfortunately not the most interesting, have found their way to London. I deposited the whole work in the king's library, at Berlin.

of the Amazons. This liberty, denied by the court of Portugal to the Spaniards, might have been acquired in the sequel to the events which preceded the peace of 1801.

9. Before the coast of the Patagonians was sufficiently known, the Gulf of St. George, situated between the 45° and the 47° of south la.itude, was supposed to enter so far into the interior of the country, as to communicate with the arms of the. sea which inter: upt the continuity of the western coast, that is to say, with the coast opposite to the archipelago of Chayamapu. Were this supposi. tion founded on solid bases, the vessels destined for the South Sea might cross South America 70 to the north of the Straits of Magellan, and shorten their route more than 700 leagues. In this way, navigators might avoid the dangers which, notwithstanding the perfection of nautical science, still accompany


voyage round Cape Horn and along the Patagonian coast, from Cape Pilares to the parallel of the Chonos islands. These ideas, in 1790, occupied the attention of the court of Madrid. M. Gil Lemos, viceroy of Peru, an upright and zealous administrator, equipped a small expedition under the orders of M. Moraleda *, to

* Don Jose de Moraleda y Montero visited the archipelagos of Chiloe and Chonos, and the western coast of the Patago. nians, from 1787 down to 1796. Two very interesting manuscripts, drawn up by M. Moraleda, are to be found in the archives of the viceroyalty of Lima: the title of the one is,

examine the southern coast of Chili. I saw the instructions that he received at Lima, which recommended to him the greatest secrecy in case he should be happy enough to discover a communi. cation between the two seas. But M. Moraleda dis. corered in 1793, that the Estero de Ay en, visi ed before him in 1763 by the Jesuits, fathers Jose Garcia and Juan Vicuña, was of all the arms of the sea that in which the waters of the ocean ad. vance the farthest towards the east. Yet it is but eight leagues in length, and terminates at the isle de la Cruz, where it receives a small river, near a hot spring. Hence the canal of Aysen, situated in the 45° 28' of latitude, is still 88 leagues distant from the Gulf of St. George. This gulf was ex. actly surveyed by the expedit on of Malaspina. In the year 1746 a communication was, in the same manner, suspected in Europe between the bay of St. Julien (latitude 50° 59') and the Great Ocean.

I have sketched in one plate the nine points which appear to afford means of communication between

Viage al Reconocimiento de los Islos de Chile, 1786: the other comprehends the Reconocimiento del Archipelago de los Chonos y Costa occidental Patagonica, 1792-1796. Curious and interesting extracts might be published from these journals, which contain details regarding the cities de los Cesares and de l'Arguello, which are said to have been founded in 1554, and are placed by apocryphal accounts between 429 and 499 of south latitude.

the two oceans, by the junction of neighbouring rivers, either by canals or carriage-roads between the places where the rivers become navigable. These sketches are not of equal accuracy, astronomically considered; but I wished to save the reader the labour of seeking in several maps what may be contained in one; and it is the duty of the government which possesses the finest and most fertile part of the globe to perfect what I have merely hinted at in this discussion. Two Spanish engineers, MM. Le Maur, drew up superb plans of the canal de los Guines, projected for traversing the whole island of Cuba, from Batabano to the Havannah. A similar survey of the isthmus of Guasacualco, the lake Nicaragua, of the country between Cruces and Panama, and between Cupica and the Rio Naipi, would direct the statesman in his choice, and enable him to decide, if it is at Mexico or Darien that this undertaking should be executed; an undertaking calculated to immortalize a government occupied with the true interests of humanity.

The long circumnavigation of South America would then be less frequent; and a communication would be opened for the goods which pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea, The time is past

* “ when Spain, through a jealous policy, * M. de Fleurieu, in his learned notes on the Voyage de Marchand. T. I. p. 566.

refused to other nations a thoroughfare through the possessions of which she so long kept the world in ignorance.” Those who are at present at the head of the government are enlightened enough to give a favourable reception to the liberal ideas proposed to them; and the presence of a stranger is no longer regarded as a danger for the country.

Should a canal of communication be opened between the two oceans, the productions of Nootka Sound and of China will be brought more than 2000 leagues nearer to Europe and the Uni ed States. Then only can any great changes be effected in the political state of Eastern Asia, for this neck of land, the barrier against the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, has been for many ages the bulwark of the independence of China and Japan.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »