Page images

by Guayaquil, across this neck of land, requires many more beasts of burden than can be procured, so that the slow and expensive navigation round Cape Horn is preferred.

In 1802 and 1803,when the Spanish commerce was everywhere harassed by the English cruizers, a great part of the cacao was carried across the kingdom of New Spain, and embarked at Vera Cruz for Cadiz. They preferred the passage from Guayaquil to Acapuko, and a land journey of a hundred leagues from Acapulco to Vera Cruz, to the danger of a long navigation by Cape Horn, and the difficulty of struggling with the current along the coasts of Peru and Chili. This example proves, that, if the construction of a canal across the isthmus of Panama, or that of Guasacualco, abounds with too many difficulties from the multiplicity of sluices, thecommerceof America would gain the most important advantages from good causeways, carried from Tehuantepec to the Embarcadero de la Cruz, and from Panama to Portobello. It is true that in the isthmus, the pasturage* to this day is very unfavourable to the nourishment and multiplication of cattle; but it would be easy, in so fertile a soil, to form savannas by cutting down forests, or to cultivate the

• The assertion of Raynal (T. IV. p. 150) that domestic animals transported to Portobello lose their fecundity, should be considered as totally destitute of truth.

paspalum purpureum, the milium nigricans, and particularly the medicago saliva, which grows abundantly iu Peru in the warmest districts. The introduction of camels would be still a surer means of diminishing the expense of carriage. These land ships, as they are called by the orientals, hitherto exist only in the province of Caraccas, and were brought there from the Canary; islands by the Marquis de Toro.

Moreover, no political consideration should oppose the progress of population, agriculture, commerce and civilization, in the isthmus of Panama. The more this neck of land shall be cultivated, the more resistance will it oppose to the enemies of the Spanish government. The events which took place at Buenos Ayres prove the advantages of a concentrated population in the case of a:i invasion. If any enterprising nation wished to become possessed of the isthmus, it could do so with the greatest ease at present, when good and numerous fortifications are destitute of arms to defend them. The unhealthiness of the climate, though nowmuchdiminished atPortobello,would alone oppose great obstacles to any military undertaking in the isthmus. It is from St. Charles de Chiloe, and not from Panama, that Peru can be attacked. It requires from three to five months to ascend from Panama to Lima. But the whale and cachalot 'fishery, which in 1803 drew 60 English vessels to the South Sea, and

the facilities for the Chinese commerce and the furs of Nootka Sound, are baits of a very seductive nature. They will draw, sooner or later, the masters of the ocean to a point of the globe destined by nature to change the face of the commercial system of nations,

6. To the south-east of Panama, following the coast of the Pacific Ocean, from Cape S. Miguel to Cape Corientes, we find the small port and bay ofCupica. The name of this bay has acquired celebrity in the kingdom of New Grenada, onaccount of a new plan of communication between the two seas. From Cupica, we cross, for five or six marine leagues, a soil quite level and proper for a canal, which would terminate at the Embarcadero of the Rio Naipi. This last river is navigable, and flows below the village of Zitara into the great Rio Atrato, which itself enters the Atlantic Sea. A very intelligent Biscayan pilot, M. Gogueneche, was the first who had the merit of turning the attention of government to the bay of Cupica, which ought to be for the new continent what Suez was formerly for Asia. M. Gogueneche proposed to transport the cacao of Guayaquil, by the Rio Naipi to Carthagena. The same way offers the advantage of a very quick communication between Cadiz and Lima. Instead of despatching couriers by Carthagena, Santa Fe, and Quito, or by Buenos Ayrcs and Mendoza, good quick sailing packet-boats should

be sent from Cupica to Peru. If this plan were carried into execution, the viceroy of Lima would have no longer to wait five or six months for the orders of his court. Besides, the environs of the Bay of Cupica abounds with excellent timber fit to be carried to Lima. We might almost say that the ground between Cupica and the mouth of the Atrato is the only part of all America in which the chain of the Andes is entirely broken.

7. In the interior of the province of Choco, the small ravine (Quebrada) de la Raspadnra, unites the neighbouring sources of the Rio de Noattama, called also Rio San Juan, and the small river Quito. The latter, the Rio Andageda and the Rio Zitara, form the Rio d' Atrato, which discharges itself into the Atlantic Ocean, while the Rio San Juan flows into the South Sea. A monk of great activity, cure" of the village of Novita, employed his parishioners to dig a small canal in the ravine de la Raspadura, by means of which, when the rains are abundant, canoes loaded with cacao pass from sea to sea. This interior communication has existed since 1788, unknown in Europe. The small canal of Raspadura unites, on the coasts of the two oceans, two points 75 leagues distant from one another.

8. In the 10° of south latitude, two or three days' journey from Lima, we reach the banks of the Rio Guallaga (or Huallaga), by which we 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 Xautco, 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 Huanaco, 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 of the Amazons. This liberty, denied by

* 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.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »