Lima, Peru, 17 July 1844
I have spun my present yarn to almost interminable length, and have only time and space left to send my best love to all my dear Aunts and Uncles, Lewis, George & Nick all cousins & Chamberlains. Nick Archer and cousin T….lock. whenever you may see them and to subscribe myself my dear Uncle,
The Tamaki, Auckland New Zealand
15th November 1845.
Well, my dear Father and Mother, many and strange have been my wanderings since last I left the country, and as I am sure that you will have no patience to read any thing else until I give some account of myself for the last 20 months, during which the letters that I have written have generally been short and often unsatisfactory even to myself when writing, how much more they must have been to you, should they ever have made their way to you : one principal reason for my studying brevity then so much was from the well known habit of the French of opening letters, (all that I had sent to this place, all that I receive here having been subjected to that process) my being unwilling to write anything which might by exciting suspicion, cause them increase the harshness with which they treated me.
I , left, then, in February 1844, for Valparaiso, on a joint valetudinarian and mercantile adventure, in both of which at the outset I was fortunate: having reach Valparaiso after a short and agreeable passage(as I have before written to you), disposed favourably of my (any) portion of the cargo: from thence, finding no chance of returning, nor any likelihood of one occurring soon, I sailed in the same vessel for Cobija, the only sea port of the Republic of Bolivia, and after a short sojourn thence to Callao, the port of the celebrated Lima, once so noted that in Spain, “See Lima and die” became a proverb, it being supposed impossible for any other spectacle at all to be compared with it, being found elsewhere. The first part of the “old saw” I accomplished, the other I hope to defer: at this place there were many sights worth seeing but all of them so much better described by Capt Basil …. etc. that any attempting it would be absurd: my own doings I will relate. By the officers of H.B.M.S. Fisguard, some of whom I had met at Valparaiso previously, I was kindly introduced to several of the best families in the place, amongst whom a grateful remembrance of the many attentions I received will never be lost. Finding that I was again deceived in my expectations of falling in with a vessel for N.Z. or Sydney, sperm whales often make the voyage at certain seasons of the year) I determined to accompany the ship to her loading place, the Chincha Islands, celebrated for producing the finest guano that is to be found on the American coast: this highly enriching manure was first used by the Mexicans, who by dint of it, produced vast crops of sugar and Indian corn from apparently sandy deserts: it is only recently that any has been shipped to Europe, but the immense consumption of it may be supposed when I say that 10,000 tons of shipping were charted by one house alone to convey the substance to England: much the greater part of this enormous quantity was sent from a small island, one of the Chincha group, situate about 3 leagues from the shore, and 30 to the South of Callao: vessels of any size can lay close alongside the land and have the cargo shot into them thro’ spouts. When I was there the guano had been cut down 11 feet in depth, and still the bottom was not reached: the supply on that island alone was incalculable, and 2 others are as large, and apparently as well stocked. The rocks are entirely covered at night by prodiguous flocks of sea fowl, which as they return or go to fish daily, cause almost an eclipse, and for some hours make the day more t naturally dark: the whole mass is composed of their nests, eggs, dead young, decayed fish etc which somehow or another have such wonderful properties: the smell resembles hartshorn hot is so strong as to cause bleeding at the nose etc in a few seconds to those unaccustomed to it. So much for guano.
During the greater part of the time of our lading I resided at a small port called Pisco, celebrated for a spirit which bears the same name and is in great repute on the coast: it is produced by a peculiar mode of distilling the grape, vast vineyards of which are common in this the only part of the sea side in which I ever saw the slightest symptom of fertility: in fact the entire absence of rain prevent any chance of produce except by irrigation, and that is the expensive method, and sometime fails: so long are the droughts that a merchant at Cobija assured me that during a residence of 49 years at that place he had never known it rain but once, about 13 years ago. I wish they would take over our superfluous stck from this place, (N.Z).
To tell you the next thing I must take a new page: I fell in love. Oh … a very pretty girl, who most kindly was teaching me Spanish, did it such an insinuating manner, that I was nearly learning matrimony at the same time; but on wiser consideration I saw the folly of a person who really has more than he can well manage to do in looking after himself, taking on his shoulders at least one additional load, so I backed out of the matter before it was too late, much to the regret of the fair lady who retired to hide her disappointment in a convent. However I have heard from her since, and she has accepted another lover, so there are no bones broken: there is one consolation I derived from this: it is the only one of my many scrapes (to call then by the lightest name) I ever came clear out of with a good grace. I left Pisco with much regret, lessened by the previous departure of a Mr Thirlwall ( I know I have not spelled the name right, for he adopts a different mode of spelling from the bishop) from the north of Yorkshire. very ageeable gentlemanly young person, who has seen a great deal of the colonies ( I know that should even he fall in the way of my dear parents that they would be glad to see him if only on my account) I was too late to meet him in Callao, the vessel in which he was passenger just going out as we came in to Port. Shortly after this the Bangalore sailed for England with Mr and Mrs Shortland (late officials in N.Z., and who we have just heard out here has just got a West Indies Governorship) and her other passengers leaving me all alone: I was again indebted to the same kind friends to whom I have previously alluded (Captain Duatzo, the commander of the Fisgard is a nephew of Dean’s and Mrs Hawkins, and married to a Chilian lady), to a Mr Conroy, in a pecuniary ….amidst other matters. I met strangely enough,Charlie Milne, second mate of a ship from L’pool and heard from him much York news, which I need not add was very acceptable) Whilst in Lima, there occurred 2, not eruptions of volcanoes, or earthquakes, tho’ the latter I have often experienced slightly, but revolutions, the first of which I shall long remember. One Colonel Echenique at the head of 2000 men marched from the interior with the design of making himself master of Lima, but only succeeded as far as your undutiful son, and another Englishman were concerned, for finding that the Limanians had mustered a more powerful force that his own, he commenced a retreat, and intercepting ourselves in our return from a ride, carried us with him across the Andes to the Mines of Pasco, now the most productive (of silver) in South America; here after having slept in the intense cold and often snow and wet for the succeeding 10 nights, without the slightest shelter, we were told that we were at liberty, as there could no longer be any danger of either our discovery to the Liminians the place of the insurgents retreated or of their being overtaken in case of pursuit: we arrived safe after 3 weeks rough usage but I was almost immediately laid up in my bed with most violent rheumatism, from which I have often suffered severely since: as soon as I recovered sufficiently I left by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company Boat ‘Chili’ ,a very fine boat, with the intention of proceeding to Valparaiso but meeting at Corbija an old Navy surgeon, and one of the principal Merchants at the former place, en route for the interior of Bolivia, I was induced for the purpose of learning more mining to accompany them: so the three of us with the same number of servants, and as goodly company of mules and horses took our start in the first place for Potosi, celebrated for silver mines, thence to Sucre, formerly called Quichisasha, on to La Paz to Tacna and Arica. I think I saw something new to me by the way, we were most hospitably entertained by one General O’connor, a brother of the Feargus: he seemed very much disgusted at the Chartists proceedings, and had written a long letter to him upon the subject.
From Arica we again took the steamer to Valparaiso, whence I visited Santiago, the Capital of Chile, Quilotta etc and shortly took my passage in an American Brig for Tahiti to which place I must now give a new sheet.