BLTC Press Titles


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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Journal of a residence in Chile, during the year 1822

by Lady Maria Callcott

Excerpt:

and a door in the hall opens into another a little less. This is the body of the house, in front of which, looking to the south-west, there is a broad veranda. Adjoining, there is a servants' room, and at a little distance the kitchen. My landlord, who deals in horses, has stables for them and his oxen, and several small cottages for his peons and their families, besides storehouses all around. There is a garden in front of the house, which slopes down towards the little river that divides me from the Almendral, stored with apples, pears, almonds, peaches, grapes, oranges, olives, and quinces, besides pumpkins, melons, cabbages, potatoes, French beans, and maize, and a few flowers; and behind the house the barest reddest hill in the neighbourhood rises pretty abruptly. It affords earth for numerous beautiful shrubs, and is worn in places by the constant tread of the mules, who bring firewood, charcoal, and vegetables, to the Valparaiso market. The interior of the house is clean, the walls are whitewashed, and the roof is planked, for stucco ceilings would not stand the frequent earthquakes, of which we had one pretty smart shock to-night. No Valparaiso native house of the middling class boasts more than one window, and that is not glazed, but generally secured by carved wooden or iron lattice-work; this is, of course, in the public sittingroom; so that the bedrooms are perfectly dark: I am considered fortunate in having doors to mine, but there is none between the hall and sittingroom, so I have made bold to hang up a curtain, to the wonder of my landlady, who cannot understand my finding no amusement in watching the motions of the servants or visitors who may be in the outer room.

May 10th.— Thanks to my friends both ashore and in the frigate, I am now pretty comfortably settled in my little home. Every body has been kind; one neighbour lends me a horse, another such furniture as I require: nation and habits make no difference. I arrived here in need of kindness, and I have received it from all.

I have great comfort in strolling on the hill behind my house; it commands a lovely view of the port and neighbouring hills. It is totally uncultivated, and in the best season can afford but poor browsing for mules or horses. Now most of the shrubs are leafless, and it is totally without grass. But the milky tribe of trees and shrubs are still green enough to please the eye. A few of them, as the lobelia, retain here and there an orange or a crimson flower; and there are several sorts of parasitic plants, whose exquisitely beautiful blossoms adorn the naked branches of the deciduous shrubs, and whose bright green leaves, and vivid red and yellow blossoms shame the sober grey of the neighbouring olives, whose fruit is now ripening. The red soil of my hill is crossed here and there by great ridges of white half marble, half sparry stone; and all its sides bear deep marks of winter torrents; in the beds of these I have found pieces of green stone of a soft soapy appearance, and lumps of quartz and coarse granite. One of these water-courses was once worked for gold, but the quantity found was so inconsiderable, that the proprietor was glad to quit the precarious adventure, and to cultivate the Chacra or garden-ground which joins to mine, and whose produce has been much more beneficial to his family.

I went to walk in that garden, and found there, besides the fruits common to my own, figs, lemons, and pomegranates, and the hedges full of white cluster roses. The mistress of the house is a near relation of my landlady, and takes in washing, but that by no means implies that either her rank or her pretensions are as low as those of an European washerwoman. Her mother was possessed of no less than eight chacras ; but as she is ninety years old, that must have been a hundred years ago, when Valparaiso was by no means so large a place, and consequently chacras were less valuable. However, she was a great proprietor of land; but, as is usual here, most of it went to portion off a large family of daughters, and some I am afraid to pay the expenses of the gold found on the estate.

The old lady, seeing me in the garden, courteously invited me to walk in. The veranda in front of the house is like my own, paved with bricks nine inches square, and supported by rude wooden pillars, which the Chileno architects fancy they have carved handsomely; I found under it two of the most beautiful boys I ever saw, and a very pretty young woman the grandchildren of the old lady. They all got up from the bench eager to receive me, and show me kindness. One of the boys ran to fetch his mother, the other went to gather a bunch of roses for me, and the daughter Joanita, taking me into the house gave me some beautiful carnations. From the garden we entered immediately into the common sittingroom, where, according to custom, one low latticed window afforded but a scanty light. By the window, a long bench covered with a sort of coarse Turkey carpet made here, runs nearly the length of the room, and before this a wooden platform, called the estrada, raised about six inches from the ground, and about five feet broad, is covered with the same sort of carpet, the rest of the floor being bare brick. A row of high-backed chairs occupies the opposite side of the room. On a table in a corner, under a glass case, I saw a little religious baby work, — a waxen Jesus an inch long, sprawls on a waxen Virgin's knee, surrounded by Joseph, the oxen and asses, all of the same goodly material, decorated with moss and sea shells. Near this I observed a pot of beautiful flowers, and two pretty-shaped silver utensils, which I at first took for implements of worship, and then for inkstands, but I discovered that one was a little censer for burning pastile, with which the young women perfume their handkerchiefs and mantos, and the other the vase for holding the infusion of the herb of Paraguay, commonly called matte, so universally drank or rather sucked here. The herb appears like dried senna; a small quantity of it is put into the little vase with a proportion of sugar, and sometimes a bit of lemon peel, the water is poured boiling on it, and it is instantly sucked up through a tube about six inches long. This is the great luxury of the Chilenos, both male and female. The first thing in the morning is a matte, and the first thing after the afternoon siesta is a matte. I have not yet tasted of it, and do not much relish the idea of using the same tube with a dozen other people.

I was much struck with the appearance of my venerable neighbour; although bent with age she has no other sign of infirmity; her walk is quick and light, and her grey eyes sparkle with intelligence. She wears her silver hair, according to the custom of the country, uncovered, and hanging down behind in one large braid; her linen shift is gathered up pretty high on her bosom, and its sleeves are visible near the wrist: she has a petticoat of white woollen stuff, and her gown of coloured woollen is like a close jacket, with a full-plaited petticoat attached to it, and fastened with double buttons in front . A rosary hangs round her neck, and she always wears the manto or shawl, which others only put on when they go out of doors, or in cold weather. The dress of the granddaughter is not very different from that of a French woman, excepting that the manto supersedes all hats, caps, capotes, and turbans. The young people, whether they fasten up their tresses with combs, or let them hang down, are fond of decorating them with natural flowers, and it is not uncommon to see a rose or a jonquil stuck behind the ear or through the earring.

Having sat some time in the house, I accepted Joanita's proposal to walk in the garden; part of it was already planted with potatoes, and part was ploughing for barley, to be cut as green meat for the cattle. The plough is a very rude implement, suchas the Spaniards brought it hither three hundred .years ago; a piece of knee timber, shod at one end with a flat plate of iron, is the plough, into which a long pole is fixed by means of wedges; the pole is made fast to the yoke of the oxen, who drag it over the ground so as to do little more than scratch the surface.* As to a harrow, I have not seen or heard of one. The usual substitute for it being a bundle of fresh branches, which is dragged by a horse or ox, and if not heavy enough, stones, or the weight of a man or two, is added. The pumpkins, lettuces, and cabbages, are attended with more care: ridges being formed for them either with the original wooden spades of the country, or long-handled iron shovels upon the same plan. The


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