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Narrative of Services in the Liberation of Chili, Peru and Brazil, from Spanish and Portuguese Domination
Chapter III


Having provided for the safety of the city and province of Valdivia, by establishing a provisional government, and left Major Beauchef with his own troops to maintain order--on the 16th of February, I sailed with the Montezuma schooner, and our prize the Dolores, for the island of Chiloe, taking with me two hundred men, under the command of Major Miller, my object being to wrest Chiloe from Spain, as I had done Valdivia. Unfortunately, the services of the flag-ship, the O'Higgins, were not available, there being no way of rendering her seaworthy, without tedious repairs, for which there was no time, as our success depended on attacking Chiloe before the Governor had leisure to prepare for defence. Neither of our vessels being armed for fighting, I depended altogether upon Major Miller and our handful of soldiers to oppose a thousand regular troops, besides a numerous militia; but having been informed that the garrison was in a mutinous state, I calculated that by judicious management, they might be induced to join the patriot cause.

Unluckily, our design had got wind, and the Spanish Governor, Quintanilla, a judicious officer, had managed to conciliate them. On coming to an anchor on the 17th, at Huechucucay, we found a body of infantry and cavalry, with a field-piece, ready to dispute our landing; but drawing off their attention by a feigned attack upon a distant spot, and thus dividing them into two parties, Major Miller got on shore, and soon routed them, capturing their field-piece.

A night attack being decided upon, the troops, a hundred and seventy in number, moved on under the direction of a guide, who, wilfully or treacherously, misled them, the men thus wandering about in the dark throughout the whole night. At dawn, they found their way to Fort Corona, which, with a detached battery, was taken without loss. Halting for a short time to refresh the men, Major Miller bravely, but too precipitately, moved on Fort Aguy, in broad daylight; this fort being the stronghold of the enemy, mounting twelve guns, with others flanking the only accessible path by which entrance could be gained, and being garrisoned by three companies of regulars, two companies of militia, and a full proportion of artillerymen. The fort stood on a hill, washed on one side by the sea, and having on the other an impenetrable forest, the only access being by a narrow path, whilst the means of retreat for the garrison was by the same path, so that the attack became for the latter a matter of life and death, since, in case of defeat, there was no mode of escape, as at Valdivia.

In spite of these odds, and the spectacle of two fanatical friars on the ramparts, with lance in one hand, and crucifix in the other, urging on the garrison to resist to the death the handful of aggressors--the indomitable courage of Miller did not allow him to remain in the forts he had already taken till nightfall, when he would have been comparatively safe by attacking in the dark. Choosing out of his small band a forlorn hope of sixty men, he perilled his own safety, upon which so much depended, by leading them in person; every gun and musket of the enemy being concentrated on a particular angle of the path which he must needs pass. As the detachment reached the spot, a shower of grape and musketry mowed down the whole, twenty out of the sixty being killed outright, whilst nearly all the rest were mortally wounded. Seeing their gallant Commander fall, the marines, who were waiting to follow, dashed through the fire, and brought him off, with a grape-shot through his thigh, and the bones of his right foot crushed by a round shot. Another dash by the force which remained brought off the whole of the wounded, though adding fearfully to their numbers. This having been accomplished, Captain Erescano, who succeeded to the command, ordered a retreat; the Spaniards, animated by success, and urged on by the friars, following just within musket-shot, and making three separate attacks, which were on each occasion repelled, though from the killed and wounded, the pursuers were now fully six times their number. Nevertheless one-half of the diminished band kept the enemy at bay, whilst the other half spiked the guns, broke up the gun-carriages, and destroyed the military stores in the forts captured in the morning, when they resumed their march to the beach, followed by the Spaniards as before.

The marines who, with affectionate fidelity, had borne off Major Miller, had been careful to protect him from fire, though two out of the three who carried him were wounded in the act; and when, on arriving at the beach, they were invited by him to enter the boat, one of them, a gallant fellow named Roxas, of whom I had spoken highly in my despatches from Valdivia, on account of his distinguished bravery, refused, saying, "No, Sir, I was the first to land, and I mean to be the last to go on board." He kept his word; for on his Commander being placed in safety, he hastened back to the little band, now nearly cut up, and took his share in the retreat, being the last to get into the boats. Such were the Chilenos, of whom the mean jealousy of the Minister of Marine, Zenteno, refused to allow me a thousand for operations at Callao--which could have been conducted with ease, as Valdivia had been captured with less than a third of that number.

Our force being now seriously diminished, and feeling convinced that the fanatics of Chiloe were devoted to the cause of Spain, there was nothing left but to return to Valdivia, where, finding that the Spaniards who had been dispersed in the neighbourhood were committing excesses, I despatched Major Beauchef with 100 men to Osorio to secure that town, the relief being accepted with great joy even by the Indians, of whom, wrote Major Beauchef to me, "I have embraced more than a thousand Caciques and their followers. They have all offered their services to fight in the patriotic cause; but as circumstances do not require this, I have invited them to return to their own lands, and have received their promises to be ready if the country should call for their services." The Spaniards being driven from Osorio, the flag of Chili was, on the 26th of February, hoisted on the castle by Major Beauchef, who returned to Valdivia.

There being nothing further to require my presence, I placed the O'Higgins under the orders of my secretary, Mr. Bennet, to superintend her repairs, and embarked in the Montezuma, for Valparaiso, taking with me five Spanish officers who had been made prisoners, amongst whom was Colonel Fausto De Hoyos, the Commandant of the Cantabria regiment.

On my departure, the Spaniards, elated by their success at Chiloe, combined with those who had been driven from Valdivia, in an attempt to recover their lost possessions, but Major Beauchef, having timely intelligence of their intention, set out to meet them. A number of volunteers having joined the patriot force, Major Beauchef on the 6th of March encountered the enemy on the river Toro, and instantly attacked them, when, in about an hour, the Spanish officers mounted their horses and fled in a body, leaving the men to their fate. Nearly three hundred of these immediately surrendered, and Major Beauchef--having captured the whole of the arms and baggage--returned in triumph to Valdivia.

On the 27th of February, I arrived at Valparaiso, in the Montezuma, amidst the most lively demonstrations of enthusiasm on the part of the populace, and warm expressions of gratitude from the Supreme Director. But my reception by his ministers was wholly different. Zenteno, through whose orders I had broken, declared, that the conquest of Valdivia "was the act of a madman! that I deserved to have lost my life in the attempt; and even now ought to lose my head for daring to attack such a place without instructions, and for exposing the patriot troops to such hazard;" afterwards setting on foot a series of intrigues, having for their object the depreciation of the service which had been rendered, so that I found myself exposed to the greatest possible vexation and annoyance, with not the slightest indication of national acknowledgment or reward to myself, officers, or men.

The chagrin of Zenteno and the bad passions of his adherents were further enhanced by the congratulatory addresses which poured in on both the Supreme Director and myself from all parts, the people declaring, contrary to the assertions of Zenteno, that I had acted, not from any feeling of personal vanity, but from a conviction of the national utility of the act; and that by its accomplishment the valour of the Chilenos had been so displayed as to shew that they had the utmost confidence in their officers, and hence possessed the moral as well as physical courage necessary for further achievements.

Notwithstanding the envious dissatisfaction of Zenteno, the government was compelled, in deference to the popular voice, to award medals to the captors, the decree for this stating that "the capture of Valdivia was the happy result of the devising of an admirably arranged plan, and of the most daring and valorous execution." The decree further conferred on me an estate of 4,000 quadras from the confiscated lands of Conception, which I refused, as no vote of thanks was given by the legislature; this vote I finally obtained as an indemnification to myself for having exceeded my orders; such being necessary after Zenteno's expressions of ill-will towards me on account of breaking through instructions.

Situated as Chili then was, it is impossible to over-rate the importance of this acquisition--the capture of a noble harbour protected by fifteen forts, and the magazines with their vast amount of military stores, being even secondary to the political advantages gained by the Republic.

The annexation of this province, at one blow conferred on Chili complete independence, averting the contemplated necessity for fitting out a powerful military expedition for the attainment of that object, vitally essential to her very existence as an independent state; because, so long as Valdivia remained in the hands of the Spaniards, Chili was, in her moments of unguardedness or disunion, in constant danger of losing the liberties she had, as yet, but partially acquired.

The resources of the province of Valdivia, together with those of Conception, had contributed the means whereby the Spaniards maintained their hold upon the Chilian territory. Not only were they deprived of these resources--now added to those of Chili--but a great saving was effected by exonerating the Republic from the necessity of maintaining a military force in the southern provinces, as a check upon both Spaniards and Indians, who, at the moment of our conquest of Valdivia, were being let loose in all directions against the Chilian patriots.

Setting aside, therefore, the removal of danger, and the complete establishment of independence, the money value alone of the conquest was, to a Government of very limited means, of the first importance, as doing away with the necessity of military expenditure, estimated by competent judges at a million of dollars, merely to attempt the accomplishment of an object, which, without any additional cost, I had effected with a single ship, so unseaworthy that she had to be left behind.

But the advantage of the conquest did not end here. Had it not been for this capture, the Spanish power in Chili, aided by the Indians, would have found it easy to maintain itself in such a country for a protracted period, despite any military force Chili was in a condition to bring against it; so that no effective co-operation with the people of Peru could have been undertaken--as common prudence would have deterred them from entering into distant revolutionary projects, so long as the Spaniards were in possession of any part of the Chilian territory; whilst the necessity of defending herself through a protracted civil war, would have prevented Chili from aiding in the liberation of Peru, which would thus have remained a permanent base of operations for the Spaniards to annoy, if not again to recover, the Chilian provinces.

A further advantage was the successful negociation of a loan of one million sterling in England, which was accomplished solely on account of what had been achieved, every attempt at this having failed so long as the Spaniards were in possession of the most important harbour and fortress in the country, from which, as a basis, they might organize future attempts to recover the revolted provinces.

Notwithstanding these advantages, not a penny in the shape of reward, either for this or any previous service, was paid to myself, the officers, or seamen, nevertheless the Government appropriated the money arising from the sale of the Dolores, and the stores with which she was loaded; neither was there any account taken of the value of the guns and the enormous amount of ammunition left in the forts at Valdivia. The men who performed this achievement were literally in rags, and destitute of everything, no attempt being made by the department of Marine to lessen their sufferings--for to this extent was their condition reduced.

In place of reward, every encouragement was offered to the officers to disobey my orders. Two of these I had marked for punishment, for deliberate murder. Ensign Vidal having captured two Spanish officers in Fort Ingles, they surrendered their swords, receiving the gallant youth's pledge of safety; but Captain Erescano coming up, immediately butchered them. Another case was even worse: Ensign Latapia, who had been left in command of the castle of Corral, after my departure to Chiloe, ordered two of his prisoners to be shot; and four officers would have met the same fate, had not my secretary, Mr. Bennet, taken them on board the O'Higgins. For this I placed Latapia under arrest, making the necessary declarations for a court-martial, and conveyed him as a prisoner to Valparaiso, where, in place of being punished, both he and Erescano were promoted, and taken into the liberating army of General San Martin.

I have spoken of the aid afforded to the Spaniards by the Indians. On the 10th of March General Freire, afterwards Supreme Director, wrote me a letter congratulatory of my success against Valdivia, which he concluded by informing me that its capture had already caused the Indians of Angol, and their Cacique, Benavente, to declare in favour of Chili, and that he did not doubt but that this would shortly be followed by a similar declaration on the part of the Indians throughout the province; General Freire not being aware that I had already produced this effect by distributing amongst them an immense quantity of trumpery stores and gewgaws, accumulated by the Spaniards in the magazines at Valdivia, for the purpose of rewarding murderous inroads into the Chilian territory.

It will be interesting briefly to note the employment of Indians by the Spaniards. Their agent, or leader, in this horrible warfare, was a wretch named Benavides, who may fairly lay claim to the distinction of being the most perfect monster who ever disgraced humanity. He had originally been a common soldier in the Buenos Ayrean army, and, together with his brother, had carte blanche from the Spaniards to commit the most fearful atrocities on the Chilian patriots, who could not defend themselves against the stealthy cowardice of Indian warfare. His invariable practice was, whenever a village or estate could be surprised, to sew up the leading inhabitants as tightly as possible in raw ox-hides stripped from their own cattle, when, being laid in the burning sun, the contraction of the hides as they dried caused a slow and lingering death of perfect agony, which it was the amusement of himself and the savages whom he led to enjoy whilst smoking their cigars. When any persons of influence fell into his hands, he cut out their tongues, and otherwise horribly mutilated them--a bishop and several other gentlemen surviving as witnesses of his atrocities.

Valdivia was this man's point d'appui, whence he drew his supplies, and when we took the place a small vessel fell into our hands, laden with arms and ammunition for his disposal amongst the Indians. She was destined for Arauco, and had on board two Spanish officers and four non-commissioned officers, sent for the purpose of rendering the Indians still more formidable by indoctrinating them into European modes of warfare.

The wretch Benavides was afterwards bought over by General San Martin, and sent to Conception for the orders of General Freire, who told him to his face that he would have nothing to do with such a monster; whereupon Benavides left Conception, and commenced a desolating warfare upon the inhabitants of the coast, even refining upon his former barbarities. The country getting too hot for him, he again offered his services to the Spaniards, and was on his way to Peru in a small vessel, when, being compelled to go ashore for water, in the vicinity of Valparaiso, one of his men betrayed him, and he was sent to Santiago, where he was hung.

The seamen were becoming mutinous, in consequence of neither receiving pay nor prize-money, every promise given being broken, as well to them as to myself. As they looked to me for the vindication of their rights, and, indeed, had only been kept from open outbreak by my assurance that they should be paid, I addressed a letter of expostulation to the Supreme Director, recounting their services and the ill-merited harshness to which they were exposed at the hands of his Ministers, notwithstanding that since their return they had aided the Government in the construction of wharves and other conveniences necessary for the embarkation of troops and stores to Peru--a military expedition to that country being now decided on.

The fact was, that the proceeds of the captures were appropriated by the Government, which, to avoid repayment, declared that the conquest of Valdivia was a restoration! though the place had never been in possession of Chili. On my refusing to allow the stores I had brought from thence to be disembarked, unless as a compensation to the seamen, it was alleged as a reason for the course pursued that even if Valdivia had not belonged to the Republic, Chili did not make war on every section of America. It was therefore put to my liberality and honourable character whether I would not give up to the Government all that the squadron had acquired?

These views were written by Monteagudo, afterwards the willing instrument of General San Martin in Peru. I asked him, "Whether he considered that which had been advanced as just, or according to law?" The reply was, "Certainly not, but I was ordered to write so!" Finding that I would surrender nothing, it was next debated in the Council whether I ought not to be brought to a court martial for having delayed and diverted the naval forces of Chili to the reduction of Valdivia, without the orders of Government!

No doubt this course would have been decided on but from the unsettled condition of the Republic and fear of the populace, who denounced the views of the Ministry as heartily as they advocated my proceedings.

As nothing in the shape of justice could be obtained for the squadron, on the 14th of May, I begged His Excellency the Supreme Director to accept the resignation of my Commission, as, by retaining it, I should only be instrumental in promoting the ruin which must follow the conduct of his advisers; at the same time telling him I had not accepted it to have my motives misconstrued, and my services degraded as they had been on account of objects which I was unable to divine, unless, indeed, a narrow-minded jealousy, such as that which designated the capture of Valdivia, its "restoration," though it had never before passed from under the dominion of the Spaniards.

This course had not been anticipated, though it was not adopted in any spirit of intimidation, but from repugnance to the heartless ingratitude with which important national services had been met. The Ministers were, however, thus brought for a time to their senses, the justice of my complaints being acknowledged, and every assurance given that for the future the Government would observe good faith towards the squadron. An estate, as has been said, had been offered to me as a reward for my services, which was declined for reasons already adduced. The offer was now renewed, but again declined, as nothing but promises were as yet forthcoming to the service, and the only hold upon the seamen was my personal influence with them, in consequence of my unyielding advocacy of their rights--a hold which I was not likely to forego for a grant to myself. In place, therefore, of accepting the estate, I returned the document conveying the grant, with a request that it might be sold, and the proceeds applied to the payment of the squadron; but the requisition was not complied with.

Seeing that I was determined not to be trifled with, and shamed by my offer of applying the estate to the payment of the men, General San Martin, who was appointed to command the military portion of the expedition to Peru, came to Valparaiso in June, and on the 13th of July, the squadron was paid wages in part only, but as I insisted on the whole being liquidated, this was done on the 16th; but without any portion of their prize-money. My share alone of the value of captures made at and previous to the capture of Valdivia was 67,000 dollars, and for this I received the assurance of the Supreme Director that it should be paid to me at the earliest possible moment; upon which I accepted the estate which continued to be pressed upon me, the grant expressing the purpose for which it was given, adding as a reason that "my name should never cease from the land." This estate, situated at Rio Clara, was, after my departure from Chili, forcibly resumed by the succeeding Government; and the bailiff, whom I had placed upon it for the purpose of seeing how it could be improved by culture and the introduction of valuable European seeds, was forcibly expelled from its supervision.

On my first refusal to accept the estate--for the reason before assigned--in order to convince the Chilians how great was my desire to be enrolled amongst the number of their citizens, I purchased a hacienda at Herradura, about eight miles from Valparaiso. The effect produced by this upon the Ministry was almost ludicrous. It was gravely argued amongst them as to what I, a foreigner, could intend by purchasing an estate in Chili? The conclusion to which they came being, as I was credibly informed, that as the whole population was with me, I must intend, when opportunity served, to set myself up as the ruler of the Republic, relying upon the people for support! Such was statesmanship at that day in Chili.

It so happened, that soon after purchasing this property I pointed out to the Government how much better the Bay of Herradura was calculated for a naval arsenal, than the ill-protected Bay of Valparaiso; offering at the same time to make them a gratuitous present of all the land required for the establishment of a naval arsenal and marine depot. This offer was, no doubt, construed into an act, on my part, to gain additional popularity--though this, perhaps, would have been no easy matter; and a notice was served upon me not to make any improvements, as the Government intended to appropriate the estate--but would not reimburse any outlay, though they would repay me the purchase money, and also for any improvements that had already have been effected!

I instantly solicited an explanation of the Supreme Director, and received an apology, attributing the whole affair to the officiousness of the Attorney-General, who had founded his proceeding on an old Spanish law; and there, for a time, the matter dropped, but for a time only--viz. so long as the necessities of the state required my services.

A new source of annoyance now arose, in all kinds of attempts to lessen my authority in the navy, but as I was always on the alert to maintain my position, these resulted in nothing but defeat to their concoctors. At length an overt act was committed in the appointment of Captain Spry as my flag captain on board the O'Higgins, which had been repaired at Valdivia, and was now come down to Valparaiso. An order to this effect was sent to me, which I promptly refused to obey, adding that Captain Spry should never tread my quarter-deck as flag captain, and that if my privilege as an admiral were not admitted, the Government might consider my command as at an end, for so long as I continued in command of the squadron, I would not permit an executor of my orders to be forced upon me. The point was immediately conceded, and Captain Crosbie was appointed flag captain.

The nomination of Spry was, no doubt, meant to control my efforts in the future expedition to Peru, the credit of which, if any, was to be reserved for the army. As far as I knew anything of Captain Spry, I had no personal objections to him, but, restricted as I had been by the Minister of Marine Zenteno, I had great doubts as to the motives for appointments of his making, being convinced that his principal aim was to prevent me from doing anything beyond keeping the Spaniards in check, an operation to which I was by no means inclined to accede, as had been evinced by the recent conquest of Valdivia, in excess of his instructions.

Encouraged by the annoyance given to me by the Minister of Marine and his party, one or two of my captains thought themselves at liberty to manifest a disregard to my authority, which, as their admiral, I did not choose to tolerate. The most influential of these was Captain Guise, who, having been guilty of several acts of direct disobedience and neglect of duty, was, by my orders, put in arrest, pending a demand made by me that the Government should institute a court martial for the investigation of his conduct. This act greatly irritated Zenteno, who desired to support him, and refused consent to the inquiry; thus establishing a precedent for the captain of any ship to consider himself independent of the admiral.

Such an act of folly in violation of the discipline of the navy, no less than of personal insult to myself, determined me to have nothing more to do with the Chilian administration, and on July 16th, I once more transmitted to the Government my resignation, at the same time demanding my passport to quit the country, notifying to the officers of the squadron that on the receipt of the same I should cease to command. A meeting was immediately held amongst them, and on the same day, I received--not a valedictory address, as might have been expected--but two letters, one signed by five captains, and the other by twenty-three commissioned officers, containing resolutions of abandoning the service also, at the same time handing in their commissions. To this proof of attachment, I replied, by requesting that they would not sacrifice their own positions on my account, and recommended them not to make their resolutions public till they had further considered the matter, as it might be seriously detrimental to the interests of the country.

The following letter was addressed to me on this occasion by the officers of the squadron:--

"On board the Independencia, July 18, 1820."

My Lord,

The general discontent and anxiety which your Lordship's resignation has occasioned amongst the officers and others of the squadron, afford a strong proof how much the ungrateful conduct of the Government is felt by those serving under your command.

"The officers whose names are subscribed to the enclosed resolutions, disdaining longer to serve under a Government which can so soon have forgotten the important services rendered to the State, beg leave to put in your hands their commissions, and to request you will be kind enough to forward them to the Minister of Marine. At the same time that we are thus forced to withdraw ourselves from the service, our warmest wishes will be offered up for the prosperity and liberty of the country."

"Signed by 23 Commissioned Officers."

The following resolutions accompanied this letter:--

"Resolved--1. That the honour, safety, and interest of the Chilian navy entirely rest on the abilities and experience of the present Commander-in-Chief."

"2. That, as the feelings of unbounded confidence and respect which we entertain for him cannot be transferred to another, we have come to the resolution of resigning our commissions, and of transmitting them to Government, through the hands of our admiral."

"3. That our commissions shall be accompanied by a letter expressive of our sentiments, signed by all whose commissions are enclosed."

"Signed by 23 Officers."

Pending the acceptance of my resignation by the Government, the equipment of the squadron was carried on with the greatest alacrity, so that there might be no ground for complaint that the termination of my command had caused any remissness in our duties. I, however, withheld the commissions which had been enclosed to me by the officers of the squadron, lest the measure should excite popular dissatisfaction, and thus cause a danger for which the Government was unprepared.

The only captains who did not sign the resolutions were Guise and Spry, the former being in arrest, and the latter being offended with me on account of my refusal to accept him as flag captain. There is no doubt but that he immediately communicated to Zenteno the resolutions of the officers, for on the 20th I received from him the following letter:--

"Valparaiso, July 20th, 1820."

"My Lord,"

"At a moment when the services of the naval forces of the State are of the highest importance, and the personal services of your Lordship indispensable, the Supremacy, with the most profound sentiments of regret, has received your resignation, which, should it be admitted, would involve the future operations of the arms of liberty in the New World in certain ruin; and ultimately replace in Chili, your adopted home, that tyranny which, your Lordship abhors, and to the annihilation of which your heroism has so greatly contributed."

"His Excellency the Supreme Director commands me to inform your Lordship that should you persist in resigning the command of the squadron which has been honoured by bearing your flag--the cause of terror and dismay to our enemies, and of glory to all true Americans; or should the Government unwisely admit it, this would indeed be a day of universal mourning in the New World. The Government, therefore, in the name of the nation returns you your commission, soliciting your re-acceptance of it, for the furtherance of that sacred cause to which your whole soul is devoted."

"The Supremacy is convinced of the necessity which obliges your Lordship to adopt the measures which placed Captain Guise, of the Lantaro, in arrest, and of the justice of the charges exhibited against this officer; but being desirous of preventing any delay in the important services in which the ships of war are about to proceed, it is the request of His Excellency the Supreme Director that his trial be postponed to the first opportunity which does not interfere with the service of the squadron, so important at the present epoch."


In addition to this communication from the Minister of Marine, I received private letters from the Supreme Director and General San Martin, begging me to continue in command of the naval forces, and assuring me that there should be no further cause for complaint.

On receipt of these letters I withdrew my resignation, and returned to the officers of the squadron their commissions, at the same time setting Captain Guise at liberty, and reinstating him in the command of his ship. I would not have done this but from a feeling of attachment to the Supreme Director, General O'Higgins, whose amiable disposition--too easy to contend with the machinations of those around him,--- was a sufficient assurance that he was neither an actor in, nor even privy to the system of annoyance pursued towards me by a clique of whom Zenteno was the agent. Like many other good commanders, O'Higgins did not display that tact in the cabinet which had so signally served his country in the field, in which,--though General San Martin, by his unquestionable powers of turning the achievements of others to his own account, contrived to gain the credit--the praise was really due to General O'Higgins. The same easy disposition, after the elevation of the latter to the Supreme Directorate, induced him to consent to the establishment of a senatorial court of consultation, conceding to it privileges altogether incompatible with his own supremacy; and it was with this body that all the vexations directed against me originated--as has been asserted by writers on Chili, at the instigation of General San Martin; but having no documentary evidence to prove this, I shall not take upon myself to assert the fact, notwithstanding that the subsequent conduct of the General gave more than probability to the generally received opinion.

There was, however, no doubt but that General San Martin had been privy to much of the annoyance given to the squadron and myself, as, upon my accusing him of this, he replied that he only "wanted to see how far the Supreme Director would allow a party spirit to oppose the welfare of the expedition;" adding, "Never mind, my lord, I am general of the army, and you shall be admiral of the squadron." "Bien, milord, yo soy General del exercito, y V. sara Almirante de la esquadra." His allusion to the complicity of the Supreme Director I knew to be false, as His Excellency was anxious to do all in his power both for the squadron and his country; had not the Senate, on which he had conferred such extraordinary powers, thwarted all his endeavours.

General San Martin was, however, much surprised when I shewed him the letters and returned commissions of the officers, he having no conception of their determination not to serve under any command but my own; this step on their part being fraught with the greatest danger to the equipment of the contemplated expedition.

The Senate just noticed was an anomaly in state government. It consisted of five members, whose functions were to remain only during the first struggles of the country for independence; but this body had now assumed a permanent right to dictatorial control, whilst there was no appeal from their arbitrary conduct, except to themselves. They arrogated the title of "Most Excellent," whilst the Supreme Director was simply "His Excellency;" his position, though nominally head of the executive, being really that of mouth-piece to the Senate, which, assuming all power, deprived the Executive Government of its legitimate influence, so that no armament could be equipped, no public work undertaken, no troops raised, and no taxes levied, except by the consent of this irresponsible body. For such a clique, the plain, simple good sense, and thorough good feeling of the Supreme Director was no match; as, being himself above meanness, he was led to rely on the honesty of others from the uprightness of his own motives. Though in every way disposed to believe, with Burke, that "what is morally wrong can never be politically right," he was led to believe that a crooked policy was a necessary evil of Government; and as such a policy was adverse to his own nature, he was the more easily induced to surrender its administration to others who were free from his conscientious principles.

Of these the most unscrupulous was Zenteno, who, previous to the revolution, had been an attorney at Conception, and was a protege of General San Martin--carrying with him into State Administration the practical cunning of his profession, with more than its usual proportion of chicanery. As he was my bitter opponent, obstructing my plans for the interests of Chili in every possible way, it might ill become me to speak of him as I then felt, and to this day feel. I will therefore adduce the opinion of Mrs. Graham, the first historian of the Republic, as to the estimation in which he was generally held:--"Zenteno has read more than usual among his countrymen, and thinks that little much. Like San Martin, he dignifies scepticism in religion, laxity of morals, and coldness of heart, if not cruelty, with the name of philosophy; and while he could shew creditable sensibility for the fate of a worm, would think the death or torture of a political opponent matter for congratulation." I was his political opponent, as wishing to uphold the authority of the Supreme Director, and hence, no doubt, his enmity to me; his influence even extending so far as to prevent the Supreme Director from visiting me whilst in Santiago, on the ground that such a course on his part would be undignified!

At this distance of time--now that Chili is in possession of a Government acting on more enlightened principles--there is no necessity for withholding these remarks, without which the subsequent acts of the Chilian Government towards me might be liable to misconstruction as to my representations of them. So long as Chili was in a transition state from a corrupt and selfish Government to one acting in accordance with the true interests of the country, I forbore to make known these and other circumstances, which, having now become matters of history, need not any longer be withheld.

Writing in this spirit, I may mention a reason, notorious enough at the time, why the squadron was not paid even its wages. The Government had provided the means, but those to whom the distribution was entrusted retained the money during their pleasure, employing it for their own advantage in trading speculations or in usury, only applying it to a legitimate purpose when further delay became dangerous to themselves. One great cause of the hatred displayed towards me by these people, was my incessant demands that the claims of the squadron should be satisfied as regarded wages. As to prize-money, not a dollar was ever conceded by the Government either to myself, officers, or men, so long as I remained in Chili; but I had the satisfaction to see that the constant watch which I kept on those financial disorders, was the means of ameliorating the system, though with the additional dislike to myself of those whose short-sighted policy I was thwarting, and whose avaricious speculations were thus curtailed.

In spite of his enmity, the Minister of Marine had been officially compelled to write me the following letter:--

"My Lord,"

"If victories over an enemy are to be estimated according to the resistance offered, or the national advantages obtained, the conquest of Valdivia is, in both senses, inestimable; encountering, as you did, the natural and artificial strength of that impregnable fortress which, till now, had obstinately defended itself by means of those combined advantages. The memory of that glorious day will occupy the first pages of Chilian history, and the name of Your Excellency will be transmitted from generation to generation by the gratitude of our descendants."

"His Excellency the Supreme Director, highly gratified by that noble conquest, orders me to inform you (as I have now the satisfaction of doing), that he experiences, in his own name, and in that of the nation, the most heartfelt gratification at that signal achievement. The meritorious officers, Beauchef, Miller, Erescano, Carter, and Vidal, and all the other officers and soldiers who, in imitation of your Excellency, encountered such vast dangers, will be brought to the notice of Government, in order to receive a decorative medal, in gratitude for their gallantry, and in proof that Chili rewards the heroes who advocate her cause."

Our national flag has been displayed amidst the most festive public demonstrations, above those of Valdivia and Cantabria, in proof of the subjection of our enemies.

"I beg, with the greatest gratification, the honour to announce to you your letter of the 3rd instant, transmitting those of Major Beauchef and Major Miller."

"God preserve your Excellency many years."

"The Vice-Admiral commanding the Chilian Squadron."

It is difficult to see how a man who could have written the above letter, even officially, could have become my worst enemy; the reasons for which will, however, develop themselves as we proceed.

As the estate which was conferred upon me at Rio Clara was afterwards taken from me, without reason assigned, I will here give the letter conveying it, as this will again have to be alluded to. The attorney-like cunning of Zenteno prevented its conveyance by any more formal document than the decree conferring it.

"My Lord,"

"A Decree of this date has been issued by His Excellency the Supreme Director, of which the annexed is a copy:--"

"Desirous to expedite, without loss of time, the gift of 4000 quadras of land, which, by decree of the Senate, was assigned to the Commander-in-Chief of the Squadron, Vice-Admiral Lord Cochrane, as a demonstration of public appreciation for his distinguished services in the 'Restoration,' of the important fortress of Valdivia; the said 4000 quadras are assigned on the lands of Rio Clara, in the province of Conception, being part of the confiscated estate of Pablo Furtado, a fugitive Spaniard."

"'The present deed shall serve as a sufficient title to the property in favour of the Vice-Admiral, being communicated to the Minister of Finance, in order to the accustomed formalities, to receive possession and enjoy the benefits.'"

"I have the honour to communicate the above, by Supreme orders, for your information."

"God preserve your Excellency many years."

Administration of Marine,
Valparaiso, August SO, 1820.
Published by order of His Excellency."

* * * * *

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