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venture to say, that from the moment they expelled the British, they ceased to be fit for colonists-a na. tional spirit was formed. T'he defence of Louisiana did more to Americanize the people of that state, than the diffusion of information for the preceding ten years. In a few years more, there will scarcely be a trace remaining of despotism. I have no hesitation in saying, that in point of national feeling, these people are already far advanced; and a progress more rapid has been made in this respect than even in Louisiana. That country for nearly ten years after its annexation, slumbered in a state of quiescence, while Buenos Ayres for the same period, was thrown upon its own energies, and was compelled to experience every vi. cissitude of fortune. There are few who have not in some way or other, been actors in the scenes that transpired; all their talents have been called into requisition; the whole community bas frequently experienced that wholesome agitation, which produces health and purity. They have been compelled to study the nature of government. They have been continually acquiring importance in their own opinion. Their national songs, and their printed papers every where distributed, have kept the public attention continually awake; and the common stock of ideas, has been prodigiously increased. It is only necessary to clear the fountain and the stream will soon run pure. This is an enlightened age-open the windows and the light will burst in. I may be mistaken as to the real policy of those in power, but as to the progress which the people have made in the acquirement of information, I cannot be.

CHAPTER V.

THE PRINCIPAL OCCURRENCES AT BUENOS AYRES, SINCE THE COM

MENCEMENT OF THEIR REVOLUTION.

1

The revolution at Buenos Ayres, may be dated as far back as the first invasion by the British under Beresford, in June, 1806. The country was at that time almost in a state of abandonment on the part of Spain. She had a few wretched troops at Buenos Ayres and Monte Video; and an indifferent naval force, chiefly stationed at the latter of these places, which from the circumstance of being nearer the ocean, and having a better harbor, was the naval depot.. While Napoleon was preying on the Spanish monarchy in Europe, the feeble and defenceless state of the Spanish Amer. ican colonies, held out strong temptations to the avarice of England. Sobre Monte, at this time the viceroy of La Plata, seems to have been totally devoid of energy and talents; and when the British expedition, under Beresford and sir Home Popham, appeared, the city of Buenos Ayres fell an easy conquest. The Spaniards had neither soldiers nor arms; the inhabitants far from being accustomed to rally round the standard of their country, in times of danger, bad not even been permitted to think they had a country. From a people entirely excluded from any participation in national or political affairs, indifference and apathy were to be expected. An idle shew of resistance it is true, was made by Sobre

Monte, a few arms were distributed to the militia; * but to use the words of Mr. Poinsett, “ignorant of their use, they ran out without order to look at the enemy, while general Beresford with two thousand men, marched into the city and took possession of the citadel, without opposition. Don Juan Martin Pueyrredon, was the only officer at the head of a company of hussars, that barrassed the enemy's march." The viceroy fled panic strưck to Cordova, in the in- : terior.

But the same people when left to themselves, soon discovered energies which astonished the invaders. They appeared to awaken as from a dream, or rather to be aroused into life, from a state of lethargy or stupor. Inflamed with indignation at the imbecile conduct of the ruler, whom chance, favoritism, or bribery had placed over them, and chagrined at seeing their native soil in the possession of foreigners, they soon began to meditate upon the means of effecting their expulsion. Liniers, a captain in the navy, and a Frenchman by birth, not being included in the capitulation, was at liberty to take immediate steps with a view to this object. He entered into a secret correspondence with several members of the cabildo of Buenos Ayres, the most conspicuous of whom were Alzaga, an European Spaniard, and the present director, Pueyrredon. He at the same time, applied for assistance to the governor of Monte Video, who could spare bim only the marines and seamen at that place. With these, and such volunteers as could be collected

* I was told by a respectable officer, that they had not more than three hundred good stand of arms in the city.

at Colonia, he suddenly crossed the river, and in the vicinity of the capital, was joined by the force collected and imbodied by Pueyrredon, consisting of the neighboring peasants, and such of the citizens as had escaped from the city. T'he British were attacked, and, after an obstinate resistance, compelled to surrender at discretion.

This was the first immediate impulse given to the revolution, by an event apparently no way connected with it. The urgent necessity of their situation, cast upon them the duty of self-defence, and this disclosed to them the secret of their capacity and strength. That the revolutionary movement would stop here, was not in the nature of things. It is besides well known that there was no inconsiderable state of preparation among the better informed classes of society, arising from their contemplation of the revolutions of the United States, and of France. Liniers, was acknowledged their deliverer, and the people now abandoned to themselves, by the desertion of Sobre Monte, and being thus self-rescued, conceived they had a right to make choice of their ruler. A general meeting of the citizens was called, and it was resolved to invest Liniers with the power and dignity of viceroy. Although no other change was effected in any department of the government, this cannot but be regarded as the first step towards their emancipation.

This single but important exercise of power, was the principle from which a multitude of important reasonings were deduced. It was in its nature and man. ner, an act of the people, inasmuch as there were no orders of nobility, or ancient families claiming hereditary influence. The audiencia, which, according

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29

VOL. II,

to the Spanish American constitution, is the counterpoise to the power of the viceroy, was on this occasion passive; the lead was taken by the principal citizens, and by the municipality, with some interference on the part of the higher clergy, who from the first settlement of the colonies, had been in the habit of intermingling their voice in all important secular concerns.*

It now became incumbent on Liniers, to place the country thus intrusted to his care, in a condition to resist a future attack, of which there was every probability. The citizens were formed into volunteer corps, much on the same principles of those which were seen in this country, during the war with Great Britain. From the strong resemblance between them, and at the same time, the democratic character on this occasión exhibited by Buenos Ayres, I am tempted to make the following extract from the work of Dean Funes. Speaking of this military organization of the inhabitants, he observes, “in these times, all those prerogatives which arise from a diversity of professions and fortunes, at once disappeared; since the love of country had placed all upon a level, or had left no other distinction but that of merit. It was a spectacle worthy of the contemplation of philosophy, to see men of the greatest wealth common soldiers in the ranks, under the command of a poor laborer, and the brave negro by the side of his master, who in numerous instances, rewarded his courage with liberty. Wealth,

* This was perhaps a remnant of the tiers etats; the three estates, of which the clergy was one. In France, Spain, and Portugal, whenever the nation are supposed to speak and act, it is through the medium of the three estates.

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