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this measure to have been rash and ill-advised; not but that he considered Artigas a deserter, but that he thought it imprudent and unwise, inasmuch as the proscription of Artigas became that of the whole coun. try, which his gauchos enabled him to sway Expe. rience, he says, has shown that moderation would have been wiser than this violence. It is no easy matter to say, what would have been the best manner of managing a man of this description; no dependence could longer be placed upon him, nor could there be any expectations of any further aid or assistance from him in the common cause. The only question was, how to render him as little mischievous as possible. From the writings and publications of the day, the public mind at Buenos Ayres appears to have been much exasperated against him, and it is probable, that Posadas, in issuing his proclamation, merely obeyed the impulse of public feeling; it is not likely that he would have ventured to have taken such a step, merely for his own gratification. It was natural enough that his enemies should afterwards charge him with obey. ing the dictates of private resentment or passion, when the measure turned out unfortunate, or that it should be used for party purposes even by persons who detested Artigas, and such is the unfortunate nature of party spirit, would be willing to resort to any topic, calculated to produce popular ill will. It might, also, at the same time, have been thought worth the experiment, whether this proscription of Artigas, might not induce his followers to abandon him; particularly as it was known that the sober and respectable population was unfriendly to him. But they did not reflect that Artigas had in his hands, the effective force of the country, and had declared himself its chief.
The siege was carried on with success; the Buenos Ayreans having become possessed of the mines of Potosi, were enabled to make a considerable effort. They fitted out a squadron under the command of an En. glishman of the name of Brown, and sent considerable reinforcements to Alvear. Brown, after a wellfought action, captured the Spanish squadron before Monte Video; which place, being closely invested by land and water, surrendered to Alvear, in June, 1814. Thus, after a continued siege of two years, at the expense of many millions of dollars, Buenos Ayres succeeded in capturing this important city, with four thousand Spanish troops, and an immense quantity of arms and munitions of war. The inhabitants were called upon to establish a junta and government, similar to that of the other provinces. The achievement, or rather the good fortune of Alvear, raised him at once to the pinnacle of fame, with his countrymen; and with that extravagance which seems to be peculiar to republics, they set no bounds to their favor and admiration. On his return to Buenos Ayres, he was appointed to take the command of the army in Peru; but this army, not being carried away by the popular delirium, was unwilling to exchange a chief in whom they had confidence, for one, for whose abilities, they entertained no great respect. Rondeau, himself, offered to submit, but his officers and troops refused. In consequence of this, Alvear was elevated to the directorship, Posadas having formally resigned in January, 1815.* After the capture of
* It has been stated that he was turned out. He may have been forced to resign; but according to the printed proceedings on the occasion, in the gazette of Buenos Ayres, (in the file which
Monte Video, Artigas, with a peculiar modesty, made a demand of the city, which belonged to him as “chief of the Orientals.” Some troops had been left at this place, under the command of colonels Dorrego and Soler, who carried on an active partisan war for some time, with Artigas, and his gauchos. The cabildo of Buenos Ayres, as they afterwards alleged, by compulsion of Alvear, issued a proclamation similar to that of Posadas; but the probability is, that Artigas, from his final desertion until the downfal of Alvear, was generally regarded as a traitor, and nothing else. Colonel Dorrego haying been defeated by Rivera, one of Artigas' generals, the goverpment of Buenos Ayres, ordered Soler to withdraw from Monte Video, with the troops under his command. Possession was soon after taken by Artigas, wbo being now settled in his dominion, and having regulated things according to his own wishes, next thought of extending his empire by conquest. He crossed the Uruguay, and in addition to his title of chief of the Orientals, assumed that of protector of the Entre Rios and Santa Fee.” The herdsmen of these countries would, obviously, incline to his side, and there was every reason to fear that those of the pampas, in the rear of Buenos Ayres, would feel every disposition to join a chief of their own stamp, who promised them every indulgence in their wild and licentious life. The people of Buenos Ayres became alarmed at the civil war which threatened to burst upon them from every side; they repented of the insulting proclamations, began to
I have,) his resignation was solemn and formal; in the speech delivered by him, he states his resignation to be on account of his advanced years; and the reply is complimentary and respectful
view Artigas in a different light, as he grew powerful and dangerous; they laid the whole blame upon their government, for measures which had only been adopted in obedience to the public voice, and were disposed to do any thing for the sake of reconciliation.* Alvear, in the midst of the general distraction, made a military flourish, issued proclamations calling the people to arms, and marched with two thousand men for Santa Fee, which was then in the possession of Artigas. A revolution took place in Buenos Ayres, the former government was dissolved, and Alvear, abandoned by his army, was compelled to fly.
T'he government having devolved upon the cabildo, they immediately proceeded to take such measures, as they thought would satisfy the chief of the Orientals, and bring about a reconciliation. They not only condemned and reprobated every thing which had offended Artigas, but publicly burned the odious proclamations in the public square, by the hands of the executioner. These proceedings were announced to him in a formal address, to which he returned a gracious reply, declaring himself perfectly satisfied, and joining them in reprobating as traitors to their country, all those who had before offended him, and coinciding perfectly in the idea, that he himself was the only true patriot. He further declared, that bis enmity was only personally directed against the individuals, who bad heretofore managed the affairs of state, and not against the people of Buenos Ayres. In virtue of this disposition, a negotiation was set on foot by Alvarez, but proved to be fruitless; his professions of reconciliation
* This reminds one of the fable of the sheep sacrificing their dogs, for the sake of a reconciliation with the wolves.
were found to be false and hollow. Not satisfied with complete and entire independence, he made a demand of the munitions of war, as well as of the vessels captured at Monte Video, in order that he might make such disposition of them, for the good of the common cause, as he should think proper. The correspondence which took place on the occasion, was published by Alvarez, and may be seen in the appendix to Mr. Rodney's report. It satisfactorily proves, that Arti. gas was actuated by the spirit of a despot, and that he considered himself entitled to dispose of the fate and fortunes of the country over which he ruled, according to his mere will and pleasure. As it now became evi. dent, that hostilities would have to be renewed with Artigas, a force under Dias Velis, was ordered to march to Santa Fee, and general Belgrano soon after, with reinforcements, took the command. Dias Velis was deputed as an agent, to make another attempt at negotiation. The hostile measures of Alvarez, ex. cited the alarms of the weak, who were fearful of kind. ling the ire of Artigas anew; it also, furnished a pretext for enemies and demagogues, to accuse the administration of rashness and imprudence. A person of the name of Cosmo Massiel, was deputed to meet him; and singular as it may seem, the conditions proposed on his part, and what is perhaps equally singular, agreed to, was first, that general Belgrano should resign the command to Dias Velis; and secondly, that the director Alvarez should resign his office. Stipulations to this effect, were actually signed.* Alvarez,
* It has been stated that Alvarez was disgracefully turned out! I speak from the documents published in the newspapers of the day. The vote of thanks from the congress, is also on the file of