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stop at a spacious mansion, where there resided a gentleman whom he knew, named La Rocca. This gentleman's establishment forms a prominent exception to what I have just been describing; his grounds are surrounded by a brick wall; his buildings, gardens, &c. all upon a more extensive scale. We entered through a lofty gate-way, into a spacious court. The servant informed us, that his master with several other gentlemen, was on the terrace, at the top of the house, and at our request conducted us up. I was glad of the occasion, as I was told that there was a very fine view from this place. We were treated by La Rocca, with great attention, and we found bim a man of liberal and enlightened mind. He is a native of old Spain, but has been naturalized, and has taken an active part in the revolution. He pointed out to us a beautiful grove of olives, which he had planted after the Spanish system, which forbade the cultivation of this in. valuable plant, had been abolished. The other gentlemen who were with him, were his neighbors, natives of the country, and were sensible and well informed, I learned from them, that our arrival had excited great interest throughout the city, and that many conjectures as to our object were afloat. They seemed all to agree, that nothing of an unfriendly nature could be expected from our government, and seemed to be very much hurt at the unfavorable impressions which had been made in the United States, as to the state of things in this country, by publications in the newspapers. They said, that they had no right to expect any friendship, or sympathy from us, if their institutions were really so vile as had been represented. They said, it was natural to expect, that as their
enemies were not able to subdue them, they would endeavor to ruin their character; and for this purpose, they would seize and magnify every real, or alledged error, or misconduct. La Rocca here drew an ani. mated comparison between the state of things in Spain, and in this country, highly favorable, as may be supposed, to the latter. He told me, it was their intention to establish a government as nearly resembling that of the United States, as circumstances would permit. He inquired, with a considerable earnestness, as to the truth of a report, of our government having endea. vored to obtain a cession of territory from the king of Naples, and laid great stress on the circumstance of our having no colonies, and from the nature of our constitution, not being permitted to have any. He said, it was impossible for them to repose full confidence in the friendship of nations holding colonies, and they were sorry to see us deviating in the slightest degree, from what they had understood was with us a fundamental maxim. If we could have colonies in Italy, we might have them in America, in Africa, and in Asia.
As the house stood upon ground somewhat more elevated than the city, and not more than three hundred yards from the river, there was a very extensive hori. zon in every direction. In a clear day, Colonia, on the opposite side of the river, is visible from this place; but at present, as the atmosphere was somewhat obscured, and a stiff north-easter blowing, nothing was presented to the eye but a vast expanse of water, the Mosqueto fleet of sloops, and small coasting vessels, tossing about below us, and those of a larger kind anchored in the outer roads; the whole having a very
dreary appearance. On the land side, we seemed to look over the city, which covers an extent of ground nearly as great as Philadelphia, with quintas up and down the river, whose variety of fruit trees, with here and there a Lombardy poplar intermixed, exhibited a very lively and pleasing appearance; while to the westward, at the distance of a few miles, there seems to be a bouddless waste of pampas, or grassy plains, without a tree or shrub. The whole population of the country is not greater than in the city. In fact, the real limits of the province are exceedingly circumscribed. About forty miles north of this, is a large village called Luxan, at which the road branches off, for Cordova and Mendoza, there commences a line of presidios, extending southerly across the Salado to the river Colorada, which marks the southern boundary of the province. This line of posts was originally established for the purpose of protecting the settlements from the incursions of the wild pampas Indians, who were then a most dangerous and formidable enemy. But of late years, they have ceased to be dreaded, and their incursions have only for their object, stealing cattle and horses. While I am upon this subject, I will say something as to the manner in which the population is distributed in this country, intending to enlarge on the subject on some future occasion.
Under the viceroyalty, a line of two hundred and fifty miles north and south, and a hundred miles east and west, would have included the whole population of the province; but this was distributed in a manner singularly unequal; some parts being as thickly inha. bited as the neighborhood of Philadelphia, and the
rest as wild as the plains of the Missouri. Since the revolution, the frontier has been considerably extended, and this province, as well as the others of the union, which have been exempt from the immediate devastations of war, have bad a considerable increase of inhabitants. The city of Buenos Ayres, and its vicinity, probably ten miles square, contains about seventy thousand inhabitants; the villages of Luxan, Ensepada, Las Couchas, and a few others, with their cir. cumscribed vicinages, may contain from two to five thousand, and as the whole population does not exceed one hundred and five thousand, all the remainder of the province is left for the rest, not exceeding fifteen or twenty thousand in number. Immediately around the towns and villages, are the quintas of which I have spoken, chiefly appropriated to the raising of vegetables and fruits; next come the larger farms, or chacras, where wheat, Indian corn, barley, &c. are raised as with us; but according to a very different, and as far as I can learn, a very inferior system of agriculture. These have not the same aversion to neighborhood, as the old Virginia planter, who declared, he never would wish to live so near as to hear the barking of his neighbors' dogs. The mode of cultivating the earth, of enclosing their grounds, and their rural economy in general, would furnish many curious topics; but these I must wave for the present. The soil is, undoubtedly, the finest in the world; but they labor under great disadvantages from a deficiency of water, as the streams, which are not numerous, are apt to go dry in summer. They are therefore compelled to make reservoirs for the reception of rain. water, when at too great a distance from the river.
T'heir crops are, notwithstanding, superior to ours, and are rarely known to fail. In the uncultivated waste , which spreads around these specks of civi. lization, are what are called the estancias, or grazing farms, which constitute the principal fortunes of the rich, and are of various dimensions, some as large as our townships, or even counties. They have from twenty to sixty thousand head of cattle, on one of these estates. Before the revolution, they were valued at about one dollar for every head of cattle; for the land was scarcely taken into the account. Since that period, the value of both has more than doubled. From this, it will be seen, that a graz. ing farm in the Opeloussa, of ten or fifteen thousand head, valued at ten dollars each, is worth as much as an estancia here, of fifty thousand. The care of these is consigned to those half horse half men, of whom I have already spoken, under the appellation of gauchos.
Since the revolution there has been a much greater disposition to settle in the country than formerly; arising, no doubt, from the enhanced price of the produce of the soil; and also, from the greater safety from Indian depredations. Whether the people consider themselves more secure in their titles, I shall not take upon me to say; but I am assured that no uneasiness, or fear, prevails as to their safety from Spanish invasion. La Rocca, and his friends, inquired with considerable eagerness about the European emi. gration to the United States, which they looked upon as an increase of wealth and strength, the acquisition of wbich, they appeared to envy us. They said that every inducement was held out by the government and