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no doubt have been very honorable exceptions, but it is natural to suppose, that the number who resist these temptations is not great. By the laws of the Indies, the viceroy, after the expiration of bis term of office, is liable, like all other civil functionaries, to what is called the residencia,* that is, he is subject for a certain time to have his conduct examined into, at the instance of any person declaring himself aggrieved; but these powerful delinquents are seldom brought to justice; they are generally shielded from responsibi. lity by the wealth and influence they have acquired. The short duration of their office, intended as a safeguard against the formation of any ambitious designs, as well as to prevent the abuses of power, operate rather as an incentive to make the best of their opportunities of enriching themselves; while at the same time their government is generally lax, and enforces but little obedience from the people. This accounts for the apparent contradiction between the despotic nature of the government, and the mildness of its operation on the individual inhabitants. Mr. Brougham, in his treatise on the colonial policy, has explained this subject in a philosophic manner, and has shown, that even the distant provinces of Rome experienced a government much less rigid, than those in the im
* The residencia is still contiuued at Buenos Ayres. There arè few of the chiefs of the revolution, who have not undergone this scrutiny into their conduct, and the presumption is, that it has more of reality in it, than under the old regime. While I was at Buenos Ayres, Rondeau and Saavedra were waiting their decisions in their respective causes. They have both since been declared ciudadanos benemeritos, or deserving citizens, without which they could not have been employed in any public offices.
mediate vicinity of the capital, notwithstanding the occasional acts of violence and injustice committed by the consuls, or the laws which operated unfavorably to the prosperity of the aggregate population. The elegant manifesto of independence of Buenos Ayres, enumerating the evils of the government they have shaken off, thus expresses itself; “this system was acted upon with the utmost rigor by the viceroys, each of whom was invested with the authority of a vizier; their authority was sufficient to annihilate all who dared to displease them, and their vexations however great, had to be borne with patience, while those vexations were compared by satellites or worshippers to the wrath of God.” The system was certainly such as is here described, but its practical operation is exaggerated. The Spanish colonial government, operated most injuriously and oppressively on the colony in the aggregate; restricting its commerce, agriculture, and manufactures, by injudicious laws; but as respects the individual colonists, all writers seem to agree, that more freedom was enjoyed by them than in Old Spain. The reflected government did not cherish, but neither did it scorch. There were, perhaps, occasional exceptions I grant, which would have been redressed in Spain; but there was undoubtedly less general oppression.
The viceroy, as the military chief, is styled captaingeneral; and in this department is aided by the junta de guerra; he is also governor intendant of the province in which he resides; and, as such, he is at the head of the judicial department, assisted by the advice of a professional man, who is styled the assessor, but whose opinions he is not bound to follow. Every
judicial sentence within his province must be signed by him, for which service he is entitled to certain fees over and above his regular salary. The intendants of provinces and the corregidors receive their appointments from the king, but are subject to the orders of the viceroy. The term province, as applied in the Spanish system, has a different meaning from that attached to it in these states previous to our revolution, where each province was a distinct government, with its governor and local legislature, dependent only on the crown of England; and more properly corresponding to the Spanish viceroyalty. But the Spanish province was a much more important division than the county with us. · The counterpoise of this extensive authority of the viceroy, is the audiencia; properly a court of appeals, deciding in dernier resort all cases where the amount of the dispute does not exceed ten thousand dollars; beyond that sum, an appeal lies to the council of the Indies. It also possesses original jurisdiction in causes above a certain amount. The viceroy is the honorary president of this body; whose check upon his power extends no farther than to remonstrate, and to make representations to the council of the Indies. Infinite pains are taken, however, to give respectability to the audiencia; and the viceroys generally find it their interest to cultivate a good understanding. The privileges and immunities with which they are clothed, have also a tendency to raise. a certain awe in the minds of the colonists. They are almost invariably Europeans; and considerable pains are taken in their selection. In order to keep them as much as possible, distinct in feeling and
interest from the inhabitants, they are forbidden 'to marry, enter into commerce, or to hold property in the country; and are even restricted in their social intercourse. The obvious effect of this law, if rigidly observed, must be to prevent them from entertaining much affection for the countries. under their jurisdiction, or regard for its happiness and prosperity. To make amends for this, they are the faithful executors of the king's will, as expressed in the council of the Indies. The fidelity of the viceroys has sometimes been suspected; but as far as I can learn, this has never been the case with the audiencia. This body has at times been regarded by the people, as the defenders of public liberty; standing between them and the absolute authority of the viceroy. They have control over all other tribunals of justice, civil and ecclesiastical. The audiencia is composed of a regent, and three oydores, with two fiscals, (attorney generals) one for civil, and the other for criminal matters; a reporter, and an alguazil mayor. It has the right of corresponding directly with the king; and it is its duty, to inform the council of the Indies of the state of the colony. To it are also confided, all important commissions, with the exception of the military. One of the most important prerogatives of the audiencia, is that of succeeding to the viceroy, in case of his decease, and until the appointment of another by the king. In this case, the regent or eldest oydore represents the head of the vacated executive power.
In order to form a correct idea of the internal, or domestic government, it is necessary to attend to the manner in which the Spanish settlements are gene
rally made; although there are exceptions. Instead of being scattered over the face of the country, like our farmers and planters, they are most usually collected in larger or smaller groups, at some distance from each other; at least this was the mode in which the Spanish settlements were formed at an early period, while their savage neighbors were more formidable. They began by building a town or village, and cultivating the lands in its immediate vicinity, while the space between different establishments lay waste, until afterwards appropriated for estansias or grazing farms, attended to by solitary shepherds living in wretched huts, at great distances from each other. In consequence of these circumstances, exact territorial boundaries between different provinces or districts, were not attended to as in this country. The new settlement or village, was always made with the sanction of the government, and was attached to some particular jurisdiction. Thus a particular village and its vicinage, was known to form a part of such a corregidory, and this of some intendancy. Hence the difficulties of stating, with any precision, the boundaries between different provinces. The estancias or grazing farms, belonged to persons in the towns and villages, and it is presumed, were under the same jurisdiction. It was no doubt the policy of Spain, to concentrate the American population as far as practicable. It was thus more easily controlled; a small guard of soldiers can overawe a considerable village, but the case would be very different, where the same population is scattered over a considerable surface. South America, therefore, exhibits a great number of villages, populous districts, and