« PředchozíPokračovat »
When they cry the hour they all sing the same tune, but the pitch is ranged in accordance with the scope of the voice. The manner of singing the hour is pleasing, thus:
Viva Chi-li, Viva Chi-li, las diez and - a y se - re - na. In the morning they add to it a prayer, as Ave Maria purissima las cinco y media. The music does not differ from the night-song, but has the few additional notes that are necessary. This police adds greatly to the comfort as well as to the safety of the inhabitants. To give an instance of its effects, apothecaries are chosen weekly to keep their shops open all night, and in case of sickness or requiring any aid, one has only to call for the vigilante, who takes the recipe and passes it to the next, and so on to the shop, where it is obtained, and returned as soon as possible, without any trouble whatever. They have their particular rounds, and each door is obliged to have a padlock. If any door is found without it, they put a lock on, for which the owner has to pay a fine of four dollars to the city to have it removed; half is the reward of the vigilante. A complaint during our stay was made by one of the officers, of exactions made by a policeman. It was instantly taken notice of, and punished. It is to be regretted that this police should still wear the military uniform, as it seems unbecoming in a republican form of government; at least we thought so. The shops are well filled with almost all articles of English, American and French manufacture. The markets are well supplied. There are no market-gardens in the neighbourhood of Valparaiso, and nearly all the vegetables are brought from the valley of Quillota, about sixteen miles distant, on the backs of mules, in panniers. The mode of bringing grass or clover to market is peculiar: it sometimes almost covers both horse and rider. The supplies are abundant and of excellent quality, . consisting of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, &c. The prices vary but little from those at home; beef, for instance, costs six and a half cents per pound. There are but few amusements. Among them is a theatre, which is small and inconvenient, and the chingano, both of which are usually open on a Sunday evening. The Chilians are extremely fond of the dance called the samacueca. VOL. I. P 22
This may be called the national dance, and is in vogue among the common people. It is usually performed at the chingano, which is a kind of amphitheatre, surrounded by apartments where refreshments, including strong drinks, are sold, and is generally well filled by both sexes. The dance is performed on a kind of stage, under an open shed. The music is a mixture of Spanish and Indian, and is performed altogether by females, on an old-fashioned long and narrow harp, one end of which rests on the lap of the performer, and the other on the stage, ten feet off. A second girl is seen merrily beating time on the sounding-board of the instrument. On the right is another, strumming the common chords on a wire-string guitar or kitty, making, at every vibration of the right hand, a full sweep across all the strings, and varying the chords. In addition to this, they sang a national lovesong, in Spanish, at the top of their voices, one singing a kind of alto; the whole producing a very strange combination of sounds. The dance is performed by a young man and woman; the former is gaudily decked in a light scarlet jacket, embroidered with gold lace, white pantaloons, red sash and pumps, with a tiny red cap; whilst that of his partner consists of a gaudy painted muslin dress, quite short and stiffly starched, not a little aided by an ample pair of hips; thrown over all is a rich-coloured French shawl; these, with well-fitted silk stockings, complete her attire. These last are in truth characteristic of the Chilian women of all classes, and they take no pains to conceal them. One not unfrequently sees the extravagance of silk stockings in the washerwomen at their tubs, and even with their hands in the suds. The dress in general fits neatly, and nature is not distorted by tight lacing, or the wearing of corsets. Nothing is worn on the head, and the hair, parted and equally divided from the forehead back to the neck, hangs down in two long plaits on each shoulder to the waist. The style of dancing is somewhat like a fandango. The couple begin by facing each other and flirting handkerchiefs over each other's heads, then approaching, slowly retreating again, then quickly shooting off to one side, passing under arms without touching, with great agility, rattling and beating time with castanets. Their movements are quite graceful, those of their feet pretty, and withal quite amorous; the gestures may be readily understood, not only by the native audience, but by foreigners. I cannot say much for its moral tendency. The higher classes of females have the name of being virtuous and estimable in their domestic circle, but we cannot say that they are beautiful. They dress their hair with great care and taste. Their feet are small, and they have a graceful carriage.
The French fashion of dress prevails, and they are just beginning to wear bonnets. The advancement of civilization is rapid; the imitation of foreign habits and customs will soon predominate over those of Chili; and what is of more consequence, some attention is being paid to their education. A rather singular occurrence took place at a review of the militia on the Plaiancia, one Sunday, by the President, who was attended by his daughter, and a number of the most respectable ladies of the place. They marched down the line, and afterwards danced with the officers on the field, in the presence of the soldiers. All the South Americans are inveterate dancers, the Chilians taking the lead. The taste for music is general, but although they have a number of national airs, few have been printed. All the printed music in common use is foreign, as are the instruments. Pianos are to be seen in almost every house. w The natives have a fondness for flowers, although they are but little cultivated. Few gardens are yet to be seen of any consequence. They require constant irrigation the most of the year, which may account for this want. There are two in the Almendral, surrounded by high walls, and kept in tolerable order; and great attention is paid in these to foreign plants. We happened to be at Valparaiso during the President's visit, which, connected with the late victory and successes in Peru, caused much rejoicing; every possible attention was shown to the Chief Magistrate, by both natives and foreigners. Among others, he was taken on an aquatic excursion, on board of a small brigantine, decked out with the flags of all nations, and was accompanied by the civil authorities of Valparaiso, the English admiral, and others. On passing the men-of-war, he received the customary salutes from all but ourselves. We could not fire the guns on account of our chronometers. On his passing, however, the rigging was manned, and we gave him several hearty cheers, which, it was said, much delighted the President and his suite, from the novelty of the compliment. Three balls were given during the stay of the squadron here, in consequence of the visit of the President (General Prieto); one in honour of the recent victory of Yungai over the Peruvians; the others by the citizens and foreigners to his Excellency. As the former was an extraordinary occasion, a description of it will give some insight into the manner in which they conduct these affairs in Chili. All three were managed in a manner that would have been highly creditable in any part of the world. The place selected for the great ball was between the walls of two large unfinished storehouses, a space of one hundred and fifty feet long by ninety wide, over which temporary arches were built, the whole covered with an awning lined with blue, and studded with stars, from which were suspended some twenty very handsome chandeliers. The whole was carpeted, and the various pillars which supported the roof were decorated with emblems of the victory and nation. At the end opposite to the entrance was a transparency of General Bulnes, the hero of Yungai, surrounded with scrolls of his deeds. Along the corridors which the piazzas formed, ranges of sofas and seats were placed; on the walls were hung rich mirrors and paintings: the former rested on massive pier-tables, in which hundreds of lights were seen reflected, whilst the graceful festoons of the national flags and pennants formed into draperies, intermixed with wreaths of flowers and evergreens in endless variety, encircling emblematic designs of the nation's glory, produced an effect not easily surpassed. The reception-room of the President was hung with scarlet tapestry, decorated with paintings, mirrors, and pier-tables, and brilliantly lighted with chandeliers, &c. There were likewise card-rooms, smoking-rooms, supper-rooms, and a dressing-room for the ladies, in which were a number of hairdressers and mantua-makers constantly in attendance. The whole was well got up, unique, and truly splendid; all Valparaiso had sent furniture of every kind, and even the churches had contributed to assist in the great gala fête in commemoration of the national victory. The company consisted of about five hundred, one-third of whom were females. Many costly uniforms, of various patterns, and not a little fanciful, added to the brilliancy of the scene. About ten o'clock, the ball was opened by the President, Don Joaquim Prieto, in person, a novel sight to us. He was dressed in a richly embroidered coat, gold epaulettes, and field-marshal's sash. He danced a minuet with a lady of Valparaiso, whom he had especially selected, after which the dancing became general, consisting of quadrilles, country-dances, and waltzes, besides which they had the lascivious dances of samacueca, cachuca, and lordean. These partake somewhat of the bolero and fandango, or Spanish and African dance. By way of interlude, marches and national airs were played and sung. The ball did not break up until eight o'clock next morning, at which hour the President and his daughter were escorted home by a procession of the dancers, with the music playing national airs, forming rather a grotesque show to the bystanders, from the interchange of hats and outer garments that had taken place. On reaching General Prieto's quarters, they sang a national hymn, after which many were invited in, where they again continued dancing until noon.
I should not omit to mention that after midnight the ladies underwent a second operation of the toilet.
The whole equalled, if it did not surpass, any of our own fêtes at home; indeed all who attended were much surprised, having little idea that Valparaiso could have made so brilliant and tasteful a display of beauty and magnificence.