Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

was successful, and they returned with him prisoner, and the other vessels as prizes. Thus ended, in the short space of two months, an expedition headed by one who had been the most popular ruler Chili ever had. Though possessing still many friends in the country, he found himself a prisoner and not a voice raised to his rescue. His life was considered forfeited, as he had been banished by the present government, and had come to introduce anew all the horrors of civil war into a peaceful country. The recollection of his distinguished services to the nation in times past, his having with honour to himself and credit to his country filled its highest office, and no doubt some sympathy for his changed situation, obtained for him the clemency of the government. He and his adherents were again banished, and no person connected with him otherwise punished. He was also permitted to see his family frequently during his confinement.

The result of this attempt had the effect of strengthening the administration. People of property and respectability, even of opposite parties, rallied around it: a satisfactory proof that there was a love of order rising, and that the supremacy of civil rule would no longer submit to changes effected by arms.

In the meanwhile, circumstances seemed to justify the belief of the connivance of the Peruvian government in Freyre's plan. It had been notified by the Chilian consul-general, a few hours after the vessels sailed, of the true objects of the voyage, and there was still time to prevent Freyre's success. They shuffled out of the affair, and on learning that the consul-general was despatching a vessel to inform his government, they put an embargo on the port of Callao. The vessels however, had sailed before the order reached the port; on understanding which the embargo was immediately raised.

This was publicly commented on at the time by foreigners in the place, and afforded conclusive evidence that the Peruvian government was concerned in the plot. The Chilian vessels of war, Achilles and Colocolo, the only ones possessed by the government, were despatched suddenly on secret service. A confidential agent accompanied them. They went to Callao, and seized upon three Peruvian vessels of war lying in the harbour, to take away the only means of offence in the power of a government which had proved itself so unfriendly. This being done, the vessels were taken over to the island of San Lorenzo, and anchored under the guns of the Chilian vessels. The Chilian civil agent demanded explanations respecting Freyre's expedition. Before these were given, great excitement prevailed on shore, at what was conceived to be an outrage against civilized nations; for it was said that the Chilian vessels had entered under the guise of friendship, and

while partaking of the hospitality of a nation at peace with their own had basely taken advantage of it to insult the country. The Chilian consul-general, when the news first reached Lima, was subjected to a short arrest. Finally, matters settled down, and the parties agreed to discuss the subjects of complaint on board the English sloop-of-war Talbot. Santa Cruz sent one of his principal officers, and a convention was agreed upon for the suspension of hostilities on both sides for the term of four months. The Peruvian vessels were to remain in possession of the Chilians, and no warlike preparations during the time were to be made by either party. Santa Cruz disavowed any participation in Freyre's plans, and expressed his willingness to pay Chili the expenses of suppressing the attempt. He also bound himself to the performance of his part of the convention, leaving the Chilian agent subject to the approbation of his government, and assured him of his earnest desire for a good understanding with Chili.

The vessels returned to Chili, a diplomatic agent of Santa Cruz accompanying them. The Chilian government refused to ratify the convention when informed of it, and proceeded in the most active preparations for fitting out all the captured Peruvian vessels. At this time it might have dictated any terms to Santa Cruz, who was anxious to secure his newly-acquired power. Chili, however, had no confidence in him, and prepared for the coming struggle. Santa Cruz's minister returned to Peru. He was followed by the Chilian fleet, having a high diplomatic agent on board, with the government sine qua non, viz., the abandonment of the Confederation, and the restoration of the independent sovereignties of Peru and Bolivia. Santa Cruz refu: to receive a minister attended by an armed force, which had the appearance of a menace. In vain did the Chilian minister offer to send them away, and remain in the smallest vessel of the squadron, saying the latter was merely to guard against a repetition of Freyre's expedition. Nothing was done. The Chilian minister returned home, and Chili then declared war against the Confederation, on the 12th of December, 1836. Freyre's attempt had been crushed in August, 1836.

Chili became sensible, too late, of her error in not protesting at first against the armed interference of Santa Cruz in the affairs of Peru; by not doing which she tacitly assented, and thus encouraged him. But, occupied with her internal concerns, she heeded little what was passing around her, and had not Freyre's expedition been fitted out in Peru, Santa Cruz's plans of government would have been unmolested. She felt too late that no confidence could be placed in her new neighbours. Determined, therefore, on his downfall, an expedition against him was planned, composed of naval and land forces; and numerous banished

Peruvians living in Chili were permitted to join, who formed themselves into a separate body, under General Lafuente, a distinguished Peruvian revolutionist. The first ill effects of a revival of a military spirit in Chili were now experienced. As before mentioned, one of the reforms of the government was the reduction of the army to a number barely sufficient to protect the southern frontier against the Indians. To create a force, therefore, it became necessary to raise recruits in every direction. Congress being in session, granted extraordinary powers to the President,-a very necessary step to give effect to executive decrees.

The following is a translation of a decree of the President, issued by Portales, as Minister of the Interior, at the breaking out of the war:

Department of the Interior. In consequence of the power that the 43d and 82d articles of the Constitution have conferred upon me, I have well considered and approved the following resolution of the National Congress.

1st. He who has been condemned to remain in a particular part of the Republic, or exiled from it by the judicial sentence, and for the crime of sedition, conspiracy, and riot, will suffer death if he breaks his confinement or exile.

2d. In whatever part of the Republic any one of the criminals included in the foregoing article may be apprehended, without the limits that have been assigned to him, the authorities will seize and shoot him, within twenty-four hours, without any other proofs than may be necessary to identify the person, and without suffering any appeal to a higher authority.

3d. The present law will begin to act, respecting all those who are expelled the Republic for the crimes which are expressed in the first article.

On this account I direct it to be promulgated, and to take effect in all parts, as a law of the state.

(Signed) Pereto. DIEGO PORTALES. Santiago, January 28th, 1837.

Inasmuch as the National Congress has declared the state to be in actual war with Peru, and in consequence clothed the President of the Republic with all the necessary powers that his prudence may find necessary for the exigency of the state, without any other limitation than that he shall not condemn or give punishment of his own will, but leave these to be judged by the established tribunals, or those which this present government may hereafter establish. In consequence of

the authority conferred upon me, I promulgate, by the articles fortythird and eighty-second of the Constitution, sanction, approve,

and order the foregoing decree to be made public, through the press.

PRJETO Diego PORTALES. Santiago, 31st January, 1837. This decree did not fail to renew the complaints of old parties against the government as despotic, &c. To carry on the war, part of two battalions of a veteran regiment from the south arrived at Valparaiso, under the command of Colonel Vidaurre, a brave and distinguished officer. They were ordered to Quillota, where recruits were to join them, until the regiment should be full, and where they were to be drilled and disciplined, for embarkation. Vidaurre was appointed head of the staff of the army, under Admiral Blanco Encalada, commander-in-chief. A regiment of one thousand four hundred men was soon completed, and reported to be in fine order. The navy, composed of seven vessels, was ready to sail. At this time Portales, being minister of war, came to Valparaiso, to hasten the departure of the expedition, and to give his personal inspection to its materiel. Vidaurre was his protégé, and an invitation to a ball, said to be about being given in Quillota, sent by Vidaurre, was accepted by Portales, who intended going there to examine the condition of the troops. At the same time, he determined on carrying Vidaurre his epaulettes and promotion as brigadier and chief of the staff. On the afternoon of the 3d of June, 1836, Vidaurre ordered the troops into the square for Portales' reception. When all were assembled, Vidaurre made a signal; some soldiers advanced, surrounded and seized Portales, who was not allowed to say a word, but was hurried to prison, and heavy irons put on him. An acta, or declaration, was drawn up and signed by about forty officers, all subalterns, containing the usual phraseology of such documents, about tyranny, injustice, suffering country, &c. A servant of Portales escaped unseen, and brought the astounding intelligence to Valparaiso, soon after midnight, creating the greatest consternation. It was naturally supposed that an officer of Vidaurre's energy and character would push for Valparaiso without delay. If he had done so, he could have taken it. Alarm-guns were fired, and before daylight the militia were under arms, and not long after the squadron, consisting of some seven vessels, were hauled towards the Almendral. In the course of the day, some few hundred men, sent by Vidaurre, were met and repulsed by a body of militia. Not long after, a flag of truce was sent to the town, demanding the delivery of the “ Port" and vessels, threatening, in the event of a refusal, to execute Portales, and

in case the town was taken, to give it up to plunder, besides shooting every officer found in arms. It is said that Vidaurre offered to save Portales' life if he would write an order for the surrender of the town. 'This he refused with indignation. The authorities, nevertheless, Jemained firm, and allowed the flag to return. The greatest anxiety prevailed in the Port, as a night-attack was apprehended, and it was feared the militia, new to warfare, would give way, or perhaps join the revolters. The measures taken to defend Valparaiso were admirable. No confusion was observed, and the greatest alacrity was manifested by every officer of the government, and citizens, to aid the cause of order. The foreign merchants, however, sent their books, papers, and money, on board the English frigate Blonde, the only foreign vessel of war in port. Vidaurre came on, confident of success. He encountered the militia, at the entrance of the Port, about two o'clock in the morning, and met with so warm a reception that he was compelled to fall back. The militia pushed on, directed by Admiral Blanco. The governor, Colonel Vidaurre, a cousin of the revolutionist chief, followed him up so closely that it ended in a complete defeat, Vidaurre's troops scattering themselves in every direction, himself flying with a few officers. When the fate of his troops was decided, his step-son, who was in the rear, where Portales was in a gig, heavily ironed, had him taken out, with his secretary, and shot. Portales not being killed by the first fire, was bayonetted, with savage brutality, in various parts of his body, which they left in the road, covered with thirty-five wounds. The pursuit continued throughout the day; the soldiers were left without officers, and gradually returned to their old quarters, where they were incorporated with other regiments. Some days elapsed before Vidaurre and his accomplices were taken. Although a feeling of horror pervaded the community at the fate of Portales, yet the most perfect order and confidence continued. Neither on his examination, nor that of his officers, did it appear that the move. ment had been encouraged by any party in the country. In fact, it could only be inferred that he was ambitious to play the part of a second Salaverry.

Order triumphed most completely. The militia had arrayed itself on its side, and increased confidence was felt in the government, though there were not wanting some who predicted its speedy downfall, now that it was deprived of its most efficient member. Vidaurre was replaced by a much more respectable person, General Aldunate, a man characterized as the Don Quixote of honour by those less scrupulous than himself. The government gained by this exchange, but the loss sustained in the death of Portales was irreparable. He

« PředchozíPokračovat »