Posts Tagged ‘history’

As I am planning a trip to Japan later this year, I am diving into its history, language, and culture to prepare myself for the culture shock I will inevitably receive. As part of my historical bumblings, I came across some fascinating and ominous parallels. Namely, the rule of Tokugawa Iemitsu from 1632-1651. It’s such fascinating stuff that I am still picking through it and writing until 3:30am…


Iemitsu was the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and the third shogun of the dynasty, the one that finally ran its feudal system into the ground. Ieyasu (grandpa) was famous for bringing peace to the warring fiefdoms of the Japanese empire and expanding trade with Europe. Unfortunately, as all sons of empire who inherit peace, Iemitsu could not appreciate that which he never had to fight for, and quickly began to destroy any and all things good. In 1620 he apparently had an argument with his lover at the time, and murdered him in a bathtub which they were sharing. Charming guy, for sure.

Once Iemitsu got into power, he began his reign by ordering his younger brother, Tadanaga, to commit suicide (for the “dishonorable misconduct” of being favored by his mother for the position of Shogun). Then he installed his friends to important posts, followed by all manner of onerous regulations which all citizens had to obey: from laws about fashion to laws about how farmer women had to wash their men’s feet at the end of the day (not just the act, but exactly how, and who and what must be involved in the process, and mandatory attendance of sisters/in-laws and other weirdness). There were taxes on windows and shelves, head taxes on newborn babies, and hole taxes for burying the dead. Rice, one of the currencies of the time, was also taxed.

Perhaps most disturbing about Iemitsu’s daily regulatory decrees is that he quickly learned how people would go to enormous effort to try and curry favor for special treatment under said regulations, in order to regain simple freedoms which they had previously taken for granted. A fact which he openly exploited as a tool to tamper with alliances among the rich and powerful as well as cement loyalties which kept or expanded his power.

Iemitsu established the sankin kōtai, which forced the Daimyo (regional overlords) to spend part of the year in the capital city of Edo and much of the remainder of their time wandering between Edo (now Tokyo) and their home turf, with all of their samurai and functionaries in tow, which effectively neutered them financially and politically, and often bankrupted them. In addition, the wives and children of the Daimyo were forced to live in Edo and could not leave. Overburden the regional leaders with too much regulation and hold their families hostage…

Iemitsu restricted travel. People needed passports just to go from region to region. Their belongings, clothing, and hair were inspected at various checkpoints. These checkpoints demanded that the female travelers be inspected by female agents, which unfortunately were uncommon. No inspection, no passage. Tough for you. Historical accounts from one such female traveler, Inoue Tsujo, who was a famous writer, recall tales of rough and uncomfortable screenings by haggard female inspectors with strange accents. Is all of this stuff starting to sound familiar yet?

How far we have come in 400 years!!!


Iemitsu enacted decrees which kept farmers from being able to consume their own produce– it all had to be cleared by a central authority and “properly redistributed.” Sound familiar? It should be no surprise that this sort of behavior brought about famine.

But it doesn’t end there. Farmers feeling the squeeze of too many taxes, too little food, and too much regulation eventually revolted and joined forces with persecuted Christians to form the Shimabara rebellion which burned brightly for a brief period but was then put down with deadly force in the last great battle within Japan. The rebels holed up in a castle and successfully held off the Shogun’s army, but in the end were starved out and then slaughtered.

After that, Iemitsu felt that the only way to keep things “going well” was to shut off all access to outside influences. Clearly it was outside influence that was causing rebellion, and had nothing to do with his asinine policies. He kicked out and/or slaughtered all the Christians, missionaries, and other foreigners, forbade Japanese from leaving the island, forbade any Japanese on foreign soil from returning to Japan, destroyed any seagoing ships that could be used to defect or travel outside of Japan, and closed the island to trade except for extremely regulated contact with the Dutch East India company. Japan’s doors would be slammed shut to the rest of the world for another 200 years.

It might sound like an awful lot to go through to get to this point but keep in mind that Iemitsu managed to do all of this– turning a prospering empire into a stagnant backwater– in just 3 years! After the quelling of the rebellion and the foreign purge he kept his way for another 16 years by ruling with an iron fist.

Some of the Commie brand (TM) Chilenos “celebrate” the start of the 1973 coup, the subsequent suicide of Salvador Allende, and the burning of the Palacio de la Moneda on Sept 11, by setting fire to things and being generally destructive assholes. This year they also celebrated by shooting a cop who was attempting to stop the looting of a grocery store. Then the mob of looters attacked the station said cop originated from, as if shooting him clearly wasn’t enough retribution for his infringement upon their perceived right to steal stuff that isn’t theirs. Other festive activities included barricading streets, beating and throwing rocks and bottles at innocent bystanders, and setting fire to two floors of the central mall.

The reason the coup happened in the first place is because Allende’s failed central-planning Communist policies resulted in a hyperinflated Peso, starvation in a country that is capable of feeding the world, and the wiping out of the Chilean middle class. That kind of stuff is hard to fuck up even if you try, and Allende & friends managed to do it. In came Pinochet to kick them out.

So now remind me why it was a bad thing that Pinochet was causing communists to disappear? Obviously they are not worth having around.

In other news, Sept 11 is now being called “Patriot Day” in the US? What? Are you f’ing kidding me?

“Thus, far and wide, they migrate either to the Goths or to the Bagaudae, or to other barbarians everywhere in power; yet they do not repent of having migrated. They prefer to live as freemen under an outward form of captivity, than as captives under the appearance of liberty. Therefore, the name of Roman citizens, at one time not only greatly valued, but dearly bought, is now repudiated and fled from, and it is almost considered not only base, but even deserving of abhorrence.”

~Salvian, 400 AD, describing the exodus of Romans fleeing oppressive taxes and immoral law by expatriating and renouncing their citizenship. Bold mine.

I should have bolded the last sentence as well, as it is just as powerful.

Props to The Dollar Vigilante and Chris Sullivan for the excellent article where they unearthed this gem.

More gems of insight from the turn of the century in Uruguay, from this excellent source. Bold mine.

The President of Uruguay (author unknown, 1897)


WHILE in Montevideo I spent an evening at the President’s mansion. The occasion was one of his weekly receptions, and the wealth, culture, and beauty of the capital were present. I might add the courage, for the reception was held under curious conditions. There were soldiers at the door who scrutinized every guest as he passed in. I felt their eyes bore through me when I entered with our consul-general and his family. Gatling guns, cannon, and dynamite bombs looked down upon us from the roof, and I doubt not private detectives were stationed here and there along the streets.

The President of Uruguay-Juan L. Cuestas—lives upon a political volcano. He is in daily danger of assassination, and he never knows when a revolution may spring up to overthrow him. He is one of the most remarkable men in South American politics; he was vice-president at the time of the assassination of Senor Idiarte Borda, and thereby became president. He is still in office, and has made himself dictator of the Republic.

At one time a revolution sprung up to overthrow him. The army had its headquarters not far from Montevideo, and many of the chief officers were in the conspiracy. If they could have trusted each other, Cuestas would have been killed. The revolution failed because the man who was to have cut the telephone wires between the station and the city did not do his duty. The result was that the President was notified as soon as the army set out for Montevideo. The officers, finding that they were discovered, suspected each other of treachery; some began to back out, withdrawing their troops, and the police were able to control the remainder.

For such reasons, President Cuestas never moves about without an armed guard. His residence is in the street of the Eighteenth of July, at quite a distance from the administration buildings. When he goes from his house to his office he has soldiers about him, and there are ten outriders on white horses in front and behind his carriage. No one is permitted to enter the presidential mansion at any time without the permission of the soldiers, and half-way up the marble staircase there is a military aide, who carefully scrutinizes all who go by.

Passing this official we proceeded to the second floor, and were soon in the President’s parlours. They are very large, and are as well furnished as those of the White House at Washington. At the time we entered they were filled with ladies and gentlemen, who were laughing and gossiping about subjects of passing interest, and as unconcernedly as though they were at a church social, and not sandwiched, as it were, between Gatling guns and military guards in the midst of possible revolution. The ladies wore low necks and short sleeves and the gentlemen were in evening dress.

When we came in, the wife, daughter, and sons of the President were entertaining the guests, His Excellency, the President, having not yet entered. Shortly after shaking hands with us, Madame Cuestas led us to one end of the room, where there was a large sofa with chairs facing each other and running out into the room at right angles to its two ends. She and her daughter sat on the sofa, and the distinguished guests and ourselves occupied the chairs. This is the way a Montevideon hostess receives her callers; it is the form of seating in the better-class houses all over South America. We chatted some time with the President’s wife, while callers came and went, shaking hands with everyone in the room as they entered, and with Madame Cuestas and all of the guests upon retiring.

The Orientales, for that is what the Uruguayans call themselves, are noted for their beautiful, cultured, and fashionably dressed women. They vie with the Portenos, or Buenos Aires women, as to beauty, and consider themselves much more aristocratic and high-born. They call Montevideo the Paris and the Madrid of South America. It must be confessed that they have some reason for the claim. The city has magnificent homes, as well as a great many wealthy inhabitants. It has its fashionable “four hundred,” who are as well-dressed and as well-bred people as you will find anywhere.

They have fine houses and well-padded pocket-books. Many of them trace their descent from families that came to Uruguay hundreds of years ago. Their possessions are in great estates, rented houses, and in cattle and sheep. They have their palaces in Montevideo, whose floors are marble, and whose ceilings are frescoed and upheld by marble columns from Italy. They have vast one-story buildings on their estates, where in summer time they entertain like lords, supplying every guest with a horse. In the winter, their surroundings are equally pretentious, but very uncomfortable, for the houses of Montevideo are as frigid as the white marble in which they are finished. The people believe artificial heat unhealthy, and in this city, which is as large as Washington, and quite as cold, there is not a furnace or a steam-heating plant. During cold snaps, a hostess often receives dressed in furs, with her hands in a muff and her feet on a hot-water bottle, and gentlemen and ladies come to state dinners in over-coats and fur capes.

Rich families have hosts of servants; they have their coachmen and footmen, their housemaids, ladies’ maids, and serving women. Men cooks are often employed; in such cases it is customary to give the cook a certain amount per day, and allow him to do the marketing and take his wages out of the daily allowance. Even where he is given the money for marketing only, it is expected that he will steal a little every day. The wages of servants are high; cooks receive from $14 to $25. per month, or about as much as they do in Washington, while housemaids are paid from $1o to $18 per month—the amounts being in gold.

Uruguayan families are large. When a young man is married he brings his better-half to live with the old folks, and often half-a-dozen families will reside in one house. As a rule, the girl goes to the husband’s family.

It would surprise many Americans who look upon society south of the equator as half-savage to know that there are many Montevideon women who wear evening and visiting dresses that cost $1 o0 dollars apiece, and that a few of the « upper ten ” have single dresses in their wardrobes for which they have paid from $500 to $1000 in gold. Their best dresses come from Paris, and they have the latest styles as soon as New York. They are fond of diamonds, the use of jewels being more common in Montevideo than in either New York or Washington. Take, for example, the case of a recent dinner here: one of the best-dressed women present was the wife of the vice consul-general of the United States, an Orientale of one of the first families. At this dinner she wore a gown of brocaded white satin, trimmed with a wide drapery of point lace, which festooned the whole skirt and its long train. Her corsage was trimmed with a row of diamond butterflies, some of which were quite large, and these diamonds ran from shoulder to shoulder. At the dinner there were other costumes equally costly, the most common of the ornaments being aigret plumes, fastened to the hair with elaborate diamond pins.

Uruguayan women are of the Spanish type, tall and well-formed. The scrawny girls are few, and the average maiden is large-boned, well-rounded, and plump. As the women grow older they run to adipose tissue, and not a few of the elderly dames are fat. The type is uniform; the eyes of most of the women are dark, but full of lustre, and their complexions are clear, dark, and rosy. Both young men and young women” look clean and healthy, and show great animation of face and manner. The men are as careful of their dress as are the women, and those of the upper classes are very particular as to what they wear on every occasion.

There are few cities where etiquette is of more account than in the South American capitals. There is in Montevideo an etiquette of the pavement. The Orientale thinks no one but a boor would allow a lady to walk on the outer edge of the pavement in going along the street; the inside is the place of honour, and the lady must always have it. If two ladies go together, the younger lady always takes the outside. If two gentlemen walk together, each vies with the other in trying to make him take the inside. A host must always give his guest the inside, and the man of lower rank gives the man of higher rank with whom he is walking the inner honourable path.

Girls do not appear on the streets without chaperones. If a young woman go out for a walk or to shop, she cannot do so unless her mother, or her aunt, or servant maid is with her. She may take a nurse girl of thirteen or fourteen, not because she is of any earthly good to guard her, but as a badge of respectability as a chaperone. Women never make the first bow to the men they meet on the street ; the man must take off his hat, or the woman cannot notice him, and if he does not do this it will be considered a slight by the woman. Young unmarried men and women cannot walk along the street together, chaperone or no chaperone, and a young woman and young man who should go out for a moonlight drive would not only lose their reputations, but would be socially ostracised. Young men who have sisters never ask their young men friends to come to their houses, and as for a young man spending an evening alone with his lady-love—such a thing is unheard of.

Even among themselves young women have no such inter-course as in the United States. There are no musical clubs, Shakespeare clubs, or women’s missionary societies. A young man has no chance to learn the character of a woman before he proposes for her hand. Even his sisters can know little about her; his only possible avenue of information is through the servants. From these, if he care to stoop so low, he may possibly learn something as to the young lady’s disposition and habits—whether she is or is not ” a big-eater ” and what it takes to keep her. His only chance of seeing the girl will be at the regular receptions of the family during the season. These are held weekly, and at them both gentlemen and ladies are at home. The usual hours for such functions are from 4 to 7 in the afternoon and from 9 to 12 at night. During the afternoon-calling wine and tea are served; and in the evening, at 11 o’clock, the guests are invited to the dining-room for refreshments. Evening dances and parties usually last so long that the more devout are able to at-tend morning masses on their way home. Dinners are elaborate, a different wine being usually served with each course, and champagne with dessert; coffee and liquors are taken in the parlours after dinner.

Among the singular customs of the country are those of courtship and marriage. The girls are carefully watched, and there is no indiscriminate love-making without the chaperonage of the parents or members of the family. Young ladies would be compromised if they had gentlemen callers; indeed, a man never thinks of calling upon a young woman until he is engaged to her. If he admires her and wishes to know her, he begins his advances by “playing the dragon”; this means that he dresses himself in his best clothes and struts up and down before her house, while she looks at him from the balcony. Every fashion-able house in Montevideo has a balcony, and the chief amusement of the girls is to stand on this or lean out of the windows looking at the people as they go by.

When the young man thus walks up and down gazing at her window, the young woman understands what it means and comes out and makes sheep’s eyes in the same direction. The two will look at each other for hours without a word being spoken. Men may come and men may go, but still they gaze. As a rule, the passers-by do not notice the lovers; indeed, it is not always safe to do so. Your action may be misconstrued, the lover may be-come jealous, and a knife thrust under the fifth rib, most likely given in the dark, may follow.

After practising this dragon act for some time, the young man may go to the father of the girl and say that he would like to call upon his daughter with a view to proposing. If papa says all right, he calls, and a day or so later you will see an item in the paper stating that young Senor So-and-So is paying attentions to Senorita Thus-and-So, and that a marriage will probably soon take place.

When the young man calls upon his sweetheart, all of the family are in the room. He gets her as far off as he can, how-ever, and devotes himself only to her. From this time on until after the marriage, he must pay attentions to no other woman. If he go to a dance or party, he must corne early and wait for her, and he will spend the evening with her alone. At every party in Montevideo you see a number of these young lovers, who are called novias, waiting for their affianced, or novias. The girl pays attention to no one but her novio, while the boy has eyes alone for his novia. The two go off by themselves and devote the evening to mutual soft-spooning compliments.

I am told that such couples are clogs on the wheels of Montevideon society. It is a wonder that mothers, who are so careful at home, will let their girls do as they please when once they are engaged. If you ask a mother where her daughter is at such a reception, she will say that she is with her novio, and the subject is dismissed as a matter of course. I was chatting about this one day with one of the Montevideon society ladies, when I asked: “What do you do if the novio becomes disgusted and ( goes back’ on the girl, refusing to marry her, or vice versa ?” The reply was: “You seldom hear of such a case. A young man who would act in that way would be disgraced by society; as for the girls, their chief end in life is marriage, and they don’t dare to miss the chance. The married state here is far ahead of single blessedness, for it is the married woman who rules society. After the wedding she can do as she pleases; when the priest performs the ceremony he strikes the chains of maidenhood from her ankles.”

The weddings of the Orientales are held in the churches, with a supper and dance at the home after the ceremony. The wedding gifts are very elaborate, generally including diamonds and silver. The honeymoon is usually spent at home, the Orientales not believing in our custom of taking wedding-journeys. They call the period ” La Luna de Miel,» or the moon of honey, and, if possible, they try to enjoy it alone. If the wedding be in the summer and the family be at the time in the country, they will come to the town house and open it up for themselves, and if in the winter they may possibly go out to the “estancia.» As to their permanent quarters, the groom’s father usually makes a present of the house and all its furniture, often including table linen beautifully embroidered, and the wife’s father does as well as he can in money and presents.

ExpatBob in 1897!

Posted: May 5, 2012 in Ancient wisdom, Stupidity
Tags: ,

This is some interesting text from the turn of the century (1897 or thereabouts), found here along with some other interesting travel logs from the same region and time period. Bold mine.


URUGUAY is the smallest and richest State south of the equator. It lies at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, just across from the Argentine Republic, and at the southeast corner of Brazil. The whole country would hardly be a mouthful for Argentina, and not a good-sized bite for Brazil; but its soil is as fat as the valley of the Nile, and its people step high on the stilts of self-esteem. Most of the countries of South America are extensive. Brazil is as large as the whole of the United States without Alaska or our new islands. Argentina covers more territory than all of our country east of the Mississippi, but little Uruguay is only about as big as Missouri and Connecticut. It is about the size of North Dakota, though not so thickly populated as Nebraska. It has about as many people as Boston, and fully one-third of these are in the capital, Monte-video, which at present is considerably less populated than Cleve-land, Ohio.

But first let me give the reader a bird’s-eye view of the country. If you could look at Uruguay from a balloon you would see that it is gently rolling; it has no hills more than 2,000 feet high. The land is spread out in undulating waves, the greater part of which is made up of rich pasture. It is well-watered, for there are rivers and streams everywhere and but few swamps. The climate is such that the grass is green all the year round, and the cattle and sheep are fed by simply turning them out to pro-vide for themselves. There is not ‘a barn in the country. You may travel a thousand miles and not see a haystack or feeding-trough. Still there are flocks and herds everywhere; at least, 5,000,000 cattle, 13, 000, 000 sheep, and several hundred thousand horses and mules are sustained without trouble. Talk about Job and his cattle on a thousand hills! In respect to both hills and cattle, Job was a pauper compared with the Uruguayans.

The land is well adapted to support a great population. It has now about twelve to the square mile, and probably not half of this number when you take out the cities; I doubt whether there is a family for every 640 acres. Still the soil will raise wheat. It grows apples and pears for the Buenos Aires market, and it has strawberries nine months in the year. It is in about the latitude of Florida, but is not as hot in summer, nor as cold in winter. Its seasons, of course, are just the opposite of ours ; when we have fall, Uruguay has spring, and when we put on our sealskins the Uruguayan ladies are using their fans. August is the coldest month, and along about January the weather is warmest.

I spoke of the land being well-watered. The streams cover it like the veins of a leaf. The veins of the human body are not more in number than the waterways of Uruguay, and around almost the whole of the Republic there is a belt of water, making it, indeed, a peninsula. It has, in fact, about 700 miles of navigable waterways; there is the Atlantic on the south and southeast; there is the muddy river Plate with 155 miles of coast line; and a little farther over and along the the western boundary are 270 miles of the swift-flowing Uruguay. The latter is about 9 miles wide at its mouth, and during most of the year, steamboats of 14 feet draught can go up it to Pysandu, a city near the middle of the western boundary. From this point you get smaller streams, which carry you farther up, and the Rio Negro, which crawls across the country dividing it in two equal parts, is also to some extent navigable.

Uruguay has few large cities. It is like Argentina in that its capital rules it and forms its social, intellectual, financial, and industrial centre. There are perhaps four cities which range between 10,000 and 15,000 in population, and a dozen smaller towns of from 3,000 to 6,000 each. These are market towns and state capitals, but they all pay tribute to Montevideo.

Montevideo calls itself the Paris of South America. It is the healthiest city in the world and the cleanest city on the continent. Built upon a tongue of rock which runs out into the muddy Rio de la Plata, the streets all drain into the river, and every rain gives the city a washing. There is water on all sides of you; if you walk up or. down a hill you come to the sea, and the slope is such that there are no stagnant pools.

[note: clearly things have changed in terms of the cleanliness.]

Monte-video means «I see the mountain.” If you look at the root of this tongue of rock you will really see the mountain, from which the city is named. It is called ” The Cerro”; but so far from being a mountain, it is not quite as high as the Washington Monument. At night you may distinguish twenty-five miles out at sea the revolving light upon its tower, but even if this were unlighted you could tell that the Cerro was there. How ? Why, by its smell. There is a great slaughter-house on the Cerro in which 200,000 cattle are killed every year, and from which, during a land breeze, a disgusting odour is wafted over the waters. Long before I could see the city, I knew by this smell that I was approaching Montevideo.

The bay of Montevideo is naturally one of the finest in the world. It is in the shape of a horseshoe, six miles in circumference, and so large that many hundred ocean steamers could be in it at a time. Hundreds of steamers formerly cast anchor here. This is not the case now, although more than a thousand ships call at the port annually. The waters of the Rio de la Plata for the past seventy years have been dropping mud into the bay. They have been filling it up at the rate of an inch a year, and now no ship that draws more than fifteen feet can come in. The result is that the ocean steamers must anchor far out in the river and all goods have to be brought in upon lighters. We were carried to the city on a steam-tug, our ship remaining several miles from land.

For years Montevideo has been planning to dredge this bay. It is estimated that it will cost $30,000,000 to clean out the mud, but the result would be worth much more than that to the city. It might make it the chief port of the river Plate, as it is al-ready the chief port of the country. There are now daily steamers from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, and every day or so you can get a ship for Europe. There are also steamers to and from the ports of Brazil, and river boats which will take you thou-sands of miles up the Parana, Paraguay, and Uruguay. I travelled more than 1,200 miles on river steamers in coming down from Asuncion to Montevideo.

I find Montevideo better built than most other South American cities. About one-fifth of the houses are of three stories. They are of a stone quarried near by and are in architecture more like the buildings of Europe than those of South America. Many of the houses are covered with stucco, painted in bright colours. Some are quite large. The Solis Theatre, for instance, covers almost two acres, and will seat 3,000 spectators. It was built more than 40 years ago and cost $300,000 at that time. Sarah Bernhardt has played in it, and Patti has also been listened to within its walls.

[note: again things have changed. Uruguayos are now afraid of color.]

Another fine building is the “boisa,” or stock-exchange, situated at the corner of Zavala and Piedras streets. This was built in 1863 and cost just about half as much as the opera house. It is the stock-gambling place of Uruguay, and, like the stock-exchange of Buenos Aires, has seen some notable crazes. Uruguay went mad about the year 1890, as did Argentina: it had one bank with a capital of $12,000,000, whose stock after its failure, some years ago, dropped to 80 per cent below par. At present there are a number of good banks, some of the largest being branches of the foreign banks doing business at Buenos Aires. Money brings good rates of interest, and, as far as I can learn, all of the banks pay dividends.

Referring to money matters in Uruguay, I may say that this is the only South American country I have visited which is on a gold basis. In Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and the Argentine, I got about $3 for $1 in negotiating my drafts on London; while in Paraguay, when I made a draft for $100 in gold I usually received about $700 in Paraguayan money. This was very pleasing, for although the money had not a purchasing value equal to its face value, it went a great deal farther than the same amount reduced to gold. In Montevideo an American dollar is worth only 96 cents and for an English pound you get but $4.72.

Cab fares here cost 50 cents a trip or $1 per hour. In Buenos Aires I paid the same price in Argentine money, or less than 33 cents Uruguayan; the result is that everything is dear and money does not go half so far. At the hotel in Montevideo I pay $3 per day, which is almost a gold dollar more than I paid at Buenos Aires, where the rate was $8 in Argentine money. A bottle of St. Julien, which I had the other day, cost me $4, and everything else is proportionately high.

[note: escalated prices and lack of market value has not changed.]

There is now talk of establishing a bank with a capital of $10,000,000, which shall be under the control of the government, and shall have the right to issue bank notes to half the value of the capital subscribed. This bank will be called the Bank of the Republic. It can, pay its notes in gold or silver,’ at its own discretion, and the president and directors are to be appointed by the government. The scheme, if carried out, will in all probability reduce Uruguay to a silver basis, for such financial institutions under a South American government cannot be trusted. The officers in power to-day may be all right, but those who come in by the revolution of to-morrow are more than likely to be all wrong. Such a national bank would always be at the mercy of the President of Uruguay, and there is no telling when an Executive may arise who will not embezzle the funds. Borda, the last President, had nothing when he was elected; when he was assassinated his estate was worth $3,000,000, and his widow today has villas, farms, and gold galore. Another President, I am told, stole about $5,000,000 from a former national bank during his administration. He had the appointment of the directors, and would send down for $50,000 at a time, for his personal use. As a result of such extravagance and corruption, running through a series of years, Uruguay has now an enormous national debt. Its foreign debt amounts to more than $128,000,000, and it is paying annually in interest alone about $4,000,000. The debt, if divided up, would require the payment of $140 by every man, woman, and child in the country, or of about $700 per family. The debt, in fact, is almost half the estimated value of the real estate of the Republic, which in round numbers, in 1895, was $275,000,000, of which almost half is located in the department of Montevideo.

[note: same old mierda, different day]

And still the Uruguayan capital rather prides itself upon its thrift and piety. It has a cathedral, churches, convents, and hospitals. The cathedral is now about a hundred years old, and is as solid as when it was built. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was constructed by the milkmen and market-gardeners; and there are forty charitable institutions, with 12,000 members, that spend $250,000 a year on behalf of the poor and sick. There is a foundling asylum that provides for 280 babies annually; the institution, I am told, buries more than half of them before they get into short clothes. The percentage of illegitimacy is large, fully one-fourth of the children of the country not being « wise enough to know their own fathers.” This, I am told, is in large measure due to the costly marriage fees. .

The state religion is that of the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestants being but a drop in the bucket of Uruguayan life. In the Department of Montevideo alone there are 179,000 Catholics to about 11,000 Protestants, and 23,000 others who are of no declared religion. I understand that Protestants are well treated and that in the cities religious intolerance is unknown.

Montevideo is noted for its culture. It is a city of news-papers, libraries, and schools. It has a national library, which contains 22,000 volumes. It has a national museum, in which there are 33,000 objects, and it has its daily, weekly, and monthly periodicals. It is the centre of intelligence for the country, and the leading dailies, weeklies, and monthlies are published here. Most of the dailies are in Spanish, but there are two in English, one in Italian, and one in French.

As to the school system, this is steadily improving. There are 500 more schools in Uruguay now than there were in 1876, al-though as yet only 9 per cent of the population attend them, and the majority of the common people cannot read or write. There are now close upon 1,000 institutions of learning, public and private. There are about 2,000 school-teachers, of whom more than two-thirds are women. Teachers are well paid, the average amount paid them being about $35 per month. Most of the teachers are foreigners, there being only 606 native teachers of the 2,000 in the service. Normal schools have, however, been established, and there will be an increased number of native teachers in the future. Montevideo has a university with 85 professors and 549 students. The course in this institution is very complete, law, medicine, engineering, and the ordinary college studies being taught. It is controlled by the government, which also supports an industrial school, having 243 pupils, and a military college, which has 48 students in attendance.

The country has good postal and telegraph systems. It has more than 4,000 miles of telegraph lines and nearly 350,000 telegrams are annually sent. There are 636 post offices, and last year the post office handled in the neighbourhood of 10,000,000 letters and about 26,000,000 newspapers and packages.

But let us go through the city and look at the people. We make the wharf our starting-point and walk over the cobblestones up the hills in the shadow of three-story buildings. We stop on the corner to get our boots blackened and are charged the regulation five cents a shine. Newsboys accost us with the daily papers, just as they do in New York, and well-dressed women and men pass by.

There are many curious sights. Men go by us with loads on their heads or on their backs. Here comes a milk-peddler; he is of the same style as those of the smaller cities of the Argentine Republic. He sits on his horse with his legs about its neck and almost on the top of the leather buckets that contain his milk cans. Each one is corked with a round piece of wood wrapped in a dirty rag, and I doubt whether he changes the rag from one year’s end to the other. There he has stopped and has gone into the house. His horse stands still, although there is no hitching-post or iron ring in sight. He has hobbled the front feet of the animal with the whip. These men supply the city of more than 250,000 inhabitants with milk. They used to supply it with butter, which they made. by galloping their horses so that the jolting did the churning. Then, I am told, when you wanted butter the man dipped his hands into one of the cans and squeezed up a chunk. It is still the same outside the cities; little butter is used by the common people, and there are farmers with thousands of cows who eat their bread dry.

Listen to the horns! We hear them every few moments as we pass along the street, and wonder whether it is the Uruguayan Fourth of July, or Christmas, or New Year, and whether or not the boys are out for a holiday. We soon see that the horns are blown by street-car drivers, who thus notifiy all to keep out of the way. They sound their horns at every street corner and now and then give a toot between times. The cars are drawn by horses, and so far electricity as a motive power has not appeared. There are electric lights, however, and at public celebrations the whole city is ablaze with incandescent globes of all colours.

There are few cabs. The many hills and the cobblestone roads retard their use, and the people rely upon the cars as their chief mode of transit. The draying and heavy hauling of Montevideo is done in carts, to which two or three mules are harnessed, one on the inside, and the others on the outside of the shafts. The driver usually rides one of the outside mules. The carts have wheels from six to eight feet high, with hubs as big round as scrubbing buckets and shafts the size of telegraph poles. As we go farther we see that nearly all vehicles are two-wheeled. We ask why, and learn that taxes on such things are paid by the wheel, and that a two-wheeled vehicle pays only half as much as one with four wheels.

[note: that mentality persists…]