Ten thousand fiery political struggles and the two international wars that agitated the liberal period considerably extended civic education in the country and aroused the sense of nationality. At the same time, they also gave an impulse to culture, awakening ambitions for the realization of which study was necessary. The steamship lines sailing to Europe continually brought Chile nearer the nations of greatest literary and scientific progress, permitted the wealthiest men to undertake knowledge-provoking journeys, and brought about a more frequent exchange in publications, while at the same time communication was accelerated. Although it already had fallen into disuse, the "censoring of books" established in the times of Portales and designed to forbid the introduction of those thought undesirable was suppressed at the end of Pinto's administration. Free reading, much less expensive than formerly, necessarily raised the average level of intelligence.
Further, the effort that the governments had put into developing public education in all its branches necessarily contributed its benefit to general culture. At the end of Balmaceda's administration there were already distributed throughout the whole country some fifteen hundred schools, government or private, which were attended by no less than eighty thousand children of both sexes. Although this number did not correspond to even a fourth of the scholastic population, nevertheless these schools for a long time had been creating a genuine foundation of culture.
The National Institute and the provincial high schools also seemed to be well attended; and, as the governing class of citizens had to come from them, special attention was devoted to these institutions. Normal schools for men and women, designed for the preparation of a corps of primary teachers, were other important centers of common learning. The seminaries of each diocese educated, likewise, a multitude of young men either for the priesthood or for ordinary life. Many private colleges — like those belonging to religious congregations and those supported by the government — under the direction of distinguished educators contributed to the same cultural ends. Higher professional instruction p350 attracted a greater number of students every year; and every year also a large number of lawyers, engineers, doctors, dentists, and pharmacists, all active, trained young men, left their halls. The state university already felt the competition of the Catholic University, established in 1888 by the archbishop to give a religious basis to professional studies.
Moreover, institutions of other kinds, such as libraries, museums, scientific and literary societies, were exercising their influence on general learning. The "Circle of Friends of Letters" founded at the end of Montt's administration, and later the "Academy of Fine Arts" and the "Progress Club" were among these centers. Their contests, their public lectures, and their discussions stimulated scholarly pursuits and revealed a literary flowering of no small value. Almost all the men who at that time had any part in the intellectual or political activity of the country belonged to those societies.
Santiago. Academy of the Fine Arts in Parque Forestal.
Courtesy Grace Line.
Nothing, however, showed better this slow but sure development of national culture than the progress of the daily and periodical press. In 1860 there were only two substantial dailies in the country: El ferrocarril (The Railway) of Santiago and El mercurio (The Mercury) of Valparaiso. Thirty years later there were no less than twenty in the different cities of the republic. Seven were maintained in the capital alone. Half a hundred periodicals in cities of lesser importance made a chorus with these. With the War of the Pacific, sellers of "extras" appeared in the more populous centers, boys who satisfied the curiosity and eagerness of the public for events of the campaign by everywhere calling out the daily news-sheets. Among the educated class, the daily was, from that time on, as necessary as food. Telegraph service with the outside world gave greater interest to its columns.
Among the most celebrated newspaper writers of that period were the Arteaga Alemparte brothers (Justo and Domingo), José Antonio Torres, Manuel Blanco Cuartín, and Zoróbabel Rodríguez. For the rest, the list would be innumerable, for scarcely any of the Chileans who left a name in politics or in letters refrained from entering journalism, at least for a number of years. Reviews were also maintained with an increasing number of subscribers. Besides those edited under the patronage of fraternities or of professional associations — like the Revista médica (Medical Review), the Revista forense (Forensic Review), and various educational reviews — there were others of a more general literary and scientific character. One of the first and most influential was La Semana (The Week, 1859‑1860) of the Arteaga Alemparte brothers. In p351 this publication they began to show their notable qualities of style — vivacity, conciseness, energy. But their merit rested principally on a later work entitled Los constituyentes chilenos de 1870 (The Chilean Constituents of 1870), a fine volume of critical-biographical editorials.
Later came new periodical publications, among them the Revista del Pacífico, the Estrella de Chile (Star of Chile), and the Revista chilena, in which almost all writers of the period collaborated. The variety and importance of the writings in these publications and their serious tone make all these reviews, even now, copious sources of information. The Anales de la universidad and the Revista católica — fruits of the literary movement of 1842 — completed the picture of intellectual production in the world of periodicals.
The highest representatives of letters in the nineteenth century concentrated their efforts on valuable books. In 1865 the life of Andrés Bello, the wise publicist who had been something of a mentor for two generations of Chileans, peacefully came to an end. He died at the age of eighty-four while young men still sought friendly intercourse with him. His influence on literature as a critic and master of language who wrought with equal ability in prose and verse, as internationalist, and as jurist survived for a long time. [His poetry, among which the free translation of The Prayer for All by Victor Hugo is preëminent; his discourses, among which is considered best the one with which he inaugurated the university; his Gramática de la lengua castellana (Grammar of the Spanish Language); his Principios de derecho internacional (Principles of International Law); and, lastly, the Código civil chileno (Civil Code of Chile) which he edited, as well as many other pamphlets and articles, have formed for him one of the most enduring pedestals that any intelligent, industrious man has been able to acquire in Chile.]1
p352 But shortly, with new men, new ideas prevailed in the country. José Victorino Lastarria, the aged professor of the institute and celebrated parliamentarian of the mid-century, was one of the guides of the new generation. Although politics absorbed the greater part of his time, it was not politics that gave him his solid reputation and his powerful influence on the international development of the republic. Rather, it was literature — his books. Therefore he has been called, as was Bello, "master."
He carried his uncompromising liberal tendencies into his writings. Among his many works three are most important; namely, Lecciones de política positiva (Lessons of Positive Politics), a book with a philosophical purpose, although not very clear and hardly practical; La América, a work also political in tone, in which, after demonstrating the vices of the old Spanish organization, he tried to set up new principles so that true democracy might be realized on the continent; and Recuerdos literarios (Literary Memories), a long defense of his intellectual life in which he had at the same time written the history of Chilean literature during the first fifty years of the constitutional era of the republic.2 Always struggling against the indifference of his fellow countrymen, Lastarria died after seventy years, in 1888.
Much less fortunate than Lastarria, however, was another of the liberal propagandists, whose personality has been the most discussed in Chile; namely, his disciple, Francisco Bilbao. Expatriated in consequence of the revolutionary movement of 1851, he lived in Peru and Argentina. He died in the capital of the latter country long before Lastarria (1866). Leading an unfortunate, outlawed existence, he issued from his exile numerous revolutionary treatises, principally anticlerical, such as La América en peligro (America in Danger), that were in no respect unworthy of the author of Sociabilidad chilena.3 Although none of his efforts merit the name of "works" and leave much to be desired in the way of clearness and p353 correctness of language, it is a fact that the remembrance of his struggles as an agitator of the masses during the middle of the century and of his passion for the betterment of the workingman made of him for many years a gigantic moral figure. His name was taken by some exalted reformers as their battle emblem; and the polemics which were the subjects of his writings gave him considerable influence in the liberal society of the time.
But no form of literature in those days made greater strides than history. The past of the nation was investigated devotedly in the archives of Chile and of Spain by men of indefatigable industry. From the years when university memoirs had invariably to discuss some point in the history of Chile, studies of this nature followed each other one after another and came to compose a real library both abundant and select. But the greater part of those memoirs, such as the great work of Gay, soon were relegated to oblivion before the notable works of a whole generation of professional historians.
The first of them is Miguel Luis Amunátegui (1828‑1888), who succeeded by his own efforts in distinguishing himself as a student at the National Institute, as a professor for nineteen years in the same institution, and then as an indefatigable writer. His first work, written like many of his other works, in collaboration with his brother, Gregorio Víctor, was La reconquista española. Later came others and still others: La dictadura de O'Higgins (The Dictatorship of O'Higgins), his most interesting work, according to general opinion; El descubrimiento y conquista de Chile (The Discovery and Conquest of Chile), the most pleasing and artistic; and Los precursores de la independencia de Chile, the most philosophical in range. Numerous works of various kinds and many other historical productions complete the picture of his vast literary effort. Strict documentation, the most scrupulous testing, simplicity of expression — such are the qualities of Amunátegui as a historian.4 He was also a politician, but it is his literary labor that has made him most deserving of national gratitude.
At the time that Amunátegui wrote, Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna5 (1831‑1886) also cultivated history with a charming brilliancy p354 of language and a productivity that is surprising. He was a man of manifold activities. Revolutionist, journalist, politician, diplomat — he wrought in all these fields, but he left the great impress of his life on the cultivation of national history. His production is most varied and enormous, a hundred volumes, but his principal books are: El ostracismo de los Carreras, El ostracismo del jeneral D. Bernardo O'Higgins, Historia crítica y social de Santiago, Historia de Valparaiso, and Don Diego Portales. This last work has always been judged his most complete because of the abundance of his investigation on the subject. The War of the Pacific drew from him a dozen volumes to glorify the heroism of the race. [Brilliant and eloquent narration characterized Vicuña Mackenna; and, although his language was impaired by much carelessness and he did not always adopt the serious tone that his themes required, he is not only the most fertile of Chilean writers, but also the most charming of Chilean historians.]6
Diego Barros Arana (1830‑1897) follows next. Educated in the institute, he devoted himself from young manhood to historical reading and investigation and travelled in Europe and America, collecting data and documents for a vast compilation. While he was preparing this work, he published several others on such men as the guerrilla fighter, Vicente Benavides, on Freire, Valdivia, and Magellan, and some textbooks, such as his Compendio de historia de América. But his most notable works of that period were his Historia jeneral de la independencia de Chile, and his Historia de la guerra del Pacífico (History of the War of the Pacific). Finally, at the end of thirty years of patient and painstaking preparation, his great compilation appeared, the Historia jeneral de Chile, the first volume of which was published in 1884, and the last, twenty years later.7 There are sixteen full volumes in which is told the past of Chile from primitive times up to 1833, the date of the constitutional organization of the republic. It is the most complete that could be asked for, both because of the abundant research which p355 enabled the author to prove each fact with scrupulous care, and because of the profound erudition that permitted him to treat all his material adequately. Barros Arana is justly considered the most finished of Chilean national historians.
Next to these three masters of historical literature in Chile come many other authors, who without having written special works on definite institutions or periods have contributed to a knowledge of national history. Such are the following: Crescente Errázuriz, formerly a Dominican priest, afterwards presbyter and beloved archbishop of Chile and a famous writer, to whom we owe a series of interesting books on the origins of the Chilean Church, and the early period of the Spanish conquest; Ramón Sotomayor Valdés, author of an excellent Historia de la administración del general Prieto, 1831‑1841; Gonzalo Bulnes, with his military histories on Expedición libertadora del Perú (The Liberating Expedition of Peru), and Campaña del Perú en 1838 (The Peruvian Campaign of 1838); and José Toribio Medina, a scholarly and extraordinarily persistent and productive investigator, who kept working to the end and who, in the time to which we refer, had already published his Historia de la literatura colonial de Chile, Los aborígenes de Chile, and two histories on the Inquisition, one dealing with that tribunal as it existed in Lima, and the other as it existed in Chile.
Light literature was also represented by important works and authors. Among the writers on national customs, one stands out above any of his compatriots — José Joaquín Vallejo, a popular writer under the pseudonym of "Jotabeche" who, although he died very young, left works of a fine quality, which were compiled after his death and published under the title Artículos de Jotabeche (Articles of Jotabeche). Then came Daniel Barros Grez, whose studies and national novels won no little reputation. Among these last, Pipiolos y pelucones is the best known. But the novel attained greater importance and interest in the hands of another Chilean writer, Alberto Blest Gana, among whose numerous productions of that period Martín Rivas surpasses all others.
In nothing, however, was the period which we are studying more prolific than in poets. Their names well known and popular in the country and collections of their verse are very abundant. Among them are Eusebio Lillo, author of the "Canción nacional" (National Hymn) and many other poems; Joaquín Antonio Soffia, Guillermo Blest Gana, and Luis Rodríguez Velasco, the three who were outstanding in exquisite sentimental verse; Salvador Sanfuentes who died in 1860, and who cultivated history, the drama, p356 and legends in verse; Guillermo Matta, philosophical and patriotic poet, rude, with little harmony in his compositions, but of extraordinary productivity; and lastly Eduardo de la Barra, who, to the qualities he possessed as a facile and at times arrogant versifier, added a rare knowledge of philology and notable qualities as a debater. He has left scattered but valuable works.
To the second half of the nineteenth century and especially to the period of liberal institutions belongs the rise of a Chilean literature, whose value, whatever it may be, makes it possible for one to appreciate the rapid expansion of culture within the country and with it the confirmation of a spirit without prejudice and free from traditional shackles.
Art had also its representatives by this time. Among various distinguished painters the following deserve to be noted: Pedro Lira, who was a real apostle of painting, among whose canvasses the best known is "La Fundación de Santiago" (The Founding of Santiago); and Rafael Correa, one of whose pictures, "El Puente de cal y canto" (The Bridge of Stone Masonry), brought him much of his fame during that period. Among the few Chilean sculptors who succeeded at that time in creating various masterpieces are Nicanor Plaza with his "Caupolicán," now famous; and Virginio Árias with his group, "Dafnis y Cloe," also of much artistic merit. From 1884 on were held annual expositions in the Salon of Fine Arts, constructed expressly for that purpose in the Quinta Normal of Santiago. Some deserving pupils pensioned by the government were as sent to Europe from the Academy of Painting and the Academy of Sculpture.
Only the National Conservatory of Music and Oratory was at that time unproductive; it did not produce a single lyric or dramatic artist. The number of cultured artists in the country was not really great, but those who are among that number may be justly considered as the founders of the national art of Chile.
The population of the country had for some time past been experiencing a considerable increase. In 1885 a census was taken, by which it was evident that there were more than 2,500,000 inhabitants in the territory of Chile. Six years later this population, in spite of the losses caused by cholera and afterward by the revolution, was computed at about 2,800,000. Those losses, however, had been partly made up by foreign immigration, which, although never very numerous, increased from year to year. The capital p357 and suburbs contained about 250,000 inhabitants. There was still a considerable numerical inequality between the urban and rural population. The former included only a third of the total number. The other two thirds were scattered in the country districts.
Some changes were noted in rural life. There existed, as before, the tenant and his ranch, the wandering peon and his misery. But the absolute ignorance of the former began to be broken, if not everywhere, at least on those haciendas nearest the populated centers, thanks to the frequent intercourse imposed by the commerce between the villager and the countryman. Furthermore, not a few landlords, as proprietors of their estates, provided a shed for school purposes, along with the chapel to which the worker went on Sunday with his family to hear mass, and the store in which he bought his provisions. Here for several months each year was the "master," teaching the alphabets, writing, and prayer to the children of the more favored tenants, who could take something from the day's wage and pay a monthly peso for the instruction. This was not common, but neither was it exceptional.
On the other hand, in the same measure that the purchasing power of money lessened, wages increased.8 From the former real they passed to the chaucha (twenty centavos), and from the chaucha wages later increased to four reales (fifty centavos), the highest amount then reached as a daily wage by a tenant. The outside peon, who worked in the fields only in the months of sowing and harvest, could get as high as seventy or eighty centavos, "without rations," that is to say, by paying for his own food. The women, for their part, reaped and carried on other more or less simple field labors for a real or twenty centavos a day, when extra hands were needed. Of course the day's wages thus indicated were not fixed nor were they maintained equally throughout the whole country but they prevailed in the central part of Chile. They fell to half of those amounts in the south in the less populated agricultural and grazing regions; in the mines and nitrate plants toward the north they arose to double or triple. Nor were the coal miners governed by those wages.
The tenant farmer had the advantage over the wandering peon of possessing his dwelling place, a miserable hut of clay and straw but still his dwelling, and a plot of one or two hectares on which he cultivated some trees, sowed his crop, and even grazed his animals. It was customary, moreover, to allow him the privilege of sending his animals to the woodland or to the nearest hill, where p358 they ran wild until the spring "round-up," when the holiday of branding and sheepshearing occurred. The overseer, superintendent, administrator — all the hierarchy of upper employees — invariably enjoyed those privileges and an adobe house, at times "tiled," and a little plot of four or five hectares for their own crops.
Food was not expensive nor did it lack nutritive elements. There were fowls and their eggs for the countryman; the cow and its milk; the lamb, whose flesh, the "meat of Castile," frequently if not ordinarily was served as a stew; the pig or hog; and other foodstuffs. There were also at hand vegetables in the garden, cereals from the harvest, and firewood in the forests. The countryman sold his barley and potatoes for three pesos a bushel (a fanega); his corn for four; and his wheat for five; his heifers or colts for twenty pesos; his lambs for three — all small sums, but his necessities, which were few, did not require a very large outlay either. He wore only trousers, shirt, short jacket, blanket (manta) or poncho, big hat (chupalla) or cap (bonete), according to the season. The sandal (ojota) was enough to shoe him. Thus his life, in direct contact with nature, was filled with the bracing atmosphere of the earth and lacked the disturbances, the confusion, and the anxieties of the city, especially of the large centers; that is, it was a semi-barbaric rusticity. It had its fatigue, its pains, but also its joys.
When Sunday came the tenant who was not hurried in the work of his little patch was transformed into a genteel huaso.9 He mounted his best horse, wore his best clothes, among which he would not fail to wear the beautiful belt of wool at the waist or the huarapón (panama hat) of straw, or the blanket of various colors; he put on his finest shoes and his stanchest spurs — and then went to mass. There the men of the district met and talked together and arranged for races or bullfights in the afternoon. These amusements ordinarily began and ended with revelry, and not infrequently with quarreling and death. The prestige "round-up" and harvest festival, and other holidays, used to have similar endings. Their spirit of barbarous combativeness was not yet completely dormant.
A modern "Huaso" made up for his part.
Courtesy Grace Line.
This picture of country life has not always been the same; but it is that of a few years back and is still very much like that of today. The same thing is true of urban life, which, forty or more years ago had, though not so much activity as now, the same characteristic features. Their clubs, theatres, walks, holidays, quarrels, p359 and luxury were, with little variation, what they are today. Their cost has increased, of course, and is from four to six times as great, while the cities have gained in beauty, comfort, and healthfulness.
The buildings of brick, the great palaces, comfortable hotels, broad paved avenues, drinking water, and other conveniences were general at that time, through abundant public and private incomes, which kept increasing with the better exploitation of agriculture and mining, along with new industries and trade furthered by the same economic urge. Companies of firemen, created by private initiative at the middle of the century in Valparaiso, Santiago, Valdivia, and then in almost all cities of any importance, now performed their valiant work of rescuing and saving, with generosity and efficiency. Through their organization, on a basis of gratuitous services rendered by their individual members, they were, as today, genuine national and civic institutions.
The War of the Pacific had opened an era of prosperity in national finances. In ten years the income of the public treasury just about quadrupled (from fifteen to sixty million). Such a rapid rise in fiscal power everywhere permitted a forcing of the economic expansion of the country in all its manifestations.
On the other hand, the principal productive sources developed to a remarkable extent. Mining, especially, after the incorporation of the nitrate region into the nation, achieved heights never before imagined. Copper maintained its production of the mid-nineteenth century and increased annually the national wealth from twelve to twenty million pesos; silver, although already declining, gave no less than ten million. Gold itself, now almost exhausted, rated from one to two million; and even manganese, under active exploitation at that time, produced a half to one million each year. The production of nitrate, which in 1880 reached an annual value not above twenty-five million, returned nearly eighty million in 1890.10 Agriculture also increased its annual returns rapidly, devoting a greater area of land each year to cultivation and perfecting its implements and working machinery. Thus exportation, which was supplied almost exclusively from these products, rose from twenty-seven million — the figure which it reached in 1870 — to more than fifty million in 1880 and to sixty-eight million in 1890. In its turn, the manufacturing industry, which, after a half century, had hardly begun to be represented, now began to furnish articles for outside trade. Economic prosperity was then p360 an evident fact that no one could deny. It flattered the patriotism of the rulers and of the men of affairs.
Chilen Chilean copper mining center, July.
Courtesy Grace Line.
The working mass of the population also began to enjoy the benefits of the new situation, although on a much smaller scale than the upper classes of society. Urban salaries doubled in the large centers. The day laborer now collected as much as a peso for his daily wage, instead of four reales. The artisan of every kind was scarcely content with one and a half pesos daily. But this same working class was the one that kept supplying patronage for the tavern, the jail, and the hospital, and increased the amount of vagrancy and beggary. Alcoholism, an innate vice among the people, paralleled the progress in salaries, so that any excess of the latter above satisfying the most pressing necessities would inevitably stimulate drunkenness. The statistics published at that time began to show that, notwithstanding the favorable development of wealth in the country, crime considerably increased, and nearly half the criminals who entered the jails committed their crimes in a state of intoxication. The multiplication of hospitals on account of epidemics was not enough, however, to satisfy the demand for beds for the "sick without resources," who found it necessary to seek that sheltering charity; and the vagrant and beggar, far from disappearing, continued to be at least as numerous as before. They talked of curing these social diseases through encouraging savings, through education, and through public hygiene in its different branches. They talked also of vigorous repression; but at that time nothing or very little was attempted. Nor were they able to repress gambling, a vice that, in all spheres of society, economic progress itself was helping to develop.
At the end, then, of the period sketched above (1861‑1891), Chile began to be a country of wealth and splendor. She transformed herself and prospered rapidly in different forms of activity; but she did not succeed in curing, except to a very small degree, the native vices of her people.
1 The portion enclosed in brackets occurs in the sixth edition of Galdames' Estudio but was omitted from the seventh. Bello's Gramática appeared in Santiago in 1847 (2nd ed. Paris, 1874). A reprint was published in his Obras completas, Vol. IV (Santiago, 1883). His Principios de derecho de jentes was first published in Santiago in 1833 and reprinted under the title Principios de derecho internacional in Santiago in 1861. See his Obras completas, Vol. X. His Proyecto de código civil (Santiago, 1853) was edited and reprinted in 1865 (Obras completas, Vols. XI, XII). Proyecto inédito de código civil, based upon his subsequent corrections and annotations, appears in Obras completas, Vol. XIII (Santiago, 1890).
2 See p485. The first edition of the Lecciones appeared in Santiago in 1875. The first part of La América was written and published in Buenos Aires in 1865, the second and third parts in Santiago in 1867. The first edition of Recuerdos appeared in Santiago in 1878; a second edition, enlarged and illustrated, was published in Santiago in 1885. For an appreciative article on Lastarria, see Agusto Orrego Luco's "Don Victorino Lastarria: Impressiones y recuerdos," in Revista chilena, I (April, 1917), 5‑47. See also Armando Donoso, "Sarmiento y Lastarria" in ibid., X (May, 1920), 5‑34. For a less favorable view, see Cruz, Estudios sobre la literatura chilena, I, 59‑143.
4 La reconquista española . . . 1814‑17 (Santiago, 1851); La dictadura de O'Higgins (Santiago, 1853); Descubrimiento y conquista de Chile (Santiago, 1861); Los precursores (3 vols. Santiago, 1870‑72).
5 For Vicuña Mackenna see p531. El ostracismo de los Carreras appeared in 1857; El ostracismo del Jeneral D. Bernardo O'Higgins, in 1860; Historia crítica y social de Santiago . . . 1541‑1868 (2 vols. Santiago, 1869); Historia de Valparaiso . . . 1536‑1868 (2 vols. Santiago, 1869‑72); and Don Diego Portales in 1863, reprinted in 1937.
6 The portion enclosed in brackets is omitted from the seventh edition of Galdames.
7 For Barros Arana see p316. His Estudios históricos sobre Vicente Benavides y las campañas del sur, 1818‑1822, appeared in 1850; Opúsculo histórico sobre el Jeneral Freire, in Santiago in 1852; Historia jeneral de la independencia de Chile (16 vols. Santiago, 1854‑1858); Compendio de historia de América (2 vols. Santiago, 1865. 9th ed., 1907); Historia de la guerra del Pacífico (2 vols. Santiago, 1880‑81); Historia jeneral de Chile (16 vols. Santiago, 1884‑1902). See Víctor Manuel Chiappa, "Bibliografía de Don Diego Barros Arana," in Rev. chil. de hist. y geog., LXVI (July-Sept., 1930), 227‑341.
8 See Fetter, Monetary Inflation in Chile, p18.
9 The term for a Chilean farmer.
10 See Martner, Estudio de política comercial chilena, II, 447, 493.
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