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Narrative of Services in the Liberation of Chili, Peru and Brazil, from Spanish and Portuguese Domination
Chapter XI


Mention has been made in a previous chapter of the all but total destruction of a division of the liberating army by General Canterac, and of the bombastic proclamations issued on that occasion by San Martin, to the effect that they were "only dispersed, not beaten," &c. The Protector was however ill at ease, and entered into a correspondence with Bolivar, with a view to procure the assistance of Columbian troops against the Spaniards, who, following up their success, were making demonstrations of attacking the patriot forces in Lima. To this request was added another soliciting an interview with Bolivar at Guayaquil. A similar despatch was sent to Santiago, asking, in the most urgent terms, for aid from the Chilian Government.

The whole affair--as narrated at the time, for personally I had nothing to do with it--was somewhat curious. San Martin's designs on Guayaquil having got wind, Bolivar marched the Columbian troops across the Cordillera, successfully invaded Quito, and was hastening towards Guayaquil, with a view of being beforehand with San Martin, of whose intentions upon that province he was aware. After the above-mentioned defeat of the Peruvian army by Canterac, San Martin had been compelled to withdraw his forces from Truxillo, on which Sucre, the next in command to Bolivar, advanced to Guayaquil and took possession of it. At this time, as was afterwards well known, the Limenos were privately soliciting Bolivar to give them his assistance in liberating Peru, both from the Protector and the Spaniards!

Ignorant of this, the Protector, having delegated the supreme authority to the Marquis of Torre Tagle, and appointed General Alvarado Commander-in-Chief in his absence, departed for Guayaquil, for the purpose of the proposed interview.

No sooner had San Martin turned his back, than a public meeting of the Limenos took place in the Plaza, and insisted on the reconstitution of the Cabildo, which assembly had been put down by the Protector immediately after the declaration of independence. The members having complied, it was decided that "the Minister Monteagudo should be deposed, tried, and subjected to the severity of the law," a note being despatched to this effect to the Supreme Delegate, Torre Tagle. The Council of State met, and informed Monteagudo of what had taken place, when he was induced to resign; the Supreme Delegate politely informing the Cabildo that the ex-Minister should be made to answer to the Council of State for the acts of his administration.

This note not satisfying the municipality, the Cabildo requested that Monteagudo should at once be placed in arrest till called upon for his defence, which was immediately complied with; but the step was disapproved by the Limenos, who feared that some crafty subterfuge might again place him in authority. The Cabildo, therefore, in order to satisfy the people and get rid of the ex-Minister, requested of the Government that he might be put on board ship, and exiled for ever from Peru. This was also acceded to; and, on the anniversary of his arrival in Lima, Monteagudo was sent under escort to Callao, and forthwith taken to sea.

Torre Tagle was unable to cope with the returning spirit of the Limenos, nor did he attempt it, as the army was as much disgusted as were the inhabitants, and would not have raised a hand against them. The liberty of the press returned, and the first use of it was the following picture of the exiled Minister, taken from the Lima newspapers; this would not have been inserted here, except to shew the class of men with whom I had so long to contend.

"Every honourable citizen found in Don Bernardo Monteagudo, (this is the name of the man of whom we speak,) an enemy who at any price would have sacrificed him. How many victims has he not immolated in his one year's ministry! More than eight hundred honourable families have been reduced by him to extreme indigence, and the whole city to misery! Amongst the patriots of Lima, nothing was thought of but where they might find an asylum in a foreign land. Without agriculture, commerce, industry, personal security, property, and laws, what is society here but a scene of the most afflicting torments?"

"The religion of our forefathers suffered an equal persecution in its ministers and its temples; these were deprived of their riches, not for the service of our country, but for the reward of espionage, and to deceive us with useless trickeries. The satellites of this bandit were equally despotic with himself, and committed under his protection the most horrid crimes. This is not a proper place in which to insert the baseness with which he abused the delicacy and weakness of females. Fathers of families * * * *. Every man was intimidated. Every feeling man wept, because all were the victims of the caprice of this insolent upstart, who made an ostentation of atheism and ferocity."

"It is impossible to recapitulate his actions. Volumes would be necessary to shew the world the arbitrary crimes of this atrocious individual. It would appear that for the commission of so many offences he must have had some cause that impelled him, for they could not possibly be the effect of ignorance. It was impossible to believe that by insulting and ruining every one, plundering our property, despising the ingenuity and talents of the Peruvians, and endeavouring to introduce anarchy, he could be longer tolerated in this capital. Was the reduction of Peru to the most degrading slavery, the means to make us or even himself happy?" &c. &c. &c

The reader can--from what has been narrated in these pages,--form pretty correct opinions upon the majority of the enormities which drove Monteagudo into exile. Of his private character I have always foreborn to speak, as considering it a thing apart from official acts--but as the Limenos themselves have forcibly alluded to it, I can say that in no respect can their allegations be called in question.

The opinion of the roused Limenos, that for Monteagudo's plunders, insults, and cruelties, there "must have been an impelling cause," is correct, though it is rather surprising that they should not have more justly estimated that cause. The vast amount of silver and gold which I spared in the Sacramento at Ancon, as being the property of the Protector, shews the gulf which swallowed up his plunder of the inhabitants. The costly extravagance of the Government--amidst which the degraded Minister's ostentation was even more conspicuous than that of the Protector himself--could have had no other source but plunder, for of legitimate revenue there was scarcely enough to carry on the expenses of the Government--certainly none for luxurious ostentation; which, nevertheless, emulated that of the Roman Empire in its worst period--but without the "panem et circenses."

The "impelling cause" was the Protector himself. Ambitious beyond all bounds, but with a capacity singularly incommensurate with his ambition, he believed that money could accomplish everything. Monteagudo supplied this literally by plunder and cruelty, whilst San Martin recklessly flung it away in ostentation and bribes. In return for the means of prodigality, the Minister was permitted to carry on the Government just as he chose, the Protector meanwhile indulging in the "otium cum dignitate" at his country palace near La Legua--his physical powers prostrated by opium and brandy, to which he was a slave, whilst his mental faculties day by day became more torpid from the same debilitating influence. This was well known to me, and alluded to in my letter to him of August 7th, 1821, in which I adjured him to banish his advisers and act as became his position. I now mention these things, not to cast a slur on San Martin, but for the opposite purpose of averting undue reproach, though my bitter enemy. The enormities committed in his name were for the most part not his, but Monteagudo's; for, to paraphrase the saying of a French wit, "San Martin reigned, but his Minister governed." Duplicity and cunning were San Martin's great instruments when he was not too indolent to wield them; and while he was wrapped in ease, his Minister superadded to these qualities all the cruelty and ferocity which sometimes converts a ruler into a monster, as the Limenos very appropriately designate him. San Martin was not innately cruel, though, as in the execution of the Carreras, he did not hesitate to sacrifice men of far greater patriotism and ability than himself, regarding them as rivals; but he would not, as Monteagudo did, have endeavoured to tempt me ashore to the house of Torre Tagle, for the purpose of assassinating me; nor, failing in this, would he as Monteagudo also did, have liberated a convict for the express purpose of murdering me on board my own ship. At this distance of time these things may be mentioned, as there can be no delicacy in thus alluding to Monteagudo, who, having lived the life of a tyrant, died the death of a dog; for having sometime afterwards imprudently returned to the Peruvian capital, he was set upon and killed in the streets by the enraged Limenos.

This bad commencement of the Peruvian Government subsequently entailed on the country years of misery and civil war, from intestine feuds and party strife--the natural results of the early abuse which unhappily inaugurated its liberation. No such features have been exhibited in Chili, where the maritime force under my command at once and for ever annihilated the power of Spain, leaving to the mother country neither adherents nor defenders, so that all men agreed to consolidate the liberty which had been achieved. The same good results followed my expulsion of the Portuguese fleets and army from Brazil, where, whatever may have been the contentions of the parties into which the country was divided, the empire has ever since been preserved from those revolutions which invariably characterise states based at the outset upon virulent contentions. In Peru, the liberty which had been promised was trodden under foot by the myrmidons of San Martin, so that a portion of the people, and that the most influential, would gladly have exchanged the degradation of their country for a return to Spanish rule, and this was afterwards very nearly achieved. Another portion, dreading the Spaniards, invited Bolivar to free them from the despotism to which, in the name of liberty, they had been subjected. A third party sighed for independence, as they originally hoped it would have been established. The community became thus divided in object, and, as a consequence, in strength; being in constant danger of the oppressor, and in even more danger from its own intestine dissensions; which have continued to this day, not in Peru only, but in the majority of the South American States, which, having commenced their career in the midst of private feud and public dissension, have never been able to shake off either the one or the other monuments of their own incipient weakness.

The intelligence of Monteagudo's forced exile was received at Valparaiso on the 21st of September; and if this excited the surprise of the Chilians, still greater must have been their astonishment when, on the 12th of October, General San Martin himself arrived at Valparaiso, a fugitive from his short-lived splendour, amidst the desolation of despotism.

The story of this event is brief, but instructive. Having met Bolivar, as previously agreed upon, the Liberator, in place of entering upon any mutual arrangement, bitterly taunted San Martin with the folly and cruelty of his conduct towards the Limenos; to such an extent, indeed, that the latter, fearing designs upon his person, precipitately left Guayaquil, and returned to Callao shortly after the expulsion of Monteagudo. Finding what had taken place, he remained on board his vessel, issuing vain threats against all who had been concerned in exiling his minister, and insisting on his immediate recal and reinstatement. A congress had however, by this time been appointed, with Xavier de Luna Pizarro as its head, so the remonstrances of the Protector were unheeded. After some time spent in useless recrimination, he made a virtue of necessity, and sent in his abdication of the Protectorate, returning, as has been said, to Chili.

One of the first acts of the Peruvian Congress, after his abdication, was to address to me the following vote of thanks, not only marking my services in the liberation of their country, but denouncing San Martin as a military despot:--

Resolution of thanks to Lord Cochrane by the Sovereign Congress of Peru.

The Sovereign Constituent Congress of Peru, in consideration of the services rendered to Peruvian liberty by Lord Cochrane, by whose talent, worth, and bravery, the Pacific Ocean has been liberated from the insults of enemies, and the standard of liberty has been planted on the shores of the South,

Has Resolved,--

That the Supreme Junta, on behalf of the Nation, shall offer to Lord Cochrane, Admiral of the Chilian squadron, its most expressive sentiments of gratitude for his hazardous exploits on behalf of Peru, hitherto under the tyranny of military despotism, but now the arbiter of its own fate.

This resolution being communicated to the Supreme Junta, they will do that which is necessary for its fulfilment, by ordering it to be printed, published, and circulated.

Given in the Hall of Congress, at Lima, September 27th, 1822.

Xavier de Luna Pizarro, President.

Jose Sanchez Carrion, Deputy and Secretary.

Francisco Xavier Mariatique, Deputy and Secretary.

In fulfilment of the preceding Resolution, we direct the same to be executed.

Jose de la Mar,

Felipe Anto. Alvarado,

El Conde de Vista Florida.

By order of His Excellency,

Francisco Valdivieso.

San Martin had, however, played his cards so cunningly, that, in orderto be well rid of him, the Peruvian congress had been induced to give him a pension of 20,000 dollars per annum, whilst nothing but thanks were awarded to me, both for liberating their country and for freeing them from military despotism! notwithstanding that the new Peruvian Government was in possession of our prizes, the Prueba and Venganza, the latter only to be given up by paying 40,000 dollars to the Chilian squadron, which at its own cost had run it down in Guayaquil--these sums, no less than the value of the other frigate, being, in common honesty, due from Peru to the Chilian squadron to this day. To have thanked me so warmly as the exclusive instrument of their independence and deliverance from military tyranny--yet to have rewarded the tyrant and not myself in any form beyond the acknowledgment of my services, is a circumstance to which the Peruvian Government of the present day cannot look back with satisfaction; the less so as Chili has, after the lapse of thirty years, partially atoned for the ingratitude of a former Government in availing itself of my aid, without a shilling in the way of recompense, though I had supported its squadron by my own exertions, with comparatively no expense to the Government, during the whole period that I held the command.

To add to this palpable injustice, the Peruvian Congress distributed 500,000 dollars amongst twenty general and field officers of the army; but the officers of the squadron, whose prowess had freed the Pacific of the enemy, and by the admission of the Congress itself Peru also--were not only excluded from the Peruvian bounty, but were denied the prize-money which they had won and generously given up to the temporary exigencies of Chili. Such a monstrous perversion of justice and even common honesty, never before reflected discredit on a state. But more of this hereafter.

It having been circulated in Lima that San Martin had secreted a quantity of gold in the Puyrredon, steps were taken to verify the rumour, on which, at midnight on the 20th of September, he ordered the Captain to get under weigh, though the vessel was not half manned, and had scarcely any water on board. He then went to Ancon, and despatched a messenger to Lima, on whose return, he ordered the Captain instantly to weigh anchor and proceed to Valparaiso, where on his arrival, it was given out that an attack of rheumatism compelled him to have resource to the baths of Cauquenes.

On the arrival of the Ex-protector, two aides-de-camp were sent by Zenteno to compliment him, and his flag was regularly saluted, the Governor of Valparaiso's carriage being sent to convey him to the Government house. Yet shortly before, this very Governor of Valparaiso had rightly branded those who abandoned the Chilian flag for that of Peru, as "deserters;" but now he received the man who had not only first set the example, but had also induced others to desert--with the honours of a Sovereign Prince! The patriots were eager that I should arrest General San Martin, and there were those in power who would not have complained had I done so, but I preferred to leave the Government to its own course.

On the following day, General San Martin was forwarded in one of the Director's carriages to Santiago with an escort, the pretence for this mark of honour being fears for his personal safety, in which, there might be something of truth, for the Chilian people rightly estimated his past conduct. Without troubling myself about such matters, I immediately forwarded to the Supreme Director the annexed demand, that he should be tried for his desertion and subsequent conduct:--


Don Jose de San Martin, late Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary forces from Chili for the liberation of Peru, having this day arrived at Valparaiso, and being now within the jurisdiction of the laws of Chili, I lose no time in acquainting you that, if it be the pleasure of Government to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the said Don Jose de San Martin, I am ready to prove his forcible usurpation of the Supreme Authority of Peru, in violation of the solemn pledge given by his Excellency the Supreme Director of Chili; his attempts to seduce the navy of Chili; his receiving and rewarding deserters from the Chilian service; his unjustifiably placing the frigates, Prueba and Venqanza, under the flag of Peru; with other demonstrations and acts of hostility towards the Republic of Chili.

Given under my hand this 12th day of October, 1822, on board the Chilian ship O'Higgins, in the harbour of Valparaiso.

(Signed) COCHRANE.

In place of my demand being complied with, San Martin was honoured by having the palace appointed as his residence, whilst every mark of public attention was paid him by the Ministry, the object being no other than to insult me, both as regarded the countenance given to him in the face of my demand for his trial, and the infamous accusations which he had made against me, but which he did not dare to sustain.

The passive acquiescence of the Supreme Director in the treachery of his advisers caused an amount of popular discontent which ended in his exile also; both Chilenos and Spaniards revolting at the idea of San Martin being thus publicly honoured. To see the Supreme Director parade himself as the friend and ally of such a man, was more than the patriot spirit could bear, and the voice of dissatisfaction was loud in every direction. By the partisans of San Martin this was attributed to the squadron; and at his instigation, as was generally believed, troops were sent to Valparaiso for the purpose of overawing it. I was cautioned to be on my guard against personal seizure or assault, as had been attempted in Peru, but did not place sufficient reliance on the courage of my opponents to adopt any steps evincing doubt of the Chilian people, who were well disposed to me.

On the 21st of November there occurred an earthquake, which completely destroyed the town of Valparaiso, so that scarcely a house remained habitable; the people rushing to the hills or to the ships in the harbour. On the first shocks, knowing that terrible disasters would ensue, I went on shore to restore what order could be maintained amongst the terrified people, and met with the Supreme Director, who had narrowly escaped with his life when hurrying out of his house. It being impossible to render the unhappy townspeople any service, I paid His Excellency every possible attention, even though I had reason to believe that his visit was unfriendly to me, he being falsely persuaded that my incessant demands for the payment of the squadron was an act of hostility to himself, instead of a measure of justice to the officers and men.

Finding me determined, after what had occurred, to procure the payment of the squadron, the now tottering Government gave in, and thus far decided on doing justice; but even in this--as I had reason to believe--the counsels of San Martin induced them to adopt a plan of making the payments ashore, and paying the men and petty officers first--after which, they were to be allowed a furlough of four months. As this plan was palpably meant to unman the squadron, and thus place the officers and myself at the mercy of the intriguers, I would not suffer it to be carried into effect, the men were therefore paid on board their respective ships.

A new system of annoyance was hereupon practised towards me by Zenteno, who had again assumed the office of Minister of Marine. From the neglect to repair the ships--which were left in the same wretched condition as when they returned from Peru and Mexico--the Independencia was alone seaworthy; and was sent to sea by Zenteno without even the formality of transmitting the requisite orders through me.

But a crisis was now at hand. The insult offered to General Freire, by sending Santa Cruz to supersede him, will be fresh in the reader's recollection. Soon after this the Provincial Convention of Conception met, and passed a vote of censure upon the Council of Government at Santiago, for re-electing General O'Higgins as Supreme Director after his resignation--an act which it considered illegal, as no such power was vested in the Ministry--and it became known that General Freire was about to march with the troops under his command to enforce these views. On the 17th, General Freire had advanced his troops as far as Talca, and a division of the army at Santiago was ordered to be in readiness to meet him. The marines belonging to the squadron, under the command of Major Hind, were also ordered to reinforce the Director's troops.

I was at this time at my country residence at Quintero, but learning what was going on, I immediately went to Valparaiso and resumed the command of the squadron, to which I found that orders had been issued at variance with the arrangements which had been entered into in regard to the prize-money due to the officers and men--the Galvarino, which was pledged to be sold for that purpose, being under orders for sea, to convey San Martin to some place of safety, for, not anticipating the disorganisation which he found in Chili, he was afraid of falling into the hands of General Freire, from whom he would doubtless have experienced the full amount of justice which his conduct deserved. The squadron in my absence had, however, taken the matter into its own hands, by placing the Lautaro, with her guns loaded, in a position to sink the Galvarino if she attempted to move. The forts on shore had also loaded their guns for retaliation, though of these the squadron would have made short work.

No sooner had I restored order, by resuming the command, than I received from General Freire the subjoined letter, which no longer left me in doubt of his intentions:--

Conception, Dec. 18th, 1822.


The province under my command being tired of suffering the effects of a corrupted administration, which has reduced the Republic to a state of greater degradation than that under which it was labouring when it made the first struggle to obtain its liberty; and when, by means of an illegitimately-created convention, without the will of the people, they have traced the plans of enslaving them, by constituting them as the patrimony of an ambitious despot, whilst, in order to ensure him the command, they have trodden under foot the imprescriptible right of the citizens, exiling them in the most arbitrary manner from their native country.

Nothing now remains for us but heroically to resolve that we will place the fruit of eleven years of painful sacrifices in the way of saving it; to which effect I have deposited in the hands of its legal representatives who are united in this city the authority that I have hitherto exercised; but notwithstanding my want of merit, and sincere renouncement, the constituent power has deigned to place upon my weak shoulders this enormous weight, by again depositing the civil and military command in my person, which the adjoining resolution I have the honour of remitting will explain to your Lordship.

God preserve your Lordship many years.


In short, a revolution to depose the Supreme Director had commenced, and General Freire, supported by the inhabitants of Conception and Coquimbo, was in arms to effect it. With this revolution I was determined to have nothing to do, because, as a foreigner, it was not desirable for me to become a party to any faction, though it was evident that the authority of General O'Higgins would shortly be at an end.

Regarding General Freire's letter as an indirect request to me to aid him in deposing General O'Higgins, I did not even reply to it. On the 20th of September he made the following direct overture to me to join in the revolution:--

Conception, Nov. 20th, 1853.

My Best and Most Distinguished Friend,

The time has arrived when circumstances and the country require the protection of those who generously and judiciously know how to maintain its sacred rights. Let us withdraw the curtain from the scene which trifles with the interests of the Republic, leading it to inevitable ruin. Its deplorable state is public and notorious. There is not a man who is unacquainted with it, and who does not bewail the prospective loss of its independence, with a thraldom also in view more grievous than the Spanish yoke.

The self-assumed powers of the Government, the restrictions on commerce, and, above all, the constitution recently promulgated, place the ambitious views of the Chief Magistrate and the corruption of his Ministers in a clear light. Every act proves that the intentions of the Supreme Director have undergone a change. Fortune, which has hitherto favoured him, has given a new turn to his ambition, as if the proposal of a crown could no longer be resisted--all the measures pursued throughout the state leading to that end. It is grievous to see laurels thus stained in the grasp of one who so gloriously obtained them. It is, however, needless to trespass on you with further reflections on these occurrences, as your judgment cannot fail to be formed both on the facts and their consequences. Let us therefore touch on other subjects.

Permit me, without offence to your delicacy, to make some reflections on subjects equally public and notorious.

You enjoyed honours, rank, and fortune, amidst a people the most distinguished in Europe. You generously abandoned ease and comfort in order to aid in the attainment of our liberty, and you have been the chief instrument which has enabled us to achieve it. The whole world is acquainted with your gallant efforts to abolish tyranny and give liberty to South America. The people of this Republic are full of the most lively gratitude, and are grieved that it is not in their power to give you an effectual proof of their deep attachment. This Province, holding valour and merit in estimation, idolizes you, whilst it holds in abhorrence and detestation the tyrant "Liberator of Peru!" who has stained our soil with tears of blood shed for his pretended services. Chacabuco would have terminated the war throughout the Republic, had it not been deemed necessary to foster its continuance for the interests of this individual.

This Province (Conception) having been completely sacrificed, has arrived at the point of exasperation. Its inhabitants are unanimously determined on a change and a reform of Government, and declare that in Arauco they will breathe the air of liberty, and that they will perish in the field of battle to obtain it. This is the decision universally adopted without exception. This is the determination of the gallant troops which I have the honour to command, and of their valiant officers, and is moreover sanctioned by the holy orders of the clergy.

Compromised by these declarations, what am I to reply to them? Must I profess my sympathy and accordance of opinion with them, and admit to you, that, though yesterday a private citizen, with a heart burning to be freed from fetters, I must to-day gird on the sword. May Heaven favour my lot in the absence of personal merit! To my country I owe my life and the position I hold--from having contributed to its welfare--can I then neglect the duty that I owe to it? No, my dear friend, far be that course from me. Freire has sworn to live or perish for the liberty of his native country, and he now repeats that solemn oath, grieved at the cause which compels him to renew it, but trusting in the hope that God will avert the effusion of blood in the accomplishment of the object.

I know that you are deeply interested in securing the liberty of Chili, for which you have so gloriously contended. I know you will deeply feel the privation of hope--for neither in your generous heart, nor in mine, can such events be received with indifference. Let us then pursue a course in uniformity with the glory of Chili, and the opinion of the world. Let us listen to the voice of the country, which calls us to avert evils when repose might have been anticipated. I count, together with the whole Province, on your co-operation to avert mischief and advance the good of the country.

Act as you judge best, but for the promotion of that object, the moment has arrived for action. Answer me with promptitude and frankness. Let us have the satisfaction of applying effective remedies to the evils which afflict the country, zealously and disinterestedly for the good of the Republic, and without personal views.

I hold the residence of San Martin in any part of Chili as suspicious and dangerous. Let him be off to make some other quarter happy, where he can sell his protection to the ill-fated inhabitants.

I hope my intentions meet your approbation, and will be seconded by the officers of the squadron.

I trust you will receive this as the sincerest proof that I can give of the high consideration with-which I am

Your most faithful and unchangeable Friend,


To Vice-Adm. Lord Cochrane,

Commanding the squadron of Chili.

I did not reply with promptitude, for I felt that it was no part of my mission to mingle in civil warfare. This letter, however, corroborated my opinion as to the fact of San Martin's influence over the Supreme Director, and the recent coolness in his conduct towards me. If General Freire's information was correct, there was evidently a desire to restore San Martin to the Empire of Peru! when possession could be got of the squadron, and he in return had deluded General O'Higgins into the plot by promise of support. Whether this was so in reality is problematical, but there is General Freire's letter, for the first time published, and the Chilian people can thence draw their own conclusions.

Fortunately an occurrence took place, which relieved me from the dilemma in which I was placed, as will be narrated in the succeeding chapter.

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