dinsdag 26 juni 2012

Maria Callcott -- 27 juni 1823

27th. — I paid a visit to Madame Zenteno the governor's lady, a pleasing, lively little woman, who received me very politely, and sent for her husband, who came immediately, and seemed delighted to display the English comforts of the apartment I was received in. An English carpet, an English grate, and even English coals, were all very agreeable on this cold raw day. Zenteno assured me that he found a fire thus burned in an open stove was the best promoter of conversation, and regretted the many years he had passed without even guessing at its comforts. He is properly anxious to promote a taste for the elegancies of civilised life ; but under any other circumstances, I should say that there was even a little affectation in his great admiration for everything English. However, the people of Valparaiso are indebted to him for considerable improvements in the roads and streets ; and a plan for a new market-place, as soon as the funds will permit, is to be carried into execution. These things seem little to Europeans. But they forget that this Valparaiso, one of the greatest ports on this side of the vast continent of South America, is little more in appearance than an English fishing town. Sidmouth is a capital city in comparison. From the governor's house I went to the jail, a strong uncomfortable building now empty. The prisoners are transferred to the hospital of San Juan de Dios ; and I am ashamed to say the Spanish prisoners from Lima, sent by San Martin, are there also, along with the common felons. The Spaniards were in so wretched a condition on their arrival, that the English inhabitants, in order to save them from starving, have raised a subscription; and one of the merchants daily sees their food distributed.

Lady Maria Callcott (1785-1842) was een Engelse kinder en reisboekenschrijfster. Het bovenstaande fragment komt uit Journal of a residence in Chile, during the year 1822 : and a voyage from Chile to Brazil in 1823

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