We climbed up to the highest ridge of the rough mass of greenstone. The rock as is so generally the case was much shattered & broken into angular fragments. I observed, however, here one remarkable difference, that the surfaces of many enormous fragments presented every degree of freshness, from what appeared quite fresh, to the state when Lichens can adhere. I felt so forcibly that this was owing to the constant earthquakes that I was inclined to hurry from beneath every pile of the loose masses.
We spent the whole day on the summit, & I never enjoyed one more throughily. Chili & its boundaries the Andes & the Pacifick were seen as in a Map. The pleasure from the scenery, in itself beautiful was heightened by the many reflections which arose from the mere view of the grand range, its lesser parallel ones and of the broard valley of Quillota which directly cuts these in two. Who can avoid admiring the wonderful force which has upheaved these mountains, & even more so the countless ages which it must have required to have broken through, removed & levelled whole masses of them?
The appearance of the Andes was different from what I expected; the lower line of the snow was of course horizontal, & to this line the even summits of the range appeared quite parallel. At long intervals, a mass of points or a single cone showed where a Volcano had or does now exist. — It hence looked more like a wall, than a range of separate mountains, & made a most complete barrier to the country.
Almost every part of this mountain has been drilled by attempts to open Gold mines. I was surprised to see on the actual summit, a small pit where some yellow crystals had induced some people thus to throw away their labor; & this on a point which can only be reached by climbing. The rage for mining has left scarcely a spot in Chili unexamined, even to the regions of eternal snow.
I spent the evening, as before, talking round our fire with my two companions. — The Guassos of Chili, which correspond to the Gauchos of the Pampas, are however a very different set of beings. Chili is the more civilized of the two countries; & the inhabitants in consequence have lost much individual character. Gradations in rank are much more strongly marked; the Huasso does not by any means consider every man his equal; I was quite surprised to find my companions did not like to eat at the same time with myself. This is a necessary consequence of the existence of an aristocracy of wealth; it is said that some few of the greater land owners possess from five to ten thousand pounds sterling per annum. — This is an inequality of riches which I believe is not met with in any of the cattle-breeding countries to the eastward of the Andes. — A traveller by no means here meets that unbounded hospitality which refuses all payment, but yet is so kindly offered, that no scruples can be raised in accepting it. Almost every house in Chili will receive you for the night, but then a trifle is expected to be given in the morning: even a rich man will accept of two or three shillings. — The Gaucho, although he may be a cut-throat, is a gentleman; the Huasso is in few respects better, but at the same time is a vulgar, ordinary fellow. — The two men although employed much in the same manner are different in their habits & clothes; and the peculiarities of each are universal in their respective countries. The Gaucho seems part of his horse & scorns to exert himself excepting when on its back. 475 The Huasso can be hired to work as a labourer in the fields. — The former lives entirely on animal food, the latter nearly as much on vegetable. — We do not here see the white boots, the broad drawers & scarlet Chilipa, the picturesque costume of the Pampas; here common trowsers are protected by black & green worsted leggings: — the poncho however is common to both. — The chief pride of the Huasso lies in his spurs, these are absurdly large; — I measured one that was six inches in the diameter of the rowel, & the rowel itself contained upwards of thirty points: the stirrups are on the same scale, each one consisting of a square carved block of wood, hollowed out, yet weighing three or four pounds. — The huasso is perhaps more expert with the lazo than the gaucho, but from the nature of the country, does not know the use of the bolas.