Nearly all the population of a thriving village, called Constitucion, came down to meet us, and assist in hauling our boats up the steep though yielding sand, where, for our comfort, they told us a whole boat's crew had been drowned, not long previously, in attempting to land. From a height overlooking the river, village, and neighbourhood, we enjoyed a very pleasing view, so long as we turned away from the bar of the river, and the surf. A rich country and a fine river are pleasing things at all times, but the difficult approach to Constitucion mars half its beauty. Only the smallest craft can cross the bar; it is dangerous for boats to land on the outer beach: and difficult for them to profit by the few opportunities which occur of passing the bar without risk.
Notwithstanding these local disadvantages, Constitucion may thrive wonderfully hereafter, by the help of small steamers, for she has a most productive country around her, abounding in internal as well as external wealth, and a navigable river at command. Besides this, in 1805, a very practicable passage was discovered through the Andes, about seventy leagues south of Mendoza, not far from the latitude of the River Maule, almost entirely level, and fit for wagons — the only pass of such a description between the isthmus of Darien and Patagonia.
From the Maule we sailed along the coast northward; limited time, and work in prospect urging us to hasten more than could have been wished. The shoal, or rather rocks of Topocalma, or Rapel, were examined; some coves looked at, fit only for coasting launches, and the line of this bold, but uninteresting coast tolerably well determined.