3rd November 1832

Buenos Ayres
The city of Buenos Ayres is large, & I should think one of the most regular in the world. Every street is at right angles to the one it crosses; so that all the houses are collected into solid squares called "quadras". On the other hand the houses themselves are like our squares, all the rooms opening into a neat little court. They are generally only one story high, with flat roofs; which are fitted with seats & are much frequented by the inhabitants in Summer. In centre of the town is the Plaza, where all the public offices, Fortress, Cathedral &c are. It was here that the old Viceroys lived, before the revolution. The general assemblage of buildings possesses considerable architectural beauty, although none individually do so. In the evening went out riding with Hammond & in vain tried to reach the camp; in England any one would pronounce the roads quite impassible; but the bullock waggons do contrive to crawl slowly on, a man however generally goes ahead to survey which is the best part to be attempted. I do not suppose they travel one mile per hour, & yet with this the bullocks are much jaded: it is a great mistake to imagine with the improved roads and increased velocity of travelling that in the same proportion the cruelty towards the animals becomes greater.

For some miles round the town the country is enclosed by ditches & hedges of Agave or Aloes with Fennel. One ride is sufficient to account for the horror which the few English gentlemen who reside here express for Buenos Ayres: In our ride we passed the public place for slaughtering the cattle: the beasts were all lassoed in the Corral; so that there was no skill shown, the only thing which surprised me is the wonderful strength of horses compared to bullocks. After being caught round the horns, one horse dragged them to any distance; the poor beast after vainly in its efforts ploughing up the ground to resist the force, would dash at full speed to one side; the horse immediately turns to receive the shock, & stands so firmly as almost to throw the bullock down when he comes to the end of the Lasso. When brought to the spot for killing, the matador with great caution cuts the hamstrings & then being disabled sticks them; it is a horrible sight: the ground is made of bones, & the men, horses & mud are stained by blood.

No comments: