A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 739 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.
dismounts and is regularly marshalled in companies and battalions.  All the soldiers have to provide their own horses arms and provisions; and as all are liable to military service, no one has to contribute towards the supply of the army.  Their provisions consist chiefly in a small sack of parched meal, which each soldier carries on his horse; and which, diluted with water, serves them as food till they can live at free quarters in the enemys country.  Being thus unencumbered with baggage, they are able to move with astonishing celerity, either to attack or to retreat as may be necessary.  They are extremely vigilant when in presence of the enemy, encamping always in secure and advantageous situations, strengthening their posts with entrenchments, and placing sentinels on all sides, every soldier being obliged during the night to keep a fire burning in front of his tent.  When necessary they protect their posts and encampments with deep trenches, guarded by abatis or hedges of spinous or thorny trees, and strew calthrops at all the avenues to repress attacks from the cavalry of the enemy.  In short there are few military stratagems with which they are unacquainted, and are wonderfully expert in tactics [53].

[Footnote 53:  From the singular excellence of the military institutions of the Araucanians, by which they have been enabled to preserve their liberties against the superior arms of the Spaniards, down even to the present day, we have been induced to extend these observations much beyond our usual limits on such occasions.  Such as are inclined to inquire more minutely into the civil institutions of this wonderful people, will find them detailed in the work of the Abbe Molina, together with a minute account of the natural productions of Chili.—­E.]


Of the Origin, Manners, and Language of the Chilese.

The origin of the primitive inhabitants of Chili, like that of all the nations and tribes of the aboriginal Americans, is involved in impenetrable obscurity.  Many of the natives consider themselves as indigenous, while others derive their origin from a foreign stock, supposing their ancestors to have come from the north or from the west; but as they were utterly unacquainted with the art of writing, they have no records or monuments from which to elucidate this inquiry, and their traditionary accounts are too crude and imperfect to afford any degree of rational information on the subject.  The Chilese call their first progenitors Pegni Epatum, signifying the brothers named Epatum.  They call them likewise glyce, or primitive men; and in their assemblies invoke their ancestors and deities in a loud voice, crying Pom, pam, pum, mari, mari, Epunamen, Amimalguen, Pegni Epatum.  The meaning of these words is uncertain, unless we may suppose it to have some connexion with the word pum, used by the Chinese to signify the first created man, or the one who was saved from the deluge.  The lamas or priests of Thibet are likewise said to repeat to their rosaries, the syllables om, am, um, or hom, ham, hum; which corresponds in some measure with the customary exclamation of the Chilese.

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