Oratory is held in high estimation, and is the road to honour and the management of public affairs; insomuch that the eldest son of an Ulmen, if deficient in that talent, is excluded from the right of succession, which devolves upon a younger son, or the nearest male relative who happens to be an able speaker. On this account, parents accustom their sons to speak in public from their early youth, and carry them to the national assemblies, where the best orators of the nation display their eloquence. Hence the universal attention to speak the language correctly and to preserve its purity. They are so careful to avoid the introduction of any foreign words into their language, that when any stranger settles among them he is obliged to adopt a new name in the Chili-dugu or language of the country, and even the missionaries must conform to this singular regulation, if they would obtain favour; and so fastidious are they in attention to the purity of their language, that the audience will interrupt a missionary while preaching, to correct the mistakes in language or pronunciation. Many of them are well acquainted with the Spanish language; and, from being accustomed to a soft regular and varied language, they are able easily to learn the pronunciation of the different European dialects, as was observed by Captain Wallis of the Patagonians, who are real Chilese. They are so unwilling however to use the Spanish, that they never use it in any of the assemblies or congresses between the two nations, and rather choose to listen to a tiresome interpretation than to degrade the dignity of their native tongue by using another on such occasions. Their style of oratory is highly figurative, elevated, allegorical, and replete with peculiar phrases and expressions that are only used on such occasions; whence it is called coyag-tucan or the style of public harangues. They commonly divide their subject into regular heads, called thoy, and usually specify the number they mean to enlarge upon; saying Epu thoygei tamen piavin, “what I am going to say is divided into two heads.” Their speeches are not deficient in a suitable exordium, a clear narrative, a well-founded argument, and a pathetic peroration; and usually abound in parables and apologues; which sometimes furnish the main substance of the discourse.
Their poets are called gempin, or lords of speech; and their poetry generally contains strong and lively images, bold figures, frequent allusions and similitudes, new and forcible expressions, and possesses the power of exciting sensibility. It is every where animated and metaphorical, and allegory is its very soul and essence. Their verses are mostly composed in stanzas of eight or eleven syllables, and are for the most part blank, yet rhyme is occasionally introduced, according to the taste or caprice of the poet.