cover image (no text)
Journal of a Residence in Chile
by Maria Graham
(Lady Callcott)

my poor journal . . . can pretend to no unity of design; for can I foresee what will happen to-morrow? And, as my heroes and heroines (by-the-bye, I have but a scanty proportion of the latter,) are all independent personages, I cannot, like a novel-writer, compel them to figure in my pages to please me, but they govern themselves

We previously met Maria Graham (1785–1842)—the future Lady Callcott—as the author of Journal of a Residence in India. The present Journal picks up about ten years later. After stints in Scotland and the Mediterranean, with and without her husband, in 1821 she accompanied him to South America. They were on their way from Brazil to Chile . . . when he died at sea.

As the Journal opens, Maria is a new widow in an unfamiliar country, halfway around the world from her home. She would spend a year in Chile before going back to Brazil and then home to England. The years in South America led to two books. Rather than following strict chronology, she divided them by country: Brazil in 1821–22 and again in 1823; and Chile from April 1822 to March 1823.

Along the way, a number of real people and historical events will be seen. An especially prominent figure is Admiral Thomas Cochrane (1775–1860), later Earl of Dundonald, said to be the inspiration for Horatio Hornblower. Americans may like to know that he was commander of the British fleet during the War of 1812. In that capacity, he is responsible for burning the White House—a detail our author chooses not to mention.

Preface (this page)

Vignettes and Plates

History of Chile


I: William Yates
II-V: Primary Sources
VI: Trees and Shrubs

Chile in 1822-23

The Journal proper is sandwiched between two chunks of background information, each running over a hundred pages.

The Introduction gives a military-political history of Chile up to 1823. Short version: At the time of Maria Graham’s visit, Spain’s American possessions were in the process of becoming independent countries. Most had declared indepen­dence in 1809 or 1810, leading to wars that wrapped up anywhere between 1818 and 1825. The United States was quick to recognize the new countries (see: Monroe Doctrine), while formal recognition from Spain tended to take longer. Chile, for example, had to wait until 1844.

To judge by Maria Graham’s narrative, the principal countries of South America were Peru and Buenos Ayres (Argentina as we now know it wouldn’t be formed until 1826). Brazil, being a Portuguese possession, exists but doesn’t figure in the same history.

The Appendix provides some primary sources covering the same events, sometimes disagreeing with Maria Graham’s own views. In particular, William Yates, the author of Appendix I, despises San Martin and reveres the Carreras. Maria Graham disagreed to some extent, but not enough to keep her from including the full text of his article.

At the very end, Appendix VI provides a full list of trees and shrubs found in Chile, with their uses.

Pro tip: Unless you have a burning interest in Latin American military history, you will find most of the Introduction and Appendix excruciatingly boring. The author’s personality does come through now and then:

the general himself . . . seemed really animated with a sincere desire of action, and a determination to engage; but he gradually cooled, wasted the morning in unimportant gossip, went to his customary siesta, and then ordered the soldiers to go to dinner. They however were resolved to exercise their sabres, and accordingly charged a flock of sheep, killed them, and then obeyed the General’s latest orders

But most readers will prefer to proceed directly to the Journal, which recounts the author’s own experiences.


All but one of the full-page plates carry the same caption:

caption: “Drawn by Maria Graham / Engraved by Edwʼd. Finden”

(Drawn by Maria Graham, Engraved by Edwd Finden). Some have the added information “London. Published by Longman & Co & J. Murray. 5 April 1824.”

The sole exception is Plate XIV (facing page 419 in the Appendix), which is labeled “drawn by Augs Earle”. That’s noted travel artist Augustus Earle (1793–1838), who was in South America at this time. His travels went on to include the Mediterranean, the United States, Australia, New Zealand—and he was on the Beagle with Charles Darwin.

And, finally: I don’t normally include the book cover if it contains neither pictures nor text. But the one shown at the top of this page was too pretty to omit; usually they don’t survive two centuries in a university library.


Measured north to south, Chile is an enormous country. For a North American equivalent, take California and stretch it thin so it extends from the southern tip of Alaska down to Puerto Vallarta, midway along Mexico’s west coast. In Maria Graham’s time it was a bit smaller: Spain held on to the large southern island Chiloé until 1826, while the northernmost coastal strip would belong to Bolivia until 1883. (This is why landlocked Bolivia has a navy.) But most of the author’s time is spent in and around Valparaiso, Santiago’s port, whose latitude corre­sponds loosely to southern California.

The Journal is especially noted for its account of the Valparaiso earthquake of 19 November 1822, estimated at 8.5 on the Richter scale, with aftershocks continuing for over a month. For comparison purposes: While this ebook was in preparation, my area experienced a decentish quake: 6.4, or about 1/100 the strength of the one Maria Graham describes. Aftershocks went on for a couple of days. Most were in the 2-3 range—not generally noticeable to humans, though it helps explain my cat’s ongoing unhappiness—but a few were 4-plus, strong enough to be clearly felt. If Valparaiso’s aftershocks were in proportion, many of them would have been as strong by themselves as our primary quake.

Places Visited

Although most of Maria Graham’s time was spent in and around Valparaiso, she did get some traveling done before leaving for Brazil by way of Juan Fernandez. There are 150-plus journal entries; here I’ve shown only the ones involving a move to a new place.

April 28
August 13
Road to Santiago
August 22
Cuesta de Prado
August 24
September 2
Angostura de Paine
September 5
Lake of Aculeo
September 11
Angostura de Paine
September 12
September 14
San Francisco de Monte
September 15
September 16
September 18
October 1
November 14
November 17
The Earthquake
November 20
November 24
November 28
December 20
December 23
Juan Fernandez
January 18
Cape Horn
February 11


As in the earlier Journal of a Residence in India, unfamiliar words are italicized on their first occurrence, with such definitions as the author deems appropriate. The printer had a firm grip on the tilde ñ and cedilla ç, but doesn’t seem to have been concerned with accents, as in Bolívar or Concón.

At the time of this book, “creole” (criollo) in Latin America meant anyone with European ancestry born in the New World.

In the course of the Journal, the spellings laça and laza each occur twice. I’m going to say it’s a lasso either way.

Our author consistently uses the spelling “fuscia”. Since the flower was named after botanist Leonhart Fuchs, this must be considered a brain fart rather than an attested variant spelling. She also likes to say “dying” where today we would prefer “dyeing”.


In the Introduction and Appendix, footnotes are shown at the end of each paragraph; markers * † ‡ § have been changed so they start over at * in each paragraph. In the Journal proper, footnotes are grouped at the end of each day’s entry, numbered continuously from ⁕1 through ⁕73.


This ebook is based on the 1824 Longman edition of—to give the book its full title—Journal of a Residence in Chile, During the Year 1822; and a Voyage From Chile to Brazil in 1823.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the end of the Introduction; at the end of each journal entry; or at the end of each numbered Appendix. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.

two people in a small two-wheeled carriage drawn by pair of horses, with postilion in tall hat

Traveling in Spanish America.

of a
during the year 1822.
and a





sailboat listing to one side, with mountains in the background



Printed by A. & R. Spottiswoode



The Journal of a residence in Chile should naturally have been placed between the two visits to Brazil, which are the subject of the writer’s former volume. The reasons for dividing the Journals have been given in the preface to that of the residence in Brazil.

The Introduction to the present volume is, perhaps, its most important part. Of the first six years of the revolution in Chile, no account is to be procured, either from the offices of the secretaries of state, or among the papers of the actors in the scene. During the few wretched days that elapsed between the defeat of the Patriots at Rancagua and their crossing the Andes, the whole of the public papers and documents that could be collected were burnt, in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Spaniards, who might have persecuted those families who remained in their country, and whose names might have been found among those of the Patriots. Hence until 1817, no records are to be traced even in the hands of government; and until the middle of 1818 nothing whatever was printed in Chile; so that a few years hence all remembrance of the early period of the revolution in that country may be lost.

It was the writer’s good fortune while in Chile, to become acquainted with several persons, who, having participated either as iv actors or spectators in the great event, were kind enough to allow her to write down, from their verbal account, the main particulars which she has detailed. What was related by those still Royalists, agreed in all facts with what was told by the patriots, and all with the clear and spirited narratives of the Supreme Director, O’Higgins; whose liberality and politeness on this, as on every other point, towards the writer, deserve her warmest acknowledgements. From 1818 to 1821 ample accounts were published in the gazettes of every public occurrence, and every document was during that period laid before the people. But sometime in the year 1821, it became evident that the political speculations of the Protector of Peru, and the commercial schemes of the ministers in Chile, were of a nature not to be unveiled, and the public papers are accordingly very defective from that time. The writer cannot flatter herself that she has been able to supply the deficiencies entirely; but she trusts that the leading marks she has been able to set up will be found sufficient to induce others, more capable of the task, to fill up the outline which she has but sketched.

As the struggle in Spanish America was purely that of the colonies with the mother country, the writer had of course nothing to do with the mention of any transactions between the neutral trading nations, whose vessels, either of war or of commerce, might be in the seas of Chile, unless where a direct interference, as in the case of Captain Hillier’s guarantee of the treaty in the south of Chile, renders it absolutely necessary.

The Postscript to the Journal contains papers from which the present political state of Chile may be understood. There is so much of good in that country, so much in the character of the people and the excellence of the soil and climate, that there can be no v doubt of the ultimate success of their endeavours after a free and flourishing state: but there are no ordinary difficulties to get over, no common wants to be supplied; and if the following pages shall in the slightest degree contribute directly or indirectly to supply those wants, or to smooth those difficulties, by calling attention to that country either as one particularly fitted for commercial intercourse, or as one whose natural resources and powers have yet to be cultivated, the writer will feel the truest satisfaction.

vi vii


Page 113.— Fort at Valparaiso, in which several English Officers are buried.
142.— A Peruvian Double Vase, which being half filled with water and moved from side to side, produces a whistling sound. These jars were buried with the dead, and are now occasionally found on breaking open the tombs in Peru; the specimen from which this cut was taken was given me by an English Officer.
190.— The Cart, Plough, and Leather Bucket of Chile.
227.— The Capelita or little Chapel of Colinas,—drawn from the Roof of the Bathing House.
262.— Great Ovens for baking the Wine Jars, &c. on the Plain of Melipilla.
299.— The Chile Palm Tree.—The Agave is growing near it, and the small Bread Oven is at its foot.
304.— A Corner View of the Drawing-room Division of Lord Cochrane’s House of Quintero, as it stood before the Earthquake of the 19th of Nov.
324.— A Quebrada or Ravine,—sketched between Quintero and Valparaiso. This and some others of the Vignettes are not very accurately placed; but they are true to the Scenery of the Country.
354.— Cape Horn.
358.— A Brick Kiln at Valparaiso.


Plate I. Travelling in Spanish America to face the Title Page.
II. Iglezia Matriz of Valparaiso to face Page 116
III. View of Valparaiso Bay from my House 146
IV. View from the Foot of the Cuesta de Prado 196
V. View over the Plain of Santiago from the Top of the Cuesta de Prado 197
VI. Salta de Agua 213
VII. Country-house in Chile. This is that of M. de Salinas 241
VIII. Lake of Aculeo 247
IX. View from the House of Salinas 254
X. Costume of Chile 262
XI. Street of San Domingo in Santiago, from my Balcony—Sketched on the 18th September, the Houses adorned with Flags 269
XII. Quintero Bay, seen from the Place where the House was 329
XIII. Landing Place at Juan Fernandez 351
XIV. Cacique with his Troops advancing to meet Carrera 419

Notes and Corrections: Lists of Illustrations


262.—Great Ovens for baking the Wine Jars, &c. on the Plain of Melipilla.
text has Mellipilla

358.—A Brick Kiln at Valparaiso.
[It’s really on page 356.]


The text printed here is probably what the author intended for her Plate captions. Actual captions may vary significantly—often with peculiar misspel­lings that suggest the engraver couldn’t read Maria Graham’s handwriting. Plate VII, facing page 241, is there captioned “View from l’Angostura de Paine.”

The Plate numbers, if any, are very well concealed; I never found any. In the printed book, Plate XIII was bound facing page 251—not 351—putting it between Plates VIII and IX. I have put it where it belongs, illustrating the entry for 25 January.

page image with above text


State of New York Laws of 1892, Ch. 378, Sec. 43.

Whoever intentionally injures, defaces or destroys any property belonging to or deposited in any incorporated library, reading room, museum, or other educational institution, shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison for not more than three years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than $500, or both such fine and imprisonment.

The above notice was pasted into the back cover of the copy of the Journal used as the basis for this etext. The law is apparently still on the books; I checked. But what the notice is doing there is a bit of a mystery, since the physical volume is located in the library of Northeastern University. Which is in Boston. Which is not in New York state.