405

OverviewTranscribeVersionsHelp

Facsimile

Transcription

Show Translation

CHILE.

405

[of porphyry or marble. The apo-ulmcnes and
the ulmenes carry staves with silver heads, but the
first, by Avay of distinction, have a ring of the
same metal around the middle of their staves. AH
these dignities are hereditary in the male line, and
proceed in the order of primogeniture. Thus have
the dukes, the counts, and marquises of the mili-
tary aristocracy of the north been established,
from time immemorial, under different names, in a
corner of South America. With its rescinblance to
the feudal system, this government contains also
almost all its defects. The toqui possesses but the
shadow of sovereign authority. The triple power
that constitutes it is vested in the great body of the
nobility, who decide every important question, in
the manner of the ancient Germans or modern
Poles, in a general diet, which is called bidacoi/o^
or aucacoijog^ the great council, or council of the
Araucanians. This assembly is usually held in
some large plain, wlierethey combine the pleasures
of the table with their public deliberations. Their
code of laws, which is traditionary, is denominated
admapu^ that is to say, the customs of the country.
In reality, these laws are nothing more than pri-
mordial usages or tacit conventions, that have been
established among them, as was originally the case
with almost all the laws of other nations; they
have consequently all the defects peculiar to such
systems.

6. Its political form , — The clearest and most
explicit of their political and fundamental laws
are those that regulate the limits of each authority,
the order of succession in toquiates and in the
ulmenates, the confederation of the four tetrar-
chates, the choice of the power of the comman-
ders in chief in time of war, and the right of con-
voking the general diets, which is the privilege
of the toquis ; all these laws have for their object
the preservation of liberty, and the established
form of government. According to them, two or
more states cannot be held under the rule of ttie
same chief. Whenever the male branch of the
reigning family becomes extinct, the vassals re-
cover iheir natural right of electing their own
chief from that family which is most pleasing to
them. But before he is installed, he must be pre-
sented to the toqui of their uthal-mapu, who
gives notice of his election, in order that the new
chief may be acknowledged and respected by all
in that quality. The subjects are not, as under
the feudal government, liable to a levT/, or to any
kind of personal service, except in time of war.
Neither are they obliged to pay any contributions
to their chiefs, who must subsist themselves by
means of their own property. They respect them.

however, as their superiors, or rather as the first
among their equals ; they also attend to their deci-
sions, and escort them whenever they go out of
the state. These chiefs, elated with their authority,
would gladly extend its limits, and govern as ab-
solute masters; but the people, who cannot endure
despotism, oppose their pretensions, and compel
them to keep within the bounds prescribed by their
customs.

7. Civil institutions . — The civil laws of a so-
ciety whose manners are simple, and interests but
little complicated, cannot be very numerous. The
Araucanians have but a few; these, however,
would be sufficient for their state of life, if thev
were more respected and less arbitrary. Their
system of criminal jurisprudence, in a particular
manner, is very imperfect. The offences that are
deemed deserving of capital punishment are treach-
ery, intentional homicide, adultery, the robbery
of any valuable article, and witchcraft. Never-
theless, those found guilty of homicide can screen
themselves from punishment by a composition with
the relations of file murdered. Husbands and fa-
thers are not subject to any punishment for killing
their wives or children, as they are declared by
their laws to be the natural masters of their lives.
Those accused of sorcery, a crime chiefly known
in countries involved in ignorance, are first tor-
tured by fire, in order to make them discover their
accomplices, and then stabbed with daggers.
Other crimes, of less importance, are punished by
retaliation, which is much in use among them, un-
der the name of thaulonco. Justice is administered
in a tumultuous and irregular manner, and with-
out any of those preliminary formalities that are
observed among civilized nations. The criminal
who is convicted of a caj>ital offence is imme-
tliately put to death, accorditig to the military
custom, witliout being suffered to rot in prison; a
mode of conffnement unknown to the Araucanians.
it has, however, lately been introduced into Tu-
capel, the seat of the government of Lauquen-
inapu, by Cathicura, the then toqui of that dis-
trict ; but the success of this experiment, which
was at first very ill received by his subjects, is sup-
posed generally to liave failed. The ulmenes arc
the lawful judges of their vassals, and for this rea-
son their authority is less precarious. The un-
conquerable pride of this people prevents them
from adopting the wise measures of public justice j
they merely possess some general and vague ideas
upon the principles of political union, whence
the executive pow'er being without force, distribu-
tive justice is ill administered, or entirely aban-
doned to the caprice of individuals. The injurcdl

Notes and Questions

Please sign in to write a note for this page

JoshuaOB

This section is not in Alcedo's text