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ISLANDS OF THE URUGUAY.

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we reached Fray Bentos, the great factory where Liebig's Extract of Beef” is prepared and sent to Europe. Whatever prosperity exists in the Banda Oriental depends altogether on beef. To the raising of horned cattle the greater part of the soil of the republic is devoted, and in caring and guarding them most of the rural population is employed. The saladeros, where the animals are slaughtered and the various parts converted to human use, are the chief, almost the only, industrial establishments, and it is their produce that supports the trade and navigation.

Though the channel is narrower above the junction of the Rio Negro, the Uruguay was still a mighty river, from one to two miles in width, with numerous islands, all covered with trees and seemingly uninhabited. The trees on the islands and along the banks are mostly small, about thirty feet in height, but on some of the islands they must certainly surpass fifty feet. It was impossible for a passing stranger to identify the unfamiliar forms of these trees, which seemed to present considerable variety, the more so as the majority appeared to be deciduous, and but a few withered leaves remained on the nearly bare branches.

Paisandu, the place of my destination, is about a hundred and fifty miles from the mouth of the river, and the steamer often accomplishes the distance in fourteen hours. I was led to hope that we should arrive soon after midnight, but as night fell a dense fog spread over the river.

Further progress was impossible, and we dropped anchor in mid-channel. With sunrise the fog quickly melted away, and the turning of the screw soon announced that we had resumed our journey. Up to this point the banks of the river on either side had been absolutely flat, but at an early hour on the 26th we for the first time were relieved by the appearance of some rising ground on the east side of the river. There was nothing deserving to be called a hill, but so impatient is human nature of the monotony of dead-level, that even a rise of a couple of hundred feet is a welcome alleviation. A house on the summit, which must command a vast range of view, appeared to be the only desirable residence I had yet seen in this region. The dead-level soon resumed its place on the eastern bank ; but a few miles farther we began to descry a range of low hills on the opposite, or Argentine, bank of the stream. We had hitherto held no communication with the territory on that side, but before noon we dropped anchor opposite to the landing-place for the town of Concepcion. This is one of the chief places in the state of Entrerios, which, as the name implies, fills the space between the two great rivers, Paranà and Uruguay, and extends northward about two hundred and forty miles from the estuary of La Plata. The town stands on a low hill about two miles from the river. Some passengers went ashore, a few were taken in their place, and after a short delay the screw was again in motion and the voyage was resumed.

About two p.m. we were at length opposite to Paisandu, a name known to most English readers only by the ox-tongues prepared at the neighbouring saladeros.

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One of the peculiarities of this region arises from the fact that in the estuary and along the lower course of the great rivers the banks shelve so gradually that boats are seldom able to approach the shore. Elsewhere the inhabitants would make provision by constructing long jetties carried far enough to enable boats to draw alongside. But suitable timber is said to be scarce and very dear, and, besides, such constructions would deprive a part of the population of their means of gaining a livelihood. Carts with a pair of enormous wheels, seven or eight feet in diameter, are driven into the water till it reaches nearly to the shafts, and passengers scramble as best they may into or out of the boats. In this novel fashion I reached the shore, with one or two other passengers.

Paisandu has the aspect of a thriving country town, with streets and buildings of plain aspect, but looking clean and well cared for. It stands on rising ground, which is not a hill, but merely the river-ward slope of the flat country through which the Uruguay has here scooped a broad trench about a hundred feet below the general level. I found a very fair country inn kept by an Englishman, and at once proceeded to deliver a note of introduction to Dr. French, an English physician who enjoys considerable local reputation. The days being short at a season corresponding to our European Christmas, it was already too late for an excursion to the neighbouring country, which was postponed till the following morning; and I passed the greater part of the afternoon and evening in the agreeable society of Dr. French, whose range of general information, and thorough acquaintance with the

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country which he has made his home, rendered his conversation interesting and instructive.

Many Englishmen seem to imagine that, at least as regards material progress, distant countries, with the possible exception of the United States, are much less advanced than we are at home. I was led to an opposite conclusion as far as the more advanced states of South America are concerned, and I was struck by one illustration of the fact that I encountered at Paisandu. In the course of my long conversation with Dr. French, we were three times interrupted by the tinkling of a little bell connected with telephone wires carried into his sitting-room. I learned that a wire was carried from each of the chief estancias and saladeros within a circuit of eight or ten miles from the town. On each occasion advice was sought and obtained as to some case of sickness or accident, and it was impossible not to be struck by the great addition thus made to the usefulness of a skilful medical adviser in country districts. With regard to this and other applications of the telephone and the electric telegraph, our backward condition may be explained by the extraordinary fact that the English people have tolerated the existence of Government monopoly, which, in many cases, acts as a prohibition; but in other matters, such as electric lighting, our relative inferiority must be set down to the extreme slowness with which new ideas germinate and reach maturity in the English nature.

I was much interested by the information given to me by Dr. French as to the frequent occurrence of the fossil remains of large extinct mammalia in this

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FOSSIL REMAINS IN URUGUAY.

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district. Complete skeletons are, of course, not commonly found; but large bones in good condition are, as I learned, easily procured. My stay was necessarily so short that I could not expect to obtain any, but I entertained a hope, not yet realized, that through the kind intervention of Dr. French, some valuable specimens might be obtained for the Cambridge University Museum. But to complete our knowledge of the very singular extinct fauna of this region of America, prolonged research on the spot, conducted by experienced palæontologists, is a necessary condition. These plains are the cemeteries in which myriads of extinct creatures lie entombed. We probably have got to know the majority of the larger species, but it is probable that many others have as yet escaped the notice of naturalists.

The steamer in which I had travelled ascends the river as far as Salto, about sixty miles above Paisandu ; but at that place the navigation is interrupted by rapids, and travellers pursue their journey by land until they reach the steamers that ply on the upper waters of the Uruguay. I should have wished to visit Salto, but the steamer was to arrive at night and to depart on the return voyage next morning. By stopping at Paisandu I secured the opportunity for seeing a little of the country and the vegetation.

By way of seeing something of the natives, Dr. French took me to one of the best houses in the town, and introduced me to one of his patients, an old lady ninety years of age. She did much credit to the skill of her medical adviser, as I found her full of life and activity, conversing freely and intelligently on the

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