BetaThis service is in beta.
Colenda Digital Repository
[America meridional]; [manuscript].
- [America meridional] [manuscript].
- Collection of copied letters by various authors written in the mid-18th century, loosely related to the topic of the Río de la Plata region of South America. Although the documents do share this common theme, a large part of the text is devoted to tangential digressions which include themes in philosophy, theology, religion, morality, poetry, geometry, physics, astronomy, and etymology. However, the first three letters (f.1r-345v), which make up the majority of the text, do contain significant information on the plants, animals, people, and customs of the Río de la Plata region in the 18th century. These three letters are written by a certain Juan de la Cerda, apparently of Andalusian origin but writing from what he refers to loosely as the "country of Buenos Aires." He only identifies the recipient as "Marqués." The first of these three letters gives a detailed account of the horses, horsemen and horsewomen, and horsemanship of the region. The author elaborates on the legend of the Cave of Salamanca and its transfer to South America. The legend holds that certain horsemen make deals with the devil in order to gain mastery over even the most ferocious horses. However, due to the irregular binding of the manuscript the letter is split into three discontinuous sections (f.1r-3v, 18v-32v, 4r-6v). The second letter is also divided (f.9r-17v, 33r-130r) and covers the livestock of the region, certain plants and other animals, local gastronomy, and the indigenous tribes of the Guarani, Charrua, Güenoa, Puelche, Huao, and Tehuelche. This letter is peppered with numerous poems and adages, as well as passages in Latin. The author devotes a great deal of attention to Issac Newton, Descartes, Voltaire, Leibniz, and Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, but also makes frequent references to other famous thinkers such as Empedocles, Democritus, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Pythagoras, Plato, and Epicurus. Many other authors and scholars are mentioned in passing. The third letter, which is referred to in the manuscript as the second letter (f.131r), purports to relate the particularities of South America but the title also admits that it does so with "frequent digressions into varied literature." This letter contains information on society in the Río de la Plata region, especially as it relates to the European woman's position and character in relation to the slaves and Indians. There are also long discussions on race, skin color, and the terminology used to describe the various races. This letters also contains an interesting comment on vampire bats, which the masses apparently believed was a "bird of the devil." The author relates the role of the bat in certain Guarani customs and includes phrases in Guarani with translations in Spanish. There is also a particularly interesting discussion of the origin of the word aji, which is a hot pepper native to the region and ubiquitous in South American cuisine. The author then returns to a lengthy discussion of racial mixing based on his personal observations. Of the tangential themes discussed in these three letters, the most attention is given to the conflict between philosophy and religion. The third letter is followed by a postscript in which the author comments on his promise to the recipient to translate the Henriade of Voltaire. He explains that he will translate and include one canto at the end of every letter he writes. He then discusses some themes related to Virgil's Aeneid in particular and to poetry in general. Although his translation of Voltaire's work is not included in the manuscript, the postscript is followed by the author's notes on the first canto. This is followed by three "additions" to the letters. The first is a discussion of the birthplace of Saint Laurence of Rome. The second addition explains the method by which the Guarani derive generic names for animals. The third addition concerns the "drunkenness of the Indians." These three additions are followed by four more (much shorter) letters by different authors. The first letter is a report of an expedition from Buenos Aires to the province of Misiones to combat the Guarani Indians. It is written by Raphael de Córdoba and dated 1756. The second letter is also written by Raphael de Córdoba, but is dated from 1764. The author is now identified as a Jesuit and the rector to the Colegio de Cádiz. In this letter he comments on the practice of using "espalmo," a type of tar, to treat the hulls of ships in Cádiz. The recipient of the letter is identified as the Marqués de Villaformada. The third letter, written by a certain Marqués de Casinas, in Madrid, 1765, is an outline of the author's plan for modernizing the sewage, streets, and transport in the city of Cádiz. The fourth letter is neither signed nor dated but is an argument against the Marqués de Casisnas' plan.
- Río de la Plata (Viceroyalty); Cádiz (Spain)
- 376 leaves : paper; 289 x 199 (260 x 133) mm. bound to 298 x 208 mm.
- (OCoLC)ocn313418326; (OCoLC)313418326; (PU)4464091-penndb-Voyager
- Spanish with numerous passages in Latin and occasional words in Guarani.
- [Spain, after 1765]
- Natural history -- South America.; Horsemanship -- South America -- Early works to 1800.; Indians of South America -- Early works to 1800.; Guarani language.; Guarani Indians.; Women -- Latin America -- History.; Miscegenation -- Latin America.; Codices.; Manuscripts, Spanish; 18th century.; Manuscripts, European.
- Personal Name:
- Voltaire,; Lea, Henry Charles,; Córdoba, Raphael de.; Casinas,; Villaformada,
- Call Number:
- Oversize Ms. Codex 1442