|Moore, Patrick to Pettit, John, 1869
|Argentina - Pettit
|Buenos Aires, Argentina
|local economy, account of Buenos Aires
|Buenos Aires 10th May, 1869.
My dear Cousin,
Sally has prevailed on me to write you a few lines as she is so busy, besides being a correspondent who cannot forward much information about camp or business matters. I am not much better myself but I have nothing to do, so I must try and post you up on any subject about these parts which may interest you. We are sending a new River Plate Handbook which can be relied on: it is the best book ever published about Buenos Aires. You will see by the papers some very clever articles about this country, it is coming down fast, sheep are worth nothing, wool ditto, and the only hope is in agriculture, people are very much afraid of going into this business, as last year the wheat failed owing to the heavy rains, and workmen are so scarce that it requires some capital to start the business at all.
Campmen cannot be brought round from their old custom of minding sheep, to work at any other business, and especially any which requires exertion and may be doubtful as to its result. Everyone says something must be done immediately to save the country, the government is bad, and occupies itself solely about politics, elections, the war, etc – and in the meantime the frontiers are unprotected, the Indians make their raids periodically, and people are afraid of taking their cattle to camp, where there is grass, and where they might save part of the proceeds of a year’s labour, instead of paying rent for camp where there is not room for one eight the complement kept on it. The result of this system is that every summer, the grass dries and is eaten up, no water to be had, dust rises from the bare ground every day, and there you have a seca or epidemic, said to be caused by a bad year: but of late these bad years have become so frequent that the camp is given up by all who do not possess land, these latter keep on as long as they get $5,000 a year for a puesto, or run, they are all right. So you see Buenos Aires is considered in rather critical circumstances, it is no longer what it used to be – the country where fortunes were made by sheep in a few years.
Town has not begun to feel the effects very much yet, there is great working going on in houses, railways, telegraph Co., etc – and the city has improved as much in ten years as any other country in the same time. I think Mr Petit would be surprised at the change were he again to visit this country: they are about to construct a port just now, which is badly wanted, the project is approved and proposals are being sent in, so we soon hope to see it finished.
All town turned out the other day to witness the first meeting of a Jockey Club in Buenos Aires, as also the Athletic Sports same day. They both proved a great success and the whole Foreign Community of B.A. were to be seen at either place, it was a great pity to have both events on the same day, but as they were so fixed neither would retract or postpone their meeting. We have English Societies of all kinds and a company of Christy Minstrels is also about being formed. All sports or amusements of this description are got up by Foreigners particularly English: in the country there are several parts where race meetings are held yearly or half yearly by English and Irish. Mama tells me to tell you about your friend Dan Cranwell, he got married the other day to a native lady, also of the death of Mrs Pat Fleming of cholera. Mr Fleming is looking very old and feeble. Mr and Mrs Connell who worked in the Saladero are dead also.
I have no more to say for the present. Mama, Sally and all the family join me in kindest regards to yourself and father. Your affectionate Cousin,
Don’t forget to answer this letter and give us a description of how you pass your time in Australia, about the business and commerce with you and if sheep are as depreciated as here.