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Extract of a Letter from Capt. Peacock, of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's Steam-vessel Peru.

Valparaiso, Oct. 17, 1840.-- I left Rio de Janeiro, with the Chili in company on the 30th of August, and arrived off Cape Possession on the morning of the 14th of September. We proceeded through the Straits of Magellan, and the same afternoon anchored off Port Famine, where we remained cutting wood and completing water until the morning of the 19th.

The day previous, being the anniversary of the Chilian Independence, I erected a beacon 25 feet high on the height of Santa Anna, depositing underneath it a manuscript parchment roll, descriptive of the particulars of each vessel, length of passage, consumption of fuel, &c., together with several British coins of the present year. We then hoisted the Chilian ensign, and saluted it with three cheers; at sunset we lowered it, gave three cheers for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, and returned on board, leaving the beacon a conspicuous seamark for the harbour, and a firmly fixed monument, commemorative of the triumph of steam in this part of the world.

The following morning, at daylight, we proceeded in company through the remaining part of the Straits, the waters of which were like a mirror, the sky without a cloud, until we reached Cape Pillar, when, on entering the Pacific, we experienced a heavy cross sea, and very shortly afterwards a gale of wind from the N.N.W. That night the Chili parted company; the gale did not continue more than 20 hours; the Peru proved herself an excellent sea-boat, and carried nothing away, although I was apprehensive of losing the platforms of the paddle box houses. After three or four heavy northerly breezes, during one of which I took shelter under the island of Santa Maria, in the bay of Arauco, we arrived at Talcahuano on the 29th, but the Chili did not make her appearance for a week afterwards, which caused me the utmost anxiety and uneasiness. Captain Glover having steered a different course, fell in with severe weather, which obliged him to heave to under close-reefed maintopsails; however, I am happy to state that the Chili received no damage, and in the course of a few days it afforded me the greatest gratification to see both the steamers looking as smart, and in every way as effective, as the day they left the river Thames. After the engines were painted and were dry, I got the steam up with the coal of the country, in order to try it. The small quantity which we procured was got from the foot of a precipice. It was inferior to Welsh coal, but we had no difficulty in keeping up steam as long as it lasted. I was informed that good coal might be procured as a place called Colcura, on the coast, about 12 leagues south of Concepcion; and I intended to have visited it with the Polish geologist, M. Loloscky, in the service of the Chilian Government, but having met with an accident, I sent Dr. Welbourne, who, in company with Mr. Loloscky and M. Cunningham, the British vice-consul, proceeded to Colcura, Laraquete, and Arauco for the purpose of examining the coal formations in those vicinities; and I am happy to state that their report establishes the fact of the existence of coal suitable in every respect for steam navigation.

We left Talcahuano, in company, on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 14th, and in 25 hours (246 miles) arrived off the port of Valparaiso, where we were met at the point by a boat, with Mr. Scott on board, deputed by the Governor to convey a plan of the bay and shipping, and programme of our proceedings, and a letter from Messrs. Naylor, Boardman, and Co., of which the following is a copy:--

"Valaparaiso, October, 1840.

"Sir,--We beg leave to inform you, that his Excellency the Governor of Valparaiso, being desirous that your entrance into this port should be as conspicuous as possible, has commissioned the bearer of this, Mr. E. S. Scott, to wait upon you, and to request that you will be off and on until a signal be hoisted at the lighthouse on the point; whereupon a procession of two lines of boats, decked with flags, will leave the harbour to receive and welcome you, between which you may enter--referring to Mr. Scott for further particulars,
We are, Sir, your obedient servants,

Mr. George Peacock, commander of the steamer Peru"

After waiting some time for the signal, during which I hoisted the Chilian ensign, and saluted it with 21 guns, and performed various evolutions with both vessels, Colonel Wood came on board and we proceeded towards the mole, the Chili close in our wake, passing between the British flagship President, and the Chilian flagship Chili, the rigging of both ships being manned by their respective crews, giving us three cheers, and a royal salute from the latter and the smaller ships of war, which was followed by another royal salute from the batteries and guns sine numero of all the merchant-vessels who had the honour of sporting powder. We then swept round within a few fathoms of the mole-end, and passed through a line of boats, with bands of music and decked with flags, laying off the beach of the Almendral; thence threaded our way in and out of the different merchant-vessels, which were ornamented with flags, receiving their cheers, and around the sterns of the men of war; back again by another opening, and anchoring off the mole-end, the shores and every house and eminence from the point to the end of the Almendral being lined with spectators, who kept up a continued cheering and waving of handkerchiefs; in short, this reception far exceeded our most distant or sanguine expectations, and I only regret that the worthy projector of the enterprise, Mr. Wheelwright, was not present to witness this gratifying display of enthusiasm; all the public offices were closed, shops shut, and business suspended.

On Sunday, his Excellency the Governor, Admiral Ross, and other public functionaries, with their families, honoured us with a visit. The engines of both vessels are in excellent order, and the vessels themselves require only to be caulked to fit them for immediate service, and this only partially, as the cargo has turned out in good order and condition.

Source: "Western Times" (Exeter), 6 October 1841
Clipped: 10-VI-2014
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