Sr. Hutchinson, otra vez, no dice V. nonsenses, no tonterrias

By Edmundo Murray


Sea-shore view of Payta
(Heliotype in Two Years in Peru)

Two Years in Peru
appeared in London in 1873. The book was published in two volumes, and it is a compilation of Hutchinson's trips and archaeological explorations in the Andean country. The first chapters include accounts of the journey from Liverpool to Lima, with full descriptions of the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego and Punta Arenas, the indigenous people of southern Patagonia and Chile, the Chiloé archipelago, Valparaíso, Santiago, Iquique and Tarapaca, and of his arrival at Callao, a major port near Lima. In the chapters that follow, there are scientific deliberations, including medical, ethnographic and archaeological observations of places in central and northern Chile, present-day Bolivia and south Peru.

On Lima and its port, Callao, the author included reports and statistical information on trade, agricultural production, industry, shipping, railways and mining, as well as security, health, education, immigration policies, demographic information, local politics and even customs - among them the 'sleepiness' - of the Peruvian people. Both volumes are richly illustrated, including numerous pencil sketches by José Maria Zaballa and John Schumaker, and a number of heliotype pictures, a higher-resolution photographic technique which was pioneered in the 1870s in Lima by V.L. Richardson.

Tapada, a custom of Lima ladies
(Two Years in Peru)

One of the accounts, in chapter 11, tells of the 'Bombardment of Callao by the Spanish fleet in 1866' (Hutchinson 1873: 223). In 1866, Spanish forces occupied the Chincha islands, major world producer of guano fertiliser. Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia united their forces against Spain in what was called the War of the American Union (1864-1867). In February a Chilean-Peruvian army successfully battled the Spanish armada in Abtao, and on 31 March the Spanish forces attacked Valparaíso in Chile. At noon of 2 May 1866 the Spanish ships, led by the iron-clad Numancia, began shooting at the fort of Callao. After fierce fighting between the invading navy and the Peruvian forces on land, the Spanish abandoned the battlefield and '2 de Mayo' is still celebrated as a Peruvian victory. [9] The commander who ordered the retreat of the Spanish fleet was rear-admiral Miguel Lobo y Malagamba (1821-1876), a seasoned naval officer with experience in Africa and America, who would consider Hutchinson'ss writings to be a series of dislates (nonsense).

In 1874, Miguel Lobo published Un hijo de Inglaterra a quien le ha dado por viajar en las Regiones Americanas que fueron de España y por escribir sendos dislates sobre ellas y sus antiguos dominadores. [10] Each of the seventy-seven pages of this book are dedicated to demolishing the information and ideas included in Hutchinson's Two Years in Peru. This long diatribe - without any division in chapters or even subtitles - was written to counter the neglect of the Spanish authors to defend 'the prestige of Spain and the historical truth regarding the conquest of America' (Lobo 1874: 5).

After ten pages including remarks about Hutchinson's ability as a travel writer, the author of Un hijo de Inglaterra focuses on linguistic criticism. When Hutchinson criticises the fact that the Spanish conquistadors changed numerous Inca place names, Lobo counter-attacks with the English-language toponyms that are frequent in the Magellan Strait and were named by English expeditions. Then he reproaches the consul's translations from Spanish into English, including that of perder los estribos as 'to get confused or embarrassed', which Lobo argues is enough to evaluate the bad translations in Hutchinson's book: 'we can certainly assume that our readers [...] will exclaim ab uno disce omnes' (13). [11]

Next in Lobo's condemnation is spelling, in particular the question of the 'ñ':

Of course the Spanish linguistic knowledge of Mr. Hutchinson [...] has nothing to do with the fact that, without the authorisation of the Spanish Academy - incidentally, an authorisation which no British authors seek - he omits one of the letters in the Spanish alphabet, the ñ. But, not content with this ab-irato banishment, it is also imposed upon the r, when two of them happen to be unfortunate enough to occur together in a Spanish-language word. Therefore, instead of Carrillo, a Peruvian engineer, we see this name written, ex-officio by Mr. Hutchinson, with the nickname Carillo. And the delicious fish in the north of Peru's coast [...] that is known as Mojarrilla, is re-christened mojarilla (14). [12]

This apologia of the ñ, which is indeed justifiable from a purely linguistic point of view, is somewhat biased by the palpable intolerance of the author towards everything that is not Spanish. It would be worth attempting a comparison of this narrow-minded passage with the enjoyable 'La eñe también es gente' by the Argentine author María Elena Walsh. [13]

Also visible in Lobo's work is his vindication of the Spanish conquest of America. 'So all the South American histories say that in general the Christianisation by the Spaniards in those countries was limited to raising crosses on the hill tops, to building chapels in suitable places, and to changing the original place names to others with the names of saints! [...] So then it is nothing to succeed in propagating throughout the largest part of the New World a language that is one of the most beautiful languages, and with it, one of the most original and precious of literatures' (31). [14]

The battle at Callao, 2 May 1866

But the most important evaluation of Two Years in Peru by Miguel Lobo seems to be focused on an event that he witnessed first-hand, the attack on Callao by the Spanish fleet on 2 May 1866. All the details offered by Hutchinson are challenged by Lobo. When Hutchinson reports that the Spanish battleships 'had all got such a peppering' that at five in the afternoon they had to withdraw (Hutchinson 1873: II, 234), Lobo says instead that the officers were just following their orders (Lobo 1874: 71-73).



Miguel Lobo's book abounds in bigoted interpretations of both British and Latin American cultures. His comments - though partially true in some aspects of Hutchinson's book - are guided less by a genuine defence of Latin American cultures than by an attitude of considering the Spanish culture superior to that of the British empire, which is typical of an obsolete way of thinking among Spanish officials in the second half of the nineteenth century. Lobo's beliefs draw on the imperialist approach to cultures different to one's own, in which the colonialist mind only perceives powerful enemies or colonised peoples.

Incapable of even a minimal recognition of Hutchinson's work, or at least an objective criticism of the book, in the closing paragraph Miguel Lobo scoffs at the way some English-speaking people pronounce words in Spanish: 'Sr. Hutchinson, otra vez, no dice V. nonsenses, no tonterrias' (77).

Edmundo Murray



I am obliged to Edward Walsh of London for his generous hospitality and his expert guidance through the intricacy and formalities of the city's various libraries and archives. I am also grateful to Roberto Landaburu of Venado Tuerto for sharing interesting information about Thomas Hutchinson with me, and to the genealogist Helen Kelly of Dublin for her research in Wexford archives.



[1] Scornful use of incorrect Spanish syntax and spelling by a native speaker of English (Lobo 1874: 77).

[2] The county of birth may also have been Kilkenny. In this case, his father was Alfred Hutchinson [Hutchenson].

[3] The year of graduation may be inaccurate. No records have been identified in the University of Göttingen of Hutchinson's studies or his thesis dissertation (thanks to Juan Delius and Ulrich Hunger for this information).

[4] Present-day Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.

[5] A list is included in the Appendix following this article.

[6] The complete collection of the Argentine Citizen has been microfilmed by Museo Mitre of Buenos Aires.

[7] 'Hutchinson, Antigüedades del Perú. No conozco esta obra, ni necesito conocerla para saber que ha de contener muchas noticias de interés; pero redactadas sin orden ni método científico. Hutchinson es un original que tiene la pasión por los viajes, para escribir sobre ellos libros que han tenido poca aceptación en Inglaterra, según me ha informado el capitán Burton, el famoso viajero del Africa Central. Ha escrito sobre la expedición del Níger en Africa, de la que formó parte. Aquí ha sido, por algunos años, cónsul de Inglaterra en el Rosario, y ha escrito dos obras sobre la República Argentina, una de las cuales lleva mi retrato al frente. No obstante mi estimación por su persona, mi gratitud por su distinción y el honor que hago de su infatigable actividad, debo declarar que sus libros, conteniendo algo útil, no responden a ninguna idea, ni tienen un carácter durable. Su mejor obra es sin duda un periódico estadístico-comercial en inglés, que publicó aquí.' (Bartolomé Mitre to Diego Barros Arana, 20 October 1875, in Payro 1906: 197).

[8] This income was subsequently increased to £900 plus £400 allowance after complaints made by Hutchinson (FO 61/274).

[9] Independence from Spain was won in 1824 at the battle of Ayacucho, but Spain did not recognise the Republic of Peru until 1855. After the War of the American Union, the final peace treaty between Peru and Spain was signed in 1880.

[10] Lobo's book title could be translated as A son of England who took it upon himself to travel through the American regions that belonged to Spain, and to write nonsense about them and their former masters.

[11] Y ante semejante interpretación lengüística de nuestro británico viajero podemos presumir, sin miedo de equivocación, que nuestros lectores, concediéndonos les acompañemos en ello, dirán, refiriéndose á los conocimientos del idioma del mismo señor Hutchinson, ab uno disce omnes.

[12] Por supuesto que la erudición filólogo-castellana del Sr. Hutchinson, cuya muestra, puede decirse, tenemos ya de cuerpo presente, nada tiene que ver con que sin permiso de la Academia Española (permiso, que, por otra parte, suelen para ello tomarse todos los escritores británicos), suprima una de las letras del alfabeto castellano, la ñ. Y no contento con este destierro ab-irato, impóneselo también á una de las r, cuando dos de ellas tienen la desgracia de figurar juntas en una palabra española; así es, que en vez de Carrillo, apellido de un ingeniero peruano, vemos á éste, ex-officio el Sr. Hutchinson, con el sobrenombre de Carillo; y al sabroso pescado que en la costa Norte de la República, teatro de las recientes andanzas de este señor, es conocido por Mojarrilla, bautizado con el nombre de Mojarilla.

[13] Walsh, María Elena, 'La eñe también es gente' in Ministerio de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología (Argentina), Efemérides Culturales Argentinas: María Elena Walsh. Available online (, accessed 21 August 2006.

[14] ¡Conque toda la historia de América Meridional enseña, que en general, el cristianismo de los españoles, en aquellos países, redújose á levantar cruces sobre los cerros, á edificar capillas en adecuados parajes, y á cambiar los nombres primitivos por otros de santos! [...] ¡Conque no es nada el haber logrado extender, por grandísima parte del Nuevo Mundo, una lengua de las más hermosas, y con ella, una literatura de las más originales y ricas!



- Burton, Richard Francis (generally attributed to). A F.R.G.S. Wanderings in West Africa: from Liverpool to Fernando Po (London: Tinsley, 1863).

- Cutolo, Vicente Osvaldo. Nuevo Diccionario Biográfico Argentino (1750-1930) (Buenos Aires: Elche, 1968). Vol. 3.

- FO: UK National Archives (Kew), Catalogue Reference: FO (Foreign Office). Consul at Fernando Po: 2/13, 2/15, 2/16, 2/19, 2/25, 2/29, 2/35, 2/40, 84/975, 84/1001, 84/1030, 84/1061, 84/1087, 84/1117. Consul at Rosario: 6/236, 6/242, 6/247, 6/252, 6/259, 6/264, 6/270, 6/278, 6/286, 6/294. Consul at Callao: 61/261, 61/269, 61/274, 61/280, 61/286.

- Lobo, Miguel. Un hijo de Inglaterra a quien le ha dado por viajar en las regions Americanas que fueron de España y por escribir sendos dislates sobre ellas y sus antiguos dominadores (Madrid: Imprenta y librería de Miguel Guijarro, 1874).

- Marshall, Oliver. The English-Language Press in Latin America (London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 1996).

- Payró, Roberto (ed.). Páginas de historia: Bartolomé Mitre (Buenos Aires: La Nación, 1906). Online available (, accessed 16 August 2006.

- Platt, D.C.M. The Cinderella Service: British Consuls since 1825 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1971).

Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2006

Online published: 1 October 2006
Edited: 07 May 2009

Murray, Edmundo,
Sr. Hutchinson, otra vez, no dice V. nonsenses, no tonterrias: A Bigoted Response to Thomas J. Hutchinson's "Two Years in Peru" (1873)' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 4:4 (October 2006). Available online (, accessed .


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