Le Gaucho vit de privation, mais son luxe est la liberte. Fier
d'une independance sans bornes, ses sentiments, sauvages
comme sa vie, soot pourtant nobles e bons.
the first chapter, we left the Argentine peasant at the moment when
he reaches manhood, exactly as nature and the lack ofa true society have
shaped him. We have seen him as a man independent of all need, free of
all subjection, with no idea of government, since all regular and sys-
tematic order becomes wholly impossible. With these habits of indo-
lence, of independence, he enters another phase
of rural life, which,
though common and ordinary, is the starting point for all the great
see develop very shortly.
It should not be forgotten that I am speaking of an essentially pas-
toral people; that I take up their fundamental physiognomy, leaving
aside the lesser modifications they experience, to indicate these partial
effects at the proper time. I am speaking here ofthe association among
which, distributed more or less four leagues apart, cover the
area ofa province.
The agricultural countryside also subdivides and spreads out society,
but on a greatly reduced scale: one farmer lives next to another, next to
the fum tools and the multitude ofinstruments, harnesses, animals that
he uses. The variety of products and the different skills that agriculture
calls to its aid establish a necessary relationship between the inhabitants
of a valley and make indispensable a rudimentary town to serve as their
center. Moreover, the attention and daily chores that farmwork de-
mands require so many hands that leisure becomes impossible, and the
men are compelled to remain on their own inherited land. The exact
opposite happens in this singular kind ofassociation. Property limits are
not marked; the more livestock there is, the fewer hands it occupies;
the women take care of all the domestic chores and crafts; the men are
left unemployed, without pleasures, without ideas, without business to
attend to; domestic home life annoys them, or let us say they reject it.
There is a need, then, for a fictitious society to remedy this norm ofdis-
sociation. The habit ofriding on horseback, acquired since early child-
hood, is one more stimulus for leaving the home.
Boys have the job ofdriving the horses out ofthe corral scarcely has
the sun come up, and all the males, even the little ones, saddle up their
horses, even ifthey don't know what to do next. The horse is an inte-
part ofthe rural Argentine; it is for him what the cravat is for those
who live in the bosom
1841, El Chacho, a caudillo
plains, emigrated to Chile.