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Visit to the Volcano of Masaya. Village of Masaya. Lake of Masaya. Nindi- 
ti. Ascent of the Volcano. Account of it. The Crater. Descent into it. 
Volcano of Nindiri. Ignorance of the People concerning Objects of Interest. 
Return to Masaya. Another Countryman. Managua. Lake of Managua. 
Fishing. Beautiful Scenery. Mateares. Questa del Relox. Nagarotis. 
Crosses. A Gamekeeper. Pueblo Nuevo Page 7 


Beautiful Plain. Leon. Stroll through the Town. Baneful Effects of Party 
Spirit. Scenes of Horror. Unpleasant Intelligence. Journey continued. 
A fastidious Beggar. Chinandaga. Gulf of Couchagua. Visit to Realejo. 
Cotton Factory. Harbour of Realejo. El Viejo. Port of Nagoscolo. Im- 
portance of a Passport. Embarking Mules. A Bungo. Volcano of Cosagui- 
na. Eruption of 1835. La Union .22 


Journey to San Salvador. A new Companion. San Alejo. San Miguel. War 
Alarms. Another Countryman. State of San Salvador. River Lempa. 
San Vicente. Volcano of San Vicente. Thermal Springs. Cojutepeque. 
Arrival at San Salvador. Prejudice against Foreigners. Contributions. 
Pressgangs. Vice-president Vigil. Taking of San Miguel and San Vicente. 
Rumours of a March upon San Salvador. Departure from San Salvador 41 


Contributions. El Baranco de Guaramal. Volcano of Izalco. Depredations of 
Rascon. Zonzonate. News from Guatimala. Journey continued. Aguisal 
co. Apeneca. Mountain of Aguachapa. Subterranean Fires. Aguachapa. 
Defeat of Morazan. Confusion and Terror 58 


Approach of Carrera's Forces. Terror of the Inhabitants. Their Flight. Sur- 
render of the Town. Ferocity of the Soldiery. A Bulletin. Diplomacy. A 
Passport. A Breakfast. An Alarm. The Widow Padilla. An Attack. De- 
feat of Carrera's Forces. The Town takea by General Morazan. His Entry. 
The Widow's. Son. Visit to General Morazan. His Appearance, Character, 
&c. Plans deranged 74 



Visit from General Morazan. End of his Career. Procuring a Guide. Depar- 
ture for Guatimala. Fright of the People. The Rio Paz. Hacienda of Pal- 
mita. A fortunate Escape. Hacienda of San Jose. An awkward Predica- 
ment. A kind Host. Rancho of Hocotilla. Oratorio and Leon. Rio de los 
Esclavos. The Village. Approach to Guatimala. Arrival at Guatimala. A 
Sketch of the Wars. Defeat of Morazan. Scene of Massacre . Page 93 


Ruins of Quirigua. Visit to them. Los Amates. Pyramidal Structure. A 
Colossal Head. An Altar. A Collection of Monuments. Statues. Charac- 
ter of the Ruins. A lost City. Purchasing a ruined City . . . 118 


Reception at the Government House. The Captain in Trouble. A Change of 
Character. Arrangements for Journey to Palenque. Arrest of the Captain. 
His Release. Visit from a Countryman. Dangers in Prospect. Last Stroll 
through the Suburbs. Hospital and Cemetery of San Juan de Dios. Fearful 
State of the Country. Last Interview with Carrera. Departure from Guati- 
mala. A Don Quixote. Ciudad Vieja. Plain of El Vieja. Volcanoes, 
Plains, and Villages. San Andres Isapa. Dangerous Road. A Molina . 125 


journey continued. Barrancas. Tecpan Guatimala. A noble Church. A sa- 
cred Stone. The ancient City. Description of the Ruins. A Molina. Anoth- 
er Earthquake Patzum. A Ravine. Fortifications. Los Altos. Godines. 
Losing a good Friend Magnificent Scenery. San Antonio. Lake of Ati- 
tan 146 


Lake of Atitan. Conjectures as to its Origin, &c. A Sail on the Lake. A dan- 
gerous Situation. A lofty Mountain Range. Ascent of the Mountains. Com- 
manding View. Beautiful Plain. An elevated Village. Ride along the Lake. 
Solola. Visit to Santa Cruz del Quiche. Scenery on the Road. Barrancas. 
San Thomas. Whipping-posts. Plain of Quiche. The Village. Ruins of 
Quiche. Its History. Desolate Scene. A facetious Cura. Description of 
the Ruins. Plan. The Royal Palace. The Place of Sacrifice. An Image. 
Two Heads, &c. Destruction of the Palace recent. An Arch . .161 


Interior of a Convent. Royal Bird of Quiche. Indian Languages. The Lord's 
Prayer in the Quiche Language. Numerals in the same Church of Quiche". 
Indian Superstitions. Another lost City. Tierra de Guerra. The Abori- 
ginals. Their Conversion to Christianity. They were never conquered. A 


Jiving City. Indian Tradition respecting this City. Probably has never been 
visited by the Whites. Presents a noble Field for future Enterprise. Depar- 
ture. San Pedro. Virtue of a Passport. A difficult Ascent. Mountain 
Scenery. Totonicapan. An excellent Dinner. A Country of Aloes. "River 
of Blood." Arrival at Quezaltenango Page 180 


Quezaltenango. Account of it. Conversion of the Inhabitants to Christianity. 
Appearance of the City. The Convent. Insurrection. Carrera's March 
upon Quezaltenango. His Treatment of the Inhabitants. Preparations for 
Holy Week. The Church. A Procession. Good Friday. Celebration of the 
Resurrection. Opening Ceremony. The Crucifixion. A Sermon. Descent 
from the Cross. Grand Procession. Church of El Calvario. The Case of 
the Cura. Warm Springs of Almolonga ....... 203 


Journey continued. A Mountain Plain. Lost Guides. A trying Moment 
Agua Calientes. A magnificent View. Gold Ore. San Sebastiano. Gue- 
guetenango. Sierra Madre. A huge Skeleton. The Ruins. Pyramidal 
Structures, A Vault. Mounds. A welcqme Addition. Interior of a Mound. 
Vases. Ascent of the Sierra Madre. Buena Vista. The Descent. Todos 
Santos. San Martin. San Andres Petapan. A Forest on Fire. Suffering 
of the Mules from Swarms of Flies. San Antonio de Guista . . . 221 


Comfortable Lodgings. Journey continued. Stony Road. Beautiful River. 
Suspension Bridge. The Dolores. Rio Lagertero. Enthusiasm brought 
down. Another Bridge. Entry into Mexico. A Bath. A Solitary Church. 
A Scene of Barrenness. Zapolouta. Comitan. Another Countryman. 
More Perplexities. Official Courtesy. Trade of Comitan. Smuggling. 
Scarcity of Soap 240 


Parting. Sotana. A Millionaire. Ocosingo. Ruins. Beginning of the Rainy 
Season. A Female Guide. Arrival at the Ruins. Stone Figures. Pyrami- 
dal Structures. An Arch. A Stucco Ornament. A Wooden Lintel. A cu- 
rious Cave. Buildings, &c. A Causeway. More Ruins. Journey to Pa- 
lenque. Rio Grande. Cascades. Succession of Villages. A Maniac. The 
Yahalon. Tumbala. A wild Place. A Scene of Grandeur and Sublimity. 
Indian Carriers. A steep Mountain. San Pedro 255 


A wild Country. Ascent of a Mountain. Ride in a Silla. A precarious Situa- 
tion. The Descent. Rancho of Nopa. Attacks of Moschetoes. Approach 
to Palenque. Pasture Grounds. Village of Palenque. A crusty Official. A 


courteous Reception. Scarcity of Provisions. Sunday. Cholera. Another 
Countryman. The Conversion, Apostacy, and Recovery of the Indians. River 
Chacamal. The Caribs. Ruins of Palenque 273 


Preparations for visiting the Ruins. A Turn-out. Departure. The Road. 
Rivers Micol and Otula. Arrival at the Ruins. The Palace. A Feu-de-joie. 
Quarters in the Palace. Inscriptions by former Visitors. The Fate of 
Beanham. Discovery of the Ruins of Palenque. Visit of Del Rio. Expe- 
dition of Dupaix. Drawings of the present Work. First Dinner at the Ru- 
ins. Mammoth Fireflies. Sleeping Apartments. Extent of the Ruins. Ob- 
stacles to Exploration. Suffering from Moschetoes ..... 28& 


Precautions against the Attacks of Moschetoes. Mode of Life at Palenque. 
Description of the Palace. Piers. Hieroglyphics. Figures. Doorways.- 
Corridors. Courtyards. A wooden Relic. Stone Steps. Towers. Tablets. 
Stucco Ornaments, &c., &c. The Royal Chapel. Explorations. An Aque- 
duct. An Alarm. Insects. Effect of Insect Stings. Return to the Village 
of Palenque 303 


A Voice from the Ruins. Buying Bread. Arrival of Padres. Cura of Palenque. 
Card Playing. Sunday. Mass. A Dinner Party. Mementoes of Home. 
Dinner Customs. Return to the Ruins. A marked Change. Terrific Thun- 
der. A Whirlwind. A Scene of the Sublime and Terrible . . . 325 


Plan of the Ruins. Pyramidal Structure. A Building. Stucco Ornaments. 
Human Figures. Tablets. Remarkable Hieroglyphics. Range of Pillars. 
Stone Terrace. Another Building. A large Tablet. A Cross. Conjectures 
in regard to this Cross. Beautiful Sculpture. A Platform. Curious De- 
yices. A Statue. Another Pyramidal Structure, surmounted by a Building. 
Corridors. A curious Bas-relief. Stone Tablets, with Figures in Bas-relief. 
Tablets and Figures. The Oratorio. More Pyramidal Structures and Build- 
ings. Extent of the Ruins. These Ruins the Remains of a polished and pe- 
culiar People. Antiquity of Palenque 337 


Departure from the Ruins. Bad Road. An Accident. Arrival at the Village. 
A Funeral Procession. Negotiations for Purchasing Palenque. Making 
Casts. Final Departure from Palenque. Beautiful Plain. Hanging Birds'- 
nests. A Sitio. Adventure with a monstrous Ape. Hospitality of Padres. 
Las Playas. A Tempest. Moschetoes. A Youthful Merchant. Alligators. 
Another Funeral. Disgusting Ceremonials ....... 358 



Embarcation. An inundated Plain. Rio Chico. The Usumasinta. Ric Pal- 
isada. Yucatan. More Revolutions. Vespers. Embarcation for the Laguna. 
Shooting Alligators. Tremendous Storm. Boca Chico. Lake of Terminos. 
A Cairn, succeeded by a Tempest. Arrival at the Laguna . . Page 374 


Laguna. Journey to Merida. Sisal. A new Mode of Conveyance. Village of 
Hunucama. Arrival at Merida. Aspect of the City. Fe*te of Corpus Dom- 
ini. The Cathedral. The Procession. Beauty and Simplicity of the Indian 
Women. Palace of the Bishop. The Theatre. Journey to Uxmal. Ha- 
cienda of Vayalquex. Value of Water. Condition of the Indians in Yucatan. 
A peculiar kind of Coach. Hacienda of Mucuyche. A beautiful Grotto 391 


Journey resumed. Arrival at Uxmal. Hacienda of Uxmal. Major-domos. 
Adventures of a young Spaniard. Visit to the Ruins of Uxmal. First Sight 
of the Ruins. Character of the Indians. Details of Hacienda Life. A delicate 
Case. Illness of Mr. Catherwood. Breaking up 410 


Ruins of Uxmal. A lofty Building. Magnificent View from its Doorway. Pe- 
culiar sculptured Ornaments. Another Building, called by the Indians the 
House of the Dwarf. An Indian Legend. The House of the Nuns. The 
House of Turtles. The House of Pigeons. The Guard-house. Absence of 
Water. The House of the Governor. Terraces. Wooden Lintels. Details 
of the House of the Governor. Doorways. Corridors. A Beam of Wood, in- 
scribed with Hieroglyphics. Sculptured Stones, &c 420 


Exploration finished. Who built these ruined Cities? Opinion of Dupaix. 
These Ruins bear no Resemblance to the Architecture of Greece and Rome. 
Nothing like them in Europe. Do not Resemble the known Works of Japan 
and China. Neither those of Hindu. No Excavations found. The Pyramids 
of Egypt, in their original State, do not resemble what are called the Pyramids 
of America. The Temples of Egypt not like those of America. Sculpture not 
the same as that of Egypt. Probable Antiquity of these Ruins. Accounts of 
the Spanish Historians. These Cities probably built by the Races inhabiting the 
Country at the time of the Spanish Conquest. These Races not yet extinct 436 


Journey to Merida. Village of Moona. A Pond of Water, a Curiosity. Aboula. 
Indian Runners. Merida. Departure. Hunucama. Siege of Campeachy. 
Embarcation for Havana. Incidents of the Passage. Fourth of July at Sea. 
Shark-fishing. Getting lost at Sea. Relieved by the Helen Maria. Pas- 
sage to New-York. Arrival. Conclusion 458 



Stone Tablet .... Frontispiece. 

Idol at Quirigua . . .. ............. 121 

Idol at Quirigua 122 

Santa Cruz del Quiche" 171 

Place of Sacrifice 184 

Figures found at Santa Cruz del Quiche 1 185 

Plaza of Quezaltenango ........... 204 

Vases found at Gueguetenango 231 

Ocosingo ... .......... 259 

Palace at Palenque 309 

Plan of Palace 310 

Stucco Figure on Pier 311 

Front Corridor of Palace , 313 

No. 1, Courtyard of Palace 314 

No. 2. Colossal Bas-reliefs in Stone 314 

East Side of Courtyard 316 

No. 1, Bas-relief in Stucco ... _. 310 

No. 2, Bas-relief in Stucco 31.6 

No. 3, Bas-relief in Stucco 316 

Oval Bas-relief in Stone 318 

Bas-relief in Stucco _ 319 

General Plan of Palenque 337 

CasaNo. 1 in Ruins 338 

CasaNo. 1 restored 339 

No. 1, Bas-relief in Stucco 340 

No. 2, Bas-relief in Stucco , 340 

No. 3, Bas-relief in Stucco 340 

No. 4, Bas-relief in Stucco 340 

No. 1, Tablet of Hieroglyphics 342 

No. 2, Tablet of Hieroglyphics 342 

Tablet on inner Wall 343 

Casa di Piedras No. 2 344 

Tablet on back Wall of Altar, CasaNo. 2 345 

Stone Statue .... 349 

CasaNo.3.. 350 



Front Corridor . .-.- .. 351 

No. 1, Bas-reliefs in Front of Altar 353 

No. 2, Bas-reliefs in Front of Altar 353 

Adoratorio or Altar 354 

Casa No. 4 355 

Houseof the Dwarf 420 

Casa del Gobcrnador 428 

Sculptured Front of Casa del Gobernador. ............ ............ 434 

Egyptian Hieroglyphics 441 

Top of Altar at Copan _ 454 

Mexican Hieroglyphical Writing 454 





Visit to the Volcano of Masaya. Village of Masaya. Lake of Masaya. Nindi- 
it Ascent of the Volcano. Account of it. The Crater. Descent into it. 
Volcano of Nindiri. Ignorance of the People concerning Objects of Interest. 
Return to Masaya. Another Countryman. Managua. Lake of Managua. 
Fishing. Beautiful Scenery. Mateares. Questa del Reloz. Nagarotis. 
Crosses. A Gamekeeper. Pueblo Nuevo. 

MARCH 1. Anxious as I was to hurry on, I resolved 
nevertheless to give one day to the Volcano of Masaya. 
For this purpose I sent a courier ahead to procure me 
a guide up the volcano, and did not get off till eleven 
o'clock. At a short distance from the city we met a 
little negro on horseback, dressed in the black suit that 
nature made him, with two large plantain leaves sewed 
together for a hat, and plantain leaves for a saddle. 
At the distance of two leagues we came in sight of the 
volcano, and at four o'clock, after a hot ride, entered 
the town, one of the oldest and largest in Nicaragua, 
and though completely inland, containing, with its sub- 
urbs, a population of twenty thousand. We rode to 
the house of Don Sabino Satroon, who lay, with his 
mouth open, snoring in a hammock; but his wife, a 
pretty young half-blood, received me cordially, and 
with a proper regard for the infirmities of an old hus- 
band and for me, did not wake him up. All at once 


he shut his mouth and opened his eyes, and gave me a 
cordial welcome. Don Sabino was a Colombian, who 
had been banished for ten years, as he said, for services 
rendered his country; and having found his way to 
Masaya, had married the pretty young half-breed, and 
set up as a doctor. Inside the door, behind a little stock 
of sugar, rice, sausages, and chocolate, was a formidable 
array of jars and bottles, exhibiting as many colours and 
as puzzling labels as an apothecary's shop at home. 

I had time to take a short walk around the town, and 
turning down the road, at the distance of half a mile 
came to the brink of a precipice, more than a hundred 
feet high, at the foot of which, and a short distance be- 
yond, was the Lake of Masaya. The descent was al- 
most perpendicular, in one place by a rough ladder, and 
then by steps cut in the rock. I was obliged to stop 
while fifteen or twenty women, most of them young girls, 
passed. Their water-jars were made of the shell of a 
large gourd, round, with fanciful figures scratched on 
them, and painted or glazed, supported on the back by 
a strap across the forehead, and secured by fine net- 
work. Below they were chattering gayly, but by the 
time they reached the place where I stood they were 
silent, their movements very slow, their breathing hard, 
and faces covered with profuse perspiration. This was 
a great part of the daily labour of the women of the 
place, and in this way they procured enough for domes- 
tic use ; but every horse, mule, or cow was obliged to go 
b^ a circuitous road of more than a league for water. 
Why a large town has grown up and been continued so 
far from this element of life, I do not know. The Span- 
iards found it a large Indian village, and as they immedi- 
ately made the owners of the soil their drawers of water, 
they did not feel the burden ; nor do their descendants 


In the mean time my guide arrived, who, to my great 
satisfaction, was no less a personage than the alcalde 
himself. The arrangements were soon made, and I was 
to join him the next morning at his house in Nindiri. I 
gave my mules and Nicolas a day's rest, and started on 
Don Sabino's horse, with a boy to act as guide and to 
carry a pair of alforgas with provisions. In half an hour 
I reached Nindiri, having met more people than on my 
whole road from San Jose to Nicaragua. The alcalde 
was ready, and in company with an assistant, who carried 
a pair of alforgas with provisions and a calabash of water, 
all mounted, we set out. At the distance of half a league 
we left the main road, and turned off on a small path in 
the woods on the left. We emerged from this into an 
open field covered with lava, extending to the base of the 
volcano in front and on each side as far as I could see, 
black, several feet deep, and in some places lying in 
high ridges. A faint track was beaten by cattle over 
this plain of lava. In front were two volcanoes, from 
both of which streams of lava had run down the sides 
into the plain. That directly in front my guide said was 
the Volcano of Masaya. In that on the right, and far- 
thest from us, the crater was broken, and the great 
chasm inside was visible. This he said was called Ven- 
tero, a name I never heard before, and that it was in- 
accessible. Hiding toward that in front, and crossing 
the field of lava, we reached the foot of the volcano. 
Here the grass was high, but the ground was rough and 
uneven, being covered with decomposed lava. We as- 
cended on horseback until it became too steep for the 
horses to carry us, and then dismounted, tied them to a 
bush, and continued on foot. I was already uneasy as 
to my guides' knowledge of localities, and soon found 
that they were unwilling or unable to endure much fa- 



tigue. Before we were half way up they disencumber- 
ed themselves of the water-jar and provisions, and yet 
they lagged behind. The alcalde was a man about 
forty, who rode his own horse, and being a man of con- 
sequence in the town, I could not order him to go fast- 
er ; his associate was some ten years older, and physi- 
cally incapable ; and seeing that they did not know any 
particular path, I left them and went on alone. 

At eleven o'clock, or three hours from the village of 
Nindiri, I reached the high point at which we were 
aiming ; and from this point I expected to look down 
into the crater of the volcano ; but there was no crater, 
and the whole surface was covered with gigantic mass- 
es of lava, and overgrown with bushes and scrub trees. 
I waited till my guides came up, who told me that this 
was the Volcano of Masaya, and that there was nothing 
more to see. The^alcalde insisted that two years before 
he had ascended with the cura, since deceased, and a 
party of villagers, and they all stopped at this place. I 
was disappointed and dissatisfied. Directly opposite 
rose a high peak, which I thought, from its position, 
must command a view of the crater of the other volca- 
no. I attempted to reach it by passing round the cir- 
cumference of the mountain, but was obstructed by an 
immense chasm, and returning, struck directly across. 
I had no idea what I was attempting. The whole was 
covered with lava lying in ridges and irregular masses, 
the surface varying at every step, and overgrown with 
trees and bushes. After an hour of the hardest work I 
ever had in my life, I reached the point at which I aim- 
ed, and, to my astonishment, instead of seeing the cra- 
ter of the distant volcano, I was on the brink of another. 

Among the recorded wonders of the discoveries in 
America, this mountain was one ; and the Spaniards, 


who in those days never stopped half way in any mat- 
ter that touched the imagination, called it El Infierno 
de Masaya, or the Hell of Masaya. The historian, in 
speaking of Nicaragua, says, " There are burning mount- 
ains in this province, the chief of which is Masaya, 
where the natives at certain times offered up maids, 
throwing them into it, thinking by their lives to appease 
the fire, that it might not destroy the country, and they 
went to it very chearful ;" and in another place he 
says, " Three leagues from the city of Masaya is a small 
hill, flat and round, called Masaya, being a burning 
Mountain, the Mouth of it being half a League in Com- 
pass, and the Depth within it two hundred and fifty 
Fathoms. There are no Trees nor Grass, but Birds 
build without any Disturbance from the Fire. There 
is another Mouth like that of a Well about a Bowshot 
over, the distance from which to the Fire is about a 
hundred and fifty Fathoms, always boiling up, and that 
mass of Fire often rises and gives a great Light, so 
that it can be seen at a considerable Distance. It 
moves from one Side to the other, and sometimes roars 
so loud that it is dreadful, yet never casts up any- 
thing but Smoak and Flame. The Liquor never ceas- 
ing at the Bottom, nor its Boiling, imagining the same 
to be Gold, F. Blase de Yniesta, of the Order of St. 
Dominick, and two other Spaniards, were let down into 
the first Mouth in two Baskets, with a Bucket made of 
one Piece of Iron, and a long Chain to draw up some of 
that fiery Matter, and know whether it was Metal. 
The Chain ran a hundred and fifty Fathoms, and as 
soon as it came to the Fire, the Bucket melted, with 
some Links of the Chain, in a very short Time, and 
therefore they could not know what was below. They 
lay there that Night without any Want of Fire or Can- 


dies, and came out again in their Baskets sufficiently 

Either the monk, disappointed in his search for gold, 
had fibbed, or nature had made one of its most extra- 
ordinary changes. The crater was about a mile and a 
half in circumference, five or six hundred feet deep, 
with sides slightly sloping, and so regular in its propor- 
tions that it seemed an artificial excavation. The bot- 
tom was level, both sides and bottom covered with 
grass, and it seemed an immense conical green basin. 
There were none of the fearful marks of a volcanic 
eruption; nothing to terrify, or suggest an idea of el in- 
fierno ; but, on the contrary, it was a scene of singular 
and quiet beauty. I descended to the side of the cra- 
ter, and walked along the edge, looking down into the 
area. Toward the other end was a growth of arbolitos 
or little trees, one place no grass grew, and the 
ground was black and loamy, like mud drying up. 
This was perhaps the mouth of the mysterious well 
that sent up the flame, which gave its light a " consider- 
able distance," into which the Indian maidens were 
thrown, and which melted the monk's iron bucket. 
Like him, I felt curious to "know what was below;" 
but the sides of the crater were perpendicular. Entirely 
alone, and with an hour's very hard work between me 
and my guides, I hesitated about making any attempt to 
descend, but I disliked to return without. In one place, 
and near the black earth, the side was broken, and 
there were some bushes and scrub trees. I planted my 
gun against a stone, tied my handkerchief around it as 
a signal of my whereabout, and very soon was below 
the level of the ground. Letting myself down by the 
aid of roots, bushes, and projecting stones, I descended 
to a scrub tree which grew out of the side about half 


way from the bottom, and below this it was a naked and 
perpendicular wall. It was impossible to go any farther. 
I was even obliged to keep on the upper side of the tree, 
and here I was more anxious than ever to reach the bot- 
tom ; but it was of no use. Hanging midway, impressed 
with the solitude and the extraordinary features of a scene 
upon which so few human eyes have ever rested, and 
the power of the great Architect who has scattered his 
wonderful works over the whole face of the earth, I 
could not but reflect, what a waste of the bounties of 
Providence in this favoured but miserable land ! At 
home this volcano would be a fortune ; with a good 
hotel on top, a railing round to keep children from fall- 
ing in, a zigzag staircase down the sides, and a glass of 
iced lemonade at the bottom. Cataracts are good 
property with people who know how to turn them to 
account. Niagara and Trenton Falls pay well, and 
the owners of volcanoes in Central America might 
make money out of them by furnishing facilities to 
travellers. This one could probably be bought for ten 
dollars, and I would have given twice that sum for a 
rope and a man to hold it. Meanwhile, though anx- 
ious to. be at the bottom, I was casting my eyes wist- 
fully to the top. The turning of an ankle, breaking of 
a branch, rolling of a stone, or a failure of strength, 
might put me where I should have been as hard to find 
as the government of Central America. I commenced 
climbing up, slowly and with care, and in due time 
hauled myself out in safety. 

On my right was a full view of the broken crater of 
the Volcano t>f Nindiri. The side toward me was 
hurled down, and showed the whole interior of the cra- 
ter. This the alcalde had declared inaccessible ; and 
partly from sheer spite against him, I worked my way 



to it with extreme labour and difficulty. At length, after 
five hours of most severe toil among the rugged heaps 
of lava, I descended to the place where we had left our 
provisions. Here I seized the calabash of water, and 
stood for several minutes with my face turned up to the 
skies, and then I began upon the alcalde and the eata- 
bles. Both he and his companion expressed their utter 
astonishment at what I described, and persisted in saying 
that they did not know of the existence of such a place. 

I dwell upon this matter for the benefit of any future 
traveller who may go out competent and prepared to 
explore the interesting volcanic regions of Central 
America. Throughout my journey my labours were 
much increased by the ignorance and indifference of 
the people concerning the objects of interest in their im- 
mediate neighbourhood. A few intelligent and educa- 
ted men know of their existence as part of the history 
of the country, but I never met one who had visited the 
Volcano of Masaya ; and in the village at its foot the 
traveller will not obtain even the scanty information af- 
forded in these pages. The alcalde was born near this 
volcano ; from boyhood had hunted stray cattle on its 
side, and told me that he knew every foot of the ground ; 
yet he stopped me short of the only object of interest, 
ignorant, as he said, of its existence. Now either the 
alcalde lied, and was too lazy to encounter the toil which 
I had undergone, or he was imposing upon me. In ei- 
ther case he deserves a flogging, and I beg the next 
traveller, as a particular favour to me, to give him one. 

I was too indignant with the alcalde to have anything 
farther to do with him ; and bent upon making another 
attempt, on my return to the village I rode to the house 
of the cura, to obtain his assistance in procuring men 
and making other needful preparations. On the steps 


of the back piazza I saw a young negro man, in a black 
gown and cap, sitting by the side of a good-looking, 
well-dressed white woman, and, if I mistake not, dis- 
coursing to her of other things than those connected with 
his priestly duties. His black reverence was by no 
means happy to see me. I asked him if I could make 
an inn of his house, which, though it sounds somewhat 
free, is the set phrase for a traveller to use ; and, without 
rising from his seat, he said his house was small and in- 
commodious, and that the alcalde had a good one. He 
was the first black priest I had seen, and the only one 
in the country who failed in hospitality. I must confess 
that I felt a strong impulse to lay the butt of a pistol over 
his head ; and spurring my horse so that he sprang al- 
most upon him, I wheeled short and galloped out of the 
yard. With the alcalde and cura both against me, I had 
no chance in the village. It was nearly dark, and I re- 
turned to Masaya. My vexation was lost in a sense of 
overpowering fatigue. It would be impossible to repeat 
the severe labour of the day without an interval of rest, 
and tnere was so much difficulty in making arrange- 
ments, that I determined to mount my macho and 
push on. 

The next morning I resumed my journey. My mules 
had not been watered. To send them to the lake and 
back would give them a journey of two leagues ; and 
to save them I bought water, which was measured out 
in a gourd holding about a quart. At about a league's 
distance we came in sight of the Lake of Managua, and 
before us the whole country was a bed of lava from the 
base of the volcano to the lake. I met a travelling par- 
ty, the principal of which I recognised as a stranger. 
We had passed, when I turned round and accosted him 
in English ; and after looking at me for a minute, to 


my great surprise he called me by name. He was an 
American named Higgins, whom I had seen last at my 
own office in New- York. He was coming from Real- 
ejo, and was on his way to San Juan, with the intention 
of embarking for the United States. We sent our lug- 
gage on and dismounted ; and besides the pleasure of 
the meeting, I am under great obligation to him, for I 
was riding at the time on an alvardo, or common sad- 
dle of the country, very painful for one not used to it. 
My own saddle hurt my macho ; and as his journey 
was nearly at an end, he gave me his in exchange, which 
I rode on afterward till I left it on the shores of Yuca- 
tan. He gave me, too, a line in pencil to a lady in 
Leon, and I charged him with messages to my friends 
at home. When he rode off I almost envied him ; he 
was leaving behind him tumults and convulsions, and 
was going to a cfuiet home, but I had still a long and 
difficult journey before me. 

In about three hours, after a desperately hot ride, we 
reached Managua, beautifully situated on the banks of 
the lake. Entering through a collection of thatched 
huts, we passed a large aristocratic house, with a court- 
yard occupying a whole square, the mansion of an ex- 
patriated family, decaying and going to ruin. 

Late in the afternoon I walked down to the lake. 
It was not so grand as the Lake of Nicaragua, but it 
was a noble sheet of water, and in full sight was the 
Volcano of Momontanbo. The shore presented the 
same animated spectacle of women filling their water- 
jars, men bathing, horses and mules drinking, and in 
one place was a range of fishermen's huts ; on the edge 
of the water stakes were set up in a triangular form, 
and women with small hand-nets were catching fish, 
which they threw into hollow places dug, or rather 


scraped, in the sand. The fish were called sardinitos, 
and at the door of the huts the men were building fires 
to cook them. The beauty of this scene was enhanced 
by the reflection that it underwent no change. Here 
was perpetual summer ; no winter ever came to drive 
the inhabitants shivering to their fires ; but still it may 
be questioned whether, with the same scenery and cli- 
mate, wants few and easily supplied, luxuriating in the 
open air, and by the side of this lovely lake, even the 
descendants of the Anglo-Saxon race would not lose 
their energy and industry. 

This lake empties into the Lake of Nicaragua by means 
of the River Tipitapa, and another communication be- 
tween the two seas has been spoken of by means of a 
canal from it to the Pacific at the port of Realejo. The 
ground is perfectly level, and the port is perhaps the 
best in Spanish America ; but the distance is sixty 
miles, and there are other difficulties which it seems to 
me are insuperable. The River Tipitapa has been rep- 
resented as navigable the whole length for the largest 
ships ; but no survey was ever made until Mr. Bailey's, 
according to which it is thirty miles in length. Begin- 
ing at the Lake of Nicaragua, for twenty-four miles the 
water is from one to three fathoms in depth. Above 
this there are rapids, and at the distance of four and a 
half miles a fall of thirteen feet. The whole rise within 
the six miles is twenty- eight feet eight inches. The 
Lake of Managua, from observation and information 
without survey, is about fifteen leagues long and thirty- 
five in circumference, and averages ten fathoms of wa- 
ter. There is not a single stream on the contemplated 
line of canal from this lake to the Pacific, and it would 
be necessary for this lake to furnish the whole supply 
of water for communication with both oceans. 



At three o'clock the next morning we started. In 
all the tierras calientes it is the custom to travel at 
night, or, rather, very early in the morning. At eight 
o'clock we entered the village of Mateares, where we 
procured some eggs and breakfasted. From this village 
our road lay directly along the lake, but a few paces 
from the shore, and shaded by noble trees. Unfortu- 
nately, we were obliged to turn off to avoid a large 
rock which had rolled down several months before, and 
probably blocks up the road still ; this brought us round 
by the Questa del Relox, so called from a venerable 
sundial which stands on one side of the road, of a dark 
gray stone, with an inscription in Castilian, but the 
characters so worn and indistinct that I could not make 
them out. It has no history except that it was erected 
by the conquerors, and it stands as an indication of the 
works with which the Spaniards began the settlement 
of the country. 

At half past eleven we left the lake for the last tune, 
and entered an open plain. We rode an hour longer, 
and reached Nagarotis, a miserable village, its houses 
built partly of mud, with yards in front, trodden bare 
by mules, and baked white by the sun. I entered one 
of the houses for shelter, and found in it a young negro 
priest on his way to Carthagena, with orders from the 
Church at Leon. The house was occupied by an old 
man alone. It had a bedstead with a mat over it, upon 
which I lay down, glad to rest a while, and to escape 
the scorching heat. Opposite the bed was a rude frame 
about six feet high, on the top of which was a sort of 
babyhouse, with the figure of the Virgin sitting on a 
chair, and dressed in cheap finery. 

At three we started again. The sun had lost some 
of its force, the road was wooded, and I observed more 


than the usual number of crosses. The people of Nic- 
aragua are said to be the worst in the republic. The 
inhabitants of the other states always caution a stran- 
ger against them, and they are proportionally devout. 
Everywhere, in the cities and country, on the tops of 
mountains, and by the side of rivers, these memorials 
stared me in the face. I noticed one in a cleared place 
by the roadside, painted black, with a black board sus- 
pended to it, containing an inscription in faded white 
letters ; it had been erected to the memory of a padre 
who had been murdered and buried at its foot. I stop- 
ped to copy the inscription, and while so engaged saw 
a travelling party approaching, and knowing the jeal- 
ousy of the people, shut my notebook and rode on. 
The party consisted of two men, with their servants, 
and a woman. The younger man accosted me, and 
said that he had seen me at Grenada, and regretted 
that he had not known of my proposed journey. From 
the style of his dress and equipments I supposed him 
to be a gentleman, and was sure of it from the circum- 
stance of his carrying a gamecock under his arm. As 
we rode on the conversation turned upon these interest- 
ing birds, and I learned that my new acquaintance was 
going to Leon to fight a match, of which he offered to 
give me notice. The bird which he carried had won 
three matches in Grenada ; its fame had reached Leon, 
and drawn forth a challenge from that place. It was 
rolled up as carefully as a fractured leg, with nothing 
but the head and tail visible ; and suspended by a string, 
was as easily carried as a basket. The young man 
sighed over the miseries of the country, the distress and 
ruin caused by the wars, and represented the pit at 
Grenada as being in a deplorable condition ; but in 
Leon he said it was very flourishing, on account of its 


being the headquarters of the military. The building, 
too, did honour to the city ; it was only open on Sun- 
days ; but he knew the proprietor, and could at any 
time make an arrangement for a match. He made 
many inquiries about the state of the science in my 
country ; told me that he had imported two cocks from 
England, which were game enough, but not sufficiently 
heavy for theirs ; and gave me, besides, much valuable 
information on this subject, of which I neglected to 
make any memorandum. 

Before dark we reached Pueblo Nuevo, and all went 
to the same posada. His companion was not so much 
of a sportsman, though he knew the qualities of a good 
bird, and showed a familiarity in handling them. It 
was the first time I had fallen in with travellers for the 
night. I have avoided details in all places where I was 
partaking of private hospitality, but this was like a ho- 
tel at home, in the main point that all were expected 
to pay. We had for supper poached eggs and beans, 
without plate, knife, fork, or spoon. My companions 
used their tortillas to take up an egg, and also, by turn- 
ing up the edges, to scoop out frigoles from the dish ; 
withal, they were courteous and gentlemanly. We had 
a species of chocolate, made of pounded cocoa and 
sweetened, and served in hickories, which, having bot- 
toms like the butts of large eggs, could not stand on the 
table. My companions twisted their pocket-handker- 
chiefs, and winding them on the table in circular folds, 
set the hickories inside the hollow, and one of them did 
the same with my handkerchief for me. After supper 
the younger of the two dressed the birds in their robes 
de nuit, a cotton cloth wound tight around the body, 
compressing the wings, and then, with a string fastened 
to the back of the cloth, so that the body was balanced, 


hooked each of them to the hammock. While he was 
preparing them the woman was showing horn combs, 
beads, earrings, and rosaries, and entrapped the daugh- 
ter of the host into the purchase of a comb. The house 
had an unusual influx of company. The young man, 
the female merchant, and I do not know how many of 
the family, slept in a back room. The elder traveller 
offered me the hammock, but I preferred the long chest, 
made from the trunk of a tree, which in every house in 
Nicaragua served as a sort of cupboard. 



Beautiful Plain. Leon. Stroll through the Town. Baneful Effects of Party 
Spirit. Scenes of Horror. Unpleasant Intelligence. Journey continued. 
A fastidious Beggar. Chinandaga. Gulf of Couchagua. Visit to Realejo. 
Cotton Factory. Harbour of Realejo. El Viejo. Port of Nagoscolo. Im- 
portance of a Passport. Embarking Mules. A Bungo. Volcano of Cosagui- 
na. Eruption of 1835. La Union. 

AT two o'clock we were awakened by the crowing of 
the cocks, and at three the cargo-mules were loaded 
and we set off. The road was level and wooded, but 
desperately dusty. For two hours after daylight we 
had shade, when we came upon an open plain, bounded 
on the Pacific side by a low ridge, and on the right by 
a high range of" mountains, forming part of the great 
chain of the Cordilleras. Before us, at a great distance, 
rising above the level of the plain, we saw the spires of 
the Cathedral of Leon. This magnificent plain, in rich- 
ness of soil not surpassed by any land in the world, lay 
as desolate as when the Spaniards first traversed it. 
The dry season was near its close ; for four months there 
had been no rain, and the dust hung around us in thick 
clouds, hot and fine as the sands of Egypt. At nine 
o'clock we reached Leon, and I parted from my com- 
panions, but not without a courteous invitation from the 
younger to take up my rest at the house of his brother. 
The suburbs were more miserable than anything I had 
yet seen. Passing up a long street, across which a sen- 
tinel was patrolling, I saw in front of the quartel a 
group of vagabond soldiers, a match for Carrera's, who 
cried out insolently, " Quittez el sombrero," " Take off 
your hat." I had to traverse the whole extent of the 


city before I reached the house to which I had been 
recommended. I dismounted, and entered it with con- 
fidence of a warm reception ; but the lady, with consid- 
erable expedition, told me that her husband was not at 
home. I gave her a note with which I had been fur- 
nished, addressed to herself; but she said she could not 
read English, and handed it back. I translated it word 
for word, being a request that she would give me lodg- 
ings. Her brow actually knit with vexation ; and she 
said she had but one spare room, and that was re- 
served for the English vice-consul from Realejo. I an- 
swered that the vice-consul did not intend leaving Re- 
alejo for the present. She asked me how long I intend- 
ed to stay ; and when I replied only that night, she 
said that if such was the case I might remain. The 
reader will perhaps wonder at my want of spirit ; but 
the fact is, I was loth to consider any incivility person- 
al. My only alternative was to seek out the young 
man whose invitation I had declined, and whose name 
I did not know, or to ask admission from door to door. 
It is said that women are governed by appearances, 
and mine was not very seductive. My dress was the 
same with which I had left Grenada, soiled by the as- 
cent of the Volcano of Masaya, and now covered with 
dust. Making the most of my moderate wardrobe, on 
my reappearance I was more favourably received. At 
least I had a capital breakfast ; and as it was very hot, 
and I wanted to rest, I remained in doors and played 
with the children. At dinner I had the seat of honour 
at the head of the table, and had made such progress, 
that, if I had desired it, I would have ventured to broach 
the subject of remaining another day ; and I owe it to 
the lady to say, that, having assented to my remaining, 


she treated me with great civility and attention, and 
particularly used great exertions in procuring me a 
guide to enable me to set out the next day. 

After dinner Nicolas came to my room, and with 
uplifted hands cried out against the people of Leon, 
Gente indecente, sin verguenza (literally), indecent peo- 
ple, without shame. He had been hooted in the streets, 
and had heard such stories of the state of the country 
before us that he wanted to return home. I was ex- 
tremely loth to make another change, and particularly 
for any of the assassin-looking scoundrels whom I had 
seen on my entry ; but I did not like the responsibility 
of taking him against his will, and told him that if he 
would procure me two honest men he might leave me. 
I had advanced him more than was due, but I had a 
security against his deserting me in his apprehension 
of being taken for a soldier. 

This over, I walked out to take a view of the town. 
It had an appearance of old and aristocratic respecta- 
bility, which no other city in Central America possess- 
ed. The houses were large, and many of the fronts 
were full of stucco ornaments ; the plaza was spacious, 
and the squares of the churches and the churches them- 
selves magnificent. It was the seat of a bishopric, and 
distinguished for the costliness of its churches and con- 
vents, its seats of learning, and its men of science, down 
to the time of its revolution against Spain ; but in walk- 
ing through its streets I saw palaces in which nobles 
had lived dismantled and roofless, and occupied by 
half-starved wretches, pictures of misery and want ; and 
on one side an immense field of ruins, covering half the 

Almost immediately on the establishment of inde- 


pendence, and the drawing of the great party-lines be- 
tween the Centralists and Federalists, the State of Nic- 
aragua became the theatre of a furious struggle. In an 
unfortunate hour the people elected a Central governor 
and Liberal vice-governor. A divided administration 
led to drawing of blood and the most sanguinary con- 
flict known in civil wars. Inch by inch the ground 
was disputed, till the whole physical force and deadly 
animosity of the state were concentrated in the capital. 
The contending parties fought up to the very heart of 
the city ; the streets were barricaded, and for three 
months not a person could pass the line without being 
shot at. Scenes of horror surpassing human belief are 
fresh in the memory of the inhabitants. The Liberals 
prevailed ; the Central chief was killed, his forces mas- 
sacred, and in the phrensy of the moment, the part of 
the city occupied by the Centralists was burned and 
razed to the ground ; besides the blood of murdered 
citizens, the tears and curses of widows and orphans, 
the victors had the rich enjoyment of a desolated coun- 
try and a ruined capital. The same ruthless spirit still 
characterized the inhabitants of Leon. The heroes of 
Taguzegalpa, without a single prisoner as a monument 
of mercy, had been received with ringing of bells and 
firing of cannon, and other demonstrations of joy, and 
they were still in the city, flushed with their brutal vic- 
tory, and anxious to be led on to more such triumphs. 

I must confess that I felt a degree of uneasiness in 
walking the streets of Leon that I never felt in any city 
in the East. My change of dress did not make my 
presence more acceptable, and the eagle on my hat at- 
tracted particular attention. At every corner was a 
group of scoundrels, who stared at me as if disposed to 
pick a quarrel. With some my official character made 
VOL. II, D 3 


me an object of suspicion ; for in their disgraceful fights 
they thought that the eyes of the whole world were upon 
them, and that England, France, and the United States 
were secretly contending for the possession of their in- 
teresting country. I intended to pay a visit to the chief 
of the state ; but, afraid of being insulted or getting into 
some difficulty that might detain me, I returned to the 

By means of the servants Nicolas had found two men 
who were willing to accompany me, but I did not like 
their looks, or even to let them know when I intended to 
set out. I had hardly disposed of them before my guide 
came to advise me not to set out the next day, as five 
hundred soldiers, who had been making preparations 
for several days, were to march the next morning 
against San Salvador. This was most unpleasant in- 
telligence. I did not wish to travel with them, or to 
fall in with them on the road ; and calculating that their 
march would be slower than mine, told the guide to as- 
certain their time for starting, and we would set out 
two hours before them. Nicolas went out with him to 
take the mules to water ; but they returned in great haste, 
with intelligence that piquets were scouring the city for 
men and mules, and had entered the yard of a padre 
near by and taken three of his animals. The lady of 
the house ordered all the doors to be locked and the 
keys brought to her, and an hour before dark we were 
all shut in, and my poor mules went without water. 

At about eight o'clock we heard the tramp of cavalry 
in the streets, and gathering inside the doorway, saw 
about six hundred men taking up their line of march. 
There was no music, no shouting, no waving of hand- 
kerchiefs, to cheer them as defenders of their country 
or as adventurers in the road to glory ; but in the dark, 


and barefooted, their tread seemed stealthy ; people 
looked at them with fear ; and it seemed rather the sally 
of a band of conspirators than a march by the soldiers 
of a republic. 

My muleteer did not return till daylight the next 
morning. Fortunately for us, he had learned that the 
troops were destined on another, but even a more in- 
glorious expedition. Expenses had been incurred in 
sending troops into Honduras, of which Grenada refu- 
sed to pay its portion, on the ground that, by the con- 
stitution, it was not liable except for expenses incurred 
in defending the borders of its own state. This was 
admitted; but the expense had been incurred; Leon 
had fought the battle, and had the same materials with 
which she gained it to enforce the contribution. In or- 
der that Grenada might be taken unawares, it was given 
out that the troops were destined for San Salvador, and 
they were actually marched out on the San Salvador 
road ; but at midnight made a circuit, and took the 
route for Grenada. War between different states was 
bad enough, but here the flame which had before laid 
the capital in ruins was lighted again within its own 
borders. What the result of this expedition was I 
never heard ; but probably, taken unawares and without 
arms, Grenada was compelled by bayonets to pay what, 
by the constitution, she was not bound to pay. 

Outside of Leon, and once more on the back of my 
macho, I breathed more freely. Nicolas was induced 
to continue by hearing that there was a vessel at Realejo 
for Costa Rica, and I hoped to find one for Zonzonate. 
The great plain of Leon was even more beautiful than 
before ; too beautiful for the thankless people to whom 
the bounty of Providence had given it. On the left 
wras the same low ridge separating it from the Pacific 


Ocean, and on the right the great range of Cordilleras, 
terminated by the volcano of the Viejo. 

I had passed through the village of Chichuapa when 
I heard a cry of " caballero" behind me, and turning, 
saw divers people waving their hands, and a woman 
running, almost out of breath, with a pocket-handker- 
chief which I had left at the house where I breakfasted. 
I was going on, when a respectable-looking gentleman 
stopped me, with many apologies for the liberty, and 
asked for a medio, sixpence. I gave him one, which 
he examined and handed back, saying, " No corre," 
" it does not pass." It was always, in paying money, 
a matter of course to have two or three pieces return- 
ed, and this I sometimes resisted ; but as in this land 
everything was al reverse, it seemed regular for beg- 
gars to be choosers, and I gave him another. 

My stopping-pldce was at the house of Mr, Bridges, 
an Englishman from one of the West India Islands, 
who had been resident in the country many years, and 
was married to a lady of Leon, but, on account of the 
convulsions of the country, lived on his hacienda. The 
soil was rich for cotton and sugar, and Mr. B. said tha 
here fifty men could manufacture sugar cheaper than 
two hundred in the islands ; but the difficulty was, no 
reliance could be placed upon Indian labour. Here 
again, thanks to the kindness of Mr. B. and his lady, 
and the magnificent wildness of hacienda life, I could 
have passed several days wi*h much satisfaction ; but I 
stopped only for dinner, after which Mr. B. accompa- 
nied me to Chinandaga. 

As usual, my first business was to make arrange- 
ments for continuing my journey. My whole road was 
along the coast of the Pacific, but beyond this the 
Gulf of Couchagua made a large indentation in the 


land, which it was customary to cross in a bungo, send- 
ing the mules around the head of the gulf. I was ad- 
vised that the latter was hazardous, as the Honduras 
troops were marching upon San Salvador, and would 
seize them. I might save them by going myself ; but 
it was a journey of six days, through a country so des- 
olate that it was necessary to carry food for the mules ; 
and as I had still a long road beyond, I felt it necessa- 
ry to economize my strength. I was loth to run the 
risk of losing my mules, and sent a courier to El 
Viejo, where the owners of the bungoes lived, to hire 
the largest, determined to run the risk of taking them 
with me. The next morning the courier returned, hav- 
ing procured a bungo, to be ready the next evening, 
and with a message from the owner that the embarca- 
tion must be at my risk. 

Obliged to wait the day, after breakfast I started for 
Realejo. On the way I met Mr. Foster, the English 
vice-consul, coming to see me. He turned back, and 
took me first to the machine or cotton factory, of which 
I had heard much on the road. It was the only one in 
the country, and owed its existence to the enterprise of 
a countryman, having been erected by Mr. Higgins, 
who, disappointed in his expectations, or disgusted with 
the country from other causes, sold it to Don Francisco 
and Mr. Foster. They were sanguine in their expecta- 
tions of profit; for tney supposed that, by furnishing a 
market ; the people would be induced to work and raise 
cotton enough for exportation to Europe. The re- 
sources of this distracted country are incalculable. 
Peace and industry would open fountains which would 
overflow with wealth; and I have no doubt the influ- 
ence of this single factory will be felt in quieting and 
enriching the whole district within its reach. 


I accompanied Mr. Foster to Realejo, which was only 
half an hour's ride. The harbour, Huarros says, is 
capable of containing a thousand ships ; but, being two 
or three leagues distant, I was unable to visit it. The 
town, consisting of two or three streets, with low strag- 
gling houses, enclosed by a thick forest, was founded 
by a few of the companions of Alvarado, who stopped 
there on their expedition to Peru ; but, being so near 
the sea, and exposed to the incursions of the bucaniers-, 
the inhabitants moved inland, and founded Leon. 

At dark we returned to the factory, and Don Fran- 
cisco and I reached Chinandaga, where I was greeted 
with intelligence that the proprietor of the boat had sent 
word that he supposed I had a permission to embark 
from the chief of the state, as, by a late order, no per- 
son could embark without. He was most provokingly 
out in his supposition. I had entered the state by a 
frontier of wilderness, and had not once been asked for 
a passport. The reader may remember how I was pre- 
vented visiting the chief of the state ; and, besides, when 
at Leon, I did not know whether I should continue by 
land or cross the gulf, and supposed that at the port of 
embarcation I could procure all that was necessary. I 
was excessively disturbed ; but Don Francisco sent for 
the commandant of the town, who said that the order had 
not yet been sent to the port, but was in his hands, and 
he would retain it. 

Early the next morning I sent on an ox wagon with 
the luggage and a stock of corn and grass for the mules 
during the voyage, and, after a pleasant ride of a league, 
reached the Viejo, one of the most respectable-looking 
towns in Nicaragua. The house of the owner of the 
bungo was one of the largest in the place, and furnish- 
ed with two mahogany sofas made by a Yankee cabi- 


net-maker in Lima, two looking-glasses with gilt frames, 
a French clock, gilt chairs with cane bottoms, and two 
Boston rocking-chairs, which had made the passage 
round Cape Horn. Don Francisco went over to the 
commandant. He, unluckily, had received his orders 
direct from the government, and dared not let me pass. 
I went over myself with Mr. Foster. The order was 
positive, and I was in agony. Here I made a push with 
my official character, and after an hour's torment, by 
the warm help of Mr. Foster, and upon his undertaking 
to save the commandant harmless, and to send an ex- 
press immediately to Leon for a passport from the chief 
of the state, it was agreed that in the mean time I might 
go on. 

I did not wait long, but, taking leave of Mr. Foster 
and Don Francisco, set out for the port. It was seven 
leagues, through an unbroken forest. On the way I 
overtook my bungo men, nearly naked, moving in sin- 
gle file, with the pilot at their head, and each carrying 
on his back an open network- containing tortillas and 
provisions for the voyage. At half past two we reach- 
ed the port of Nagoscolo. There was a single hut, at 
which a woman was washing corn, with a naked child 
near her on the ground, its face, arms, and body one 
running sore, a picture of squalid poverty. In front 
was a large muddy plain, through the centre of \\hich 
ran a straight cut called a canal, with an embankment 
on one side dry, the mud baked hard and bleached by 
the sun. In this ditch lay several bungoes high and 
dry, adding to the ugliness of the picture. I had a 
feeling of great satisfaction that I was not obliged to re- 
main there long ; but the miserable woman, with a tone 
of voice that seemed to rejoice in the chance of making 
others as miserable as herself, desisted from washing 


her rnaize, and screeched in my ears that a guarda had 
been sent direct from the capital, with orders to let no 
one embark without a passport. The guarda had gone 
down the river in a canoe, in search of a bungo which 
had attempted to go away without a passport ; and I 
walked down the bank of the canal in hope to catch him 
alone when he returned. The sun was scorching hot, 
and as I passed the bungoes the boatmen asked me if I 
had a passport. At the end of the canal, under the shade 
of a large tree, were two women ; and they had been in 
that place three days, waiting for one of their party who 
had gone to Leon to procure a passport. 

It was more than an hour before the guarda appear- 
ed. He was taken by the eagle on my hat, and while 
I told him my story, said " Si, senor," to everything ; 
but when I talked of embarking, said, " Senor, you 
have no passport^' I will not inflict upon the reader 
the details of all my vexations and anxiety that after- 
noon. I was most eager to hurry on. To send a cou- 
rier to Leon would keep me in suspense insufferable. 
Some difficulty might happen, and the only way for 
peace of mind was to return myself. I had already 
made a longer journey than is ever made in the coun- 
try without an interval of rest. The road before me 
led through the seat of war, and four days' detention 
might throw me into the midst of it. (In fact, the 
result proved that one day would have done so.) I 
walked with the guarda to the hut, arid in greater 
anxiety than I had felt since my departure from home, 
showed him my papers a larger bundle, perhaps, than 
he had ever seen before, and with bigger seals, partic- 
ularly my original passport from my own government 
jumbling together his government and my government, 
the amicable relations existing between them, and try- 


ing to give him an overwhelming idea of my impor- 
tance ; but he knew no more what it meant than if I 
had repeated to him in English the fifth problem in Eu- 
clid. The poor man was almost in as great perplexity 
as I was. Several times he assented and retracted ; and 
at length, upon my giving him a letter promising him 
the protection of Mr. Foster and the commandant at 
Viejo, he agreed to let the bungo go. 

It was about an hour before dark when we went down 
to embark the mules. My bungo was at the extreme 
end of the canal, and the tide had risen so that she was 
afloat. We began with the gray, by casting a noose 
around her legs, drawing them together, and throwing 
her down. Tne men then attempted to lift her up bod- 
ily over the side of the bungo ; but failing in this, took 
off the rudder, and leaning it against the side, hauled the 
mule up it, then tilted the rudder, and dropped her into 
the boat. In the mean time the macho stood under a 
tree, looking on very suspiciously, and with fearful fore- 
bodings. The noose was put round his legs, with a rope 
before and behind to pull on, and struggling desper- 
ately, he was thrown down, but hardly touched the 
ground before, with a desperate effort, he broke the 
ropes and rose upon his feet. A second attempt was 
more successful ; but the two abreast made a close fit, 
and I was obliged to leave behind the luggage mule. 
I paid the guarda to take her to Mr. Foster, but whether 
she reached him or not I have never heard. 

We were assisted by the boatmen of another bungo, 
and I ordered supper and agua ardiente for the whole. 
This was furnished at the hut by the guarda, and when 
it was over, the men, all in good spirits, commenced 
taking the luggage on board. At this time some who 
were detained were grumbling, and a new man entered 



the hut, as he said direct from the Pueblo, who croaked 
in my ears the odious order, and the guard again made 
objections. I was excessively vexed by this last inter- 
ruption ; and fairly bullying the new comer out of the 
hut, told the guard that the thing was settled and I would 
not be trifled with, took up my gun, and told the men 
to follow me. I saw beforehand that they were ele- 
vated by their good cheer, and that I could rely upon 
them. The guard, and all those compelled to wait, 
followed ; but we got on board, and my crew were so 
tipsy that they defied all opposition. One push clear- 
ed the bungo from the canal, and as she was passing 
out a stranger unexpectedly stepped on board, and in 
the dark slipped down under the awning with the mules. 
I was surprised and a little indignant that he had not 
asked leave, and it occurred to me that he was a partisan 
who might compromise me ; but to return might lead to 
new difficulty, and, besides, he was probably some poor 
fellow escaping for his life, and it was better that I should 
know nothing about it. In the midst of my doubts a 
man on the bank cried out that fifty soldiers had ar- 
rived from Leon. It was pitchy dark ; we could see no- 
thing, and my men answered with a shout of defiance. 
In the mean time we were descending rapidly, whirl- 
ing around and hitting against the branches of trees ; 
the mules were thrown down, the awning carried away, 
and in the midst of darkness and confusion we struck 
with a violent crash against another bungo, which knock- 
ed us all into a heap, and I thought would send us to 
the bottom. The men rose with roars of laughter. It 
was a bad beginning. Still I was overjoyed at being 
clear of the port, and there was a wild excitement in the 
scene itself. At length the men sat down to the oars, and 
pulled for a few minutes as if they would tear the old 

A B U N G O. 35 

bungo out of the water, shouting all the time like spirits 
of darkness let loose. The pilot sat quietly at the helm, 
without speaking, and dark as it was, at times I saw a 
smile steal over his face at wild sallies of the boatmen. 
Again they began rowing furiously as before, and sud- 
denly one of the sweeps broke and the oarsman fell 
backward. The bungo was run up among the trees, and 
the men climbed ashore by the branches. The blows 
of machetes, mingled with shouts and laughter, rang 
through the woods ; they were the noisiest party I met 
in Central America. In the dark they cut down a 
dozen saplings before they found what they wanted, and 
in about an hour returned, and the shattered awning 
was refitted. By this time they were more sobered ; 
and taking their sweeps, we moved silently down the 
dark river until one o'clock, when we came to anchor. 
The bungo was about forty feet long, dug out of the 
trunk of a Guanacaste tree, about five feet wide and 
nearly as deep, with the bottom round, and a toldo or 
awning, round like the top of a market- wagon, made of 
matting and bulls' hides, covered ten feet of the stern. 
Beyond were six seats across the sides of the bungo for 
the oarsmen. The whole front was necessary for the 
men, and in reality I had only the part occupied by the 
awning, where, with the mules as tenants in common, 
there were too many of us. They stood abreast, with 
their halters tied to the first bench. The bottom was 
rounding, and gave them an unsteady foothold ; and 
when the boat heaved they had a scramble to preserve 
their centre of gravity. The space between their heels 
and the end of the log or stern of the bungo was my 
sleeping-room. Nicolas was afraid to pass between the 
mules to get a place among the men, and he could not 
climb over the awning. I had their heads tethered 


close up to the bench, and putting him outside to catch 
the first kick, drew up against the stern of the bungo 
and went to sleep. 

At half past seven we weighed anchor, or hauled up 
a large stone, and started with oars. My boatmen 
were peculiar in their way of wearing pantaloons. 
First they pulled them off, folded them about a foot 
wide and two feet long, and then suspended them 
over the belts of their machetes like little aprons. At 
nine o'clock we reached the mouth of the river. Here 
we hoisted sail, and while the wind was fair did very 
well. The sun was scorching, and under the awning 
the heat was insufferable. Following the coast, at eleven 
o'clock we were opposite the Volcano of Cosaguina, a 
long, dark mountain range, with another ridge running 
below it, and then an extensive plain covered with lava 
to the sea. The wind headed us, and in order to weath- 
er the point of headland from which we could lay our 
course, the boatmen got into the water to tow the bungo. 
I followed them, and with a broad-brimmed straw hat 
to protect me from the sun, I found the water was de- 
lightful. During this time one of the men brought sand 
from the shore to break the roundness of the bottom of 
the boat, and give the mules a foothold. Unable to 
weather the point, at half past one we came to anchor, 
and very soon every man on board was asleep. 

I woke with the pilot's legs resting on my shoulder. 
It was rather an undignified position, but no one saw it. 
Before me was the Volcano of Cosaguina, with its field 
of lava and its desolate shore, and not a living being 
was in sight except my sleeping boatmen. Five years 
before, on the shores of the Mediterranean, and at the 
foot of Mount Etna, I read in a newspaper an account 
of the eruption of this volcano. Little did I then ever 


expect to see it ; the most awful in the history of vol- 
canic eruptions, the noise of which startled the people 
of Guatimala four hundred miles off; and at Kingston, 
Jamaica, eight hundred miles distant, was supposed to 
be signal guns of distress from some vessel at sea. The 
face of nature was changed ; the cone of the volcano 
was gone ; a mountain and field of lava ran down to 
the sea ; a forest old as creation had entirely disappear- 
ed, and two islands were formed in the sea; shoals 
were discovered, in one of which a large tree was fixed 
upside down ; one river was completely choked up, and 
another formed, running in an opposite direction ; seven 
men in the employ of my bungo-proprietor ran down to 
the water, pushed off in a bungo, and were never heard 
of more ; wild beasts, howling, left their caves in the 
mountains, and ounces, leopards, and snakes fled for 
shelter to the abodes of men. 

This eruption took place on the 20th of January, 
1835. Mr. Savage was on that day on the side of the 
Volcano of San Miguel, distant one hundred and twenty 
miles, looking for cattle. At eight o'clock he saw a 
dense cloud rising in the south in a pyramidal form, 
and heard a noise which sounded like the roaring of the 
sea. Very soon the thick clouds were lighted up by 
vivid flashes, rose-coloured and forked, shooting and 
disappearing, which he supposed to be some electrical 
phenomenon. These appearances increased so fast that 
his men became frightened, and said it was a ruina, 
and that the end of the world was nigh. Very soon he 
himself was satisfied that it was the eruption of a vol- 
cano ; and as Cosaguina was at that time a quiet 
mountain, not suspected to contain subterraneous fires, 
he supposed it to proceed from the Volcano of Tigris. 
He returned to the town of San Miguel, and in riding 



three blocks felt three severe shocks of earthquake. 
The inhabitants were distracted with terror. Birds 
flew wildly through the streets, and, blinded by the 
dust, fell dead on the ground. At four o'clock it was 
so dark that, as Mr. S. says, he held up his hand before 
his eyes, and could not see it. Nobody moved with- 
out a candle, which gave a dim and misty light, ex- 
tending only a few feet. At this time the church was 
full, and could not contain half who wished to enter 
The figure of the Virgin was brought out into the plaza 
and borne through the streets, followed by the inhabi- 
tants, with candles and torches, in penitential proces 
sion, crying upon the Lord to pardon their sins. Bells 
tolled, and during the procession there was anothei 
earthquake, so violent and long that it threw to tht 
ground many people walking in the procession. Tht 
darkness continue'd till eleven o'clock the next day 
when the sun was partially visible, but dim and hazy, 
and without any brightness. The dust on the ground 
was four inches thick ; the branches of trees broke with 
its weight, and people were so disfigured by it that they 
could not be recognised. 

At this time Mr. S. set out for his hacienda at Zon- 
zonate. He slept at the first village, and at two or 
three o'clock in the morning was roused by a report 
like the breaking of most terrific thunder or the firing 
of thousands of cannon. This was the report which 
startled the people of Guatimala, when the command- 
ant sallied out, supposing that the quartel was attacked, 
and which was heard at Kingston in Jamaica. It was 
accompanied by an earthquake so violent that it almost 
threw Mr. S. out of his hammock.* 

* This may at first appear no great feat for an earthquake, but no stronger 
proof can be cited of the violence with which the shock affects the region in 
which it occurs 


Toward evening my men all woke ; the wind was 
fair, but they took things quietly, and after supper hoist- 
ed sail. About twelve o'clock, by an amicable arrange- 
ment, I stretched myself on the pilot's bench under the 
tiller, and when I woke we had passed the Volcano of 
Tigris, and were in an archipelago of islands more beau- 
tiful than the islands of Greece. The wind died away, 
and the boatmen, after playing for a little while with 
the oars, again let fall the big stone and went to sleep. 
Outside the awning the heat of the sun was withering, 
under it the closeness was suffocating, and my poor 
mules had had no water since their embarcation. In 
the confusion of getting away I had forgotten it till the 
moment of departure, and then there was no vessel in 
which to carry it. After giving them a short nap I 
roused the men, and with the promise of a reward in- 
duced them to take to their oars. Fortunately, before 
they got tired we had a breeze, and at about four o'clock 
in the afternoon the big stone was dropped in the har- 
bour of La Union, in front of the town. One ship was 
lying at anchor, a whaler from Chili, which had put in 
in distress and been condemned. 

The commandant was Don Manuel Romero, one of 
Morazan's veterans, who was anxious to retire altogeth- 
er from public life, but remained in office because, in 
his present straits, he could be useful to his benefactor 
and friend. He had heard of me, and his attentions 
reminded me of, what I sometimes forgot, but which 
others very rarely did, my official character ; he invited 
me to his house while I remained in La Union, but gave 
me intelligence which made me more anxious than ever 
to hurry on. General Morazan had left the port but a 
few days before, having accompanied his family thither 
on their way to Chili. On his return to San Salvador 


he intended to march directly against Guatimala. By 
forced marches I might overtake him, and go up under 
the escort of his army, trusting to chance to avoid being 
on the spot in case of a battle, or from my acquaintance 
with Carrera get passed across the lines. Fortunately, 
the captain of the condemned ship wished to go to San 
Salvador, and agreed to accompany me the next day. 

There were two strangers in the place, Captain 
R. of Honduras, and Don Pedro, a mulatto, both of 
whom were particularly civil to me. In the evening 
my proposed travelling companion and I called upon 
them, and very soon a game of cards was proposed. 
The doors were closed, wine placed on the table, and 
monte begun with doubloons. Captain R. and Don 
Pedro tried hard to make me join them; and when I 
rose to leave, Captain R., as if he thought there could 
be but one reason* for my resisting, took me aside, and 
said that if I wanted money he was my friend, while 
Don Pedro" declared that he was not rich, but that he 
had a big heart ; that he was happy of my acquaint- 
ance ; he had had the honour to know a consul once 
before at Panama, and I might count upon him for any- 
thing I wanted. Gambling is one of the great vices of 
the country, and that into which strangers are most apt 
to fall. The captain had fallen in with a set at San 
Miguel, and these two had come down to the port ex- 
pressly to fleece him. During the night he detected 
them cheating ; and telling them that he had learned in 
Chili to use a knife as well as they could, laid his cane 
over the shoulders of him who had had the honour to 
know a consul once before, and broke up the party. 
There is an oldfashioned feeling of respect for a man 
who wears a sword, but that feeling wears off in Central 



Journey to San Salvador. A new Companion. San Alejo. San Miguel. War 
Alarms. Another Countryman. State of San Salvador. River Lempa. 
San Vicente. Volcano of San Vicente. Thermal Springs. Cojutepeque. 
Arrival at San Salvador. Prejudice against Foreigners. Contributions. 
Pressgangs. Vice-president Vigil. Taking of San Miguel and San Vicente, 
Rumours of a March upon San Salvador. Departure from San Salvador. ' 

AT five o'clock the next afternoon we set out for San 
Salvador. Don Manuel Romero furnished me with let- 
ters of introduction to all the Gefes Politicos, and the 
captain's name was inserted in my passport. 

I must introduce the reader to my new friend. Cap- 
tain Antonio V. F., a little over thirty, when six 
months out on a whaling voyage, with a leaky ship 
and a mutinous crew, steered across the Pacific for the 
Continent of America, and reached the port of La 
Union with seven or eight feet water in the hold and 
half his crew in irons. He knew nothing of Central 
America until necessity threw him upon its shore. 
While waiting the slow process of a regular condem- 
nation and order for the sale of his ship, General Mo- 
razan, with an escort of officers, came to the port to 
embark his wife and family for Chili. Captain F. had 
become acquainted with them, and through them with 
their side of the politics of the country ; and in the 
evening, while we were riding along the ridge of a high 
mountain, he told me that he had been offered a lieu- 
tenant-colonel's commission, and was then on his way 
to join Morazan in his march against Guatimala. His 
ship was advertised for sale, he had written an account 
of his misadventures to his owners and his wife, was 



tired of remaining at the port, and a campaign with 
Morazan was the only thing that offered. He liked 
General Morazan, and he liked the country, and thought 
his wife would ; if Morazan succeeded there would be 
vacant offices and estates without owners, and some of 
them worth having. He went from whaling to cam- 
paigning as coolly as a Yankee would from cutting 
down trees to editing a newspaper. It was no affair of 
mine, but I suggested that there was no honour to be 
gained ; that he would get his full share of hard knocks, 
bullets, and sword-cuts ; that if Morazan succeeded he 
would have a desperate struggle for his share of the 
spoils, and if Morazan failed he would certainly be shot. 
All this was matter he had thought on, and before com- 
mitting himself he intended to make his observations at 
San Salvador. 

At ten o'clock we reached the village of San Alejo, 
and stopped at a very comfortable house, where all 
were in a state of excitement from the report of an in- 
vasion from Honduras. 

Early the next morning we started with a new guide, 
and a little beyond the village he pointed out a place 
where his uncle was murdered and robbed about a year 
before. Four of the robbers were caught, and sent by 
the alcalde, under a guard of the relations of the mur- 
dered man, to San Miguel, with directions to the guard 
to shoot them if refractory. The guard found them re- 
fractory at the very place where the murder had been 
committed, and shot them on the spot. At eight o'clock 
we came in sight of the Volcano of San Miguel, and at 
two entered the city. Riding up the street, we passed 
a large church with its front fallen, and saw paintings 
on the walls, and an altar forty feet high, with columns, 
and images sculptured and gilded, exposed to the open 


air. All along the road we had heard of war, and we 
found the city in a state of great excitement. The 
troops of Honduras were marching upon it, and then 
only twelve leagues distant. There were no soldiers to 
defend it ; all had been drawn off for Morazan's expe- 
dition. Many of the citizens had already fled ; in fact, 
the town was half depopulated, and the rest were pre- 
paring to save themselves by concealment or flight. 
We stopped at the house of John, or Don Juan, Den- 
ning, an American from Connecticut, who had sold an 
armed brig to the Federal Government, and command- 
ed her himself during the blockade of Omoa, but had 
married in the country, and for several years lived re- 
tired on his hacienda. His house was deserted and 
stripped, the furniture and valuables were hidden, and 
his mother-in-law, an old lady, remained in the empty 
tenement. Nobody thought of resistance ; and the cap- 
tain bought a silver-mounted sword from one of the 
most respectable citizens, who was converting his use- 
less trappings into money, and who, with a little trunk 
in his hand containing la plata, pointed to a fine horse 
in the courtyard, and without a blush on his face said 
that was his security. 

The captain had great difficulty in procuring mules ; 
he had two enormous trunks, containing, among other 
things, Peruvian chains and other gold trinkets to a large 
amount ; in fact, all he was worth. In the evening we 
walked to the plaza ; groups of men, wrapped in their 
ponchas, were discussing in low tones the movements of 
the enemy, how far they had marched that day, how 
long they would require for rest, and the moment when 
it would be necessary to fly. We returned to the house, 
placed two naked wooden-bottomed bedsteads in one, 
and having ascertained by calculation that we were not 


likely to be disturbed during the night, forgot the troub- 
les of the flying inhabitants, and slept soundly. 

On account of the difficulty of procuring mules, we 
did not set out till ten o'clock. The climate is the hot- 
test in Central America, and insalubrious under expo- 
sure to the sun ; but we would not wait. Every mo- 
ment there were new rumours of the approach of the 
Honduras army, and it was all important for us to keep 
in advance of them. I shall hasten over our hurried 
journey through the State of San Salvador, the richest 
in Central America, extending a hundred and eighty 
miles along the shores of the Pacific, producing tobac- 
co, the best indigo and richest balsam in the world. 
We had mountains and rivers, valleys and immense ra- 
vines, and the three great volcanoes of San Miguel, San 
Vicente, and San Salvador, one or the other of which 
was almost constantly in sight. The whole surface is 
volcanic ; for miles the road lay over beds of decom- 
posed lava, inducing the belief that here the whole shore 
of the Pacific is an immense arch over subterraneous 
fires. From the time of the independence this state 
stood foremost in the maintenance of liberal principles, 
and throughout it exhibits an appearance of improve- 
ment, a freedom from bigotry and fanaticism, and a de- 
velopment of physical and moral energy not found in 
any other. The San Salvadoreans are the only men 
who speak of sustaining the integrity of the Republic as 
a point of national honour. 

In the afternoon of the second day we came in sight 
of the Lempa, now a gigantic river rolling on to the 
Pacific. Three months before I had seen it a little 
stream among the mountains of Esquipulas. Here we 
were overtaken by Don Carlos Rivas, a leading Liber- 
al from Honduras, flying for life before partisan sol- 


diers of his own state. "VVe descended to the bank of 
the river, and followed it through a wild forest, which 
had been swept by a tornado, the trees still lying as 
they fell. At the crossing-place the valley of the river 
was half a mile wide ; but being the dry season, on this 
side there was a broad beach of sand and stones. We 
rode to the water's edge, and shouted for the boatman 
on the opposite side. Other parties arrived, all fugi- 
tives, among them the wife and family of Don Carlos, 
and we formed a crowd upon the shore. At length the 
boat came, took on board sixteen mules, saddles, and 
luggage, and as many men, women, and children as 
could stow themselves away, leaving a multitude behind. 
We crossed in the dark, and on the opposite side found 
every hut and shed filled with fugitives ; families in 
dark masses were under the trees, and men and wom- 
en crawled out to congratulate friends who had put 
the Lempa between them and the enemy. We slept 
upon our luggage on the bank of the river, and before 
daylight were again in the saddle. 

That night we slept at San Vicente, and the next 
morning the captain, in company with an invalid offi- 
cer of Morazan's, who had been prevented by sick- 
ness from accompanying the general in his march 
against Guatimala, rode on with the luggage, while I, 
with Colonel Hoy as, made a circuit to visit El Infierno of 
the Volcano of San Vicente. Crossing a beautiful plain 
running to the base of the volcano, we left our animals 
at a hut, and walked some distance to a stream in a deep 
ravine, which we followed upward to its source, com- 
ing from the very base of the volcano. The water was 
warm, and had a taste of vitriol, and the banks were 
incrusted with white vitriol and flour of sulphur. At 
a distance of one or two hundred yards it formed a ba- 


sin, where the water was hotter than the highest grade 
of my Reaumur's thermometer. In several places we 
heard subterranean noises, and toward the end of the 
ravine, on the slope of one side, was an orifice about 
thirty feet in diameter, from which, with a terrific noise, 
boiling water was spouted into the air. This is called 
El Infiernillo, or the " little infernal regions." The in- 
habitants say that the noise is increased by the slight- 
est agitation of the air, even by the human voice. Ap- 
proaching to within range of the falling water, we shout- 
ed several times, and as we listened and gazed into 
the fearful cavity, I imagined that the noise was louder 
and more angry, and that the boiling water spouted 
higher at our call. Colonel Hoyas conducted me to a 
path, from which I saw my road, like a white line, over 
a high verdant mountain. He told me that many of 
the inhabitants of San Miguel had fled to San Vicente, 
and at that place the Honduras arms would be repel- 
led ; we parted, little expecting to see each other again 
so soon, and under such unpleasant circumstances for 

I overtook the captain at a village where he had 
breakfast prepared, and in the afternoon we arrived at 
Cojutepeque, until within two days the temporary cap- 
ital, beautifully situated at the foot of a small extinct 
volcano, its green and verdant sides broken only by a 
winding path, and on the top a fortress, which Morazan 
had built as his last rallying-place, to die under the flag 
of the Republic. 

The next day at one o'clock we reached San Salva- 
dor. Entering by a fine gate, and through suburbs 
teeming with fruit and flower trees, the meanness of the 
houses was hardly noticed. Advancing, we saw heaps 
of rubbish, and large houses with their fronts cracked 


and falling, marks of the earthquakes which had broken 
it up as the seat of government, and almost depopula- 
ted the city. This series of earthquakes commenced 
on the third of the preceding October (the same day on 
which I sailed for that country), and for twenty days the 
earth was tremulous, sometimes suffering fifteen or 
twenty shocks in twenty-four hours, and one so severe 
that, as Mr. Chatfield told me, a bottle standing in his 
sleeping-room was thrown down. Most of the inhabi- 
tants abandoned the city, and those who remained slept 
under matting in the courtyards of their houses. Every 
house was more or less injured ; some were rendered 
untenantable, and many were thrown down. Two days 
before, the vice-president and officers of the Federal 
and State Governments, impelled by the crisis of the 
times, had returned to their shattered capital. It was 
about one o'clock, intensely hot, and there was no 
shade ; the streets were solitary, the doors and windows 
of the houses closed, the shops around the plaza shut, 
the little matted tents of the market-women deserted, and 
the inhabitants, forgetting earthquakes, and that a hos- 
tile army was marching upon them, were taking their 
noonday siesta. In a corner of the plaza was a barri- 
cade, constructed with trunks of trees, rude as an In- 
dian fortress, and fortified with cannon, intended as the 
scene of the last effort for the preservation of the city. 
A few soldiers were asleep under the corridor of the 
quartel, and a sentinel was pacing before the door. 
Inquiring our way of him, we turned the corner of the 
plaza, and stopped at the house of Don Pedro Negrete, 
at that time acting as vice-consul both of England and 
France, and the only representative at the capital of 
any foreign power. 

It was one of the features of this unhappy revolution, 


that the Liberal party, before the friends and support- 
ers of foreigners, manifested a violent feeling against 
them, particularly the English, ostensibly on account 
of their occupation of the miserable little Island of Ro- 
atan, in the Bay of Honduras. The press,!, e., a little 
weekly published at San Salvador, teemed with inflam- 
matory articles against los Ingleses, their usurpation 
and ambition, and their unjust design of adding to 
their extended dominions the republic of Central 
America. It was a desperate effort to sustain a par- 
ty menaced with destruction by rousing the national 
prejudice against strangers. A development of this 
spirit was seen in the treaty of alliance between San 
Salvador and Quezaltenango, the only two states that 
sustained the Federal Government, by which, in Au- 
gust preceding, it was agreed that their delegates to the 
national convention should be instructed to treat, in 
preference to all other things, upon measures to be ta- 
ken for the recovery of the Island of Roatan ; and that 
no production of English soil or industry, even though 
it came under the flag of another nation, and no effect 
of any other nation, though a friendly one, if it came 
in an English vessel, should be admitted into the 
territory until England restored to Central America 
the possession of that island. I do not mean to say 
that they were wrong in putting forth their claims to 
this island the English flag was planted upon it in a 
very summary way nor that they were wrong in rec- 
ommending the only means in their power to redress 
what they considered an injury ; for, as England had 
not declared war with China, it would have been rash 
for the states of San Salvador and Los Altos to involve 
themselves in hostilities with that overgrown power ; 
but no formal complaint was ever made, and no nego- 


tiation proposed ; and on the publication of this trea- 
ty, which Mr. Chatfield, the British consul general, con- 
sidered disrespectful and injurious to his government, 
he addressed a note to the vice-president, requesting a 
categorical answer to the question " if the Federal 
Government did exist or not" (precisely what I was 
anxious to know) ; to which he received no answer. 
Afterward Mr. Chatfield visited Nicaragua, and the 
government of that state sent him a communication, re- 
questing his mediation in settling the difficulties be- 
tween the states of San Salvador and Honduras, then 
at war, and through him the guarantee of the Queen of 
England to compel the fulfilment of any treaty made 
between them. Mr. Chatfield, in his answer, referred 
to his letter to the vice-president, and spoke of the gov- 
ernment as the " so-called Federal Government." 
The correspondence was published, and increased the 
exasperation against Mr. Chatfield and foreigners gen- 
erally ; they were denounced as instigators and sup- 
porters of the revolution ; their rights and privileges as 
residents discussed, and finally the injustice of their en- 
joying the protection of the government ! without con- 
tributing to the expenses of supporting it. The result 
was, that on the levying of a new forced loan, foreign- 
ers were included in the liability, and a peremptory or- 
der was issued, requiring them, in case of refusal to pay, 
to leave the country in eight days. The foreigners 
were violently exasperated. There were not more 
than a dozen in the state, and most of them being en- 
gaged in business which it would be ruinous to leave, 
were compelled to pay. Two or three who wanted to 
leave before walked off, and called themselves mar- 
tyrs, threatened the vengeance of their government, 
and talked of the arrival of a British ship-of-war. Mr. 
VOL. II. G 5 


Kilgour, a British subject, refused to pay. The au- 
thorities had orders to give him his passport to leave the 
state. Don Pedro Negrete, as vice-consul of France, 
Encargado de la Ingelterra, presented a remonstrance. 
The vice-president's answer (in part but too true), as it 
contains the grounds of the law, and shows the state 
of feeling existing at the time, I give in his own words : 

" Strangers in these barbarous countries, as they call 
them, ought not to expect to have the advantage of be- 
ing protected in their property without aiding the gov- 
ernment in it. We are poor, and if, in any of the con- 
vulsions which are so frequent in new countries that 
have hardly begun their political career, strangers suf- 
er losses, they at once have recourse to their govern- 
ments, that the nations in which they come to speculate, 
not without knowledge of the risks, pay them double or 
treble of what tKey have lost. This is unjust in every 
point of view, when they do not care with a slight loan 
to aid the government in its most urgent necessities. 
What ought the government to do ? to tell them, ' Away 
with you, I cannot secure your property ; or, lend me a 
certain sum in order to enable me to secure it.' On the 
other hand, if it happens that a strong party or faction, 
as it is called, prevails, and falls upon your property the 
same as upon the property of the sons of the country and 
the public rents, and you complain to your nation, she 
comes and blockades our ports, and makes the poor na- 
tion pay a thousand per cent." 

Mr. Mercer, a French merchant, was absent at the 
time of enforcing the contributions. Don Pedro was 
his agent under a power of attorney, and had charge of 
his goods, and refused to pay. The government insist- 
ed; Don Pedro was determined. The government 
sent soldiers to his house. Don Pedro said he would 


hoist the French flag ; the chief of the state said he 
would tear it down. Don Pedro was imprisoned in his 
own house, his family excluded from him, and his food 
handed in by a soldier, until a friend paid the money. 
Don Pedro contended that the majesty of France was 
violated in his person ; the government said that the 
proceedings were against him as the agent of Mercer, 
and not as French consul ; but any way, consul or 
agent, Don Pedro's body bore the brunt, and as this 
took place but two days before our arrival, Don Pedro 
was still in bed from the indisposition brought upon him 
by vexation and anxiety. We received the above, 
with many details, from Don Pedro's son, as an apolo- 
gy for his father's absence, and an explanation of the 
ravings we heard in the adjoining room. 

In the evening I called upon the vice-president. 
Great changes had taken place since I saw him at Zon- 
zonate. The troops of the Federal Government had 
been routed in Honduras ; Carrera had conquered Quez- 
altenango, garrisoned it with his own soldiers, destroy- 
ed its existence as a separate state, and annexed it to 
Guatimala. San Salvador stood alone in support of the 
Federal Government. But Senor Vigil had risen with 
the emergency. The chief of the state, a bold-looking 
mulatto, and other officers of the government, were 
with him. They knew that the Honduras troops were 
marching upon the city, had reason to fear they would 
be joined by those of Nicaragua, but they were not dis- 
mayed ; on the contrary, all showed a resolution and 
energy I had not seen before. General Morazan, they 
said, was on his march against Guatimala. Tired as 
they were of war, the people of San Salvador, Senor 
Vigil said, had risen with new enthusiasm. Volun- 
teers were flocking in from all quarters ; and with a de- 


termination that was imposing, though called out by 
civil war, he added that they were resolved to sustain 
the Federation, or die under the ruins of San Salva- 
dor. It was the first time my feelings had been at all 
roused. In all the convulsions of the time I had seen 
no flash of heroism, no high love of country. Self- 
preservation and self-aggrandizement were the ruling 
passions. It was a bloody scramble for power and 
place ; and sometimes, as I rode through the beautiful 
country, and saw what Providence had done for them, 
and how unthankful they were, I thought it would be a 
good riddance if they would play out the game of the 
Kilkenny cats. It was a higher tone than I was accus- 
tomed to, when the chief men of a single state, with an 
invading army at their door, and their own soldiers 
away, expressed the stern resolution to sustain the Fed- 
eration, or die un'der the ruins of the capital. But they 
did not despair of the Republic ; the Honduras troops 
would be repulsed at San Vicente, and General Mora- 
zan would take Guatimala. The whole subject of the 
revolution was discussed, and the conversation was 
deeply interesting to me, for I regarded it as touching 
matters of life and death. I could not compromise them 
by anything I might say, for they are all in exile, under 
sentence of death if they return. They did not speak 
in the ferocious and sanguinary spirit I afterward heard 
imputed to them at Guatimala, but they spoke with 
great bitterness of gentlemen whom I considered per- 
sonal friends, who, they said, had been before spared 
by their lenity ; and they added, in tones that could not 
be misunderstood, that they would not make such a 
mistake again. 

In the midst of this confusion, where was my gov- 
ernment ? I had travelled all over the country, led on 


by a glimmering light shining and disappearing, and I 
could not conceal from myself that the crisis of my for- 
tune was at hand. All depended upon the success of 
Morazan's expedition. If he failed, my occupation was 
gone ; but in this darkest hour of the Republic I did not 
despair. In ten years of war Morazan had never been 
beaten ; Carrera would not dare fight him ; Guatimala 
would fall ; the moral effect would be felt all over the 
country ; Quezaltenango would shake off its chains ; 
the strong minority in the other states would rise ; the 
flag of the Republic would once more wave triumphant- 
ly, and out of chaos the government I was in search 
of would appear. 

Nevertheless, I was not so sure of it as to wait qui- 
etly till it came to me at San Salvador. The result was 
very uncertain, and if it should be a protracted war, I 
might be cut off from Guatimala, without any opportu- 
nity of serving my country by diplomatic arts, and pre- 
vented from prosecuting other objects more interesting 
than the uncertain pursuit in which I was then engaged. 
The design which the captain had in coming up to San 
Salvador had failed ; he could not join Morazan's ex- 
pedition ; but he had nothing to do at the port, was anx- 
ious to see Guatimala, had a stock of jewelry and other 
things which he might dispose of there, and was so sure 
of Morazan's success that he determined to go on and 
pay him a visit, and have the benefits of balls and other 
rejoicings attendant upon his triumph. 

In the excitement and alarm of the place, it was very 
difficult to procure mules. As to procuring them direct 
for Guatimala, it was impossible. No one would move 
on that road until the result of Morazan's expedition 
was known ; and even to get them for Zonzonate it was 
necessary to wait a day. That day I intended to ab- 


stract myself from the tumult of the city and ascend the 
Volcano of San Salvador ; but the next morning a woman 
came to inform us that one of our men had been taken 
by a pressgang of soldiers, and was in the carcel. We 
followed her to the place, and, being invited in by the 
officer to pick out our man, found ourselves surrounded 
by a hundred of Vigil's volunteers, of every grade in ap- 
pearance and character, from the frightened servant -boy 
torn from his master's door to the worst of desperadoes ; 
some asleep on the ground, some smoking stumps of ci- 
gars, some sullen, and others perfectly reckless. Two 
of the supreme worst did me the honour to say they 
liked my looks, called me captain, and asked me to take 
them into my company. Our man was not ambitious, 
and could do better than be shot at for a shilling a day ; 
but we could not take him out without an order from 
the chief of the s{ate, and went immediately to the office 
of the government, where I was sorry to meet Senor 
Vigil, as the subject of my visit and the secrets of the 
prison were an unfortunate comment upon his boasts of 
the enthusiasm of the people in taking up arms. With 
his usual courtesy, however, he directed the proper or- 
der to be made out, and the names of all in my service 
to be sent to the captains of the different pressgangs, 
with orders not to touch them. All day men were 
caught and brought in, and petty officers were stationed 
along the street drilling them. In the afternoon intelli- 
gence was received that General Morazan's advanced 
guard had defeated a detachment of Carrera's troops, 
and that he was marching with an accession of forces 
upon Guatimala. A feu de joie was fired in the plaza, 
and all the church bells rang peals of victory. 

In the evening I saw Senor Vigil again and alone 
He was confident of the result. The Honduras troops 


would be repulsed at San Vicente ; Morazan would 
take Guatimala. He urged me to wait ; he had his 
preparations all made, his horses ready, and, on the first 
notice of Morazan's entry, intended to go up to Guati- 
mala and establish that city once more as the capital. 
But I was afraid of delay, and we parted to meet in 
Guatimala ; but we never met again. A few days af- 
terward he was flying for his life, and is now in exile, 
under sentence of death if he returns ; the party that 
rules Guatimala is heaping opprobrium upon his name ; 
but in the recollection of my hurried tour I never for- 
get him who had the unhappy distinction of being vice- 
president of the Republic. 

I did not receive my passport till late in the evening, 
and though I had given directions to the contrary, the 
captain's name was inserted. We had already had a 
difference of opinion in regard to our movements. He 
was not so bent as I was upon pushing on to Guati- 
mala, and besides, I did not consider it right, in an 
official passport, to have the name of a partisan. Ac- 
cordingly, early in the morning I went to the Govern- 
ment House to have it altered. The separate passports 
were just handed to me when I heard a clatter in the 
streets, and fifteen or twenty horsemen galloped into 
the courtyard, covered with sweat and dust, among 
whom I recognised Colonel Hoyas, with his noble 
horse, so broken that I did not know him. They had 
ridden all night. The Honduras troops had taken San 
Miguel and San Vicente, and were then marching upon 
San Salvador. If not repulsed at Cojutepeque, that 
day they would be upon the capital. For four days 
I had been running before these troops, and now, by a 
strange caprice, at the prospect of actual collision, I re- 
gretted that my arrangements were so far advanced, 


and that I had no necessity for remaining. I had a 
strong curiosity to see a city taken by assault, but, un* 
fortunately, I had not the least possible excuse. I had 
my passport in my hand and my mules were ready. 
Nevertheless, before I reached Don Pedro's house I 
determined to remain. The captain had his sword and 
spurs on, and was only waiting for me. I told him the 
news, and he uttered an exclamation of thankfulness 
that we were all ready, and mounted immediately. I 
added that I intended to remain. He refused ; said 
that he knew the sanguinary character of the people 
better than I did, and did not wish to see an affair 
without having a hand in it. I replied, and after a 
short controversy, the result was as usual between two 
obstinate men : I would not go and he would not stay. 
I sent my luggage-mules and servants under his charge, 
and he rode off, Jo stop for me at a hacienda on the 
road, while I unsaddled my horse and gave him an- 
other mess of corn. 

In the mean time the news had spread, and great ex- 
citement prevailed in the city. Here there was no 
thought of flight ; the spirit of resistance was general. 
The impressed soldiers were brought out from the pris- 
ons and furnished with arms, and drums beat through 
the streets for volunteers. On my return from the Gov- 
ernment House I noticed a tailor on his board at work ; 
when I passed again his horse was at the door, his sob- 
bing wife was putting pistols in his holsters, and he was 
fastening on his spurs. Afterward I saw him mounted 
before the quartel, receiving a lance with a red flag, 
and then galloping off to take his place in the line. In 
two hours, all that the impoverished city could do 
was done. Vigil, the chief of the state, clerks, and 
household servants, were preparing for the last strug- 


gle. At twelve o'clock the city was as still as death. 
I lounged on the shady side of the plaza, and the 
quiet was fearful. At two o'clock intelligence was re- 
ceived that the troops of San Vicente had fallen back 
upon Cojutepeque, and that the Honduras troops had 
not yet come up. An order was immediately issued to 
make this the rallying-place, and to send thither the 
mustering of the city. About two hundred lancers set 
off from the plaza with a feeble shout, under a burning 
sun, and I returned to the house. The commotion sub- 
sided ; my excitement died away, and I regretted that 
I had not set out with the captain, when, to my surprise, 
he rode into the courtyard. On the road he thought 
that he had left me in the lurch, and that, as a travel- 
ling companion, he ought to have remained with me. 
I had no such idea, but I was glad of his return, and 
mounted, and left my capital to its fate, even yet uncer- 
tain whether I had any government. 



Contributions. El Baranco de Guaramal. Volcano of Izalco. Depredations of 
Rascon. Zonzonate. News from Guatimala. Journey continued. Aguisal- 
co. Apeneca. Mountain of Aguachapa. Subterranean Fires. Aguachapa. 
Defeat of Morazan. Confusion and Terror. 

THE captain had given me a hint in a led horse which 
he kept for emergencies, and I had bought one of an 
officer of General Morazan, who sold him because he 
Would not stand fire, and recommended him for a way 
he had of carrying his rider out of the reach of bullets. 
At the distance of two leagues we reached a hacien- 
da where our men were waiting for us with the luggage. 
It was occupied by a miserable old man alone, with a 
large swelling under his throat, very common all through 
this country, the same as is seen among the mountains 
of Switzerland. While the men were reloading, we 
heard the tramp of horses, and fifteen or twenty lancers 
galloped up to the fence ; and the leader, a dark, stern, 
but respectable-looking man about forty, in a deep voice, 
called to the old man to get ready and mount ; the time 
had come, he said, when every man must fight for his 
country ; if they had done so before, their own ships 
would be floating on the Atlantic and the Pacific, and 
they would not now be at the mercy of strangers and 
enemies. Altogether the speech was a good one, and 
would have done for a fourth of July oration or a ward 
meeting at home ; but made from the back of a horse 
by a powerful man, well armed, and with twenty lan- 
cers at his heels, it was not pleasant in the ears of the 
" strangers" for whom it was intended. Really I re- 
spected the man's energy, but his expression and man- 
ner precluded all courtesies ; and though he looked at 


us for an answer, we said nothing. The old man an- 
swered that he was too old to fight, and the officer told 
him then to help others to do so, and to contribute his 
horses or mules. This touched us again ; and taking 
ours apart, we left exposed and alone an object more 
miserable as a beast than his owner was as a man. 
The old man said this was his all. The officer, look- 
ing as if he would like a pretext for seizing ours, told 
him to give her up ; and the old man, slowly untying her, 
without a word led her to the fence, and handed the 
halter across to one of the lancers. They laughed as 
they received the old man's all, and pricking the mule 
with their lances, galloped off in search of more " con- 

Unluckily, they continued on our road, and we fear- 
ed that parties were scouring the whole country to Zon- 
zonate. This brought to mind a matter that gave us 
much uneasiness. As the mail-routes were all broken 
up, and there was no travelling, I was made letter-car- 
rier all the way from Nicaragua. I had suffered so 
much anxiety from not receiving any letters myself, that 
I was glad to serve any one that asked me ; but I had 
been treated with great frankness by the " party" at 
San Salvador, and was resolved not to be the means of 
communicating anything to their enemies ; and with this 
view, always asked whether the letters contained any 
political information, never taking them until assured 
that they did not. But many of them were to Mr. 
Chatfield and the other Ingleses in Guatimala. There 
was a most bitter feeling against Mr. Chatfield, and the 
rudeness of this really respectable-looking man gave us 
some idea of the exasperation against foreigners gener- 
ally ; and as they were identified in the revolution, the 
directions alone might expose us to danger with any 
band of infuriated partisans who might take it into their 


heads to search us on the road. If I had had a safe op- 
portunity, I should have sent them back to San Salvador. 
I could not intrust them with the old man, and we de- 
liberated whether it was not better to return, and wait 
the crisis at the capital ; but we thought it an object to 
get near the coast, and perhaps within reach of a vessel, 
and determined to continue. In about an hour we pass- 
ed the same party dismounted, at some distance from the 
road, before the door of a large hacienda, with some of 
the men inside, and, fortunately, so far off that, though 
we heard them hallooing at us, we could not understand 
what they said. Soon after we descended a wild mount- 
ain-pass, and entered El Baranco de Guaramal, a nar- 
row opening, with high perpendicular sides, covered 
with bushes, wild flowers, and moss, and roofed over 
by branches of large trees, which crossed each other 
from the opposite banks. A large stream forced its way 
through the ravine, broken by trunks of trees and huge 
stones. For half a league our road lay in the bed of 
the stream, knee-deep for the mules. In one place, on 
the right-hand side, a beautiful cascade precipitated it- 
self from the top of the bank almost across the ravine. 
A little before dark, in a grassy recess at the foot of the 
bank, a pig-merchant had encamped for the night. His 
pigs were harnessed with straps and tied to a tree, and 
his wife was cooking supper ; and when we told him of 
the foraging party at the other end of the ravine, he 
trembled for his pigs. Some time after dark we reach- 
ed the hacienda of Guaramal. There was plenty of sa- 
cate in an adjoining field, but we could not get any 
one to cut it. The major-domo was an old man, and 
the workmen were afraid of snakes. Bating this, 
however, we fared well, and had wooden bedsteads to 
sleep on ; and in one corner was a small space parti- 
tioned off for the major-domo and his wife. 


Before daylight we were in the saddle, and rode 
till eleven, when we stopped at a small village to feed 
our mules and avoid the heat of the day. At three we 
started. Toward evening I heard once more the deep 
rumbling noise of the Volcano of Izalco, sounding like 
distant thunder. We passed along its base, and stop- 
ped at the same house at which I had put up on my 
visit to the volcano. The place was in a state of per- 
fect anarchy and misrule. Since my departure, Rascon, 
rendered more daring by the abject policy of the gov- 
ernment, had entered Zonzonate, robbed the custom- 
house again, laid contributions upon some of the citi- 
zens, thence marched to Izalco, and quartered his 
whole band upon the town. Unexpectedly, he was sur- 
prised at night b'y a party of Morazan's soldiers ; he 
himself escaped in his shirt, but nineteen of his men 
were killed and his band broken up. Lately the sol- 
diers were called off to join Morazan's expedition, and 
the dispersed band emerged from their hiding-places. 
Some were then Living publicly in the town, perfectly 
lawless ; had threatened to kill the alcalde if he attempt- 
ed to disturb them, and kept the town in a state of ter- 
ror. Among those who reappeared I was told there was 
a young American del Norte, whom I recognised, from 
the description, as Jemmy, whom I had put on board 
his ship at Acajutla. He and the other American had 
deserted, and attempted to cross over to the Atlantic on 
foot. On the way they fell in with Rascon's band and 
joined them. The other man was killed at the time of 
the rout, but Jemmy escaped. I was happy to hear 
that Jemmy, by his manners and good conduct, had 
made a favourable impression upon the ladies of Izalco. 
He remained only three days, and whither he had gone 
no one knew. 




While listening to this account we heard a noise in 
the street, and looking out of the window, saw a man on 
the ground, and another striking at him with a white 
club, which by the moonlight looked like the blade of 
a broadsword or machete. A crowd gathered, mostly 
of women, who endeavoured to keep him off; but he 
struck among them with blows that would have killed 
the man if they had hit him. He was one of the Ras- 
con gang, a native of the town, and known from boy- 
hood as a bad fellow. All called him by name, and, 
more by entreaties than force, made him desist. As he 
walked off with several of his companions, he said that 
the man was a spy of Morazan, and the next time he 
met him he would kill him. The poor fellow was 
senseless ; and as the women raised up his head, we 
saw with horror hairs white as snow, and the face of a 
man of seventy. " He was all in rags, and they told us 
that he was a beggar and crazy ; that he had given no 
provocation whatever ; but the young scoundrel, in pass- 
ing, happened to fix his eyes upon him, and calling 
him a spy of Morazan, knocked him down with his club. 
Very soon the crowd dispersed, and the women re- 
mained to take care of the old man. These were 
times which required the natural charity of woman to 
be aided by supernatural strength. Every woman 
dreaded that her husband, son, or brother should cross 
the street at night, for fear of quarrels and worse weap- 
ons than clubs ; and we saw five women, one with a 
candle, without a single man or boy to help them, sup- 
port the old man across the street, and set him up with 
his back against the side of the house. Afterward a 
woman came to the door and called to the woman 
in our house, that if the young man passed again he 
would kill him ; and they went out again with a can- 


die, carried him into the courtyard of a house, and 
locked the door. The reader will perhaps cry shame 
upon us, but we went out once and were urged to re- 
tire, and two men were standing at the window all 
the lime. It was natural to wish to break the head of 
the young man, but it was natural also to avoid bring- 
ing upon ourselves a gang which, though broken, was 
strong enough to laugh at the authorities of the town, 
and to waylay us in the wild road we had to pass. 
There was one ominous circumstance in the affair : that 
in a town in the State of San Salvador, a man dared 
threaten publicly to kill another because he was a par- 
tisan of Morazan, showed a disaffection in that state 
which surprised me more than anything I had yet en- 
countered. Our men were afraid to take the mules to 
water, and it was indispensable for them to drink. 
We were cautioned against going with them ; and at 
length, upon our standing in the doorway ready to 
go to their assistance, they set off with loaded pistols. 
When I passed through Izalco before it was a tranquil 

Early in the morning we started, arrived at Zonzonate 
before breakfast, and rode to the house of my friend 
Mr. De Nouvelle. It was exactly two months since 
I left it, and, with the exception of my voyage on the 
Pacific and sickness at Costa Rica, I had not had a 
day of repose. 

I was now within four days of Guatimala, but the 
difficulty of going on was greater than ever. The cap- 
tain could procure no mules. No intelligence had been 
received of Morazan' s movements ; intercourse was en- 
tirely broken off, business at a stand, and the people 
anxiously waiting for news from Guatimala. Nobody 
would set out on that road. I was very much distress- 


ed. My engagement with Mr. Catherwood was for a 
specific time ; the rainy season was coming on, and by 
the loss of a month I should be prevented visiting Pa- 
lenque. I considered it actually safer to pass through 
while all was in this state of suspense, than after the 
floodgates of war were opened. Rascon's band had 
prevented my passing the road before, and other Ras- 
cons might spring up. The captain had not the same 
inducement to push ahead that I had. I had no idea of 
incurring any unnecessary risk, and on the road would 
have had no hesitation at any time in putting spurs to 
my horse ; but, on deliberate consideration, my mind 
was so fully made up that I determined to procure a 
guide at any price, and set out alone. 

In the midst of my perplexity, a tall, thin, gaunt-look- 
ing Spaniard, whose name was Don Saturnine Tinocha, 
came to see me. He was a merchant from Costa Rica, 
so far on his way to Guatimala, and, by the advice of 
his friends rather than his own judgment, had been al- 
ready waiting a week at Zonzonate. He was exactly 
in the humour to suit me, very anxious to reach Guati- 
mala ; and his views and opinions were just the same as 
mine. The captain was indifferent, and, at all events-, 
could not go unless he could procure mules. I told Don 
Saturnino that I would go at all events, and he under- 
took to provide for the captain. In the evening he re- 
turned, with intelligence that he had scoured the town 
and could not procure a single mule, but he offered to 
leave two of his own cargoes and take the captain's, or 
to sell him two of his mules. I offered to lend him my 
horse or macho, and the matter was arranged. 

In the midst of the war-rumours, the next day, which 
was Sunday, was one of the most quiet I passed in Cen- 
tral America. It was at the hacienda of Dr. Drivin, 


about a league from Zonzonate. This was one of the 
finest haciendas in the country. The doctor had import- 
ed a large steam engine, which was not yet set up, and 
was preparing to manufacture sugar upon a larger scale 
than any other planter in the country. He was from 
the island of St. Kitts, and, before sitting down in this 
out-of-the-way place, had travelled extensively in Eu- 
rope and all the West India Islands, and knew Amer- 
ica from Halifax to Cape Horn ; but surprised me by 
saying that he lookfc forward to a cottage in Morristown, 
New-Jersey, as the consummation of his wishes. I 
learned from him that Jemmy, after his disappearance 
from Izalco, had straggled to his hacienda in wretched 
condition and sick of campaigning, and was then at the 
port on board the Cosmopolita, bound for Peru. 

On our return to Zonzonate we were again in the 
midst of tumult. Two of Captain D'Yriarte's passen- 
gers for Guayaquil, whom he had given up, arrived that 
evening direct from Guatimala, and reported that Car- 
rera, with two thousand men, had left the city at the 
same time with them to march upon San Salvador. Car- 
rera knew nothing of Morazan's approach ; his troops 
were a disorderly and tumultuous mass ; and three 
leagues from the city, when they halted, the horses 
were already tired. Here our informants slipped away, 
and three hours afterward met Morazan's army, in 
good order, marching single file, with Morazan himself 
at their head, he and all his cavalry dismounted and 
leading their horses, which were fresh and ready for 
immediate action. Morazan stopped them, and made 
them show their passports and letters, and they told him 
of the sally of Carrera's army, and its condition ; and 
we all formed the conclusion that Morazan had attacked 
them the same day, defeated them, and was then in 



possession of Guatimala. Upon the whole, we consid- 
ered the news favourable to us, as his first business 
would be to make the roads secure. 

At three o'clock the next morning we were again in 
the saddle. A stream of fire was rolling down the Vol- 
cano of Izalco, bright, but paler by the moonlight. The 
road was good for two leagues, when we reached the 
Indian village of Aguisalco. Our mules were overload- 
ed, and one of Don Saturnino's gave out entirely. We 
tried to procure others or Indian carriers, but no one 
would move from home. Don Saturnino loaded his 
saddle-mule, and walked ; and if it had not been for 
his indefatigable perseverance, we should have been 
compelled to stop. 

At one o'clock we reached Apeneca, and rode up to 
one of the best houses, where an old man and his wife 
undertook to give us breakfast. Our mules presented 
a piteous spectacle. Mine, which had carried my light 
luggage like a feather all the way from La Union, had 
gone on with admirable steadiness up hill and down 
dale, but when we stopped she trembled in every limb, 
and before the cargo was removed I expected to see her 
fall. Nicolas and the muleteer said she would certainly 
die, and the faithful brute seemed to look at me re- 
proachfully for having suffered so heavy a load to be put 
upon her back. I tried to buy or hire another, but all 
were removed one or two days' journey out of the line 
of march of the soldiers. 

It was agreed that I should go on to Aguachapa and 
endeavour to have other mules ready early the next 
morning; but in the mean time the captain conceived 
some suspicions of the old man and woman, and re- 
solved not to remain that night in the village. Fortu- 
nately, my mule revived and began to eat. Don Sat 


urnino repeated his 'sta bueno, with which he had 
cheered us through all the perplexities of the day, and 
we determined to set out again. Neither of us had any 
luggage he was willing to leave, for in all probability 
he would never see it again. We loaded our saddle- 
beasts and walked. Immediately on leaving the village 
we commenced ascending the mountain of Aguachapa, 
the longest and worst in the whole road, in the wet sea- 
son requiring two days to cross it. A steep pitch at, 
the beginning made' me tremble for the result. The as- 
cent was about three miles, and on the very crest, im- 
bowered among the trees, was a blacksmith's shop, 
commanding a view of the whole country back to the 
village, and on the other side, of the slope of the mount- 
ain to the plain of Aguachapa. The clink of the ham- 
mer and the sight of a smith's grimed face seemed a 
profanation of the beauties of the scene. Here our dif- 
ficulties were over ; the rest of our road was down hill. 
The road lay along the ridge of the mountain. On our 
right we looked down the perpendicular side to a plain 
two thousand feet below us ; and in front, on another 
part of the same plain, were the lake and town of 
Aguachapa. Instead of going direct to the town, we 
turned round the foot of the mountain, and came into 
a field smoking with hot springs. The ground was 
incrusted with sulphur, and dried and baked by sub- 
terranean fires. In some places were large orifices, 
from which steam rushed out violently and with noise, 
and in others large pools or lakes, one of them a 
hundred and fifty feet in circumference, of dark brown 
water, boiling with monstrous bubbles three or four feet 
high, which Homer might have made the head-waters 
of Acheron. All around, for a great extent, the earth 
was in a state of combustion, burning our boots and 


frightening the horses, and we were obliged to be care- 
ful to keep the horses from falling through. At some 
distance was a stream of sulphur-water, which we fol- 
lowed up to a broad basin, made a dam with stones 
and bushes, and had a most refreshing warm bath. 

It was nearly dark when we entered the town, the 
frontier of the state and the outpost of danger. All 
were on the tiptoe of expectation for news from Guati- 
mala. Riding through the plaza, we saw a new corps 
of about two hundred "patriot soldiers," uniformed and 
equipped, at evening drill, which was a guarantee against 
the turbulence we had seen in Izalco. Colonel Angou- 
la, the commandant, was the same who had broken up 
the band of Rascon. Every one we met was astonish- 
ed at our purpose of going on to Guatimala, and it was 
vexatious and discouraging to have ominous cautions 
perpetually dinned into our ears. We rode to the house 
of the widow Padilla, a friend of Don Saturnine, whom 
we found in great affliction. Her eldest son, on a visit 
to Guatimala on business, with a regular passport, had 
been thrown into prison by Carrera, and had then been 
a month in confinement ; and she had just learned, what 
had been concealed from her, that the other son, a young 
man just twenty-one, had joined Morazan's expedition. 
Our purpose of going to Guatimala opened the fountain 
of her sorrows. She mourned for her sons, but the case 
of the younger seemed to give her most distress. She 
mourned that he had become a soldier ; she had seen 
so much of the horrors of war ; and, as if speaking of a 
truant boy, begged us to urge General Morazan to send 
him home. She was still in black for their father, who 
was a personal friend of General Morazan, and had, 
besides, three daughters, all young women, the eldest 
not more than twenty-three, married to Colonel Molina, 


the second in command; all were celebrated in that 
country for their beauty ; and though the circum- 
stances of the night prevented my seeing much of 
them, I looked upon this as one of the most lady- 
like and interesting family groups I had seen in the 

Our first inquiry was for mules. Colonel Molina, the 
son-in-law, after endeavouring to dissuade us from con- 
tinuing, sent out to make inquiries, and the result was 
that there were none to hire, but there was a man who 
had two to sell, and who promised to bring them early 
in the morning. We had vexations enough without add- 
ing any between ourselves ; but, unfortunately, the cap- 
tain and Don Saturnino had an angry quarrel, growing 
out of the breaking down of the mules. I was appeal- 
ed to by both, and in trying to keep the peace came 
near having both upon me. The dispute was so violent 
that none of the female part of the family appeared in 
the sala, and while it was pending Colonel Molina was 
called off by a message from the commandant. In half 
an hour he returned, and told us that two soldiers had 
just entered the town, who reported that Morazan had 
been defeated in his attack on Guatimala, and his whole 
army routed and cut to pieces ; that he himself, with 
fifteen dragoons, was escaping by the way of the coast, 
and the whole of Carr era's army was in full pursuit. 
The soldiers were at first supposed to be deserters, but 
they were recognised by some of the town's people ; 
and after a careful examination and calculation of the 
lapse of time since the last intelligence, the news was 
believed to be true. The consternation it created in 
our little household cannot be described. Morazan's 
defeat was the death-knell of sons and brothers. It 


was not a moment for strangers to offer idle consola- 
tion, and we withdrew. 

Our own plans were unsettled ; the very dangers I 
feared had happened ; the soldiers, who had been kept 
together in masses, were disbanded to sweep every road 
in the country with the ferocity of partisan war. But 
for the night we could do nothing. Our men were al- 
ready asleep, and, not without apprehensions, the captain 
and I retired to a room opening upon the courtyard. 
Don Saturnine wrapped himself in his poncha and lay 
down under the corridor. 

None of us undressed, but the fatigue of the day had 
been so great that I soon fell into a profound sleep. 
At one o'clock we were roused by Colonel Molina 
shouting in the doorway " La gente vienne !" " The 
people are coming!" His sword glittered, his spurs 
rattled, and by the moonlight I saw men saddling horses 
in the courtyard. "We sprang up in a moment, and he 
told us to save ourselves; "la gente" were coming, 
and within two hours' march of the town. My first 
question was, What had become of the soldiers ? They 
were already marching out ; everybody was preparing 
to fly ; he intended to escort the ladies to a hiding- 
place in the mountains, and then to overtake the sol- 
diers. I must confess that my first thought was " devil 
take the hindmost," and I ordered Nicolas, who was 
fairly blubbering with fright, to saddle for a start. The 
captain, however, objected, insisting that to fly would 
be to identify ourselves with the fugitives; and if we 
were overtaken with them we should certainly be mas- 
sacred. Don Saturnine proposed to set out on our 
journey, and go straight on to a hacienda two leagues 
beyond ; if we met them on the road we would appear 
as travellers ; in their hurry they would let us pass ; 


and, at all events, we would avoid the dangers of a 
general sacking and plunder of the town. I approved 
of this suggestion ; the fact is, I was for anything that 
put us on horseback ; but the captain again opposed it 
violently. Unluckily, he had four large, heavy trunks 
containing jewelry and other valuables, and no mules 
to carry them. I made a hurried but feeling comment 
upon the comparative value of life and property; but 
the captain said that all he was worth in the world was 
in those trunks; he would not leave them; he would 
not risk them on the road ; he would defend them as 
long as he had life ; and, taking them up one by one 
from the corridor, he piled them inside of our little 
sleeping-room, shut the door, and swore that nobody 
should get into them without passing over his dead 
body. Now I, for my own part, would have taken a 
quiet stripping, and by no means approved this desper- 
ate purpose of the captain's. The fact is, I was very 
differently situated from him. My property was chiefly 
in horseflesh and muleflesh, at the moment the most desi- 
rable thing in which money could be invested ; and with 
two hours' start, I would have defied all the Cachure- 
cos in Guatimala to catch me. But the captain's deter- 
mination put an end to all thoughts of testing the sound- 
ness of my investment ; and perhaps, at all events, it 
was best to remain. 

I entered the house, where the old lady and her 
daughters were packing up their valuables, and passed 
through to the street. The church bells were tolling 
with a frightful sound, and a horseman, with a red ban- 
neret on the point of his lance, was riding through the 
streets warning the inhabitants to fly. Horses were 
standing before the doors saddled and bridled, and all 
along men were issuing from the doors with loads on 


their backs, and women with packages and bundles in 
their hands, and hurrying children before them. The 
moon was beaming with unrivalled splendour ; the 
women did not scream, the children did not cry ; ter- 
ror was in every face and movement, but too deep for 
utterance. I walked down to the church ; the cura 
was at the altar, receiving hurried confessions and ad- 
ministering the sacrament ; and as the wretched inhab- 
itants left the altar they fled from the town. I saw a 
poor mother searching for a missing child ; but her 
friends, in hoarse whispers, said, " La gente vienne !" 
and hurried her away. A long line of fugitives, with 
loaded mules interspersed, was moving from the door 
of the church, and disappearing beneath the brow of 
the hill. It was the first time I ever saw terror operating 
upon masses, and I hope never to see it again. I went 
back to the house. The family of Padilla had not left, 
and the poor widow was still packing up. We urged 
Colonel Molina to hasten ; as commandant, he would 
be the first victim. He knew his danger, but in a tone 
of voice that told the horrors of this partisan war, said 
he could not leave behind him the young women. In 
a few moments all was ready ; the old lady gave us the 
key of the house, we exchanged the Spanish farewell 
with a mutual recommendation to God, and sadly and 
silently they left the town. Colonel Molina remained 
a moment behind. Again he urged us to fly, saying 
that the enemy were robbers, murderers, and assassins, 
who would pay no respect to person or character, and 
disappointment at finding the town deserted would 
make them outrageous with us. He drove his spurs 
into his horse, and we never saw him again. On the 
steps of the church were sick and infirm old men and 
children, and the cura's house was thronged with the 


same helpless beings. Except these, we were left in 
sole possession of the town. 

It was not yet an hour since we had been roused 
from sleep. We had not been able to procure any def- 
inite information as to the character of the approaching 
force. The alarm was " la gente vienne ;" no one knew 
or thought of more, no one paid any attention to us, 
and we did not know whether the whole army of Car- 
rera was approaching, or merely a roving detachment. 
If the former, my hope was that Carrera was with 
them, and that he had not forgotten my diplomatic 
coat ; I felt rejoiced that the soldiers had marched out, 
and that the inhabitants had fled ; there could be no re- 
sistance, no bloodshed, nothing to excite a lawless sol- 
diery. Again we walked down to the church ; old 
women and little boys gathered around us, and wonder- 
ed that we did not fly. We went to the door of the 
cura's house ; the room was small, and full of old wom- 
en. We tried to cheer them, but old age had lost its 
garrulity ; they waited their fate in silence. We re- 
turned to the house, smoked, and waited in anxious 
expectation. The enemy did not come, the bell ceas- 
ed its frightful tolling, and after a while we began to 
wish they would come, and let us have the thing over. 
We went out, and looked, and listened ; but there was 
neither sound nor motion. We became positively tired 
of waiting ; there were still two hours to daylight ; we 
lay down, and, strange to say, again fell asleep. 

VOL. IL K 7 



Approach of Carrera's Forces. Terror of the Inhabitants. Their Flight. Sur- 
render of the Town. Ferocity of the Soldiery. A Bulletin. Diplomacy. A 
Passport. A Breakfast. An Alarm. The Widow Padilla. An Attack. De- 
feat of Carrera's Forces. The Town taken by General Morazan His Entry. 
The Widow's Son. Visit to General Morazan. His Appearance, Character, 
&c. Plans deranged. 

IT was broad daylight when we woke, without any 
machete cuts, and still in undisturbed possession of the 
town. My first thought was for the mules ; they had 
eaten up their sacate, and had but a poor chance for 
more, but I sent them immediately to the river for wa- 
ter. They had hardly gone when a little boy ran in 
from the church, and told us that la gente were in 
sight. We hurried back with him, and the miserable 
beings on the steps, with new terrors, supposing that 
we were friends of the invaders, begged us to save 
them. Followed by three or four trembling boys, we 
ascended to the steeple, and saw the Cachurecos at a 
distance, descending the brow of a hill in single file, their 
muskets glittering in the sunbeams. We saw that it 
was not the whole of Carrera's army, but apparently 
only a pioneer company ; but they were too many for 
us, and the smallness of their numbers gave them the 
appearance of a lawless predatory band. They had 
still to cross a long plain and ascend the hill on which 
the town was built. The bellrope was in reach of my 
hand ; I gave it one strong pull, and telling the boys to 
sound loud the alarm, hurried down. As we passed out 
of the church, we heard loud cries from the old women 
in the house of the cura ; and the old men and children 
on the steps asked us whether they would be murdered. 


The mules had not returned, and, afraid of their 
being intercepted in the street, I ran down a steep hill 
toward the river, and meeting them, hurried back to 
the house. While doing so I saw at the extreme end 
of the street a single soldier moving cautiously ; and 
watching carefully every house, as if suspecting treach- 
ery, he advanced with a letter directed to Colonel An- 
goula. The captain told him that he must seek An- 
goula among the mountains. We inquired the name 
of his commanding officer, how many men he had, said 
that there was no one to oppose him, and forthwith sur- 
rendered the town. The man could hardly believe that 
it was deserted. General Figoroa did not know itj 
he had halted at a short distance, afraid to make the at- 
tack at night, and was then expecting immediate battle. 
He himself could not have been much better pleased at 
avoiding it than we were. The envoy returned, and in 
a short time we saw at the extreme end of the street 
the neck of a horse protruding from the cross-street on 
the left. A party of cavalry armed with lances follow- 
ed, formed at the head of the street, looking about them 
carefully as if still suspecting an ambush. In a few 
moments General Figoroa, mounted on a fierce little 
horse, without uniform, but with dark wool saddle-cloth, 
pistols, and basket-hilted sword, making a warlike ap- 
pearance, came up, leading the van. We took off our 
hats as he approached our door, and he returned the sa- 
lute. About a hundred lancers followed him, two 
abreast, with red flags on the ends of their lances, and 
pistols in their holsters. In passing, one ferocious-look- 
ing fellow looked fiercely at us, and grasping his lance, 
cried "Viva Carrera." We did not answer it imme- 
diately, and he repeated it in a tone that brought forth 
the response louder and more satisfactory, from the 


spite with which it was given ; the next man repeated 
it, and the next ; and before we were aware of our po- 
sition, every lancer that passed, in a tone of voice reg- 
ulated by the gentleness or the ferocity of his disposi- 
tion, and sometimes with a most threatening scowl, put 
to us as a touchstone " Viva Carrera." 

The infantry were worse than the lancers in appear- 
ance, being mostly Indians, ragged, half naked, with 
old straw hats and barefooted, armed with muskets and 
machetes, and many with oldfashioned Spanish blun- 
derbusses. They vied with each other in sharpness and 
ferocity, and sometimes actually levelling their pieces, 
cried at us " Viva Carrera." "We were taken com- 
pletely unawares ; there was no escape, and I believe 
they would have shot us down on the spot if we had re- 
fused to echo the cry. I compromised with my dignity 
by answering no"louder than the urgency of the case re- 
quired, but I never passed through a more trying ordeal. 
Don Saturnine had had the prudence to keep out of 
sight ; but the captain, who had intended to campaign 
against these fellows, never flinched, and when the last 
man passed added an extra " Viva Carrera." I again 
felt rejoiced that the soldiers had left the town and that 
there had been no fight. It would have been a fearful 
thing to fall into the hands of such men, with their pas- 
sions roused by resistance and bloodshed. Reaching 
the plaza, they gave a general shout of " Viva Carrera,'* 
and stacked their arms. In a few minutes a party of 
them came down to our house and asked for breakfast ; 
and when we could not give them that, they begged a 
medio or sixpence. By degrees others came in, until 
the room was full. They were really no great gainers 
by taking the town. They had had no breakfast, and 
the town was completely stripped of eatables. We in- 


quired the news from Guatiraala, and bought from them 
several copies of the " Parte Official" of the Supreme 
Government, headed " Viva la Patria ! Viva el Gener- 
al Carrera ! The enemy has been completely extermi- 
nated in his attack upon this city, which he intended to 
devastate. The tyrant Morazan flies terrified, leaving 
the plaza and streets strewed with corpses sacrificed to 
his criminal ambition. The principal officers associated 
in his staff have perished, &c. Eternal glory to the In- 
vincible Chief GENERAL CARRERA, and the valiant troops 
under his command." They told us that Carrera, with 
three thousand men, was in full pursuit. In a little 
while the demand for sixpences became so frequent, 
that, afraid of being supposed to have mucha plata, 
we walked to the plaza to present ourselves to General 
Figoroa, and settle the terms of our surrender, or, at all 
events, to " define our position." We found him at 
the cabildo, quite at home, with a parcel of officers, 
white men, Mestitzoes, and mulattoes, smoking, and in- 
terrogating some old men from the church as to the 
movements of Colonel Angoula and the soldiers, the 
time of their setting out, and the direction they took. 
He was a young man all the men in that country were 
young about thirty-two or three, dressed in a snuff-col- 
oured cloth roundabout jacket, and pantaloons of the 
same colour ; and off his warhorse, and away from his 
assassin-like band, had very much the air of an honest 

It was one of the worst evils of this civil war that no 
respect was paid to the passports of opposite parties, 
The captain had only his San Salvador passport, which 
was here worse than worthless. Don Saturnine had a 
variety from partisan commandants, and upon this oc- 
casion made use of one from a colonel under Ferrera. 



The captain introduced me by the title of Senor Minis- 
tro del Norte America, and 1 made myself acceptable by 
saying that I had been to San Salvador in search of a 
government, and had not been able to find any. The 
fact is, although I was not able to get into regular bu- 
siness, I was practising diplomacy on my own account 
all the time ; and in order to define at once and clearly 
our relative positions, I undertook to do the honours of 
the town, and invited General Figoroa and all his offi- 
cers to breakfast. This was a bold stroke, but Talley- 
rand could not have touched a nicer chord. They had 
not eaten anything since noon the day before, and I be- 
lieve they would have evacuated their empty conquest 
for a good breakfast all round. They accepted my 
invitation with a promptness that put an end to my 
small stock of prpvisions for the road. General Figo- 
roa confirmed the intelligence of Morazan's defeat and 
flight, and Carrera's pursuit, and the " invincible chief" 
would perhaps have been somewhat surprised at the 
pleasure I promised myself in meeting him. 

With a very few moments' interchange of opinion, 
we made up our minds to get out of this frontier town 
as soon as possible, and again to go forward. I- had 
almost abandoned ulterior projects, and looked only to 
personal safety. To go back, we reasoned, would car- 
ry us into the very focus of war and danger. The San 
Salvador people were furious against strangers, and the 
Honduras troops wefe invading them on one side, and 
Carrera's hordes on the other. To remain where we 
were was certain exposure to attacks from both parties. 
By going on we would meet Carrera's troops, and if we 
passed them we left war behind us. We had but one 
risk, and that would be tested in a day. Under this belief, 
I told the general that we designed proceeding to Gua- 

A B R E A K F A S T. 79 

timala, and that it would add to our security to have his 
passport. It was the general's first campaign. He was 
then only a few days in service, having set off in a hur- 
ry to get possession of this town, and cut off Morazan's 
retreat. He was flattered by the request, and said that 
his passport would be indispensable. His aid and sec- 
retary had been clerk in an apothecary's shop in Guati- 
mala, and therefore understood the respect due to a 
ministro, and said that he would make it out himself. 
I was all eagerness to get possession of this passport. 
The captain, in courtesy, said we were in no hurry. I 
dismissed courtesy, and said that we were in a hurry ; 
that we must set out immediately after breakfast. I 
was afraid of postponements, delays, and accidents, 
and in spite of impediments and inconveniences, I per- 
sisted till I got the secretary down at the table, who, 
without any trouble, and by a mere flourish of the pen, 
made me " ministro plenipotentiario." The captain's 
name was inserted in the passport, General Figoroa 
signed it, and I put it in my pocket, after which I 
breathed more freely. 

We returned to the house, and in a few minutes the 
general, his secretary, and two mulatto officers came 
over to breakfast. It was very considerate in them that 
they did not bring more. Our guests cared more for 
quantity than quality, and this was the particular in 
which we were most deficient. We had plenty of choc- 
olate, a stock of bread for the road, and some eggs that 
were found in the house. We put on the table all that 
we had, and gave the general the seat of honour at the 
head. One of the officers preferred sitting away on a 
bench, and eating his eggs with his fingers. It is un- 
pleasant for a host to be obliged to mark the quantity 
that his guests eat, but I must say I was agreeably dis- 


appointed. If I had been breakfasting with them in- 
stead of vice versa, I could have astonished them as 
much as their voracious ancestors did the Indians. 
The breakfast was a neat fit ; there was none over, and 
I believe nothing short. 

There was but one unpleasant circumstance attend- 
ant upon it, viz., General Figoroa requested us to wait 
an hour, until he could prepare despatches to Carrera, 
advising him of his occupation of Aguachapa. I was 
extremely anxious to get away while the game was 
good. Of General Figoroa and his secretary we thought 
favourably ; but we saw that he had no control over his 
men, and as long as we were in the town we should be 
subject to their visits, inquiries, and importunities, and 
some difficulties might arise. At the same time, de- 
spatches to Carrera would be a great security on the 
road. Don Saturnine undertook to set off with the 
luggage, and we, glad of the opportunity of travelling 
without any encumbrance, charged him to" push on as 
fast as he could, not to stop for us, and we would over- 
take him. 

In about an hour we walked over to the plaza for the 
despatches, but unluckily found ourselves in a new scene 
of confusion. Figoroa was already in the saddle, the 
lancers were mounting in haste, and all running to 
arms. A scout had brought in word that Colonel An- 
goula, with the soldiers of the town, was hovering on 
the skirt of the mountain, and our friends were hurrying 
to attack them. In a moment the lancers were off on a 
gallop, and the ragged infantry snatched up their guns 
and ran after them, keeping up with the horses. The 
letter to Carrera was partly written, and the aiddecamp 
asked us to wait, telling us that the affair would soon be 
over. He was left in command of about seventy or 


eighty men, and we sat down with him under the cor- 
ridor of the quartel. He was several years younger 
than Figoroa, more intelligent, and seemed very amia- 
ble except on political matters, and there he was savage 
against the Morazan party. He was gentlemanly in his 
manners, but his coat was out at the elbows, and his 
pantaloons were torn. He said he had a new frock- 
coat, for which he had paid sixteen dollars, but which 
did not fit him, and he wished to sell it. I afterward 
spoke of him to one of Morazan's officers, whom I 
would believe implicitly except in regard to political 
opponents, who told me that this same secretary stole 
a pair of pantaloons from him, and he had no doubt 
the coat was stolen from somebody else. 

There was no order or discipline among the men ; 
the soldiers lay about the quartel, joined in the conver- 
sation, or strolled through the town, as they pleased. 
The inhabitants had fortunately carried away every- 
thing portable ; two or three times a foraging party re- 
turned with a horse or mule, and once they were all 
roused by an alarm that Angoula was returning upon 
the town in another direction. Immediately all snatch- 
ed up their arms, and at least one half, without a mo- 
ment's warning, took to their heels. We had a fair 
chance of having the town again upon our hands, but 
the alarm proved groundless. We could not, however, 
but feel uncomfortable at the facility with which our 
friends abandoned us, and the risk we ran of being 
identified with them. There were three brothers, the 
only lancers who did not go out with Figoroa, white 
men, young and athletic, the best dressed and best 
armed in the company ; swaggering in their manner, 
and disposed to cultivate an acquaintance with us ; they 



told us that they purposed going to Guatimala ; but I 
shrank from them instinctively, eluded their questions 
as to when we intended to set out, and I afterward 
heard that they were natives of the town, and had been 
compelled to leave it on account of their notorious 
characters as assassins. One of them, as we thought, 
in a mere spirit of bravado, provoked a quarrel with 
the aiddecamp, strutted before the quartel, and in the 
hearing of all said that they were under no man's or- 
ders ; they only joined General Figoroa to please them- 
selves, and would do as they thought proper. In the 
mean time, a few of the townsmen who had nothing to 
lose, among them an alguazil, finding there was no 
massacring, had returned or emerged from their hi- 
ding-places, and we procured a guide to be ready the 
moment General Figoroa should return, went back to 
the house, and to' our surprise found the widow Padilla 
there. She had been secreted somewhere in the neigh- 
bourhood, and had heard, by means of an old woman- 
servant, of the general's breakfasting with us, and our 
intimacy with him. We inquired for her daughters' 
safety, but not where they were, for we had already 
found that we could answer inquiries better when we 
knew nothing. 

We waited till four o'clock, and hearing nothing of 
General Figoroa, made up our minds that we should 
not get off till evening. We therefore strolled up to 
the extreme end of the street, where Figoroa had en- 
tered, and where stood the ruins of an old church. We 
sat on the foundation walls and looked through the long 
and desolate street to the plaza, where were a few 
stacks of muskets and some soldiers. All around were 
mountains, and among them rose the beautiful and ver- 
dant Volcano of Chingo. While sitting there two 



women ran past, and telling us that the soldiers were 
returning in that direction, hid themselves among the 
ruins. "We turned down a road and were intercepted 
on a little eminence, where we were obliged to stop and 
look down upon them as they passed. We saw that 
they were irritated by an unsuccessful day's work, and 
that they had found agua ardiente, for many of them 
were drunk. A drummer on horseback, and so tipsy 
that he could hardly sit, stopped the line to glorify Gen- 
eral Carrera. Very soon they commenced the old 
touchstone, " Viva Carrera !" and one fellow, with the 
strap of his knapsack across his naked shoulders, again 
stopped the whole line, and turning round with a fero- 
cious expression, said, " You are counting us, are you?" 
We disappeared, and by another street got back to 
the house. We waited a moment, and, determined to 
get out of the town and sleep at the first hacienda on 
the road, left the house to go again to General Fi- 
goroa for his despatches ; but before reaching it we 
saw new confusion in the plaza, a general remounting 
and rushing to arms. As soon as General Figoroa 
saw us, he spurred his horse down the street to meet 
us, and told us, in great haste, that General Morazan 
was approaehing and almost upon the town. He had 
that moment received the news, and was going out to 
attack him. He had no time to sign the despatches, 
and while he was speaking the lancers galloped past. 
He shook hands, bade us good-by, hasta luego (until 
presently), asked us to call upon Carrera in case we 
did not see him again, and dashing down the line, put 
himself at the head of the lancers. The foot-soldiers 
followed in single file on a run, carrying their jarms as 
was most convenient. In the hurry and excitement we 
forgot ourselves till we heard some flattering epithets, 


and saw two fellows shaking their muskets at us with the 
expression of fiends ; but, hurried on by those behind, 
they cried out ferociously, "Estos picaros otro vez," 
" Those rascals again." The last of the line had hardly 
disappeared before we heard a volley of musketry, and 
in a moment fifty or sixty men left in the plaza snatch- 
ed up their arms and ran down a street opening from 
the plaza. Very soon a horse without a rider came 
clattering down the street at full speed ; three others 
followed, and in five minutes we saw thirty or forty 
horsemen, with our friend Figoroa at their head, dash 
across the street, all running for their lives ; but in a 
few moments they rallied and returned. We walked 
toward the church, to ascend the steeple, when a sharp 
volley of musketry rolled up the street on that side, and 
before we got back into the house there was firing 
along the whole length of the street. We knew that 
a chance shot might kill a non-combatant, and se- 
cured the doors and windows ; but finally, as the firing 
was sharp, and the balls went beyond us and struck 
the houses on the opposite side, with an old servant- 
woman (what had become of the widow I do not know), 
we retired into a small room on the courtyard, with de- 
lightful walls, and a door three inches thick and bullet- 
proof, shutting which, and in utter darkness, we listened 
valiantly. Here we considered ourselves out of harm's 
way, but we had serious apprehensions for the result. 
The spirit on both sides was to kill ; giving quarter was 
not thought of. Morazan's party was probably small, 
but they would not be taken without a desperate fight ; 
and from the sharpness of the firing and the time oc- 
cupied, vlhere was probably a sanguinary affair. Our 
quondam friends, roused by bloodshed, wounds, and 
loss of companions, without any one to control them> 


would be very likely to connect " those rascals" with 
the arrival of Morazan. I will not say that we wished 
they might all be killed, but we did wish that their bad 
blood might be let out, and that was almost the same 
thing. In fact, I did most earnestly hope never to see 
their faces again. I preferred being taken by any ro- 
ving band in the country rather than by them, and nev- 
er felt more relieved than when we heard the sound of 
a bugle. It was the Morazan blast of victory ; and, 
though sounding fiercely the well-known notes of " de- 
gollar, degollar," " cutthroat, cutthroat," it was music 
to our ears. Very soon we heard the tramp of cavalry, 
and leaving our hiding-place, returned to the sala, and 
heard a cry of " Viva la Federacion !" This was a 
cheering sound. It was now dark. We opened the 
door an inch or two, but a lancer riding by struck it 
open with his lance, and asked for water. We gave 
him a large calabash, which another took from his 
hands. We threw open the door, and kept two large 
calabashes on the sill ; and the soldiers, as they passed, 
took a hasty draught. Asking a question of each, we 
learned that it was General Morazan himself, with the 
survivers of his expedition against Guatimala. Our 
house was well known ; many of the officers inquired 
for the family, and an aiddecamp gave notice to the ser- 
vant-woman that Morazan himself intended stopping 
there. The soldiers marched into the plaza, stacked 
their arms, and shouted " Viva Morazan." In the 
morning the shout was " Viva Carrera !" None cried 
" Viva la Patria !" 

There was no end to our troubles. In the morning 
we surrendered to one party, and in the evening were 
captured out of their hands by another ; probably be- 
fore daylight Carrera would be upon us. There was 



only one comfort : the fellows who had broken our rest 
the night before, and scared the inhabitants from their 
homes, were now looking out for lodgings in the mount- 
ains themselves. I felt sorry for Figoroa and his aid, 
and, on abstract principles, for the killed. As for the 
rest, I cared but little what became of them. 

In a few moments a party of officers came down to 
our house. For six days they had been in constant 
flight through an enemy's country, changing their direc- 
tion to avoid pursuit, and only stopping to rest their 
horses. Entering under the excitement of a successful 
skirmish, they struck me as the finest set of men I had 
seen in the country. Figoroa had come upon them so 
suddenly, that General Morazan, who rode at the head 
of his men, had two bullets pass by his head before he 
could draw his pistol, and he had a narrower escape 
than in the whole 1 of his bloody battle in Guatimala. 
Colonel Cabanes, a small, quiet, gentlemanly man, the 
commander of the troops massacred in Honduras.- 
struck the first blow, broke his sword over a lancer, and, 
wresting the lance out of its owner's hands, ran it 
through his body, but was wounded himself in the hand. 
A tall, gay, rattling young man, who was wiping warm 
blood from off his sword, and drying it on his pocket- 
handkerchief, mourned that he had failed in cutting off 
their retreat ; and a quiet middle-aged man, wiping his 
forehead, drawled out, that if their horses had not been 
so tired they would have killed every man. Even 
they talked only of killing ; taking prisoners was nev- 
er thought of. The verb matar, to kill, with its in- 
flexions, was so continually ringing in my ears that it 
made me nervous. In a few minutes the widow Padil- 
la, who, I am inclined to believe, was secreted some- 
where in the neighbourhood, knowing of General Mora- 


zan's approach, rushed in, crying wildly for her sons. 
All answered that the eldest was with them ; all knew 
her, and one after another put his right arm respect- 
fully over her shoulder and embraced her ; but the 
young man who was wiping his sword drove it into 
its scabbard, and, catching her up in his arms, lifted 
her off the floor and whirled her about the room. The 
poor old lady, half laughing and half crying, told him he 
was as bad as ever, and continued asking for her sons. 
At this moment a man about forty, whom I had noticed 
before as the only one without arms, with a long beard, 
pale and haggard, entered from the courtyard. The 
old lady screamed, rushed toward him, and fell on his 
neck, and for some moments rested her head upon his 
shoulder. This was the one who had been imprisoned 
by Carrera. General Morazan had forced his way into 
the plaza, broken open the prisons, and liberated the 
inmates ; and when he was driven out this son made 
his escape. But where was her younger and dearer 
son ? The young man answered that he had escaped 
and was safe. The old lady looked at him with dis- 
trust, and, calling him by his Christian name, told him 
he was deceiving her ; but he persisted and swore that 
he had escaped ; he himself had given him a fresh horse ; 
he was seen outside the barrier, was probably conceal- 
ed somewhere, and would soon make his appearance. 
The other officers had no positive knowledge. One 
had seen him at such a time, and another at such a time 
during the battle ; and all agreed that the young man 
ought to know best, for their posts were near each other ; 
and he, young, ardent, and reckless, the dearest friend 
of her son, and loving her as a mother, told me after- 
ward that she should have one night's comfort, and 
that she would know the truth soon enough ; but the 


brother, narrowly escaped from death himself, and who 
looked as if smiles had been forever driven from his 
face, told me he had no doubt his mother's darling was 

During these scenes the captain and I were not un- 
noticed. The captain found among the officers several 
whom he had become acquainted with at the port, and 
he learned that others had made their last campaign. 
In the first excitement of meeting them, he determined 
to turn back and follow their broken fortunes ; but, 
luckily for me, those trunks had gone on. He felt that 
he had a narrow escape. Among those who had ac- 
companied General Morazan were the former secre- 
tary of state and war, and all the principal officers, 
civil and military, of the shattered general government. 
They had heard of my arrival in the country. I had 
been expected at Ban Salvador, was known to them all 
by reputation, and very soon personally ; particularly 
I became acquainted with Colonel Zerabia,a young 
man about twenty-eight, handsome, brave, and accom- 
plished in mind and manners, with an enthusiastic at- 
tachment for General Morazan, from whom, in refer- 
ring to one affair in the attack on Guatimala, with tears 
almost starting from his eyes, he said, Providence seem- 
ed to turn the bullets away. I had often heard of this 
gentleman in Guatimala, and his case shows the unhap- 
py rending of private and social ties produced by these 
civil wars. His father was banished by the Liberal 
party eight years before, and was then a general in the 
Carlist service in Spain. His mother and three sisters 
lived in Guatimala, and I had visited at their house 
perhaps oftener than at any other in that city. They 
lived near the plaza, and while Morazan had possession 
of it, the colonel had run home to see them ; and in the 


midst of a distracted meeting, rendered more poignant 
by the circumstance of his being joined in an attack 
upon his native city, he was called away to go into ac- 
tion ; his horse was shot under him, he was wounded, 
and escaped with the wreck of the army. His mother 
and sisters knew nothing of his fate. He said, what I 
was sure was but too true, that they would have dread- 
ful apprehensions about him, and begged me, imme- 
diately on my arrival at Guatimala, to visit them and 
inform them of his safety. 

In the mean time, General Morazan, apprehensive of 
a surprise from Carrera during the night, sent word that 
he should sleep in the plaza ; and escorted by Colonel 
Zerabia, I went to pay my respects to him. From the 
time of his entry I felt perfectly secure, and never had 
a moment of apprehension from unruly soldiers. For 
the first time I saw something like discipline. A sen- 
tinel was pacing the street leading from the plaza, to 
prevent the soldiers straggling into the town ; but the 
poor fellows seemed to have no disposition for strag- 
gling. The town was stripped of everything; even the 
poor horses had no food. Some were gathered at the 
window of the cabildo, each in his turn holding up his 
hat for a portion of hard corn bread ; some were sitting 
around fires eating this miserable fare ; but most were 
stretched on the ground, already asleep. It was the 
first night they had lain down except in an enemy's 

General Morazan, with several officers, was standing 
in the corridor of the cabildo ; a large fire was burning 
before the door, and a table stood against the wall, 
with a candle and chocolate-cups upon it. He was 
about forty-five years old, five feet ten inches high, 
thin, with a black mustache and week's beard, and 



wore a military frock-coat, buttoned up to the throat, 
and sword. His hat was off, and the expression of his 
face mild and intelligent. Though still young, for ten 
years he had been the first man in the country, and 
eight president of the Republic. He had risen and had 
sustained himself by military skill and personal bra- 
very ; always led his forces himself ; had been in innu- 
merable battles, and often wounded, but never beaten. 
A year before, the people of Guatimala, of both par- 
ties, had implored him to come to their relief, as the 
only man who could save them from Carrera and de- 
struction. At that moment he added another to the 
countless instances of the fickleness of popular favour. 
After the expiration of his term he had been elected 
chief of the State of San Salvador, which office he had 
resigned, and then acted as commander-in-chief under 
the Federal Government. Denounced personally, and 
the Federation under which he served disavowed, he 
had marched against Guatimala with fourteen hundred 
men, and forced his way into the plaza ; forty of his 
oldest officers and his eldest son were shot down by his 
side ; and cutting his way through masses of human 
flesh, with about four hundred and fifty men then in the 
plaza, made his escape. I was presented to him by 
Colonel Zerabia. From the best information I could 
acquire, and from the enthusiasm with which I had 
heard him spoken of by his officers, and, in fact, by 
every one else in his own state, I had conceived al- 
most a feeling of admiration for General Morazan, 
and my interest in him was increased by his misfor- 
tunes. I was really at a loss how to address him ; and 
while my mind was full of his ill-fated expedition, his 
first question was if his family had arrived in Costa 
Rica, or if I had heard anything of them. I did not 


tell him, what I then thought, that his calamities would 
follow all who were connected with him, and probably 
that his wife and daughters would not be permitted an 
asylum in that state ; but it spoke volumes that, at such 
a moment, with the wreck of his followers before him, 
and the memory of his murdered companions fresh in 
his mind, in the overthrow of all his hopes and fortunes, 
his heart turned to his domestic relations. He express- 
ed his sorrow for the condition in which I saw his un- 
happy country; regretted that my visit was at such a 
most unfortunate moment ; spoke of Mr. De Witt, and 
the relations of that country with ours, and his regret 
that our treaty had not been renewed, and that it could 
not be done now ; but these things were not in my 
mind. Feeling that he must have more important 
business, I remained but a short time, and returned to 
the house. 

The moon had risen, and I was now extremely anx- 
ious to set out, but our plans were entirely deranged. 
The guide whom we had engaged to conduct us to the 
Rio Paz was missing, and no other could be found ; in 
fact, not a man could be induced, either by promises or 
threats, to leave the town that night from fear of falling 
in with the routed troops. Several of the officers took 
chocolate with us, and at the head of the table sat a 
priest with a sword by his side. I had breakfasted men 
who would have been happy to cut their throats, and 
they were now hiding among the mountains or riding 
for life. If Carrera came, my new friends would be 
scattered. They all withdrew early, to sleep under 
arms in the plaza, and we were left with the widow 
and her son. A distressing scene followed, of inquiries 
and forebodings by the widow for her younger son, 
which the elder could only get rid of by pleading ex- 


cessive fatigue, and begging to be permitted to go to 
sleep. It was rather singular, but it had not occurred 
to us before to inquire about the dead and wounded in 
the skirmish. There were none of the latter ; all who 
fell were lanced, and the dead were left on the ground. 
He was in the rear of the Morazan party ; the fire was 
scattering ; but on the line by which he entered the town 
he counted eighteen bodies. 



Visit from General Morazan. End of his Career. Procuring a Guide. Depar- 
ture for Guatimala. Fright of the People. The Rio Paz. Hacienda of Pal- 
mita. A fortunate Escape. Hacienda of San Jose. An awkward Predica- 
ment. A kind Host. Rancho of Hoctilla. Oratorio and Leon. Rio de los 
Esclavos. The Village. Approach to Guatimala. Arrival at Guatimala. A 
Sketch of the Wars. Defeat of Morazan. Scene of Massacre. 

IN the morning, to our surprise, we found several 
shops open, and people in the street, who had been 
concealed somewhere in the neighbourhood, and re- 
turned as soon as they knew of Morazan' s entry. 
The alcalde reappeared, and our guide was found, 
but he would not go with us, and told the alcalde 
that he might kill him on the spot ; that he would 
rather die there than by the hands of the Cachurecos. 

While I was taking chocolate, General Morazan 
called upon me. Our conversation was longer and 
more general. I did not ask him his plans or pur- 
poses, but neither he nor his officers exhibited des- 
pondency. Once reference was made to the occu- 
pation of Santa Anna by General Cascara, and with 
a spirit that reminded me of Claverhouse in "Old Mor- 
tality," he said, " we shall visit that gentleman soon." 
He spoke without malice or bitterness of the leaders 
of the Central party, and of Carrera as an ignorant 
and lawless Indian, from whom the party that was now 
using him would one day be glad to be protected. 
He referred, with a smile, to a charge current among 
the Cachurecos of an effort made by him to have Car- 
rera assassinated, of which a great parade had been 
made, with details of time and place, and which was 
generally believed. He had supposed the whole story 


a fabrication ; but accidentally, in retreating from Gua- 
timala, he found himself in the very house where the 
attempt was said to have been made ; and the man of 
the house told him that Carrera, having offered outrage 
to a member of his family, he himself had stabbed him, 
as was supposed mortally; and in order to account for 
his wounds, and turn away inquiries from the cause, it 
was fastened upon Morazan, and so flew all through the 
country. One of his officers accompanied the story 
with details of the outrage ; and I felt very sure that, 
if Carrera ever fell into his hands, he would shoot him 
on the spot. 

"With the opinion that he entertained of Carrera and 
his soldiers, he of course considered it unsafe for us to 
go on to Guatimala. But I was exceedingly anxious 
to set out ; and the flush of excitement over, as the cap- 
tain's trunks had one on, he was equally so. Carrera 
might arrive at any moment, in which case we might 
again change owners, or, at all events, be the witnesses 
of a sanguinary battle, for Morazan would defend the 
frontier town of his own state to the death. 

I told General Morazan my wish and purpose, and 
the difficulty of procuring a guide. He said that an 
escort of soldiers would expose us to certain danger ; 
even a single soldier, without his musket and cartridge- 
box (these being the only distinguishing marks of a sol- 
dier), might be recognised ; but he would send for the 
alcalde, and procure us some trusty person from the 
town. I bade him farewell with an interest greater 
than I had felt for any man in the country. Little 
did we then know the calamities that were still in 
store for him ; that very night most of his soldiers de- 
serted, having been kept together only by the danger 
to which they were exposed while in an enemy's coun. 


try. With the rest he marched to Zonzonate, seized a 
vessel at the port, manning her with his own men, and 
sent her to Libertad, the port of San Salvador. He 
then marched to the capital, where the people, who had 
for years idolized him in power, turned their backs upon 
him in misfortune, and received him with open insults 
m the streets. With many of his officers, who were 
too deeply compromised to remain, he embarked for 
Chili. Suffering from confinement on board a small 
vessel, he stopped in Costa Rica, and asked permission 
for some of them to land. He did not ask it for him- 
self, for he knew it would be refused. Leaving some 
of them behind, he went on to join his family in Chili. 
Amid the fierceness of party spirit it was impossible for 
a stranger to form a true estimate of the character of a 
public man. The great outcry against General Mora- 
zan was hostility to the church and forced loans. For 
his hostility to the church there is the justification that 
it is at this day a pall upon the spirit of free institutions, 
degrading and debasing instead of elevating the Chris- 
tian character ; and for forced loans constant wars may 
plead. His worst enemies admit that he was exemplary 
in his private relations, and, what they consider no 
small praise, that he was not sanguinary. He is now 
fallen and in exile, probably forever, under sentence of 
death if he returns ; all the truckling worshippers of a 
rising sun are blasting his name and memory ; but I 
verily believe, and I know I shall bring down upon me 
the indignation of the whole Central party by the asser- 
tion, I verily believe they have driven from their shores 
the best man in Central America. 

The population of the town was devoted to General 
Morazan, and an old man brought to us his son, a young 
man about twenty-two, as a guide ; but when he learned 


that we wanted him to go with us all the way to Rio 
Paz, he left us, as he said, to procure a horse. We 
waited nearly an hour, when the old man reappeared 
with a little boy about ten years old, dressed in a straw 
hat and shirt, and mounted on a bare-backed horse. 
The young man had disappeared and could not be 
found ; in fact, he was afraid to go, and it was thought 
this little boy would run less risk. I was never much 
disturbed by general reports of robbers or assassins, 
but there was palpable danger in meeting any of the 
routed troops. Desperate by defeat, and assassin-like 
in disposition ; not very amiable to us before ; and 
now, from having seen us lounging about the town 
at that inauspicious moment, likely to connect us with 
the movements of Morazan, I believed that if we fell 
in with them we should be murdered. But, on the 
other hand, they had not let the grass grow under 
their feet ; had probably been flying all night, in appre- 
hension of pursuit ; shunning the main road, had per- 
haps crossed the Rio Paz, and, once in Guatimala, 
had dispersed to their own villages ; besides which, the 
rout had been so total that they were probably escaping 
three or four together, and would be as likely to run 
from us as we from them. At all events, it was bettej 
to go than wait till Carrera came upon the town. 

With these calculations and really uncomfortable 
feelings, we bade farewell to some of the officers who 
were waiting to see us off, and at nine o'clock set out. 
Descending from the table-land on which the town is 
""built, we entered an open plain, over which we could 
see to a great distance, and which would furnish, if ne- 
cessary, a good field for the evolutions of our cavalry. 
We passed the Lake of Aguachapa, the beauty of which, 
under other circumstances, would have attracted our 


admiration ; and as our little guide seemed at fault, we 
stopped at a hut to inquire the road. The people were 
afraid to answer any questions. Figoroa's soldiers and 
Morazan's had passed by, but they did not know it; 
they could not tell whether any fugitive soldiers had 
passed, and only knew the road to the Rio Paz. It 
was easy to see that they thought of nothing else ; but 
they said they were poor people, and at work all the 
time, and did not know what was going on. In half 
an hour we met three Indians, with loads of pottery on 
their backs. The poor fellows pulled off their hats, and 
trembled when we inquired if there were any routed 
soldiers on before. It occurred to us that this inquiry 
would expose us to the suspicion of being officers of 
Morazan in pursuit, and that, if we met any one, we had 
better ask no questions. Beyond this there were many 
roads, all of which, the boy said, led to the Rio Paz ; 
but he had never been there before, and did not know 
the right one. We followed one which took us into the 
woods, and soon commenced descending. The road 
was broken, stony, and very steep ; we descended rap- 
idly, and soon it was manifest no horses had passed on 
this road for a long time before. Trees lay across it so 
low that we dismounted, and were obliged to slip our 
high-peaked saddles to pass under them. It was evi- 
dently an old cattle-path, now disused even by cattle. 
We descended some distance farther, and I proposed 
to return. My only argument was that it was safer ; 
we knew we were wrong, and might get down so low 
that our physical strength would not carry us back. 
The captain said that I had chosen this path ; if we had 
followed his advice, we should have been safe, and that 
now it was impossible to return. We had an angry 
quarrel, and, fortunately, in consideration of my having 
VOL, IL N 9 


led into the difficulty, I gave way, and very soon we 
were cheered by hearing below us the rushing of the 
river. After a most difficult descent we reached the 
bank; but here there was no fording-place, and no path 
on the opposite side. 

The river itself was beautiful. The side which we 
had descended was a high and almost perpendicular 
mountain, and on both sides trees spread their branches 
over the water. It was called the River of Peace, but 
was now the dividing-line of deadly war, the boundary 
between Guatimala and San Salvador. The inhabi- 
tants of the opposite side were in an enemy's country, 
and the routed troops, both of Morazan and Figoroa, 
had fled to it for refuge. Riding some distance up the 
stream, we worked our way across, and on the opposite 
side found a waccal or drinking-shell, which had prob- 
ably been left there by some flying soldier. We drank 
from it as if it had been intended for our use, and left 
it on the bank for the benefit of the next comer. 

We were now in the State of Guatimala, on the 
banks of a wild river, without any visible path, and our 
situation was rather more precarious than before, for 
here the routed soldiers would consider themselves safe, 
and probably many, after a day and night of toil and 
fighting, would lie down to rest. We were fortunate 
in regard to a path, for, riding a short distance through 
the woods along the bank of the river, we struck one 
which turned off to the left, and terminated in the camino 
real leading from the regular fording-place. Here we 
dismissed our little guide, and set out on the main road. 
The face of the country was entirely changed, broken 
and stony, and we saw no one till we reached the ha- 
cienda of Palmita. This too seemed desolate. We 
entered the yard, and did not see a single person till 


we pushed open the door of the house. The proprietor 
was an old gentleman, opposed to Morazan, who sat in 
the sala with his wife's saddle and his own, and two 
bundles of bed and bedding packed up on the floor, 
ready for a start. He seemed to feel that it was too 
late, and with an air of submission answered our ques- 
tions, and then asked us how many men we had with 
us. It was amusing that, while half frightened to death 
ourselves, we carried terror wherever we went. We 
relieved him by inquiring about Don Saturnino and our 
luggage, remounted, and rode on. In an hour we 
reached the hacienda del Cacao, where Don Saturnino 
was to sleep. Owing to the position of the ground, we 
came suddenly upon the front of the house, and saw 
under the piazza three Cachureco soldiers eating tor- 
tillas. They saw us at the same moment, snatched up 
their muskets, and ran ; but suddenly one stopped and 
levelled at us a blunderbuss. The barrel looked as big 
as a church door, and seemed to cover both the captain 
and me. We Avere in awful danger of being shot by 
mistake, when one of them rushed back, knocked up 
the blunderbuss, and crying out " amigos, los Ingleses !" 
gave us a chance to reach them. This amiable and 
sensible young Cachureco vagabond was one of those 
who had paid us a visit to beg a breakfast and a medio. 
Probably there never was a sixpence put out at better 
interest. He had seen us intimate with Figoroa, and 
taught by his betters to believe that General Morazan 
was a cutthroat and murderer, and not conceiving that 
we could be safe with him, considered us sharers of the 
same danger, and inquired how we had escaped. As 
it turned out, we were extremely happy to meet with 
these ; another party might have received us very dif- 
ferently ; and they relieved us in an important point, 


for they told us that most of the routed soldiers had 
fled on the Santa Anna road. Don Saturnine had 
passed the night at this hacienda, and set out very early 
in the morning. The soldiers returned to finish their 
meal , and giving their thanks in payment, set out again 
with us. They had a good horse which they had stolen 
on the road, and which they said paid them very well 
for the expedition, and rode by turns bare-backed. 
Passing El Cacao their appearance created a sensation, 
for they brought the first intelligence of the rout of Fig- 
oroa. This was ominous news, for all had considered 
Morazan completely crushed by his defeat at Guatimala. 
In his retreat he had avoided the villages, and they did 
not know that he had escaped with so strong a force. 
We endeavoured to procure a guide, but not a man 
could be induced to leave the village, and we rode on. 
In a short time it began to rain ; the road was very 
stony, and we crossed a high, bleak volcanic mountain. 
Late in the afternoon the captain conceived suspicions 
of the soldiers, and we rode on very unceremoniously, 
leaving them behind. About five o'clock we avoided 
the road that led to a village, and taking el Camino de 
los Partidos, which was very rough and stony, soon 
came to a place where there were branches, and we 
were at a loss which to take ; but the course lay through 
a broad valley bounded by two ranges of mountains. 
We felt sure that our road did not cross either of these 
ranges, and these were our only guides. A little before 
dark we passed beyond the range of mountains, and on 
our right saw a road leading into the woods, and pres- 
ently heard the sound of a bell, and saw through the 
trees a hacienda, to arrive at which we had to go on 
some distance, and then turn back by a private road. 
It was situated in a large clearing, with cucinera and 


sheds, and a large sugar-mill. Twenty or thirty work- 
men, principally Indians, were assembled to give an 
account of their day's work, and receive orders for the 
next. Our appearance created a great sensation. The 
proprietors of the hacienda, two brothers, stood in the 
door while we were talking with the men, and we rode 
up and asked permission to stop there for the night. 
The elder assented, but with an embarrassment that 
showed the state of alarm and suspicion existing in the 
country. The gentlemen wore the common hacienda 
dress, and the interior was miserably poor, but had a 
hammock, and two rude frames with matting over them 
for beds. There was a small room adjoining, in which 
was the wife of one of them with a child. The propri- 
etors were men of education and intelligence, thorough- 
ly acquainted with the condition of the country, and we 
told them what had happened at Aguachapa, and that 
We were hurrying on to Guatimala. We had supper at 
a small table placed between the hammock and one of 
the beds, consisting of fried eggs, frigoles, and tortillas, 
as usual without knife, fork, or spoon. 

After supper our elder host was called out, but in a 
few minutes returned, and, closing the door, told us that 
there was a great excitement among the workmen on our 
account. They did not believe our story of going to 
Guatimala, for a woman had seen us come in from the 
Guatimala road, and they believed that we were officers 
of Morazan retreating from the attack on Guatimala, 
and endeavouring to escape into San Salvador. Here 
was a ground of suspicion we had not anticipated. The 
gentleman was much agitated ; he regretted that he was 
obliged to violate the laws of hospitality, but said we 
knew the distracted state of the country, and the phren- 
sy of party spirit. He himself was against Morazan 


his men were violent Cachurecos, and at this moment 
capable of committing any outrage. He had incurred 
great peril by receiving us for a moment under his roof, 
and begged us, both for our own sake and his, to leave 
his house ; adding that, even if we were of those unfor- 
tunate men, our horses should be brought up and we 
should go away unharmed ; more he could not promise. 
Now if we had really been the fugitives he supposed us, 
we should no doubt have been very thankful for his 
kindness ; but to be turned out by mistake in a dark 
night, an unknown country, and without any guide, was 
almost as bad as coming at us with a blunderbuss. 
Fortunately, he was not a suspicious man ; if he had 
been another Don Gregorio we should have " walked 
Spanish ;" and, more fortunately still, my pertinacity 
had secured Figoroa's passport ; it was the only thing 
that could have cleared our character. I showed it to 
him, pointing to the extra flourish which the secretary 
had made of plenipotentiario, and I believe he was not 
more astonished at finding who had honoured him by 
taking possession of his house, than pleased that we 
were not Morazan's officers. Though an intelligent 
man, he had passed a retired life on his hacienda. He 
had heard of such a thing as " a minislro plenipoten- 
tiario," but had never seen one. My accoutrements and 
the eagle on my hat sustained the character, and he call- 
ed in the major-domo and two leading men on the haci- 
enda, read to them the passport, and explained to them 
the character of a ministro plenipotentiary, while I sat 
up on the bed with my coat off and hat on to show the 
eagle, and the captain suppressed all partialities for 
Morazan, and talked of my intimacy with Carrera. The 
people are so suspicious that, having once formed an 
idea, they do not willingly abandon it, and it was. un- 


certain whether all this would satisfy them; but our 
host was warm in his efforts, the major-domo was flat- 
tered by being made the medium of communicating with 
the men, and his influence was at stake in satisfying 
them. It was one of Talleyrand's maxims never to do 
to-day what you can put off till to-morrow. On this 
occasion at least of my diplomatic career I felt the ben- 
efit of the old opposite rule. From the moment I saw 
Figoroa I had an eye only to getting his passport, and 
did not rest until I had it in my pocket. If we had waited 
to receive this with his letters, we should now have been 
in a bad position. If we escaped immediate violence, 
we should have been taken to the village, shut up in the 
cabildo, and exposed to all the dangers of an ignorant 
populace, at that moment excited by learning the suc- 
cess of Morazan and the defeat of Figoroa. In setting 
out, our idea was that, if taken by the Cachurecos, we 
should be carried up to Guatimala ; but we found that 
there was no accountability to Guatimala ; the people 
were in a state to act entirely from impulses, and nothing 
could induce any party of men to set out for Guatimala, 
or under any circumstances to go farther than from 
village to village. This difficulty over, the major-domo 
promised us a guide before daylight for the next village. 
At three o'clock we were wakened by the creaking of 
the sugar-mill. We waited till daylight for a guide, but 
as none came we bade farewell to our kind host, and 
set out alone. The name of the hacienda is San Jose, 
but in the hurry of my movements I never learned the 
name of the proprietor. In the constant revolutions of 
Central America, it may happen that he will one day 
be flying for his life ; in his hour of need, may he meet 
a heart as noble as his own. 

At a distance of five leagues we reached the rancho 


of Hocotilla, where Don Saturnmo and our men had 
slept. The road lay in a magnificent ravine, with a 
fine bottom land and noble mountain sides. We pass- 
ed through the straggling settlements of Oratorio and 
Leon, mostly single huts, where several times we saw 
women snatch up their children and run into the woods 
at sight of us. Bury the war-knife, and this valley 
would be equal to the most beautiful in Switzerland. 
At twelve o'clock we came upon four posts with a 
thatched roof, occupied by a scouting-party of Cachu- 
reco soldiers. We should have been glad to avoid 
them, but they could not have judged so from the way 
in which we shouted " amigos !" We inquired for Car- 
rera ; expected to meet him on the road ; Figoroa had 
told us he was coming ; Figoroa had entered Aguacha- 
pa ; and, taking special good care not to tell them that 
Figoroa had been* driven out, we bade them good-by 
and hurried on. 

At twelve o'clock we reached the Rio de los Escla- 
vos, a wild and noble river, the bridge across which is 
the greatest structure in Central America, a memorial 
of the Spanish dominion. We crossed it and entered 
the village, a mere collection of huts, standing in a mag- 
nificent situation on the bank of the river, looking up 
to a range of giant mountains on the other side, covered 
to the top with noble pines. The miserable inhabitants 
were insensible to its beauties, but there were reasons 
to make them so. Every hostile expedition between 
Guatimala and San Salvador passed through their vil- 
lage. Twice within one week Morazan's party had 
done so ; the inhabitants carried off what they could, 
and, locking their doors, fled to the mountains. The 
last time, Morazan's army was so straitened for provis- 
ions, and pressed by fear of pursuit, that huts were torn 


down for firewood, and bullocks slain and eaten half 
raw in the street, without bread or tortillas. 

At two we set off again, and from the village entered 
a country covered with lava. At four we reached the 
hacienda of Coral de Piedra, situated on the crest of a 
stony country, looking like a castle, very large, with a 
church and village, where, although it rained, we did 
not stop, for the whole village seemed to be intoxicated. 
Opposite one house we were hailed by a Cachureco of- 
ficer, so tipsy that he could hardly sit on his horse, who 
came at us and told us how many of Morazan's men he 
had killed. A little before dark, riding through a for- 
est, in the apprehension that we were lost, we emerged 
suddenly from the woods, and saw towering before us 
the great volcanoes of Agua and Fuego, and at the same 
moment were hailed by the joyful shouts of Don Satur- 
nine and our men. They had encamped in a small hut 
on the borders of a large plain, and the mules were 
turned out to pasture. Don Saturnine had been alarm- 
ed about us, but he had followed our parting injunction 
to go on, as, if any accident had happened, he could be 
of more service in Guatimala. They had not met Mora- 
zan's army, having been at a hacienda off the road 
when it passed, and hurrying on, had not heard of the 
rout of Figoroa. 

The rancho contained a single small room, barely 
large enough for the man and woman who occupied it 
but there was plenty of room out of doors. After a 
rough ride of more than fifty miles, with the most com- 
fortable reflection of being but one day from Guatima- 
la, I soon fell asleep. 

The next morning one of the mules was missing, and 
we did not get off till eight o'clock. Toward evening 
we descended a long hill, and entered the plain of 



Guatimala. It looked beautiful, and I never thought I 
should be so happy to see it again. I had finished a 
journey of twelve hundred miles, and the gold of Peru 
could not have tempted me to undertake it again. At 
the gate the first man I saw was my friend Don Man- 
uel Pavon. I could but think, if Morazan had taken 
the city, where would he be now ? Carrera was not in 
the city ; he had set out in pursuit of Morazan, but on 
the road received intelligence which induced him to 
turn off for Quezaltenango. I learned with deep satis- 
faction that not one of my acquaintances was killed, 
and, as I afterward found, not one of them had been in 
the battle. 

I gave Don Manuel the first intelligence of General 
Morazan. Not a word had been heard of him since he 
left the Antigua. Nobody had come up from that direc- 
tion ; the people were still too frightened to travel, and 
the city had not recovered from its spasm of terror. As 
we advanced I met acquaintances who welcomed me 
back to Guatimala. I was considered as having run the 
gauntlet for life, and escape from dangers created a bond 
between us. I could hardly persuade myself that the 
people who received me so cordially, and whom I was 
really glad to meet again, were the same whose expul- 
sion by Morazan I had considered probable. If he had 
succeeded, not one of them would have been there to 
welcome me. Repeatedly I was obliged to stop and 
tell over the affair of Aguachapa ; how many men 
Morazan had ; what officers ; whether I spoke to him ; 
how he looked, and what he said. I introduced the 
captain ; each had his circle of listeners ; and the cap- 
tain, as a slight indemnification for his forced " Viva 
Carreras" on the road, feeling, on his arrival once more 
among civilized and well-dressed people, a comparative 


security for liberty of speech, said that if Morazan's 
horses had not been so tired, every man of Figoroa's 
would have been killed. Unhappily, I could not but 
see that our news would have been more acceptable if 
we could have reported Morazan completely prostrated, 
wounded, or even dead. As we advanced I could per- 
ceive that the sides of the houses were marked by mus- 
ket-balls, and the fronts on the plaza were fearfully 
scarified. My house was near the plaza, and three 
musket-balls, picked out of the woodwork, were saved 
for my inspection, as a sample of the battle. In an 
hour after my arrival I had seen nearly all my old 
friends. Engrossed by my own troubles, I had not 
imagined the full extent of theirs. I cannot describe 
the satisfaction with which I found myself once more 
among them, and for a little while, at least, at rest. I 
still had anxieties ; I had no letters from home, and Mr. 
Catherwood had not arrived ; but I had no uneasiness 
about him, for he was not in the line of danger ; and 
when I lay down I had the comfortable sensation that 
there was nothing to drive me forward the next day. 
The captain took up his abode with me. It was an odd 
finale to his expedition against Guatimala ; but, after all, 
it was better than remaining at the port. 

Great changes had taken place in Guatimala since I 
left, and it may not be amiss here to give a brief ac- 
count of what had occurred in my absence. The reader 
will remember the treaty between Carrera and Guz- 
man, the general of the State of Los Altos, by which 
the former surrendered to the latter four hundred old 
muskets. Since that time Guatimala had adopted Car- 
rera (or had been adopted by him, I hardly know 
which), and, on the ground that the distrust formerly 
entertained of him no longer existed, demanded a res- 


titution of the muskets to him. The State of Los Altos 
refused. This state was at that time the focus of Liberal 
principles, and Quezaltenango, the capital, was the 
asylum of Liberals banished from Guatimala. Appre- 
hending, or pretending to apprehend, an invasion from 
that state, and using the restitution of the four hundred 
worthless muskets as a pretext, Carrera marched against 
Quezaltenango with one thousand men. The Indians, 
believing that he came to destroy the whites, assisted 
him. Guzman's troops deserted him, and Carrera with 
his own hands took him prisoner, sick and encumbered 
with a greatcoat, in the act of dashing his horse down 
a deep ravine to escape : he sent to Guatimala Guz- 
man's military coat, with the names of Omoa, Truxillos, 
and other places where Guzman had distinguished him- 
self in the service of the republic, labelled on it, and a 
letter to the government, stating that he had sent the coat 
as a proof that he had taken Guzman. A gentleman 
told me that he saw this coat on its way, stuck on a pole, 
and paraded by an insulting rabble around the plaza of 
the Antigua. After the battle Carrera marched to the 
capital, deposed the chief of the state and other offi- 
cers, garrisoned it with his own soldiers, and, not under- 
standing the technical distinctions of state lines, de- 
stroyed its existence as a separate state, and annexed it 
to Guatimala, or, rather, to his own command. 

In honour of his distinguished services, public notice 
was given that on Monday the seventeenth he would 
make his triumphal entry into Guatimala, and on that 
day he did enter, under arches erected across the streets, 
amid the firing of cannon, waving of flags, and music, 
with General Guzman, personally known to all the prin- 
cipal inhabitants, who but a year before had hastened 
at their piteous call to save them from the hands of this 


same Carrera, placed side wise on a mule, with his feet 
tied under him, his face so bruised, swollen, and disfig- 
ured by stones and blows of machetes that he could 
not be recognised, and the prisoners tied together with 
ropes ; and the chief of the state, secretary of state, and 
secretary of the Constituent Assembly rode by Carrera's 
side 'in this disgraceful triumph. 

General Guzman was one of those who had been lib- 
erated from prison by General Morazan. He had es- 
caped from the plaza with the remnant of his forces, 
but, unable to endure the fatigues of the journey, he 
was left behind, secreted on the road ; and General 
Morazan told me that, in consequence of the cruelty ex- 
ercised upon him, and the horrible state of anxiety in 
which he was kept, reason had deserted its throne, and 
his once strong mind was gone. 

From this time the city settled into a volcanic calm, 
quivering with apprehensions of an attack by General 
Morazan, a rising of the Indians and a war of castes, 
and startled by occasional rumours that Carrera intend- 
ed to bring Guzman and the prisoners out into the plaza 
and shoot them. On the fourteenth of March intelli- 
gence was received from Figoroa that General Mora- 
zan had crossed the Rio Paz and was marching against 
Guatimala. This swallowed up all other apprehensions. 
Carrera was the only man who could protect the city. 
On the fifteenth he marched out with nine hundred men 
toward Arazola, leaving the plaza occupied by five 
hundred men. Great gloom hung over the city. The 
same day Morazan arrived at the Coral de Piedra, 
eleven leagues from Guatimala. On the sixteenth the 
soldiers commenced erecting parapets at the corners of 
the plaza ; many Indians came in from the villages to 
assist, and Carrera took up his position at the Aceytuna, 



a league and a half from the city. On the seventeenth 
Carrera rode into the city, and with the chief of the 
state and others, went around to visit the fortifications 
and rouse the people to arms. At noon he returned to 
the Aceytuna, and at four o'clock intelligence was re- 
ceived that Morazan's army was descending the Questa 
de Pinula, the last range before reaching the plain of 
Guatimala. The bells tolled the alarm, and great con- 
sternation prevailed in the city. Morazan's army slept 
that night on the plain. 

Before daylight he marched upon the city and enter- 
ed the gate of Buena Vista, leaving all his cavalry 
and part of his infantry at the Plaza de Toros and on 
the heights of Calvario, under Colonel Cabanes, to 
watch the movements of Carrera, and with seven hun- 
dred men occupied the Plaza of Guadaloupe, depositing 
his parque, equipage, a hundred women (more or less of 
whom always accompany an expedition in that country), 
and all his train, in the Hospital of San Juan de Dios. 
Hence he sent Perez and Rivas, with four or five hun- 
dred men, to attack the plaza. These passed up a street 
descending from the centre of the city, and, while cov- 
ered by the brow of the hill, climbed over the yard-wall 
of the Church of Escuela de Cristo, and passed through 
the church into the street opposite the mint, in the rear 
of one side of the plaza. Twenty-seven Indians were 
engaged in making a redoubt at the door, and twenty-six 
bodies were found on the ground, nine killed and seven- 
teen wounded. When I saw it the ground was still red 
with blood. Entering the mint, the invaders were re- 
ceived with a murderous fire along the corridor ; but, 
forcing their way through, they broke open the front 
portal, and rushed into the plaza. The plaza was oc- 
cupied by the five hundred men left by Carrera, and two 


or three hundred Indians, who fell back, closed up near 
the porch of the Cathedral, and in a few moments all 
fled, leaving the plaza, with all their ammunition, in the 
possession of the assailants. Rivera Paz and Don Luis 
Bartres, the chief and secretary of the state, were in the 
plaza at the time, and but few other white citizens. Car- 
rera did not want white soldiers, and would not permit 
white men to be officers. Many young men had pre- 
sented themselves in the plaza, and were told that 
there were no arms. 

In the mean time, Carrera, strengthened by masses of 
Indians from the villages around, attacked the division 
on the heights of Calvario. Morazan, with the small 
force left at San Juan de Dios, went to the assistance of 
Cabanes. The battle lasted an hour and a half, fierce 
and bloody, and fought hand to hand. Morazan lost 
some of his best officers. Sanches was killed by Sotero 
Carrera, a brother of the general. Carrera and Mora- 
zan met, and Carrera says that he cut Morazan's sad- 
dle nearly in two. Morazan was routed, pursued so 
closely that he could not take up his equipage, and hur- 
ried on to the plaza, having lost three hundred mus- 
kets, four hundred men killed, wounded, and prisoners, 
and all his baggage. At ten o'clock his whole force 
was penned up in the plaza, surrounded by an immense 
mass of Indian soldiers, and fired upon from all the cor- 
ners. Manning the parapets and stationing pickets on 
the roofs of the houses, he kept up a galling fire in return. 

Pent up in this fearful position, Morazan had time to 
reflect. But a year before he was received with ringing 
of bells, firing of cannon, joyful acclamations, and dep- 
utations of grateful citizens, as the only man who could 
save them from Carrera and destruction. Among the 
few white citizens in the plaza at the time of the entry 


of the soldiers was a young man, who was taken pris- 
oner and brought before General Morazan. The latter 
knew him personally, and inquired for several of his old 
partisans by name, asking whether they were not com- 
ing to join him. The young man answered that they 
were not, and Morazan and his officers seemed disap- 
pointed. No doubt he had expected a rising of citizens 
in his favour, and again to be hailed as a deliverer from 
Carrera. In San Salvador I had heard that he had re- 
ceived urgent solicitations to come up ; but, whatever 
had been contemplated, there was no manifestation of 
any such intention ; on the contrary, the hoarse cry was 
ringing in his ears, " Muera el tyranno ! Muera el Gen- 
eral Morazan !" Popular feeling had undergone an en- 
tire revolution, or else it was kept down by the masses 
of Indians who came in from the villages around to de- 
fend the city against him. 

In the mean time the fire slackened, and at twelve 
o'clock it died away entirely ; but the plaza was strewed 
with dead, dense masses choked up the streets, and at 
the corners of the plaza the soldiers, with gross ribaldry 
and jests, insulted and jeered at Morazan and his men. 
The firing ceased only from want of ammunition, Car- 
rera's stock having been left in Morazan's possession. 
Carrera, in his eagerness to renew the attack, sat down 
to make cartridges with his own hands. 

The house of Mr. Hall, the British vice-consul, was 
on one of the sides of the plaza. Mr. Chatfield, the 
consul general, was at Escuintla, about twelve leagues 
distant, when intelligence was received of Morazan's 
invasion. He mounted his horse, rode up to the city, 
and hoisted the English flag on Mr. Hall's house, to 
Morazan's soldiers the most conspicuous object on the 
plaza. Carrera himself was hardly more obnoxious to 


them than Mr. Chatfield. A picket of soldiers was sta- 
tioned on the roof of the house, commanding the plaza 
on the one side and the courtyard on the other. Orel- 
lana, the former minister of war, was on the roof, and 
cut into the staff with his sword, but desisted on a re- 
monstrance from the courtyard that it was the house of 
the vice-consul. At sundown the immense mass of In- 
dians who now crowded the city fell on their knees, 
and set up the Salve or hymn to the Virgin. Orellana 
and others of Morazan's officers had let themselves 
down into the courtyard, and were at the moment ta- 
king chocolate in Mr. Hall's house. Mrs. Hall, a 
Spanish lady of the city, asked Orellana why he did 
not fall on his knees ; and he answered, in jest, that he 
was afraid his own soldiers on the roof would take him 
for a Cachureco and shoot him ; but it is said that to 
Morazan the noise of this immense chorus of voices 
was appalling, bringing home to him a consciousness 
of the immense force assembled to crush him, and for 
the first time he expressed his sense of the danger they 
were in. The prayer was followed by a tremendous 
burst of " Viva la Religion ! Viva Carrera ! y muera el 
General Morazan !" and the firing commenced more 
sharply than before. It was returned from the plaza, 
and for several hours continued without intermission. 
At two o'clock in the morning Morazan made a despe- 
rate effort to cut his way out of the plaza, but was driv- 
en back behind the parapets. The plaza was strewed 
with dead. Forty of his oldest officers and his eldest son 
were killed; and at three o'clock he stationed three 
hundred men at three corners of the plaza, directed 
them to open a brisk fire, threw all the powder into the 
fountain, and while attention was directed to these 
points, sallied by the other and left them to their fate. 


I state this on the authority of the Guatimala official 
account of the battle of course I heard nothing of it 
at Aguachapa and if true, it is a blot on Morazan's 
character as a soldier and as a man. He escaped from 
the city with five hundred men, and strewing the road 
with wounded and dead, at twelve o'clock arrived at 
the Antigua. Here he was urged to proclaim martial 
law, and make another attack on the city ; but he an- 
swered no ; blood enough had been shed. He entered 
the cabildo, and, it is said, wrote a letter to Carrera 
recommending the prisoners to mercy ; and Baron 
Mahelin, the French consul general, related to me an 
anecdote, which does not, however, seem probable, that 
he laid his glove on the table, and requested the alcalde 
to give it to Carrera as a challenge, and explain its 
meaning. From that place he continued his retreat by 
the coast until I met him at Aguachapa. 

In the mean time Carrera's soldiers poured into the 
plaza with a tremendous feu de joie, and kept up a ter- 
rible firing in the air till daylight. Then they commen- 
ced searching for fugitives, and a general massacre took 
place. Colonel Arias, lying on the ground with one of 
his eyes out, was bayoneted to death. Perez was shot. 
Marescal, concealed under the Cathedral, was dragged 
out and shot. Padilla, the son of the widow at Agua- 
chapa, found on the ground, while begging a Centralist 
whom he knew to save him, was killed with bayonets. 
The unhappy fugitives were brought into the plaza two, 
three, five, and ten at a time. Carrera stood pointing 
with his finger to this man and that, and every one that 
he indicated was removed a few paces from him and 
shot. Major Jose Viera, and several of the soldiers on 
the roof of Mr. Hall's house, let themselves down into 
the courtyard, and Carrera sent for all who had taken 


refuge there. Viera was taking chocolate with the 
family, and gave Mrs. Hall a purse of doubloons and a 
pistol to take care of for him. They were delivered up, 
with a recommendation to mercy, particularly in behalf 
of Viera ; but a few moments after Mr. Skinner entered 
the house, and said that he saw Viera' s body in the 
plaza. Mr. Hall could not believe it, and walked round 
the corner, but a few paces from his own door, and saw 
him lying on his back, dead. In this scene of massacre 
the Padre Zezena, a poor and humble priest, exposed 
his own life to save his fellow-beings. Throwing him- 
self on his knees before Carrera, he implored him to 
spare the unhappy prisoners, exclaiming, they are Chris- 
tians like ourselves ; and by his importunities and pray- 
ers induced Carrera to desist from murder, and send 
the wretched captives to prison. 

Carrera and his Indians had the whole danger and 
the whole glory of defending the city. The citizens, 
who had most at stake, took no part in it. The mem- 
bers of the government most deeply compromised fled 
or remained shut up in their houses. It would be hard 
to analyze the feelings with which they straggled out to 
gaze upon the scene of horror in the streets and in the 
plaza, and saw on the ground the well-known faces and 
mangled bodies of the leaders of the Liberal party. 
There was one overpowering sense of escape from im- 
mense danger, and the feeling of the Central govern- 
ment burst out in its official bulletin : " Eternal glory to 
the invincible chief General Carrera, and the valiant 
troops under his command !" 

In the morning, as at the moment of our arrival, this 
subject was uppermost in every one's mind ; no one 
could talk of anything else, and each one had some- 
thing new to communicate. In our first walk through 


the streets our attention was directed to the localities, 
and everywhere we saw marks of the battle. Vaga- 
bond soldiers accosted us, begging medios, pointing 
their muskets at our heads to show how they shot the 
enemy, and boasting how many they had killed. These 
fellows made me feel uncomfortable, and I was not 
singular ; but if there was a man who had a mixture of 
uncomfortable and comfortable feelings, it was my friend 
the captain. He was for Morazan ; had left La Union 
to join his expedition, left San Salvador to pay him a 
visit at Guatimala and partake of the festivities of his 
triumph, and left Aguachapa because his trunks had 
gone on before. Ever since his arrival in the country 
he had been accustomed to hear Carrera spoken of as a 
robber and assassin, and the noblesse of Guatimala rid- 
iculed, and all at once he found himself in a hornet's 
nest. He now hdferd Morazan denounced as a tyrant, 
his officers as a set of cutthroats, banded together to as- 
sassinate personal enemies, rob churches, and kill 
priests ; they had met the fate they deserved, and the 
universal sentiment was, so perish the enemies of Gua- 
timala. The captain had received a timely caution. 
His story that Morazan would have killed every man of 
Figoroa's if the horses had not been so tired, had circu- 
lated ; it was considered very partial, and special inqui- 
ries were made as to who that captain was. He was 
compelled to listen and assent, or say nothing. On the 
road he was an excessively loud talker, spoke the lan- 
guage perfectly, with his admirable arms and horse equip- 
ments always made a dashing entree into a village, and 
was called " muy valiante," "very brave;" but here he 
was a subdued man, attracting a great deal of attention, 
but without any of the eclat which had attended him on 
the road, and feeling that he was an object of suspicion 


and distrust. But he had one consolation that nothing 
could take away : he had not been in the battle, or, to 
use his own expression, he might now be lying on the 
ground with his face upward. 

In the afternoon, unexpectedly, Mr. Catherwood ar- 
rived. He had passed a month at the Antigua, and had 
just returned from a second visit to Copan, and had 
also explored other ruins, of which mention will be 
made hereafter. In our joy at meeting we tumbled into 
each other's arms, and in the very first moment resolved 
not to separate again while in that distracted country. 



Ruins of Quirigua. Visit to them. Los Amates. Pyramidal Structure. A 
Colossal Head. An Altar. A Collection of Monuments. Statues. Charac- 
ter of the Ruins. A lost City. Purchasing a ruined City. 

To recur for a moment to Mr. Catherwood, who, 
during my absence, had not been idle. On reaching 
Guatimala the first time from Copan, I made it my bu- 
siness to inquire particularly for ruins. I did not meet 
a single person who had ever visited those of Copan, and 
but few who took any interest whatever in the antiqui- 
ties of the country ; but, fortunately, a few days after 
my arrival, Don Carlos Meiney, a Jamaica Englishman, 
long resident in tlie country, proprietor of a large haci- 
enda, and extensively engaged in mining operations, 
made one of his regular business visits to the capital. 
Besides a thorough acquaintance with all that concerned 
his own immediate pursuits, this gentleman possessed 
much general information respecting the country, and a 
curiosity which circumstances had never permitted him 
to gratify in regard to antiquities ; and he told me of 
the ruins of Quirigua, on the Motagua River, near 
Encuentros, the place at which we slept the second 
night .after crossing the Mico Mountain. He had never 
seen them, and I hardly believed it possible they could 
exist, for at that place we had made special inquiries for 
the ruins of Copan, and were not informed of any oth- 
ers. I became satisfied, however, that Don Carlos was 
a man who did not speak at random. They were on 
the estate of Senor Payes, a gentleman of Guatimala 
lately deceased. He had heard of them from Senor 


Payes, and had taken such interest in the subject as to 
inquire for and obtain the details of particular monu- 
ments. Three sons of Seiior Payes had succeeded to 
his estate, and at my request Don Carlos called with me 
upon them. Neither of the sons had ever seen the ruins 
or even visited the estate. It was an immense tract of 
wild land, which had come into their father's hands 
many years before for a mere trifle. He had visited it 
once ; and they too had heard him speak of these ruins. 
Lately the spirit of speculation had reached that coun- 
try ; and from its fertility and position on the bank of a 
navigable river contiguous to the ocean, the tract had 
been made the subject of a prospectus, to be sold on 
shares in England. The prospectus set forth the great 
natural advantages of the location, and the inducements 
held out to emigrants, in terms and phrases that might 
have issued from a laboratory in New- York before the 
crash. The Senores Payes were in the first stage of an- 
ticipated wealth, and talked in the familiar strains of 
city builders at home. They were roused by the pros- 
pect of any indirect addition to the value of their real 
estate ; told me that two of them were then making ar- 
rangements to visit the tract, and immediately proposed 
that I should accompany them. Mr. Catherwood, on 
his road from Copan, had fallen in with a person at 
Chiquimula who told him of such ruins, with the addi- 
tion that Colonel Galindo was then at work among. them. 
Being in the neighbourhood, he had some idea of going 
to visit them ; but, being much worn with his labours at 
Copan, and knowing that the story was untrue as re- 
garded Colonel Galindo, whom he knew to be in a dif- 
ferent section of the country, he was incredulous as to 
the whole. We had some doubt whether they would 
repay the labour ; but as there was no occasion for him 


to accompany me to San Salvador, it was agreed that 
during my absence he should, with the Senores Payes, go 
to Quirigua, which he accordingly did. 

The reader must go back to Encuentros, the place at 
which we slept the second night of our arrival in the 
country. From this place they embarked in a canoe 
about twenty-five feet long and four broad, dug out of 
the trunk of a mahogany-tree, and descending two 
hours, disembarked at Los Amates, near El Poso, on 
the main road from Yzabal to Guatimala, the place at 
which we breakfasted the second morning of our arri- 
val in the country, and where the Senores Payes were 
obliged to wait two or three days. The place was a 
miserable collection of huts, scant of provisions, and 
the people drank a muddy water at their doors rather 
than take the trouble of going to the river. 

On a fine morning, after a heavy rain, they set off 
for the ruins. After a ride of about half an hour, over 
an execrable road, they again reached the Amates. The 
village was pleasantly situated on the bank of the river, 
and elevated about thirty feet. The river was here about 
two hundred feet wide, and fordable in every part except 
a few deep holes. Generally it did not exceed three feet 
in depth, and in many places was not so deep ; but be- 
low it was said to be navigable to the sea for boats not 
drawing more than three feet water. They embarked 
in two canoes dug out of cedar-trees, and proceeded 
down the river for a couple of miles, where they took 
on board a negro man named Juan Lima, and his two 
wives. This black scoundrel, as Mr. C. marks him 
down in his notebook, was to be their guide. They 
then proceeded two or three miles farther, and stopped 
at a rancho on the left side of the river, and passing 
through two cornfields, entered a forest of large cedar 



and mahogany trees. The path was exceedingly soft 
and wet, and covered with decayed leaves, and the 
heat very great. Continuing through the forest toward 
the northeast, in three quarters of an hour they reached 
the foot of a pyramidal structure like those at Copan, 
with the steps in some places perfect. They ascended 
to the top, about twenty-five feet, and descending by 
steps on the other side, at a short distance beyond came 
to a colossal head two yards in diameter, almost buried 
by an enormous tree, and covered with moss. Near it 
was a large altar, so covered with moss that it was im- 
possible to make anything out of it. The two are with- 
in an enclosure. 

Retracing their steps across the pyramidal structure, 
and proceeding to the north about three or four hun- 
dred yards, they reached a collection of monuments of 
the same general character with those at Copan, but 
twice or three times as high. 

The first is about twenty feet high, five feet six inch- 
es on two sides, and two feet eight on the other two. 
The front represents the figure of a man, well pre- 
served ; the back that of a woman, much defaced. The 
sides are covered with hieroglyphics in good preserva- 
tion, but in low relief, and of exactly the same style as 
those at Copan. 

Another, represented in the engraving, is twenty- 
three feet out of the ground, with figures of men on the 
front and back, and hieroglyphics in low relief on the 
sides, and surrounded by a base projecting fifteen or six- 
teen feet from it. 

At a short distance, standing in the same position as 
regards the points of the compass, is an obelisk or carv- 
ed stone, twenty-six feet out of the ground, and proba- 
bly six or eight feet under, which is represented in the 

VOL. II. Q, 11 


engraving opposite. It is leaning twelve feet two inch- 
es out of the perpendicular, and seems ready to fall, 
which is probably prevented only by a tree that has 
grown up against it and the large stones around the 
base. The side toward the ground represents the fig- 
ure of man, very perfect and finely sculptured. The 
upper side seemed the same, but was so hidden by ve- 
getation as to make it somewhat uncertain. The other 
two contain hieroglyphics in low relief. In size and 
sculpture this is the finest of the whole. 

A statue ten feet high is lying on the ground, cover- 
ed with moss and herbage, and another about the same 
size lies with its face upward. 

There are four others erect, about twelve feet high, 
but not in a very good state of preservation, and several 
altars so covered with herbage that it was difficult to 
ascertain their exat form. One of them is round, and 
situated on a small elevation within a circle formed by 
a wall of stones. In the centre of the circle, reached 
by descending very narrow steps, is a large round stone, 
with the sides sculptured in hieroglyphics, covered with 
vegetation, and supported on what seemed to be two 
colossal heads. 

These are all at the foot of a pyramidal wall, near 
each other, and in the vicinity of a creek which empties 
into the Motagua. Besides these they counted thir- 
teen fragments, and doubtless many others may yet be 

At some distance from them is another monument, 
nine feet out of ground, and probably two or three un- 
der, with the figure of a woman on the front and back, 
and the two sides richly ornamented, but without hie- 

The next day the negro promised to show Mr. C. 
eleven square columns higher than any he had seen, 



standing in a row at the foot of a mountain ; but after 
dragging him three hours through the mud, Mr. C. 
found by the compass that he was constantly changing 
his direction ; and as the man was armed with pistols, 
notoriously a bad fellow, and indignant at the owners 
of the land for coming down to look after their squat- 
ters, Mr. C. became suspicious of him, and insisted upon 
returning. The Payes were engaged with their own af- 
fairs, and having no one to assist him, Mr. Catherwood 
was unable to make any thorough exploration or any 
complete drawings. 

The general character of these ruins is the same as at 
Copan. The monuments are much larger, but they are 
sculptured in lower relief, less rich in design, and more 
faded and worn, probably being of a much older date. 
Of one thing there is no doubt : a large city once 
stood there ; its name is lost, its history unknown ; and, 
except for a notice taken from Mr. C.'s notes, and in- 
serted by the Senores Payes in a Guatimala paper after 
the visit, which found its way to this country and Eu- 
rope, no account of its existence has ever before been 
published. For centuries it has lain as completely bu- 
ried as if covered with the lava of Vesuvius. Every 
traveller from Yzabal to Guatimala has passed within 
three hours of it ; we ourselves had done the same ; and 
yet there it lay, like the rock-built city of Edom, unvis- 
ited, unsought, and utterly unknown. 

The morning after Mr. C. returned I called upon 
Senor Payes, the only one of the brothers then in 
Guatimala, and opened a negotiation for the purchase 
of these ruins. Besides their entire newness and im- 
mense interest as an unexplored field of antiquarian re- 
search, the monuments were but about a mile from the 
river, the ground was level to the bank, and the river 


from that place was navigable ; the city might be trans- 
ported bodily and set up in New- York. I expressly 
stated (and my reason for doing so will be obvious) 
that I was acting in this matter on my own account, 
that it was entirely a personal affair ; but Senor Pa- 
yes would consider me as acting for my government, 
and said, what I am sure he meant, that if his family 
was as it had been once, they would be proud to pre- 
sent the whole to the United States ; in that country 
they were not appreciated, and he would be happy to 
contribute to the cause of science in ours ; but they 
were impoverished by the convulsions of the country; 
and, at all events, he could give me no answer till his 
brothers returned, who were expected in two or three 
days. Unfortunately, as I believe for both of us, Senor 
Payes consulted with the French consul general, who 
put an exaggerated value upon the ruins, referring him 
to the expenditure of several hundred thousand dollars 
by the French government in transporting one of the 
obelisks of Luxor from Thebes to Paris. Probably, be- 
fore the speculating scheme referred to, the owners 
would have been glad to sell the whole tract, consisting 
of more than fifty thousand acres, with everything on it, 
known and unknown, for a few thousand dollars. I 
was anxious to visit them myself, and learn with more 
certainty the possibility of their removal, but was afraid 
of increasing the extravagance of his notions. His 
brothers did not arrive, and one of them unfortunately 
died on the road. I had not the government for pay- 
master ; it might be necessary to throw up the purchase 
on account of the cost of removal ; and I left an offer 
with Mr. Savage, the result of which is still uncertain ; 
but I trust that when these pages reach the hands of the 
reader, two of the largest monuments will be on their 
way to this city. 



Reception at the Government House. The Captain in Trouble. A Change cf 
Character. Arrangements for Journey to Palenque. Arrest of the Captain. 
His Release. Visit from a Countryman. Dangers in Prospect. Last Stroll 
through the Suburbs. Hospital and Cemetery of San Juan de Dios. Fearful 
State of the Country. Last Interview with Carrera, Departure from Guati- 
mala. A Don Quixote. Ciudad Vieja. Plain of El Vieja. Volcanoes, 
Plains, and Villages. San Andres Isapa. Dangerous Road. A Molina. 

THE next day I called upon the chief of the state. 
At this time there was no question of presenting creden- 
tials, and I was received by him and all gentlemen 
connected with him without any distrust or suspicion, 
and more as one identified with them in feelings and in- 
terests than as a foreign agent. I had seen more of 
their country than any one present, and spoke of its ex- 
traordinary beauty and fertility, its volcanoes and mount- 
ains, the great canal which might make it known to all 
the civilized world, and its immense resources, if they 
would let the sword rest and be at peace among them- 
selves. Some of the remarks in these pages will per- 
haps be considered harsh, and a poor return for the 
kindness shown to me. My predilections were in fa- 
vour of the Liberal party, as well because they sustain- 
ed the Federation as because they gave me a chance 
for a government ; but I have a warm feeling toward 
many of the leading members of the Central party. If 
I speak harshly, it is of their public and political char- 
acter only ; and if I have given offence, I regret it. 

As I was leaving the Government House a gentleman 
followed me, and asked me who that captain was that 
had accompanied me, adding, what surprised me not a 
little, that the government had advices of his travelling 


up with me from La Union, his intention to join Mora- 
zan's expedition, and his change of purpose in conse- 
quence of meeting Morazan defeated on the road ; that 
as yet he was not molested only because he was stay- 
ing at my house. I was disturbed by this communica- 
tion. I was open to the imputation of taking advan- 
tage of my official character to harbour a partisan. 1 
was the only friend the captain had, and of course de- 
termined to stand by him ; but he was not only an ob- 
ject of suspicion, but actually known ; for much less 
cause men were imprisoned and shot ; in case of any 
outbreak, my house would not be a protection; it was 
best to avoid any excitement, and to have an under- 
standing at once. With this view I returned to the 
chief of the state, and mentioned the circumstances under 
which we had travelled together, with the addition that, 
as to myself, I would* have taken a much more question- 
able companion rather than travel alone ; and as to the 
captain, if he had happened to be thrown ashore on their 
coast, he would very likely have taken a campaign on 
their side ; that he was not on his way to join the expe- 
dition when we met Morazan, and assured him most 
earnestly that now he understood better the other side 
of the question, and I would answer for his keeping 
quiet. Don Rivera Paz, as I felt well assured, was de- 
sirous to allay rather than create excitement in the city, 
received my communication in the best spirit possible, 
and said the captain had better present himself to the 
government. I returned to my house, and found the 
captain alone, already by no means pleased with the 
turn of his fortunes. My communication did not relieve 
him, but he accompanied me to the Government House. 
I could hardly persuade myself that he was the same 
man whose dashing appearance on the road had often 


made the women whisper " muy valiente," and whose 
answer to all intimations of danger was, that a man can 
only die once. To be sure, the soldiers in the corridor 
seemed to intimate that they had found him out ; the 
gentlemen in the room surveyed him from head to foot, 
as if taking notes for an advertisement of his person, 
and their looks appeared to say they would know him 
when they met him again. On horseback and with a 
fair field, the captain would have defied the whole no- 
blesse of Guatimala ; but he was completely cowed, 
spoke only when he was spoken to, and walked out 
with less effrontery than I supposed possible. 

And now I would fain let the reader sit down and 
enjoy himself quietly in Guatimala, but I cannot. The 
place did not admit of it. I could not conceal from 
myself that the Federal Government was broken up ; 
there was not the least prospect of its ever being re- 
stored, nor, for a long time to come, of any other being 
organized in its stead. Under these circumstances I 
did not consider myself justified in remaining any longer 
in the country. I was perfectly useless for all the pur- 
poses of my mission, and made a formal return to the 
authorities of Washington, in effect, " after diligent 
search, no government found." 

I was once more my own master, at liberty to go 
where I pleased, at my own expense, and immediately 
we commenced making arrangements for our journey 
to Palenque. We had no time to lose ; it was a thou- 
sand miles distant, and the rainy season was approach- 
ing, during which part of the road was impassable. 
There was no one in the city who had ever made the 
journey. The archbishop, on his exit from Guatimala 
eight years before, had fled by that road, and since his 
time it had not been travelled by any resident of Gua- 


timala ; but we learned enough to satisfy us that it 
would be less difficult to reach Palenque from New- 
York than from where we were. We had many prep- 
arations to make, and, from the impossibility of getting 
servants upon whom we could rely, were obliged to 
attend to all the details ourselves. The captain was 
uncertain what to do with himself, and talked of going 
with us. The next afternoon, as we were returning to 
the house, we noticed a line of soldiers at the corner of 
the street. As usual, we gave them the sidewalk, and 
in crossing I remarked to the captain that they eyed us 
sharply and spoke to each other. The line extended 
past my door and up to the corner of the next street. 
Supposing that they were searching for General Guz- 
man or other officers of General Morazan who were 
thought to be secreted in the city, and that they would 
not spare my house, I determined to make no difficulty, 
and let them search. We went in, and the porter, with 
great agitation, told us that the soldiers were in pursuit 
of the captain. He had hardly finished when an officer 
entered to summon the captain before the corregidor. 
The captain turned as pale as death. I do not mean 
it as an imputation upon his courage ; any other man 
would have done the same. I was as much alarmed 
as he, and told him that if he said so I would fasten the 
doors ; but he answered it was of no use ; they would 
break them down ; and it was better for him to go with 
the officers. I followed him to the door, telling him 
not to make any confessions, not to commit himself, and 
that I would be with him in a few minutes. I saw 
at once that the affair was out of the hands of the 
chief of the state, and had got before an inferior tribu- 
nal. Mr. Catherwood and Mr. Savage entered in time 
to see the captain moving down the street with his es- 


cort. Mr. S., who had charge of my house during 
my absence, and had hoisted the American flag du- 
ring the attack upon the city, had lived so long in that 
country, and had beheld so many scenes of horror, 
that he was not easily disturbed, and knew exactly 
what to do. He accompanied me to the cabildo, 
where we found the captain sitting bolt upright with- 
in the railing, and the corregidor and his clerk, with 
pen, ink, and paper, and ominous formality, exam- 
ining him. His face brightened at sight of the only 
man in Guatimala who took the le'ast interest in his 
fate. Fortunately, the corregidor was an acquaintance, 
who had been pleased with the interest I took in the 
sword of Alvarado, an interesting relic in his custody, 
and was one of the many whom I found in that coun- 
try proud of showing attentions to a foreign agent. I 
claimed the captain as my travelling companion, said 
that we had a rough journey together, and I did not 
like to lose sight of him. He welcomed me back to 
Guatimala, and appreciated the peril I must have en- 
countered in meeting on the road the tyrant Morazan. 
The captain took advantage of the opportunity to de- 
tach himself, without any compunctions, from such dan- 
gerous fellowship, and we conversed till it was too dark 
to write, when I suggested that, as it was dangerous to 
be out at night, I wished to take the captain home with 
me, and would be responsible for his forthcoming. 
He assented with great courtesy, and told the captain to 
return at nine o'clock the next morning. The captain 
was immensely relieved ; but he had already made up 
his mind that he had come to Guatimala on a trading 
expedition, and to make great use of his gold chains. 

The next day the examination was resumed. The 



captain certainly did not commit himself by any con- 
fessions ; indeed, the revolution in his sentiments was 
mos", extraordinary. The Guatimala air was fatal to 
partialities for Morazan. The examination, by favour 
of the corregidor, was satisfactory ; but the captain was 
advised to leave the city. In case of any excitement 
he would be in danger. Carrera was expected from 
Quezaltenango in a few days, and if he took it up, 
which he was not unlikely to do, it might be a bad 
business. The captain did not need any urging. A 
council was held to determine which way he should go, 
and the road to the port was the only one open. He 
had a horse and one cargo-mule, and wanted another 
for those trunks. I had seven in my yard, and told 
him to take one. On a bright morning he pulled off 
his frockcoat, put on his travelling dress, mounted, and 
set off for Balize. I watched him as he rode down the 
street till he was out of sight. Poor captain, where is 
he now ? The next time I saw him was at my own 
house in New- York. He was taken sick at Balize, and 
got on board a brig bound for Boston, was there at the 
time of my arrival, and came on to see me ; and the 
last that I saw of him, afraid to return across the coun- 
try to get the account sales of his ship, he was about to 
embark for the Isthmus of Panama, cross over, and go 
up the Pacific. I was knocked about myself in that 
country, but I think the captain will not soon forget 
his campaign with Morazan. 

At this time I received a visit from a countryman, 
whom I regretted not to have seen before. It was 
Dr. Weems, of Maryland, who had resided several 
years at the Antigua, and lately returned from a visit 
to the United States, with an appointment as consul. 
He came to consult me in regard to the result ol 


my search for a government, as he was on the track 
with his own credentials. The doctor advised me not 
to undertake the journey to Palenque. In my race 
from Nicaragua I had cheered myself with the idea 
that, on reaching Guatimala, all difficulty was over, 
and that our journey to Palenque would be attended 
only by the hardships of travelling in a country desti- 
tute of accommodations ; but, unfortunately, the hori- 
zon in that direction was lowering. The whole mass 
of the Indian population of Los Altos was in a state 
of excitement, and there were whispers of a general 
rising and massacre of the whites. General Prem, to 
whom I have before referred, and his wife, while trav- 
elling toward Mexico, had been attacked by a band of 
assassins ; he himself was left on the ground for dead, 
and his wife murdered, her fingers cut off, and the 
rings torn from them. Lieutenant Nichols, the aidde- 
camp of Colonel M'Donald, arrived from the Balize 
with a report that Captain Caddy and Mr. Walker, who 
had set out for Palenque by the Balize River, had been 
speared by the Indians ; and there was a rumour of 
some dreadful atrocity committed by Carrera in Quez- 
altenango, and that he was hurrying back from that 
place infuriate, with the intention of bringing all the 
prisoners out into the plaza and shooting them. Every 
friend in Guatimala, and Mr. Chatfield particularly, 
urged us not to undertake the journey. "We felt that 
it was a most inauspicious moment, and almost shrunk ; 
I have no hesitation in saying that it was a matter of 
most serious consideration whether we should not aban- 
don it altogether and go home ; but we had set out with 
the purpose of going to Palenque, and could not return 
without seeing it. 

Among the petty difficulties of fitting ourselves I may 


mention that we wanted four iron chains for trunks, but 
could only get two, for every blacksmith in the place 
was making chains for the prisoners. In a week from 
the time of my arrival everything was ready for our de- 
parture. We provided ourselves with all the facilities 
and safeguards that could be procured. Besides pass- 
ports, the government furnished us special letters of rec- 
ommendation to all the corregidors ; a flattering notice 
appeared in the government paper, El Tiempo, men- 
tioning my travels through the provinces and my intend- 
ed route, and recommending me to hospitality ; and, 
upon the strength of the letter of the Archbishop of Bal- 
timore, the venerable provesor gave me a letter of rec- 
ommendation to all the curas under his charge. But 
these were not enough ; Carrera's name was worth more 
than them all, and we waited two days for his return 
from Quezaltenango. On the sixth of April, early in 
the morning, he entered the city. At about nine o'clock 
I called at his house, and was informed that he was in 
bed, had ridden all night, and would not rise till the af- 
ternoon. The rumour of the atrocity committed at that 
place was confirmed. 

After dinner, in company with Mr. Savage, I made 
my last stroll in the suburbs of the city. I never felt, as 
at that moment, its exceeding beauty of position, and 
for the third time I visited the hospital and cemetery of 
San Juan de Dios. In front was the hospital, a noble 
structure, formerly a convent, supported principally by 
the active charity of Don Mariano Aycinena. In the 
centre of the courtyard was a fine fountain, and beyond 
it the cemetery, which was established at the time of the 
cholera. The entrance was by a broad passage with a 
high wall on each side, intended for the burial of " her- 


tics." There was but one grave, and the stone bore 
Ihe inscription 

Teodoro Ashadl, 

de la Religione Reformada. 

July 19 de 1837. 

At the end of this passage was a deadhouse, in which 
lay, on separate beds, the bodies of two men, both poor, 
one entirely naked, with his legs drawn up, as though 
no friend had been by to straighten them, and the other 
wrapped in matting. On the right of the passage a door 
opened into a square enclosure, in which were vaults 
built above the ground, bearing the names of the weal- 
thy inhabitants of the city. On the left a door opened 
into an enclosure running in the rear of the deadhouse, 
about seven hundred and fifty feet long, and three hun- 
dred wide. The walls were high and thick, and the 
graves were square recesses lengthwise in the wall, 
three tiers deep, each closed up with a flat stone, on 
which the name of the occupant was inscribed. These, 
too, were for the rich. The area was filled with the 
graves of the common people, and in one place was a 
square of new-made earth, under which lay the bodies 
of about four hundred men killed in the attack upon the 
city. The table of land commanded a view of the green 
plain of Guatimala and the volcanoes of the Antigua. 
Beautiful flowers were blooming over the graves, and a 
voice seemed to say, 

" Oh do not pluck these flowers, 
They're sacred to the dead." 

A bier approached with the body of a woman, which 
was buried without any coffin. Near by was a line of 
new-made graves waiting for tenants. They were dug 
through skeletons, and sculls and bones lay in heaps be- 
side them. I rolled three sculls together with my foot 



It was a gloomy leave-taking of Guatimala. The earth 
slipped under my feet and I fell backward, but saved 
myself by stepping across a new-made grave. I verily 
believe that if I had fallen into it, I should have been 
superstitious, and afraid to set out on my journey. 

I have mentioned that there were rumours in the 
city of some horrible outrage committed by Carrera 
at Quezaltenango. He had set out from Guatimala 
in pursuit of Morazan. Near the Antigua he met one 
of his own soldiers from Quezaltenango, who report- 
ed that there had been a rising in that town, and the 
garrison were compelled to lay down their arms. En- 
raged at this intelligence, he abandoned his pursuit of 
Morazan, and, without even advising the government 
of his change of plan, marched to Quezaltenango, and 
among other minor outrages seized eighteen- of the 
municipality, the first men of the state, and without 
the slightest form of trial shot them in the plaza; 
and, to heighten the gloom which this news cast over 
the city, a rumour preceded him that, immediately on 
his arrival, he intended to order out all the prisoners 
and shoot them also. At this time the repressed ex- 
citement in the city was fearful. An immense relief 
was experienced on the repulse of Morazan, but there 
had been no rejoicing ; and again the sword seemed 
suspended by a single hair. 

And here I would remark, as at a place where it has 
no immediate connexion with what precedes or what 
follows, and, consequently, where no application of it 
can be made, that some matters of deep personal inter- 
est, which illustrate, more than volumes, the dreadful 
state of the country, I am obliged to withhold altogeth- 
er, lest, perchance, these pages should find their way 
to Guatimala and compromise individuals. In my long 


journey I had had intercourse with men of all parties, 
and was spoken to freely, and sometimes confidentially. 
Heretofore, in all the wars and revolutions the whites 
had the controlling influence, but at this time the In- 
dians were the dominant power. Roused from the 
sloth of ages, and with muskets in their hands, their 
gentleness was changed into ferocity ; and even among 
the adherents of the Carrera party there was a fearful 
apprehension of a war of castes, and a strong desire, on 
the part of those who could get away, to leave the coun- 
try. I was consulted by men having houses and large 
landed estates, but who could only command two or 
three thousand dollars in money, as to their ability to 
live on that sum in the United States ; and individuals 
holding high offices under the Central party told me 
that they had their passports from Mexico, and were 
ready at any moment to fly. There seemed ground for 
the apprehension that the hour of retributive justice was 
nigh, and that a spirit was awakened among the Indians 
to make a bloody offering to the spirits of their fathers, 
and recover their inheritance. Carrera was the pivot 
on which this turned. He was talked of as El rey de 
los Indies, the King of the Indians. He had relieved 
them from all taxes, and, as they said, supported his 
army by levying contributions upon the whites. His 
power by a word to cause the massacre of every white 
inhabitant, no one doubted. Their security was, as I 
conceived, that, in the constant action of his short 
career, he had not had time to form any plans for ex- 
tended dominion, and knew nothing of the immense 
country from Texas to Cape Horn, occupied by a race 
sympathizing in hostility to the whites. He was a fa- 
natic, and, to a certain extent, under the dominion of 
the priests; and his own acuteness told him that he 


was more powerful with the Indians themselves v-iiilc 
supported by the priests and the aristocracy than at 
the head of the Indians only ; but all knew that, in the 
moment of passion, he forgot entirely the little of plan 
or policy that ever governed him ; and when he return- 
ed from Quezaltenango, his hands red with blood, and 
preceded by the fearful rumour that he intended to 
bring out two or three hundred prisoners and shoot 
them, the citizens of Guatimala felt that they stood 
on the brink of a fearful gulf. A leading member of 
the government, whom I wished to call with me upon 
him and ask him for his passport, declined doing so, 
lest, as he said, Carrera should think the government 
was trying to lead him. Others paid him formal visits 
of ceremony and congratulation upon his return, and 
compared notes with each other as to the manner in 
which they were re'ceived. Carrera made no report, 
official or verbal, of what he had done ; and though all 
were full of it, no one of them dared ask him any ques- 
tions, or refer to it. They will perhaps pronounce me 
a calumniator, but even at the hazard of wounding 
their feelings, I cannot withhold what I believe to be 
a true picture of the state of the country as it was at 
that time. 

Unable to induce any of the persons I wished to call 
with me upon Carrera ; afraid, after such a long interval 
and such exciting scenes as he had been engaged in, 
that he might not recognise me, and feeling that it was 
all important not to fail in my application to him, I re- 
membered that in my first interview he had spoken 
warmly of a doctor who had extracted a ball from his 
side. This doctor I did not know, but I called upon 
him, and asked him to accompany me, to which, with 
great civility, he immediately assented. 


It was under these circumstances that I made my 
last visit to Carrera. He had removed into a much 
larger house, and his guard was more regular and for- 
mal. When I entered he was standing behind a table 
on one side of the room, with his wife, and Rivera Paz, 
and one or two others, examining some large Costa 
Rica chains, and at the moment he had one in his hands 
which had formed part of the contents of those trunks of 
my friend the captain, and which had often adorned his 
neck. I think it would have given the captain a spasm 
if he had known that anything once around his neck 
was between Carrera's fingers. His wife was a pretty, 
delicate-looking Mestitzo, not more than twenty, and 
seemed to have a woman's fondness for chains and 
gold. Carrera himself looked at them with indiffer- 
ence. My idea at the time was, that these jewels 
were sent in by the government as a present to his 
wife, and through her to propitiate him, but perhaps 
I was wrong. The face of Rivera Paz seemed anx- 
ious. Carrera had passed through so many terrible 
scenes since I saw him, that I feared he had forgotten 
me ; but he recognised me in a moment, and made room 
for me behind the table next to himself. His military 
coat lay on the table, and he wore the same roundabout 
jacket, his face had the same youthfulness, quickness, 
and intelligence, his voice and manners the same gen- 
tleness and seriousness, and he had again been wound- 
ed. I regretted to meet Rivera Paz there, for I thought 
it must be mortifying to him, as the head of the govern- 
ment, to see that his passport was not considered a pro- 
tection without Carrera's endorsement ; but I couid not 
stand upon ceremony, and took advantage of Carrera's 
leaving the table to say to him that I was setting out on 
a dangerous road, and considered it indispensable to for- 



tify myself with all the security I could get. When 
Carrera returned I told him my purpose ; that I had 
waited only for his return ; showed him the passport 
of the government, and asked him to put his stamp 
upon it. Carrera had no delicacy in the matter ; and 
taking the passport out of my hand, threw it on the ta- 
ble, saying he would make me out a new one, and 
sign it himself. This was more than I expected ; but 
in a quiet way telling me to " be seated," he sent his 
wife into another room for the secretary, and told him 
to make out a passport for the " Consul of the North." 
He had an indefinite idea that I was a great man in 
ray own country, but he had a very indefinite idea as 
to- where my country was. I was not particular about 
my title so that it was big enough, but the North was 
rather a broad range, and to prevent mistakes I gave 
the secretary the other passport. He took it into an- 
other room, and Carrera sat down at the table beside 
me. He had heard of rny having met Morazan on his 
retreat, and inquired about him, though less anxiously 
than others,, but he spoke more to the purpose ; said 
that he was making preparations, and in a week he in- 
tended to march upon San Salvador with three thou- 
sand men, adding that if he had had cannon he would 
have driven Morazan from the plaza very soon. I asked 
him whether it was true that he and Morazan met per- 
sonally on the heights of Calvary, and he said that they 
did ; that it was toward the last of the battle r when the 
latter was retreating. One of Morazan's dismounted 
troopers tore off his holsters ; Morazan fired a pistol at 
him, and he struck at Morazan with his sword, and cut 
his saddle. Morazan, he said^ had very handsome pis- 
tols ; and it struck me that he thought if he had kil- 
led Morazan he would have got the pistols. I could 

C A R R E R A. 139 

not but think of the strange positions into which I 
was thrown : shaking hands and sitting side by side 
with men who were thirsting for each other's blood, 
well received by all, hearing what they said of each 
other, and in many cases their plans and purposes, as 
unreservedly as if I was a travelling member of both 
cabinets. In a few minutes the secretary called him, 
and he went out and brought back the passport himself, 
signed with his own hand, the ink still wet. It had 
taken him longer than it would have done to cut off a 
head, and he seemed more proud of it. Indeed, it was 
the only occasion in which I saw in him the slightest 
elevation of feeling. I made a comment upon the ex- 
cellence of the handwriting, and with his good wishes 
for my safe arrival in the North and speedy return to 
Guatimala,! took my leave. Now I do not believe, if 
he knew what I say of him, that he would give me a 
very cordial welcome ; but I believe him honest, and if 
he knew how, and could curb his passions, he would do 
more good for Central America than any other man 
in it. 

I was now fortified with the best security we could 
have for our journey. We passed the evening in wri- 
ting letters and packing up things to be sent home 
(among which was my diplomatic coat), and on the sev- 
enth of April we rose to set out. The first movement 
was to take down our beds. Every man in that coun- 
try has a small cot called a cartaret, made to double 
with a hinge, which may be taken down and wrap- 
ped up, with pillows and bedclothes, in an oxhide, 
to carry on a journey. Our great object was to trav- 
el lightly. Every additional mule and servant gave 
additional trouble, but we could not do with less than a 
cargo-mule apiece. Each of us had two petacas, trunks 


made of oxhide lined with thin straw matting, having a 
top like that of a box, secured by a clumsy iron chain with 
large padlocks, containing, besides other things, a ham- 
mock, blanket, one pair of sheets, and pillow, which, 
with alforgas of provisions, made one load apiece. 
We carried one cartaret, in case of sickness. We had 
one spare cargo-mule ; the gray mule with which I had 
ascended the Volcano of Cartago and my macho for Mr. 
Catherwood and myself, and a horse for relief, in all six 
animals ; and two mozos, or men of all work, untried. 
While in the act of mounting, Don Saturnine Tinoca, 
my companion from Zonzonate, rode into the yard, to 
accompany us two days on our journey. We bade 
farewell to Mr. Savage, my first, last, and best friend, 
and in a few minutes, with a mingled feeling of regret 
and satisfaction, left for the last time the barrier of Gua- 

Don Saturnine was most welcome to our party. His 
purpose was to visit two brothers of his wife, curas, 
whom he had never seen, and who lived at Santiago 
Atitan, two or three days' journey distant. His father 
was the last governor of Nicaragua under the royal rule, 
with a large estate, which was confiscated at the time 
of the revolution ; he still had a large hacienda there, 
had brought up a stock of mules to sell at San Salvador, 
and intended to lay out the proceeds in goods in Gua- 
timala. He was about forty, tall, and as thin as a man 
could be to have activity and vigour, wore a round- 
about jacket and trousers of dark olive cloth, large pis- 
tols in his holsters, and a long sword with a leather 
scabbard, worn at the point, leaving about an inch of 
steel naked. He sat his mule as stiff as if he had swal- 
lowed his own sword, holding the reins in his right 
hand, with his left arm crooked from the elbow, stand- 


ing out like a pump-handle, the hand dropping from the 
wrist, and shaking with the movement of the mule, 
He rode on a Mexican saddle plated with silver, and 
carried behind a pair of alforgas with bread and cheese, 
and atole, a composition of pounded parched corn, 
cocoa, and sugar, which, mixed with water, was al- 
most his living. His mozo was as fat as he was 
lean, and wore a bell-crowned straw hat, cotton shirt, 
and drawers reaching down to his knees. Excepting 
that instead of Rosinante and the ass the master rode a 
mule and the servant went afoot, they were a genuine 
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the former of which 
appellations, very early in our acquaintance, we gave 
to Don Saturnine. 

We set out for Quezaltenango, but intended to turn 
aside and visit ruins, and that day we went three leagues 
out of our road to say farewell to our friend Padre Al- 
cantra al Ciudad Vieja. 

At five o'clock in the afternoon we reached the con- 
vent, where I had the pleasure of meeting again Padre 
Alcantra, Senor Vidaury, and Don Pepe, the same 
party with whom I had passed the day with so much 
satisfaction before. Mr. Catherwood had in the mean 
time passed a month at the convent. Padre Alcantra 
had fled at the approach of the tyrant Morazan ; Don 
Pepe had had a shot at him as he was retreating from 
the Antigua, and the padre had a musket left at night 
by a flying soldier against the wall of the convent. 

The morning opened with troubles. The gray mule 
was sick. Don Saturnine bled her on both sides of her 
neck, but the poor animal was not in a condition to be 
ridden. Shortly afterward Mr. Catherwood had one of 
the mozos by the throat, but Padre Alcantra patched up 
a peace. Don Saturnine said that the gray mule would 


be better for exercise, and for the last time we bade 
farewell to our kind host. 

Don PepS escorted us, and crossing the plain of El 
Vieja in the direction in which Alvarado entered it, 
we ascended a high hill, and, turning the summit, 
through a narrow opening looked down upon a beau- 
tiful plain, cultivated like a garden, which opened to 
the left as we advanced, and ran off to the Lake of 
Duenos, between the two great volcanoes of Fire and 
Water. Descending to the plain, we entered the vil- 
lage of San Antonio, occupied entirely by Indians. 
The cura's house stood on an open plaza, with a fine 
fountain in front, and the huts of the Indians were built 
with stalks of sugarcane. Early in the occupation of 
Guatimala, the lands around the capital were parti- 
tioned out among certain canonigos, and Indians were 
allotted to cultivate them. Each village was called by 
the canonigo's own name. A church was built, and a 
fine house for himself, and by judicious management 
the Indians became settled and the artisans for the cap- 
ital. In the stillness and quiet of the village, it seemed 
as if the mountains and volcanoes around had shielded 
it from the devastation and alarm of war. Passing 
through it, on the other side of the plain we com- 
menced ascending a mountain. About half way up, 
looking back over the village and plain, we saw a sin- 
gle white line over the mountain we had crossed to the 
Ciudad Vieja, and the range of the eye embraced the 
plain and lake at our feet, the great plain of Escuintla, 
the two volcanoes of Agua and Fuego, extending to 
the Pacific Ocean. The road was very steep, and our 
mules laboured. On the other side of the mountain the 
road lay for some distance between shrubs and small 
trees, emerging from which we saw an immense plain, 


broken by the track of the direct road from Guatimala, 
and afar off the spires of the town of Chimaltenango. 
At the foot of the mountain we reached the village of 
Paramos. We had been three hours and a half making 
six miles. Don Pepe summoned the alcalde, showed 
him Carrera's passport, and demanded a guide to the 
next village. The alcalde called hisalguazils, and 
in a very few minutes a guide was ready. Don Pepe 
told us that he left us in Europa, and with many 
thanks we bade him farewell. 

We were now entering upon a region of country which, 
at the time of the conquest, was the most populous, the 
most civilized, and best cultivated in Guatimala. The 
people who occupied it were the descendants of those 
found there by Alvarado, and perhaps four fifths were In- 
dians of untainted blood. For three centuries they had 
submitted quietly to the dominion of the whites, but the 
rising of Carrera had waked them up to a recollection of 
their fathers, and it was rumoured that their eyes rolled 
strangely upon the white men as the enemies of their 
race. For the first time we saw fields of wheat and 
peach-trees. The country was poetically called Euro- 
pa ; and though the Volcano de Agua still reared in full 
sight its stupendous head, it resembled the finest part of 
England on a magnificent scale. 

But it was not like travelling in England. The 
young man with whose throat Mr. Catherwood had 
been so familiar loitered behind with the sick mule and 
a gun. He had started from Ciudad Vieja with a 
drawn knife in his hand, the blade about a foot and a 
half long, and we made up our minds to get rid of him ; 
but we feared that he had anticipated us, and had gone 
off with the mule and gun. We waited till he came up, 
relieved him from the gun, and made him go forward, 


while we drove the mule. At the distance of two 
leagues we reached the Indian village of San Andres 
Isapa. Don Saturnino flourished Carrera's passport, in- 
troduced me as El Ministro de Nueva-York, demanded 
a guide, and in a few minutes an alguazil was trotting 
before us for the next village. At this village, on the 
same requisition, the alcalde ran out to look for an al- 
guazil, but could not find one immediately, and ven- 
tured to beg Don Saturnino to wait a moment. Don 
Saturnino told him he must go himself ; Carrera would 
cut off his head if he did not ; " the minister of New- 
York" could not be kept waiting. Don Saturnino, like 
many others of my friends in that country, had no very 
definite notions in regard to titles or places. A man 
happened to be passing, whom the alcalde pressed into 
service, and he trotted on before with the halter of the 
led horse. Don Saturnino hurried him along ; as we 
approached the next village Carrera's soldiers were in 
sight, returning on the direct road to Guatimala, fresh 
from the slaughter at Quezaltenango. Don Saturnino 
told the guide that he must avoid the plaza and go on 
to the next village. The guide begged, and Don Sat- 
urnino rode up, drew his sword, and threatened to cut 
his head off. The poor fellow trotted on, with his eye 
fixed on the uplifted sword ; and when Don Saturnino 
turned to me with an Uncle Toby expression of face, 
he threw down the halter, leaped over a hedge fence, 
and ran toward the town. Don Saturnino, not discon- 
certed, caught up the halter, and, spurring his mule, 
pushed on. The road lay on a magnificent table-land, 
in some places having trees on each side for a great 
distance. Beyond this we had a heavy rain-storm, 
and late in the afternoon reached the brink of an im- 
mense precipice, in which, at a great distance, we 

A MOLINA. 145 

saw the molina or wheat-mill, looking like a New- 
England factory. The descent was very steep and 
muddy, winding in places close along the precipitous 
side of the ravine. Great care was necessary with the 
mules ; their tendency was to descend sidewise, which 
was very dangerous ; but in the steepest places, by 
keeping their heads straight, they would slip in the mud 
several paces, bracing their feet and without falling. 

At dark, wet and muddy, and in the midst of a 
heavy rain, we reached the molina. The major-domo 
was a Costa Rican, a countryman of Don Saturnino, 
and, fortunately, we had a room to ourselves, though it 
was damp and chilly. Here we learned that Tecpan 
Guatimala, one of the ruined cities we wished to visit, 
was but three leagues distant, and the major-domo of- 
fered to go with us in the morning. 

VOL. II. T 13 



..ourney continued. Barrancas. Tecpan Guatimala. A noble Church. A sa- 
cred Stone. The ancient City. Description of the Ruins. A Molina. Anoth- 
er Earthquake Patzum. A Ravine. Fortifications. Los Altos. Godines. 
Losing a good Friend. Magnificent Scenery. San Antonio. Lake of Ati- 

IN the morning the major-domo furnished us with fine 
horses, and we started early. Almost immediately we 
commenced ascending the other side of the ravine 
which we had descended the night before, and on the top 
entered on a continuation of the same beautiful and ex- 
tensive table-land. On one side, for some distance, were 
high hedge fences,' in which aloes were growing, and in 
one place were four in full bloom. In an hour we arri- 
ved at Patzum, a large Indian village. Here we turned 
off to the right from the high road to Mexico by a sort of 
by-path ; but the country was beautiful, and in parts 
well cultivated. The morning was bracing, and the 
climate like our own in October. The immense table- 
land was elevated some five or six thousand feet, but 
none of these heights have ever been taken. We pass- 
ed on the right two mounds, such as are seen all over 
our own country, and on the left an immense barranca. 
The table was level to the very edge, where the earth 
seemed to have broken off and sunk, and we looked 
down into a frightful abyss two or three thousand feet 
deep. Gigantic trees at the bottom of the immense 
cavity looked like shrubs. At some distance beyond 
we passed a second of these immense barrancas, and in 
an hour and a half reached the Indian village of Tec- 


pan Guatimala. For some distance before reaching it 
the road was shaded by trees and shrubs, among which 
were aloes thirty feet high. The long street by which 
we entered was paved with stones from the ruins of the 
old city, and filled with drunken Indians ; and rushing 
across it was one with his arms around a woman's neck. 
At the head of this street was a fine plaza, with a large 
cabildo, and twenty or thirty Indian alguazils under the 
corridor, with wands of office in their hands, silent, in 
full suits of blue cloth, the trousers open at the knees, 
and cloak with a hood like the Arab burnouse. Ad- 
joining this was the large courtyard of the church, 
paved with stone, and the church itself was one of the 
most magnificent in the country. It was the second 
built after the conquest. The facade was two hundred 
feet, very lofty, with turrets and spires gorgeously or- 
namented with stuccoed figures, and a high platform, on 
which were Indians, the first we had seen in picturesque 
costume ; and with the widely-extended view of the 
country around, it was a scene of wild magnificence in 
nature and in art. We stopped involuntarily; and 
while the Indians, in mute astonishment, gazed at us, we 
were lost in surprise and admiration. As usual, Don 
Saturnino was the pioneer, and we rode up to the house 
of the padre, where we were shown into a small room, 
with the window closed and a ray of light admitted 
from the door, in which the padre was dozing in a 
large chair. Before he had fairly opened his eyes, Don 
Saturnino told him that we had come to visit the ruins 
of the old city, and wanted a guide, and thrust into his 
hands Carrera's passport and the letter of the provesor. 
The padre was old, fat, rich, and infirm, had been thirty- 
five years cura of Tecpan Guatimala, and was not used 
to doing things in a hurry ; but our friend, knowing the 


particular objects of our visit, with great earnestness and 
haste told the padre that the minister of New- York 
had heard in his country of a remarkable stone, and the 
provesor and Carrera were anxious for him to see it. 
The padre said that it was in the church, and lay on 
the top of the grand altar ; the cup of the sacrament 
stood upon it ; it was covered up, and very sacred ; he 
had never seen it, and he was evidently unwilling to 
let us see it, but said he would endeavour to do so 
when we returned from the ruins. He sent for a guide, 
and we went out to the courtyard of the church ; and 
while Mr. Catherwood was attempting a sketch, I walk- 
ed up the steps. The interior was lofty, spacious, rich- 
ly ornamented with stuccoed figures and paintings, dark 
and solemn, and in the distance was the grand altar, 
with long wax candles burning upon it, and Indians 
kneeling before it. At the door a man stopped me, and 
said that I must not enter with sword and spurs, and 
even that I must take off my boots. I would have 
done so, but saw that the Indians did not like a stran- 
ger going into their church. They were evidently en- 
tirely unaccustomed to the sight of strangers, and Mr. 
Catherwood was so annoyed by their gathering round 
him that he gave up his drawing ; and fearing it would 
be worse on our return, I told Don Saturnino that we 
must make an effort to see the stone now. Don Satur- 
nino had a great respect for the priests and the Church. 
He was not a fanatic, but he thought a powerful reli- 
gious influence good for the Indians. Nevertheless, he 
said we ought to see it ; and we went back in a body 
to the padre, and Don Saturnino told him that we were 
anxious to see the stone now, to prevent delay on our 
return. The good padre's heavy body was troubled. 
He asked for the provesor's letter again, read it over, 


went out on the corridor and consulted with a brother 
about as old and round as himself, and at length told us 
to wait in that room and he would bring it. As he went 
out he ordered all the Indians in the courtyard, about 
forty or fifty, to go to the cabildo and tell the alcalde to 
send the guide. In a few minutes he returned, and 
opening with some trepidation the folds of his large 
gown, produced the stone. 

Fuentes, in speaking of the old city, says, " To the 
westward of the city there is a little mount that com- 
mands it, on which stands a small round building about 
six feet in height, in the middle of which there is a ped- 
estal formed of a shining substance resembling glass, 
but the precise quality of which has not been ascertain- 
ed. Seated around this building, the judges heard and 
decided the causes brought before them, and their sen- 
tences were executed upon the spot. Previous to exe- 
cuting them, however, it was necessary to have them 
confirmed by the oracle, for which purpose three of 
the judges left their seats and proceeded to a deep ra- 
vine, where there was a place of worship containing a 
black transparent stone, on the surface of which the 
Deity was supposed to indicate the fate of the criminal. 
If the decision was approved, the sentence was execu- 
ted immediately ; if nothing appeared on the stone, the 
accused was set at liberty. This oracle was also con- 
sulted in the affairs of war. The Bishop Francisco 
Marroquin having obtained intelligence of this slab, 
ordered it to be cut square, and consecrated it for the 
top of the grand altar in the Church of Tecpan Guati- 
mala. It is a stone of singular beauty, about a yard 
and a half each way." The " Modern Traveller" re- 
fers to it as an " interesting specimen of ancient art ;" 
and in 1825 concludes, " we may hope, before long, to 


receive some more distinct account of this oracular 

The world meaning thereby the two classes into 
which an author once divided it, of subscribers and 
non-subscribers to his work the world that reads these 
pages is indebted to Don Saturnino for some additional 
information. The stone was sewed up in a piece of 
cotton cloth drawn tight, which looked certainly as old as 
the thirty-five years it had been under the cura's charge, 
and probably was the same covering in which it was 
enveloped when first laid on the top of the altar. One 
or two stitches were cut in the middle, and this was 
perhaps all we should have seen ; but Don Saturnino, 
with a hurried jargon of " strange, curious, sacred, in- 
comprehensible, the provesor's letter, minister of New- 
York," &c., whipped out his penknife, and the good 
old padre, heavy with agitation and his own weight, 
sunk into his chair, still holding on with both hands. 
Don Saturnino ripped till he almost cut the good old 
man's fingers, slipped out the sacred tablet, and left the 
sack in the padre's hands. The padre sat a picture of 
self-abandonment, helplessness, distress, and self-re- 
proach. We moved toward the light, and Don Satur- 
nino, with a twinkle of his eyes and a ludicrous earnest- 
ness, consummated the padre's fear and horror by 
scratching the sacred stone with his knife. This orac- 
ular slab is a piece of common slate, fourteen inches by 
ten, and about as thick as those used by boys at school, 
without characters of any kind upon it. With a strong 
predilection for the marvellous, and scratching it most 
irreverently, we could make nothing more out of it. Don 
Saturnino handed it back to the padre, and told him 
that he had better sew it up and put it back ; and prob- 
ably it is now in its place on the top of the grand altar, 


with the sacramental cup upon it, an object of venera- 
tion to the fanatic Indians. 

But the agitation of the padre destroyed whatever 
there was of comic in the scene. Recovering from the 
shock, he told us not to go back through the town ; that 
there was a road direct to the old city ; and concealing 
the tablet under his gown, he walked out with a firm 
step, and in a strong, unbroken voice, rapidly, in their 
own unintelligible dialect, called to the Indians to bring 
up our horses, and directed the guide to put us in the 
road which led direct to the molina. He feared that the 
Indians might discover our sacrilegious act ; and as we 
looked in their stupid faces, we were well satisfied to 
get away before any such discovery was made, rejoicing 
more than the padre that we could get back to the mo- 
lina without returning through the town. 

We had but to mount and ride. At the distance of 
a mile and a half we reached the bank of an immense 
ravine. We descended it, Don Saturnine leading the 
way ; and at the foot, on the other side, he stopped at 
a narrow passage, barely wide enough for the mule to 
pass. This was the entrance to the old city. It was 
a winding passage cut in the side of the ravine, twenty 
or thirty feet deep, and not wide enough for two horse- 
men to ride abreast ; and this continued to the high table 
of land on which stood the ancient city of Patinamit. 

This city flourished with the once powerful kingdom 
of the Kachiquel Indians. Its name, in their language, 
means " the city." It was also called Tecpan Guati- 
mala, which, according to Vasques, means " the Royal 
House of Guatimala," and he infers that it was the cap- 
ital of the Kachiquel kings ; but Fuentes supposes that 
Tecpan Guatimala was the arsenal of the kingdom, and 
not the royal residence, which honour belonged to Gua- 


timala, and that the former was so called from its situa- 
tion on an eminence with respect to the latter, the word 
Tecpan meaning " above." 

According to Fuentes, Patinamit was seated on an 
eminence, and surrounded by a deep defile or natural 
fosse, the perpendicular height of which, from the level 
of the city, was more than one hundred fathoms. The 
only entrance was by a narrow causeway terminated 
by two gates, constructed of the chay stone, one on the 
exterior and the other on the interior wall of the city. 
The plane of this eminence extends about three miles 
in length from north to south, and about two in breadth 
from east to west. The soil is covered with a stiff clay 
about three quarters of a yard deep. On one side of 
the area are the remains of a magnificent building, per- 
fectly square, each side measuring one hundred paces, 
constructed of hewn stones extremely well put together ; 
in front of the building is a large square, on one side of 
which stand the ruins of a sumptuous palace, and near 
to it are the foundations of several houses. A trench 
three yards deep runs from north to south through the 
eity, having a breastwork of masonry rising about a 
yard high. On the eastern side of this trench stood the 
houses of the nobles, and on the opposite side the houses 
of the maseguales or commoners. The streets were, as 
may still be seen, straight and spacious, crossing each 
other at right angles. 

When we rose upon the table, for some distance it 
bore no marks of ever having been a city. Very soon 
we came upon an Indian burning down trees and pre- 
paring a piece of ground for planting corn. Don Sat- 
urnino asked him to go with us and show us the ruins, 
but he refused. Soon after we reached a hut, outside 
of which a woman was washing. We asked her to ac- 


company us, but she ran into the hut. Beyond this we 
reached a wall of stones, but broken and confused. We 
tied our horses in the shade of trees, and commenced ex- 
ploring on foot. The ground was covered with mounds 
of ruins. In one place we saw the foundations of two 
houses, one of them about a hundred feet long by fifty 
feet broad. It was one hundred and forty years since 
Fuentes published the account of his visit ; during that 
time the Indians had carried away on their backs stones 
to build up the modern village of Tecpan Guatimala, 
and the hand of ruin had been busily at work. We in- 
quired particularly for sculptured figures ; our guide 
knew of two, and after considerable search brought us 
to them. They were lying on the ground, about three 
feet long, so worn that we could not make them out, 
though on one the eyes and nose of an animal were 
distinguishable. The position commanded an almost 
boundless view, and it is surrounded by an immense ra- 
vine, which warrants the description given of it by Fu- 
entes. In some places it was frightful to look down 
into its depths. On every side it was inaccessible, and 
the only way of reaching it was by the narrow passage 
through which we entered, its desolation and ruin add- 
ing another page to the burdened record of human con- 
tentions, and proving that, as in the world whose his- 
tory we know, so in this of whose history we are igno- 
rant, man's hand has been against his fellow. The sol- 
itary Indian hut is all that now occupies the site of the 
ancient city ; but on Good Friday of every year a sol- 
emn procession of the whole Indian population is made 
to it from the village of Tecpan Guatimala, and, as our 
guide told us, on that day bells are heard sounding un- 
der the earth. 

. Descending by the same narrow passage, we trav- 
VOL. II.U ' 


ersed the ravine and ascended on the other side. Our 
guide put us into the road that avoided the town, and 
we set off on a gallop. 

Don Saturnine possessed the extremes of good tem- 
per, simplicity, uprightness, intelligence, and perseve- 
rance. Ever since I fell in with him he had been most 
useful, but this day he surpassed himself; and he was 
so well satisfied with us as to declare that if it were not 
for his wife in Costa Rica, he would bear us company to 
Palenque. He had an engagement in Guatemala on a 
particular day ; every day that he lost with us was so 
much deducted from his visit to his relatives ; and at 
his earnest request we had consented to pass a day with 
them, though a little out of our road. We reached the 
molina in time to walk over the mill. On the side of the 
hill above was a large building to receive grain, and be- 
low it an immense reservoir for water in the dry season, 
but which did not answer the purpose intended. The 
mill had seven sets of grindstones, and working night 
and day, ground from seventy to ninety negases of wheat 
in the twenty-four hours, each negas being six arobas of 
twenty-five pounds. The Indians bring the wheat, and 
each one takes a stone and does his own grinding, pay- 
ing a rial, twelve and a half cents, per negas for the 
use of the mill. Flour is worth about from three dol- 
lars and a half to four dollars the barrel. 

Don Saturnino was one of the best men that ever lived, 
but in undress there was a lankness about him that was 
ludicrous. In the evening, as he sat on the bed with his 
thin arms wound around his thin legs, and we reproved 
him for his sacrilegious act in cutting open the cotton 
cloth, his little eyes twinkled, and Mr. C. and I laughed 
as we had not before laughed in Central America. 

But in that country one extreme followed close upon 


another. At midnight we were roused from sleep by 
that movement which, once felt, can never be mistaken. 
The building rocked, our men in the corridor cried out 
" temblor," and Mr. C. and I at the same moment ex- 
claimed " an earthquake !" Our cartarets stood trans- 
versely. By the undulating movement of the earth he 
was rolled from side to side, and I from head to foot. 
The sinking of my head induced an awful faintness of 
heart. I sprang upon my feet and rushed to the door. 
In a moment the earth was still. We sat on the sides 
of the bed, compared movements and sensations, lay 
down again, and slept till morning. 

Early in the morning we resumed our journey. Un- 
fortunately, the gray mule was no better. Perhaps she 
would recover in a few days, but we had no time to wait. 
My first mule, too, purchased as the price of seeing Don 
Clementino's sister, which had been a most faithful an- 
imal, was drooping. Don Saturnine offered me his 
own, a strong, hardy animal, in exchange for the latter, 
and the former I left behind, to be sent back and turned 
out on the pasture-grounds of Padre Alcantra. There 
were few trials greater in that country than that of 
being obliged to leave on the road these tried and faith- 
ful companions. 

To Patzum our road was the same as the day before. 
Before reaching it we had difficulty with the luggage, 
and left at a hut on the road our only cartaret. Leav- 
ing Patzum on the left, our road lay on the high, level 
table of land, and at ten o'clock we came to the brink 
of a ravine three thousand feet deep, saw an immense 
abyss at our feet, and opposite, the high, precipitous 
wall of the ravine. Our road lay across it. At the 
very commencement the descent was steep. As we ad- 
vanced the path wound fearfully along the edge of the 


precipice, and we met a caravan of mules at a narrow 
place, where there was no room to turn out, and we 
were obliged to go back, taking care to give them the 
outside. All the way down we were meeting them ; 
perhaps more than five hundred passed us, loaded with 
wheat for the mills and cloths for Guatimala. In meet- 
ing so many mules loaded with merchandise, we lost 
the vague and indefinite apprehensions with which we 
had set out on this road. We were kept back by them 
more than half an hour, and with great labour reached 
the bottom of the ravine. A stream ran through it ; for 
some distance our road lay in the stream, and we cross- 
ed it thirty or forty times. The sides of the ravine were 
of an immense height. In one place we rode along a 
perpendicular wall of limestone rock smoking with 
spontaneous combustion. 

At twelve o'clock we commenced ascending the 
opposite side. About half way up we met another 
caravan of mules, with heavy boxes on their sides, 
tumbling down the steep descent. They came upon 
us so suddenly that our cargo-mules got entangled 
among them, turned around, and were hurried down 
the mountain. Our men got them disengaged, and 
we drew up against the side. As we ascended, to- 
ward the summit, far above us, were rude fortifica- 
tions, commanding the road up which we were toiling. 
This was the frontier post of Los Altos, and the posi- 
tion taken by General Guzman to repel the invasion 
of Carrera. It seemed certain death for any body of 
men to advance against it ; but Carrera sent a detach- 
ment of Indians, who clambered up the ravine at an- 
other place, and attacked it in the rear. The fortifica- 
tions were pulled down and burned, the boundary lines 
demolished, and Los Altos annexed to Guatimala. Here 


we met an Indian, who confirmed what the muleteers 
had told us, that the road to Santiago Atitan, the place 
of residence of Don Saturnino's relatives, was five 
leagues, and exceedingly bad, and, in order to save 
our luggage-mules, we resolved to leave them at the 
village of Godines, about a mile farther on. The vil- 
lage consisted of but three or four huts, entirely deso- 
late ; there was not a person in sight. We were afraid 
to trust our mozos alone ; they might be robbed, or 
they might rob us themselves ; besides, they had no- 
thing to eat. We were about at the head of the Lake 
of Atitan. It was impossible, with the cargo-mules, to 
reach Santiago Atitan that day ; it lay on the left bor- 
der of the lake ; our road was on the right, and it 
was agreed for Don Saturnine to go on alone, and for 
us to continue on our direct road to Panachahel, a vil- 
lage on the right border opposite Atitan, and cross the 
lake to pay our visit to him. We were advised that 
there were canoes for this purpose, and bade fare- 
well to Don Saturnino with the confident expectation 
of seeing him again the next day at the house of his 
relatives ; but we never met again. 

At two o'clock we came out upon the lofty table of 
land bordering the Lake of Atitan. In general I have 
forborne attempting to give any idea of the magnificent 
scenery amid which we were travelling, but here for- 
bearance would be a sin. From a height of three or 
four thousand feet we looked down upon a surface shi- 
ning like a sheet of molten silver, enclosed by rocks 
and mountains of every form, some barren, and some 
covered with verdure, rising from five hundred to five 
thousand feet in height. Opposite, down on the borders 
of the lake, and apparently inaccessible by land, was the 
town of Santiago Atitan, to which our friend was wend- 



ing his way, situated between two immense volcanoes 
eight or ten thousand feet high. Farther on was an- 
other volcano, and farther still another, more lofty than 
all, with its summit buried in clouds. There were no 
associations connected with this lake ; until lately we 
did not know it even by name ; but we both agreed 
that it was the most magnificent spectacle we ever saw. 
We stopped and watched the fleecy clouds of vapour 
rising from the bottom, moving up the mountains and 
the sides of the volcanoes. We descended at first by 
a steep pitch, and then gently for about three miles 
along the precipitous border of the lake, leaving on our 
right the camino real and the village of San Andres, 
and suddenly reached the brink of the table-land, two 
thousand feet high. At the foot was a rich plain running 
down to the water ; and on the opposite side another 
immense perpendicular mountain side, rising to the same 
height with that on which we stood. In the middle of 
the plane, buried in foliage, with the spire of the church 
barely visible, was the town of Panachahel. Our first 
view of the lake was the most beautiful we had ever 
seen, but this surpassed it. All the requisites of the 
grand and beautiful were there ; gigantic mountains, a 
valley of poetic softness, lake, and volcanoes, and from 
the height on which we stood a waterfall marked a sil- 
ver line down its sides. A party of Indian men and 
women were moving in single file from the foot of the 
mountain toward the village, and looked like children. 
The descent was steep and perpendicular, and, reach- 
ing the plain, the view of the mountain-walls was sub- 
lime. As we advanced the plain formed a triangle 
with its base on the lake, the two mountain ranges con- 
verged to a point, and communicated by a narrow de- 
file beyond with the village of San Andres. 


Riding through a thick forest of fruit and flower trees, 
we entered the village, and at three o'clock rode up to 
the convent. The padre was a young man, eura of four 
or five villages, rich, formal, and polite ; but all over 
the world women are better than men ; his mother 
and sister received us cordially. They were in great 
distress on account of the outrage at Quezaltenango. 
Carrera's troops had passed through on their return 
to Guatimala, and they feared that the same bloody 
scenes were to be enacted all through the country. 
Part of his outrages were against the person of a cura, 
and this seemed to break the only chain that was sup- 
posed to keep him in subjection. Unfortunately, we 
learned that there was little or no communication with 
Santiago Atitan, and no canoe on this side of the lake. 
Our only chance of seeing Don Saturnine again was 
that he would learn this fact at Atitan, and if there was 
a canoe there, send it for us. After dinner, with a ser- 
vant of the house as guide, we 'walked down to the 
lake. The path lay through a tropical garden. The 
climate was entirely diiferent from the table-land above, 
and productions which would not grow there flourished 
here. Sapotes, hocotes, aguacates, manzones, pineap- 
ples, oranges, and lemons, the best fruits of Central 
America, grew in profusion, and aloes grew thirty to 
thirty-five feet high, and twelve or fourteen inches thick, 
cultivated in rows, to be used for thatching miserable 
Indian huts. We came down to the lake at some hot 
springs, so near the edge that the waves ran over the 
spring, the former being very hot, and the latter very 

According to Huarros, " the Lake of Atitan is one of 
the most remarkable in the kingdom. It is about twen- 
ty-four miles from east to west, and ten from north to 


south, entirely surrounded by rocks and mountains. 
There is no gradation of depth from its shores, and the 
bottom has not been found with a line of three hundred 
fathoms. It receives several rivers, and all the waters 
that descend from the mountains, but there is no known 
channel by which this great body is carried off. The 
only fish caught in it are crabs, and a species of small 
fish about the size of the little finger. These are in such 
countless myriads that the inhabitants of the surrounding 
ten villages carry on a considerable fishing for them." 

At that hour of the day, as we understood to be the 
case always at that season of the year, heavy clouds 
were hanging over the mountains and volcanoes, and 
the lake was violently agitated by a strong southwest 
wind ; as our guide said, la laguna esta mucha brava. 
Santiago Atitan .was nearly opposite, at a distance of 
seven or eight leagues, and in following the irregular 
and mountainous border of the lake from the point where 
Don Saturnino left us, we doubted whether he could 
reach it that night. It was much farther off than we 
supposed, and with the lake in such a state of agitation, 
and subject, as our guide told us, at all times to vio- 
lent gusts of wind, we had but little inclination to cross 
it in a canoe. It would have been magnificent to see 
there a tropical storm, to hear the thunder roll among 
the mountains, and see the lightnings flash down into 
the lake. We sat on the shore till the sun disappeared 
behind the mountains at the head of the lake. Mingled 
with our contemplations of it were thoughts of other and 
far distant scenes, and at dark we returned to the con- 




Lake of Atitan. Conjectures as to its Origin, &c. A Sail on the Lake. A dan- 
gerous Situation. A lofty Mountain Range. Ascent of the Mountains. Com- 
manding View. Beautiful Plain. An elevated Village. Ride along the Lake. 
Solola. Visit to Santa Cruz del Quiche. Scenery on the Road. Barrancas. 
San Thomas. Whipping-posts. Plain of Quiche. The Village. Ruins of 
Quiche. Its History. Desolate Scene. A facetious Cura. Description of 
the Ruins. Plan. The Royal Palace. The Place of Sacrifice. An Image. 
Two Heads, &c. Destruction of the Palace recent. An Arch. 

EARLY in the morning we again went down to the 
lake. Not a vapour was on the water, and the top of 
every volcano was clear of clouds. We looked over to 
Santiago Atitan, but there was no indication of a canoe 
coming for us. We whiled away the time in shooting 
wild ducks, but could get only two ashore, which we 
afterward found of excellent flavour. According to 
the account given by Huarros, the water of this lake is 
so cold that in a few minutes it benumbs and SAvells the 
limbs of all who bathe in it. But it looked so inviting 
that we determined to risk it, and were not benumbed, 
nor were our limbs swollen. The inhabitants, we were 
told, bathed in it constantly ; and Mr. C. remained a 
long time in the water, supported by his life preserver, 
and without taking any exercise, and was not conscious 
of extreme coldness. In the utter ignorance that ex- 
ists in regard to the geography and geology of that 
country, it may be that the account of its fathomless 
depth, and the absence of any visible outlet, is as un- 
founded as that of the coldness of its waters. 

The Modem Traveller, in referring to the want of 
specific information with regard to its elevation, and 
other circumstances from which to frame a conjecture 
as to its origin, and the probable communication of its 



waters with some other reservoir, states that the " fish 
which it contains are the same as are found in the Lake 
of Amatitan," and asks, " May there not be some con- 
nexion between these lakes, at least the fathomless one, 
and the Volcan de Agua ?" We were told that the mo- 
hara, the fish for which the Lake of Amatitan is cele- 
brated in that country, was not found in the Lake of 
Atitan at all ; so that on this ground at least there is no 
reason to suppose a connexion between the two lakes. 
In regard to any connexion with the Volcan de Agua, 
if the account of Torquemada be true, the deluge of wa- 
ter from that volcano was not caused by an eruption, 
but by an accumulation of water in a cavity on the top, 
and consequently the volcano has no subterraneous wa- 
ter power. The elevation of this lake has never been 
taken, and the whole of this region of country invites 
the attention of the scientific traveller. 

While we were dressing, Juan, one of our mozos, 
found a canoe along the shore. It was an oblong " dug- 
out," awkward and rickety, and intended for only one 
person ; but the lake was so smooth that a plank seem- 
ed sufficient. We got in, and Juan pushed off and 
paddled out. As we moved away the mountainous bor- 
ders of the lake rose grandly>before us ; and I had just 
called Mr. C.'s attention to a cascade opening upon us 
from the great height of perhaps three or four thou- 
sand feet, when we were struck by a flaw, which 
turned the canoe, and drove us out into the lake. 
The canoe was overloaded, and Juan was an unskilful 
paddler. For several minutes he pulled, with every 
sinew stretched, but could barely keep her head straight. 
Mr. C. was in the stern, I on my knees in the bot- 
tom of the canoe. The loss of a stroke, or a totter- 
ing movement in changing places, might swamp her ; 


and if we let her go she would be driven out into the 
lake, and cast ashore, if at all, twenty or thirty miles 
distant, whence we should have to scramble back over 
mountains ; and there was a worse danger than this, 
for in the afternoon the wind always came from the 
other side, and might drive us back again into the 
middle of the lake. We saw the people on the shore 
looking at us, and growing smaller every moment, but 
they could not help us. In all our difficulties we had 
none that came upon us so suddenly and unexpectedly, 
or that seemed more threatening. It was hardly ten 
minutes since we were standing quietly on the beach, 
and if the wind had continued five minutes longer I do 
not know what would have become of us; but, most 
fortunately, it lulled. Juan's strength revived ; with a 
great effort he brought us under cover of the high head- 
land beyond which the wind first struck us, and in a 
few minutes we reached the shore. 

We had had enough of the lake ; time was precious, 
and we determined to set out after dinner and ride four 
leagues to Solola. We took another mozo, whom the 
padre recommended as a bobon, or great fool. The first 
two were at swords' points, and with such a trio there 
was not much danger of combination. In loading the 
mules they fell to quarrelling, Bobon taking his share. 
Ever since we left, Don Saturnine had superintended 
this operation, and without him everything wenl wrong 
One mule slipped part of its load in the courtyard, and 
we made but a sorry party for the long journey we had 
before us. From the village our road lay toward 
the lake, to the point of the opposite mountain, which 
shut in the plain of Panachahel. Here we began to as- 
cend. For a while the path commanded a view of the 
village and plain ; but by degrees we diverged from it, 


and after an hour's ascent came out upon the lake, 
rode a short distance upon the brink, with another im- 
mense mountain range before us, and breaking over the 
top the cataract which I had seen from the canoe. 
Very soon we commenced ascending ; the path ran zig- 
zag, commanding alternately a view of the plain and 
of the lake. The ascent was terrible for loaded mules, 
being in some places steps cut in the stone like a regu- 
lar staircase. Every time we came upon the lake there 
was a different view. At four o'clock, looking back 
over the high ranges of mountains we had crossed, we 
saw the great volcanoes of Agua and Fuego. Six 
volcanoes were in sight at once, four of them above 
ten thousand, and two nearly fifteen thousand feet high. 
Looking down upon the lake we saw a canoe, so small 
as to present a mere speck on the water, and, as we 
supposed, it was sent for us by our friend Don Saturni- 
ne. Four days afterward, after diverging and return- 
ing to the main road, I found a letter from him, direct- 
ed to " El Ministro de Nueva-York," stating that he 
found the road so terrible that night overtook him, and 
he was obliged to stop three leagues short of Atitan. 
On arriving at that place he learned that the canoe was 
on his side of the lake, but the boatmen would not 
cross till the afternoon wind sprang up. The letter 
was written after the return of the canoe, and sent 
by courier two days' journey, begging us to return, 
and offering as a bribe a noble mule, which, in our 
bantering on the road, he affirmed was better than 
my macho. Twice the mule-track led us almost with- 
in the fall of cataracts, and the last time we came 
upon the lake we looked down upon a plain even more 
beautiful than that of Panachahel. Directly under 
us, at an immense distance below, but itself elevated 

SOL OLA. 165 

fifteen hundred or two thousand feet, was a village, 
with its church conspicuous, and it seemed as if we 
could throw a stone down upon its roof. From the 
moment this lake first opened upon us until we left it, 
our ride along it presented a greater combination of 
beauties than any locality I ever saw. The last ascent 
occupied an hour and three quarters. As old travel- 
lers, we would have avoided it if there had been any 
other road ; but, once over, we would not have missed it 
for the world. Very soon we saw Solola. In the sub- 
urbs drunken Indians stood in a line, and took off their 
old petates (straw hats) with both hands. It was Sun- 
day, and the bells of the church were ringing for ves- 
pers, rockets were firing, and a procession, headed by 
violins, was parading round the plaza the figure of a 
saint on horseback, dressed like a harlequin. Oppo- 
site the cabildo the alcalde, with a crowd of Mestitzoes, 
was fighting cocks. 

The town stands on the lofty borders of the Lake of 
Amatitan, and a hundred yards from it the whole water 
was visible. I tied my horse to the whipping-post, and, 
thanks to Carrera's passport, the alcalde sent off for sa- 
cate, had a room swept out in the cabildo, and offered 
to send us supper from his own house. He was about 
ten days in office, having been appointed since Carrera's 
last invasion. Formerly this place was the residence of 
the youngest branch of the house of the Kachiquel In- 

It was our purpose at this place to send our luggage 
on by the main road to Totonicapan, one day's journey 
beyond, while we struck off at an angle and visited the 
ruins of Santa Cruz del Quiche. The Indians of that 
place, even in the most quiet times, bore a very bad 
name, and we were afraid of hearing such an account 


< them as would make it impossible to go there. Car- 
era had left a garrison of soldiers in Solola, and we 
called upon the commandant, a gentlemanly man, sus- 
pected of disaffection to Carrera's government, and 
therefore particularly desirous to pay respect to his pass- 
port, who told me that there had been less excitement 
at that place than in some of the other villages, and 
promised to send the luggage on under safe escort to the 
corregidor of Totonicapan, and give us a letter to his 
commissionado in Santa Cruz del Quiche. 

On our return we learned that a lady had sent for us. 
Her house was on the corner of the plaza. She was a 
chapetone from Old Spain, which country she had left 
with her husband thirty years before, on account of wars. 
At the time of Carrera's last invasion her son was alcalde 
mayor, and fled. t If he had been taken he would have 
been shot. The wife of her son was with her. They 
had not heard from him, but he had fled toward Mex- 
ico, and they supposed him to be in the frontier town, 
and wished us to carry letters to him, and to inform him 
of their condition. Their house had been plundered, 
and they were in great distress. It was another of the 
instances we were constantly meeting of the effects of 
civil war. They insisted on our remaining at the house 
all night, which, besides that they were interesting, we 
were not loth to do on our own account. The place 
was several' thousand feet higher than where we slept 
the night before, and the temperature cold and wintry 
by comparison. Hammocks, our only beds, were not 
used at all. There were not even supporters in the 
cabildo to hang them on. The next morning the mules 
were all drawn up by the cold, their coats were rough, 
and my poor horse was so chilled that he could hardly 
move. In coming in he had attracted attention, and the 


alcalde wanted to buy him. In the morning he told me 
that, being used to a hot climate, the horse could not 
bear the journey across the Cordilleras, which was con- 
firmed by several disinterested persons to whom he ap- 
pealed. I almost suspected him of having done the horse 
some injury, so as to make me leave him behind. How- 
ever, by moving him in the sun his limbs relaxed, and 
we sent him off with the men and luggage, and the 
promised escort, to Totonicapan, recommended to the 

At a quarter before nine we bade farewell to the 
ladies who had entertained us so kindly, and, charged 
with letters and messages for their son and husband, 
set out with Bobon for Santa Cruz del Quiche. At a 
short distance from the town we again rose upon a 
ridge which commanded a view of the lake and town ; 
the last, and, as we thought, the loveliest of all. At a 
league's distance we turned off from the camino real into 
a narrow bridle-path, and very soon entered a well-cul- 
tivated plain, passed a forest clear of brush and under- 
wood, like a forest at home, and followed the course of 
a beautiful stream. Again we came out upon a rich 
plain, and in several places saw clusters of aloes in full 
bloom. The atmosphere was transparent, and, as in an 
autumn day at home, the sun was cheering and invig- 

At twelve o'clock we met some Indians, who told us 
that Santa Thomas was three leagues distant, and five 
minutes afterward we saw the town apparently not more 
than a mile off; but we were arrested by another im- 
mense ravine. The descent was by a winding zigzag 
path, part of the way with high walls on either side, so 
steep that we were obliged to dismount and walk all 
the way, hurried on by our own impetus and the mules 


crowding upon us from behind. At the foot of the ra- 
vine was a beautiful stream, at which, choked with dust 
and perspiration, we stopped to drink. We mounted 
to ford the stream, and almost immediately dismounted 
again to ascend the opposite side of the ravine. This 
was even more difficult than the descent, and when we 
reached the top it seemed good three leagues. We 
passed on the right another awful barranca, broken off 
from the table of land, and riding close along its edge, 
looked down into an abyss of two or three thousand 
feet, and very soon reached Santa Thomas. A crowd 
of Indians was gathered in the plaza, well dressed in 
brown cloth, and with long black hair, without hats. 
The entire population was Indian. There was not a 
single white man in the place, nor one who could speak 
Spanish, except an old Mestitzo, who was the secretary 
of the alcalde. We rode up to the cabildo, and tied 
our mules before the prison door. Groups of villanous 
faces were fixed in the bars of the windows. We call- 
ed for the alcalde, presented Carrera's passport, and 
demanded sacate, eggs, and frigoles for ourselves, and 
a guide to Quiche. While these were got, the alcalde, 
and as many alguazils as could find a place, seated 
themselves silently on a bench occupied by us. In 
front was a new whipping-post. There was not a word 
spoken ; but a man was brought up before it, his feet 
and wrists tied together, and he was drawn up by a 
rope which passed through a groove at the top of the 
post. His back was naked, and an alguazil stood on 
his left with a heavy cowhide whip. Every stroke 
made a blue streak, rising into a ridge, from which 
the blood started and trickled down his back. The 
poor fellow screamed in agony. After him a boy was 
stretched up in the same way. At the first lash, with 


a dreadful scieam, he jerked his feet out of the ropes, 
and seemed to fly up to the top of the post. He 
was brought back and secured, and whipped till the 
alcalde was satisfied. This was one of the reforms in- 
stituted by the Central government of Guatimala. The 
Liberal party had abolished this remnant of barbarity ; 
but within the last month, at the wish of the Indians 
themselves, and in pursuance of the general plan to re- 
store old usages and customs, new whipping-posts had 
been erected in all the villages. Not one of the brutal 
beings around seemed to have the least feeling for the 
victims. Among the amateurs were several criminals, 
whom we had noticed walking in chains about the plaza, 
and among them a man and woman in rags, bareheaded, 
with long hair streaming over their eyes, chained togeth- 
er by the hand and foot, with strong bars between them 
to keep them out of each other's reach. They were a 
husband and wife, who had shocked the moral sense of 
the community by not living together. The punishment 
seemed the very refinement of cruelty, but while it last- 
ed it was an effectual way of preventing a repetition of 
the offence. 

At half past three, with an alguazil running before 
us and Bobon trotting behind, we set out again, and 
crossed a gently-rolling plain, with a distant side-hill 
on the left, handsomely wooded, and reminding us of 
scenes at home, except that on the left was another 
.immense barranca, with large trees, whose tops were 
two thousand feet below us. Leaving a village on 
the right, we passed a small lake, crossed a ravine, 
and rose to the plain of Quiche. At a distance on 
the left were the ruins of the old city, the once large 
and opulent capital of Utatlan, the court of the native 

VOL. II. Y 15 


kings of Quiche, and the most sumptuous discovered by 
the Spaniards in this section of America. It was a site 
worthy to be the abode of a race of a kings. We 
passed between two small lakes, rode into the village, 
passed on, as usual, to the convent, which stood beside 
the church, and stopped at the foot of a high flight of 
stone steps. An old Indian on the platform told us to 
walk in, and we spurred our mules up the steps, rode 
through the corridor into a large apartment, and sent 
the mules down another flight of steps into a yard en- 
closed by a high stone fence. The convent was the 
first erected in the country by the Dominican friars, 
and dated from the time of Alvarado. It was built en- 
tirely of stone, with massive walls, and corridors, pave- 
ments, and courtyard strong enough for a fortress ; 
but most of the apartments were desolate or filled with 
rubbish ; one was used for sacate, another for corn, and 
another fitted up as a roosting-place for fowls. The 
padre had gone to another village, his own apartments 
were locked, and we were shown into one adjoining, 
about thirty feet square, and nearly as high, with stone 
floor and walls, and without a single article in it except 
a shattered and weather-beaten soldier in one corner, 
returning from campaigns in Mexico. As we had 
brought with us nothing but our ponchas, and the nights 
in that region were very cold, we were unwilling to risk 
sleeping on the stone floor, and with the padre's Indian 
servant went to the alcalde, who, on the strength of 
Carrera's passport, gave us the audience-room of the 
cabildo, which had at one end a raised platform with a 
railing, a table, and two long benches with high backs. 
Adjoining was the prison, being merely an enclosure of 
four high stone walls, without any roof, and filled with 
more than the usual number of criminals, some of whom, 



as we looked through the gratings, we saw lying on the 
ground, with only a few rags of covering, shivering in 
the cold. The alcalde provided us with supper, and 
promised to procure us a guide to the ruins. 

Early in the morning, with a Mestitzo armed with a 
long basket-hilted sword, who advised us to carry our 
weapons, as the people were not to be trusted, we set 
out for the ruins. At a short distance we passed an- 
other immense barranca, down which, but a few nights 
before, an Indian, chased by alguazils, either fell or 
threw himself off into the abyss, fifteen hundred feet 
deep, and was dashed to pieces. At about a mile from 
the village we came to a range of elevations, extending 
to a great distance, and connected by a ditch, which 
had evidently formed the line of fortifications for the 
ruined city. They consisted of the remains of stone 
buildings, probably towers, the stones well cut and laid 
together, and the mass of rubbish around abounded in 
flint arrow-heads. Within this line was an elevation, 
which grew more imposing as we approached, square, 
with terraces, and having in the centre a tower, in all 
one hundred and twenty feet high. We ascended by 
steps to three ranges of terraces, and on the top enter- 
ed an area enclosed by stone walls, and covered with 
hard cement, in many places still perfect. Thence we 
ascended by stone steps to the top of the tower, the 
whole of which was formerly covered with stucco, and 
stood as a fortress at the entrance of the great city of 
Utatlan, the capital of the kingdom of the Quiche In- 

According to Fuentes, the chronicler of the king- 
dom of Guatimala, the kings of Quiche and Kachiquel 
were descended from the Toltecan Indians, who, when 
they came into this country, found it already inhab- 


ited by people of different nations. According to 
the manuscript of Don Juan Torres, the grandson of 
the last king of the Quiches, which was in the pos- 
session of the lieutenant-general appointed by Pedro 
de Alvarado, and which Fuentes says he obtained 
by means of Father Francis Vasques, the historian 
of the order of San Francis, the Toltecas themselves 
descended from the house of Israel, who were released 
by Moses from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and after cross- 
ing the Red Sea, fell into idolatry. To avoid the re- 
proofs of Moses, or from fear of his inflicting upon them 
some chastisement, they separated from him and his 
brethren, and under the guidance of Tanub, their chief, 
passed from one continent to the other, to a place which 
they called the seven caverns, a part of the kingdom of 
Mexico, where they founded the celebrated city of Tula. 
From Tanub sprang the families of the kings of Tula 
and Quiche, and the first monarch of the Toltecas. Ni- 
maquiche, the fifth king of that line, and more beloved 
than any of his predecessors, was directed by an oracle 
to leave Tula, with his people, who had by this time 
multiplied greatly, and conduct them from the kingdom 
of Mexico to that of Guatimala. In performing this 
journey they consumed many years, suffered extraordi- 
nary hardships, and wandered over an immense tract of 
country, until they discovered the Lake of Atitan, and 
resolved to settle near it in a country which they called 

Nimaquiche was accompanied by his three brothers, 
and it was agreed to divide the new country between 
them. Nimaquiche died ; his son Axcopil became chief 
of the Quiches, Kachiquels, and Zutugiles, and was at 
the head of his nation when they settled in Quiche, and 
the first monarch who reigned in Utatlan. Under him 


the monarchy rose to a high degree of splendour. To 
relieve himself from some of the fatigues of administra- 
tion, he appointed thirteen captains or governors, and at 
a very advanced age divided his empire into three king- 
doms, viz., the Quiche, the Kachiquel, and the Zutugil, 
retaining the first for himself, and giving the second to 
his eldest son Jintemal, and -the third to his youngest 
son Acxigual. This division was made on a day when 
three suns were visible at the same time, which extra- 
ordinary circumstance, says the manuscript, has induced 
some persons to believe that it was made on the day of 
our Saviour's birth. There were seventeen Toltecan 
kings who reigned in Utatlan, the capital of Quich6, 
whose names have come down to posterity, but they are 
so hard to write out that I will take it for granted the 
reader is familiar with them. 

Their history, like that of man in other parts of the 
world, is one of war and bloodshed. Before the death 
of Axcopii his sons were at war, which, however, was 
settled by his mediation, and for two reigns peace ex- 
isted. In the reign of Balam Acan, the next king of 
Quiche, while living on terms of great intimacy and 
friendship with his cousin Zutugilebpop, king of the 
Zutugiles, the latter abused his generosity and ran 
away with his daughter Ixconsocil ; and at the same 
time Iloacab, his relative and favourite, ran away with 
Ecselixpua, the niece of the king. The rape of Helen 
did not produce more wars and bloodshed than the car- 
rying off of these two young ladies with unpronounceable 
names. Balam Acan was naturally a mild man, but 
the abduction of his daughter was an affront not to be 
pardoned. "With eighty thousand veterans, himself in 
the centre squadron, adorned with three diadems and 
other regal ornaments, carried in a rich chair of stale, 


splendidly ornamented with gold, emeralds, and othel 
precious stones, upon the shoulders of the nobles of his 
court, he marched against Zutugilebpop, who met him 
with sixty thousand men, commanded by Iloacab, his 
chief general and accomplice. The most bloody bat- 
tle ever fought in the country took place ; the field was 
so deeply inundated with blood that not a blade of 
grass could be seen. Victory long remained unde- 
cided, and at length Iloacab was killed, and Balam 
Acan remained master of the field. But the campaign 
did not terminate here. Balam Acan, with thirty thou- 
sand veterans under his personal command and two 
other bodies of thirty thousand each, again met Zutugi- 
lebpop with forty thousand of his own warriors and forty 
thousand auxiliaries. The latter was defeated, and es- 
caped at night. Balam Acan pursued and overtook 
him ; but while his bearers were hastening with him to 
the thickest of the fight, they lost their footing, and 
precipitated him to the earth. At this moment Zutugi- 
lebpop was advancing with a chosen body of ten thou- 
sand lancers. Balam Acan was slain, and fourteen 
thousand Indians were left dead on the field. 

The war was prosecuted by the successor of Balam, 
and Zutugilebpop sustained such severe reverses that 
he fell into a despondency and died. The war was con- 
tinued down to the time of Kicah Tanub, who, after a 
sanguinary struggle, reduced the Zutugiles and Kachi- 
quels to subjection to the kings of Q,uich6. At this time 
the kingdom of the Quiches had attained its greatest 
splendour, and this was contemporaneous with that 
eventful era in American history, the reign of Montezuma 
and the invasion of the Spaniards. The kings of Mex- 
ico and Quiche acknowledged the ties of relationship, 
and in a manuscript of sixteen quarto leaves, preserved 


by the Indians of San Andres Xecul, it is related that 
when Montezuma was made prisoner, he sent a private 
ambassador to Kicah Tanub, to inform him that some 
white men had arrived in his state, and made war upon 
him with such impetuosity that the whole strength of his 
people was unable to resist them ; that he was himself 
a prisoner, surrounded by guards ; and hearing it was 
the intention of his invaders to pass on to the kingdom 
of Quiche, he sent notice of the design, in order that 
Kicah Tanub might be prepared to oppose them. On 
receiving this intelligence, the King of Quiche sent for 
four young diviners, whom he ordered to tell him what 
would be the result of this invasion. They requested 
time to give their answers ; and, taking their bows, dis- 
charged some arrows against a rock ; but, seeing that 
no impression was made upon it, returned very sorrow- 
fully, and told the king there was no way of avoiding 
the disaster ; the white men would certainly conquer 
them. Kicah, dissatisfied, sent for the priests, desiring 
to have their opinions on this important subject ; and 
they, from the ominous circumstance of a certain stone, 
brought by their forefathers from Egypt, having sud- 
denly split into two, predicted the inevitable ruin of the 
kingdom. At this time he received intelligence of the 
arrival of the Spaniards on the borders of Soconusco 
to invade his territory ; but, undismayed by the auguries 
of diviners or priests, he prepared for war. Messages 
were sent by him to the conquered kings and chiefs 
under his command, urging them to co-operate for the 
common defence ; but, glad of an opportunity to rebel, 
Sinacam, the king of Guatimala, declared openly that he 
was a friend to the Teules or Gods, as the Spaniards 
were called by the Indians ; and the King of the Zutu- 
giles answered haughtily that he was able to defend 


his kingdom alone against a more numerous and less 
famished army than that which was approaching Quiche. 
Irritation, wounded pride, anxiety, and fatigue, brought 
on a sickness which carried Tanub off in a few days. 

His son Tecum Umam succeeded to his honours and 
troubles. In a short time intelligence was received that 
the captain (Alvarado) and his Teules had marched to 
besiege Xelahuh (now Quezaltenango), next to the cap- 
ital the largest city of Quiche. At that time it had 
within its walls eighty thousand men ; but such was the 
fame of the Spaniards that Tecum Umam determined to 
go to its assistance. He left the capital, at the threshold 
of which we stood, borne in his litter on the shoulders of 
the principal men of his kingdom, and preceded by the 
music of flutes, cornets, and drums, and seventy thousand 
men, commanded by his general Ahzob, his lieutenant 
Ahzumanche, the grand shield-bearer Ahpocob, other 
officers of dignity with still harder names, and numerous 
attendants bearing parasols and fans of feathers for the 
comfort of the royal person. An immense number of 
Indian carriers followed with baggage and provisions. 
At the populous city of Totonicapan the army was in- 
creased to ninety thousand fighting men. At Quezal- 
tenango he was joined by ten more chiefs, well armed 
and supplied with provisions, displaying all the gor- 
geous insignia of their rank, and attended by twenty- 
four thousand soldiers. At the same place he was re-en- 
forced by forty-six thousand more, adorned with plumes 
of different colours, and with arms of every description, 
the chiefs decorated with the skins of lions, tigers, and 
bears, as distinguishing marks of their bravery and war- 
like prowess. Tecum Umam marshalled under his ban- 
ners on the plain of Tzaccapa two hundred and thirty 
thousand warriors, and fortified his camp with a wall 


of loose stones, enclosing within its circuit several 
mountains. In the camp were several military ma- 
chines, formed of beams on rollers, to be moved from 
place to place. After a series of desperate and bloody 
battles, the Spaniards routed this immense army, and 
entered the city of Xelahuh. The fugitives rallied out- 
side, and made a last effort to surround and crush the 
Spaniards. Tecum Umam commanded in person, sin- 
gled out Alvarado, attacked him three times hand to 
hand, and wounded his horse ; but the last time Alva- 
rado pierced him with a lance, and killed him on the 
spot. The fury of the Indians increased to madness ; 
in immense masses they rushed upon the Spaniards ; 
and, seizing the tails of the horses, endeavoured by main 
force to bring horse and rider to the ground ; but, at a 
critical moment, the Spaniards attacked in close column, 
broke the solid masses of the Quiches, routed the whole 
army, and slaying an immense number, became com- 
pletely masters of the field. But few of the seventy 
thousand who marched out from the capital with Te- 
cum Umam ever returned ; and, hopeless of being able 
to resist any longer by force, they had recourse to 
treachery. At a council of war called at Utatlan by 
the king, Chinanivalut, son and successor of Tecum 
Umam, it was determined to send an embassy to Alva- 
rado, with a valuable present of gold, suing for par- 
don, promising submission, and inviting the Spaniards 
to the capital. In a few days Alvarado, with his army, 
in high spirits at the prospect of a termination of this 
bloody war, encamped upon the plain. 

This was the first appearance of strangers at Utatlan, 
the capital of the great Indian kingdom, the ruins of 
which were now under our eyes, once the most popu- 
lous and opulent city, not only of Quiche, but of the 



whole kingdom of Guatimala. According to Fuentes, 
who visited it for the purpose of collecting information, 
and who gathered his facts partly from the remains and 
partly from manuscripts, it was surrounded by a deep 
ravine that formed a natural fosse, leaving only two 
very narrow roads as entrances, both of which were so 
well defended by the castle of Resguardo, as to render it 
impregnable. The centre of the city was occupied by 
the royal palace, which was surrounded by the houses 
of the nobility ; the extremities were inhabited by the 
plebeians; and some idea may be formed of its vast 
population from the fact, before mentioned, that the 
king drew from it no less than seventy-two thousand 
fighting men to oppose the Spaniards. It contained 
many very sumptuous edifices, the most superb of which 
was a seminary, where 'between five and six thousand 
children were educated at the charge of the royal 
treasury. The castle of the Atalaya was a remarkable 
structure, four stories high, and capable of furnishing 
quarters for a very strong garrison. The castle of 
Resguardo was five stories high, extending one hundred 
and eighty paces in front, and two hundred and thirty 
in depth. The grand alcazar, or palace of the kings 
of Quiche, surpassed every other edifice; and in the 
opinion of Torquemada, it could compete in opulence 
with that of Montezuma in Mexico, or that of the Incas 
in Cuzco. The front extended three hundred and sev- 
enty-six geometrical paces from east to west, and it was 
seven hundred and twenty-eight paces in depth. It was 
constructed of hewn stones of various colours. There 
were six principal divisions. The first contained lodg- 
ings for a numerous troop of lancers, archers, and other 
troops, constituting the royal body-guard. The second 


was assigned to the princes and relations of the king ; 
the third to the monarch himself, containing distinct 
suites of apartments for the mornings, evenings, and 
nights. In one of the saloons stood the throne, under 
four canopies of feathers ; and in this portion of the pal- 
ace were the treasury, tribunals of the judges, armory, 
aviaries, and menageries. The fourth and fifth divis- 
ions were occupied by the queen and royal concubines, 
with gardens v baths, and places for breeding geese, 
which were kept to supply feathers for ornaments. 
The sixth and last division was the residence of the 
daughters and other females of the blood royal. 

Such is the account as derived by the Spanish histo- 
rians from manuscripts composed by some of the ca- 
ciques who first acquired the art of writing ; and it is 
related that from Tanub, who conducted them from the 
old to the new Continent, down to Tecum Umam, was 
a line of twenty monarchs. 

Alvarado, on the invitation of the king, entered this 
city with his army ; but, observing the strength of the 
place ; that it was well walled, and surrounded by a 
deep ravine, having but two approaches to it, the one 
by an ascent of twenty-five steps, and the other by a 
causeway, and both extremely narrow ; that the streets 
were but of trifling breadth, and the houses very lofty ; 
that there were neither women nor children to be seen, 
and that the Indians seemed agitated, the soldiers be- 
gan to suspect some deceit. Their apprehensions were 
soon confirmed by Indian allies of Quezaltenango, who 
discovered that the people intended that night to fire 
their capital, and while the flames were rising, to burst 
upon the Spaniards with large bodies of men concealed 
in the neighbourhood, and put every one to death. 
These tidings were found to be in accordance with the 


movements of the Utatlans ; and on examining the 
houses, the Spaniards discovered that there were no 
preparations of provisions to regale them, as had been 
promised, but everywhere was a quantity of light dry 
fuel and other combustibles. Alvarado called his offi- 
cers together, and laid before them their perilous situa- 
tion, and the immediate necessity of withdrawing from 
the place ; and pretending to the king and his ca- 
ciques that their horses were better in the open fields, 
the troops were collected, and without any appearance 
of alarm, marched in good order to the plain. The 
king, with pretended courtesy, accompanied them, and 
Alvarado, taking advantage of the opportunity, made 
him prisoner, and after trial and proof of his treachery, 
hung him on the spot. But neither the death of Te- 
cum nor the ignominious execution of his son could 
quell the fierce spirit of the Quiches. A new ebullition 
of animosity and rage broke forth. A general attack 
was made upon the Spaniards ; but Spanish bravery and 
discipline increased with danger ; and after a dreadful 
havoc by the artillery and horses, the Indians aban- 
doned a field covered with their dead, and Utatlan, the 
capital, with the whole kingdom of Quiche, fell into 
the hands of Alvarado and the Spaniards. 

As we stood on the ruined fortress of Resguardo, the 
great plain, consecrated by the last struggle of a brave 
people, lay before us grand and beautiful, its blood- 
stains all washed out, and smiling with fertility, but per- 
fectly desolate. Our guide leaning on his sword in the 
area beneath was the only person in sight. But very 
soon Bobon introduced a stranger, who came stumbling 
along under a red silk umbrella, talking to Bobon and 
looking up at us. We recognised him as the cura, and 
descended to meet him. He laughed to see us grope 


our way down; by degrees his laugh became infec- 
tious, and when we met we all laughed together. All 
at once he stopped, looked very solemn, pulled off his 
neckcloth, and wiped the perspiration from his face, 
took out a paper of cigars, laughed, thrust them back, 
pulled out another, as he said, of Habaneras, and asked 
what was the news from Spain. 

Our friend's dress was as unclerical as his manner, 
viz., a broad-brimmed black glazed hat, an old black 
coat reaching to his heels, glossy from long use, and 
pantaloons to match ; a striped roundabout, a waistcoat, 
flannel shirt, and under it a cotton one, perhaps wash- 
ed when he shaved last, some weeks before. He 
laughed at our coming to see the ruins, and said that 
he laughed prodigiously himself when he first saw them. 
He was from Old Spain ; had seen the battle of Trafal- 
gar, looking on from the heights on shore, and laughed 
whenever he thought of it ; the French fleet was blown 
sky high, and the Spanish went with it ; Lord Nelson 
was killed all for glory he could not help laughing. 
He had left Spain to get rid of wars and revolutions : 
here we all laughed ; sailed with twenty Dominican 
friars ; was fired upon and chased into Jamaica by a 
French cruiser : here we laughed again ; got an Eng- 
lish convoy to Omoa, where he arrived at the breaking 
out of a revolution ; had been all his life in the midst 
of revolutions, and it was now better than ever. Here 
we all laughed incontinently. His own laugh was so 
rich and expressive that it was perfectly irresistible. 
In fact, we were not disposed to resist, and in half an 
hour we were as intimate as if acquainted for years. 
The world was our butt, and we laughed at it outra- 
geously. Except the Church, there were few things 
which the cur a did not laugh at ; but politics was his fa- 



vourite subject. He was in favour of Morazan, or Car- 
rera, or el Demonic : " vamos adelante," " go ahead," 
was his motto; he laughed at them all. If we had parted 
with him then, we should always have remembered him 
as the laughing cura ; but, on farther acquaintance, we 
found in him such a vein of strong sense and knowl- 
edge, and, retired as he lived, he was so intimately ac- 
quainted with the country and all the public men, as a 
mere looker on his views were so correct and his satire 
so keen, yet without malice, that we improved his title 
by calling him the laughing philosopher. 

Having finished our observations at this place, stop- 
ping to laugh as some new greatness or folly of the 
world, past, present, or to come, occurred to us, we 
descended by a narrow path, crossed a ravine, and 
entered upon the table of land on which stood the 
palace and principal part of the city. Mr. Cather- 
wood and I began examining and measuring the ruins, 
and the padre followed us, talking and laughing all the 
time ; and when we were on some high place, out of 
his reach, he seated Bobon at the foot, discoursing to 
him of Alvarado, and Montezuma, and the daughter of 
the King of Tecpan Guatimala, and books and manu- 
scripts in the convent ; to all which Bobon listened with- 
out comprehending a word or moving a muscle, looking 
him directly in the face, and answering his long low 
laugh with a respectful " Si, senor." 

The plan in the division of the last engraving marked 
A, represents the topography of the ground in the heart 
of the city which was occupied by the palace and other 
buildings of the royal house of Quiche. It is surround- 
ed by an immense barranca or ravine, and the only en- 
trance is through that part of the ravine by which we 
reached it, and which is defended by the fortress before 


referred to, marked B in the plate. The cura pointed 
out to us one part of the ravine which, he said, accord- 
ing to old manuscripts formerly existing in the convent, 
but now carried away, was artificial, and upon which 
forty thousand men had been employed at one time. 

The whole area was once occupied by the palace, 
seminary, and other buildings of the royal house of Qui- 
che, which now lie for the most part in confused and 
shapeless masses of ruins. The palace, as the cura told 
us, with its courts and corridors, once covering the whole 
diameter, is completely destroyed, and the materials 
have been carried away to build the present village. In 
part, however, the floor remains entire, with fragments 
of the partition walls, so that the plan of the apartments 
can be distinctly made out. This floor is of a hard ce- 
ment, which, though year after year washed by the 
floods of the rainy season, is hard and durable as stone. 
The inner walls were covered with, plaster of a finer 
description, and in corners where there had been less 
exposure were the remains of colours ; no doubt the 
whole interior had been ornamented with paintings. 
It gave a strange sensation to walk the floor of that 
roofless palace, and think of that king who left it at the 
head of seventy thousand men to repel the invaders of 
his empire. Corn was now growing among the ruins. 
The ground was used by an Indian family which claim- 
ed to be descended from the royal house. In one place 
was a desolate hut, occupied by them at the time of 
planting and gathering the corn. Adjoining the palace 
was a large plaza or courtyard, also covered with hard 
cement, in the centre of which were the relics of a fount- 

The most important part remaining of these ruins is 
that which appears in the engraving, and which is call- 


ed El Sacrificatorio, or the place of sacrifice. It is a 
quadrangular stone structure, sixty-six feet on each side 
at the base, and rising in a pyramidal form to the height, 
in its present condition, of thirty-three feet. On three 
sides there is a range of steps in the middle, each step 
seventeen inches high, and but eight inches on the up- 
per surface, which makes the range so steep that in de- 
scending some caution is necessary. At the corners are 
four buttresses of cut stone, diminishing in size from the 
line of the square, and apparently intended to support 
the structure. On the side facing the west there are no 
steps, but the surface is smooth and covered with stuc- 
co, gray from long exposure. By breaking a little at 
the corners we saw that there were different layers of 
stucco, doubtless put on at different times, and all had 
been ornamented with painted figures. In one place 
we made out part of the body of a leopard, well drawn 
and coloured. 

The top of the Sacrificatorio is broken and ruined, 
but there is no doubt that it once supported an altar for 
those sacrifices of human victims which struck even the 
Spaniards with horror. It was barely large enough for 
the altar and officiating priests, and the idol to whom 
the sacrifice was offered. The whole was in full view 
of the people at the foot. 

The barbarous ministers carried up the victim entire- 
ly naked, pointed out the idol to which the sacrifice was 
made, that the people might pay their adorations, and 
then extended him upon the altar. This had a convex 
surface, and the body of the victim lay arched, with 
the trunk elevated and the head and feet depressed. 
Four priests held the legs and arms, and another 
kept his head firm with a wooden instrument made in 
the form of a coiled serpent, so that he was prevented 

View of the Place of Srifi* iitHuiru 

.Hrti<m of -Hit T 

> f e te m 

Hace of Sacrifice 

<rf tl\i> S-t.'pii axowiilmgio tlif 1i>]> l!> tttrpx 
rernnin OntkM T e > ti l ]-t}iM> > no .%v 



from making the least movement. The head priest then 
approached, and with a knife made of flint cut an aper- 
ture in the breast, and tore out the heart, which, yet pal- 
pitating, he offered to the sun, and then threw it at the 
feet of the idol. If the idol was gigantic and hollow, it 
was usual to introduce the heart of the victim into its 
mouth with a golden spoon. If the victim was a prisoner 
of war, as soon as he was sacrificed they cut off the head 
to preserve the scull, and threw the body down the steps, 
when it was taken up by the officer or soldier to whom 
the prisoner had belonged, and carried to his house to 
be dressed and served up as an entertainment for his 
friends. If he was not a prisoner of war, but a slave 
purchased for the sacrifice, the proprietor carried off the 
body for the same purpose. In recurring to the barba- 
rous scenes of which the spot had been the theatre, it 
seemed a righteous award that the bloody altar was 
hurled down, and the race of its ministers destroyed. 

It was fortunate for us, in the excited state of the 
country, that it was not necessary to devote much time 
to an examination of these ruins. In 1834 a thorough 
exploration had been made under a commission from 
the government of Guatimala. Don Miguel Rivera y 
Maestre, a gentleman distinguished for his scientific and 
antiquarian tastes, was the commissioner, and kindly 
furnished me with a copy of his manuscript report to 
the government, written out by himself. This report is 
full and elaborate, and I have no doubt is the result of 
a thorough examination, but it does not refer to any 
objects of interest except those I have mentioned. He 
procured, however, the image of which a front and side 
view appear in the engraving opposite, and which, 
without my venturing to express a wish for it, he kind- 
ly gave to me. It is made of baked clay, very hard, 



and the surface as smooth as if coated with enamel. It 
is twelve inches high, and the interior is hollow, in- 
cluding the arms and legs. In his report to the govern- 
ment, Don Miguel calls it Cabuahuil, or one of the dei- 
ties of the ancient inhabitants of Quiche. I do not 
know upon what authority he has given it this name, 
but to me it does not seem improbable that his sup- 
position is true, and that to this earthen vessel human 
victims have been offered in sacrifice. 

The heads in the engraving were given me by the 
cura. They are of terra cotta ; the lower one is hol- 
low and the upper is solid, with a polished surface. 
They are hard as stone, and in workmanship will com- 
pare with images in the same material by artists of the 
present day. 

In our investigation of antiquities we considered this 
place important from the fact that its history is known 
and its date fixed. It was in its greatest splendour 
when Alvarado conquered it. It proves the character 
of the buildings which the Indians of that day construct- 
ed, and in its ruins confirms the glowing accounts given 
by Cortez and his companions of the splendour display- 
ed in the edifices of Mexico. The point to which we 
directed our attention was to discover some resemblance 
to the ruins of Copan and Quirigua ; but we did not 
find statues, or carved figures, or hieroglyphics, nor 
could we learn that any had ever been found there. If 
there had been such evidences we should have consid- 
ered these remains the works of the same race of peo- 
ple, but in the absence of such evidences we believed 
that Copan and Quirigua were cities of another race 
and of a much older date. 

The padre told us that thirty years before, when he 
first saw it, the palace was entire to the garden. He was 


then fresh from the palaces of Spain, and it seemed as 
if he was again among them. Shortly after his arrival 
a small gold image was found and sent to Zerabia, the 
president of Guatimala, who ordered a commission 
from the capital to search for hidden treasure. In this 
search the palace was destroyed ; the Indians, roused 
by the destruction of their ancient capital, rose, and 
threatened to kill the workmen unless they left the coun- 
try ; and but for this, the cura said, every stone would 
have been razed to the ground. The Indians of Quich6 
have at all times a bad name ; at Guatimala it was al- 
ways spoken of as an unsafe place to visit ; and the padre 
told us that they looked with distrust upon any stranger 
coming to the ruins. At that moment they were in a 
state of universal excitement ; and coming close to us, 
he said that in the village they stood at swords' points 
with the Mestitzoes, ready to cut their throats, and with 
all his exertions he could barely keep down a general 
rising and massacre. Even this information he gave us 
with a laugh. We asked him if he had no fears for 
himself. He said no ; that he was beloved by the In- 
dians ; he had passed the greater part of his life among 
them ; and as yet the padres were safe : the Indians 
considered them almost as saints. Here he laughed. 
Carrera was on their side ; but if he turned against them 
it would be time to fly. This was communicated and 
received with peals of laughter ; and the more serious 
the subject, the louder was our cachinnation. And all 
the time the padre made continual reference to books 
and manuscripts, showing antiquarian studies and pro- 
found knowledge. 

Under one of the buildings was an opening which 
the Indians called a cave, and by which they said one 
could reach Mexico in an hour. I crawled under, and 


found a pointed-arch roof formed by stones lapping 
over each other, but was prevented exploring it by 
want of light, and the padre's crying to me that it was 
the season of earthquakes ; and he laughed more than 
usual at the hurry with which I came out ; but all at 
once he stopped, and grasping his pantaloons, hopped 
about, crying, "a snake, a snake." The guide and 
Bobon hurried to his relief ; and by a simple process, 
but with great respect, one at work on each side, were 
in a fair way of securing the intruder ; but the padre 
could not stand still, and with his agitation and restless- 
ness tore loose from their hold, and brought to light a 
large grasshopper. While Bobon and the guide, with- 
out a smile, restored him, and put each button in its 
place, we finished with a laugh outrageous to the mem- 
ory of the departed inhabitants, and to all sentiment 
connected with the ruins of a great city. 

As we returned to the village the padre pointed out 
on the plain the direction of four roads, which led, and 
which, according to him, are still open, to Mexico, Tec- 
pan Guatimala, Los Altos, and Vera Paz. 



Interior of a Convent. Royal Bird of Quiche. Indian Languages. The Lord's 
Prayer in the Quiche Language. Numerals in the same Church of Quiche*. 
Indian Superstitions. Another lost City. Tierra de Guerra. The Abori- 
ginals. Their Conversion to Christianity. They were never conquered. A 
living City. Indian Tradition respecting this City. Probably has never been 
visited by the Whites. Presents a noble Field for future Enterprise. Depar- 
ture. San Pedro. Virtue of a Passport. A difficult Ascent. Mountain 
Scenery. Totonicapan. An excellent Dinner. A Country of Aloes. " River 
of Blood." Arrival at Quezaltenango. 

IT was late when we returned to the convent. The 
good padre regretted not being at home when we arri- 
ved, and said that he always locked his room to prevent 
the women throwing things into confusion. When we 
entered it was in what he called order, but this order was 
of a class that beggars description. The room contain- 
ed a table, chairs, and two settees, but there was not a 
vacant place even on the table to sit down or to lay a 
hat upon. Every spot was encumbered with articles, 
of which four bottles, a cruet of mustard and another of 
oil, bones, cups, plates, sauce-boat, a large lump of su- 
gar, a paper of salt, minerals and large stones, shells, 
pieces of pottery, sculls, bones, cheese, books, and man- 
uscripts formed part. On a shelf over his bed were two 
stuffed quezales, the royal bird of Quiche, the most 
beautiful that flies, so proud of its tail that it builds its 
nest with two openings, to pass in and out without turn- 
ing, and whose plumes were not permitted to be used 
except by the royal family. 

Amid this confusion a corner was cleared on the ta- 
ble for dinner. The conversation continued in the same 
unbroken stream of knowledge, research, sagacity, and 
satire on his part. Political matters were spoken of in 


whispers when any servants were in the rooms. A 
laugh was the comment upon everything, and in the 
evening we were deep in the mysteries of Indian his- 

Besides the Mexican or Aztec language, spoken by 
the Pipil Indians along the coast of the Pacific, there 
are twenty-four dialects peculiar to Guatimala. Though 
sometimes bearing such a strong resemblance in some 
of their idioms that the Indians of one tribe can under- 
stand each other, in general the padres, after years o 
residence, can only speak the language of the tribe 
among which they live. This diversity of languages 
had seemed to me an insuperable impediment in the 
way of any thorough investigation and study of Indian 
history and traditions ; but the cura, profound in every- 
thing that related to the Indians, told us that the Quiche 
was the parent tongue, and that, by one familiar with 
it, the others are easily acquired. If this be true, a new 
and most interesting field of research is opened. Du- 
ring my whole journey, even at Guatimala, I had not 
been able to procure any grammar of an Indian lan- 
guage, nor any manuscripts. I made several vocabu- 
laries, which I have not thought it worth while to pub- 
lish ; but the padre had a book prepared by some of the 
early fathers for the church service, which he promised 
to have copied for me and sent to a friend at Guatima- 
la, and from which I copied the Lord's prayer in the 
Q,uich6 language. It is as follows : 

Cacahan chicah lae coni Vtzah. Vcahaxtizaxie mayih 
Bila Chipa ta pa Cani ahauremla Chibantah. Ahuamla 
Uaxale Chiyala Chiqueeh hauta Vleus quehexi Caban 
Chicah. Uacamic Chiyala. Chiqueeh hauta. Eihil 
Caua. Zachala Camac quehexi Cacazachbep qui. Mac 
Xemocum Chiqueeh: moho Estachcula maxa Copahic 


Chupamtah Chibal mac xanare Cohcolta la ha Vonohel 
itgel quehe Chucoe. Amen. 

I will add the following numerals, as taken from the 
same book : 

Hun, one. Uaelahuh, sixteen. 

Quieb, two. Velahuh, seventeen. 

Dxib, three. Uapxaelahuh, eighteen. 

Quieheb, four. Belehalahuh, nineteen. 

Hoobj^foe. Huuinac, twenty. 

Uacacguil, six. Huuinacfaw, twenty-one. 

Veuib, seven. Huuinachlahuh, thirty. 

Uahxalquib, eight. Cauinae, forty. 

Beleheb, nine. Lahuh Raxcal, fifty. 
Lahuh, ten. ' Oxcal, sixty. 

Hulahuh, eleven. Lahuh Vhumuch, seventy. 

Cablahuh, twelve. Humuch, eighty. 

Dxlahuh, thirteen. Lahuh Rocal, ninety. 

Cahlahuh, fourteen. Ocal, a hundred. 

Hoolahuh, fifteen. Otuc Rox Ocob, a thousand. 

Whether there is any analogy between this language 
and that of any of our own Indian tribes, I am not able 
to say. 

For a man who has not reached that period when a 
few years tell upon his teeth and hair, I know of no 
place where, if the country becomes quiet, they might 
be passed with greater interest than at Santa Cruz del 
Quiche, in studying, by means of their language, the 
character and traditionary history of the Indians ; for 
here they still exist, in many respects, an unchanged 
people, cherishing the usages and customs of their an- 
cestors ; and though the grandeur and magnificence of 
the churches, the pomp and show of religious ceremo- 
nies, affect their rude imaginations, the padre told us 


that in their hearts they were full of superstitions, and 
still idolaters ; had their idols in the mountains and ra- 
vines, and in silence and secrecy practised the rites re- 
ceived from their fathers. He was compelled to wink 
at them ; and there was one proof which he saw every 
day. The church of Quiche stands east and west. On 
entering it for vespers the Indians always bowed to the 
west, in reverence to the setting sun. He told us, too, 
what requires confirmation, and what we were very cu- 
rious to judge of for ourselves, that in a cave near a 
neighbouring village were sculls much larger than the 
natural size, and regarded with superstitious reverence 
by the Indians. He had seen them, and vouched for 
their gigantic dimensions. Once he placed a piece of 
money in the mouth of the cave, and a year afterward 
found the money still lying in the same place, while, he 
said, if it had beeh left on his table, it would have dis- 
appeared with the first Indian who entered. 

The padre's whole manner was now changed ; his 
keen satire and his laugh were gone. There was in- 
terest enough about the Indians to occupy the mind 
and excite the imagination of one who laughed at ev- 
erything else in the world ; and his enthusiasm, like 
his laugh, was infectious. Notwithstanding our haste 
to reach Palenque, we felt a strong desire to track 
them in the solitude of their mountains and deep ra- 
vines, and watch them in the observance of -their idol- 
atrous rites ; but the padre did not give us any encour- 
agement. In fact, he opposed our remaining another 
day, even to visit the cave of sculls. He made no 
apology for hurrying us away. He lived in unbroken 
solitude, in a monotonous routine of occupations, and 
the visit of a stranger was to him an event most wel- 
come; but there was danger in our remaining. The 


Indians were in an inflammable state ; they were al- 
ready inquiring what we came there for, and he could 
not answer for our safety. In a few months, perhaps, 
the excitement might pass away, and then we could re- 
turn. He loved the subjects we took interest in, and 
would join us in all our expeditions, and aid us with all 
his influence. 

And the padre's knowledge was not confined to his 
own immediate neighbourhood. His first curacy was 
at Coban, in the province of Vera Paz ; and he told us 
that four leagues from that place was another ancient 
city, as large as Santa Cruz del Quiche, deserted and 
desolate, and almost as perfect as when evacuated by 
its inhabitants. He had wandered through its silent 
streets and over its gigantic buildings, and its palace 
was as entire as that of Quichfe when he first saw it. 
This is within two hundred miles of Guatimala, and in 
a district of country not disturbed by war ; yet, with all 
our inquiries, we had heard nothing of it. And now, 
the information really grieved us. Going to the place 
would add eight hundred miles to our journey. Our 
plans were fixed, our time already limited ; and in that 
wild country and its unsettled state, we had supersti- 
tious apprehensions that it was ominous to return. My 
impression, however, of the existence of such a city is 
most strong. I do most earnestly hope that some fu- 
ture traveller will visit it. He will not hear of it even 
at Guatimala, and perhaps will be told that it does not 
exist. Nevertheless, let him seek for it ; and if he do 
find it, experience sensations which seldom fall to the 
lot of man. 

But the padre told us more ; something that increas- 
ed our excitement to the highest pitch. On the other 
side of the great traversing range of Cordilleras lies the 

VOL. II. B B 17 


district of Vera Paz, once called Tierra de Guerra, 01 
land of war, from the warlike character of its aborigi- 
nal inhabitants. Three times the Spaniards were driven 
back in their attempts to conquer it. Las Casas, vicar 
of the convent of the Dominican order in the city of 
Guatimala, mourning over the bloodshed caused by 
what was called converting the Indians to Christianity, 
wrote a treatise to prove that Divine Providence had 
instituted the preaching of the Gospel as the only 
means of conversion to the Christian faith; that war 
could not with justice be made upon those who had 
never committed any aggressions against Christians; 
and that to harass and destroy the Indians was to pre- 
vent the accomplishing of this desired object. This 
doctrine he preached from the pulpit, and enforced in 
private assemblies. He was laughed at, ridiculed, and 
eneeringly advisecl to put his theory in practice. Un- 
disturbed by this mockery, he accepted the proposal, 
choosing as the field of his operations the unconquerable 
district called Tierra de Guerra, and made an arrange- 
ment that no Spaniards should be permitted to reside in 
that country for five years. This agreed upon, the 
Dominicans composed some hymns in the Q,uich6 lan- 
guage, describing the creation of the world, the fall of 
Adam, the redemption of mankind, and the principal 
mysteries of the life, passion, and death of our Saviour. 
These were learned by some Indians who traded with 
the Quiches, and a principal cacique of the country, 
afterward called Don Juan, having heard them sung, 
asked those who had repeated them to explain in detail 
the meaning of things so new to him. The Indians 
excused themselves, saying that they could only be ex- 
plained by the fathers who had taught them. The ca- 
cique sent one of his brothers with many presents, to 


entreat that they would come and make him acquainted 
with what was contained in the songs of the Indian 
merchants. A single Dominican friar returned with the 
ambassador, and the cacique, having been made to 
comprehend the mysteries of the new faith, burned his 
idols and preached Christianity to his own subjects. 
Las Casas and another associate followed, and, like the 
apostles of old, without scrip or staff, effected what 
Spanish arms could not, bringing a portion of the Land 
of War to the Christian faith. The rest of the Tierra 
de Gueira never was conquered ; and at this day the 
northeastern section, bounded by the range of the Cor- 
dilleras and the State of Chiapas, is occupied by Can- 
dones or unbaptized Indians, who live as their fathers 
did, acknowledging no submission to the Spaniards, and 
the government of Central America does not pretend 
to exercise any control over them. But the thing that 
roused us was the assertion by the padre that, four days 
on the road to Mexico, on the other side of the great 
sierra, was a living city, large and populous, occupied 
by Indians, precisely in the same state as before the 
discovery of America. He had heard of it many years 
before at the village of Chajul, and was told by the vil- 
lagers that from the topmost ridge of the sierra this city 
was distinctly visible. He was then young, and with 
much labour climbed to the naked summit of the sierra, 
from which, at a height of ten or twelve thousand feet, he 
looked over an immense plain extending to Yucatan and 
the Gulf of Mexico, and saw at a great distance a large 
city spread over a great space, and with turrets white 
and glittering in the sun. The traditionary account of 
the Indians of Chajul is, that no white man has ever 
reached this city ; that the inhabitants speak the Maya 
language, are aware that a race of strangers has con- 


quered the whole country around, and murder any 
white man who attempts to enter their territory. They 
have no coin or other circulating medium ; no horses, 
cattle, mules, or other domestic animals except fowls, 
and the cocks they keep under ground to prevent their 
crowing being heard. 

There was a wild novelty something that touched 
the imagination in every step of our journey in that 
country; the old padre, in the deep stillness of the 
dimly-lighted convent, with his long black coat like a 
robe, and his flashing eye, called up an image of the 
bold and resolute priests who accompanied the armies 
of the conquerors ; and as he drew a map on the table, 
and pointed out the sierra to the top of which he had 
climbed, and the position of the mysterious city, the in- 
terest awakened in us was the most thrilling I ever ex- 
perienced. One look at that city was worth ten years 
of an every-day life. If he is right, a place is left where 
Indians and an Indian city exist as Cortez and Alvarado 
found them ; there are living men who can solve the 
mystery that hangs over the ruined cities of America ; 
perhaps who can go to Copan and read the inscriptions 
on its monuments. No subject more exciting and at- 
tractive presents itself to my mind, and the deep im- 
pression of that night will never be effaced. 

Can it be true ? Being now in my sober senses, I do 
verily believe there is much ground to suppose that what 
the padre told us is authentic. That the region referred 
to does not acknowledge the government of Guatimala, 
has never been explored, and that no white man ever 
pretends to enter it, I am satisfied. From other sour- 
ces we heard that from that sierra a large ruined city 
was visible, and we were told of another person who 
had climbed to the top of the sierra, but, on account of 


the dense cloud resting upon it, had been unable to see 
anything. At all events, the belief at the village of 
Chajul is general, and a curiosity is roused that burns 
to be satisfied. We had a craving desire to reach the 
mysterious city. No man, even if willing to peril his 
life, could undertake the enterprise with any hope of 
success, without hovering for one or two years on the 
borders of the country, studying the language and char- 
acter of the adjoining Indians, and making acquaintance 
with some of the natives. Five hundred men could 
probably march directly to the city, and the invasion 
would be more justifiable than any ever made by the 
Spaniards ; but the government is too much occupied 
with its own wars, and the knowledge could not be 
procured except at the price of blood. Two young 
men of good constitution, and who could afford to 
spare five years, might succeed. If the object of search 
prove a phantom, in the wild scenes of a new and un- 
explored country there are other objects of interest ; 
but if real, besides the glorious excitement of such a 
novelty, they will have something .to look back upon 
through life. As to the dangers, these are always mag- 
nified, and, in general, peril is discovered soon enough 
for escape. But in all probability, if any discovery is 
ever made it will be by the padres. As for ourselves, 
to attempt it alone, ignorant of the language, and with 
mozos who were a constant annoyance to us, was out 
of the question. The most we thought of was a climb 
to the top of the sierra, thence to look down upon the 
mysterious city ; but we had difficulties enough in the 
road before us ; it would add ten days to a journey al- 
ready almost appalling in prospective ; for days the si- 
erra might be covered with clouds ; in attempting too 
much we might lose all ; Palenque was our great point, 


and we determined not to be diverted from the course 
we had marked out. 

The next morning we had one painful moment with 
the cura, and that was the moment of parting. He was 
then calm and kind, his irresistible laugh and his en- 
thusiasm all gone. We had one village to pass at 
which he told us the Indians were bad, for which rea- 
son he gave us a letter to the justitia ; and in the kind- 
ness of his heart insisted on my accepting one of his 
beautiful quezales. 

As this was Holy Week, we had great difficulty in 
procuring a guide. None of the Indians wished to 
leave the village, and the alcalde told an alguazil to 
take a man out of prison. After a parley with the in- 
mates through the grating, one was selected, but kept 
in confinement till the moment of starting, when the al- 
guazil opened the door and let him out, our roll of 
luggage was put on his back, and he set off. The bat- 
tered soldier accompanied us a short distance, and Bobon 
went before, carrying on a stick the royal bird of Quiche. 
Crossing the plain and the ravine on which the city 
stood, we ascended a mountain in the rear, command- 
ing a magnificent view of the plain of Q,uich, and de- 
scending on the other side, at the distance of two 
leagues reached the village of San Pedro. A thatched 
church, with a cross before it, stood near the road, and 
the huts of the village were a little in the rear. The 
padre had told us that the Indians of this place were 
" muy malosj" very bad ; and as our guide, when he re- 
turned, had to be locked up in prison, to avoid the ne- 
cessity of stopping we tried to induce him to continue ; 
but he dropped his load at the foot of the cross, and 
ran back in such haste that he left behind his rag- 
ged chamar. The justitia was a Mestitzo, who sent for 


the alcalde, and presently that worthy trotted down 
with six alguazils, marching in single file, all with 
wands in their hands, and dressed in handsome cloth 
cloaks, the holyday costume for the Holy Week. We 
told them that we wanted a guide, and the whole six 
set off to look for one. In about ten minutes they re- 
turned single file, exactly on the same trot as before, 
and said they could not find any ; the whole week was 
holyday, and no one wanted to leave home. I showed 
Carrera's passport, and told the justitia he must go him- 
self, or send one of his alguazils, and they set off again 
in pursuit. After waiting a little while, I walked to the 
top of a hill near by, and saw them all seated below, 
apparently waiting for me to go. As soon as they saw 
me they ran back in a body to repeat that they could 
not find a guide. I offered them double price, but they 
were immovable ; and feeling rather uncertain what 
turn things might take, I talked largely of Carrera's 
vengeance, not contenting myself with turning them out 
of office, but taking off their heads at once. After a 
few moments' consultation they all rose quietly ; one 
doffed his dignity and dress, the rest rolled up the cargo, 
and throwing it on his bare back, placed the band 
across his forehead, and set him off on a run. We follow- 
ed, the secretary begging me to write to Carrera that it 
was not through his fault I was kept waiting, and that he 
would have been my guide himself if I had not found 
another. At a short distance another alguazil, by a 
cross cut, intercepted and relieved the first, and they 
ran so fast that on the rough road we could not keep up 
with them. 

The road was indeed rough and wild beyond all 
description ; and very soon we reached another im- 
mense ravine, descended it, and commenced an ascent 


on the opposite side, which occupied three hours. 
Through openings in the woods we looked down pre- 
cipices one or two thousand feet deep, while the 
mountain side was still higher above us. The whole 
mountain was clothed with luxuriant vegetation, and 
though wanting the rocky, savage grandeur of Alpine 
scenery, at every turn the view was sublime. As we 
climbed up we met a few Indians who could speak no 
language but their own, and reaching the top, saw a 
wretched spectacle of the beings made in God's image. 
A drunken Indian was lying on the ground, his face 
cut with a machete, and weltering in his blood ; and a 
drunken woman was crying over him. Our Indians 
stopped and spoke to them, but we could not under- 
stand what they said. At about three o'clock we emer- 
ged from the woods, and very soon saw Totonicapan, 
at a great distance, and far below us, on a magnificent 
plain, with a high table of land behind it, a range of 
mountains springing from the table, and rising above 
them the Volcano of Quezaltenango. The town was 
spread over a large space, and the flat roofs of the 
houses seemed one huge covering, broken only by the 
steeple of the church. We descended the mountain to 
the banks of a beautiful stream, along which Indian 
women were washing ; and following it, entered the 
town, and rode up to the house of the corregidor, Don 
Jos6 Azmitia. Our luggage had arrived safely, and in 
a few minutes our men presented themselves to receive 

Much might be said of Totonicapan as the head of a 
department, and surrounded by mountains visible on all 
sides from the plaza ; but I stop only to record an event. 
All along, with the letters to corregidors, the passport 
of Carrera, and the letter of the archbishop, our road 


had been a sort of triumphal march ; but at this place 
we dined, i. e., we had a dinner. The reader may re- 
member that in Costa Rica I promised to offend but 
once more by referring to such a circumstance. That 
time has come, and I should consider myself an ingrate 
if I omitted to mention it. We were kept waiting per- 
haps two hours, and we had not eaten anything in 
more than twelve. We had clambered over terrible 
mountains ; and at six o'clock, on invitation, with hands 
and faces washed, and in dress-coats, sat down with the 
corregidor. Courses came regularly and in right suc- 
cession. Servants were well trained, and our host did 
the honours as if he was used to the same thing every 
day. But it was not so with us. Like Rittmaster Du- 
gald Dalgetty, we ate very fast and very long, on his 
principle deeming it the duty of every commander of a 
fortress, on all occasions which offer, to secure as much 
munition and vivas as their magazines can possibly hold. 

We were again on the line of Carrera's operations ; 
the place was alive with apprehensions; white men 
were trembling for their lives ; and I advised our host 
to leave the country and come to the United States. 

The next morning we breakfasted with him, and at 
eleven o'clock, while a procession was forming in the 
plaza, we started for Quezaltenango, descended a ra- 
vine commanding at every point a beautiful view, as- 
cended a mountain, from which we looked back upon 
the plain- and town of Totonicapan, and on the top en- 
tered a magnificent plain, cultivated with cornfields and 
dotted with numerous flocks of sheep, the first we had 
seen in the country ; on both sides of the road were 
hedges of gigantic aloes. In one place we counted up- 
ward of two hundred in full bloom. In the middle of 
the plain, at the distance of two and a half leagues, we 

VOL. II. C c 


crossed, on a rude bridge of logs, a broad river, memo- 
rable for the killed and wounded thrown into it in Alva- 
rado's battle with the Quich6 Indians, and called the 
"River of Blood." Two leagues beyond we came in 
sight of Quezaltenango, standing at the foot of a great 
range of mountains, surmounted by a rent volcano con- 
stantly emitting smoke, and before it a mountain ridge 
of lava, which, if it had taken its course toward the city, 
would have buried it like Herculaneum and Pompeii. 



Quezaltenango. Account of it. Conversion of the Inhabitants to Christianity. 
Appearance of the City. The Convent. Insurrection. Carrera's March 
upon Quezaltenango. His Treatment of the Inhabitants. Preparations for 
Holy Week. The Church. A Procession. Good Friday. Celebration of the 
Resurrection. Opening Ceremony. The Crucifixion. A Sermon. Descent 
from the Cross. Grand Procession. Church of El Calvario. The Case of 
the Cura. Warm Springs of Almolonga. 

WE were again on classic soil. The reader perhaps 
requires to be reminded that the city stands on the site of 
the ancient Xelahuh, next to Utatlan the largest city in 
Quiche, the word Xelahuh meaning " under the govern- 
ment of ten ;" that is, it was governed by ten principal 
captains, each captain presiding over eight thousand 
dwellings, in all eighty thousand, and containing, ac- 
cording to Fuentes, more than three hundred thousand 
inhabitants ; that on the defeat of Tecum Umam by Al- 
varado, the inhabitants abandoned the city, and fled to 
their ancient fortresses, Excansel the volcano, and Cek- 
xak, another mountain adjoining ; that the Spaniards en- 
tered the deserted city, and, according to a manuscript 
found in the village of San Andres Xecul, their videttes 
captured the four celebrated caciques, whose names, the 
reader doubtless remembers, were Calel Kalek, Ahpop- 
gueham, Calelahan, and Calelaboy ; the Spanish rec- 
ords say that they fell on their knees before Pedro Al- 
varado, while a priest explained to them the nature of 
the Christian faith, and they declared themselves ready 
to embrace it. Two of them were retained as hostages, 
and the others sent back to the fortresses, who returned 
with such multitudes of Indians ready to be baptized, 
that the priests, from sheer fatigue, could no longer lift 
their arms to perform the ceremony. 


As we approached, seven towering churches showed 
that the religion so hastily adopted had not died away. 
In a few minutes we entered the city. The streets 
were handsomely paved, and the houses picturesque in 
architecture ; the cabildo had two stories and a corri- 
dor. The Cathedral, with its facade richly decorated, 
was grand and imposing. The plaza was paved with 
stone, having a fine fountain in the centre, and com- 
manding a magnificent view of the volcano and mount- 
ains around. It was the day before Good Friday ; the 
streets and plaza were crowded with people in their 
best attire, the Indians wearing large black cloaks, 
with broad-brimmed felt sombreros, and the women a 
white frock, covering the head except an oblong open- 
ing for the face ; some wore a sort of turban of red 
cord plaited with the hair. The bells were hushed, 
and wooden clappers sounded in their stead. As we 
rode through, armed to the teeth, the crowd made way 
in silence. We passed the door of the church, and en- 
tered the great gate of the convent. The cura was 
absent at the moment, but a respectable-looking ser- 
vant-woman received us in a manner that assured us of 
a welcome from her master. There was, however, an 
air of excitement and trepidation in the whole house- 
hold, and it was not long before the good woman un- 
burdened herself of matters fearfully impressed upon 
her mind. 

After chocolate we went to the corregidor, to whom 
we presented our letters from the government and Car- 
rera's passport. He was one of Morazan's expulsados, 
a fine, military-looking man, but, as he told us, not a 
soldier by profession ; he was in office by accident, and 
exceedingly anxious to lay down his command ; in < 
deed, his brief service had been no sinecure. He in 


troduced us to Don Juan Lavanigna, an Italian from 
Genoa, banished on account of a revolution headed by 
the present king, then heir apparent, and intended to 
put him on the throne, but out of which he basely drew 
himself, leaving his followers to their fate. How the 
signer found his way to this place I did not learn, but 
he had not found peace ; and, if I am not deceived, he 
was as anxious to get out of it as ever he was to leave 

On our return to the convent we found the cura, who 
gave us personally the welcome assured to us by his 
housekeeper. With him was a respectable-looking In- 
dian, bearing the imposing title of Gobernador, being 
the Indian alcalde ; and it was rather singular that, in 
an hour after our arrival at Quezaltenango, we had be- 
come acquainted with the four surviving victims of Car- 
rera's wrath, all of whom had narrowly escaped death 
at the time of the outrage, the rumour of which reached 
us at Guatimala. The place was still quivering under 
the shock of that event. We had heard many of the 
particulars on the road, and in Quezaltenango, except 
the parties concerned, no one could speak of anything 

On the first entry of Morazan's soldiers into the plaza 
at Guatimala, in an unfortunate moment, a courier was 
sent to Quezaltenango to announce the capture of the 
city. The effect there was immediate and decided; 
the people rose upon the garrison left by Carrera, 
and required them to lay down their arms. The cor- 
regidor, not wishing to fire upon the townsmen, and 
finding it would be impossible with his small force to 
repress the insurrection, by the advice of the cura and 
Don Juan Lavanigna, to prevent bloodshed and a gen- 
eral massacre, induced the soldiers to lay down their 



arms and leave the town. The same night the muni- 
cipality, without his knowledge, nominated Don Juan 
Lavanigna as commandant. He refused to serve ; but 
the town was in a violent state of excitement, and they 
urged him to accept for that night only, representing 
that if he did not the fury of the populace would be di- 
rected against him. The same night they made a pro- 
nunciamento in favour of Morazan, and addressed a let- 
ter of congratulation to him, which they despatched im- 
mediately by an Indian courier. It will be remember- 
ed, however, that in the mean time Morazan had been 
driven out of Guatimala, and that Carrera had pursued 
him in his flight. At the Antigua the latter met a dis- 
armed sergeant, who informed him of the proceedings 
at Quezaltenango, whereupon, abandoning his pursuit 
of Morazan, he marched directly thither. Early intel- 
ligence was received of his approach, and the corregidor, 
the cura, and Don Juan Lavanigna were sent as a dep- 
utation to receive him. They met him at Totonicapan. 
Carrera had heard on the road of their agency in indu- 
cing the soldiers to surrender their arms, and his first 
greeting was a furious declaration that their heads should 
lie at that place ; laying aside his fanaticism and re- 
spect for the priests, he broke out against the cura in 
particular, who, he said, was a relative of Morazan. 
The cura said he was not a relative, but only a coun- 
tryman (which in that region means a townsman), and 
could not help the place of his birth ; but Carrera forth- 
with ordered four soldiers to remove him a few paces 
and shoot him on the spot. The gobernador, the old 
Indian referred to, threw himself on his knees and 
begged the cura's life ; but Carrera drew his sword 
and struck the Indian twice across the shoulder, and the 
wounds were stil] unhealed when we saw him ; but he 


desisted from his immediate purpose of shooting the 
cura, and delivered him over to the soldiers. Don 
Juan Lavanigna was saved by Carrera's secretary, who 
exhibited in El Tiempo, the government paper of Gua- 
timala, an extract from a letter written by Don Juan to 
a friend in Guatimala, praising Carrera's deportment on 
his previous entry into Quezaltenango, and the disci- 
pline and good behaviour of his troops. 

Early the next morning Carrera marched into Quez- 
altenango, with the cura and Don Juan as prisoners. 
The municipality waited upon him in the plaza ; but, un- 
happily, the Indian intrusted with the letter to Morazan 
had loitered in the town, and at this unfortunate mo- 
ment presented it to Carrera. Before his secretary had 
finished reading it, Carrera, in a transport of fury, 
drew his sword to kill them on the spot with his own 
hand, wounded Molina, the alcalde-mayor, and two oth- 
er members of the municipality, but checked himself 
and ordered the soldiers to seize them. He then rode 
to the corregidor, where he again broke out into fury, 
and drew his sword upon him. A woman in the room 
threw herself before the corregidor, and Carrera struck 
around her several times, but finally checked himself 
again, and ordered the corregidor to be shot unless 
he raised five thousand dollars by contributions upon 
the town. Don Juan and the cura he had locked up in 
a room with the threat to shoot them at five o'clock that 
afternoon unless they paid him one thousand dollars 
each, and the former two hundred, and the latter one 
hundred to his secretary. Don Juan was the principal 
merchant in the town, but even for him it was difficult 
to raise that sum. The poor cura told Carrera that he 
was not worth a cent in the world except his furniture 
and books. No one was allowed to visit him except 


the old housekeeper who first told us the story. Many 
of his friends had fled or hidden themselves away, and 
the old housekeeper ran from place to place with notes 
written by him, begging five dollars, ten dollars, any- 
thing she could get. One old lady sent him a hundred 
dollars. At four o'clock, with all his efforts, he had 
raised but seven hundred dollars ; but, after undergo- 
ing all the mental agonies of death, when the cura had 
given up all hope, Don Juan, who had been two hours 
at liberty, made up the deficiency, and he was released. 
The next morning Carrera sent to Don Juan to bor- 
row his shaving apparatus, and Don Juan took them 
over himself. He had always been on good terms with 
Carrera, and the latter asked him if he had got over his 
fright, talking with him as familiarly as if nothing had 
happened. Shortly afterward he was seen at the win- 
dow playing on a guitar ; and in an hour thereafter, 
eighteen members of the municipality, without the 
slightest form of trial, not even a drum-head court-mar- 
tial, were taken out into the plaza and shot. They 
were all the very first men in Quezaltenango ; and Mo- 
lina, the alcalde-mayor, in family, position, and charac- 
ter was second to no other in the republic. His wife 
was clinging to Carrera's knees, and begging for his 
life when he passed with a file of soldiers. She scream- 
ed " Robertito ;" he looked at her, but did not speak. 
She shrieked and fainted, and before she recovered her 
husband was dead. He was taken around the corner 
of the house, seated on a stone, and despatched at once. 
The others were seated in the same place, one at a 
time ; the stone and the wall of the house were still red 
with their blood. I was told that Carrera shed tears 
for the death of the first two, but for the rest he said he 
did not care. Heretofore, in all their revolutions, there 


had been some show of regard for the tribunals of jus- 
tice, and the horror of the citizens at this lawless mur- 
der of their best men cannot be conceived. The facts 
were notorious to everybody in Quezaltenango. We 
heard them, with but little variation of detail, from more 
than a dozen different persons. 

Having consummated this enormity, Carrera returned 
to Guatimala, and the place had not yet recovered from 
its consternation. It was considered a blow at the 
whites, and all feared the horrors of a war of castes. I 
have avoided speaking harshly of Carrera when I could. 
I consider myself under personal obligations to him, 
and without his protection I never could have travelled 
through the country ; but it is difficult to suppress the 
feelings of indignation excited against the government, 
which, conscious of the enormity of his conduct and 
of his utter contempt for them, never dared call him to 
account, and now cajoles and courts him, sustaining it- 
self in power by his favour alone. 

To return to the cura : he was about forty-five, tall, 
stout, and remarkably fine-looking ; he had several cu- 
racies under his charge, and next to a canonigo's, his 
position was the highest in the country ; but it had its 
labours. He was at that .time engrossed with the cere- 
monies of the Holy Week, and in the evening we ac- 
companied him to the church. At the door the coup 
(Tail of the interior was most striking. The church 
was two hundred and fifty feet in length, spacious and 
lofty, richly decorated with pictures and sculptured or- 
naments, blazing with lights, and crowded with In- 
dians. On each side of the door was a grating, behind 
which stood an Indian to receive offerings. The floor 
was strewed with pine-leaves. On the left was the fig- 
ure of a dead Christ on a bier, upon which every woman 



who entered threw a handful of roses, and near it stood 
an Indian to receive money. Opposite, behind an iron 
grating, was the figure of Christ bearing the cross, the 
eyes bandaged, and large silver chains attached to the 
arms and other parts of the body, and fastened to the 
iron bars. Here, too, stood an Indian to receive con- 
tributions. The altar was beautiful in design and dec- 
orations, consisting of two rows of Ionic columns, one 
above another, gilded, surmounted by a golden glory, 
and lighted by candles ten feet high. Under the pulpit 
was a piano. After a stroll around the church, the 
cura led us to seats under the pulpit. He asked us to 
give them some of the airs of our country, and then 
himself sat down at the piano. On Mr. C.'s suggesting 
that the tune was from one of Rossini's operas, he said 
that this was hardly proper for the occasion, and chan- 
ged it. 

At about ten o'clock the crowd in the church formed 
into a procession, and Mr. C. and I went out and took 
a position at the corner of a street to see it pass. It was 
headed by Indians, two abreast, each carrying in his 
hand a long lighted wax candle ; and then, borne aloft 
on the shoulders of four men, came the figure of Judith, 
with a bloody sword in one hand, and in the other the 
gory head of Holofernes. Next, also on the shoulders 
of four men, the archangel Gabriel, dressed in red silk, 
with large wings puffed out. The next were men in 
grotesque armour, made of black and silver paper, to 
resemble Moors, with shield and spear like ancient cav- 
aliers ; and then four little girls, dressed in white silk and 
gauze, and looking like little spiritualities, with men on 
each side bearing lighted candles. Then came a large 
figure of Christ bearing the cross, supported by four In- 
dians ; on each side were young Indian lads, carrying 


long poles horizontally, to keep the crowd from pressing 
upon it, and followed by a procession of townsmen. In 
turning the corner of the street at which we stood, a 
dark Mestitzo, with a scowl of fanaticism on his face, 
said to Mr. Catherwood, " Take off your spectacles and 
follow the cross." Next followed a procession of wo- 
men with children in their arms, half of them asleep, 
fancifully dressed with silver caps and headdresses, and 
finally a large statue of the Virgin, in a sitting posture, 
magnificently attired, with Indian lads on each side, as 
before, supporting poles with candles. The whole was 
accompanied with the music of drums and violins ; and, 
as the long train of light passed down the street, we 
returned to the convent. 

The night was very cold, and the next morning was 
like one in December at home. It was the morning of 
Good Friday ; and throughout Guatimala, in every vil- 
lage, preparations were making to celebrate, with the 
most solemn ceremonies of the Church, the resurrection 
of the Saviour. In Quezaltenango, at that early hour, 
the plaza was thronged with Indians from the country 
around ; but the whites, terrified and grieving at the 
murder of their best men, avoided, to a great extent, 
taking part in the celebration. 

At nine o'clock the corregidor called for us, and we 
accompanied him to the opening ceremony. On one 
side of the nave of the church, near the grand altar, 
and opposite the pulpit, were high cushioned chairs for 
the corregidor and members of the municipality, and 
we had seats with them. The church was thronged 
with Indians, estimated at more than three thousand. 
Formerly, at this ceremony no women or children were 
admitted ; but now the floor of the church was filled 
with Indian women on their knees, with red cords 


plaited in their hair, and perhaps one third of them had 
children on their backs, their heads and arms only visi- 
ble. Except ourselves and the padre, there were no 
white people in the church ; and, with all eyes turned 
upon us, and a lively recollection of the fate of those 
who but a few days before had occupied our seats, we 
felt that the post of honour was a private station. 

At the steps of the grand altar stood a large cross, 
apparently of solid silver, richly carved and ornament- 
ed, and over it a high arbour of pine and cypress 
branches. At the foot of the cross stood a figure of 
Mary Magdalen weeping, with her hair in a profusion 
of ringlets, her frock low in the neck, and altogether 
rather immodest. On the right was the figure of the 
Virgin gorgeously dressed, and in the nave of the 
church stood John the Baptist, placed there, as it 
seemed, only because they had the figure oiri hand. 
Very soon strains of wild Indian music rose from the 
other end of the church, and a procession advanced, 
headed by Indians with broad-brimmed felt hats, dark 
cloaks, and lighted wax candles, preceding the body 
of the Saviour on a bier borne by the cura and attend- 
ant padres, and followed by Indians with long wax can- 
dles. The bier advanced to the foot of the cross ; lad- 
ders were placed behind against it ; the gobernador, 
with his long black cloak and broad-brimmed felt hat, 
mounted on the right, and leaned over, holding in his 
hands a silver hammer and a long silver spike ; an- 
other Indian dignitary mounted on the other side, while 
the priests raised the figure up in front ; the face was 
ghastly, blood trickled down the cheeks, the arms and 
legs were moveable, and in the side was a gaping 
wound, with a stream of blood oozing from it. The 
back was affixed to the cross, the arms extended, spikes 


driven through the hands and feet, the ladders taken 
away, and thus the figure of Christ was nailed to the 

This over, we left the church, and passed two or three 
hours in visiting. The white population was small, but 
equal in character to any in the republic ; and there was 
hardly a respectable family that was not afflicted by the 
outrage of Carrera. We knew nothing of the effect of 
this enormity until we entered domestic circles. The 
distress of women whose nearest connexions had been 
murdered or obliged to fly for their lives, and then wan- 
dering they knew not where, those only can realize who 
can appreciate woman's affection. 

I was urged to visit the widow of Molina. Her hus- 
band was but thirty-five, and his death under any cir- 
cumstances would have been lamented, even by political 
enemies. I felt a painful interest in one who had lived 
through such a scene, but at the door of her house I 
stopped. I felt that a visit from a stranger must be an 
intrusion upon her sorrows. 

In the afternoon we were again seated with the mu- 
nicipality in the church, to behold the descent from the 
cross. The spacious building was thronged to suffoca- 
tion, and the floor was covered by a dense mass of 
kneeling women, with turbaned headdresses, and cry- 
ing children on their backs, their imaginations excited 
by gazing at the bleeding figure on the cross ; but among 
them all I did not see a single interesting face. A priest 
ascended the pulpit, thin and ghastly pale, who, in a 
voice that rang through every part of the building, 
preached emphatically a passion sermon. Few of the 
Indians understood even the language, and at times the 
cries of children made his words inaudible ; but the 
thrilling tones of his voice played upon every chord in 


their hearts ; and mothers, regardless of their infants' 
cries, sat motionless, their countenances fixed in high 
and stern enthusiasm. It was the same church, and we 
could imagine them to be the same women who, in a 
phrensy and fury of fanaticism, had dragged the unhap- 
py vice-president by the hair, and murdered him with 
their hands. Every moment the excitement . grew 
stronger. The priest tore off his black cap, and lean- 
ing over the pulpit, stretched forward both his arms, 
and poured out a frantic apostrophe to the bleeding fig- 
ure on the cross. A dreadful groan, almost curdling 
the blood, ran through the church. At this moment, at 
a signal from the cura, the Indians sprang upon the ar- 
bour of pine branches, tore it asunder, and with a noise 
like the crackling of a great conflagration, struggling 
and scuffling around the altar, broke into bits the con- 
secrated branches to save as holy relics. Two Indians 
in broad-brimmed hats mounted the ladders on each 
side of the cross, and with embroidered cloth over their 
hands, and large silver pincers, drew out the spikes 
from the hands. The feelings of the women burst forth 
in tears, sobs, groans, and shrieks of lamentation, so 
loud and deep, that, coming upon us unexpectedly, our 
feelings were disturbed, and even with sane men the 
empire of reason tottered. Such screams of anguish I 
never heard called out by mortal suffering ; and as the 
body, smeared with blood, was held aloft under the pul- 
pit, while the priest leaned down and apostrophized it 
with frantic fervour, and the mass of women, wild with 
excitement, heaved to and fro like the surges of a troub- 
led sea, the whole scene was so thrilling, so dreadfully 
mournful, that, without knowing why, tears started from 
our eyes. Four years before, at Jerusalem, on Mount 
Calvary itself, and in presence of the scoffing Mussul- 


man, I had beheld the same representation of the de- 
scent from the cross ; but the enthusiasm of Greek pil- 
grims in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was nothing 
compared with this whirlwind of fanaticism and phren- 
sy. By degrees the excitement died away ; the crack- 
ing of the pine branches ceased, the whole arbour was 
broken up and distributed, and very soon commenced 
preparations for the grand procession. 

"We went out with the corregidor and officers of the 
municipality, and took our place in the balcony of the 
cabildo. The procession opened upon us in a manner 
so extraordinary, that, screening myself from observa- 
tion below, I endeavoured to make a note of it on the 
spot. The leader was a man on horseback, called the 
centurion, wearing a helmet and cuirass of pasteboard 
covered with silver leaf, a black crape mask, black vel- 
vet shorts and white stockings, a red sash, and blue and 
red ribands on his arms, a silver-hilted sword, and a 
lance, with which, from time to time turning round, he 
beckoned and waved the procession on. Then came a 
led horse, having on its back an old Mexican saddle 
richly plated with silver. Then two men wearing long 
blue gowns, with round hoods covering their heads, and 
having only holes for the eyes, leading two mules 
abreast, covered with black cloth dresses enveloping 
their whole bodies to their feet, the long trains of which 
were supported by men attired like the other two. 
Then followed the large silver cross of the crucifixion, 
with a richly-ornamented silver pedestal, and ornaments 
dangling from each arm of the cross that looked like 
lanterns, supported by four men in long black dresses. 
Next came a procession of Indians, two abreast, wearing 
long black cloaks, with black felt hats, the brims six or 
eight inches wide, all with lighted candles in their 


hands, and then four Indians in the same costume, but 
with crowns of thorns on their heads, dragging a long 
low carriage or bier filled with pine-leaves, and having 
a naked scull laid on the top at one end. 

Next, and in striking contrast with this emblem of 
mortality, advanced an angel in the attitude of an opera- 
dancer, borne on the shoulders of six men, dressed in 
flounced purple satin, with lace at the bottom, gauze 
wings, and a cloud of gauze over her head, holding in 
her right hand a pair of silver pincers, and in her left a 
small wooden cross, and having a train of white muslin 
ten yards long, supported by a pretty little girl fanci- 
fully dressed. Then another procession of Indians with 
lighted candles ; then a group of devils in horrible mas- 
querade. Then another angel, still more like an opera- 
dancer, dressed in azure blue satin, with rich lace wings, 
and clouds, and fluttering ribands, holding in her right 
hand a ladder, and in her left a silver hammer ; her 
train supported as before ; and we could not help see- 
ing that she wore black velvet smallclothes. Then an- 
other angel, dressed in yellow, holding in her right hand 
a small wooden cross, and in the other I could not tell 

The next in order was a beautiful little girl about ten 
years old, armed cap-a-pie, with breastplate and helmet 
of silver, also called the centurion, who moved along in 
a slow and graceful dance, keeping time to the music, 
turning round, stopping, resting on her sword, and wa- 
ving on a party worthy of such a chief, being twelve 
beautiful children fancifully dressed, intended to repre- 
sent the twelve apostles ; one of them carrying in his 
arms a silver cock, to signify that he was the represent- 
ative of St. Peter. The next was the great object of 
veneration, the figure of the Christ crucified, on a bier, 


in a full length case of plate glass, strewed with roses 
inside and out, and protected by a mourning canopy of 
black cloth, supported by men in long black gowns, with 
hoods covering all but the eyes. This was followed by 
the cura and priests in their richest robes and barehead- 
ed, the muffled drum, and soldiers with arms reversed ; 
the Virgin Mary, in a long black mourning dress, closed 
the procession. It passed on to make the tour of the 
city ; twice we intercepted it, and then went to the 
Church of El Calvario. It stands on an elevation at the 
extreme end of a long street, and the steps were already 
crowded with women dressed in white from the head 
to the feet, with barely an oval opening for the face. 
It was dark when the procession made its appearance 
at the foot of the street, but by the blaze of innumera- 
ble lighted candles every object was exhibited with 
more striking wildness, and fanaticism seemed written 
in letters of fire on the faces of the Indians. The cen- 
turion cleared a way up the steps ; the procession, with 
a loud chant, entered the church, and we went away. 

In the evening we made several visits, and late at 
night we were called to a conference by some friends 
of the cura, and on his behalf. His troubles were not 
yet over. On the day of our arrival he had received a 
peremptory order from the provesor to repair to Gua- 
timala, with notice that " some proper person" would 
be appointed in his place. We knew that the terms of 
the order afflicted the cura, for they implied that he 
was not a proper person. All Quezaltenango, he said, 
could answer for his acts, and he could answer to God 
that his motives were only to prevent the effusion of 
blood. His house was all in confusion ; he was pack- 
ing up his books and furniture, and preparing to obey 
the provesor's order. But his friends considered that 

VOL. II. E E 19 


it was dangerous for him to go to Guatimala. At that 
place, they said, he would be under the eyes of Carre- 
ra, who, meeting him in an angry moment, might cut 
him down in the street. If he did not go, the provesor 
would send soldiers after him, such was the rigour of 
church discipline. They wished him to fly the country, 
to go with us into Mexico ; but he could not leave with- 
out a passport from Guatimala, and this would be refu- 
sed. The reason of their unburdening themselves to us 
showed the helplessness of his condition. They suppo- 
sed that I might have influence with the provesor, and 
begged me to write to Guatimala, and state the facts as 
they were known to all Quezaltenango. I had determin- 
ed to take no part in the public or personal affairs of this 
unhappy revolution, but here I would not have hesitated 
to incur any trouble or risk to serve the cura could it 
have done him 'any good ; but I knew the sensitive- 
ness of the men in power, and believed that the prove- 
sor and the government would resent my interference. 
I proposed, however, to write to a friend who I knew 
stood well with the provesor, and request him to call 
upon that dignitary and state the facts as from me ; and 
I suggested that he should send some friend to Guati- 
mala expressly to see the provesor in person. Re- 
turned to a land of government and laws, I can hard- 
ly realize that so short a time since I was called in to 
counsel for the safety of a man of the cura's char- 
acter and station. Relatively, the most respectable 
clergyman in our country does not stand higher than 
he did. 

The next morning we were invited to breakfast with 
another friend and counsellor, and about as strange a 
one as myself, being the old lady who had sent the 
cura one hundred dollars, before mentioned. The plan 


was discussed and settled, and in the course of the 
day two friends undertook to visit Guatimala on the 
cura's behalf. We intended that day to ascend the 
Volcano of Quezaltenango, but were disappointed in 
our guide. In the morning we made purchases and 
provisions for continuing our journey, and as one of 
our mules' backs was badly galled, we requested the 
gobernador to procure us Indian carriers. 

In the afternoon, in company with the corregidor, we 
rode to the warm springs of Almolonga. The road 
crosses a spur of the volcano, and descends precipitous- 
ly into a deep valley, in which, about a league distant, 
stand the village and hot springs. There is a good 
bathing-house, at which we were not allowed to pay, 
being considered the guests of the city. Outside, in a 
beautiful natural reservoir, Indian men, women, and 
children were bathing together. 

We returned by another road, passing up a valley of 
extraordinary beauty, and the theme of conversation 
was the happiness the country might enjoy but for wars 
and revolutions. Beautiful as it was, all wished to 
leave it, and seek a land where life was safe Mexico 
or El Norte. Toward evening, descending the spur of 
the volcano, we met several hundred Indians returning 
from the ceremonies of the Holy Week, and exceeding 
in drunkenness all the specimens we had yet encoun- 
tered. In one place a man and woman, the latter with 
a child on her back, were staggering so near the brink 
of a precipice, that the corregidor dismounted and took 
the child from them, and made them go before us into 
the town. 

There was no place we had visited, except ruined 
cities, so unique and interesting, and which deserved to 
be so thoroughly explored, as Quezaltenango. A month, 


at least, might be satisfactorily and profitably employed 
in examining the many curious objects in the country 
around. For botanical researches it is the richest re- 
gion in Central America. But we had no time even 
for rest. 

I passed the evening in writing, packing things to be 
sent to Guatimala, among others my quezal, which, 
however, never arrived, and in writing letters, one of 
which was on account of the cura, and in which, in- 
tending, even if it fell into wrong hands, to be out of 
the country myself, I spoke in no measured terms of the 
atrocity committed by Carrera. 



Journey continued. A Mountain Plain. Lost Guides. A trying Moment. 
Agua Calientes. A magnificent View. Gold Ore. San Sebastiano. Gue- 
guetenango. Sierra Madre. A huge Skeleton. The Ruins. Pyramidal 
Structures, A Vault. Mounds. A welcome Addition. Interior of a Mound. 
Vases. Ascent of the Sierra Madre. Buena Vista. The Descent. Todos 
Santos. San Martin. San Andres Petapan. A Forest on Fire. Suffering 
of the Mules from Swarms of Flies. San Antonio de Guista. 

EARLY in the morning our mules were saddled for 
the journey. The gobernador and another friend of the 
cura came to receive parting instructions, and set off for 
Guatimala. The Indians engaged for us did not make 
their appearance ; and, desirous to save the day, we 
loaded the mules, and sent Juan and Bobon forward 
with the luggage. In a little while two women came 
and told us that our Indians were in prison. I accom- 
panied them to two or three officials, and with much 
difficulty and loss of time found the man having charge 
of them, who said that, finding we had paid them part 
of their hire in advance, and afraid they would buy 
agua ardiente and be missing, he had shut them up the 
night before to have them ready, and had left word to 
that effect with one of the servants of the cura. I went 
with him to the prison, paid a shilling apiece for their 
lodging, and took them over to the convent. The poor 
fellows had not eaten since they were shut up, and, as 
usual, wanted to go home for tortillas for the journey. 
We refused to let them go, but gave them money to 
buy some in the plaza, and kept the woman and their 
chamars as hostages for their return. But we became 
tired of waiting. Mr. Catherwood picked up their cha- 
mars and threw them across his saddle as a guarantee 
for their following, and we set off. 


We had added to our equipments aguas de arma, be- 
ing undressed goatskins embroidered with red leather, 
which hung down from the saddlebow, to protect the 
legs against rain, and were now fully accoutred in 
Central American style. 

It was cold and wintry. We ascended and crossed 
a high plain, and at the distance of a league descended 
to a village, where we learned that Juan and Bobon 
had passed on some time before. Beyond this we as- 
cended a high and rugged mountain, and on the top 
reached a magnificent plain. We rode at a brisk pace, 
and it was one o'clock before our jailbirds overtook us. 
By this time we were surprised at not overtaking our 
men with the luggage. We could not have passed 
them, for there was but one road. Since leaving the 
village we had not seen a single person, and at two 
o'clock we met a* man with a loaded mule coming from 
Aguas Calientes, the end of our day's journey, who 
had not met them. Mr. Catherwood became alarmed, 
fearing that they had robbed us and run away. I was 
always careless with luggage, but never lost any, and 
was slow in coming to this belief. In half an hour we 
met another man, who told us that he had not seen 
them, and that there was no other road than the one by 
which he came. Since our apprehensions began, we 
had not been able to discover any tracks, but went on 
to within two leagues of our halting-place, when we 
stopped, and held one of the most anxious consultations 
that occurred in our whole journey. We knew but lit- 
tle of the men. Juan cheated us every day in the lit- 
tle purchases for the road, and we had detected him in 
the atrocity of keeping back part of the money we gave 
him to buy corn and sacate, and starving the mules. 
After a most unhappy deliberation, we concluded that 


they had broken open the trunks, taken out the money, 
thrown the rest of the contents down some ravine, 
mounted the mules, and made off. Besides money, 
beds, and bedding, these trunks contained all Mr. 
Catherwood's drawings, and the precious notebooks to 
which the reader is indebted for these pages. The 
fruits of all our labour were gone. In all our difficul- 
ties and perplexities we never had a more trying mo- 
ment. We were two leagues from Aguas Calientes. ><* 
To go on, rouse the village, get fresh horses, and return 
in pursuit, was our first idea ; but this would widen the 
distance between us, and probably we should not be 
able to get horses. 

With hearts so heavy that nothing but the feeble hope ' 
of catching them while dividing the money kept us from 
sinking, we turned back. It was four o'clock in the af- 
ternoon ; neither our mules nor we had eaten anything 
since early in the morning. Night would be upon us, 
and it was doubtful whether our mules would hold out. 
Our prisoners told us we had been very imprudent to 
let the men set out alone, and took it for granted that 
they had not let slip the opportunity of robbing us. As 
we rode back, both Mr. C. and I brooded over an ap- 
prehension which for some time neither mentioned to 
the other. It was the letter I had written on behalf of 
the cura. We should again be within reach of Car- 
rera. If the letter by accident fell into his hands, he 
would be indignant at what he considered my ingrati- 
tude, and he could very easily take his revenge. Our 
plans, however, were made up at once. We determined, 
at all events, not to go back to Guatimala, nor, broken 
as we were in fortune and spirit, to give up Palenque, 
but, if possible, to borrow money for the road, even if 
we set out on foot ; but, o GLORIA ETERNAL, as the offi- 


cial bulletin said of Carrera's victory, on reaching the 
top of a mountain we saw the men climbing up a deep 
ravine on the other side. We did not tell them our 
agony, but had not gone far before the Indians told all ; 
and they were not surprised or hurt. How we passed 
them neither of us knew ; but another such a spasm 
would have put a period to our journey of life ; and from 
that time, however tedious, or whatever might be the 
inducements, we resolved to keep by our luggage. At 
dusk we reached the top of a high mountain, and by 
one of those long, steep, and difficult descents of which 
it is impossible to give the reader any idea, entered the 
village of Agua Calientes. 

It was occupied entirely by Indians, who gathered 
round us in the plaza, and by the light of pine sticks look- 
ed at Carrera's passport. Not one of them could read 
it, but it was enoVigh to pronounce the name, and the 
whole village was put in requisition to provide us with 
something to eat. The alcalde distributed the money 
we gave him, and one brought sixpence worth of eggs, 
another of beans, another of tortillas, another of lard, an- 
other of candles, and a dozen or more received sixpence 
apiece for sacate ; not one of them would bring any- 
thing until he had the money in hand. A fire was kin- 
dled in the square, and in process of time we had sup- 
per. Our usual supper of fried eggs, beans, tortillas, 
and chocolate, any one of them enough to disturb di- 
gestion in a state of repose, with the excitement and 
vexation of our supposed loss, made me ill. The ca- 
bildo was a wretched shed, full of fleas, with a coat of 
dust an inch thick to soften the hard earthen floor. It 
was too cold to sleep out of doors, and there were no pins 
to hang hammocks on, for in this region hammocks 
were not used at all. We made iHquiries with the view 


of hiring for the night the bedsteads of the principal in- 
habitants, but there was not one in the village ; all 
slept on the bosom of mother earth, and we had part 
of the family bed. Fortunately, however, and most im- 
portant for us, our mules fared well. 

Early in the morning we resumed our journey. 
There are warm springs in this neighbourhood, but we 
did not go out of our way to visit them. A short dis- 
tance from the village we crossed a river and commen- 
ced ascending a mountain. On the top we came upon 
a narrow table of land, with a magnificent forest on 
both sides far below us. The wind swept over the lofty 
height, so that with our ponchas, which were necessary 
on account of the cold, it was difficult to keep the sad- 
dle. The road was broken and stony, and the track 
scarcely perceptible. At about ten o'clock the whole 
surface of the mountain was a bare ridge of limestone, 
from which the sun was reflected with scorching heat, 
and the whiteness was dazzling and painful to the eyes. 
Below us, on each side, continued an immense forest 
of gigantic pines. The road was perfectly desolate ; 
we met no travellers. In four hours we saw on our 
left, at a great distance below, a single hacienda, with 
a clearing around it, seemingly selected for a magnifi- 
cent seclusion from the convulsions of a distracted 
country. The ridge was broken by gullies and deep 
ravines ; and we came to one across which, by way of 
bridge, lay the trunks of two gigantic pines. My macho 
always pulled back when I attempted to lead him, and 
I remained on his back, and was carried steadily over ; 
but at the other end we started at a noise behind us. 
Our best cargo-mule had fallen, rolled over, and hung 
on the brink of the precipice, with her feet kicking in 
the air, kept from falling to the bottom only by being 


entangled among bushes. In a moment we scrambled 
down to her, got her head turned up the bank, and by 
means of strong halters heaved her out ; but she was 
bruised and crippled, and barely able to stagger under 
her load. Continuing along the ridge, swept by fierce 
blasts of wind, we descended again to a river, rode some 
distance along its bank, and passed a track up the side 
of a mountain on the right, so steep that I had no idea 
it could be our road, and passed it, but was called back. 
It was the steepest ascent we had yet had in the coun- 
try. It was cruel to push my brave macho, but I had 
been tormented all day with a violent headache, and 
could not walk ; so I beat up, making the best tacks I 
could, and stopping every time I put about. On the 
top broke upon us one of those grand and magnificent 
views which, when we had wiped off perspiration and 
recovered breath, always indemnified us for our toil. It 
was the highest ground on which we had yet stood. 
Around us was a sea of mountains, and peeping above 
them, but so little as to give full effect to our own great 
height, were the conical tops of two new volcanoes. 
The surface was of limestone rock, in immense strata, 
with quartz, in one piece of which we discovered a 
speck of gold. Here again, in this vast wilderness of 
mountains, deep in the bowels of the earth, are those 
repositories of the precious ores for which millions upon 
millions all over the world are toiling, bargaining, cra- 
ving, and cheating every day. 

Continuing on this ridge, we came out upon a spur 
commanding a view, far below us, of a cultivated val- 
ley, and the village of San Sebastiano. We descend- 
ed to the valley, left the village on our right, crossed 
the spur, and saw the end of our day's journey, the town 
of Gueguetenango, situated on an extensive plain, with 


a mild climate, luxuriant with tropical productions, sur- 
rounded by immense mountains, and before us the great 
Sierra Madre, the natural bulwark of Central America, 
the grandeur and magnificence of the view disturbed 
only by the distressing reflection that we had to cross 
it. My macho, brought up on the plains of Costa Rica, 
had long seemed puzzled to know what mountains were 
made for ; if he could have spoken, he would have cried 
out in anguish, 

" Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise." 

Our day's journey was but twenty-seven miles, but it 
was harder for man an<J beast than any sixty since we 
left Guatimala. We rode into the town, the chief place 
of the last district of .Central America and of the an- 
cient kingdom of Quiche. It was well built, with a 
large church or plaza, and again a crowd of Mestitzoes 
were engaged in the favourite occupation of fighting 
cocks. As we rode through the plaza the bell sounded 
for the oracion or vesper prayers. The people fell on 
their knees and we took off our hats. We stopped at 
the house of Don Joaquim Monte, an old Spaniard of 
high consideration, by whom we were hospitably re- 
ceived, and who, though a Centralist, on account of 
some affair of his sons, had had his house at Chiantla 
plundered by Carrera's soldiers. His daughters were 
compelled to take refuge in the church, and forty or 
fifty mules were driven from his hacienda. In a short 
time we had a visit from the corregidor, who had seen 
our proposed journey announced in the government 
paper, and treated us with the consideration due to per- 
sons specially recommended by the government. 

We reached Gueguetenango in a shattered condition. 
Our cargo-mules had their backs so galled that it was 


distressing to use them ; and the saddle-horse was no 
better off. Bobon, in walking barefooted over the stony 
road, had bruised the ball of one of his feet so that he 
was disabled, and that night Juan's enormous supper 
gave him an indigestion. He was a tremendous feed- 
er ; on the road nothing eatable was safe. We owed 
him a spite for pilfering our bread and bringing us 
down to tortillas, and were not sorry to see him on 
his back ; but he rolled over the floor of the corridor, 
crying out uproariously, so as to disturb the whole 
household, " Voy morir !" " voy morir !" "I am going 
to die !" "I am going to die !" He was a hard sub- 
ject to work upon, but we took him in hand strongly, 
and unloaded him. 

Besides our immediate difficulties, we heard of oth- 
ers in prospect. t In consequence of the throng of emi- 
grants from Guatimala toward Mexico, no one was ad- 
mitted into that territory without a passport from Ciu- 
dad Real, the capital of Chiapas, four or five days' 
journey from the frontier. The frontier was a long 
line of river in the midst of a wilderness, and there 
were two roads, a lower one but little travelled, on ac- 
count of the difficulty of crossing the rivers, but at that 
time passable. As we intended, however, at all events, 
to stop at this place for the purpose of visiting the ruins, 
we postponed our decision till the next day. 

The next morning Don Joaquim told us of the skel- 
eton of a colossal animal, supposed to be a mastodon, 
which had been found in the neighbourhood. Some of 
the bones had been collected, and were then in the 
town, and having seen them, we took a guide and 
walked to the place where they had been discovered, 
on the borders of the Rio Chinaca, about half a mile 
distant. At this time the river was low, but the year 


before, swelled by the immense floods of the rainy sea- 
son, it had burst its bounds, carried away its left bank, 
and laid bare one side of the skeleton. The bank was 
perpendicular, about thirty feet high, and the animal had 
been buried in an upright position. Besides the bones 
in the town, some had been carried away by the flood, 
others remained imbedded in the earth ; but the impres- 
sion of the whole animal, from twenty-five to thirty feet 
long, was distinctly visible. We were told that about 
eight leagues above, on the bank of the same river, the 
skeleton of a much larger animal had been discovered. 

In the afternoon we rode to the ruins, which in the 
town were called las cuevas, the caves. They He about 
half a league distant, on a magnificent plain, bounded 
in the distance by lofty mountains, among which is the 
great Sierra Madre. 

The site of the ancient city, as at Patinamit and 
Santa Cruz del Quiche, was chosen for its security 
against enemies. It was surrounded by a ravine, and 
the general character of the .ruins is the same as at Qui- 
che, but the hand of destruction has fallen upon it more 
heavily. The whole is a confused heap of grass-grown 
fragments. The principal remains are two pyramidal 
structures of this form : 

fliida 1 j ^ i 

[ Sfafb 

T_ _] 

One of them measures at the base one hundred and two 
feet ; the steps are four feet high and seven feet deep, 
making the whole height twenty-eight feet. They are 
not of cut stone as at Copan, but of rough pieces ce- 
mented with lime, and the whole exterior was formerly 
coated with stucco and painted. On the top is a small 
square platform, and at the base lies a long slab of rough 



stone, apparently hurled down from the top; perhaps 
the altar on which human victims were extended for 

The owner of the ground, a Mestitzo, whose house 
was near by, and who accompanied us to the ruins, told 
us that he had bought the land from Indians, and that, 
for some time after his purchase, he was annoyed by 
their periodical visits to celebrate some of their ancient 
rites on the top of this structure. This annoyance con- 
tinued until he whipped two or three of the principal 
men and drove them away. 

At the foot of the structure was a vault, faced with 
cut stone, in which were found a collection of bones 
and a terra cotta vase, then in his possession. The 
vault was not long enough for the body of a man ex- 
tended, and the bones must have been separated before 
they were placed there. 

The owner believed that these structures contained 
interior apartments with hidden treasures ; and there 
were several mounds, supposed to be sepulchres of the 
ancient inhabitants, which also, he had no doubt, con- 
tained treasure. The situation of the place was mag- 
nificent. We had never before enjoyed so good an op- 
portunity of working, and agreed with him to come the 
next day and make excavations, promising to give him 
all the treasure, and taking for my share only the sculls, 
vases, and other curiosities. 

The next morning, before we were up, the door was 
thrown open, and to our surprise we received a saluta- 
tion in English. The costume of the stranger was of 
the country ; his beard was long, and he looked as if 
already he had made a hard morning's ride. To my 
great surprise and pleasure I recognised Pawling, 
whom the reader will perhaps remember I had seen as 

*<}// it Hf It 7>/iv. // V.t/ rTa/itrr 



superintendent of a cochineal hacienda at Amatitan. 
He had heard of our setting out for Mexico, and, dis- 
gusted with his occupation and the country, had mount- 
ed his horse, and with all he was worth tied on behind 
his saddle, pushed on to overtake us. On the way he 
had bought a fine mule, and by hard riding, and chan- 
ging from one animal to the other, had reached us in 
four days. He was in difficulty about a passport, and 
was anxious to have the benefit of mine in order to get 
out of the country, offering to attach himself to me in 
any capacity necessary for that purpose. Fortunately, 
my passport was broad enough to cover him, and I im- 
mediately constituted him the general manager of the 
expedition, the material of which was now reduced to 
Juan sick and but one cargo-mule sound. 

At nine o'clock, attended by three men and a boy 
with machetes, being all we could procure at so short 
a notice, we were again among the ruins. We were 
not strong enough to pull down a pyramid, and lost the 
morning in endeavouring to make a breach in one of 
the sides, but did not accomplish anything. 

In the afternoon we opened one of the mounds. The 
interior was a rough coat of stones and lime, and after 
an hour's digging we came to fragments of bones and 
the two lower vases in the plate opposite. The first of 
the two was entire when we discovered it, but, unfor- 
tunately, was broken in getting it out, though we ob- 
tained all the pieces. It is graceful in design, the sur- 
face is polished, and the workmanship very good. The 
last was already broken, and though more complicated, 
the surface is not polished. The tripod at the top of 
the engraving is a copy of the vase before referred to, 
found in the tomb, which I procured from the owner of 
the land. It is twelve inches in diameter, and the sur- 


face is polished. We discovered no treasure, but our 
day's work was most interesting, and we only regret- 
ted that we had not time to explore more thoroughly. 

In the mean time Don Joaquim had made arrange- 
ments for us, and the next morning we resumed our 
journey. We left behind a mule, a horse, and Bobon, 
and were re-enforced by Pawling, well mounted, and 
armed with a pair of pistols, and a short double-barrell- 
ed gun slung to his saddle-bow, and Santiago, a Mex- 
ican fugitive soldier. Juan was an interesting invalid 
mounted on a mule, and the whole was under escort of 
a respectable old muleteer, who was setting out with 
empty mules to bring back a load of sugar. 

At a short distance from the village we commenced 
ascending the Sierra Madre. The first range was stony, 
and on the top of it we came upon a cultivated plain, 
beyond which rose a second range, covered with a thick 
forest of oak. On the top of this range stood a cross. 
The spot was called Buena Vista, or Fine View, and 
commanded a magnificent expanse of mountains and 
plains, five lakes and two volcanoes, one of which, 
called Tajamulco, our guide said was a water volcano. 
Beyond this rose a third range. At some distance 
up was an Indian rancho, at which a fine little boy 
thrust his face through a bush fence, and said " adios" 
to every one that passed. Beyond was another boy, 
to whom we all in succession said " adios," but the 
surly little fellow would not answer one of us. On 
the summit of this range we were almost on a level 
with the tops of the volcanoes. As we ascended the 
temperature grew colder, and we were compelled to put 
on our ponchas. At half past two we reached the top 
of the Sierra Madre, the dividing line of the waters, be- 
ing twelve miles from Gueguetenango, and in our de- 
vious course making the second time that we had 


crossed the sierra. The ridge of the mountain was a 
long level table about half a mile wide, with rugged 
sides rising on the right to a terrific peak. Riding 
about half an hour on this table, by the side of a stream of 
clear and cold water, which passed on, carrying its trib- 
ute to the Pacific Ocean, we reached a miserable rancho, 
in front of which the arriero proposed to encamp, as he 
said it would be impossible to reach the next village. 
At a distance it was a glorious idea, that of sleeping on 
the top of the Sierra Madre, and the scene was wild 
enough for the most romantic imagination ; but, being 
poorly provided against cold, we would have gladly ex- 
changed it for an Indian village. 

The occupants of the hut were a man and woman, 
who lived there rent free. Like the eagle, they had 
fixed their habitation where they were not likely to be 
disturbed. While the men were unloading, Juan, as 
an invalid, asked permission to stretch his huge body 
before the fire, but the woman told him there was more 
room out of doors. I succeeded, however, in securing 
him a place inside. We had an hour to wander over 
the top of the sierra. It belonged to our friend Don 
Joaquim Monte, and was what would be called at home 
a pretty substantial piece of fast property. At every step 
there was some new opening, which presented a new 
view of the grand and magnificent in nature. In many 
places, between cliffs and under certain exposures, were 
fine pieces of ground, and about half a mile distant a 
potrero or pasture-ground for brood mares, which we 
visited to buy some corn for our mules. A vicious jack 
reigned lord of the sierra. 

Adjoining the occupied hut was another about ten 
feet square, made of small upright poles, thatched with 
branches of cypress, and open on all sides to the wind. 

VOL. II. G o 


We collected a quantity of wood, made a fire in the 
centre, had supper, and passed a social evening. The 
muleteers had a large fire outside, and with their pack- 
saddles and cargoes built a breastwork to shelter them- 
selves against the wind. Fancy called up a picture of 
far-distant scenes : a small circle of friends, perhaps at 
that moment thinking of us. Perhaps, to tell the truth, 
we wished to be with them ; and, above all, as we look- 
ed to our sleeping-places, thought of the comforts of 
home. Nevertheless, we soon fell asleep. Toward 
morning, however, we were reminded of our elevated 
region. The ground was covered with a hoar-frost, 
and water was frozen a quarter of an inch thick. Our 
guide said that this happened regularly every night 
in the year when the atmosphere was clear. It was 
the first ice we had seen in the country. The men 
were shivering around a large fire, and, as soon as they 
could see, went out to look for the mules. One of 
them had strayed ; and while the men were looking for 
her, we had breakfast, and did not get off till a quarter 
before eight. Our road traversed the ridge of the sier- 
ra, which for two leagues was a level table, a great part 
composed of immense beds of red slate and blue lime- 
stone or chalk rock, lying in vertical strata. At ten 
o'clock we began to descend, the cold being still severe* 
The descent surpassed in grandeur and magnificence 
all that we had yet encountered. It was by a broad 
passage with perpendicular mountain-walls, rising in 
rugged and terrific peaks, higher and higher as we de- 
scended, out of which gigantic cypress-trees were grow- 
ing, their trunks and all their branches dead. Before 
us, between these immense walls, was a vista reaching 
beyond the village of San Andres, twenty-four miles 
distant, A stream of water was dashing down over 


rocks and stones, hurrying on to the Atlantic ; we cross- 
ed it perhaps fifty times on bridges wild and rude as 
the stream itself and the mountains between which it 
rolled. As we descended the temperature became 
milder. At twelve o'clock the immense ravine opened 
into a rich valley a mile in width, and in half an hour 
we reached the village of Todos Santos. On the right, 
far below us, was a magnificent table cultivated with 
corn, and bounded by the side of the great sierra ; and 
in the suburbs of the village were apple and peach trees 
covered with blossoms and young fruit. We had again 
reached the tierras templadas, and in Europe or North 
America the beauty of this miserable unknown village 
would be a theme for poetry. 

As we rode through it, at the head of the street we 
were stopped by a drunken Indian, supported by two 
men hardly able to stand themselves, who, we thought, 
were taking him to prison ; but, staggering before us, 
they blocked up the passage, and shouted " Passeporte !" 
Pawling, in anticipation, and to assume his new charac- 
ter, had tied his jacket around his waist by the sleeves, 
and was dragging one of the mules by its halter. Not 
one of the three could read the passport, and they sent 
for the secretary, a bare-headed Indian, habited in no- 
thing but a ragged cotton shirt, who examined it very 
carefully, and read aloud the name of Rafael Carrera, 
which, I think, was all that he attempted to make out. 
We were neither sentimental, nor philosophical, nor 
moralizing travellers, but it gave us pangs to think that 
such a magnificent country was in the possession of 
such men. 

Passing the church and convent, we ascended a ridge, 
then descended an immense ravine, crossed another 
magnificent valley, and at length reached the Indian 


village of San Martin, which, with loveliness and gran- 
deur all around us, might have been selected for its sur- 
passing beauty of position. We rode to the cabildo, 
and then to the hut of the alcalde. The people were 
all Indians ; the secretary was a bare-legged boy, who 
spelled out every word in the passport except our names; 
but his reading sufficed to procure supper for us and 
provender for the mules, and early in the morning we 
pushed on again. 

For some distance we rode on a lofty ridge, with a 
precipitous ravine on each side, in one place so narrow 
that, as our arriero told us, when the wind is high 
there is danger of being blown off. We continued de- 
scending, and at a quarter past twelve reached San 
Andres Petapan, fifteen miles distant, blooming with 
oranges, sapotes, and other fruit trees. Passing through 
the village, at a short distance beyond we were stopped 
by a fire in the woods. We turned back, and attempt- 
ed to pass by another road, but were unable. Before 
we returned the fire had reached the place we left, 
and increased so fast that we had apprehensions for 
the luggage-mules, and hurried them back with the 
men toward the village. The flames came creeping 
and crackling toward us, shooting up and whirled by 
currents of wind, and occasionally, when fed with dry 
and combustible materials, flashing and darting along 
like a train of gunpowder. We fell back, keeping as 
near as we could to the line of fire, the road lying along 
the side of a mountain ; while the fire came from the 
ravine below, crossing the road, and moving upward. 
The clouds of smoke and ashes, the rushing of currents 
of wind and flames, the crackling of burning branches, 
and trees wrapped in flames, and the rapid progress of 
the destroying element, made such a wild and fearful 


scene that we could not tear ourselves away. At 
length we saw the flames rush up the side of the ra- 
vine, intercepting the path before us. We spurred our 
horses, shot by, and in a moment the whole was a 
sheet of flame. The fire was now spreading so rapid- 
ly that we became alarmed, and hurried back to the 
church, which, on an elevation strongly defined against 
the immense mountain in the background, stood before 
us as a place of refuge. By this time the villagers 
had become alarmed, and men and women were hur- 
rying to the height to watch the progress of the flames. 
The village was in danger of conflagration ; it would 
be impossible to urge the loaded mules up the hill we 
had descended, and we resolved to deposite the luggage 
in the church, and save the mules by driving them up 
unburdened. It was another of those wild scenes to 
which no effect can be given in words. We stopped 
on the brow of the hill before the square of the church, 
and while we were watching the fire, the black clouds 
and sheets of flame rolled up the side of the mountain, 
and spared the village. Relieved from apprehension, 
we sat down under a tree in front of the church to the 
calm enjoyment of the terrific spectacle and a cold fowl. 
The cinders and ashes fell around, and the destructive 
element rushed on, sparing the village before us, per- 
haps to lay some other in ruins. 

We were obliged to wait two hours. From the foot 
of the hill on which the village stood the ground was 
hot and covered with a light coat of ashes ; the brush 
and underwood were burned away ; in some places 
were lying trees reduced to masses of live coal, and 
others were standing with their trunks and branches 
all on fire. In one place we passed a square of white 
ashes, the remains of some miserable Indian hut. Our 


faces and hands were scorched, and our whole bodies 
heated when we emerged from the fiery forest. For 
a few moments the open air was delightful; but we 
were hardly out of one trouble before we had another. 
Swarms of enormous flies, perhaps driven out by the 
fire, and hovering on the borders of the burned dis- 
trict, fell upon the mules. Every bite drew blood, and 
the tormentors clung to the suffering animals until brush- 
ed off by a stick. For an hour we laboured hard, but 
could not keep their heads and necks free. The poor 
beasts were almost frantic, and, in spite of all we could 
do, their necks, the inside of their legs, mouths, ears, 
nostrils, and every tender part of their skin, were trick- 
ling with blood. Hurrying on, in three hours we saw 
the Church of San Antonio de Guista, and in a few min- 
utes entered the village, beautifully situated on a table- 
land projecting from the slope of a mountain, look- 
ing upon an immense opening, and x commanding on all 
sides a magnificent view. At this time we were be*yond 
the reach of war, and free from all apprehensions. 
With the addition of Pawling's pistols and double-bar- 
relled gun, a faithful muleteer, Santiago, and Juan on 
his legs again, we could have stormed an Indian vil- 
lage, and locked up a refractory alcalde in his own ca- 
bildo. We took possession of San Antonio de Guista, 
dividing ourselves between the cabildo and the convent, 
sent for the alcalde (even on the borders of Central 
America the name of Carrera was omnipotent), and 
told him to stay there and wait upon us, or send an 
alguazil. The convent stood adjoining the church, on 
an open table of land, commanding a view of a magnif- 
icent valley surrounded by immense mountains, and on 
the left was a vista between two mountain ranges, wild, 
rugged, and lofty, losing their tops in clouds. Before 


the door of the convent was a large cross on a high 
pedestal of stone, with the coating decayed, and cover- 
ed with wild flowers. The convent was enclosed by a 
brush fence, without any opening until we made one. 
The padre was not at home, which was very fortunate 
for him, as there would not have been room enough for 
us alt. In fact, everything seemed exactly intended for 
our party ; there were three beds, just as many as we 
could conveniently occupy ; and the style of them was 
new : they were made of long sticks about an inch 
thick, tied with bark strings at top and bottom, and 
resting on crotches about two feet high, driven into the 
dirt floor. 

The alcalde and his major had roused the village. 
In a few moments, instead of the mortifying answer 
"no hay," there is none, the provision made for us was 
almost equal to the offers of the Turkish paradise. 
Twenty or thirty women were in the convent at one 
time, with baskets of corn, tortillas, dolces, plantains, 
hocotes, sapotes. and a variety of other fruits, each one's 
stock in trade being of the value of three cents; and 
among them was a species of tortillas, thin and baked 
hard, about twelve inches in diameter, one hundred and 
twenty for six cents, of which, as they were not expen* 
sive, we laid in a large supply. 

At this place our muleteer was to leave us. We had 
but one cargo-mule fit for service, and applied to the 
alcalde for two carriers to go with us across the frontier 
to Comitan. He went out, as he said, to consult with 
the mozos, and told us that they asked six dollars apiece. 
"We spoke to him of our friend Carrera, and on a sec- 
ond consultation the demand was reduced by two thirds. 
We were obliged to make provision for three days, and 
even to carry corn for the mules ; and Juan and San- 
tiago had a busy night, boiling fowls and eggs. 



Comfortable Lodgings. Journey continued. Stony Road. Beautiful River. 
Suspension Bridge. The Dolores. Rio Lagertero. Enthusiasm brought 
down. Another Bridge. Entry into Mexico. A Bath. A Solitary Church. 
A Scene of Barrenness. Zapolouta. Comitan. Another Countryman. 
More Perplexities. Official Courtesy. Trade of Comitan. Smuggling. 
Scarcity of Soap. 

THE next morning we found the convent was so com- 
fortable, we were so abundantly served, the alcalde or 
his major, staff in hand, being in constant attendance, 
and the situation so beautiful, that we were in no hur- 
ry to go ; but the alcalde told us that all was ready. 
We did not see our carriers, and found that he and his 
major were the t mozos whom he had consulted. They 
could not let slip two dollars apiece, and laying down 
their staves and dignity, bared their backs, placed the 
straps across their foreheads, took up the loads, and 
trotted off. 

We started at five minutes before eight. The weath- 
er was fine, but hazy. From the village we descended 
a hill to an extensive stony plain, and at about a league's 
distance reached the brink of a precipice, from which 
we looked down into a rich oblong valley, two or three 
thousand feet deep, shut in all around by a mountain 
wall, and seeming an immense excavation. Toward 
the other end of the valley was a village with a ruined 
church, and the road led up a precipitous ascent to a 
plain on the same level with that on which we stood, 
undulating and boundless as the sea. Below us it 
seemed as if we could drop a stone to the bottom. We 
descended by one of the steepest and most stony paths 
we had yet encountered in the country, crossing and 


recrossing in a zigzag course along the side of the height, 
perhaps making the descent a mile and a half long. 
Very soon we reached the bank of a beautiful river, 
running lengthwise through the valley, bordered on each 
side by immense trees, throwing their branches clear 
across, and their roots washed by the stream ; and while 
the plain beyond was dry and parched, they were green 
and luxuriant. Riding along it, we reached a suspension 
bridge of most primitive appearance and construction, 
called by the natives La Hammaca, which had exist- 
ed there from time immemorial. It was made of oziers 
twisted into cords, about three feet apart, and stretch- 
ed across the river with a hanging network of vines, 
the ends fastened to the trunks of two opposite trees. 
It hung about twenty-five feet above the river, which 
was here some eighty feet wide, and was supported in 
different places by vines tied to the branches. The ac- 
cess was by a rude ladder to a platform in the crotch 
of the tree. In the bottom of the hammaca were two 
or three poles to walk on. It waved with the wind, 
and was an unsteady and rather insecure means of 
transportation. From the centre the vista of the river 
both ways under the arches of the trees was beautiful, 
and in every direction the hammaca was a most pic- 
turesque-looking object. We continued on to the vil- 
lage, and after a short halt and a smoke with the al- 
calde, rode on to the extreme end of the valley, and by 
a steep and stony ascent, at twenty minutes past twelve 
reached the level ground above. Here we dismounted, 
slipped the bridles of our mules, and seated ourselves 
to wait for our Indians, looking down into the deep im- 
bosomed valley, and back at the great range of Cordil- 
leras, crowned by the Sierra Madre, seeming a barrier 
fit to separate worlds. 

VOL. II. H H 21 


Free from all apprehensions, we were now in the full 
enjoyment of the wild country and wild mode of trav- 
elling. But our poor Indians, perhaps, did not enjoy it 
so much. The usual load was from three to four arro- 
bas, seventy-five to one hundred pounds ; ours were 
not more than fifty ; but the sweat rolled in streams 
down their naked bodies, and every limb trembled. 
After a short rest they started again. The day was 
hot and sultry, the ground dry, parched, and stony. 
"We had two sharp descents, and reached the Rivei 
Dolores. On both sides were large trees, furnishing a 
beautiful shade, which, after our scorching ride, we 
found delightful. The river was about three hundred 
feet broad. In the rainy season it is impassable, but in 
the dry season not more than three or four feet deep, 
very clear, and Jhe colour a grayish green, probably 
from the reflection of the trees. We had had no water 
since we left the suspension bridge, and both our mules 
and we were intemperate. 

We remained here half an hour ; and now apprehen- 
sions, which had been operating more or less all the 
time, made us feel very uncomfortable. We were ap- 
proaching, and very near, the frontier of Mexico. This 
road was so little travelled, that, as we were advised, 
there was no regular guard ; but piquets of soldiers were 
scouring the whole line of frontier to prevent smug- 
gling, who might consider us contraband. Our pass- 
ports were good for going out of Central America ; but 
to go into Mexico, the passport of the Mexican authori- 
ties at Ciudad Real, four days' journey, was necessary. 
Turning back was not in our vocabulary; perhaps we 
should be obliged to wait in the wilderness till we could 
send for one. 

In half an hour we reached the Rio Lagertero, the 


boundary-line between Guatimala and Mexico, a scene 
of wild and surpassing beauty, with banks shaded by 
some of the noblest trees of the tropical forests, water 
as clear as crystal, and fish a foot long playing in it as 
gently as if there were no fish-hooks. No soldiers were 
visible ; all was as desolate as if no human being had 
ever crossed the boundary before. We had a mo- 
ment's consultation on which side to encamp, and de- 
termined to make a lodgment in Mexico. I was riding 
Pawling's horse, and spurred him into the water, to be 
the first to touch the soil. With one plunge his fore- 
feet were off the bottom, and my legs under water. 
For an instant I hesitated ; but as the water rose to my 
holsters my enthusiasm gave way, and I wheeled back 
into Central America. As we afterward found, the 
water was ten or twelve feet deep. 

We waited for the Indians, in some doubt whether it 
would be possible to cross at all with the luggage. At a 
short distance above was a ledge of rocks, forming rap- 
ids, over which there h^ad been a bridge with a wooden 
arch and stone abutments, the latter of which were still 
standing, the bridge having been carried away by the 
rising of the waters seven years before. It was the last 
of the dry season ; the rocks were in some places dry, 
the body of the river running in channels on each side, 
and a log was laid to them from the abutments of the 
bridge. We took off the saddles and bridles of the 
mules, and cautiously, with the water breaking rapidly 
up to the knees, carried everything across by hand ; an 
operation in which an hour was consumed. One night's 
rain on the mountains would have made it impassable. 
The mules were then swum across, and we were all 
ianded safely in Mexico. 

On the bank opposite the place where I attempted to 


MOSS was a semicircular clearing, from which the only 
opening was the path leading into the Mexican prov- 
inces. We closed this up, and turned the mules loose, 
hung our traps on the trees, and bivouacked in the cen- 
tre. The men built a fire, and while they were prepa- 
ring supper we went down to the river to bathe. The 
rapids were breaking above- us. The wildness of the 
scene, its seclusion and remoteness, the clearness of the 
water, the sense of having accomplished an important 
part of our journey, all revived our physical and moral 
being. Clean apparel consummated the glory of the 
bath. For several days our digestive organs had been 
out of order, but when we sat down to supper they 
could have undertaken the bridles of the mules ; and 
my brave macho it was a pleasure to hear him craunch 
his corn. We were out of Central America, safe from 
the dangers of revolution, and stood on the wild borders 
of Mexico, in good health, with good appetites, and 
something to eat. We had still a tremendous journey 
before us, but it seemed nothing. We strode the little 
clearing as proudly as the conquerors of Mexico, and 
in our extravagance resolved to have a fish for break- 
fast. We had no hooks, and there was not even a pin 
in our travelling equipage ; but we had needles and 
thread. Pawling, with the experience of seven years' 
" roughing," had expedients, and put a needle in the 
fire, which softened its temper, so that he bent it into a 
hook. A pole was on every tree, and we could see the 
fish in the water ; all that we wanted was for them to 
open their mouths and hook themselves to the needle ; 
but this they would not do, and for this reason alone 
we did not catch any. We returned. Our men cut 
some poles, and resting them in the crotch of a tree, cov- 
ered them with branches. We spread our mats under, 


and our roof and beds were ready. The men piled logs 
of wood on the fire, and our sleep was sound and glo* 

At daylight the next morning we were again in the 
water. Our bath was even better than that of the night 
before, and when I mounted I felt able to ride through 
Mexico and Texas to my own door at home. Returned 
once more to steamboats and railroads, how flat, tame, 
and insipid all their comforts seem. 

We started at half past seven. At a very short dis- 
tance three wild boars crossed our path, all within gun- 
shot ; but our men carried the guns, and in an instant 
it was too late. Very soon we emerged from the woods 
that bordered the river, and came out into an operi 
plain. At half past eight we crossed a low stony hill 
and came to the dry bed of a river; The bottom was 
flat and baked hard, and the sides smooth and regular 
as those of a canal. At the distance of half a league 
water appeared, and at half past nine it became a con- 
siderable stream. We again entered a forest, and ri- 
ding by a narrow path, saw directly before us, closing 
the passage, the side of a large church. We came out, 
and saw the whole gigantic building, without a single 
habitation, or the vestige of one, in sight. The path led 
across the broken wall of the courtyard. We dis- 
mounted in the deep shade of the front. The facade 
was rich and perfect. It was sixty feet front and two 
hundred and fifty feet deep, but roofless, with trees 
growing out of the area above the walls. Nothing could 
exceed the quiet and desolation of the scene ; but there 
was something strangely interesting in these roofless 
churches, standing in places entirely unknown. San- 
tiago told us that this was called Conata, and the tradi- 
tion is, that it was once so rich that the inhabitants car- 


ried their water-jars by silken cords. Giving our mules 
to Santiago, we entered the open door of the church. 
The altar was thrown down, the roof lay in broken 
masses on the ground, and the whole ara was a forest 
of trees. At the foot of the church, and connected with 
it, was a convent. There was no roof, but the apart- 
ments were entire as when a good padre stood to wel- 
come a traveller. In front of the church, on each side, 
was a staircase leading up to a belfry in the centre of 
the facade. We ascended to the top. The bells which 
had called to matin and vesper prayers were gone ; the 
crosspiece was broken from the cross. The stone of 
the belfry was solid masses of petrified shells, worms, 
leaves, and insects. On one side we looked down into 
the roofless area, and on the other over a region of 
waste. One man had written his name there : 

Joaquim Ruderigos, 
Conata, Mayo 1, 1836. 

We wrote our names under his and descended, 
mounted, rode over a stony and desolate country, 
crossed a river, and saw before us a range of hills, and 
beyond a range of mountains. Then we came upon a 
bleak stony table, and after riding four hours and a 
half, saw the road leading across a barren mountain on 
our right, and, afraid we had missed our way, halted 
under a low spreading tree to wait for our men. We 
turned the mules loose, and after waiting some time, 
sent Santiago back to look for them. The wind 
was sweeping over the plain, and while Mr. Gather- 
wood was cutting wood, Pawling and I descended 
to a ravine to look for water. The bed was entirely 
dry, and one took his course up and the other down. 
Pawling found a muddy hole in a rock, which, even 
to thirsty men, was not tempting. We returned, and 


found Mr. Catherwood warming himself by the blaze of 
three or four young trees, which he had piled one upon 
another. The wind was at this time sweeping furious- 
ly over the plain. Night was approaching ; we had not 
eaten anything since morning ; our small stock of pro- 
visions was in unsafe hands, and we began to fear that 
none would be forthcoming. Our mules were as badly 
off. The pasture was so poor that they required a wide 
range, and we let all go loose except my poor macho, 
which, from certain roving propensities acquired before 
he came into my possession, we were obliged to fasten 
to a tree. It was some time after dark when Santiago 
appeared with the alforgas of provisions on his back. 
He had gone back six miles when he found the track 
of Juan's foot, one of the squarest ever planted, and 
followed it to a wretched hut in the woods, at which 
we had expected to stop. We had lost nothing by not 
stopping; all they could get to bring away was four 
eggs. We supped, piled up our trunks to windward, 
spread our mats, lay down, gazed for a few moments 
at the stars, and fell asleep. During the night the wind 
changed, and we were almost blown away. 

The next morning, preparatory to entering once more 
upon habitable regions, we made our toilet ; i. e., we 
hung a looking-glass on the branch of a tree, and shaved 
the upper lip and a small part of the chin. At a quar- 
ter past seven we started, having eaten up our last frag- 
ment. Since we left Guista we had not seen a human 
being ; the country was still desolate and dreary ; there 
was not a breath of air ; hills, mountains, and plains 
were all barren and stony ; but, as the sun peeped 
above the horizon, its beams gladdened this scene of 
barrenness. For two hours we ascended a barren 
stony mountain. Even before this the desolate fron- 


tier had seemed almost an impregnable barrier ; but 
Alvarado had crossed it to penetrate an unknown coun- 
try teeming with enemies, and twice a Mexican army 
has invaded Central America. 

At half past ten we reached the top of the mountain, 
and on a line before us saw the Church of Zapolouta, 
the first village in Mexico. Here our apprehensions 
revived from want of a passport. Our great object 
was to reach Comitan, and there bide the brunt. Ap- 
proaching the village, we avoided the road that led 
through the plaza, and leaving the luggage to get along 
as it could, hurried through the suburbs, startled some 
women and children, and before our entry was known 
at the cabildo we were beyond the village. We rode 
briskly for about a mile, and then stopped to breathe. 
An immense weight was removed from our minds, and 
we welcomed each other to Mexico. Coming in from 
the desolate frontier, it opened upon us like an old, long- 
settled, civilized, quiet, and well-governed country. 

Four hours' ride over an arid and sandy plain brought 
us to Comitan. Santiago, being a deserter from the 
Mexican army, afraid of being caught, left us in the 
suburbs to return alone across the desert we had pass- 
ed, and we rode into the plaza. In one of the largest 
houses fronting it lived an American. Part of the front 
was occupied as a shop, and behind the counter was a 
man whose face called up the memory of home. I 
asked him in English if his name was M'Kinney, and 
he answered " Si, senor." I put several other ques- 
tions in English, which he answered in Spanish. The 
sounds were familiar to him, yet it was some time be- 
fore he could fully comprehend that he was listening to 
his native tongue ; but when he did, and understood 
that I was a countryman, it awakened feelings to which 


he had long been a stranger, and he received us as 
one in whom absence had only strengthened the links 
that bound him to his country. 

Dr. James M'Kinney, whose unpretending name is 
in Comitan transformed to the imposing one of Don 
Santiago Maquene, was a native of Westmoreland coun- 
ty, Virginia, and went out to Tobasco to pass a winter 
for the benefit of his health and the practice of his pro- 
fession. Circumstances induced him to make a journey 
into the interior, and he established himself at Ciudad 
Real. At the time of the cholera in Central America 
he went to Quezaltenango, where he was employed by 
the government, and lived two years on intimate terms 
with the unfortunate General Guzman, whom he de- 
scribed as one of the most gentlemanly, amiable, intel- 
ligent, and best men in the country. He afterward re- 
turned to Qomitan, and married a lady of a once rich 
and powerful family, but stripped of a portion of its 
wealth by a revolution only two years before. In the 
division of what was left, the house on the plaza fell to 
his share ; and disliking the practice of his profession, he 
abandoned it, and took to selling goods. Like every 
other stranger in the country, by reason of constant wars 
and revolutions he had become nervous. He had none 
of this feeling when he first arrived, and at the time of 
the first revolution in Ciudad Real he stood in the plaza 
looking on, when two men were shot down by his side. 
Fortunately, he took them into a house to dress their 
wounds, and during this time the attacking party forced 
their way into the plaza, and cut down every man in it. 

Up to this place we had travelled on the road to Mex- 
ico ; here Pawling was to leave us and go on to the cap- 
ital ; Palenque lay on our right, toward the coast of the 
Atlantic. The road Dr. M'Kinney described as more 

VOL. II. I i 


frightful than any we had yet travelled ; and there were 
other difficulties. War was again in our way ; and, 
while all the rest of Mexico was quiet, Tobasco and 
Yucatan, the two points in our journey, were in a state 
of revolution. This might have disturbed us greatly 
but for another difficulty. It was necessary to present 
ourselves at Ciudad Real, three days' journey directly 
out of our road, to procure a passport, without which we 
could not travel in any part of the Mexican republic. 
And, serious as these things were, they merged in a 
third ; viz., the government of Mexico had issued a per- 
emptory order to prevent all strangers visiting the ruins 
of Palenque. Dr. M'Kinney told us of his own knowl- 
edge that three Belgians, sent out on a scientific expe- 
dition by the Belgian government, had gone to Ciudad 
Real expressly ^o ask permission to visit them, and had 
been refused. These communications damped some- 
what the satisfaction of our arrival in Comitan. 

By Dr. M'Kinney's advice we presented ourselves 
immediately to the commandant, who had a small gar- 
rison of about thirty men, well uniformed and equipped, 
and, compared with the soldiers of Central America, giv- 
ing me a high opinion of the Mexican army. I showed 
him my passport, and a copy of the government paper 
of Guatimala, which fortunately stated that I intended 
going to Campeachy to embark for the United States. 
With great courtesy he immediately undertook to relieve 
us from the necessity of presenting ourselves in person 
at Ciudad Real, and offered to send a courier to the 
governor for a passport. This was a great point, but 
still there would be detention; and by his advice we 
called upon the prefeto, who received us with the same 
courtesy, regretted the necessity of embarrassing my 
movements, showed us a copy of the order of the gov- 


eminent, which was imperative, and made no excep- 
tions in favour of Special Confidential Agents. He 
was really anxious, however, to serve us, said he was 
willing to incur some responsibility, and would consult 
with the commandant. We left him with a warm ap- 
preciation of the civility and good feeling of the Mexi- 
can officials, and satisfied that, whatever might be the 
result, they were disposed to pay great respect to their 
neighbours of the North. The next morning the prefeto 
sent back the passport, with a courteous message that 
they considered me in the same light as if I had come 
accredited to their own government, would be happy. to 
render me every facility in their power, and that Mexico 
was open to me to travel which way I pleased. Thus 
one great difficulty was removed. I recommend all who 
wish to travel to get an appointment from Washington. 
As to the revolutions, after having gone through 
the crash of a Central American, we were not to be 
put back by a Mexican. But the preventive order 
against visiting the ruins of Palenque was not so easi- 
ly disposed of. If we made an application for permis- 
sion, we felt sure of the good disposition of the local au- 
thorities ; but if they had no discretion, were bound by 
imperative orders, and obliged to refuse, it would be 
uncourteous and improper to make the attempt. At 
the same time, it was discouraging, in the teeth of Dr. 
M'Kinney's information, to undertake the journey with- 
out. To be obliged to retrace our steps, and make the 
long journey to the capital to ask permission, would be 
terrible ; but we learned that the ruins were removed 
some distance from any habitation ; we did not believe 
that, in the midst of a formidable revolution, the gov- 
ernment had any spare soldiers to station there as a 
guard. From what we knew of other ruins, we had 


reason to believe that the place was entirely desolate ; we 
might be on the ground before any one knew we were in 
the neighbourhood, and then make terms either to re- 
main or evacuate, as the case might require ; and it was 
worth the risk if we got one day's quiet possession. 
With this uncertain prospect we immediately commenced 
repairing and making preparations for our journey. 

The comfort of finding ourselves at this distant place 
in the house of a countryman can hardly be appreciated. 
In dress, manner, appearance, habits, and feelings, the 
doctor was as natural as if we had met him at home. 
The only difference was his language, which he could 
not speak connectedly, but interlarded it with Spanish 
expressions. He moved among the people, but he was 
not of them ; and the only tie that bound him was a 
dark-eyed Spanish beauty, one of the few that I saw in 
that country for whom a man might forget kindred and 
home. He was anxious to leave the country, but was 
trammelled by a promise made his mother-in-law not 
to do so during her life. He lived, however, in such 
constant anxiety, that he hoped she would release him. 

Comitan, the frontier town of Chiapas, contains a 
population of about ten thousand. It has a superb 
church, and well-filled convenf of Dominican friars. 
The better classes, as in Central America, have dwell- 
ing-houses in the town, and derive their subsistence 
from the products of their haciendas, which they visit 
from time to time. It is a place of considerable trade, 
and has become so by the effect of bad laws ; for, in 
consequence of the heavy duties on regular importations 
at the Mexican ports of entry, most of the European 
goods consumed in this region are smuggled in from 
Balize and Guatimala. The proceeds of confiscations 
and the perquisites of officers are such an important 


item of revenue that the officers are vigilant, and the 
day before we arrived twenty or thirty mule-loads that 
had been seized were brought into Comitan ; but the 
profits are so large that smuggling is a regular business, 
the risk of seizure being considered one of the expenses 
of carrying it on. The whole community, not except- 
ing the revenue officers, are interested in it, and its ef- 
fect upon public morals is deplorable. The markets, 
however, are but poorly supplied, as we found. We 
sent for a washerwoman, but there was no soap in the 
town. "We wanted our mules shod, but there was only 
iron enough to shoe one. Buttons for pantaloons, in 
size, made up for other deficiencies. The want of soap 
was a deplorable circumstance. For several days we 
had indulged in the pleasing expectation of having our 
sheets washed. The reader may perhaps consider us 
particular, as it was only three weeks since we left 
Guatimala, but we had slept in wretched cabildoes, 
and on the ground, and they had become of a very 
doubtful colour. In time of trouble, however, com- 
mend me to the sympathy of a countryman. Don San- 
tiago, alias Doctor M'Kinney, stood by us in our hour 
of need, provided us with soap, and our sheets were pu- 

I have omitted a circumstance which from the time 
of our arrival in the country we had noticed as extra- 
ordinary. The horses and mules are never shod, ex- 
cept perhaps a few pleasure horses used for riding about 
the streets of Guatimala. On the road, however, we 
were advised, after we had set out, that it was proper 
to have ours shod ; but there was no good blacksmith 
except at Quezaltenango, and as we were at that place 
during a fiesta he would not work. In crossing long 
ranges of stony mountains, not one of them suffered ex- 



cept Mr. Catherwood's riding mule, and her hoofs were 
worn down even with the flesh. 

Pawling's difficulties were now over. I procured for 
him a separate passport, and he had before him a clear 
road to Mexico ; but his interest had been awakened ; 
he was loth to leave us, and after a long consultation 
and deliberation resolved that he would go with us to 



Parting. Sotana. A Millionaire. Ocosingo. Ruins. Beginning of the Rainy 
Season. A Female Guide. Arrival at the Ruins. Stone Figures. Pyrami- 
dal Structures. An Arch. A Stucco Ornament. A Wooden Lintel.~-A cu- 
rious Cave. Buildings, &c. A Causeway. More Ruins. Journey to Pa- 
lenque. Rio Grande. Cascades. Succession of Villages. A Maniac. The 
Yahalon. Tumbala. A wild Place. A Scene of Grandeur and Sublimity. 
Indian Carriers. A steep Mountain. San Pedro. 

ON the first of May, with a bustle and confusion like 
those of May-day at home, we moved out of Don San- 
tiago's house, mounted, and bade him farewell. Doubt- 
less his daily routines have not since been broken by 
the visit of a countryman, and communication is so dif- 
ficult that he never hears from home. He charged us 
with messages to his friend Doctor Coleman, United 
States consul at Tobasco, who was then dead ; and 
the reader will perhaps feel for him when I mention that 
probably a copy of this work, which I intend to send 
him, will never reach his hands. 

I must pass over the next stage of our journey, which 
was through a region less mountainous, but not less sol- 
itary than that we had already traversed. The first af- 
ternoon we stopped at the hacienda of Sotana, belong- 
ing to a brother-in-law of Don Santiago, in a soft and 
lovely valley, with a chapel attached, and bell that at 
evening called the Indian workmen, women, and chil- 
dren to vesper prayers. The next day, at the abode 
of Padre Solis, a rich old cura, short and broad, living 
on a fine hacienda, we dined off solid silver dishes, 
drank out of silver cups, and washed in a silver basin. 
He had lived at Palenque, talked of Candones or un- 
baptized Indians, and wanted to buy my macho, prom- 


ising to keep him till he died ; and the only thing that 
relieves me from self-reproach in not securing him such 
pasture-grounds is the recollection of the padre's weight. 

At four o'clock on the third day we reached Ocosin- 
go, likewise in a beautiful situation, surrounded by 
mountains, with a large church ; and in the wall of the 
yard we noticed two sculptured figures from the ruins 
we proposed to visit, somewhat in the same style as those 
at Copan. In the centre of the square was a magnificent 
Ceiba tree. We rode up to the house of Don Manuel 
Pasada, the prefet, which, with an old woman-servant, 
we had. entirely to ourselves, the family being at his 
hacienda. The house was a long enclosure, with a 
shed in front, and furnished with bedsteads made of 
reeds split into two, and supported on sticks resting in 
the ground. 

The alcalde was a Mestitzo, very civil, and glad to 
see us, and spoke of the neighbouring ruins in the most 
extravagant terms, but said they were so completely 
buried in El Monte that it would require a party of men 
for two or three days to cut a way to them ; and he laid 
great stress upon a cave, the mouth of which was com- 
pletely choked up with stones, and which communica- 
ted by a subterraneous passage with the old city of Pa- 
lenque, about one hundred and fifty miles distant. He 
added that if we would wait a few days to make prep- 
arations, he and all the village would go with us, and 
make a thorough exploration. "We told him that first 
we wished to make preliminary observations, and he 
promised us a guide for the next morning. 

That night broke upon us the opening storm of the 
rainy season. Peals of crashing thunder reverberated 
from the mountains, lightning illuminated with fearful 
flashes the darkness of night, rain poured like a deluge 


upon our thatched roof, and the worst mountains in the 
whole road were yet to be crossed. All our efforts to 
anticipate the rainy season had been fruitless. 

In the morning dark clouds still obscured the sky, but 
they fell back and hid themselves before the beams of 
the rising sun. The grass and trees, parched by six 
months' drought, started into a deeper green, and the 
hills and mountains seemed glad. The alcalde, I be- 
lieve vexed at our not being willing to make an imme- 
diate affair of exploring the ruins, had gone away for 
the day without sending us any guide, and leaving word 
that all the men were engaged in repairing the church. 
We endeavoured to entice one of them away, but un- 
successfully. Returning, we found that our piazza was 
the schoolhouse of the village. Half a dozen children 
were sitting on a bench, and the schoolmaster, half tip- 
sy, was educating them, i. e., teaching them to repeat 
by rote the formal parts of the church service. We 
asked him to help us, but he advised us to wait a day 
or two ; in that country nothing could be done vio- 
lenter. We were excessively vexed at the prospect of 
losing the day ; and at the moment when we thought we 
had nothing left but to submit, a little girl came to tell 
us that a woman, on whose hacienda the ruins were, was 
then about going to visit it, and offered to escort us. 
Her horse was already standing before the door, and 
before our mules were ready she rode over for us. We. 
paid our respects, gave her a good cigar, and, lighting 
all around, set out. She was a pleasant Mestitzo, and 
had a son with her, a fine lad about fifteen. We started 
at half past nine, and, after a hot and sultry ride, at 
twenty minutes past eleven reached her rancho. It 
was a mere hut, made of poles and plastered with mud, 
but the situation was one of those that warmed us to 



country life. Our kind guide sent with us her son and 
an Indian with his machete, and in half an hour we 
were at the ruins. 

Soon after leaving the rancho, and at nearly a mile 
distant, we saw, on a high elevation, through openings 
in trees growing around it, one of the buildings of 
Tonila, the Indian name in this region for stone hou- 
ses. Approaching it, we passed on the plain in front 
two stone figures lying on the ground, with the faces 
upward ; they were well carved, but the characters 
were somewhat faded by long exposure to the elements, 
although still distinct. Leaving them, we rode on to 
the foot of a high structure, probably a fortress, ri- 
sing in a pyramidal form, with five spacious terraces. 
These terraces had all been faced with stone and stuc- 
coed, but in many places they were broken and over- 
grown with grass and shrubs. Taking advantage of 
one of the broken parts, we rode up the first pitch, and, 
following the platform of the terrace, ascended by an- 
other breach to the second, and in the same way to the 
third. There we tied our horses and climbed up on 
foot. On the top was a pyramidal structure overgrown 
with trees, supporting the building which we had seen 
from the plain below. Among the trees were several 
wild lemons, loaded with fruit, and of very fine flavour, 
which, if not brought there by the Spaniards, must be 
indigenous. The building is fifty feet front and thirty- 
five feet deep ; it is constructed of stone and lime, and 
the whole front was once covered with stucco, of which 
part of the cornice and mouldings still remain. The 
entrance is by a doorway ten feet wide, which leads 
into a sort of antechamber, on each side of which is a 
small doorway leading into an apartment ten feet 
square. The walls of these apartments were once cov- 

Elevation of-theflroihlino wrth ih 
fVramidal vSfourtwre on \vhu>h n Mt 


Ornamenlto atage scaJe over Door mafkod A on tlir. I'iaii . 



20 30 



ered with stucco, which had fallen down ; part of the 
roof had given way, and the floor was covered with 
ruins. In one of them was the same pitchy substance 
we had noticed in the sepulchre at Copan. The roof 
was formed of stones, lapping over in the usual style, 
and forming as near an approach to the arch as was 
made by the architects of the Old World. 

In the back wall of the centre chamber was a door- 
way of the same size with that in front, which led to an 
apartment without any partitions, but in the centre waa 
an oblong enclosure eighteen feet by eleven, which was 
manifestly intended as the most important part of the 
edifice. The door was choked up with ruins to within 
a few feet of the top, but over it, and extending along 
the whole front of the structure, was a large stucco or- 
nament, which at first impressed us most forcibly by its 
striking resemblance to the winged globe over the doors 
of Egyptian temples. Part of this ornament had fallen 
down, and, striking the heap of rubbish underneath, 
had rolled beyond the door of entrance. We endeav- 
oured to roll it back and restore it to its place, but it 
proved too heavy for the strength of four men and a 
boy. The part which remains is represented in the en- 
graving, and differs in detail from the winged globe. 
The wings are reversed ; there is a fragment of a cir- 
cular ornament which may have been intended for a 
globe, but there are no remains of serpents entwining it. 

There was another surprising feature in this door. 
The lintel was a beam of wood ; of what species we did 
not know, but our guide said it was of the sapote-tree. 
It was so hard that, on being struck, it rang like metal, 
and perfectly sound, without a worm-hole or other 
symptom of decay. The surface was smooth and 
even, and from a very close examination we were of 


the opinion that it must ha ire been trimmed with an in- 
strument of metal. 

The opening under this doorway was what the al- 
calde had intended as the mouth of the cave that led to 
Palenque, and which, by-the-way, he had told us was 
so completely buried in El Monte that it would re- 
quire two days digging and clearing to reach it. Our 
guide laughed at the ignorance prevailing in the village 
in regard to the difficulty of reaching it, but stoutly 
maintained the story that it led to Palenque. We could 
not prevail on him to enter it. A short cut to Palen- 
que was exactly what we wanted. I took off my coat, 
and, lying down on my breast, began to crawl under. 
When I had advanced about half the length of my 
body, I heard a hideous hissing noise, and starting 
back, saw a pair of small eyes, which in the darkness 
shone like balls of fire. The precise portion of time 
that I employed in backing out is not worth mentioning. 
My companions had heard the noise, and the guide 
said it was " un tigre." I thought it was a wildcat; 
but, whatever it was, we determined to have a shot at 
it. We took it for granted 'that the animal would dash 
past us, and in a few moments our guns and pistols, 
swords and machetes, were ready ; taking our positions, 
Pawling, standing close against the wall, thrust under a 
long pole, and with a horrible noise out fluttered a huge 
turkey-buzzard, which flapped itself through the build- 
ing and took refuge in another chamber. 

This peril over, I renewed the attempt, and holding a 
candle before me, quickly discovered the whole extent 
of the cave that led to Palenque. It was a chamber cor- 
responding with the dimensions given of the outer 
walls. The floor was encumbered with rubbish two or 
three feet deep, the walls were covered with stuccoed 


figures, among which that of a monkey was conspicu- 
ous, and against the back wall, among curious and in- 
teresting ornaments, were two figures of men in profile, 
with their faces toward each other, well drawn and as 
large as life, but the feet concealed by the rubbish on 
the floor. . Mr. Catherwood crawled in to make a draw- 
ing of them, but, on account of the smoke from the can- 
dles, the closeness, and excessive heat, it was impossi- 
ble to remain long enough. In general appearance and 
character they were the same as we afterward saw carv- 
ed on stone at Palenque. 

By means of a tree growing close against the wall of 
this building I climbed to the top, and saw another ed- 
ifice very near and on the top of a still higher structure. 
We climbed up to this, and found it of the same general 
plan, but more dilapidated. Descending, we passed be- 
tween two other buildings on pyramidal elevations, and 
came out upon an open table which had probably once 
been the site of the city. It was protected on all sides 
by the same high terraces, overlooking for a great dis- 
tance the whole country round, and rendering it im- 
possible for an enemy to approach from any quarter 
without being discovered. Across the table was a high 
and narrow causeway, which seemed partly natural and 
partly artificial, and at some distance on which was a 
mound, with the foundations of a building that had prob- 
ably been a tower. Beyond this the causeway extend- 
ed till it joined a range of mountains. From the few 
Spanish books within my reach I have not been able 
to learn anything whatever of the history of this place, 
whether it existed at the time of the conquest or not. 
I am inclined to think, however, that it did, and that 
mention is made of it in some Spanish authors. At all 
events, there was no place we had seen which gave us 


such an idea of the vastness of the works erected by the 
aboriginal inhabitants. Pressed as we were, we deter- 
mined to remain and make a thorough exploration. 

It was nearly dark when we returned to the village. 
Immediately we called upon the alcalde, but found on 
the very threshold detention and delay. He repeated 
the schoolmaster's warning that nothing could be done 
violenter. It would take two days to get together men 
and implements, and these last of the kind necessary 
could not be had at all. There was not a crowbar in 
the place ; but the alcalde said one could be made, and 
in the same breath that there was no iron ; there was 
half a blacksmith, but no iron nearer than Tobasco, 
about eight or ten days' journey. While we were with 
him another terrible storm came on. We hurried back 
in the midst of, it, and determined forthwith to push on 
to Palenque. I am strongly of opinion that there is at 
this place much to reward the future traveller. We 
were told that there were other ruins about ten leagues 
distant, along the same range of mountains ; and it has 
additional interest in our eyes, from the circumstance 
that this would be the best point from which to attempt 
the discovery of the mysterious city seen from the top of 
the Cordilleras. 

At Ocosingo we were on the line of travel of Captain 
Dupaix, whose great work on Mexican Antiquities, pub- 
lished in Paris in 18345, awakened the attention of the 
learned in Europe. His expedition to Palenque was 
made in 1807. He reached this place from the city of 
Mexico, under a commission from the government, at- 
tended by a draughtsman and secretary, and part of a 
regiment of dragoons. "Palenque," he says, "is eight 
days' march from Ocosingo. The journey is very fa- 
tiguing. The roads, if they can be so. called, are only 


narrow and difficult paths, which wind across mountains 
and precipices, and which it is necessary to follow some- 
times on mules, sometimes on foot, sometimes on the 
shoulders of Indians, and sometimes in hammocks. In 
some places it is necessary to pass on* bridges, or, rather, 
trunks of trees badly secured, and over lands covered 
with wood, desert and dispeopled, and to sleep in the 
open air, excepting a very few villages and huts. 

" We had with us thirty or forty vigorous Indians to 
carry our luggage and hammocks. After having expe- 
rienced in this long and painful journey every kind of 
fatigue and discomfort, we arrived, thank God, at the 
village of Palenque." 

This was now the journey before us ; and, according 
to the stages we had arranged, to avoid sleeping out at 
night, it was to be made in five instead of eight days. 
The terrible rains of the two preceding nights had in- 
fected us with a sort of terror, and Pawling was com- 
pletely shaken in his purpose of continuing with us. 
The people of the village told him that after the rains 
had fairly set in it would be impossible to return, and 
in the morning, though reluctantly, he determined 
abruptly to leave us and go back. We were very un- 
willing to part with him, but, under the circumstances, 
could not urge him to continue. Our luggage and lit- 
tle traps, which we had used in common, were separa- 
ted ; Mr. Catherwood bade him good-by and rode on ; 
but while mounted, and in the act of shaking hands to 
pursue our opposite roads, I made him a proposition 
which induced him again to change his determination, 
at the risk of remaining on the other side of the mount- 
ains until the rainy season was over. In a few minutes 
we overtook Mr. Catherwood. 

The fact is, we had some apprehensions from the 


badness of the roads. Our route lay through an Indian 
country, in parts of which the Indians bore a notoriously 
bad character. We had no dragoons, our party of at- 
tendants was very small, and, in reality, we had not a 
single man upon Whom we could rely ; under which 
state of things Pawling's pistols and double-barrelled 
gun were a matter of some consequence. 

We left Ocosingo at a quarter past eight. So little 
impression did any of our attendants make upon me, 
that I have entirely forgotten every one of them. In- 
deed, this was the case throughout the journey. In 
other countries a Greek muleteer, an Arab boatman, or 
a Bedouin guide was a companion ; here the people 
had no character, and nothing in which we took any 
interest except their backs. Each Indian carried, be- 
sides his burden, a net bag containing his provisions for 
the road, viz., a few tortillas, and large balls of mashed 
Indian corn wrapped in leaves. A drinking cup, being 
half a calabash, he carried sometimes on the crown of 
his head. At every stream he filled his cup with water, 
into which he stirred some of his corn, making a sort 
of cold porridge ; and this throughout the country is 
the staff of life for the Indian on a journey. In half an 
hour we passed at some distance on our right large 
mounds, formerly structures which formed part of the 
old city. At nine o'clock we crossed the Rio Grande 
or Huacachahoul, followed some distance on the bank, 
and passed three cascades spreading over the rocky 
bed of the river, unique and peculiar in beauty, and 
probably many more of the same character were break- 
ing unnoticed and unknown in the wilderness through 
which it rolled ; but, turning up a rugged mountain, we 
lost sight of it. The road was broken and mountain- 
ous. We did not meet a single person, and at three 


o'clock, moving in a north-northwest direction, we en- 
tered the village of Huacachahoul, standing in an open 
situation, surrounded by mountains, and peopled entire- 
ly by Indians, wilder and more savage than any we had 
yet seen. The men were without hats, but wore their 
long black hair reaching to their shoulders ; and the old 
men and women, with harsh and haggard features and 
dark rolling eyes, had a rriost unbaptized appearance. 
They gave us no greetings, and their wild but steady 
glare made us feel a little nervous. A collection of na- 
ked boys and girls called Mr. Catherwood " Tata," 
mistaking him for a padre. We had some misgivings 
when we put the village behind us, and felt ourselves 
enclosed in the country of wild Indians. We stop- 
ped an hour near a stream, and at half past six ar- 
rived at Chillon, where, to our surprise and pleasure, we 
found a sub-prefect, a white man, and intelligent, who 
had travelled to San Salvador, and knew General Mo- 
razan. He was very anxious to know whether there 
was any revolution in Ciudad Real, as, with a pliancy 
becoming an office-holder, he wished to give in his ad- 
hesion to the new government. 

The next morning, at a quarter before seven, we 
started with a new set of Indians. The road was good 
to Yahalon, which we reached at ten o'clock. Before 
entering it we met a young Indian girl with her father, 
of extraordinary beauty of face, in the costume of the 
country, but with a modest expression of countenance, 
which we all particularly remarked as evidence of her 
innocence and unconsciousness of anything wrong in her 
appearance. Every village we passed was most pictu- 
resque in position, and here the church was very effect- 
ive ; as in the preceding villages, it was undergoing re- 

VOL. II. L L 23 


Here we were obliged to take another set of Indians, 
and perhaps we should have lost the day but for the 
padre, who called off some men working at the church. 
At a quarter past eleven we set off again ; at a quarter 
before one we stopped at the side of a stream to lunch. 
At this place a young Indian overtook us, with a very 
intelligent face, who seated himself beside me, and said, 
in remarkably good Spanish, that we must beware of 
the Indians. I gave him some tortillas. He broke off 
a small piece, and holding it in his fingers, looked at 
me, and with great emphasis said he had eaten enough ; 
it was of no use to eat ; he ate all he could get, and did 
not grow fat ; and, thrusting his livid face into mine, 
told me to see how thin he was. His face was calm, 
but one accidental expression betrayed him as a ma- 
niac ; and I now noticed in his face, and all over his 
body, white spots of leprosy, and started away from him. 
I endeavoured to persuade him to go back to the vil- 
lage, but he said it made no difference whether he went to 
the village or not ; he wanted a remedio for his thinness. 

Soon after we came upon the banks of the River of 
Yahalon. It was excessively hot, the river as pure as 
water could be. and we stopped and had a delightful bath. 
After this we commenced ascending a steep mountain, 
and when high up saw the poor crazed young Indian 
standing in the same place on the bank of the river. At 
half past five, after a toilsome ascent, we reached the top 
of the mountain, and rode along the borders of a table of 
land several thousand feet high, looking down into an 
immense valley, and turning to the left, around the corner 
of the forest, entered the outskirts of Tumbala. The 
huts were distributed among high, rugged, and pictu- 
resque rocks, which had the appearance of having once 
formed the crater of a volcano. Drunken Indians were 


lying in the path, so that we had to turn out to avoid 
treading on them. Riding through a narrow passage 
between these high rocks, we came out upon a corner 
of the lofty perpendicular table several thousand feet 
high, on which stood the village of Tumbala. In front 
were the church and convent; the square was filled 
with wild-looking Indians preparing for a fiesta, and on 
the very corner of the immense table was a high coni- 
cal peak, crowned with the ruins of a church. Alto- 
gether it was the wildest and most extraordinary place 
we had yet seen, and though not consecrated by asso- 
ciations, for unknown ages it had been the site of an 
Indian village. 

It was one of the circumstances of our journey in 
this country that every hour and day produced some- 
thing new. We never had any idea of the character 
of the place we were approaching until we entered it, 
and one surprise followed close upon another. On one 
corner of the table of land stood the cabildo. The jus- 
titia was the brother of our silver-dish friend Padre So- 
lis, as poor and energetic as the padre was rich and 
inert. At the last village we had been told that it 
would be impossible to procure Indians for the next 
day on account of the fiesta, and had made up our 
minds to remain ; but my letters from the Mexican au- 
thorities were so effective, that immediately the justitia 
held a parley with forty or fifty Indians, and, breaking 
off occasionally to cuff one of them, our journey was 
arranged through to Palenque in three days, and the 
money paid and distributed. Although the wildness 
of the Indians made us feel a little uncomfortable, we 
almost regretted this unexpected promptness ; but the 
justitia told us we had come at a fortunate moment, for 
many of the Indians of San Pedro, who were notori- 


ously a bad set, were then in the village, but he could 
select those he knew, and would send an alguazil of 
his own with us all the way. As he did not give us 
any encouragement to remain, and seemed anxious to 
hurry us on, we made no objections, and in our anxiety 
to reach the end of our journey, had a superstitious ap- 
prehension of the effect of any voluntary delay. 

With the little of daylight that remained, he con- 
ducted us along the same path trodden by the Indians 
centuries before, to the top of the cone rising at the cor- 
ner of the table of land, from which we looked down on 
one side into an immense ravine several thousand feet 
in depth, and on the other, over the top of a great 
mountain range, we saw the village of San Pedro, the 
end of our next day's journey, and beyond, over the 
range of the mountains of Palenque, the Lake of Ter- 
minos and the Gulf of Mexico. It was one of the 
grandest, wildest, and most sublime scenes I ever be- 
held. On the top were ruins of a church and tower, 
probably once used as a lookout, and near it were thir- 
teen crosses erected over the bodies of Indians, who, 
a century before, tied the hands and feet of the curate, 
and threw him down the precipice, and were killed and 
buried on the spot. Every year new crosses are set up 
over their bodies, to keep alive in the minds of the In- 
dians the fate of murderers. All around, on almost in- 
accessible mountain heights, and in the deepest ravines, 
the Indians have their rnilpas or corn-patches, living al- 
most as when the Spaniards broke in upon them, and 
the justitia pointed with his finger to a region still oc- 
cupied by the " unbaptized :" the same strange people 
whose mysterious origin no man knows, and whose des- 
tiny no man can foretell. Among all the wild scenes 
of our Hurried tour, none is more strongly impressed 


upon ray mind than this ; but with the untamed Indi- 
ans around, Mr. Catherwood was too much excited and 
too nervous to attempt to make a sketch of it. 

At dark we returned to the cabildo, which was dec- 
orated with evergreens for the fiesta, and at one end 
was a table, with a figure of the Virgin fantastically 
dressed, sitting under an arbour of pine-leaves. 

In the evening we visited the padre, the delegate of 
Padre Solis, a gentlemanly young man from Ciudad 
Real, who was growing as round, and bade fair to grow 
as rich out of this village as Padre Solis himself. He 
and the justitia were the only white men in the place. 
We returned to the cabildo ; the Indians came in to 
bid the justitia buenos noces, kissed the back of his 
hand, and we were left to ourselves. 

Before daylight we were roused by an irruption of 
Indian carriers with lighted torches, who, while we 
were still in bed, began tying on the covers of our 
trunks to carry them off. At this place the mechanic 
arts were lower than in any other we had visited. 
There was not a rope of any kind in the village ; the 
fastenings of the trunks and the straps to go around the 
forehead were all of bark strings ; and here it was cus- 
tomary for those who intended to cross the mountains 
to take hammacas or sillas ; the former being a cush- 
ioned chair, with a long pole at each end, to be borne 
by four Indians before and behind, the traveller sitting 
with his face to the side, and, as the justitia told us, only 
used by very heavy men and padres ; and the latter an 
armchair, to be carried on the back of an Indian. We 
had a repugnance to this mode of conveyance, consid- 
ering, though unwilling to run any risk, that where an 
Indian could climb with one of us on his back we could 
climb alone, and set out without either silla or hammaca. 


Immediately from the village the road, which was a 
mere opening through the trees, commenced descend- 
ing, and very soon we came to a road of palos or sticks, 
like a staircase, so steep that it was dangerous to ride 
down them. But for these sticks, in the rainy season 
the road would be utterly impassable. Descending con- 
stantly, at a little after twelve we reached a small stream, 
where the Indians washed their sweating bodies. 

From the banks of this river we commenced ascend- 
ing the steepest mountain I ever knew. Riding was out 
of the question ; and encumbered with sword and spurs, 
and leading our mules, which sometimes held back, and 
sometimes sprang upon us, the toil was excessive. Ev- 
ery few minutes we were obliged to stop and lean 
against a tree or sit down. The Indians did not speak 
a word of any language but their own. "We could hold 
no communication whatever with them, and could not 
understand how far it was to the top. At length we 
saw up a steep pitch before us a rude cross, which we 
hailed as being the top of the mountain. "We climbed 
up to it, and, after resting a moment, mounted our 
mules, but, before riding a hundred yards, the descent 
began, and immediately we were obliged to dismount. 
The descent was steeper than the ascent. In a certain 
college in our country a chair was transmitted as an 
heirloom to the laziest man in the senior class. One 
held it by unanimous consent ; but he was seen run- 
ning down hill, was tried and found guilty, but avoid- 
ed sentence by the frank avowal that a man pushed 
him, and he was too lazy to stop himself. So it was 
with us. It was harder work to resist than to give way. 
Our mules came tumbling after us ; and after a most 
rapid, hot, and fatiguing descent, we reached a stream 
covered with leaves and insects. Here two of our In- 


dians left us to return that night to Tumbala ! Our la- 
bour was excessive ; what must it have been to them ! 
though probably accustomed to carry loads from their 
boyhood, they suffered less than we ; and the free- 
dom of their naked limbs relieved them from the heat 
and confinement which we suffered from clothes wet 
with perspiration. It was the hottest day we had expe- 
rienced in the country. We had a farther violent de- 
scent through woods of almost impenetrable thickness, 
and at a quarter before four reached San Pedro. Look- 
ing back over the range we had just crossed, we saw 
Tumbala, and the towering point on which we stood 
the evening before, on a right line, only a few miles dis- 
tant, but by the road twenty-seven. 

If a bad name could kill a place, San Pedro was 
damned. From the hacienda of Padre Solis to Tum- 
bala, every one we met cautioned us against the In- 
dians of San Pedro. Fortunately, however, nearly the 
whole village had gone to the fete at Tumbala. There 
was no alcalde, no alguazils ; a few Indians were lying 
about in a state of utter nudity, and when we looked 
into the huts the women ran away, probably alarmed 
at seeing men with pantaloons. The cabildo was occu- 
pied by a travelling party, with cargoes of sugar for To- 
basco. The leaders of the party and owners of the car- 
goes were two Mestitzoes, having servants well armed, 
with whom we formed an acquaintance and tacit alli- 
ance. One of the best houses was empty ; the propri- 
etor, with his family and household furniture, except 
reed bedsteads fixed in the ground, had gone- to the 
fiesta. We took possession, and piled our luggage in- 

Without giving us any notice, our men deserted us to 
return to Tumbala, and we were left alone. We could 


not speak the language, and could get nothing for the 
mules or for ourselves to eat ; but, through the leader of 
the sugar party, we learned that a new set of men would 
be forthcoming in the morning to take us on. With 
the heat and fatigue I had a violent headache. The 
mountain for the next day was worse, and, afraid of the 
effort, and of the danger of breaking down on the road, 
Mr. C. and Pawling endeavoured to procure a ham- 
maca or silla, which was promised for the morning. 



A wild Country. Ascent of a Mountain. Ride in a Silla. A precarious Situa- 
tion. The Descent. Rancho of Nopa. Attacks of Moschetoes. Approach 
to Palenque. Pasture Grounds. Village of Palenque. A crusty Official. A 
courteous Reception. Scarcity of Provisions. Sunday. Cholera. Another 
Countryman. The Conversion, Apostacy, and Recovery of the Indians. River 
ChacamaL The Caribs. Ruins of Palenque. 

EARLY the next morning the sugar party started, and 
at five minutes before seven we followed, with silla and 
men, altogether our party swelled to twenty Indians. 

The country through which we were now travelling 
was as wild as before the Spanish conquest, and with- 
out a habitation until we reached Palenque. The road 
was through a forest so overgrown with brush and un- 
derwood as to be impenetrable, and the branches were 
trimmed barely high enough to admit a man's travelling 
under them on foot, so that on the backs of our mules 
we were constantly obliged to bend our bodies, and 
even to dismount. In some places, for a great distance 
around, the woods seemed killed by the heat, the foli- 
age withered, the leaves dry and crisp, as if burned by 
the sun ; and a tornado had swept the country, of which 
no mention was made in the San Pedro papers. 

We met three Indians carrying clubs in their hands, 
naked except a small piece of cotton cloth around the 
loins and passing between the legs, one of them, young, 
tall, and of admirable symmetry of form, looking the 
freeborn gentleman of the woods. Shortly afterward 
we passed a stream, where naked Indians were set- 
ting rude nets for fish, wild and primitive as in the first 
ages of savage life. 

At twenty minutes past ten we commenced ascending 


the mountain. It was very hot, and I can give no idea 
of the toil of ascending these mountains. Our mules 
could barely clamber up with their saddles only. "We 
disencumbered ourselves of sword, spurs, and all use- 
less trappings ; in fact, came down to shirt and panta- 
loons, and as near the condition of the Indians as we 
could. Our procession would have been a spectacle in 
Broadway. First were four Indians, each with a rough 
oxhide box, secured by an iron chain and large padlock, 
on his back ; then Juan, with only a hat and pair of 
thin cotton drawers, driving two spare mules, and car- 
rying a double-barrelled gun over his naked shoulders ; 
then ourselves, each one driving before him or leading 
his own mule ; then an Indian carrying the silla, with 
relief carriers, and several boys bearing small bags of 
provisions, the Indians of the silla being much surprised 
at our not using them according to contract and the 
price paid. Though toiling excessively, we felt a sense 
of degradation at being carried on a man's shoulders. 
At that time I was in the worst condition of the three, 
and the night before had gone to bed at San Pedro 
without supper, which for any of us was sure evidence 
of being in a bad way. 

We had brought the silla with us merely as a meas- 
ure of precaution, with much expectation of being 
obliged to use it ; but at a steep pitch, which made my 
head almost burst to think of climbing, I resorted to it 
for the first time. It was a large, clumsy armchair, put 
together with wooden pins and bark strings. The In- 
dian who was to carry me, like all the others, was small, 
not more than five feet seven, very thin, but symmetri- 
cally formed. A bark strap was tied to the arms of 
the chair, and, sitting down, he placed his back against 
the back of the chair, adjusted the length of the strings, 


and smoothed the bark across his forehead with a little 
cushion to relieve the pressure. An Indian on each 
side lifted it up, and the carrier rose on his feet, stood 
still a moment, threw me up once or twice to adjust me 
on his shoulders, and set off with one man on each side. 
It was a great relief, but I could feel every movement, 
even to the heaving of his chest. The ascent was one 
of the steepest on the whole road. In a few minutes he 
stopped and sent forth a sound, usual with Indian car- 
riers, between a whistle and a blow, always painful to 
my ears, but which I never felt so disagreeably before. 
My face was turned backward ; I could not see where 
he was going, but observed that the Indian on the left 
fell back. Not to increase the labour of carrying me, 
I sat as still as possible ; but in a few minutes, looking 
over my shoulder, saw that we were approaching the 
edge of a precipice more than a thousand feet deep. 
Here I became very anxious to dismount ; but I could 
not speak intelligibly, and the Indians could or would 
not understand my signs. My carrier moved along 
carefully, with his left foot first, feeling that the stone 
on which he put it down was steady and secure before 
he brought up the other, and by degrees, after a partic- 
ularly careful movement, brought both feet up within 
half a step of the edge of the precipice, stopped, and 
gave a fearful whistle and blow. I rose and fell with 
every breath, felt his body trembling under me, and his 
knees seemed giving way. The precipice was awful, 
and the slightest irregular movement on my part might 
bring us both down together. I would have given him 
a release in full for the rest of the journey to be off his 
back; but he started again, and with the same care as- 
cended several steps, so close to the edge that even on 
the back of a mule it would have been very uncomfort- 


able. My fear lest he should break down or stumble was 
excessive. To my extreme relief, the path turned away ; 
but I had hardly congratulated myself upon my escape 
before he descended a few steps. This was much worse 
than ascending ; if he fell, nothing could keep me from 
going over his head ; but I remained till he put me 
down of his own accord. The poor fellow was wet 
with perspiration, and trembled in every limb. Anoth- 
er stood ready to take me up, but I had had enough. 
Pawling tried it, but only for a short time. It was bad 
enough to see an Indian toiling with a dead weight on 
his back ; but to feel him trembling under one's own 
body, hear his hard breathing, see the sweat rolling 
down him, and feel the insecurity of the position, made 
this a mode of travelling which nothing but constitu- 
tional laziness and insensibility could endure. Walk- 
ing, or rather climbing, stopping very often to rest, 
and riding when it was at all practicable, we reached 
a thatched shed, where we wished to stop for the night, 
but there was no water. 

We could not understand how far it was to Nopa, 
our intended stopping-place, which we supposed to be 
on the top of the mountain. To every question the In- 
dians answered una legua. Thinking it could not be 
much higher, we continued. For an hour more we had 
a very steep ascent, and then commenced a terrible 
descent. At this time the sun had disappeared ; dark 
clouds overhung the woods, and thunder rolled* heavily 
on the top of the mountain. As we descended a heavy 
wind swept through the forest ; the air was filled with 
dry leaves ; branches were snapped and broken, trees 
bent, and there was every appearance of a violent tor- 
nado. To hurry down on foot was out of the question. 
We were so tired that it was impossible ; and, afraid of 


being caught on. the mountain by a hurricane and del- 
uge of rain, we spurred down as fast as we could go. 
It was a continued descent, without any relief, stony, 
and very steep. Very often the mules stopped, afraid 
to go on ; and in one place the two empty mules bolted 
into the thick woods rather than proceed. Fortunately 
for the reader, this is our last mountain, and I can end 
honestly with a climax : it was the worst mountain I 
ever encountered in that or any other country, and, un- 
der our apprehension of the storm, I will venture to say 
that no travellers ever descended in less time. At a 
quarter before five we reached the plain. The mount- 
ain was hidden by clouds, and the storm was now ra- 
ging above us. We crossed a river, and continuing 
along it through a thick forest, reached the rancho of 

It was situated in a circular clearing about one hun- 
dred feet in diameter, near the river, with the forest 
around so thick with brush and underwood that the 
mules could not penetrate it, and with no opening but 
for the passage of the road through it. The rancho 
was merely a pitched roof covered with palm-leaves, 
and supported by four trunks of trees. All around 
were heaps of snail-shells, and the ground of the rancho 
was several inches deep with ashes, the remains of fires 
for cooking them. We had hardly congratulated our- 
selves upon our arrival at such a beautiful spot, before 
we suffered such an onslaught of moschetoes as we had 
not before experienced in the country. We made a 
fire, and, with appetites sharpened by a hard day's 
work, sat down on the grass to dispose of a San Pedro 
fowl ; but we were obliged to get up, and while one 
hand was occupied with eatables, use the other to brush 
off the venomous insects. We soon saw that we had 



bad prospects for the night, lighted fires all around the 
rancho, and smoked inordinately. We were in no hur- 
ry to lie down, and sat till a late hour, consoling our- 
selves with the reflection that, but for the moschetoes, 
our satisfaction would be beyond all bounds. The dark 
border of the clearing was lighted up by fireflies of ex- 
traordinary size and brilliancy darting among the trees, 
not flashing and disappearing, but carrying a steady 
light ; and, except that their course was serpentine, 
seeming like shooting stars. In different places there 
were two that remained stationary, emitting a pale but 
beautiful light, and seemed like rival belles holding 
levees. The fiery orbs darted from one to the other ; 
and when one, more daring than the rest, approached 
too near, the coquette withdrew her light, and the flut- 
terer went off. , One, however, carried all before her, 
and at one time we counted seven hovering around her. 
At length we prepared for sleep. Hammocks would 
leave us exposed on every side to the merciless attacks 
of the moschetoes, and we spread our mats on the 
ground. We did not undress. Pawling, with a great 
deal of trouble, rigged his sheets into a moscheto-net, 
but it was so hot that he could not breathe under them, 
and he roamed about or was in the river nearly all night. 
The Indians had occupied themselves in catching snails 
and cooking them for supper, and then lay down to 
sleep on the banks of the river ; but at midnight, with 
sharp thunder and lightning, the rain broke in a deluge, 
and they all came under the shed, and there they lay 
perfectly naked, mechanically, and without seeming to 
disturb themselves, slapping their bodies with their 
hands. The incessant hum and bite of the insects kept 
us in a constant state of wakefulness and irritation. 
Our bodies we could protect, but with a covering over 


the face the heat was insufferable. Before daylight I 
walked to the river, which was broad and shallow, and 
stretched myself out on the gravelly bottom, where the 
water was barely deep enough to run over my body. It 
was the first comfortable moment I had had. My heat- 
ed body became cooled, and I lay till daylight. When 
I rose to dress they came upon me with appetites whet- 
ted by a spirit of vengeance. Our day's work had been 
tremendously hard, but the night's was worse. The 
morning air, however, was refreshing, and as day dawn- 
ed our tormentors disappeared. Mr. Catherwood had 
suffered least, but in his restlessness he had lost from 
his finger a precious emerald ring, which he had worn 
for many years, and prized for associations. We re- 
mained some time looking for it, and at length mount- 
ed and made our last start for Palenque. The road was 
level, but the woods were still as thick as on the mount- 
ain. At a quarter before eleven we reached a path 
which led to the ruins, or somewhere else. We had 
abandoned the intention of going directly to the ruins ; 
for, besides that we were in a shattered condition, we 
could not communicate at all with our Indians, and 
probably they did not know where the ruins were. At 
length we came out upon an open plain, and looked 
back at the range we had crossed, running off to Peten 
and the country of unbaptized Indians. 

As we advanced we came into a region of fine pas- 
ture grounds, and saw herds of cattle. The grass show- 
ed the effect of early rains, and the picturesque appear- 
ance of the country reminded me of many a scene at 
home ; but there was a tree of singular beauty that was 
a stranger, having a high, naked trunk and spreading 
top, with leaves of vivid green, covered with yellow 
flowers. Continuing carelessly, and stopping from time 


to time to enjoy the smiling view around, and realize our 
escape from the dark mountains behind, we rose upon a 
slight table of land and saw the village before us, consist- 
ing of one grass-grown street, unbroken even by a mule- 
path, with a few straggling white houses on each side, 
on a slight elevation at the farther end a thatched church, 
with a rude cross and belfry before it. A boy could roll 
on the grass from the church door out of the village. In 
fact, it was the most dead-and-alive place I ever saw - 
but, coming from villages thronged with wild Indians, 
its air of repose was most grateful to us. In the suburbs 
were scattered Indian huts ; and as we rode into the 
street, eight or ten white people, men and women, came 
out, more than we had seen since we left Comitan, and 
the houses had a comfortable and respectable appear- 
ance. In one ef them lived the alcalde, a white man, 
about sixty, dressed in white cotton drawers, and shirt 
outside, respectable in his appearance, with a stoop in 
his shoulders, but the expression of his face was very 
doubtful. With what I intended as a most captivating 
manner, I offered him my passport ; but we had dis- 
turbed him at his siesta ; he had risen wrong side first ; 
and, looking me steadily in the face, he asked me what 
he had to do with rny passport. This I could not an- 
swer ; and he went on to say that he had nothing to do 
with it, and did not want to have ; we must go to the 
prefeto. Then he turned round two or three times in a 
circle, to show he did not care what we thought of him ; 
and, as if conscious of what was passing in our minds, 
volunteered to add that complaints had been made 
against him before, but it was of no use ; they couldn't 
remove him, and if they did he didn't care. 

This greeting at the end of our severe journey was 
rather discouraging, but it was important for us not to 


have any difficulty with this crusty official ; and, endeav- 
ouring to hit a vulnerable point, told him that we wished 
to stop a few days to rest, and should be obliged to 
purchase many things. We asked him if there was 
any bread in the village ; he answered, " no hay," 
" there is none ;" corn ? " no hay ;" coffee ? " no hay ;" 
chocolate ? " no hay." His satisfaction seemed to in- 
crease as he was still able to answer " no hay ;" but 
our unfortunate inquiries for bread roused his ire. In- 
nocently, and without intending any offence, we be- 
trayed our disappointment ; and Juan, looking out for 
himself, said that we could not eat tortillas. This he 
recurred to, repeated several times to himself, and to 
every new-comer said, with peculiar emphasis, they 
can't eat tortillas. Following it up, he said there was 
an oven in the place, but no flour, and the baker went 
away seven years before ; tne people there could do 
without bread. To change the subject, and determined 
not to complain, I threw out the conciliatory remark, 
that, at all events, we were glad to escape from the rain 
on the mountains, which he answered by asking if we 
expected anything better in Palenque, and he repeated 
with great satisfaction an expression common in the 
mouths of Palenquians : " tres meres de agua, tres meres 
aguacero, y tres meres del norte," "three months rains, 
three months heavy showers, and six months north 
wind," which in that country brings cold and rain. 

Finding it impossible to hit a weak point, while the 
men were piling up the luggage I rode to the prefeto, 
whose reception at that critical moment was most 
cheering and reviving. With habitual courtesy he of- 
fered me a chair and a cigar, and as soon as he saw my 
passport said he had been expecting me for some time. 
This surprised me ; and he added that Don Patricio had 



told him I was coming, which surprised me still more, 
as I did not remember any friend of that name, but 
soon learned that this imposing cognomen meant my 
friend Mr. Patrick Walker, of Balize. This was the 
first notice of Mr. Walker and Captain Caddy I had 
received since Lieutenant Nicols brought to Guatimala 
the report that they had been speared by the Indians. 
They had reached Palenque by the Balize River and 
Lake of Peten, without any other difficulties than from 
the badness of the roads, had remained two weeks at 
the ruins, and left for the Laguna and Yucatan. This 
was most gratifying intelligence, first, as it assured me 
of their safety, and second, as I gathered from it that 
there would be no impediment to our visiting the ruins. 
The apprehension of being met at the end of our toil- 
some journey with a peremptory exclusion had con- 
stantly disturbed us more or less, and sometimes 
weighed upon us like lead. We had determined to 
make no reference to the ruins until we had an oppor- 
tunity of ascertaining our ground, and up to that mo- 
ment I did not know but that all our labour was boot- 
less. To heighten my satisfaction, the prefeto said that 
the place was perfectly quiet ; it was in a retired nook, 
which revolutions and political convulsions never reach- 
ed. He had held his office twenty years, acknowledg- 
ing as many different governments. 

I returned to make my report, and in regard to the 
old alcalde, in the language of a ward-meeting mani- 
festo, determined to ask for nothing but what was right, 
and to submit to nothing that was wrong. In this spirit 
we made a bold stand for some corn. The alcalde's 
" no hay" was but too true ; the corn-crop had failed, 
and there was an actual famine in the place. The In- 
dians, with accustomed improvidence, had planted 


barely enough for the season, and this turning out bad, 
they were reduced to fruits, plantains, and roots in- 
stead of tortillas. Each white family had about enough 
for its own use, but none to spare. The shortness of 
the corn-crop made everything else scarce, as they were 
obliged to kill their fowls and pigs from want of any- 
thing to feed them with. The alcalde, who to his other 
offences added that of being rich, was the only man in 
the place who had any to spare, and he was holding on 
for a greater pressure. At Tumbala we had bought 
good corn at thirty ears for sixpence ; here, with great 
difficulty, we prevailed upon the alcalde to spare us a 
little at eight ears for a shilling, and these were so 
musty and worm-eaten that the mules would hardly 
touch them. At first it surprised us that some enter- 
prising capitalist did not import several dollars' worth 
from Tumbala ; but on going deeper into the matter we 
found that the cost of transportation would not leave 
much profit, and, besides, the course of exchange was 
against Palenque. A few back-loads would overstock 
the market ; for as each white family was provided till 
the next crop came in, the Indians were the only per- 
sons who wished to purchase, and they had no money 
to buy with. The brunt of the famine fell upon us, and 
particularly upon our poor mules. Fortunately, how- 
ever, there was good pasture, and not far off. We 
slipped the bridles at the door and turned them loose 
in the streets ; but after making the circuit they came 
back in a body, and poked their heads in at the door 
with an imploring look for corn. 

Our prospects were not very brilliant ; nevertheless, 
we had reached Palenque, and toward evening storms 
came on, with terrific thunder and lightning, which 
made us feel but too happy that our journey was over. 


The house assigned to us by the alcalde was next hid 
own, and belonged to himself. It had a cucinera ad- 
joining, and two Indian women, who did not dare look 
at us without permission from the alcalde. It had an 
earthen floor, three beds made of reeds, and a thatched 
roof, very good, except that over two of the beds it 
leaked. Under the peaked roof and across the top of 
the mud walls there was a floor made of poles, serving 
as a granary for the alcalde's mouldy corn, inhabited 
by industrious mice, which scratched, nibbled, squeak- 
ed, and sprinkled dust upon us all night. Neverthe- 
less, we had reached Palenque, and slept well. 

The next day was Sunday, and we hailed it as a 
day of rest. Heretofore, in all my travels, I had endeav- 
oured to keep it as such, but in this country I had found 
it impossible. The place was so tranquil, and seemed 
in such a state of repose, that as the old alcalde passed 
the door we ventured to wish him a good-morning ; 
but again he had got up wrong ; and, without answering 
our greeting, stopped to tell us that our mules were 
missing, and, as this did not disturb us sufficiently, he 
added that they were probably stolen; but when he 
had got us fairly roused and on the point of setting off 
to look for them, he said there was no danger ; they 
had only gone for water, and would return of them- 

The village of Palenque, as we learned from the pre- 
feto, was once a place of considerable importance, all 
the goods imported for Guatimala passing through it ; 
but Balize had diverted that trade and destroyed its 
commerce, and but a few years before more than half 
the population had been swept off by the cholera. 
Whole families had perished, and their houses were 
desolate and falling to ruins. The church stood at the 


head of the street, in the centre of a grassy square. On 
each side of the square were houses with the forest di- 
rectly upon them ; and, being a little elevated in the 
plaza, we were on a line with the tops of the trees. 
The largest house on the square was deserted and in 
ruins. There were a dozen other houses occupied by 
white families, with whom, in the course of an hour's 
stroll, I became acquainted. It was but to stop before 
the door, and I received an invitation, " Pasen ade- 
lante," "Walk in, captain," for which title I was in- 
debted to the eagle on my hat. Each family had its 
hacienda in the neighbourhood, and in the course of an 
hour I knew all that was going on in Palenque ; i., e., 
I knew that nothing was going on. 

At the upper end of 'the square, commanding this 
scene of quiet, was the house of an American named 
William Brown ! It was a strange place for the abode 
of an American, and Mr. Brown was a regular " go- 
ahead" American. In the great lottery he had drawn 
a Palenquian wife, which in that quiet place probably 
saved him from dying of ennui. What first took him 
to the country I do not know ; but he had an exclusive 
privilege to navigate the Tobasco River by steam, and 
would have made a fortune, but his steamboat founder- 
ed on the second trip. He then took to cutting log- 
wood on a new plan, and came very near making an- 
other fortune, but something went wrong. At the time 
of our visit he was engaged in canalling a short cut to 
the sea, to connect two rivers near his hacienda. To 
the astonishment of the Palenquians, he was always 
busy, when he might live quietly on his hacienda in the 
summer, and pass .his winters in the village. Very 
much to our regret, he was not then in the village. It 


would have been interesting to meet a countryman of 
his stamp in that quiet corner of the world. 

The prefeto was well versed in the history of Palen- 
que. It is in the province of Tzendales, and for a cen- 
tury after the conquest of Chiapas it remained in pos- 
session of the Indians. Two centuries ago, Lorenzo 
Mugil, an emissary direct from 'Rome, set up among 
them the standard of the cross. The Indians still pre- 
serve his dress as a sacred relic, but they are jealous 
of showing it to strangers, and I could not obtain a 
sight of it. The bell of the church, too, was sent from 
the holy city. The Indians submitted to the dominion 
of the Spaniards until the year 1700, when the whole 
province revolted, and in Chillon, Tumbala, and Pa- 
lenque they apostatized fronl Christianity, murdered 
the priests, proijaned the churches, paid impious adora- 
tion to an Indian female, massacred the white men, and 
took the women for their wives. But, as soon as the in- 
telligence reached Guatimala, a strong force was sent 
against them, the revolted towns were reduced and re- 
covered to the Catholic faith, and tranquillity was re- 
stored. The right of the Indians, however, to the own- 
ership of the soil was still recognised, and down to the 
time of the Mexican Independence they received rent 
for land in the villages and the milpas in the neigh- 

A short distance from Palenque the River Chacamal 
separates it from the country of the unbaptized Indians, 
who are here called Caribs. Fifty years ago the Pa- 
dre Calderon, an uncle of the prefeto's wife, attended 
by his sacristan, an Indian, was bathing in the river, 
when the latter cried out in alarm that some Caribs 
were looking at them, and attempted to fly; but the 
padre took his cane and went toward them. The Ca- 


ribs fell down before him, conducted him to their huts, 
and gave him an invitation to return, and make them 
a visit on a certain day. On the day appointed the 
padre went with his sacristan, and found a gathering 
of Caribs and a great feast prepared for him. He re- 
mained with them some time, and invited them in re- 
turn to the village of Palenque on the day of the fete 
of St. Domingo. A large party of these wild Indians 
attended, bringing with them tiger's meat, monkey's 
meat, and cocoa as presents. They listened to mass, 
and beheld all the ceremonies of the Church ; where- 
upon they invited the padre to come among them and 
teach them, and they erected a hut at the place where 
they had first met him, which he consecrated as a 
church ; and he taught his sacristan to say mass to 
them every Sunday. As the prefeto said, if he had 
lived, many of them would probably have been Chris- 
tianized ; but, unfortunately, he died ; the Caribs re- 
tired into the wilderness, and not one had appeared in 
the village since. 

The ruins lie about eight miles from the village, per- 
fectly desolate. The road was so bad, that, in order to 
accomplish anything, it was necessary to remain there, 
and we had to make provision for that purpose. There 
were three small shops in the village, the stock of all 
together not worth seventy-five dollars ; but in one of 
them we found a pound and a half of coffee, which we 
immediately secured. Juan communicated the gratify- 
ing intelligence that a hog was to be killed the next 
morning, and that he had engaged a portion of the 
lard ; also, that there was a cow with a calf running 
loose, and an arrangement might be made for keeping 
her up and milking her. This was promptly attended 
to, and all necessary arrangements were made for vis- 



iting the ruins the next day. The Indians generally 
knew the road, but there was only one man in the 
place who was able to serve as a guide on the ground, 
and he had on hand the business of killing and distrib- 
uting the hog, by reason whereof he could not set out 
with us, but promised to follow. 

Toward evening the quiet of the village was disturb- 
ed by a crash, and on going out we found that a house 
had fallen down. A cloud of dust rose from it, and the 
ruins probably lie as they fell. The cholera had strip- 
ped it of tenants, and for several years it had been de- 



Preparations for visiting the Ruins. A Turn-out. Departure. The Road. 
Rivers Micol and Otula. Arrival at the Ruins. The Palace. A Feu-de-joie. 
Quarters in the Palace. Inscriptions by former Visiters. The Fate of 
Beanham. Discovery of the Ruins ofPalenque. Visit of Del Rio. Expe- 
dition of Dupaix. Drawings of the present Work. First Dinner at the Ru- 
ins. Mammoth Fireflies. Sleeping Apartments. Extent of the Ruins. Ob 
stacles to Exploration. Suffering from Moschetoes. 

EARLY the next morning we prepared for our move to 
the ruins. We had to make provision for housekeeping 
on a large scale ; our culinary utensils were of rude 
pottery, and our cups the hard shells of some round 
vegetables, the whole cost, perhaps, amounting to one 
dollar. We could not procure a water-jar in the place, 
but the alcalde lent us one free of charge unless it 
should be broken, and as it was cracked at the time he 
probably considered it sold. By-the-way, we forced 
ourselves upon the alcalde's affections by leaving our 
money with him for safe-keeping. We did this with 
great publicity, in order that it might be known in the 
village that there was no " plata" at the ruins, but the 
alcalde regarded it as a mark of special confidence. 
Indeed, we could not have shown him a greater. He 
was a suspicious old miser, kept his own money in a 
trunk in an inner room, and never left the house with- 
out locking the street door and carrying the key with 
him. He made us pay beforehand for everything we 
wanted, and would not have trusted us half a dollar 
on any account. 

It was necessary to take with us from the village all 
that could contribute to our comfort, and we tried hard 
to get a woman ; but no one would trust herself alone 

VOL. II. O o 25 


with us. This was a great privation; a woman was 
desirable, not, as the reader may suppose, for embel- 
lishment, but to make tortillas. These, to be tolerable, 
must be eaten the moment they are baked; but we 
were obliged to make an arrangement with the alcalde 
to send them out daily with the product of our cow. 

Our turn-out was equal to anything we had had on the 
road. One Indian set off with a cowhide trunk on his 
back, supported by a bark string, as the groundwork of 
his load, while on each side hung by a bark string a 
fowl wrapped in plantain leaves, the head and tail only 
being visible. Another had on the top of his trunk a 
live turkey, with its legs tied and wings expanded, 
like a spread eagle. Another had on each side of his 
load strings of eggs, each egg being wrapped carefully 
in a husk of cqrn, and all fastened like onions on a 
bark string. Cooking utensils and water-jar were 
mounted on the backs of other Indians, and contained 
rice, beans, sugar, chocolate, &c. ; strings of pork and 
bunches of plantains were pendent ; and Juan carried 
in his arms our travelling tin coffee-canister filled with 
lard, which in that country was always in a liquid state. 

At half past seven we left the village. For a short 
distance the road was open, but very soon we entered a 
forest, which continued unbroken to the ruins, and prob- 
ably many miles beyond. The road was a mere Indian 
footpath, the branches of the trees, beaten down and 
heavy with the rain, hanging so low that we were 
obliged to stoop constantly, and very soon our hats and 
coats were perfectly wet. From the thickness of the 
foliage the morning sun could not dry up the deluge of 
the night before. The ground was very muddy, bro- 
ken by streams swollen by the early rains, with gullies 
in which the mules floundered and stuck fast, in some 


places very difficult to cross. Amid all the wreck of 
empires, nothing ever spoke so forcibly the world's mu- 
tations as this immense forest shrouding what was once 
a great city. Once it had been a great highway, throng- 
ed with people who were stimulated by the same pas- 
sions that give impulse to human action now ; and they 
are all gone, their habitations buried, and no traces of 
them left. 

In two hours we reached the River Micol, and in half 
an hour more that of Otula, darkened by the shade of 
the woods, and breaking beautifully over a stony bed. 
Fording this, very soon we saw masses of stones, and 
then a round sculptured stone. We spurred up a sharp 
ascent of fragments, so steep that the mules could barely 
climb it, to a terrace so covered, like the whole road, 
with trees, that it was impossible to make out the form. 
Continuing on this terrace, we stopped at the foot of a 
second, when our Indians cried out " el Palacio," " the 
palace," and through openings in the trees we saw the 
front of a large building richly ornamented with stuc- 
coed figures on the pilasters, curious and elegant; 
trees growing close against it, and their branches enter- 
ing the doors ; in style and effect unique, extraordinary, 
and mournfully beautiful. We tied our mules to the 
trees, ascended a flight of stone steps forced apart and 
thrown down by trees, and entered the palace, ranged 
for a few moments along the corrMor and into the 
courtyard, and after the first gaze of eager curiosity 
was over, went back to the entrance, and, standing in 
the doorway, fired a feu-de-joie of four rounds each, be- 
ing the last charge of our firearms. But for this way 
of giving vent to our satisfaction we should have made 
the roof of the old palace ring with a hurrah. It was 
intended, too, for effect upon the Indians, who had 


probably never heard such a cannonade before, and al- 
most, like their ancestors in the time of Cortez, regard- 
ed our weapons as instruments which spit lightning, and 
who, we knew, would make such a report in the village 
as would keep any of their respectable friends from pay- 
ing us a visit at night. 

We had reached the end of our long and toilsome 
journey, and the first glance indemnified us for our toil. 
For the first time we were in a building erected by the 
aboriginal inhabitants, standing before the Europeans 
knew of the existence of this continent, and we prepared 
to take up our abode under its roof. We selected the 
front corridor as our dwelling, turned turkey and fowls 
loose in the courtyard, which was so overgrown with 
trees that we could barely see across it ; and as there 
was no pasture for the mules except the leaves of the 
trees, and we could not turn them loose into the woods, 
we brought them up the steps through the palace, and 
turned them into the courtyard also. At one end of the 
corridor Juan built a kitchen, which operation consisted 
in laying three stones anglewise, so as to have room for 
a fire between them. Our luggage was stowed away 
or hung on poles reaching across the corridor. Paw- 
ling mounted a stone about four feet long on stone legs 
for a table, and with the Indians cut a number of poles, 
which they fastened together with bark strings, and laid 
them on stones at the head and foot for beds. We cut 
down the branches that entered the palace, and some of 
the trees on the terrace, and from the floor of the pal- 
ace overlooked the top of an immense forest stretching 
off to the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Indians had superstitious fears about, remaining 
at night among the ruins, and left us alone, the sole 
tenants of the palace of unknown kings. Little did 


they who built it think that in a few years their royal 
line would perish and their race be extinct, their city a 
ruin, and Mr. Catherwood, Pawling, and I and Juan 
its sole tenants. Other strangers had been there, won- 
dering like ourselves. Their names were written on the 
walls, with comments and figures ; and even here were 
marks of those low, grovelling spirits which delight in 
profaning holy places. Among the names, but not of the 
latter class, were those of acquaintances : Captain Cad- 
dy and Mr. Walker ; and one was that of a countryman, 
Noah O. Platt, New- York. He had gone out to 
Tobasco as supercargo of a vessel, ascended one of the 
rivers for logwood, and while his vessel was loading 
visited the ruins. His account of them had given me a 
strong desire to visit them long before the opportunity 
of doing so presented itself. 

High up on one side of the corridor was the name 
of William Beanham, and under it was a stanza written 
in lead-pencil. By means of a tree with notches cut in it, 
I climbed up and read the lines. The rhyme was faulty 
and the spelling bad, but they breathed a deep sense of 
the moral sublimity pervading these unknown ruins. 
The author seemed, too, an acquaintance. I had heard 
his story in the village. He was a young Irishman, sent 
by a merchant of Tobasco into the interior for purposes of 
small traffic ; had passed some time at Palenque and in 
the neighbourhood ; and, with his thoughts and feelings 
turned strongly toward the Indians, after dwelling upon 
the subject for some time, resolved to penetrate into the 
country of the Caribs. His friends endeavoured to dis- 
suade him, and the prefect told hiniy." You have red 
hair, a florid complexion, and white skin, and they will 
either make a god of you and keep you among them, 
or else kill and eat you ;" but he set off alone and oh 



foot, crossed the River Chacamal, and after an absence 
of nearly a year returned safe, but naked and emacia- 
ted, with his hair and nails long, having been eight days 
with a single Carib on the banks of a wild river, search- 
ing for a crossing-place, and living upon roots and herbs. 
He built a hut on the borders of the Chacamal River, 
and lived there with a Carib servant, preparing for an- 
other and more protracted journey among them, until 
at length some boatmen who came to trade with him 
found him lying in his hammock dead, with his scull 
split open. He had escaped the dangers of a journey 
which no man in that country dared encounter, to die by 
the hands of an assassin in a moment of fancied securi- 
ty. His arm was hanging outside, and a book lying on 
the ground ; probably he was struck while reading. 
The murderers, one of whom was his servant, were 
caught, and were then in prison in Tobasco. Unfortu- 
nately, the people of Palenque had taken but little in- 
terest in anything except the extraordinary fact of his 
visit among the Caribs and his return safe. All his 
papers and collection of curiosities were scattered and 
destroyed, and with him died all the fruits of his la- 
bours ; but, were he still living, he would be the man, 
of all others, to accomplish the discovery of that myste- 
rious city which had so much affected our imaginations. 

As the ruins of Palenque are the first which awakened 
attention to the existence of ancient and unknown cities 
in America, and as, on that account, they are perhaps 
more interesting to the public, it may not be amiss to 
state the circumstances of their first discovery. 

The account is, that in the year 1750, a party of 
Spaniards travelling in the interior of Mexico pene- 
trated to the lands north of the district of Carmen, in 
the province of Chiapas, when all at once they found 


in the midst of a vast solitude ancient stone buildings, 
the remains of a city, still embracing from eighteen to 
twenty-four miles in extent, known to the Indians by 
the name of Casas de Piedras. From my knowledge 
of the country I am at a loss to conjecture why a party 
of Spaniards were travelling in that forest, or how they 
could have done so. I am inclined to believe rather 
that the existence of the ruins was discovered by the 
Indians, who had clearings in different parts of the 
forest for their corn-fields, or perhaps was known lo 
them from time immemorial, and on their report the 
inhabitants were induced to visit them. 

The existence of such a city was entirely unknown ; 
there is no mention of it in any book, and no tradition 
that it had ever been. To this day it is not known by 
what name it was called, and the only appellation given 
to it is that of Palenque, after the village near which 
the ruins stand. 

The news of the discovery passed from mouth to 
mouth, was repeated in some cities of the province, and 
reached the seat of government ; but little attention was 
paid to it, and the members of the government, through 
ignorance, apathy, or the actual impossibility of occu- 
pying themselves with anything except public affairs, 
took no measures to explore the ruins, and it was not 
till 1786, thirty years subsequent to the discovery, that 
the King of Spain ordered an exploration ; on the third 
of May, 1787, Captain Antonio del Rio arrived at the 
village, under a commission from the government of 
Guatimala, and on the fifth he proceeded to the site of 
the ruined city. In his official report he says, on ma- 
king his first essay, owing to the thickness of the woods, 
and a fog so dense that it was impossible for the men 
to distinguish each other at five paces' distance, the 


principal building was completely concealed from their 

He returned to the village, and after concerting 
measures with the deputy of the district, an order was 
issued to the inhabitants of Tumbala, requiring two 
hundred Indians with axes and billhooks. On the 
17th seventy-nine arrived, furnished with twenty-eight 
axes, after which twenty more were obtained in the vil- 
lage ; and with these he again moved forward, and im- 
mediately commenced felling trees, which was followed 
by a general conflagration. 

The report of Captain Del Rio, with the commentary 
of Doctor Paul Felix Cabrera of New Guatimala, de- 
ducing an Egyptian origin for the people, through ei- 
ther the supineness or the jealousy of the Spanish gov- 
ernment was locked up in the archives of Guatimala 
until the time of the Revolution, when, by the operation 
of liberal principles, the original manuscripts came into 
the hands of an English gentleman long resident in that 
country, and an English translation was published at 
London in 1822. This was the first notice in Europe 
of the discovery of these ruins ; and, instead of electri- 
fying the public mind, either from want of interest in 
the subject, distrust, or some other cause, so little notice 
was taken of it, that in 1831 the Literary Gazette, a 
paper of great circulation in London, announced it as 
a new discovery made by Colonel Galindo, whose un- 
fortunate fate has been before referred to. If a like 
discovery had been made in Italy, Greece, Egypt, or 
Asia, within the reach of European travel, it would 
have created an interest not inferior to the discovery of 
Herculaneum, or Pompeii, or the ruins of Paestum. 

While the report and drawings of Del Rio slept 
in the archives of Guatimala, Charles the Fourth of 


Spain ordered another expedition, at the head of which 
was placed Captain Dupaix, with a secretary and 
draughtsman, and a detachment of dragoons. His ex- 
peditions were made in 1805, 1806, and 1807, the last 
of which was to Palenque. 

The manuscripts of Dupaix, and the designs of his 
draughtsman Castenada, were about to be sent to Mad- 
rid, which was then occupied by the French army, 
when the revolution broke out in Mexico ; they then 
became an object of secondary importance, and re- 
mained during the wars of independence under the con-* 
trol of Castenada, who deposited them in the Cabinet 
of Natural History in Mexico. In 1828 M. Baradere 
disentombed them from the cartons of the museum, 
where, but for this accident, they might still have re- 
mained, and the knowledge of the existence of this 
city again been lost. The Mexican Congress had 
passed a law forbidding any stranger not formally au- 
thorized to make researches or to remove objects of art 
from the country ; but, in spite of this interdict, M. 
Baradere obtained authority to make researches in the 
interior of the republic, with the agreement that after 
sending to Mexico all that he collected, half should 
be delivered to him, with permission to transport them 
to Europe. Afterward he obtained by exchange the 
original designs of Castenada, and an authentic copy 
of the itinerary and descriptions of Captain Dupaix 
was promised in three months. From divers circum- 
stances, that copy did not reach M. Baradere till long 
after his return to France, and the work of Dupaix was 
not published until 1834, '5, twenty-eight years after 
his expedition, when it was brought out in Paris, in 
four volumes folio, at the price of eight hundred francs, 
with notes and commentaries by M. Alexandre Lenoir, 



M. Warden, M. Charles Farcy, M. Baradere, and M. 
De St. Priest. 

Lord Kingsborough's ponderous tomes, so far as re- 
gards Palenque, are a mere reprint of Dupaix, and the 
cost of his work is four hundred dollars per copy. Col- 
onel Galindo's communications to the Geographical 
Society of Paris are published in the work of Dupaix, 
and since him Mr. Waldeck, with funds provided by 
an association in Mexico, had passed two years among 
the ruins. His drawings, as he states in a work on an- 
other place, were taken away by the Mexican govern- 
ment ; but he had retained copies, and before we set 
out his work on Palenque was announced in Paris. It, 
however, has never appeared, and in the mean time 
Dupaix's is the text-book. 

I have two objections to make to this work, not affect- 
ing Captain Dupaix, who, as his expedition took place 
thirty-four years since, is not likely to be affected, if he 
is even living, but his Paris editors. The first is the 
very depreciating tone in which mention is made of the 
work of his predecessor Del Rio, and, secondly, this 
paragraph in the introduction : 

" It must be considered that a government only can 
execute such undertakings. A traveller relying upon his 
own resources cannot hope, whatever may be his intre- 
pidity, to penetrate, and, above all, to live in those dan- 
gerous solitudes ; and, supposing that he succeeds, it is 
beyond the power of the most learned and skilful man 
to explore alone the ruins of a vast city, of which he 
must not only measure and draw the edifices still ex- 
isting, but also determine the circumference and exam- 
ine the remains, dig the soil and explore the subterra- 
neous constructions. M. Baradere arrived within fifty 
leagues of Palenque, burning with the desire of going 


there ; but what could a single man do with domestics 
or other auxiliaries, without moral force or intelligence, 
against a people still half savage, against serpents and 
other hurtful animals, which, according to Dupaix, in- 
fest these ruins, and also against the vegetative force of a 
nature fertile and powerful, which in a few years re-cov- 
ers all the monuments and obstructs all the avenues ?" 

The effect of this is to crush all individual enterprise, 
and. moreover, it is untrue. All the accounts, founded 
upon this, represent a visit to these ruins as attended 
with immense difficulty and danger, to such an extent 
that we feared to encounter them ; but there is no dif- 
ficulty whatever in going from Europe or the United 
States to Palenque. Our greatest hardships, even in 
our long journey through the interior, were from the 
revolutionary state of the countries and want of time ; 
and as to a residence there, with time to construct a 
hut or to fit up an apartment in the palace, and to pro- 
cure stores from the seaboard, " those dangerous soli- 
tudes" might be anything rather than unpleasant. 

And to show what individuals can accomplish, I state 
that Mr. Catherwood's drawings include all the objects 
represented in the work of Dupaix, and others besides 
which do not appear in that work at all, and have never 
before been presented to the public ; among which are 
the frontispiece of this volume and the large tablets of 
hieroglyphics, the most curious and interesting pieces of 
sculpture at Palenque. I add, with the full knowledge 
that I will be contradicted by future travellers if I am 
wrong, that the whole of Mr. C.'s are more correct in 
proportions, outline, and filling up than his, and furnish 
more true material for speculation and study. I would 
not have said thus much but from a wish to give confi- 
ence to the reader who may be disposed to investigate 


and study these interesting remains. As to most of the 
places visited by us, he will find no materials whatever 
except those furnished in these pages. In regard to Pa- 
lenque he will find a splendid work, the materials of 
which were procured under the sanction of a commis- 
sion from government, and brought out with explana- 
tions and commentaries by the learned men of Paris, 
by the side of which my two octavoes shrink into in- 
significance ; but I uphold the drawings against these 
costly folios, and against every other book that has ever 
been published on the subject of these ruins. My ob- 
ject has been, not to produce an illustrated work, but to 
present the drawings in such an inexpensive form as to 
place them within reach of the great mass of our read- 
ing community. 

But to return ^o ourselves in the palace. While we 
were making our observations, Juan was engaged in a 
business that his soul loved. As with all the mozos of 
that country, it was his pride and ambition to servir a 
mano. He scorned the manly occupation of a mule- 
teer, and aspired to that of a menial servant. He was 
anxious to be left at the village, and did not like the 
idea of stopping at the ruins, but was reconciled to it 
by being allowed to devote himself exclusively to cook- 
ery. At four o'clock we sat down to our first dinner. 
The tablecloth was two broad leaves, each about two 
feet long, plucked from a tree on the terrace before the 
door. Our saltcellar stood like a pyramid, being a case 
made of husks of corn put together lengthwise, and 
holding four or five pounds, in lumps from the size of a 
pea to that of a hen's egg. Juan was as happy as if he 
had prepared the dinner exclusively for his own eating ; 
and all went merry as a marriage-bell, when the sky 
became overcast, and a sharp thunder-clap heralded the 


afternoon's storm. From the elevation of the terrace, 
the floor of the palace commanded a view of the top of 
the forest, and we could see the trees bent down by the 
force of the wind ; very soon a fierce blast swept through 
the open doors, which was followed instantaneously 
by heavy rain. The table was cleared by the wind, 
and, before we could make our escape, was drenched 
by the rain. We snatched away our plates, and finish- 
ed our meal as we could. 

The rain continued, with heavy thunder and light- 
ning, all the afternoon. In the absolute necessity of 
taking up our abode among the ruins, we had hardly 
thought of our exposure to the elements until it was 
forced upon us. At night we could not light a candle, 
but the darkness of the palace was lighted up by fire- 
flies of extraordinary size and brilliancy, shooting 
through the corridors and stationary on the walls, 
forming a beautiful and striking spectacle. They were 
of the description with those we saw at Nopa, known 
by the name of shining beetles, and are mentioned by 
the early Spaniards, among the wonders of a world 
where all was new, " as showing the way to those who 
travel at night." The historian describes them as 
" somewhat smaller than Sparrows, having two stars 
close by then- Eyes, and two more under their Wings, 
which gave so great a Light that by it they could spin, 
weave, write, and paint ; and the Spaniards went by 
night to hunt the Utios or little Rabbits of that country ; 
and a-fishing, carrying these Animals tied to their great 
Toes or Thumbs : and they called them Locuyos, be- 
ing also of use to save them from the Gnats, which 
are there very troublesome. They took them in the 
Night with Firebrands, because they made to the Light, 
and came when called by their Name ; and they are so 



unwieldy that when they fall they cannot rise again ; 
and the Men streaking their Faces and Hands with a 
sort of Moisture that is in those Stars, seemed to be 
afire as long as it lasted." 

It always gave us high pleasure to realize the ro- 
mantic and seemingly half-fabulous accounts of the 
chroniclers of the conquest. Very often we found their 
quaint descriptions so vivid and faithful as to infuse 
the spirit that breathed through their pages. We 
caught several of these beetles, not, however, by call- 
ing them by their names, but with a hat, as school- 
boys used to catch fireflies, or, less poetically, light- 
ning-bugs, at home. They are more than half an 
inch long, and have a sharp movable horn on the 
head ; when laid on the back they cannot turn over ex- 
cept by pressing this horn against a membrane upon 
the front. Behind the eyes are two round transparent 
substances full of luminous matter, about as large as 
the head of a pin, and underneath is a larger membrane 
containing the same luminous substance. Four of them 
together threw a brilliant light for several yards around, 
and by the light of a single one we read distinctly the 
finely-printed pages of an American newspaper. It was 
one of a packet, full of debates in Congress, which I had 
as yet barely glanced over, and it seemed stranger than 
any incident of my journey to be reading by the light 
of beetles, in the ruined palace of Palenque, the say- 
ings and doings of great men at home. In the midst of it 
Mr. Catherwood, in emptying the capacious pocket of a 
shooting-jacket, handed me a Broadway omnibus ticket: 

" Good to the bearer for a ride, 
" A. Brower." 

These things brought up vivid recollections of home, and 
among the familiar images present were the good beds 


into which our friends were about that time turning. 
Ours were set up in the back corridor, fronting the court- 
yard. This corridor consisted of open doors and pilasters 
alternately. The wind and rain were sweeping through, 
and, unfortunately, our beds were not out of reach of 
the spray. They had been set up with some labour on 
four piles of stones each, and we could not then change 
their position. We had no spare articles to put up as 
screens ; but, happily, two umbrellas, tied up with meas- 
uring rods and wrapped in a piece of matting, had sur- 
vived the wreck of the mountain-roads. These Mr. C. 
and I secured at the head of our beds. Pawling swung 
a hammock across the corridor so high that the sweep 
of the rain only touched the foot ; and so passed our first 
night at Palenque. In the morning, umbrellas, bed- 
clothes, wearing apparel, and hammocks were wet 
through, and there was not a dry place to stand on. 
Already we considered ourselves booked for a rheuma- 
tism. We had looked to our residence at Palenque as 
the end of troubles, and for comfort and pleasure, but 
all we could do was to change the location of our beds 
to places which promised a better shelter for the next 

A good breakfast would have done much to restore 
our equanimity ; but, unhappily, we found that the tor- 
tillas which we had brought out the day before, proba- 
bly made of half-mouldy corn, by the excessive damp- 
ness were matted together, sour, and spoiled. We 
went through our beans, eggs, and chocolate without 
any substitute for bread, and, as often before in time of 
trouble, composed ourselves with a cigar. Blessed be 
the man who invented smoking, the soother and com- 
poser of a troubled spirit, allayer of angry passions, a 
comfort under the loss of breakfast, and to the roamer 


in desolate places, the solitary wayfarer through life, 
serving for " wife, children, and friends." 

At about ten o'clock the Indians arrived with fresh 
tortillas and milk. Our guide, too, having finished cut- 
ting up and distributing the hog, was with them. He 
was the same who had been employed by Mr. Waldeck, 
and also by Mr. Walker and Captain Caddy, and was 
recommended by the prefect as the only man acquaint- 
ed with the ruins. Under his escort we set out for a 
preliminary survey. Of ourselves, leaving the palace, 
in any direction, we should not have known which way 
to direct our steps. 

In regard to the extent of these ruins. Even in this 
practical age the imagination of man delights in won- 
ders. The Indians and the people of Palenque say that 
they cover a space o^ sixty miles ; in a series of well- 
written articles in our own country they have been set 
down as ten times larger than New- York ; and lately I 
have seen an article in some of the newspapers, refer- 
ring to our expedition, which represents this city, discov 
ered by us, as having been thr,ee times as large as Lon- 
don ! It is not in my nature to discredit any marvellous 
story. I am slow to disbelieve, and would rather sustain 
all such inventions ; but it has been my unhappy lot to 
find marvels fade away as I approached them : even the 
Dead Sea lost its mysterious charm ; and besides, as a 
traveller and " writer of a book," I know that if I go 
wrong, those who come- after me will not fail to set me 
right. Under these considerations, not from any wish 
of my own, and with many thanks to my friends of the 
press, I am obliged to say that the Indians and people 
of Palenque really know nothing of the ruins personally, 
and the other accounts do not rest upon any sufficient 
foundation. The whole country for miles around is cov- 


ered by a dense forest of gigantic trees, with a growth 
of brush and underwood unknown in the wooded des- 
erts of our own country, and impenetrable in any direc- 
tion except by cutting a way with a machete. What 
lies buried in that forest it is impossible to say of my 
own knowledge ; without a guide, we might have gone 
within a hundred feet of all the buildings without dis- 
covering one of them. 

Captain Del Rio, the first explorer, with men and 
means at command, states in his report, that in the ex- 
ecution of his commission he cut down and burned all 
the woods ; he does not say how far, but, judging from 
the breaches and excavations made in the interior of the 
buildings, probably for miles around. Captain Dupaix, 
acting under a royal commission, and with all the re- 
sources such a commission would give, did not discover 
any more buildings than those mentioned by Del Rio, 
and we saw only the same ; but, having the benefit of 
them as guides, at least of Del Rio (for at that time we 
had not seen Dupaix's work), we of course saw things 
which escaped their observation, just as those who come 
after us will see what escaped ours. This place, howev- 
er, was the principal object of our expedition, and it was 
our wish and intention to make a thorough exploration. 
Respect for my official character, the special tenour of 
my passport, and letters from Mexican authorities, gave 
me every facility. The prefect assumed that I was sent 
by my government expressly to explore the ruins ; and 
every person in Palenque except our friend the alcalde, 
and even he as much as the perversity of his disposi- 
tion would permit, was disposed to assist us. But there 
were accidental difficulties which were insuperable. 
First, it was the rainy season. This, under any circum- 
stances, would have made it difficult ; but as the rains 

VOL. II. Q, Q 


did not commence till three or four o'clock, and the 
weather was clear always in the morning, it alone would 
not have been sufficient to prevent our attempting it ; 
but there were other difficulties, which embarrassed us 
from the beginning, and continued during our whole res- 
idence among the ruins. There was not an axe or spade 
in the place, and, as usual, the only instrument was the 
machete, which here was like a short and wide-bladed 
sword ; and the difficulty of procuring Indians to work 
was greater than at any other place we had visited. It 
was the season of planting corn, and the Indians, under 
the immediate pressure of famine, were all busy with 
their milpas. The price of an Indian's labour was 
eighteen cents per day ; but the alcalde, who had the 
direction of this branch of the business, would not let 
me advance to more than twenty-five cents, and the 
most he would engage to send me was from four to six 
a day. They would not sleep at the ruins, came late, 
and went away early ; sometimes only two or three ap- 
peared, and the same men rarely came twice, so that 
during our stay we had all the Indians of the village in 
rotation. This increased very much our labour, as it 
made it necessary to stand over them constantly to di- 
lect their work; and just as one set began to understand 
precisely what we wanted, we were obliged to teach the 
same to others; and I may remark that their labour, 
though nominally cheap, was dear in reference to the 
work done. 

At that time I expected to return to Palenque ; 
whether I shall do so now or not is uncertain ; but I am 
anxious that it should be understood that the accounts 
which have been published of the immense labour and 
expense of exploring these ruins, which, as I before re- 
marked, made it almost seem presumptuous for me to 


undertake it with my own resources, are exaggerated 
and untrue. Being on the ground at the commencement 
of the dry season, with eight or ten young " pioneers," 
having a spirit of enterprise equal to their bone and 
muscle, in less than six months the whole of these ruins 
could be laid bare. Any man who has ever "cleared" 
a hundred acres of land is competent to undertake it, 
and the time and money spent by one of our young 
men in a " winter in Paris" would determine beyond all 
peradventure whether the city ever did cover the im- 
mense extent which some have supposed. 

But to return : Under the escort of our guide we had 
a fatiguing but most interesting day. What we saw 
does not need any exaggeration. It awakened admira- 
tion and astonishment. In the afternoon came on the 
regular storm. We had distributed our beds, however, 
along the corridors, under cover of the outer wall, and 
were better protected, but suffered terribly from mosche- 
toes, the noise and stings of which drove away sleep. In 
the middle of the night I took up my mat to escape 
from these murderers of rest. The rain had ceased, and 
the moon, breaking through the heavy clouds, with a 
misty face lighted up the ruined corridor. I climbed 
over a mound of stones at one end, where the wall had 
fallen, and, stumbling along outside the palace, entered 
a lateral building near the foot of the tower, groped in 
the dark along a low damp passage, and spread my 
mat before a low doorway at the extreme end. Bats 
were flying and whizzing through the passage, noisy and 
sinister ; but the ugly creatures drove away mosche- 
toes. The dampness of the passage was cooling and 
refreshing ; and, with some twinging apprehensions of 
the snakes and reptiles, lizards and scorpions, which in- 
fest the ruins, I fell asleep. 



Precautions against the Attacks of Moschetoes. Mode of Life at Palenque. 
Description of the Palace. Piers. Hieroglyphics. Figures. Doorways. 
Corridors. Courtyards. A wooden Relic. Stone Steps. Towers. Tablets. 
Stucco Ornaments, &c., &c. The Royal Chapel. Explorations. An Aque- 
duct. An Alarm. Insects. Effect of Insect Stings. Return to the Village 
of Palenque. 

AT daylight I returned, and found Mr. C. and Paw- 
ling sitting on the stones, half dressed, in rueful con- 
clave. They had passed the night worse than I, and 
our condition and prospects were dismal. Rains, hard 
work, bad fare, seemed nothing ; but we could no more 
exist without sleep ihan the "foolish fellow" of ^Esop, 
who, at the moment when he had learned to live with- 
out eating, died. In all his travels through the country 
Pawling had never encountered such hard work as since 
he met us. 

The next night the moschetoes were beyond all en- 
durance ; the slightest part of the body, the tip end of a 
finger, exposed, was bitten. With the heads covered 
the heat was suffocating, and in the morning our faces 
were all in blotches. Without some remedy we were 
undone. It is on occasions like this that the creative 
powpr of genius displays itself. Our beds, it will be 
remembered, .were made of sticks lying side by side, 
and set on four piles of stones for legs. Over these we 
laid our pellons and armas de aguas, or leathern ar- 
mour against rain, and over these our straw matting. 
This prevented our enemies invading us from between 
the sticks. Our sheets were already sewed up into 
sacks. We ripped one side, cut sticks, and bent them 


in three bows about two feet high over the frame of the 
beds. Over these the sheets were stretched, and, sew- 
ed down all around, with a small space open at the 
head, had much the appearance of biers. At night, 
after a hard day's work, we crawled in. Hosts were 
waiting for us inside. We secured the open places, 
when each, with the stump of a lighted candle, hunted 
and slew, and with a lordly feeling of defiance we lay 
down to sleep. We had but one pair of sheets apiece, 
and this was a new way of sleeping under them ; but, 
besides the victory it afforded us over the moschetoes, 
it had another advantage ; the heat was so great that 
we could not sleep with our clothes on ; it was impos- 
sible to place the beds entirely out of the reach of the 
spray, and the covering, held up a foot or two above us 
and kept damp, cooled the heated atmosphere within. 

In this way we lived : the Indians came out in the 
morning with provisions, and as the tortillas were made 
in the alcalde's own kitchen, not to disturb his house- 
hold arrangements, they seldom arrived till after break- 

In the mean time work went on. As at Copan, it 
was my business to prepare the different objects for Mr. 
Catherwood to draw. Many of the stones had to be 
scrubbed and cleaned; and as it was our object to have 
the utmost possible accuracy in the drawings, in many 
places scaffolds were to be erected on which to set up 
the camera lucida. Pawling relieved me from a great 
part of this labour. That the reader may know the 
character of the objects we had to interest us, I proceed 
to give a description of the building in which we lived, 
called the palace. 

A front view of this building is given in the engra- 
ving. It does not, however, purport to be given with 


the same accuracy as the other drawings, the front be- 
ing in a more ruined condition. It stands on an arti- 
ficial elevation of an oblong form, forty feet high, three 
hundred and ten feet in front and rear, and two hun- 
dred and sixty feet on each side. This elevation was 
formerly faced with stone, which has been thrown down 
by the growth of trees, and its form is hardly distin- 

The building stands with its face to the east, and 
measures two hundred and twenty-eight feet front by 
one hundred and eighty feet deep. Its height is not 
more than twenty-five feet, and all around it had a broad 
projecting cornice of stone. The front contained four- 
teen doorways, about nine feet wide each, and the in- 
tervening piers are between six and seven feet wide. 
On the left (in approaching the palace) eight of the piers 
have fallen down, as has also the corner on the right, 
and the terrace underneath is cumbered with the ruins. 
But six piers remain entire, and the rest of the front is 

The engraving opposite represents the ground-plan 
of the whole. The black lines represent walls still 
standing ; the faint lines indicate remains only, but, in 
general, so clearly marked that there was no difficulty 
in connecting them together. 

The building was constructed of stone, with a mortar 
of lime and sand, and the whole front was covered with 
stucco and painted. The piers were ornamented with 
spirited figures in bas-relief, one of which is represented 



in the engraving opposite. On the top are three hiero- 
glyphics sunk in the stucco. It is enclosed by a richly- 
ornamented border, about ten feet high and six wide, of 
which only a part now remains. The principal person- 
age stands in an upright position and in profile, exhibit- 
ing an extraordinary facial angle of about forty-five de- 
grees. The upper part of the head seems to have been 
compressed and lengthened, perhaps by the same pro- 
cess employed upon the heads of the Choctaw and Flat- 
head Indians of our own country. The head represents 
a different species from any now existing in that region 
of country ; and supposing the statues to be images of 
living personages, or the creations of artists according 
to their ideas of perfect figures, they indicate a race of 
people now lost and unknown. The headdress is ev- 
idently a plume of feathers. Over the shoulders is a 
short covering decorated with studs, and a breastplate; 
part of the ornament of the girdle is broken ; the tunic 
is probably a leopard's skin ; and the whole dress no 
doubt exhibits the costume of this unknown people. 
He holds in his hand a staff or sceptre, and opposite his 
hands are the marks of three hieroglyphics, which have 
decayed or been broken off. At his feet are two naked 
figures seated cross-legged, and apparently suppliants. 
A fertile imagination might find many explanations for 
these strange figures, but no satisfactory interpretation 
presents itself to my mind. The hieroglyphics doubt- 
less tell its history. The stucco is of admirable consist- 
ency, and hard as stone. It was painted, and in differ- 
ent places about it we discovered the remains of red, 
blue, yellow, black, and white. 

The piers which are still standing contained other fig- 
ures of the same general character, but which, unfortu- 
nately, are more mutilated, and from the declivity of 


the terrace it was difficult to set up the camera lucida 
in such a position as to draw them. The piers which 
are fallen were no doubt enriched with the same orna- 
ments. Each one had some specific meaning, and the 
whole probably presented some allegory or history ; and 
when entire and painted, the effect in ascending the 
terrace must have been imposing and beautiful. 

The principal doorway is not distinguished by its 
size or by any superior ornament, but is only indicated 
by a range of broad stone steps leading up to it on the 
terrace. The doorways have no doors, nor are there 
the remains of any. Within, on each side, are three nich- 
es in the wall, about eight or ten inches square, with a 
cylindrical stone about two inches in diameter fixed up- 
right, by which perhaps a door was secured. Along 
the cornice outside, projecting about a foot beyond the 
front, holes were' drilled at intervals through the stone; 
and our impression was, that an immense cotton cloth, 
running the whole length of the building, perhaps paint- 
ed in a style corresponding with the ornaments, was at- 
tached to this cornice, and raised and lowered like a 
curtain, according to the exigencies of sun and rain. 
Such a curtain is used now in front of the piazzas of 
some haciendas in Yucatan. 

The tops of the doorways were all broken. They 
had evidently been square, and over every one were 
large niches in the wall on each side, in which the lin- 
tels had been laid. These lintels had all fallen, and the 
stones above formed broken natural arches. Under- 
neath were heaps of rubbish, but there were no remains 
of lintels. If they had been single slabs of stone, some 
of them must have been visible and prominent ; and we 
made up our minds that these lintels were of wood. 
We had no authority for this. It is not suggested ei- 


ther by Del Rio or Captain Dupaix, and perhaps we 
should not have ventured the conclusion but for the 
wooden lintel which we had seen over the doorway at 
Ocosingo ; and by what we saw afterward in Yucatan, 
we were confirmed, beyond all doubt, in our opinion. 
I do not conceive, however, that this gives any conclu- 
sive data in regard to the age of the birlJiiigs. The 
wood, if such as we saw in the other places, would be 
very lasting ; its decay must have been extremely slow, 
and centuries may have elapsed since it perished alto- 

The building has two parallel corridors running 
lengthwise on all four of its sides. In front these 
corridors are about nine feet wide, and extend the 
whole length of the building upward of two hundred 
feet. In the long wall that divides them there is but 
one door, which is opposite the principal door of en- 
trance, and has a corresponding one on the other side, 
leading to a courtyard in the rear. The floors are 
of cement, as hard as the best seen in the remains of 
Roman baths and cisterns. The walls are about ten 
feet high, plastered, and on each side of the principal 
entrance ornamented with medallions, of which the 
borders only remain ; these perhaps contained the 
busts of the royal family. The separating-wall had 
apertures of about a foot, probably intended for pur- 
poses of ventilation. Some were of this form c[}=), and 
some of this ""U" 1 , which have been called the Greek 
Cross and the Egyptian Tau, and made the subject of 
much learned speculation. 

The ceiling of each corridor was in this form /"]. 
The builders were evidently ignorant of the principles 
of the arch, and the support was made by stones lap- 
ping over as they rose, as at Ocosingo, and among the 

VOL. II. R R 27 


Cyclopean remains in Greece and Italy. Along the 
top was a layer of flat stone, and the sides, being plas- 
tered, presented a flat surface. The long, unbroken cor- 
ridors in front of the palace were probably intended for 
lords and gentlemen in waiting; or perhaps, in that 
beautiful position, which, before the forest grew up, 
must have commanded an extended view of a cultiva- 
ted and inhabited plain, the king himself sat in it to re- 
ceive the reports of his officers and to administer justice. 
Under our dominion Juan occupied the front corridor 
as a kitchen, and the other was our sleeping apartment. 
From the centre door of this corridor a range of stone 
steps thirty feet long leads to a rectangular courtyard, 
eighty feet long by seventy broad. On each side of 
the steps are grim and gigantic figures, carved on stone 
in basso-relievo, nine or ten feet high, and in a position 
slightly inclined backward from the end of the steps 
to the floor of the corridor. The engraving opposite 
represents this side of the courtyard, and the one next 
following shows the figures alone, on a larger scale. 
They are adorned with rich headdresses and neck- 
laces, but their attitude is that of pain and trouble. 
The design and anatomical proportions of the figures 
are faulty, but there is a force of expression about them 
which shows the skill and conceptive power of the ar- 
tist. When we first took possession of the palace this 
courtyard was encumbered with trees, so that we could 
hardly see across it, and it was so filled up with rubbish 
that we were obliged to make excavations of several 
feet before these figures could be drawn. 

On each side of the courtyard the palace was divided 
into apartments, probably for sleeping. On the right 
the piers have all fallen down. On the left they are 
still standing, and ornamented with stucco figure*. In 

on the East side of Principal Court of tliePalfctcePalenque. 

tr> S/f 


the centre apartment, in one of the holes before refer- 
red to of the arch, are the remains of a wooden pole 
about a foot long, which once stretched across, but the 
rest had decayed. It was the only piece of wood we 
found at Palenque, and we did not discover this until 
some time after we had made up our minds in regard 
to the wooden lintels over the doors. It was much 
worm-eaten, and probably, in a few years, not a vestige 
of it will be left. 

At the farther side of the courtyard was another 
flight of stone steps, corresponding with those in front, 
on each Side of which are carved figures, and on the 
flat surface between are single cartouches of hiero- 
glyphics. The plate opposite represents this side. 

The whole courtyard was overgrown with trees, and 
it was encumbered with ruins several feet high, so that 
the exact architectural arrangements could not be seen. 
Having our beds in the corridor adjoining, when we 
woke in the morning, and when we had finished the 
work of the day, we had it under our eyes. Every 
time we descended the steps the grim and mysterious 
figures stared us in the face, and it became to us one 
of the most interesting parts of the ruins. We were 
exceedingly anxious to make excavations, clear out the 
mass of rubbish, and lay the whole platform bare ; but 
this was impossible. It is probably paved with stone 
or cement ; and from the profusion of ornament in other 
parts, there is reason to believe that many curious and 
interesting specimens may be brought to light. This 
agreeable work is left for the future traveller, who may 
go there better provided with men and materials, and 
with more knoAvledge of what he has to encounter ; and, 
in my opinion, if he finds nothing new, the mere spec- 
tacle of the courtyard entire will repay him for the la- 
bour and expense of clearing **., 


The part of the building which forms the rear of the 
courtyard, communicating with it by the steps, consists 
of two corridors, the same as the front, paved, plas- 
tered, and ornamented with stucco. The floor of the 
corridor fronting the courtyard sounded hollow, and a 
breach had been made in it which seemed to lead into 
a subterraneous chamber ; but in descending, by means 
of a tree with notches cut in it, and with a candle, we 
found merely a hollow in the earth, not bounded by any 

In the farther corridor the wall was in some places 
broken, and had several separate coats of piaster and 
paint. In one place we counted six layers, each of 
which had the remains of colours. In another place 
there seemed a line of written characters in black ink. 
We made an effort to get at them ; but, in endeavouring 
to remove a thin upper stratum, they came off with it, 
and we desisted. 

This corridor opened upon a second courtyard, eighty 
feet long and but thirty across. The floor of the cor- 
ridor was ten feet above that of the courtyard, and on 
the wall underneath were square stones with hiero- 
glyphics sculptured upon them. On the piers were 
stuccoed figures, but in a ruined condition. 

On the other side of the courtyard were two ranges 
of corridors, which terminated the building in this di- 
rection. The first of them is divided into three apart- 
ments, with doors opening from the extremities upon 
the western corridor. All the piers are standing ex- 
cept that on the northwest corner. All are covered 
with stucco ornaments, and one with hieroglyphics. 
The rest contain figures in bas-relief, three of which, 
being those least ruined, are represented in the opposite 


on one of the Piers of the " Front of tltePalaoe Palenque 


e ofPalaeePalenque 


on West Side or Pala,oePaInque. 

TOWERS. 317 

The first was enclosed by a border, very wide at the 
bottom, part of which is destroyed. The subject con- 
sists of two figures with facial angles similar to that in 
the plate before given, plumes of feathers and other 
decorations for headdresses, necklaces, girdles, and 
sandals ; each has hold of the same curious baton, part 
of which is destroyed, and opposite their hands are hie- 
roglyphics, which probably give the history of these 
incomprehensible personages. The others are more 
ruined, and no attempt has been made to restore them. 
One is kneeling as if to receive an honour, and the 
other a blow. 

So far the arrangements of the palace are simple and 
easily understood ; but on the left are several distinct 
and independent buildings, as will be seen by the plan, 
the particulars of which, however, I do not consider it 
necessary to describe. The principal of these is the 
tower, on the south side of the second court. This 
tower is conspicuous by its height and proportions, but 
on examination in detail it is found unsatisfactory and 
uninteresting. The base is thirty feet square, and it has 
three stories. Entering over a heap of rubbish at the 
base, we found within another tower, distinct from the 
outer one, and a stone staircase, so narrow that a large 
man could not ascend it. The staircase terminates 
against a dead stone ceiling, closing all farther passage, 
the last step being only six or eight inches from it. 
For what purpose a staircase was carried up to such a 
bootless termination we could not conjecture. The 
whole tower was a substantial stone structure, and in 
its arrangements and purposes about as incomprehen- 
sible as the sculptured tablets. 

East of the tower is another building with two cor- 
ridors, one richly decorated with pictures in stucco, and 


having in the centre the elliptical tablet represented in 
the engraving opposite. It is four feet long and three 
wide, of hard stone set in the wall, and the sculpture is 
in bas-relief. Around it are the remains of a rich stucco 
border. The principal figure sits cross-legged on a 
couch ornamented with two leopards' heads ; the atti- 
tude is easy, the physiognomy the same as that of the 
other personages, and the expression calm and benevo- 
lent. The figure wears around its neck a necklace of 
pearls, to which is suspended a small medallion con- 
taining a face ; perhaps intended as an image of the 
sun. Like every other subject of sculpture we had 
seen in the country, the personage had earrings, brace- 
lets on the wrists, and a girdle round the loins. The 
headdress differs from most of the others at Palenque in 
that it wants the plumes of feathers. Near the head 
are three hieroglyphics. 

The other figure, which seems that of a woman, is 
sitting cross-legged on the ground, richly dressed, and 
apparently in the act of making an offering. In this 
supposed offering is seen a plume of feathers, in which 
the headdress of the principal person is deficient. Over 
the head of the sitting personage are four hieroglyphics. 
This is the only piece of sculptured stone about the pal- 
ace except those in the courtyard. Under it formerly 
stood a table, of which the impression against the wall 
is still visible, and which is given in the engraving in 
faint lines, after the model of other tables still existing 
in other places. 

At the extremity of this corridor there is an aperture 
in the pavement, leading by a flight of steps to a plat- 
form ; from this a door, with an ornament in stucco 
over it, opens by another flight of steps upon a narrow, 
dark passage, terminating in other corridors, which run 


in the "Wall of one of the Apartments 


HI " T,ft< e J// 


, tin- Hut, { doprway st 


transversely. These are called subterraneous apart- 
ments ; but there are windows opening from them above 
the ground, and, in fact, they are merely a ground-floor 
below the pavement of the corridors. In most parts, 
however, they are so dark that it is necessary to visit 
them with candles. There are no bas-reliefs or stucco 
ornaments; and the only objects which our guide point- 
ed out or which attracted our attention, were several 
stone tables, one crossing and blocking up the corridor, 
about eight feet long, four wide, and three high. One 
of these lower corridors had a door opening upon the 
back part of the terrace, and we generally passed 
through it with a candle to get to the other buildings. 
In two other places there were flights of steps leading 
to corridors above. Probably these were sleeping 

In that part of the plan marked Room No. 1, the 
walls were more richly decorated with stucco ornaments 
than any other in the palace ; but, unfortunately, they 
were much mutilated. On each side of the doorway 
was a stucco figure, one of which, being the most per- 
fect, is given in the engraving opposite. Near it is an 
apartment in which is marked " small altar." It was 
richly ornamented, like those which will be hereafter 
referred to in other buildings ; and from the appearance 
of the back wall we supposed there had been stone tab- 
lets. In our utter ignorance of the habits of the people 
who had formerly occupied this building, it was impos- 
sible to form any conjecture for what uses these differ- 
ent apartments were intended ; but if we are right in 
calling it a palace, the name which the Indians give 
it, it seems probable that the part surrounding the court- 
yards was for public and state occasions, and that the 
rest was occupied as the place of residence of the royal 


family ; this room with the small altar, we may suppose, 
was what would be called, in our own times, a royal 

With these helps and the aid of the plan, the reader 
will be able to find his way through the ruined palace 
of Palenque ; he will form some idea of the profusion 
of its ornaments, of their unique and striking character, 
and of their mournful effect, shrouded by trees ; and 
perhaps with him, as with us, fancy will present it as it 
was before the hand of ruin had swept over it, perfect 
in its amplitude and rich decorations, and occupied by 
the strange people whose portraits and figures now adorn 
its walls. 

The reader will not be surprised that, with such ob- 
jects to engage our attention, we disregarded some of 
the discomforts of our princely residence. We ex- 
pected at this place to live upon game, but were dis- 
appointed. A wild turkey we could shoot at any time 
from the door of the palace ; but, after trying one, we 
did. not venture to trifle with our teeth upon another ; 
and besides these, there was nothing but parrots, mon- 
keys, and lizards, all very good eating, but which we 
kept in reserve for a time of pressing necessity. The 
density of the forest and the heavy rains would, how- 
ever, have made sporting impracticable. 

Once only I attempted an exploration. From the 
door of the palace, almost on a line with the front, rose 
a high steep mountain, which we thought must com- 
mand a view of the city in its whole extent, and per- 
haps itself contain ruins. I took the bearing, and, with 
a compass in my hand and an Indian before me with 
his machete, from the rear of the last-mentioned build- 
ing cut a straight line up east-northeast to the top. The 
ascent was so steep that I was obliged to haul myself 
up by the branches. On the top was a high mound of 


stones, with a foundation-wall still remaining. Proba- 
bly a tower or temple had stood there, but the woods 
were as thick as below, and no part of the ruined city, 
not even the palace, could be seen. Trees were grow- 
ing out of the top, up one of which I climbed, but could 
not see the palace or any one of the buildings. Back 
toward the mountain was nothing but forest ; in front, 
through an opening in the trees, we saw a great wood- 
ed plain extending to Tobasco and the Gulf of Mexico ; 
and the Indian at the foot of the tree, peering through 
the branches, turned his face up to me with a beaming 
expression, and pointing to a little spot on the plain, 
which was to him the world, cried out, " esta el pue- 
blo," " there is the village." This was the only occa- 
sion on which I attempted to explore, for it was the 
only time I had any mark to aim at. 

I must except, however, the exploration of an aque- 
duct which Pawling and I attempted together. It is 
supplied by a stream which runs at the base of the ter- 
race on which the palace stands. At the time of our 
arrival the whole stream passed through this aqueduct. 
It was now swollen, and ran over the top and along- 
side. At the mouth we had great difficulty in stem- 
ming the torrent. Within it was perfectly dark, and 
we could not move without candles. The sides were 
of smooth stones about four feet high, and the roof 
was made by stones lapping over like the corridors of 
the buildings. At a short distance from the entrance 
the passage turned to the left, and at a distance of one 
hundred and sixty feet it was completely blocked up 
by the ruins of the roof, which had fallen down. What 
was its direction beyond it was impossible to deter- 
mine, but certainly it did not pass under the palace, as 
has been supposed. 

VOL. II. S s 


Besides the claps of thunder and flashes of lightning, 
we had one alarm at night. It was from a noise that 
sounded like the cracking of a dry branch under a 
stealthy tread, which, as we all started up together, 
I thought was that of a wild beast, but which Mr. Cath- 
erwood, whose bed was nearer, imagined to be that of 
a man. We climbed up the mound of fallen stones at 
the end of this corridor, but beyond all was thick dark- 
ness. Pawling fired twice as an intimation that we 
were awake, and we arranged poles across the corridor 
as a trap, so that even an Indian could not enter from 
that quarter without being thrown down with some con- 
siderable noise and detriment to his person. 

Besides moschetoes and garrapatas, or ticks, we suf- 
fered from another worse insect, called by the natives 
nig-uas, which, we are told, pestered the Spaniards on 
their first entry into the country, and which, says the 
historian, " ate their Way into the Flesh, under the 
Nails of the Toes, then laid their Nits there within, and 
multiplied in such manner that there was no ridding 
them but by Cauteries, so that some lost their Toes, 
and some their Feet, whereas they should at first have 
been picked out ; but being as yet unacquainted with 
the Evil, they knew not how to apply the Remedy." 

This description is true even to the last clause. We 
had escaped them until our arrival at Palenque, and 
being unacquainted with the evil, did not know how to 
apply the remedy. I carried one in my foot for sever- 
al days, conscious that something was wrong, but not 
knowing what, until the nits had been laid and multi- 
plied. Pawling undertook to pick them out with a 
penknife, which left a large hole in the flesh; and, un- 
luckily, from the bites of various insects my foot be- 
came so inflamed that I could not get on shoe or stock- 


ing. I was obliged to lie by, and, sitting an entire day 
with my foot in a horizontal position, uncovered, it was 
assaulted by small black flies, the bites of which I did 
not feel at the moment of infliction, but which left 
marks like the punctures of a hundred pins. The irri- 
tation was so great, and the swelling increased so much, 
that I became alarmed, and determined to return to the 
village. It was no easy matter to get there. The foot 
was too big to put in a stirrup, and, indeed, to keep it 
but for a few moments in a hanging position made it 
feel as if the blood would burst through the skin, and 
the idea of striking it against a bush makes me shudder 
even now. It was indispensable, however, to leave the 
place. I sent in to the village for a mule, and on the 
tenth day after my arrival at the ruins, hopped down 
the terrace, mounted, and laid the unfortunate member 
on a pillow over the pommel of the saddle. This gave 
me, for that muddy road, a very uncertain seat. I had 
a man before me to cut the branches, yet my hat was 
knocked off three or four times, and twice I was obliged 
to dismount ; but in due season, to my great relief, we 
cleared the woods. After the closeness and confine- 
ment of the forest, coming once more into an open 
country quickened every pulse. 

As I ascended to the table on which the village stood, 
I observed an unusual degree of animation, and a crowd 
of people in the grass-grown street, probably some fif- 
teen or twenty, who seemed roused at the sight of me, 
and presently three or four men on horseback rode to- 
ward me. I had borne many different characters in 
that country, and this time I was mistaken for three 
padres who were expected to arrive that morning from 
Tumbala. If the mistake had continued I should have 
had dinner enough for six at least ; but, unluckily, it 


was soon discovered, and I rode on to the door of our 
old house. Presently the alcalde appeared, with his 
keys in his hands and in full dress, i. e., his shirt was 
inside of his pantaloons; and I was happy to find that 
he was in a worse humour at the coming of the padres 
than at our arrival ; indeed, he seemed now rather to 
have a leaning toward me, as one who could sympathize 
in his vexation at the absurdity of making such a fuss 
about them. When he saw my foot, too, he really 
showed some commiseration, and endeavoured to make 
me as comfortable as possible. The swelling had in- 
creased very much. I was soon on my back, and, lying 
perfectly quiet, by the help of a medicine-chest, starva- 
tion, and absence of irritating causes, in two days and 
nights I reduced the inflammation very sensibly. 



A Voice from the Ruins. Buying Bread. Arrival of Padres. Cura of Palenque. 
Card Playing. Sunday. Mass. A Dinner Party. Mementoes of Home. 
Dinner Customs. Return to the Ruins. A marked Change. Terrific Thun- 
der. A Whirlwind. A Scene of the Sublime and Terrible. 

THE third day I heard from the ruins a voice of wail- 
ing. Juan had upset the lard, and every drop was 
gone. The imploring letter J received roused all my 
sensibilities ; and, forgetting everything in the emergen- 
cy, I hurried to the alcalde's, and told him a hog must 
die. The alcalde made difficulties, and to this day I 
cannot account for his concealing from me a fact of 
which he must have been aware, to wit, that on that 
very night a porker had been killed. Very early the 
next morning I saw a boy passing with some strings of 
fresh pork, hailed him, and he guided me to a hut in 
the suburbs, but yesterday the dwelling of the unfortu- 
nate quadruped. I procured the portion of some hon- 
est Palenquian, and returned, happy in the conscious- 
ness of making others so. That day was memorable, 
too, for another piece of good fortune ; for a courier ar- 
rived from Ciudad Real with despatches for Tobasco, 
and a back-load of bread on private account. As soon 
as the intelligence reached me, I despatched a messen- 
ger to negotiate for the whole stock. Unfortunately, it 
was sweetened, made up into diamonds, circles, and 
other fanciful forms, about two inches long and an inch 
thick, to be eaten with chocolate, and that detestable 
lard was oozing out of the crust. Nevertheless, it was 



bread ; and placing it carefully on a table, with a fresh 
cheese, the product of our cow, I lay down at night 
full of the joy that morning would diffuse over the ru- 
ins of Palenque ; but, alas ! all human calculations are 
vain. In my first sleep I was roused by a severe clap 
of thunder, and detected an enormous cat on the table. 
While my boot was sailing toward her, with one bound 
she reached the wall and disappeared under the eaves 
of the roof. I fell asleep again ; she returned, and the 
consequences were fatal. 

The padres were slow in movement, and after keeping 
the village in a state of excitement for three days, this 
morning they made a triumphal entry, escorted by citi- 
zens, and with a train of more than a hundred Indians, 
carrying hammocks, chairs, and luggage. The villages 
of Tumbala and San* Pedro had turned out two or three 
hundred strong, and carried them on their backs and 
shoulders to Nopa, where they were met by a deputa- 
tion from Palenque, and transferred to the village. It 
is a glorious thing in that country to be a padre, and 
next to being a padre one's self is the position of being a 
padre's friend. In the afternoon I visited them, but 
after the fatigues of the journey they were all asleep, 
and the Indians around the door were talking in low 
tones so as not to disturb them. Inside were enormous 
piles of luggage, which showed the prudent care the 
good ecclesiastics took of themselves. The siesta over, 
very soon they appeared, one after the other, in dresses, 
or rather undresses, difficult to describe, but certainly 
by no means clerical ; neither of them had coat or jacket. 
Two of them were the curas of Tumbala and Ayalon, 
whom we had seen on our journey. The third was a 
Franciscan friar from Ciudad Real, and they had come 
expressly to visit the ruins. All had suffered severely 


from the journey. The cura of Ayalon was a deputy 
to Congress, and in Mexico many inquiries had been 
made of him about the ruins, on the supposition that 
they were in his neighbourhood, which erroneous sup- 
position he mentioned with a feeling reference to the 
intervening mountains. The padre of Tumbala was a 
promising young man of twenty-eight, and weighed at 
that time about twelve stone, or two hundred and forty 
pounds : a heavy load to carry about with him over 
such roads as they had traversed ; but the Dominican 
friar suffered most, and he sat sideways in a hammock, 
with his vest open, wiping the perspiration from his 
breast. They were all intelligent men, and, in fact, the 
circumstance of their making the journey for no other 
purpose than to visit the ruins was alone an indication 
of their superior character. The Congressman we had 
seen 'on our way through his village, .and then were 
struck with his general knowledge, and particularly 
with his force of character. He had borne an active 
part in all the convulsions of the country from the time 
of the revolution against Spain, of which he had been 
an instigator, and ever since, to the scandal of the 
Church party, stood forth as a Liberal ; he had played 
the soldier- as well as priest, laying down his blood- 
stained sword after a battle to confess the wounded and 
dying ; twice wounded, once chronicled among the 
killed, an exile in Guatimala, and with the gradual re- 
covery of the Liberal party restored to his place and 
sent as a deputy to Congress, where very soon he was 
to take part in new convulsions. They were all start- 
led by the stories of moschetoes, insects, and reptiles at 
the ruins, and particularly by what they had heard of 
the condition of my foot. 

While we were taking chocolate the cura of Palenque 


entered. At the time of our first arrival he was absent 
at another village under his charge, and I had not seen 
him before. He Avas more original in his appearance 
than either of the others, being very tall, with long black 
hair, an Indian face and complexion, and certainly four 
fifths Indian blood. Indeed, if I had seen him in In- 
dian costume, and what that is the reader by this time 
understands, I should have taken him for a " puro," or 
Indian of unmixed descent. His dress was as uncler- 
ical as his appearance, consisting of an old straw hat, 
with the rim turned up before, behind, and at the sides, 
so as to make four regular corners, with a broad blue 
velvet riband for a hatband, both soiled by long expo- 
sure to wind and rain. Beneath this were a check shirt, 
an old blue silk neckcloth with yellow stripes, a striped 
roundabout jacket, .black waistcoat, and pantaloons 
made of bedticking, not meeting the waistcoat by two 
inches, the whole tall figure ending below in yellow 
buckskin shoes. But under this outre appearance ex- 
isted a charming simplicity and courtesy of manner, and 
when he spoke his face beamed with kindness. The 
reception given him showed the good feeling existing 
among the padres ; and after some general conversa- 
tion, the chocolate cups were removed, and one of the 
padres went to his chest, whence he produced a pack 
of cards, which he placed upon the table. He said that 
he always carried them with him, and it was very pleas- 
ant to travel with companions, as, wherever they stopped, 
they could have a game at night. The cards had ev- 
idently done much service, and there was something 
orderly and systematic in the preliminary arrangements, 
that showed the effect of regular habits and a well-train- 
ed household. An old Indian servant laid on the ta- 
ble a handful of grains of corn and a new bundle of 


paper cigars. The grains of corn were valued at a me- 
dio. I declined joining in the game, whereupon one of 
the reverend fathers kept aloof to entertain me, and the 
other three sat down to Monte, still taking -part in the 
conversation. Very soon they became abstracted, and 
I left them playing as earnestly as if the souls of uncon- 
verted Indians were at stake. I had often heard the 
ill-natured remark of foreigners, that two padres cannot 
meet in that country without playing cards, but it was 
the first time I had seen its verification ; perhaps (I feel 
guilty in saying so) because, except on public occasions, 
it was the first time I had ever seen two padres togeth- 
er. Before I left them the padres invited me to dine 
with them the next day, and on returning to my own 
quarters I found that Don Santiago, the gentleman who 
gave them the dinner, and, next to the prefect, the prin- 
cipal inhabitant, had called upon me with a like invita- 
tion, which I need not say I accepted. 

The next day was Sunday ; the storm of the night 
had rolled away, the air was soft and balmy, the grass 
was green, and, not being obliged to travel, I felt what 
the natives aver, that the mornings of the rainy season 
were the finest in the year. It was a great day for the 
little church at Palenque. The four padres were there, 
all in their gowns and surplices, all assisted in the cer- 
emonies, and the Indians from every hut in the village 
went to mass. This over, all retired, and in a few min- 
utes the village was as quiet as ever. 

At twelve o'clock I went to the house of Don Santiago 
to dine. The three stranger padres were there, and most 
of the guests were assembled. Don Santiago, the richest 
man in Palenque, and the most extensive merchant, re- 
ceived us in his tienda or store, which was merely a few 
shelves with a counter before them in one corner, and his 



whole stock of merchandise was worth perhaps twenty 
or thirty dollars ; but Don Santiago was entirely a differ- 
ent style of man from one in such small business in this 
country or Europe ; courteous in manners, and intelli- 
gent for that country ; he was dressed in white panta- 
loons and red slippers, a clean shirt with an embroider- 
ed bosom, and suspenders, which probably cost more 
than all the rest of his habiliments, and were not to be 
hidden under coat and waistcoat. In this place, which 
had before seemed to me so much out of the world, I 
was brought more directly in contact with home than 
at any other I visited. The chair on which I sat came 
from New- York ; also a small looking-glass, two pieces 
of American " cottons," and the remnant of a box of 
vermicelli, of the existence of which in the place I was 
not before advised. . The most intimate foreign relations 
of the inhabitants were with New- York, through the 
port of Tobasco. They knew a man related to a family 
in the village who had actually been at New- York, and 
a barrel of New- York flour, the bare mention of which 
created a yearning, had once reached the place. In 
fact, New- York was more familiar to them than any 
other part of the world except the capital. Don San- 
tiago had a copy of Zavala's tour in the United States, 
which, except a few volumes of the lives of saints, was 
his library, and which he knew almost by heart ; and 
they had kept up with our political history so well as to 
know that General Washington was not president, but 
General Jackson. 

The padre of Tumbala, he of two hundred and forty 
pounds' weight, was somewhat of an exquisite in dress 
for that country, and had brought with him his violin. 
He was curious to know the state of musical science in 
my country, and whether the government supported 


good opera companies ; regretted that I could not play 
some national airs, and entertained himself and the 
company with several of their own. 

In the mean time the padre of Palenque was still 
missing, but, after being sent for twice, made his ap- 
pearance. The dinner was in fact his ; but, on ac- 
count of want of conveniences in the convent from his 
careless housekeeping, was given by his friend Don 
Santiago on his behalf, and the answer of the boy sent 
to call him was that he had forgotten all about it. He 
was absent and eccentric enough for a genius, though 
he made no pretensions to that character. Don San- 
tiago told us that he once went to the padre's house, 
where he found inside a cow and a calf; the cura, in 
great perplexity, apologized, saying that he could not 
help himself, they would come in ; and considered it a 
capital idea when Don Santiago suggested to him the 
plan of driving them out. 

As soon as he appeared the other padres rallied him 
upon his forgetfulness, which they insisted was all feign- 
ed ; they had won sixteen dollars of him the night be- 
fore, and said that he was afraid to come. He answer- 
ed in the same strain that he was a ruined man. They 
offered him his revenge, and forthwith the table was 
brought out, cards and grains of corn were spread 
upon it as before, and while the padre of Tumbala 
played the violin, the other three played Monte. Being 
Sunday, in some places this would be considered rather 
irregular ; at least, to do so with open doors would be 
considered setting a bad example to children and ser- * 
vants ; and, in fact, considering myself on a pretty so- 
ciable footing, I could not help telling them that in my 
country they would all be read out of Church. The 
padre Congressman had met an Englishman in Mexico 


who told him the same thing, and also the manner of 
observing the Sunday in England, which they all thought 
must be very stupid. 

Perhaps upon less ground than this the whole Span- 
ish American priesthood has at times been denounced 
as a set of unprincipled gamblers, but I have too warm 
a recollection of their many kindnesses to hold them 
up in this light. They were all intelligent and good men, 
who would rather do benefits than an injury ; in mat- 
ters connected with religion they were most reverential, 
laboured diligently in their vocations, and were without 
reproach among their people. By custom and educa- 
tion they did not consider that they were doing wrong. 
From my agreeable intercourse with them, and my re- 
gard for their many good qualities, I would fain save 
them from denunciations of utter unworthiness which 
might be cast upon them. Nevertheless, it is true that 
dinner was delayed, and all the company kept waiting 
until they had finished their game of cards. 

The table was set in an unoccupied house adjoining. 
Every white man in the village, except the prefect and 
alcalde, was present ; the former being away at his 
hacienda, and the latter, from the sneering references 
he made to it, I suspected was not invited. In all 
there were fifteen or sixteen, and I was led to the seat 
of honour at the head of the table. I objected, but the 
padres seated me perforce. After the gentlemen were 
seated, it was found that, by sitting close, there was 
room for some ladies, and after the arrangements for 
the table were completed, they were invited to take 
seats. Unluckily, there was only room for three, who 
sat all together on my left. In a few minutes I felt 
very much as if the dinner was got up expressly for me. 
It was long since I had seen such a table, and I mourned 


in spirit that I had not sent notice for Mr. Catherwood 
to come to the village accidentally in time to get an in- 
vitation. But it was too late now ; there was no time 
for reflection ; every moment the dinner was going. 
In some places my position would have required me to 
devote myself to those on each side of me ; but at Pa- 
lenque they devoted themselves to me. If I stopped 
a moment my plate was whipped away, and another 
brought, loaded with something else. It may seem 
unmannerly, but I watched the fate of certain dishes, 
particularly some dolces or sweetmeats, hoping they 
would not be entirely consumed, as I purposed to se- 
cure all that should be left to take with me to the ruins. 
Wine was on the table, which was recommended to me 
as coming from New-York, but this was not enough to 
induce me to taste it. There was no water, and, by- 
the-way, water is never put on the table, and never 
drunk until after the dolces, which come on as the last 
course, when it is served in a large tumbler, which 
passes round for each one to sip from. It is entirely 
irregular and ill bred to ask for water during the meal. 
Each guest, as he rose from the table, bowed to Don 
Santiago, and said " muchas gratias," which I con- 
sidered in bad taste, and not in keeping with the deli- 
cacy of Spanish courtesy, as the host ought rather to 
thank his guests for their society than they to thank 
him for his dinner. Nevertheless, as I had more rea- 
son to be thankful than any of them, I conformed to 
the example set me. After dinner my friends became 
drowsy and retired to siesta. I found my way back 
to Don Santiago's house, where, in a conversation with 
the ladies, I secured the remains of the dolces, and 
bought out his stock of vermicelli. 

In the morning, my foot being sufficiently recovered, 


I rode up to the house of the padres to escort them to 
the ruins. They had passed the evening sociably at 
cards, and again the padre of Palenque was wanting. 
We rode over to his house, and waited while he secured 
carefully on the back of a tall horse a little boy, who 
looked so wonderfully like him, that, out of respect to 
his obligation of celibacy, people felt delicate in asking 
whose son he was. This done, he tied an extra pair of 
shoes behind his own saddle, and we set off with the 
adios of all the village. The padres intended to pass 
the night at the ruins, and had a train of fifty or sixty 
Indians loaded with beds, bedding, provisions, sacate 
for mules, and multifarious articles, down to a white 
earthen washbowl ; besides which, more favoured than 
we, they had four or five women. 

Entering the foiest, we found the branches of the 
trees, which had been trimmed on my return to the vil- 
lage, again weighed down by the rains ; the streams 
were very bad ; the padres were well mounted, but no 
horsemen, dismounted very often, and under my escort 
we got lost, but at eleven o'clock, very much to the sat- 
isfaction of all, our long, strange-looking, straggling 
party reached the ruins. The old palace was once more 
alive with inhabitants. 

There was a marked change in it since I left ; the 
walls were damp, the corridors wet ; the continued rains 
were working through cracks and crevices, and opening 
leaks in the roof; saddles, bridles, boots, shoes, &c., 
were green and mildewed, and the guns and pistols 
covered with a coat of rust. Mr. Catherwood's ap- 
pearance startled me. He was wan and gaunt ; lame, 
like me, from the bites of insects ; his face was swollen, 
and his left arm hung with rheumatism as if paralyzed. 

We sent the Indians across the courtyard to the op- 


posite corridor, where the sight of our loose traps might 
not tempt them to their undoing, and selecting a place 
for that purpose, the cartarets were set up immediately, 
and, with all the comforts of home, the padres lay down 
for an hour's rest. I had no ill-will toward these worthy 
men ; on the contrary, the most friendly feeling ; but, 
to do the honours of the palace, I invited them to dine 
with us. Catherwood and Pawling objected, and they 
would have done better if left to themselves ; but they 
appreciated the spirit of the invitation, and returned me 
muchas gratias. After their siesta I escorted them over 
the palace, and left them in their apartment. Singu- 
larly enough, that night there was no rain ; so that, with 
a hat before a candle, we crossed the courtyard and 
paid them a visit ; we found the three reverend gentle- 
men sitting on a mat on the ground, winding up the day 
with a comfortable game at cards, and the Indians 
asleep around them. t?) .$'' 

The next morning, with the assistance of Pawling 
and the Indians to lift and haul them, I escorted them 
to the other buildings, heard some curious speculations, 
and at two o'clock, with many expressions of good-will, 
and pressing invitations to their different convents, they 
returned to the village. 

Late in the afternoon the storm set in with terrific 
thunder, which at night rolled with fearful crashes 
against the walls, while the vivid lightning flashed 
along the corridors. The padres had laughed at us 
for their superior discrimination in selecting a sleeping- 
place, and this night their apartment was flooded. 
From this time my notebook contains memoranda only 
of the arrival of the Indians, with the time that the 
storm set in, its violence and duration, the deluges of 
rain, and the places to which we were obliged to move 


our beds. Every day our residence became more wet 
and uncomfortable. On Thursday, the thirtieth of May, 
the storm opened with a whirlwind. At night the crash 
of falling trees rang through the forest, rain fell in del- 
uges, the roaring of thunder was terrific, and as we lay 
looking out, the aspect of the ruined palace, lighted 
by the glare of lightning such as I never saw in this 
country, was awfully grand ; in fact, there was too much 
of the sublime and terrible. The storm threatened the 
very existence of the building ; and, knowing the totter- 
ing state of the walls, for some moments we had appre- 
hensions lest the whole should fall and crush us. In 
the morning the courtyard and the ground below the 
palace were flooded, and by this time the whole front 
was so wet that we were obliged to desert it and move 
to the other side ojp the corridor. Even here we were 
not much better off; but we remained until Mr. Gather- 
wood had finished his last, drawing ; and on Saturday, 
the first of June, like rats leaving a sinking ship, we 
broke up and left the ruins. Before leaving, however, 
I will present a description of the remaining buildings. 

: ;=; ;,- fivVMS -' j lp(S : P; S.VJAC t 



Plan of the Ruins. Pyramidal Structure. A Building. Stucco Ornaments. 
Human Figures. Tablets. Remarkable Hieroglyphics. Range of Pillars. 
Stone Terrace. Another Building. A large Tablet. A Cross. Conjectures 
in regard to this Cross. Beautiful Sculpture. A Platform. Curious De- 
vices. A Statue. Another Pyramidal Structure, surmounted by a Building. 
Corridors. A curious Baa-relief. Stone Tablets, with Figures in Bas-relief. 
Tablets and Figures. The Oratorio. More Pyramidal Structures and Build* 
ings. Extent of the Ruins. These Ruins the Remains of a polished and pe- 
culiar People. Antiquity of Palenque. 

THE plan opposite indicates the position of all the 
buildings which have been discovered at Palenque. 
There are remains of others in the same vicinity, but 
so utterly dilapidated that we have not thought it worth 
while to give any description of them, nor even to in- 
dicate their places on the plan. 

From the palace no other building is visible. Passing 
out by what is called the subterraneous passage, you de- 
scend the southwest corner of the terrace, and at the foot 
immediately commence ascending a ruined pyramidal 
structure, which appears once to have had steps on all its 
sides. These steps have been thrown down by the trees, 
and it is necessary to clamber over stones, aiding the feet 
by clinging to the branches. The ascent is so steep, 
that if the first man displaces a stone it bounds down 
the side of the pyramid, and wo to those behind. About 
half way up, through openings in the trees, is seen the 

VOL. II. U u 29 


building represented in the engraving opposite. The 
height of the structure on which it stands is one hundred 
and ten feet on the slope. The engravings represent 
the actual condition of the building, surrounded and 
overgrown by trees, but no description and no draw- 
ing can give effect to the moral sublimity of the spec- 
tacle. From the multiplicity of engravings required to 
illustrate the architecture and arts of this unknown peo- 
ple, I have omitted a series of views, exhibiting the 
most picturesque and striking subjects that ever pre- 
sented themselves to the pencil of an artist. The ruins 
and the forest made the deep and abiding impression 
upon our minds ; but our object is to present the build- 
ing as restored, as subjects for speculation and com- 
parison with the architecture of other lands and times. 
The supposed restorations were made after a careful ex- 
amination, and in each case the reader will see precisely 
what we had to guide us in making them. I must re- 
mark, however, that the buildings are the only parts 
which we attempted to restore ; the specimens of sculp- 
ture and stuccoed ornaments were drawn as we found 


..'-- ' V-.-.-7-./.'^T 



Kluvaiion showing Hie Kinldini:, and the Pyramid on which it stands. 
' >o .Cott. 

I II 111 III III I I I I I 111 I 

Front Elevation. 

1'lan of No. 1, Casasde Piedras, Palenque. 
Scale of feet. 

jo 5^0 


P. Catherwood, Dei. 

Afeonn-aptY, Slephetu and Cathmmod. 

Voi. II. lo (ace page 339. 


The engraving opposite represents the same build- 
ing cleared from forest and restored, and, according 
to our division, marked on the . plan No. 1. In the 
plate are given the ground-plan (beginning at the bot- 
tom), the front elevation, a section showing the posi- 
tion of tablets within, and the front elevation on a 
smaller scale, with the pyramidal structure on which it 

The building is seventy-six feet in front and twenty- 
five feet deep. It has five doors and six piers, all 
standing. The whole front was richly ornamented in 
stucco, and the corner piers are covered with hiero- 
glyphics, each of which contains ninety-six squares. 


The four piers are ornamented with human figures, 
two on each side, facing each other, which are repre- 
sented in the following engravings in the order in which 
they stand upon the piers. 

The first is that of a woman with a child in her arms ; 
at least we suppose it to be intended for a woman from 
the dress. It is enclosed by an elaborate border, and 
stands on a rich ornament. The head is destroyed. 
Over the top are three hieroglyphics, and there are tra- 
ces of hieroglyphics broken off in the corner. The 
other three are of the same general character ; each 
probably had an infant in the arms, and over each are 

At the foot of the two centre piers, resting on the 
steps, are two stone tablets with what seemed interest- 
ing figures, but so encumbered with ruins that it was 
impossible to draw them. 


on one of the Piers of X ? 1 Casas 

. X?] Casas dePLedra . 



The interior of the building is divided into two corri- 
dors, running lengthwise, with a ceiling rising nearly to 
a point, as in the palace, and paved with large square 
stones. The front corridor is seven feet wide. The 
separating wall is very massive, and has three doors, 
a large one in the centre, and a smaller one on each 
side. In this corridor, on each side of the principal 
door, is a large tablet of hieroglyphics, each thirteen 
feet long and eight feet high, and each divided into two 
hundred and forty squares of characters or symbols. 
Both are set in the wall so as to project three or four 
inches. In one place a hole had been made in the 
wall close to the side of one of them, apparently for 
the purpose of attempting its removal, by which we 
discovered that the stone is about a foot thick. The 

i>nd jj.out 
;bio yen Lovododb him , 

ij "io i 

*;b fei 


sculpture is in bas-relief. The tablets are represented 
in the engravings opposite. 

The construction of the tablets was a large stone on 
each side, and smaller ones in the centre, as indicated 
by the dark lines in the engravings. 

In the right-hand tablet one line is obliterated by 
water that has trickled down for an unknown length of 
time, and formed a sort of stalactite or hard substance, 
which has incorporated itself with the stone, and which 
we could not remove, though perhaps it might be de- 
tached by some chemical process. In the other tablet, 
nearly one half of the hieroglyphics are obliterated by 
the action of water and decomposition of the stone. 
When we first saw them both tablets were covered 
with a thick coat of green moss, and it was necessary 
to wash and scrape them, clear the lines with a stick, 
and scrub them thoroughly, for which last operation a 
pair of blacking-brushes that Juan had picked up in my 
house at Guatimala, and disobeyed my order to throw 
away upon the road, proved exactly what we wanted 
and could not have procured. Besides this process, on 
account of the darkness of the corridor, from the thick 
shade of the trees growing before it, it was necessary to 
burn candles or torches, and to throw a strong light 
upon the stones while Mr. Catherwood was drawing. 

The corridor in the rear is dark and gloomy, and di- 
vided into three apartments. Each of the side apart- 
ments has two narrow openings about three inches wide 
and a foot high. They have no remains of sculpture, 
or painting, or stuccoed ornaments. In the centre apart- 
ment, set in the back wall, and fronting the principal 
door of entrance, is another tablet of hieroglyphics, 
four feet six inches wide and three feet six inches high. 
The roof above it is tight ; consequently it has not suf- 

i ' Lrv-i ""* ,'^- - . i >**,*'*"'%.-. f ^,-i * 



fered from exposure, and the hieroglyphics are perfect, 
though the stone is cracked lengthwise through the mid- 
dle, as indicated in the engraving. 

The impression made upon our minds by these speak- 
ing but unintelligible tablets I shall not attempt to de- 
scribe. From some unaccountable cause they have 
never before been presented to the public. Captains 
Del Rio and Dupaix both refer to them, but in very 
few words, and neither of them has given a single draw- 
ing. Acting under a royal commission, and selected, 
doubtless, as fit men for the duties intrusted to them, 
they cannot have been ignorant or insensible of their 
value. It is my belief they did not give them because 
in both cases the artists attached to their expedition 
were incapable of the labour, and the steady, deter- 
mined perseverance required for drawing such compli- 
cated, unintelligible, and anomalous characters. As at 
Copan, Mr. Catherwood divided his paper into squares ; 
the original drawings were reduced, and the engravings 
corrected by himself, and I believe they are as true 
copies as the pencil can make : the real written records 
of a lost people. The Indians call this building an es- 
cuela or school, but our friends the padres called it a 
tribunal of justice, and these stones, they said, contain- 
ed the tables of the law. 

There is one important fact to be noticed. The hie- 
roglyphics are the same as were found at Copan and Qui- 
rigua. The intermediate country is now occupied by 
races of Indians speaking many different languages, and 
entirely unintelligible to each other ; but there is room 
for the belief that the whole of this country was once 
occupied by the same race, speaking the same lan- 
guage, or, at least, having the same written characters. 

There is no staircase or other visible communication 


between the lower and upper parts of this building, and 
the only way of reaching the latter was by climbing 
a tree which grows close against the wall, and the 
branches of which spread over the roof. The roof is 
inclined, and the sides are covered with stucco orna- 
ments, which, from exposure to the elements, and the 
assaults of trees and bushes, are faded and ruined, so 
that it was impossible to draw them ; but enough re- 
mained to give the impression that, when perfect and 
painted, they must have been rich and imposing. 
Along the top was a range of pillars eighteen inches 
high and twelve apart, made of small pieces of stone 
laid in mortar, and covered with stucco, crowning 
which is a layer of flat projecting stones, having some- 
what the appearance of a low open balustrade. 

In front of tfeis building, at the foot of the pyramidal 
structure, is a small stream, part of which supplies the 
aqueduct before referred to. Crossing this, we come 
upon a broken stone terrace about sixty feet on the 
slope, with a level esplanade at the top, one hundred 
and ten feet in breadth, from which rises another pyram- 
idal structure, now ruined and overgrown with trees ; 
it is one hundred and thirty-four feet high on the slope, 
and on its summit is the building marked No. 2, like 
the first shrouded among trees, but presented in the 
engraving opposite as restored. The plate contains, as 
before, the ground-plan, front elevation, section, and 
front elevation on a smaller scale, with the pyramidal 
structure on which it stands. 

This building is fifty feet front, thirty-one feet deep, 
and has three doorways. The whole front was covered 
with stuccoed ornaments. The two outer piers con- 
tain hieroglyphics ; one of the inner piers is fallen, and 

*^3T?^vr'-' <wr 

*- jhlfttt 

Plan oO?5 . 




the other is ornamented with a figure in bas-relief, but 
faded and ruined. 

The interior, again, is divided into two corridors run- 
ning lengthwise, with ceilings as before, and pavements 
of large square stones, in which forcible breaches have 
been made, doubtless by Captain Del Rio, and exca- 
vations underneath. The back corridor is divided into 
three apartments, and opposite the principal door of 
entrance is an oblong enclosure, with a heavy cornice 
or moulding of stucco, and a doorway richly ornament- 
ed over the top, but now much defaced ; on each side 
of the doorway was a tablet of sculptured stone, which, 
however, has been removed. Within, the chamber is 
thirteen feet wide and seven feet deep. There was no 
admission of light except from the door ; the sides were 
without ornament of any kind, and in the back wall, 
covering the whole width, was the tablet given in the 
engraving opposite. It was ten feet eight inches wide, 
six feet four inches in height, and consisted of three 
separate stones. That on the left, facing the spectator, 
is still in its place. The middle one has been removed 
and carried down the side of the structure, and now lies 
near the bank of the stream. It was removed many 
years ago by one of the inhabitants of the village, with 
the intention of carrying it to his house ; but, after great 
labour, with no other instruments than the arms and 
hands of Indians, and poles cut from trees, it had ad- 
vanced so far, when its removal was arrested by an 
order from the government forbidding any farther ab- 
straction from the ruins. "We found it lying on its back 
near the banks of the stream, washed by many floods 
of the rainy season, and covered with a thick coat of 
dirt and moss. We had it scrubbed and propped up, 
and probably the next traveller will find it with the 
VOL, II. X x 30 


same props under it which we placed there. In the 
engraving it is given in its original position on the wall. 
The stone on the right is broken, and, unfortunately, 
altogether destroyed ; most of the fragments have dis- 
appeared ; but, from the few we found among the ruins 
in the front of the building, there is no doubt that it 
contained ranges of hieroglyphics corresponding in gen- 
eral appearance with those of the stone on the left. 

The tablet, as given in the engraving, contains only 
two thirds of the original. In Del Rio's work it is not 
represented at all. In Dupaix it is given, not, however, 
as it exists, but as made up by the artist in Paris, so as to 
present a perfect picture. The subject is reversed, with 
the cross in the centre, and on each side a single row 
of hieroglyphics, only eight in number. Probably, when 
Dupaix saw it (thirty-four years before), it was entire, 
but the important features of six rows of hieroglyphics 
on each side of the principal figures, each row con- 
taining seventeen in a line, do not appear. This is the 
more inexcusable in his publishers, as in his report 
Dupaix expressly refers to these numerous hieroglyph- 
ics ; but it is probable that his report was not accom- 
panied by any drawings of them. 

The principal subject of this tablet is the cross. It 
is surmounted by a strange bird, and loaded with in- 
describable ornaments. The two figures are evidently 
those of important personages. They are well drawn, 
and in symmetry of proportion are perhaps equal to 
many that are carved on the walls of the ruined tem- 
ples in Egypt. Their costume is in a style different 
from any heretofore given, and the folds would seem 
to indicate that they were of a soft and pliable texture, 
like cotton. Both are looking toward the cross, and 
one seems in the act of making an offering, perhaps of 


a child ; all speculations on the subject are of course 
entitled to little regard, but perhaps it would not be 
wrong to ascribe to these personages a sacerdotal 
character. The hieroglyphics doubtless explain all. 
Near them are other hieroglyphics, which reminded us 
of the Egyptian mode for recording the name, history, 
office, or character of the persons represented. This 
tablet of the cross has given rise to more learned spec- 
ulations than perhaps any others found at Palenque. 
Dupaix and his commentators, assuming for the build- 
ing a very remote antiquity, or, at least, a period long 
antecedent to the Christian era, account for the appear- 
ance of the cross by the argument that it was known 
and had a symbolical meaning among ancient nations 
long before it was established as the emblem of the 
Christian faith. Our friends the padres, at the sight of 
it, immediately decided that the old inhabitants of Pa- 
lenque were Christians, and by conclusions which are 
sometimes called jumping, they fixed the age of the 
buildings in the third century. 

There is reason to believe that this particular build- 
ing was intended as a temple, and that the enclosed 
inner chamber was an ad oratorio, or oratory, or altar. 
What the rites and ceremonies of worship may have 
been, no one can undertake to say. 

The upper part of this building differs from the first. 
As before, there was no staircase or other communica- 
tion inside or out, nor were there the remains of any. 
The only mode of access was, in like manner, by climb- 
ing a tree, the branches of which spread across the roof. 
The roof was inclined, and the sides were richly orna- 
mented with stucco figures, plants, and flowers, but 
mostly ruined. Among them were the fragments of a 
beautiful head and of two bodies, in justness of propor- 


tion and symmetry approaching the Greek models. On 
the top of this roof is a narrow platform, supporting 
what, for the sake of description, I shall call two stories. 
The platform is but two feet ten inches wide, and the 
superstructure of the first story is seven feet five inches 
in height ; that of the second eight feet five inches, the 
width of the two being the same. The ascent from one 
to the other is by square projecting stones, and the cov- 
ering of the upper story is of flat stones laid across and 
projecting over. The long sides of this narrow struc- 
ture are of open stucco work, formed into curious and 
indescribable devices, human figures with legs and arms 
spreading and apertures between ; and the whole was 
once loaded with rich and elegant ornaments in stucco 
relief. Its appearance at a distance must have been 
that of a high, fancifal lattice. Altogether, like the rest 
of the architecture and ornaments, it was perfectly 
unique, different from the works of any other people 
with which we were familiar, and its uses and purposes 
entirely incomprehensible. Perhaps it was intended as 
an observatory. From the upper gallery, through open- 
ings in the trees growing around, we looked out over 
an immense forest, and saw the Lake of Terminos and 
the Gulf of Mexico. 

Near this building was another interesting monument, 
which had been entirely overlooked by those who prece- 
ded us in a visit to Palenque, and I mention this fact in 
the hope that the next visiter may discover many things 
omitted by us. It lies in front of the building, about 
forty or fifty feet down the side of the pyramidal struc- 
ture. When we first passed it with our guide it lay on 
its face, with its head downward, and half buried by 
an accumulation of earth and stones. The outer side 
was rough and unhewn, and our attention was attract- 

Plnne !*tiivi in front ort':wa >\. 2. 


SeaJe of foek 


ed by its size; our guide said it was not sculptur- 
ed ; but, after he had shown us everything that he had 
knowledge of, and we had discharged him, in passing it 
again we stopped and dug around it, and discovered that 
the under surface was carved. The Indians cut down 
some saplings for levers, and rolled it over. The oppo- 
site engraving represents this monument. It is the only 
statue that has ever been found at Palenque. "We were 
at once struck with its expression of serene repose and 
its strong resemblance to Egyptian statues, though in 
size it does not compare with the gigantic remains of 
Egypt. In height it is ten feet six inches, of which 
two feet six inches were under ground. The headdress 
is lofty and spreading ; there are holes in the place of 
ears, which were perhaps adorned with earrings of gold 
and pearls. Round the neck is a necklace, and pressed 
against the breast by the right hand is an instrument 
apparently with teeth. The left hand rests on a hiero- 
glyphic, from which descends some symbolical orna- 
ment. The lower part of the dress bears an unfortu- 
nate resemblance to the modern pantaloons, but the 
figure stands on what we have always considered a 
hieroglyphic, analogous again to the custom in Egypt 
of recording the name and office of the hero or other 
person represented. The sides are rounded, and the 
back is of rough stone. Probably it stood imbedded in 
a wall. 

From the foot of the elevation on which the last- 
mentioned building stands, their bases almost touching, 
rises another pyramidal structure of about the same 
height, on the top of which is the building marked No. 
3. Such is the density of the forest, even on the sides 
of the pyramidal structure, that, though in a right line 


but a short distance apart, one of these buildings cannot 
be seen from the other. 

The engraving opposite represents this building as 
restored, not from any fancied idea of what it might 
have been, but from such remains and indications that 
it was impossible to make anything else of it. It is 
thirty-eight feet front and twenty-eight feet deep, and 
has three doors. The end piers are ornamented with 
hieroglyphics in stucco, two large medallions in hand- 
some compartments, and the intermediate ones with 
bas-reb'efs, also in stucco ; in general character similar 
to those before given, and for that reason, not to multi- 
ply engravings, I omit them. 

Scale ef fed. 

Vol. 11. To 1400 page JSfl. 

Casa No. 4, Front Corridor. 

Vol. II. To face p. 351. 


The interior, again, is divided into two corridors, 
about nine feet wide each, and paved with stone. The 
engraving opposite represents the front corridor, with 
the ceiling rising nearly to a point, and covered at the 
top with a layer of flat stones. In several places on 
each side are holes, which are found also in all the 
other corridors; they were probably used to support 
poles for scaffolding while the building was in process 
of erection, and had never been filled up. At the ex- 
treme end, cut through the wall, is one of the windows 
before referred to, which have been the subject of spec- 
ulation from analogy to the letter Tau. 

The back corridor is divided into three apartments. 
In the centre, facing the principal door of entrance, is 
an enclosed chamber similar to that which in the last 
building we have called an oratory or altar. Its 
shadow is seen in the engraving. The top of the 
doorway was gorgeous with stuccoed ornaments, and 
on the piers at each side were stone tablets in bas-re- 
lief. Within, the chamber was four feet seven inches 
deep and nine feet wide. There were no stuccoed 
ornaments or paintings, but set in the back wall was a 
stone tablet covering the whole width of the chamber, 
nine feet wide and eight feet high. 

The tablet is given in the frontispiece of this volume, 
and I beg to call to it the particular attention of the 
reader, as the most perfect and most interesting monu- 
ment in Palenque. Neither Del Rio nor Dupaix has 
given any drawing of it, and it is now for the first time 
presented to the public. It is composed of three separ- 
ate stones, the joints in which are shown by the blurred 
lines in the engraving. The sculpture is perfect, and 
the characters and figures stand clear and distinct on 
the stone. On each side are rows of hieroglyphics. 



The principal personages will be recognised at once as 
the same who are represented in the tablet of the cross. 
They wear the same dress, but here both seem to be 
making offerings. Both personages stand on the backs 
of human beings, one of whom supports himself by his 
hands and knees, and the other seems crushed to the 
ground by the weight. Between them, at the foot of 
the tablet, are two figures, sitting cross-legged, one bra- 
cing himself with his right hand on the ground, and with 
the left supporting a square table ; the attitude and ac- 
tion of the other are the same, except that they are in 
reverse order. The table also rests upon their bended 
necks, and their distorted countenances may perhaps be 
considered expressions of pain and suffering. They are 
both clothed in leopard-skins. Upon this table rest two 
batons crossed, their upper extremities richly ornament- 
ed, and supporting what seems a hideous mask, the eyes 
widely expanded, and the tongue hanging out. This 
seems to be the object to which the principal personages 
are making offerings. 

The pier on each side of the doorway contained a 
stone tablet, with figures carved in bas-relief, which are 
represented in the two following engravings. These 
tablets, however, have been removed from their place 
to the village, and set up in the wall of a house as or- 
naments. They were the first objects which we saw, 
and the last which Mr. Catherwood drew. The house 
belonged to two sisters, who have an exaggerated idea 
of the value of these tablets ; and, though always pleas- 
ed with our coming to see them, made objections to 
having them copied. "We obtained permission only by 
promising a copy for them also, which, however, Mr. 
Catherwood, worn out with constant labour, was entire- 
ly unable to make. I cut out of Del Rio's book the 

lielief on ;', ar. ' 

relief on side of Door of Alta 


drawings of the same subjects, which I thought, being 
printed, would please them better ; but they had exam- 
ined Mr. Catherwood's drawing in its progress, and 
were not at all satisfied with the substitute. The mo- 
ment I saw these tablets I formed the idea of purchas* 
ing them and carrying them home as a sample of Pa- 
lenque, but it was some time before I ventured to broach 
the subject. They could not be purchased without the 
house ; but that was no impediment, for I liked the 
house also. It was afterward included among the sub- 
jects of other negotiations which were undetermined 
when I left Palenque. 

The two figures stand facing each other, the first on 
the right hand, fronting the spectator. The nose and 
eyes are strongly marked, but altogether the develop- 
ment is not so strange as to indicate a race entirely dif- 
ferent from those which are known. The headdress is 
curious and complicated, consisting principally of leaves 
of plants, with a large flo\ter hanging down ; and among 
the ornaments are distinguished the beak and eyes of a 
bird, and a tortoise. The cloak is a leopard's skin, and 
the figure has ruffles around the wrists and ancles. 

The second figure, standing on the left of the specta- 
tor, has the same profile which characterizes all the 
others at Palenque. Its headdress is composed of a 
plume of feathers, in which is a bird holding a fish 
in its mouth; and in different parts of the headdress 
there are three other fishes. The figure wears a richly- 
embroidered tippet, and a broad girdle, with the head 
of some animal in front, sandals, and leggins : the right 
hand is extended in a prayerful or deprecating position, 
with the palm outward. Over the heads of these mys- 
terious personages are three cabalistic hieroglyphics. 

We considered the oratorio or altar the most interest- 



ing portion of the ruins of Palenque ; and in order that 
the reader may understand it in all its details, the plate 
opposite is presented, which shows distinctly all the com- 
binations of the doorway, with its broken ornaments, the 
tablets on each side ; and within the doorway is seen 
the large tablet on the back of the inner wall. The 
reader will form from it some idea of the whole, and of 
its effect upon the stranger, when, as he climbs up the 
ruined pyramidal structure, on the threshold of the door 
this scene presents itself. We could not but regard it 
as a holy place, dedicated to the gods, and consecrated 
by the religious observances of a lost and unknown 
people. Comparatively, the hand of ruin has spared it, 
and the great tablet, surviving the wreck of elements, 
stands perfect and entire. Lonely, deserted, and with- 
out any worshippers at its shrine, the figures and char- 
acters are distinct as when the people who reared it 
went up to pay their adorations before it. To us it was 
all a mystery ; silent, defying the most scrutinizing gaze 
and reach of intellect. Even our friends the padres 
could make nothing of it. 

Near this, on the top of another pyramidal structure, 
was another building entirely in ruins, which apparently 
had been shattered and hurled down by an earthquake. 
The stones were strewed on the side of the pyramid, 
and it was impossible even to make out the ground- 

Returning to No. 1 and proceeding south, at a dis- 
tance of fifteen hundred feet, and on a pyramidal struc- 
ture one hundred feet high from the bank of the river, 
is another building, marked on the plan No. 4, twenty 
feet front and eighteen feet deep, but in an unfortunate- 
ly ruined condition. The whole of the front wall has 
fallen, leaving the outer corridor entirely exposed. 

V ^^^.^vaHR^*^' 

i- ' 

View of t'a*a N ? "-V in it* rumed Ntmr 

.Sent ion to Imtf lhi .sonle ofmtl 



Fronting the door, and against the back wall of the 
inner corridor, was a large stucco ornament represent- 
ing a figure sitting on a couch ; but a great part has 
fallen or been taken off and carried away. The body 
of the couch, with tiger's feet, is all that now remains. 
The outline of two tigers' heads and of the sitting per- 
sonage is seen on the wall. The loss or destruction of 
this ornament is more to be regretted, as from what re- 
mains it appears to have been superior in execution to 
any other stucco relief in Palenque. The body of the 
couch is entire, and the leg and foot hanging down the 
side are elegant specimens of art and models for study. 
The plate opposite represents this relief, and also a 
plan, section, and general view of the building. 

I have now given, without speculation or comment, 
a full description of the ruins of Palenque. I repeat 
what I stated in the beginning, there may be more 
buildings, but, after a close examination of the vague 
reports current in the village, we are satisfied that no 
more have ever been discovered ; and from repeated in- 
quries of Indians who had traversed the forest in every 
direction in the dry season, we are induced to believe 
that no more exist. The whole extent of ground cov- 
ered by those as yet known, as appears by the plan, is 
not larger than our Park or Battery. In stating this 
fact I am very far from wishing to detract from the im- 
portance or interest of the subject. I give our opinion, 
with the grounds of it, and the reader will judge for 
himself how far these are entitled to consideration. 
It is proper to add, however, that, considering the space 
now occupied by the ruins as the site of palaces, tem- 
ples, and public buildings, and supposing the houses of 
the inhabitants to have been, like those of the Egyptians 
and the present race of Indians, of frail and perishable 


materials, and, as at Memphis and Thebes, to have dis- 
appeared altogether, the city may have covered an im- 
mense extent. 

The reader is perhaps disappointed, but we were not. 
There was no necessity for assigning to the ruined city 
an immense extent, or an antiquity coeval with that of 
the Egyptians or of any other ancient and known peo- 
ple. What we had before our eyes was grand, curious, 
and remarkable enough. Here were the remains of a 
cultivated, polished, and peculiar people, who had passed 
through all the stages incident to the rise and fall of na- 
tions ; reached their golden age, and perished, entirely 
unknown. The links which connected them with the 
human family were severed and lost, and these were 
the only memorials of their footsteps upon earth. We 
lived in the ruined palace of their kings ; we went up 
to their desolate temples and fallen altars ; and wher- 
ever we moved we saw the evidences of their taste, 
their skill in arts, their wealth and power. In the midst 
of desolation and ruin we looked back to the past, 
cleared away the gloomy forest, and fancied every 
building perfect, with its terraces and pyramids, its 
sculptured and painted ornaments, grand, lofty, and 
imposing, and overlooking an immense inhabited plain ; 
we called back into life the strange people who gazed 
at us in sadness from the walls ; pictured them, in fanci- 
ful costumes and adorned with plumes of feathers, as- 
cending the terraces of the palace and the steps lead- 
ing to the temples ; and often we imagined a scene of 
unique and gorgeous beauty and magnificence, reali- 
zing the creations of Oriental poets, the very spot which 
fancy would have selected for the " Happy Valley" of 
Rasselas. In the romance of the world's history no- 
thing ever impressed me more forcibly than the specta- 


cle of this once great and lovely city, overturned, des- 
olate, and lost ; discovered by accident, overgrown with 
trees for miles around, and without even a name to dis- 
tinguish it. Apart from everything else, it was a mourn- 
ing witness to the world's mutations. 

" Nations melt 

From Power's high pinnacle, when they have felt 
The sunshine for a while, and downward go." 

As at Copan, I shall not at present offer any conjec- 
ture in regard to the antiquity of these buildings, merely 
remarking that at ten leagues' distance is a village cal- 
led Las Tres Cruces or the Three Crosses, from three 
crosses which, according to tradition, Cortez erected at 
that place when on his conquering march from Mexico 
to Honduras by the Lake of Peten. Cortez, then, must 
have passed within twenty or thirty miles of the place 
now called Palenque. If it had been a living city, its 
fame must have reached his ears, and he would proba- 
bly have turned aside from his road to subdue and plun- 
der it. It seems, therefore, but reasonable to suppose 
that it was at that time desolate and in ruins, and even 
the memory of it lost. 



Departure from the Ruins. Bad Road. An Accident. Arrival at the Village. 
A Funeral Procession. Negotiations for Purchasing Palenque. Making 
Casts. Final Departure from Palenque. Beautiful Plain. Hanging Birds'- 
nests. A Sitio. Adventure with a monstrous Ape. Hospitality of Padres. 
Las Playas. A Tempest. Moschetoes. A Youthful Merchant. Alligators. 
Another Funeral. Disgusting Ceremonials. 

AMONG the Indians who came out to escort us to the 
village was one whom we had not seen before, and 
whose face bore a striking resemblance to those de- 
lineated on the walls of the buildings. In general the 
faces of the Indians were of an entirely different char- 
acter, but he might have been taken for a lineal de- 
scendant of the perished race. The resemblance was 
perhaps purely accidental, but we were anxious to pro- 
cure his portrait. He was, however, very shy, and un- 
willing to be drawn. Mr. Catherwood, too, was worn 
out, and in the confusion of removing we postponed it 
upon his promising to come to us at the village, but 
we could not get hold of him again. 

We left behind our kitchen furniture, consisting of 
the three stones which Juan put together the first day 
of our residence, vessels of pottery and calabashes, and 
also our beds, for the benefit of the next comer. Ev- 
erything susceptible of injury from damp was rusty or 
mouldy, and in a ruinous condition ; we ourselves 
were not much better ; and with the clothes on our 
backs far from dry, we bade farewell to the ruins. We 
were happy when we reached them, but our joy at 
leaving them burst the bounds of discretion, and broke 
out into extravagances poetical, which, however, fortu- 


nately for the reader, did not advance much beyond 
the first line : 

" Adios, Las Casas de Piedra." 

The road was worse than at any time before; the 
streams were swollen into rivers, and along the banks 
were steep, narrow gullies, very difficult to pass. At 
one of these, after attempting to ascend with my macho, 
I dismounted. Mr. Catherwood was so weak that he 
remained on the back of his mule; and after he had 
crossed, just as he reached the top, the mule's strength 
gave way, and she fell backward, rolling over in the 
stream with Mr. Catherwood entirely under. Pawling 
was behind, and at that time in the stream. He sprang 
off and extricated Mr. Catherwood, unhurt, but very 
faint, and, as he was obliged to ride in his wet clothes, 
we had great apprehensions for him. At length we 
reached the village, when, exhausted by hard and unin- 
termitted labour, he gave up completely, and took to 
bed and the medicine-chest. In the evening nearly all 
my friends of the dinner-party came to see us. That 
one day had established an intimacy. All regretted that 
we had had such an unfortunate time at the ruins, won- 
dered how we had lived through it, and were most kind 
in offers of services. The padre remained after the 
rest, and went home with a lantern in the midst of one 
of those dreadful storms which had almost terrified us 
at the ruins. 

The next day again was Sunday. It was my third 
Sunday in the village, and again it was emphatically a 
day of rest. In the afternoon a mournful interruption 
was given to the stillness of the place by the funeral of 
a young Indian girl, once the pride and beauty of the 
village, whose portrait Mr. Waldeck had taken to em- 


hellish his intended work on Palenque. Her career, a* 
often happens with beauty in higher life, was short, brill- 
iant, and unhappy. She had married a young Indian, 
who abandoned her and went to another village. Ig- 
norant, innocent, and unconscious of wrong, she was 
persuaded to marry another, drooped, and died. The 
funeral procession passed our door. The corpse was 
borne on a rude bier, without coffin, in a white cotton 
dress, with a shawl over the head, and followed by a 
slender procession of women and children only. I 
walked beside it, and heard one of them say, " bueno 
Christiano, to attend the funeral of a poor woman." 
The bier was set down beside the grave, and in lifting 
the body from it the head turned on one side, and the 
hands dropped ; the grave was too short, and as the 
dead was laid wkhin the legs were drawn up. Her 
face was thin and wasted, but the mouth had a sweet- 
ness of expression which seemed to express that she 
had died with a smile of forgiveness for him who had 
injured her. I could not turn my eyes from her placid 
but grief-worn countenance, and so touching was its 
expression that I could almost have shed tears. Young, 
beautiful, simple, and innocent, abandoned and dead, 
with not a mourner at her grave. All seemed to think 
that she was better dead ; she was poor, and could not 
maintain herself. The men went away, and the women 
and children with their hands scraped the earth upon 
the body. It was covered up gradually and slowly; 
the feet stuck out, and then all was buried but the face. 
A small piece of muddy earth fell upon one of the eyes, 
and another on her sweetly smiling mouth, changing 
the whole expression in a moment ; death was now 
robed with terror. The women stopped to comment 
upon the change ; the dirt fell so as to cover the whole 


face except the nose, and for two or three moments 
this alone was visible. Another brush covered this, 
and the girl was buried. The reader will excuse me. 
I am sorry to say that if she had been ugly, I should, 
perhaps, have regarded it as an e very-day case of a wife 
neglected by her husband ; but her sweet face speaking 
from the grave created an impression which even yet is 
hardly effaced. 

But to return to things more in my line. We had 
another long journey before us. Our next move was 
for Yucatan. From Mr. Catherwood's condition I had 
great fear that we would not be able to accomplish what 
we purposed ; but, at all events, it was necessary to go 
down to the seacoast. There were two routes, either 
by Tobasco or the Laguna, to Campeachy, and war 
again confronted us. Both Tobasco and Campeachy 
were besieged by the Liberals, or, as they were called, 
the Revolutionists. The former route required three 
days' journey by land, the latter one short day ; and as 
Mr. C. was not able to ride, this determined us. In the 
mean time, while waiting for his recovery, and so as not 
to rust and be utterly useless when I returned home, I 
started another operation, viz., the purchase of the 
city of Palenque. I am bound to say, however, that I 
was not bold enough to originate this, but fell into it 'ac- 
cidentally, in a long conversation with the prefect about 
the richness of the soil, the cheapness of land, its vicin- 
ity to the seaboard and the United States, and easy 
communication with New- York. He told me that a 
merchant of Tobasco, who had visited the place, had 
proposed to purchase a tract of land and establish a col- 
ony of emigrants, but he had gone away and never re- 
turned. He added, that for two years a government 
order from the State of Chiapas, to which the region 
VOL. II. Z z 


belonged, had been lying in his hands for the sale of all 
land in the vicinity lying within certain limits ; but there 
were no purchasers, and no sales were ever made. 
Upon inquiry I learned that this order, in its terms, 
embraced the ground occupied by the ruined city. No 
exception whatever was made in favour of it. He 
showed me the order, which was imperative ; and he 
said that if any exception was intended, it would have 
been so expressed ; wherefore he considered himself 
bound to receive an offer for any portion of the land. 
The sale was directed to be by appraisement, the appli- 
cant to name one man, the prefect another, and, if ne- 
cessary, they two to name a third; and the application, 
with the price fixed and the boundaries, was to be sent 
to Ciudad Real for the approval of the governor and a 

The tract containing the ruins consisted of about six 
thousand acres of good land, which, according to the 
usual appraisement, would cost about fifteen hundred 
dollars, and the prefect said that it would not be valued 
a cent higher on account of the ruins. I resolved im- 
mediately to buy it. I would fit up the palace and re- 
people the old city of Palenque. But there was one 
difficulty : by the laws of Mexico no stranger can pur- 
chase lands unless married to a hica del pais, or daugh- 
ter of the country. This, by-the-way, is a grand stroke 
of policy, holding up the most powerful attraction of 
the country to seduce men from their natural alle- 
giance, and radicate them in the soil ; and it is taking 
them where weak and vulnerable ; for, when wander- 
ing in strange countries, alone and friendless, buffeted 
and battered, with no one to care for him, there are 
moments when a lovely woman might root the stranger 
to any spot on earth. On principle I always resisted 


such tendencies, but I never before found it to my in- 
terest to give way. The ruined city of Palenque was a 
most desirable piece of property. 

The case was embarrassing and complicated. Soci- 
ety in Palenque was small ; the oldest young lady was 
not more than fourteen, and the pre.ttiest woman, who 
already had contributed most to our happiness (she 
made our cigars), was already married. The house 
containing the two tablets belonged to a widow lady 
and a single sister, good-looking, amiable, and both 
about forty. The house was one of the neatest in the 
place. I always liked to visit it, and had before 
thought that, if passing a year at the ruins, it would 
be delightful to have this house in the village for rec- 
reation and occasional visits. With either of these la- 
dies would come possession of the house and the two 
stone tablets ; but the difficulty was that there were two 
of them, both equally interesting and equally interest- 
ed. I am particular in mentioning these little circum- 
stances, to show the difficulties that attended every step 
of our enterprise in that country. There was an alter- 
native, and that was to purchase in the name of some 
other person ; but I did not know any one I could trust. 
At length, however, I hit upon Mr. Russell, the Ameri- 
can consul at Laguna, who was married to a Spanish 
lady, and already had large possessions in the country ; 
and I arranged with the prefect to make the purchase in 
his name. Pawling was to accompany me to the Lagu- 
na, for the purpose of procuring and carrying back evi- 
dence of Mr. Russell's co-operation and the necessary 
funds, and was to act as my agent in completing the 
purchase. The prefect was personally anxious to com- 
plete it. The buildings, he said, were fast going to de- 
cay, and in a few years more would be mounds of ru- 



ins. In that country they were not appreciated or un- 
derstood, and he had the liberal wish that the tablets 
of hieroglyphics particularly might find their way to 
other countries, be inspected and studied by scientific 
men, and their origin and history be ascertained. Be- 
sides, he had an idea that immense discoveries were still 
to be made and treasures found, and he was anxious 
for a thorough exploration, in which he should himself 
co-operate. The two tablets which I had attempted to 
purchase were highly prized by the owners, but he 
thought they could be secured by purchasing the house, 
and I authorized him to buy it at a fixed price. 

In my many conversations with the prefect I had 
broached the subject of making casts from the tablets. 
Like every other official whom I met, he supposed that 
I was acting under a commission from my government, 
which idea was sustained by having in my employ a man 
of such character and appearance as Pawling, though 
every time I put my hand in my pocket I had a feeling 
sense that the case was far otherwise. In the matter of 
casts he offered every assistance, but there was no plas- 
ter of Paris nearer than the Laguna or Campeachy, and 
perhaps not there. We had made an experiment at the 
ruins by catching in the river a large quantity of snails 
and burning the shells, but it did not answer. He re- 
ferred us to some limestone in the neighbourhood, but 
this would not do. Pawling knew nothing of casting. 
The idea had never entered his mind before, but he 
was willing to undertake this. Mr. Catherwood, who 
had been shut up in Athens during the Greek Revolu- 
tion, when it was besieged by the Turks, and in pursu- 
ing his artistical studies had perforce made castings 
with his own hands, gave him written instructions, and 
it was agreed that when he returned with the creden- 


tials from Mr. Russell he should bring back plaster of 
Paris, and, while the proceedings for completing the 
purchase were pending, should occupy himself in this 
new branch of business. 

On the fourth of June we took our final departure 
from Palenque. Don Santiago sent me a farewell let- 
ter, enclosing, according to the custom of the country, 
a piece of silk, the meaning of which I did not un- 
derstand, but learned that it was meant as a pledge of 
friendship, which I reciprocated with a penknife. The 
prefect was kind and courteous to the last ; even the old 
alcalde, drawing a little daily revenue from us, was 
touched. Every male inhabitant came to the house to 
bid us farewell and wish us to return ; and before start- 
ing we rode round and exchanged adios with all their 
wives: good, kind, and quiet people, free from all agi- 
tating cares, and aiming only at an undisturbed exist- 
ence in a place which I had been induced to believe 
the abode of savages and full of danger. 

In order to accompany us, the cura had postponed 
for two days a visit to his hacienda, which lay on our 
road. Pawling continued with us for the purpose be- 
fore mentioned, and Juan according to contract. I had 
agreed to return him to Guatimala. Completely among 
strangers, he was absolutely in our power, and follow- 
ed blindly, but with great misgivings asked the padre 
where 'we were taking him. His impression was that 
he was setting out for my country, and he had but little 
hope of ever seeing Guatimala again. 

From the village we entered immediately upon a 
beautiful plain, picturesque, ornamented with trees, and 
extending five or six days' journey to the Gulf of Mex- 
ico. The road was very muddy, but, open to the sun 
in the morning, was not so bad as we feared. On the 


borders of a piece of woodland were singular trees, 
with a tall trunk, the bark very smooth, and the branch- 
es festooned with hanging birds' -nests. The bird was 
called the jagua, and built in this tree, as the padre told 
us, to prevent serpents from getting at the young. The 
cura, notwithstanding his strange figure, and a life of 
incident and danger, was almost a woman in voice, 
manner, tastes, and feelings. He had been educated 
at the capital, and sent as a penance to this retired cu- 
racy. The visit of the padres had for the first time 
broken the monotony of his life. In the political con- 
vulsions of the capital he had made himself obnoxious 
to the church government by his liberal opinions ; but 
unable, as he said, to find in him any tangible offence, 
his superiors had called him up on a charge of polluting 
the surplice, founded on the circumstance that, in the 
time of the cholera, when his fellow-creatures were ly- 
ing all around him in the agonies of death, in leaning 
over their bodies to administer the sacrament, his sur- 
plice had been soiled by saliva from the mouth of a 
dying man. For this he was condemned to penance 
and prayers, from midnight till daybreak, for two years 
in the Cathedral, deprived of a good curacy, and sent to 

At half past two we reached his sitio or small haci- 
enda. In the apprehension of the afternoon's rain, we 
would have continued to the end of our afternoon's 
journey ; but the padre watched carefully the appear- 
ance of the sky, and, after satisfying himself that the 
rain would not come on till late, positively forbade our 
passing on. His sitio was what would be called at 
home a " new" place, being a tract of wild land of I do 
not know what extent, but some large quantity, which 
had cost him twenty-five dollars, and about as much 


more to make the improvements, which consisted of a 
hut made of poles and thatched with corn-husks, and a 
cucinera or kitchen at a little distance. The stables 
and outhouses were a clearing bounded by a forest so 
thick that cattle could not penetrate it, and on the road- 
side by a rude fence. Altogether, in that mild climate 
the effect was good ; and it was one of those occa- 
sions which make a man feel, away from the region 
of fictitious wants, how little is necessary for the com- 
forts of life. The furniture of the hut consisted of 
two reed bedsteads, a table, and a bench, and in one 
corner was a pile of corn. The cura sent out for half 
a dozen fresh pineapples ; and while we were refresh- 
ing ourselves with them we heard an extraordinary 
noise in the woods, which an Indian boy told us was 
made by " un animal." Pawling and I took our guns, 
and entering a path in the woods, as we advanced 
the noise sounded fearful, but all at once it stopped. 
The boy opened a way through thickets of brush and 
underwood, and through an opening in the branches I 
saw on the limbs of a high tree a large black animal 
with fiery eyes. The boy said it was not a mico or 
monkey, and I supposed it to be a catamount. I had 
barely an opening through which to take aim, fired, and 
the animal dropped below the range of view ; but, not 
hearing him strike the ground, I looked again, and saw 
him hanging by his tail, and dead, with the blood 
streaming from his mouth. Pawling attempted to climb 
the tree ; but it was fifty feet to the first branch, and the 
blood trickled down the trunk. Wishing to examine 
the creature more closely, we sent the boy to the house, 
whence he returned with a couple of Indians. They 
cut down the tree, which fell with a terrible crash, and 
still the animal hung by its tail. The ball had hit him 


in the mouth and knocked out the fore teeth, passed 
out at the top of his back between his shoulders, and 
must have killed him instantly. The tenacity of his 
tail seemed marvellous, but was easily explained. It 
had no grip, and had lost all muscular power, but was 
wound round the branch with the end under, so that 
the weight of the body tightened the coil, and the hard- 
er the strain, the more secure was the hold. It was not 
a monkey, but so near a connexion that I would not 
have shot him if I had known it. In fact, he was even 
more nearly related to the human family, being called 
a monos or ape, and measured six feet including the 
tail ; very muscular, and in a struggle would have been 
more than a match for a man ; and the padre said they 
were known to have attacked women. The Indians 
carried him up "to the house and skinned him ; and 
when lying on his back, with his skin off and his eyes 
staring, the padre cried out, " es hombre," it is a man, 
and I almost felt liable to an indictment for homicide. 
The Indians cooked the body, and I contrived to pre- 
serve the skin as a curiosity, for its extraordinary size ; 
but, unluckily, I left it on board a Spanish vessel at sea. 
In the mean time the padre had a fowl boiled for din- 
ner. Three guests at a time were not too much for 
his open hospitality, but they went beyond his dinner- 
service, which consisted of three bowls. There was no 
plate, knife, fork, or spoon, and for the cura himself 
not even a bowl. The fowl was served in an ocean of 
broth, which had to be disposed of first. Tortillas and 
a small cake of fresh cheese composed the rest of the 
meal. The reader will perhaps connect such an en- 
tertainment with vulgarity of manners ; but the curate 
was a gentleman, and made no apologies, for he gave 
us the best he had. We had sent our carriers on be- 


fore, the padre gave us a servant as a guide, and at 
three o'clock we bade him farewell. He was the last 
padre whom we met, and put a seal upon the kindness 
we had received from all the padres of that country. 

At five o'clock, by a muddy road, through a pictu- 
resque country, remarkable only for swarms of butterflies 
with large yellow wings which filled the air, we reached 
Las Playas. This village is the head of navigation of the 
waters that empty in this direction into the Gulf of Mex- 
ico. The whole of the great plain to the sea is intersect- 
ed by creeks and rivers, some of them in the summer dry, 
and on the rising of the waters overflowing their banks. 
At this season the plain on one side of the village was 
inundated, and seemed a large lake. The village was 
a small collection of huts upon what might be called its 
banks. It consisted of one street or road, grass-grown 
and still as at Palenque, at the extreme end of which 
was the church, under the pastoral care of our friend 
the padre. Our guide, according to the directions of 
the padre, conducted us to the convent, and engaged the 
sexton to provide us with supper. The convent was 
built of upright sticks, with a thatched roof, mud floor, 
and furnished with three reed bedsteads and a table. 

At this place we were to embark in a canoe, and had 
sent a courier a day beforehand, with a letter from the 
prefect to the justitia, to have one ready for us. The 
justitia was a portly mulatto, well dressed, and very civil, 
had a canoe of his own, and promised to procure us 
two bogadores or rowers in the morning. Very soon 
the moschetoes made alarming demonstrations, and gave 
us apprehensions of a fearful night. To make a show 
of resistance, we built a large fire in the middle of the 
convent. At night the storm came on with a high wind, 
which made it necessary to close the doors. For two 

VOL. II. 3 A 


hours we had a tempest of wind and rain, with terrific 
thunder and lightning. One blast burst open the door 
and scattered the fire, so that it came very near burn- 
ing down the convent. Between the smoke and mos- 
chetoes, it was a matter of debate which of the two 
to choose, suffocation or torture. We preferred the 
former, and had the latter besides, and passed a miser- 
able night. 

The next morning the justitia came to say that the 
bogadores were not ready and could not go that day. 
The price which he named was about twice as much as 
the cura told us we ought to pay, besides possol (balls of 
mashed Indian corn), tortillas, honey, and meat. I re- 
monstrated, and he went off to consult the mozos, but 
returned to say that they would not take less, and, after 
treating him withbut little of the respect due to office, 
I was obliged to accede ; but I ought to add, that 
throughout that country, in general, prices are fixed, 
and there is less advantage taken of the necessity of 
travellers than in most others. We were loth to re- 
main, for, besides the loss of time and the moschetoes, 
the scarcity of provisions was greater than at Palenque. 

The sexton bought us some corn, and his wife made 
us tortillas. The principal merchant in the place, or, 
at least, the one who traded most largely with us, was 
a little boy about twelve years old, who was dressed in 
a petate or straw hat. He had brought us some fruit, 
and we saw him coming again with a string over his 
naked shoulder, dragging on the ground what proved 
to be a large fish. The principal food of the place 
was young alligators. They were about a foot and a 
half long, and at that youthful time of life were con- 
sidered very tender. At their first appearance on the 
table they had not an inviting aspect, but ce n'est que le 


premier pas qui coute, they tasted better than the fish, 
and they were the best food possible for our canoe voy- 
age, being dried and capableupf preservation. 

Go where we will, to the uttermost parts of the earth, 
we are sure to meet one acquaintance. Death is al- 
ways with us. In the afternoon was the funeral of 
a child. The procession consisted of eight or ten 
grown persons, and as many boys and girls. The sex- 
ton carried the child in his arms, dressed in white, with 
a wreath of flowers around its head. All were hud- 
dled around the sexton, walking together ; the father 
and mother with him ; and even more than in Costa 
Rica I remarked, not only an absence of solemnity, but 
cheerfulness and actual gayety, from the same happy 
conviction that the child had gone to a better world. I 
happened to be in the church as they approached, more 
like a wedding than a burial party. The floor 1 of the 
church was earthen, and the grave was dug inside, 
because, as the sexton told me, the father was rich 
and could afford to pay for it, and the father seemed 
pleased and proud that he could give his child such a 
burial-place. The sexton laid the child in the grave, 
folded its little hands across its breast, placing there a 
small rude cross, covered it over with eight or ten inch- 
es of earth, and then got into the grave and stamped it 
down with his feet. He then got out and threw in 
more, and, going outside of the church, brought back a 
pounder, being a log of wood about four feet long and 
ten inches in diameter, like the rammer used among 
us by paviors, and again taking his place in the grave, 
threw up the pounder to the full swing of his arm, and 
brought it down with all his strength over the head of 
the child. My blood ran cold. As he threw it up a 
second time I caught his arm and remonstrated with 


him, but he said that they always did so with those 
buried inside the church ; that the earth must be all put 
back, and the floor of the church made even. My re- 
monstrances seemed onfy^o give him more strength and 
spirit. The sweat rolled down his body, and when 
perfectly tired with pounding he stepped out of the 
grave. But this was nothing. More earth was thrown 
in, and the father laid down his hat, stepped into the 
grave, and the pounder was handed to him. I saw 
him throw it up twice and bring it down with a dead, 
heavy noise. I never beheld a more brutal and dis- 
gusting scene. The child's body must have been 
crushed to atoms. 

Toward evening the moschetoes began their opera- 
tions. Pawling and Juan planted sticks in the ground 
outside the consent, and spread sheets over them for 
nets ; but the rain came on and drove them within, and 
we passed another wretched night. It may be asked 
how the inhabitants live. I cannot answer. They 
seemed to suffer as much as we, but at home they 
could have conveniences which we could not carry in 
travelling. Pawling suffered so much, and heard such 
dreadful accounts of what we would meet, with below, 
that, in a spirit of impetuosity and irritation, he resolved 
not to continue any farther. From the difficulty and 
uncertainty of communications, however, I strongly api 
prehended that in such case all the schemes in which 
he was concerned must fall through and be abandoned, 
as I was not willing to incur the expense of sending 
materials, subject to delays and uncertainties, unless in 
special charge, and once more he changed his purpose. 

I had but one leave-taking, and that was a trying 
one. I was to bid farewell to my noble macho. He 
had carried me more than two thousand miles, over the 


worst roads that mule ever travelled. He stood tied 
to the door of the convent ; saw the luggage, and even 
his own saddle, carried away by hand, and seemed 
to have a presentiment that something unusual was 
going on. I had often been solicited to sell him, but 
no money could have tempted me. He was in poorer 
condition than when we reached Palenque. Deprived 
of corn and exposed to the dreadful rains, he was 
worse than when worked hard and fed well every day, 
and in his drooping state seemed to reproach me for 
going away and leaving him forlorn. I threw my arms 
around his neck ; his eyes had a mournful expression, 
and at that moment he forgot the angry prick of the 
spur. I laid aside the memory of a toss from his back 
and ineffectual attempts to repeat it, and we remem- 
bered only mutual kind offices and good-fellowship. 
Tried and faithful companion, where are you now ? I 
left him, with two others, tied at the door of the convent, 
to be taken by the sexton to the prefect at Palenque, 
there to recover from the debilitating influence of the 
early rains, and to roam on rich pasture-grounds, un- 
touched by bridle or spur, until I should return to 
mount him again. 



Embarcation. An inundated Plain. Rio Chico. The Usumasinta. Rio Pal- 
isada. Yucatan. More Revolutions. Vespers. Embarcation for the La- 
guna. Shooting Alligators. Tremendous Storm. Boca Chico. Lake of 
Terminos. A Calm, succeeded by a Tempest Arrival at the Laguna. 

AT seven o'clock we went down to the shore to 
embark. The boatmen whom the justice had consult- 
ed, and for whom he had been so tenacious, were his 
honour himself and another man, who, we thought, 
was hired as the cheapest help he could find in the vil- 
lage. The canoe was about forty feet long, with a toldo 
or awning of about twelve feet at the stern, and covered 
with matting. All the space before this was required 
by the boatmen to work the canoe, and, with all our 
luggage under the awning, we had but narrow quarters. 
The seeming lake on which we started was merely a 
large inundated plain, covered with water to the depth 
of three or four feet ; and the justice in the stern, and 
his assistant before, walking in the bottom of the ca- 
noe, with poles against their shoulders, set her across. 
At eight o'clock we entered a narrow, muddy creek, 
not wider than a canal, but very deep, and with the 
current against us. The setting-pole could not touch 
bottom, but it was forked at one end, and, keeping 
close to the bank, the bogador or rower fixed it against 
the branches of overhanging trees and pushed, while 
the justice, whose pole had a rude hook, fastened it to 
other branches forward and pulled. In this way, with 
no view but that of the wooded banks, we worked 
slowly along the muddy stream. In turning a short 
bend, suddenly we saw on the banks eight or ten alli- 
gators, some of them twenty feet long, huge, hideous 


monsters, appropriate inhabitants of such a stream, and, 
considering the frailty of our little vessel, not very at- 
tractive neighbours. As we approached they plunged 
heavily into the water, sometimes rose in the middle of 
the stream, and swam across or disappeared. At half 
past twelve we entered the Rio Chico or Little River, 
varying from two to five hundred feet in width, deep, 
muddy, and very sluggish, with wooded banks of impen- 
etrable thickness. At six o'clock we entered the great 
Usumasinta, five or six hundred yards across, one of the 
noblest rivers in Central America, rising among the moun- 
tains of Peten, and emptying into the Lake of Terminos. 

At this point the three provinces of Chiapas, Tobasco, 
and Yucatan meet, and. the junction of the waters of 
the Usumasinta and the Rio Chico presents a singular 
spectacle. Since leaving the sheet of water before the 
Playas we had been ascending the stream, but now, 
continuing in the same direction and crossing the line 
of junction, we came from the ascending current of the 
Rio Chico into the descending flow of the Usumasinta. 
"Working out into the middle and looking back, we saw 
the Usumasinta and Rio Chico coming together, and 
forming an angle of not more than forty degrees, one 
running up and the other down. Amid the wildness 
and stillness of the majestic river, and floating in a lit- 
tle canoe, the effect was very extraordinary; but the 
cause was obvious. The Usumasinta, descending swift- 
ly and with immense force, broke against a projecting 
headland on the left of its course ; and, while the main 
body forced its way past and hurried on to the ocean, 
part was turned back at this sharp angle with such 
power as to form the creeks which we had ascended, 
and flood the plain of the Playas. 

At this time, away from the wooded banks, with the 

setting-poles at rest, and floating quietly on the bosom 



of the noble Usumasinta, our situation was pleasant and 
exciting. A strong wind sweeping down the river 
drove away the moschetoes, and there were no gather- 
ing clouds to indicate rain. We had expected to come 
to for the night, but the evening was so clear that we 
determined to continue. Unfortunately, we were obli- 
ged to leave the Usumasinta, and, about an hour after 
dark, turned to the north into the Rio Palisada. The 
whole great plain from Palenque to the Gulf of Mexico 
is broken by creeks and streams. The Usumasinta in 
its stately course receives many, and sends off others to 
find their way by other channels to the sea. 

Leaving the broad expanse of the Usumasinta, with 
its comparative light, the Rio Palisada, narrow, and with 
a dark line of forest on each side, had an aspect 
fearfully ominous'of moschetoes. Unfortunately, at the 
very beginning we brushed against the bank, and took 
on board enough to show us the bloodthirsty character of 
the natives. Of course that night afforded us little sleep. 

At daylight we were still dropping down the river. 
This was the region of the great logwood country. We 
met a large bungo with two masts moving against the 
stream, set up by hauling and pushing on the branch- 
es of trees, on her way for a cargo. As we advanced, 
the banks of the river in some places were cleared and 
cultivated, and had whitewashed houses, and small su- 
gar-mills turned by oxen, and canoes were lying on the 
water ; altogether the scene was pretty, but with the 
richness of the soil suggesting the idea how beautiful 
this country might be made. 

At two o'clock we reached the Palisada, situated on 
the left bank of the river, on a luxuriant plain elevated 
some fifteen or twenty feet. Several bungoes lay along 
the bank, and in front was a long street, with large and 
well-built houses. This, our first point, was in the 


State of Yucatan, then in revolution against the gov- 
ernment of Mexico. Our descent of the river had been 
watched from the bank, and before we landed we were 
hailed, asked for our passports, and directed to present 
ourselves immediately to the alcalde. The intimation was 
peremptory, and we proceeded forthwith to the alcalde. 
Don Francisco Hebreu was superior to any man I had 
yet found at the head of a municipality ; in fact, he was 
chief of the Liberal party in that section of the state, 
and, like all the other officials in the Mexican provin- 
ces, received us with the respect due to an official 
passport of a friendly nation. We were again in the 
midst of a revolution, but had not the remotest idea 
what it was about. We were most intimately acquaint- 
ed with Central American politics, but this was of no 
more use to us than a knowledge of Texan politics 
would be to a stranger in the United States. For sev- 
eral months the names of Morazan and Carrera had 
rung in our ears like those of our own candidates for the 
presidency at a contested election ; but we had passed 
the limits of their world, and were obliged to begin anew. 

For eight years the Central party had maintained the 
ascendancy in Mexico, during which time, as a mark 
of the sympathy between neighbouring people, the Lib- 
eral or Democratic party had been ascendant in Cen- 
tral America. Within the last six months the Central- 
ists had overturned the Liberals in Central America, 
and during the same time the Liberalists had almost 
driven out the Centralists in Mexico. Along the whole 
coast, of the Pacific the Liberals were in arms, waging 
a strong revolutionary war, and threatening the capital, 
which they afterward entered, but, after great massacre 
and bloodshed, were expelled. On the Atlantic side, 
the states of Tobasco and Yucatan had declared their 

VOL. II. 3 B 


independence of the general government, and in the 
interior of both states the officials of the Central gov- 
ernment had been driven out. The seaports of Tobas- 
co and Campeachy, garrisoned by Central trdops, still 
held out, but they were at that time blockaded and be- 
sieged on land by the Federal forces. All communi- 
cations by sea and land were cut off, their supplies 
were short, and Don Francisco thought they would 
soon be obliged by starvation to surrender. 

The revolution seemed of a higher tone, for greater 
cause, and conducted with more moderation than in 
Central America. The grounds of revolt here were 
the despotism of the Central government, which, far 
removed by position, and ignorant of the condition and 
resources of the country, used its distant provinces as a 
quartering place for rapacious officers, and a source of 
revenue for money to be squandered in the capital. 
One little circumstance showed the impolicy and ineffi- 
ciency of the laws. On account of high duties, smug- 
gling was carried to such an extent on the coast that 
many articles were regularly sold at the Palisada for 
much less than the duties. 

The revolution, like all others in that country, began 
with pronunciamentos, i. e., declarations of the munici- 
pality, or what we would call the corporation of a 
town, in favour of any particular party. The Palisada 
had made ijs pronunciamento but two weeks before, the 
Central officers had been turned out, and the present 
alcalde was hardly warm in his place. The change, 
however, had been effected with a spirit of moderation 
and forbearance, and without bloodshed. Don Fran- 
cisco, with a liberality unusual, spoke of his immediate 
predecessor as an upright but misguided man, who was 
not persecuted, but then living in the place unmolested. 


The Liberals, however, did not expect the same treat- 
ment at the hands of the Centralists. An invasion 
had been apprehended from Tobasco. Don Francisco 
had his silver and valuables packed up, and kept his 
bungo before the door to save his effects and family, 
and the place was alive with patriots brushing up arms 
and preparing for war. 

Don Francisco was a rich man ; had a hacienda of 
thirty thousand head of cattle, logwood plantations and 
bungoes, and was rated at two hundred thousand dol- 
lars. The house in which he lived was on the bank of 
the river, newly built, one hundred and fifty feet front, 
and had cost him twenty thousand dollars. While we 
were with him dinner was about being served, in a lib- 
eral style of housekeeping unusual in that country, and, 
with the freedom of a man who felt sure that he could 
not be taken unaware, he asked us to join him at ta- 
ble. In all his domestic relations he was like the re- 
spectable head of a family at home. He had two sons, 
whom he intended to send to the United States to be 
educated ; and minor things, too, called up home feel- 
ings. For the first time in a long while we had bread, 
made of flour from New- York, and the barrel-head had 
a Rochester brand. Don Francisco had never trav- 
elled farther than Tobasco and Campeachy, but he 
was well acquainted with Europe and the United States, 
geographically and politically; indeed, he was one of 
the most agreeable companions and best-informed men 
we met in that country. We remained with him 
all the afternoon, and toward evening moved our chairs 
outside in front of the house, which at evening was the 
regular gathering-place of the family. The bank of the 
river was a promenade for the people of the town, 
who stopped to exchange greetings with Don Fran- 


cisco and his wife ; a vacant chair was always at hand, 
and from time to time one took a seat with us. When 
the vesper bell struck conversation ceased, all rose from 
their seats, made a short prayer, and when it was over 
turned to each other with a buenos noces, reseated 
themselves, and renewed the conversation. There was 
always something imposing in the sound of the vesper 
bell, presenting the idea of an immense multitude of 
people at the same moment offering up a prayer. 

During the evening a courier arrived with despatches 
for Don Francisco, advising him that a town which had 
" pronounced" in favour of the Liberals had pronounced 
back again, which seemed to give both him and his 
wife much uneasiness. At ten o'clock an armed pa- 
trol came for orders, and we retired to what we much 
needed, a good night's rest. 

In the morning Don Francisco, half in jest and 
half in earnest, told us of the uneasiness we had giv- 
en his wife. Pawling' s Spanish, and constant use 
of idioms well known as belonging to the city of 
Mexico, had excited her suspicions ; she said he was 
not an American, but a Mexican from the capital, and 
she believed him to be a spy of the Centralists. Paw- 
ling did not like the imputation ; he was a little morti- 
fied at this visible mark of long absence from his coun- 
try, and not at all flattered at being taken for a Mexi- 
can. Don Francisco laughed at it, but his wife was so 
pertinacious, that, if it had not been for the apparent 
propriety of my being attended by one perfectly fa- 
miliar with the language of the country, I believe, in the 
state of apprehension and distrust, Pawling would have 
lost the benefit of his birthright, and been arrested as 
a spy. 

We passed the next day in a quiet lounge and in 

A BUNGO. 381 

making arrangements for continuing our journey, and 
the next day after, furnished with a luxurious supply of 
provisions by the senora, and accompanied to the place 
by Don Francisco, we embarked on board a bungo for 
the Laguna. The bungo was about fifteen tons, flat- 
bottomed, with two masts and sails, and loaded with 
logwood. The deck was covered with mangoes, plan- 
tains, and other fruits and vegetables, and so encumber- 
ed that it was impossible to move. The stern had mova- 
ble hatches. A few tiers of logwood had been taken 
out, and the hatches put over so as to give us a shelter 
against rain ; a sail was rigged into an awning to pro- 
tect us from the sun, and in a few minutes we pushed 
off from the bank. 

We had as passengers two young Central Americans 
from Peten, both under twenty, and flying on account 
of the dominion of the Carrera party. Coming, as we 
did, direct from Central America, we called each other 
countrymen. We soon saw that the bungo had a mis- 
erable crew. Above the men were called bogadores 
or rowers ; but here, as they were on board a bungo 
with sails, and going down to the seacoast, they called 
themselves marineros or sailors. The patron or master 
was a mild, inoffensive, and inefficient man, who prefaced 
all his orders to his breechless marineros with the con- 
ciliatory words, " Senores, haga me el favor ;" " Gen- 
tlemen, do me the favour." 

Below the town commenced an island about four 
leagues in length, at the end of which, on the main- 
land, was a large clearing and farming establishment, 
with canoes lying on the water. All travelling here is 
along the river, and in canoes. From this place there 
were no habitations ; the river was very deep, the banks 
densely wooded, with the branches spreading far over. 


Very soon we came to a part of the river 'where the 
alligators seemed to enjoy undisturbed possession. Some 
lay basking in the sun on mudbanks, like logs of drift- 
wood, and in many places the river was dotted with 
their heads. The Spanish historian says that " They 
swim with their Head above the water, gaping at what- 
soever they see, and swallow it, whether Stick, Stone, 
or living Creature, which is the true reason of their 
swallowing Stones ; and not to sink to the bottom, as 
some say, for they have no need to do so, nor do they 
like it, being extraordinary Swimmers ; for the Tail 
serves instead of a Rudder, the Head is the Prow, and 
the Paws the Oars, being so swift as to catch any other 
fish as it swims. An hundred Weight and an half of 
fresh Fish has been found in the Maw of an Alligator, 
besides what was digested ; in another was an Indian 
Woman whole, with her Cloaths, whom he had swallow- 
ed the Day before, and another with a pair of Gold 
Bracelets, with Pearls, the Enamel gone off, and Part 
of the Pearls dissolved, but the Gold entire." 

Here they still maintained their dominion. Accidents 
frequently happen ; and at the Palisada Don Francisco 
told us that a year before a man had had his leg bitten 
off and was drowned. Three were lying together at 
the mouth of a small stream which emptied into the 
river. The patron told us that at the end of the last 
dry season upward of two hundred had been counted 
in the bed of a pond emptied by this stream. The 
boatmen of several bungoes went in among them with 
clubs, sharp stakes, and machetes, and killed upward of 
sixty. The river itself, discoloured, with muddy banks, 
and a fiery sun beating upon it, was ugly enough ; but 
these huge and ugly monsters, neither fish nor flesh, 
made it absolutely hideous. The boatmen called them 


enemigos de los Christianos, by which they mean ene- 
mies of mankind. In a canoe it would have been un- 
pleasant to disturb them, but in the bungo we brought 
out our guns and made indiscriminate war. One mon- 
ster, twenty-five or thirty feet long, lay on the arm of a 
gigantic tree which projected forty or fifty feet, the 
lower part covered with water, but the whole of the 
alligator was 'visible. I hit him just under the white 
line ; he fell off, and with a tremendous convulsion, 
reddening the water with a circle of blood, turned over 
on his back, dead. A boatman and one of the Peten 
lads got into a canoe to bring him alongside. The ca- 
noe was small and tottering, and had not proceeded 
fifty yards before it dipped, filled, upset, and threw 
them both into the water. At that moment there were 
perhaps twenty alligators in sight on the banks and 
swimming in different parts of the river. We could do 
nothing for the man and boy, and the old bungo, which 
before hardly moved, seemed to start forward purpose- 
ly to leave them to their fate. Every moment the dis- 
tance between us and them increased, and on board all 
was confusion ; the patron cried out in agony to the se- 
nores, and the senores, straining every nerve, turned the 
old bungo in to the bank, and got the masts foul of the 
branches of the trees, which held her fast. In the mean 
time our friends in the water were not idle. The Pe- 
ten lad struck out vigorously toward the shore, and we 
saw him seize the branch of a tree which projected fifty 
feet over the water, so low as to be within reach, haul 
himself up like a monkey, and run along it to the shore. 
The marinero, having the canoe to himself, turned her 
bottom upward, got astride, and paddled down with his 
hands. Both got safely on board, and, apprehension 
over, the affair was considered a good joke. 


In the mean time our masts had become so locked in 
the branches of the trees that we carried away some of 
our miserable tackling in extricating them ; but at length 
were once more in the middle of the river, and renewed 
our war upon los enemigos de los Christianos. The 
sun was so hot that we could not stand outside the 
awning, but the boatmen gave us notice when we could 
have a shot. Our track down the river will be remem- 
bered as a desolation and scourge. Old alligators, by 
dying injunction, will teach the rising generation to 
keep the head under water when the bungoes are com- 
ing. We killed perhaps twenty, and others are proba- 
bly at this moment sitting on the banks with our bullets 
in their bodies, wondering how they came there. With 
rifles we could have killed at least a hundred. 

At three o'clodc the regular afternoon storm came on, 
beginning with a tremendous sweep of wind up the riv- 
er, which turned the bungo round, drove her broadside 
up the stream, and before we could come to at the bank 
we had a deluge of rain. At length we made fast, se- 
cured the hatch over the place prepared for us, and 
crawled under. It was so low that we could not sit up, 
and, lying down, there was about a foot of room above 
us. On our arrival at the Palisada we considered our- 
selves fortunate in finding a bungo ready, although she 
had already on board a full load of logwood from stem 
to stern. Don Francisco said it would be too uncom- 
fortable, and wished us to wait for a bungo of his own ; 
but delay was to us a worse evil, and I made a bargain 
to have a portion of the logwood taken out behind the 
mainmast, so as to admit of a hatch on deck, and give 
room below. But we had not given any personal su- 
perintendence ; and when we came on board, though 
the logwood seemed of a rather hard species for sleep- 


ing on, we did not discover the extreme discomfort of 
the place until forced below by the rain. Even the 
small place engaged, and paid for accordingly, we had 
not to ourselves. The Peten lads crawled under with 
us, and the patron and senores followed. We could 
not drive them out into a merciless rain, and all lay like 
one mass of human flesh, animated by the same spirit 
of suffering, irritation, and helplessness. During this 
time the rain was descending in a deluge ; the thunder 
rolled fearfully over our heads; lightning flashed in 
through the crevices of our dark burrowing-place, daz- 
zling and blinding our eyes; and we heard near us the 
terrific crash of a falling tree, snapped by the wind, or, 
as we then supposed, shivered by lightning. 

Such was our position. Sometimes the knots in the 
logwood fitted well into the curves and hollows of the 
body, but in general they were just where they should 
not be. "We thought we could not be worse off, but 
very soon we found our mistake, and looked back upon 
ourselves as ungrateful murmurers without cause. The 
moschetoes claimed us as waifs, and in murderous 
swarms found the way under the hatches, humming and 

" Fee, faw, fum, 

I smell the blood of an English-man, 
Dead or alive I will have some." 

I now look back upon our troubles at that place with 
perfect equanimity ; but at the moment, with the heat 
and confinement, we were in anything but an amiable 
humour, and at ten o'clock broke out furious, upbraided 
the patron and his lazy senores for not reaching the 
mouth of the river before night, as is usually done, and 
as he had been charged by the alcalde to do, and in- 
sisted upon his hauling out into the stream. 
VOL. II. 3 C 


The rain had ceased, but the wind was still furious, 
and dead ahead. By the misty light we saw a large 
bungo, with one sail set, seemingly flying up the river 
like a phantom. We made the patron haul out from 
the bank, but we could not keep the river, and, after a 
few zigzag movements, were shot across to the oppo- 
site side, where we brought upon us new and more 
hungry swarms. Here we remained an hour longer, 
when the wind died away, and we pushed out into the 
stream. This was a great relief. The senores, though 
more used to the scourge of moschetoes than we, suf- 
fered quite as much. The clouds rolled away, the 
moon broke out, and, but for the abominable insects, 
our float down the wild and desolate river would have 
been an event to live in memory ; as it was, not one of 
us attempted to sleep ; and I verily believe a man could 
not have passed an entire night on the banks and lived. 

At daylight we were still in the river. Very soon 
we reached a small lake, and, making a few tacks, en- 
tered a narrow passage called the Boca Chico, or Lit- 
tle Mouth. The water was almost even with the banks, 
and on each side were the most gigantic trees of the 
tropical forests, their roots naked three or four feet 
above the ground, gnarled, twisted, and interlacing 
each other, gray and dead-looking, and holding up, so 
as to afford an extended view under the first branches, 
a forest of vivid green. At ten o'clock we passed the 
Boca Chica and entered the Lake of Terminos. Once 
more in salt water and stretching out under full sail, on 
the right we saw only an expanse of water ; on the left 
was a border of trees with naked roots, which seemed 
growing out of the water ; and in front, but a little to 
the left, and barely visible, a long line of trees, marking 
the island of Carmen, on which stood the town of La- 


guna, our port of destination. The passage into the 
lake was shoal and narrow, with reefs and sandbars, 
and our boatmen did not let slip the chance of running 
her ashore. Their efforts to get her off capped the cli- 
max of stupidity and laziness ; one or two of them 
pushing on poles at' a time, as if they were shoving off 
a rowboat, and then stopping to rest and giving up to 
others. Of what could be done by united force they 
seemed to have no idea ; and, after a few ineffectual 
efforts, the patron said we must remain till the tide 
rose. We had no idea of another night on board the 
bungo, and took entire command of the vessel. This 
we were entitled to do from the physical force we 
brought into action. Even Mr. Catherwood assisted; 
and, besides him, we were three able-bodied and des- 
perate men. Juan's efforts were gigantic. From the 
great surface exposed, the moschetoes had tormented 
him dreadfully, and he was even more disgusted with 
the bungo than we. We put two of the men into the 
water to heave against the bottom with their shoulders, 
and ourselves bearing on poles all together, we shoved 
her off into deep water. With a gentle breeze we 
sailed smoothly along until we could distinguish the 
masts of vessels at the Laguna rising above the island, 
when the wind died away entirely, and left us under a 
broiling sun in a dead calm. 

At two o'clock we saw clouds gathering, and imme- 
diately the sky became very black, the harbinger of one 
of those dreadful storms' which even on dry land were 
terrible. The hatches were put down, and a tarpaulin 
spread over for us to take refuge under. The squall 
came on so suddenly that the men were taken una- 
ware, and the confusion on board was alarming. The 
patron, with both hands extended, and a most beseech- 



ing look, begged the senores to take in sail ; and the se- 
nores, all shouting together, ran and tumbled over the 
logwood, hauling upon every rope but the right one. 
The mainsail stuck half way up, and would not come 
down ; and while the patron and all the men were 
shouting and looking up at it, the 'marinero who had 
: been upset in the canoe, with tears of terror actually 
streaming from his eyes, and a start of desperation, ran 
up the mast by the rings, and, springing violently upon 
the top one, holding fast by a rope, brought the sail 
down with a run. A hurricane blew through the naked 
masts, a deluge of rain followed, and the lake was lash- 
ed into fury ; we lost sight of everything. At the very 
beginning, on account of the confusion on board, we 
determined not to go under the hatch ; if the bungo 
swamped, the logwood cargo would carry her to the 
"bottom like lead. We disencumbered ourselves of 
boots and coats, and brought out life-preservers ready 
for use. The deck of the bungo was about three feet 
from the water, and perfectly smooth, without anything 
to hold on by, and, to keep from being blown or wash- 
ed away, we lay down and took the whole brunt of the 
storm. The atmosphere was black ; but by the flashes 
we saw the bare poles of another bungo, tossed, like 
ourselves, at the mercy of the storm. This continued 
more than an hour, when it cleared off as suddenly as it 
came up, and we saw the Laguna crowded with more 
shipping than we had seen since we left New- York. In 
our long inland journey we had almost forgotten the 
use of ships, and the very sight of them seemed to bring 
us into close relations with home. The squall having 
spent its fury, there was now a dead calm. The men 
took to their sweeps, but made very little headway ; 
and, with the port in full sight, we had great apprehen- 


sions of another night on board, when another squall 
came on, not so violent, but blowing directly from the 
harbour. Tremendous rain accompanied it. We made 
two or three tacks under a close-reefed foresail; the 
old bungo seemed to fly through the water ; and, when 
under full way, the anchor, or, to speak more correctly, 
stone, was thrown out at some distance below the ship- 
ping, and brought us up all standing. There were 
breakers between us and the shore, and we hallooed to 
some men to come and take us off, but they answered 
that the breakers were too rough. The rain came on 
again, and for half an hour we stowed ourselves away 
under hatches. 

As soon as it cleared off we were on deck, and in a 
little time we saw a fine jolly-boat, with a cockswain 
and four men, coasting along the shore against a rapid 
current, the men at times jumping into the water, and 
hauling by ropes fixed for the purpose. We hailed 
them in English, and the cockswain answered in the 
same language that it was too rough, but after a con- 
sultation with the sailors they pulled toward us, and 
took Mr. Catherwood and me on board. The cock- 
swain was the mate of a French ship, and spoke Eng- 
lish. His ship was to sail the next day, and he was go- 
ing to take in some large turtles which lay on the beach 
waiting for him. As soon as we struck we mounted the 
shoulders of two square-built French sailors, and were 
set down on shore, and perhaps in our whole tour we 
were never so happy as at that moment in being rid 
of the bungo. 

The town extended along the bank of the lake. We 
walked the whole length of it, saw numerous and well- 
filled stores, cafes, and even barbers' shops, and at the 
extreme end reached the American consul's. Two 


men were sitting on the portico, of a most homelike ap- 
pearance. One was Don Carlos Russell, the consul. 
The face of the other was familiar to me ; and learn- 
ing that we had come from Guatimala, he asked news 
of me, which I was most happy to give him in person. 
It was Captain Fensley, whose acquaintance I had 
made in New- York when seeking information about 
that country, and with whom I had spoken of sailing to 
Campeachy ; but at the moment I did not recognise 
him, and in my costume from the interior it was impos- 
sible for him to recognise me. He was direct from 
New- York, and gave the first information we had re- 
ceived in a long time from that place, with budgets of 
newspapers, burdened with suspension of specie pay- 
ments and universal ruin. Some of my friends had 
been playing strange antics ; but in the important mat- 
ters of marriages and deaths I did not find anything to 
give me either joy or sorrow. 

Don Carlos Russell, or Mr. Charles Russell, was a 
native of Philadelphia, married to a Spanish lady of 
large fortune, and, though long absent, received us 
as one who had not forgotten his home. His house, 
his table, all that he had, even his purse, were at our 
service. Our first congratulations over, we sat down 
to a dinner which rivalled that of our friend of Totonica- 
pan. We could hardly believe ourselves the same mis- 
erable beings who had been a few hours before tossing 
on the lake, in dread alike of the bottom and of anoth- 
er night on board the bungo. The reader must have 
gone through what we had to form any idea of our en- 
joyment. The negro who served us at table had been 
waiter at the house of an acquaintance in Broadway ; 
we seemed but a step from home, and at night we had 
clean sheets furnished us by our host. 

I, A GUN A. 391 


Laguna. Journey to Merida. Sisal. A new Mode of Conveyance. Village of 
Hunucama. Arrival at Merida. Aspect of the City. Fflte of Corpus Dom- 
ini. The Cathedral. The Procession. Beauty and Simplicity of the Indian 
Women. Palace of the Bishop. The Theatre. Journey to Uxmal. Ha- 
cienda of Vayalquex. Value of Water. Condition of the Indians in Yuca- 
tan. A pecub'ar kind of Coach. Hacienda of Mucuyche. A beautiful Grotto. 

THE town of Laguna stands on the island of Carmen, 
which is about seven leagues long, and which, with an- 
other island about four leagues in length, separates the 
Lake of Terminos from the Gulf of Mexico. It is the 
depot of the, great logwood country in the interior, and 
a dozen vessels were then in port awaiting cargoes for 
Europe and the United States. The town is well 
built and thriving ; its trade has been trammelled by 
the oppressive regulations of the Central government, 
but it had made its pronunciamento, disarmed and driv- 
en out the garrison, and considered itself independent, 
subject only to the state government of Yucatan. The 
anchorage is shoal but safe, and easy of access for ves- 
sels not drawing over twelve or thirteen feet of water. 

We could have passed some time with satisfaction in 
resting and strolling over the island, but our journey 
was not yet ended. Our next move was for Merida, 
the capital of Yucatan. The nearest port was Cam- 
peachy, a hundred and twenty miles distant, and the 
voyage was usually made by bungo, coasting along the 
shore of the open sea. With our experience of bun- 
goes this was most disheartening. Nevertheless, this 
would have been our unhappy lot but for the kindness 
of Mr. Russell and Captain Fensley. The latter was 
bound directly to New- York, and his course lay along 


the coast of Yucatan. Personally he was disposed to 
do all in his power to serve us, but there might ~be some 
risk in putting into port to land us. Knowing his fa- 
vourable disposition, we could not urge him ; but Mr. 
Russell was his consignee, and by charter-party had a 
right to detain him ten days, and intended to do so ; but 
he offered to load him in two days upon condition of 
his taking us on board, and, as Campeachy was block- 
aded, landing us at Sisal, sixty miles beyond, and the 
seaport of Merida. Captain Fensley assented, and we 
were relieved from what at the time we should have 
considered a great calamity. 

In regard to the project for the purchase of the ruins 
of Palenque, which I have before referred to, Mr. Rus- 
sell entered into it warmly ; and with a generosity I can- 
not help mentioning, hardly to be expected from one 
so long from home, requested to be held liable for two 
thousand dollars as part of the cost of introducing them 
into the United States. In pursuance of my previous 
arrangement I wrote to the prefect, advising him of 
Mr. Russell's co-operation, and referring him to Paw- 
ling as my agent in settling the details of the purchase. 
This was enclosed in a letter from Mr. Russell to the 
same effect, which stated, besides, that the money should 
be paid the moment it was required, and both, with full 
instructions, were given to Pawling. The interest which 
Mr. Russell took in this matter gave me a flattering 
hope of success, and but for him, the scheme for ma- 
king castings would have failed entirely. He was en- 
gaged in building an unusually fine house, and in order 
to finish it had sent to Campeachy for plaster of Paris, 
but not finding any there, had imported some from New- 
York. Fortunately, he had a few barrels left ; and but 
for this accident there was none nearer than Vera 


Cruz or New-Orleans Pawling's journey, so far as re- 
lated to this object, would have been fruitless. We 
settled the details of sending the plaster with Pawling 
to Palenque, receiving and shipping the castings to me 
at New- York, and on Saturday morning at seven 
o'clock bade farewell to Mr. Russell, and embarked on 
board the Gabrielacho. Pawling accompanied us out- 
side the bar, and we took leave of him as he got on 
board the pilot-boat to return. We had gone through 
such rough scenes together since he overtook us at the 
foot of the Sierra Madre, that it may be supposed we 
did not separate with indifference. Juan was still with 
us, for the first time at sea, and wondering where we 
would take him next. 

The Gabrielacho was a beautiful brig of about one 
hundred and sixty tons, built under Captain Fensley's 
own direction, one half belonging to himself, and fitted 
up neatly and tastefully as a home. He had no house 
on shore ; one daughter was at boarding-school in the 
United States, and the rest of his family, consisting of 
his wife and a little daughter about three years old, 
was with him on board. Since his marriage seven 
years before, his wife had remained but one year on 
shore, and she determined not to leave him again as 
long as he followed the seas, while he was resolved 
that every voyage should be the last, and looked for- 
ward to the consummation of every sailor's hopes, a 
good farm. His daughter Vicentia, or poor Centy, as 
she called herself, was the pet of all on board ; and 
we had twelve passengers, interesting to the Common 
Council of New-York, being enormous turtles, one of 
which the captain hoped would gladden the hearts of 
the fathers of the city at their fourth of July dinner. 

The reader cannot realize the satisfaction with which 

VOL. II. 3 D 


we found ourselves in such comfortable quarters on 
board this brig. We had an afternoon squall, but we 
considered ourselves merely passengers, and, with a good 
vessel, master, and crew, laughed at a distant bungo 
crawling close along the shore, and for the first time 
feared that the voyage would end too soon. Perhaps 
no captain ever had passengers so perfectly contented 
under storm or calm. Oh you who cross the Atlantic 
in packet-ships, complaining of discomforts, and threat- 
en to publish the captain because the porter does not 
hold out, may you one day be caught on board a bun- 
go loaded with logwood I 

The wear and tear of our wardrobe was manifest to 
the most indifferent observer ; and Mrs. Fensley, pity- 
ing our ragged condition, sewed on our buttons, darn- 
ed, patched, and* mended us, and put us in order for 
another expedition. On the third morning Captain 
Fensley told us we had passed Campeachy during the 
night, and, if the wind held, would reach Sisal that day. 
At eight o'clock we came in sight of the long low coast, 
and moving steadily toward it, at a little before dark 
anchored off the port, about two miles from the shore. 
One brig was lying there, a Spanish trader, bound to 
Havana, and the only vessel in port. The anchorage 
is an open roadstead outside of the breakers, which is 
considered perfectly safe except during a northeast 
storm, when Spanish vessels always slip their cables 
and stand out to sea. 

In the uncertainty whether what we were going to 
see was worth the trouble, and the greater uncertainty 
of a conveyance when we wanted it, it was trying to 
leave a good vessel which in twenty days might carry 
us home. Nevertheless, we made the exertion. It was 
dusk when we left the vessel. We landed at the end 

SISAL. 395 

of a long wooden dock, built out on the open shore of 
the sea, where we were challenged by a soldier. At 
the head of the pier was a guard and custom house, 
where an officer presented himself to escort us to the 
commandant. On the right, near the shore, was an 
old Spanish fortress with turrets. A soldier, barely 
distinguishable on the battlements, challenged us ; and, 
passing the quartel, we were challenged again. The 
answer, as in Central America, was " Patria libre." 
The tone of the place was warlike, the Liberal party 
dominant. The revolution, as in all the other places, 
had been conducted in a spirit of moderation ; but when 
the garrison was driven out, the commandant, who had 
been very tyrannical and oppressive, was taken, and 
the character of the revolution would have been stained 
by his murder, but he was put on board a bungo and 
escaped. We were well received by the commandant ; 
and Captain Fensley took us to the house of an ac- 
quaintance, where we saw the captain of the brig in the 
offing, which was to sail in eight days for Havana, and 
no other vessel was expected for a long time. We 
made arrangements for setting out the next day for 
Merida, and early in the morning accompanied the 
captain to the pier, saw him embark in a bungo, waited 
till he got on board, and saw the brig, with a fine 
breeze and every sail set, stand out into the ocean for 
home. We turned our backs upon it with regret. 
There was nothing to detain us at Sisal. Though pret- 
tily situated on the seashore and a thriving place, it 
was merely the depot of the exports and imports of 
Merida. At two o'clock we set out for the capital. 

We were now in a country as different from Central 
America as if separated by the Atlantic, and we began 
our journey with an entirely new mode of conveyance. 


It was in a vehicle called a caleche, built somewhat 
like the oldfashioned cab, but very large, cumbersome, 
made for rough roads, without springs, and painted red, 
green, and yellow. One cowhide trunk for each was 
strapped on behind, and above them, reaching to the 
top of the calfiche, was secured a pile of sacate for the 
horses. The whole of this load, with Mr. Catherwood 
and me, was drawn by a single horse, having a rider on 
his back. Two other horses followed for change, har- 
nessed, and each with a boy riding him. The road 
was perfectly level, and on a causeway a little elevated 
above the plain, which was stony and covered with 
scrub-trees. At first it seemed a great luxury to roll 
along in a wheel carriage ; but, with the roughness of 
the road, and the caleche being without springs, in a 
little while this luxury began to be questionable. 

After the magnificent scenery of Central America 
the country was barren and uninteresting, but we per- 
ceived the tokens of a rich interior in large cars drawn 
by mules five abreast, with high wheels ten or twelve 
feet apart, and loaded with hemp, bagging, wax, honey, 
and ox and deer skins. The first incident of the road 
was changing horses, which consisted in taking out the 
horse in the shafts and putting in one of the others, 
already in a sweat. This occurred twice ; and at one 
o'clock we entered the village of Hunucama, pleasantly 
situated, imbowered among trees, with a large plaza, at 
that time decorated with an arbour of evergreens all 
around, preparatory to the great fete of Corpus Christi, 
which was to be celebrated the next day. Here we 
took three fresh horses ; and changing them as before, 
and passing two villages, through a vista two miles long 
saw the steeples of Merida, and at six o'clock rode into 
the city. The houses were well built, with balconied 

M E R I D A. 397 

windows, and many had two stories. The streets were 
clean, and many people in them well dressed, animated, 
and cheerful in appearance ; caleches fancifully paint- 
ed and curtained, having ladies in them handsomely 
dressed, without hats, and their hair ornamented with 
flowers, gave it an air of gayety and beauty that, after 
the sombre towns through which we had passed, was 
fascinating and almost poetic. No place had yet made 
so agreeable a first impression ; and there was a hotel 
in a large building kept by Donna Michaele? driving up 
to which we felt as if by some accident we had fallen 
upon a European city. 

The reader will perhaps be surprised, but I had a 
friend in Merida who expected me. Before embark- 
ing from New- York, I had been in the habit of dining 
at a Spanish hotel in Fulton-street, frequented prin- 
cipally by Spanish Americans, at which place I had 
met a gentleman of Merida, and learned that he was 
the proprietor of the ruins of Uxmal. As yet I knew 
nothing of the position or character of my friend, but I 
soon found that everybody in Merida knew Don Simon 
Peon. In the evening we called at his house. It was 
a large, aristocratic-looking mansion of dark -gray stone, 
with balconied windows, occupying nearly the half of 
one side of the plaza. Unfortunately, he was then at 
Uxmal ; but we saw his wife, father, mother, and sisters, 
the house being a family residence, and the different 
members of it having separate haciendas. They had 
heard from him of my intended visit, and received me 
as an acquaintance. Don Simon was expected back in 
a few days, but, in the hope of finding him at Uxmal, 
we determined to go on immediately. Donna Joaqui- 
na, his mother, promised to make all necessary ar- 
rangements for the journey, and to send a servant with 


us. It was long since we passed so pleasant an even- 
ing ; we saw many persons who in appearance and 
manner would do credit to any society, and left with a 
strong disposition to make some stay in Merida. 

The plaza presented a gay scene. It was the eve of 
the fete of El Corpus. Two sides of the plaza were 
occupied by corridors, and the others were adorned 
with arbours of evergreens, among which lights were 
interspersed. Gay parties were promenading under 
them, and along the corridors and in front of the houses 
were placed chairs and benches for the use of the prom- 
enaders, and all who chose to take them. 

The city of Merida contains about twenty thousand 
inhabitants. It is founded on the site of an old Indian 
village, and dates from a few years after the conquest. 
In different parts of the city are the remains of Indian 
buildings. As the capital of the powerful State of Yuca- 
tan, it had always enjoyed a high degree of considera- 
tion in the Mexican Confederacy, and throughout the 
republic is famed for its sabios or learned men. The 
State of Yucatan had declared its independence of Mex- 
ico ; indeed, its independence was considered achieved. 
News had been received of the capitulation of Cam- 
peachy and the surrender of the Central garrison. The 
last remnant of despotism was rooted out, and the cap- 
ital was in the first flush of successful revolution, the 
pride of independence. Removed by position, it was 
manifest that it would be no easy matter for Mexico to 
reconquer it ; and probably, like Texas, it is a limb for- 
ever lopped from that great, but feeble and distracted 
republic. It was pleasant to find that political animos- 
ities were not cherished with the same ferocity; and 
Centralists and Liberals met like men of opposite par- 
ties at home. 


The next day was the fete of Corpus Domini through- 
out all Spanish America, the greatest in the Catholic 
Church. Early in the morning, at the tolling of the 
bell, we went to the Cathedral, which, with the palace 
of the bishop, occupied one entire side of the plaza. 
The interior was grand and imposing, having a vaulted 
roof of stone, and two rows of lofty stone pillars ; the 
choir was in the centre, the altar richly adorned with 
silver; but the great attraction was-in the ladies kneel- 
ing before the altars, with white or black veils laid over 
the top of the head, some of them of saintlike purity and 
beauty, in dress, manners, and appearance realizing the 
pictures of Spanish romance. Indeed, the Spanish la- 
dies appear nowhere so lovely as in church. 

The associations of one of my acquaintances having 
turned out so well, I determined to present a letter of 
introduction from friends in New- York to Don Joaquim 
Gutierrez, whose family-name stood high in Merida, and 
who, to my surprise, spoke English quite as well as we 
did. He had gone the rounds of society in Europe and 
the United States, and, like a good citizen, had returned 
to marry one of the belles and beauties of his own coun- 
try. His family was from Merida, but he himself was 
resident at Campeachy ; and, being a prominent Cen- 
tralist, had left that city on account of its blockade by 
the Federalists, and in apprehensions of excesses that 
might be committed a gainst obnoxious individuals should 
the place fall into their hands. From his house we went 
to the plaza to see the procession. After those we had 
seen in Guatimala this was inferior, and there were no 
devils ; but the gathering of people under the arbour 
and in the corridors presented a beautiful spectacle. 
There was a large collection of Indians, both men and 
women, the best-looking race we had seen, and all were 



neatly dressed. In the whole crowd there was not a 
single garment that was not clean that day, and we 
were told that any Indian too poor to appear in a fitting 
dress that morning would be too proud to appear at 
all. The Indian women were really handsome ; all 
were dressed in white, with a red border around the 
neck, sleeves, and hem of their garments, and their 
faces had a mild, contented, and amiable expression ; 
the higher class were seated under the arbours before 
the doors of the houses and along the corridors, elegant- 
ly attired, without hats, and with veils or flowers in their 
hair, combining an elegance of appearance with simpli- 
city of manners that made almost a scene of poetic 
beauty ; and they had an air of gayety and freedom 
from disquietude, so different from the careworn faces 
of Guatimala, that they seemed as if what God intend- 
ed them to be, happy. In fact, at this place it would 
have been no hardship to comply with the condition 
of purchasing Palenque ; and yet perhaps some of the 
effect of this strong impression was only the result of 

After the procession Don Joaquim proposed to call 
either upon the bishop or a lady who had a beautiful 
daughter. The bishop was the greatest man in Merida, 
and lived in the greatest style ; but, determined to make 
the best of our day in Merida, we chose the other branch 
of the alternative. In the evening, however, we called 
upon him. His palace was adjoining the Cathedral, 
and before the door was a large cross ; the entrance 
was through a courtyard with two rows of corridors. 
We ascended to a second flight, and entered an ante- 
room, where we were received by a well-dressed offi- 
cial, who notified the bishop of our coming, and shortly 



afterward conducted us through three stately saloons 
with high ceilings and lighted with lamps, in one of 
which was a chair of state covered with red damask, 
which was carried up on the wall behind and ceiling 
over it. From the last a door opened into a large room 
elegantly fitted up as a sleeping apartment, in one cor- 
ner of which was a large silver wash-hand basin with 
a silver pitcher ; and in the centre, not a moveable 
or not very easily moved, sat the bishop, a man sev- 
eral feet round, handsomely dressed, and in a chair 
made to fit, stuffed and covered with red morocco, 
neither pinching him nor permitting him to roll, with 
a large, firmly-secured projecting ear-piece on each 
side to catch his head during the siesta. It had arms 
broad enough to support books and papers, and seem- 
ed the work of a man of genius. The lines of the 
bishop's face, however, indicated a man of high tone 
and character, and his conversation sustained the im- 
pression. He was a Centralist, and a great politician ; 
and spoke of letters from generals, sieges, blockades, 
and battles, in tones which brought up a vivid picture 
of some priestly warrior or grand master of the Temple. 
In conclusion, he said that his influence, his house, and 
his table were at our service, asked us to name a day 
for dining with him, and said he would invite some 
friends to meet us. We had many trials in our jour- 
ney, and it was not the least to decline this invitation ; 
but we had some hope that we might be able to share 
his hospitality on our return from Uxmal. 

From the bishop's palace we went to the theatre, a 
large building built expressly for the purpose, with two 
rows of boxes and a pit. The upper tier of boxes was 
private. The prima donna was a lady who sat next 
me at dinner at the hotel ; but I had better employment 

VOL. II. 3 E 


than attending to the performance, in conversation with 
ladies who would have graced any circle. One of 
them told me that there was to be a tertulia and a bag- 
lio at a country-house near the town in a few days, 
and to forego this was a harder trial than the loss of the 
bishop's dinner. Altogether, the evening at the theatre 
consummated the satisfaction of the only day we passed 
in Merida, so that it remains impressed on my mind in 
bright relief to months of dulness. 

The next morning at half past six we set out for Ux- 
mal on horseback, escorted by a servant of Senor Peon, 
with Indians before us, one of whom carried a load not 
provided by us, in which a box of claret was conspicu- 
ous. Leaving the city, we entered upon a level stony 
road, which seemed one bed of limestone, cut through 
a forest of scrub trees. At the distance of a league we 
saw through a vista in the trees a large hacienda belonging 
to the Peon family, the entrance to which was by a large 
gate into a cattle-yard. The house was built of stone, and 
had a front of about one hundred and fifty feet, with an 
arcade running the whole length. It was raised about 
twenty feet, and at the foot was a large water-trough 
extending the whole length, about ten feet wide and of 
the same depth, filled with water for cattle. On the 
left was a flight of stone steps, leading to a stone plat- 
form on which the hacienda stood. At the end of this 
structure was an artificial reservoir or tank, also built 
of stone and cemented, about one hundred and fifty 
feet square, and perhaps twenty feet deep. At the foot 
of the wall of the tank was a plantation of henniken, a 
species of aloe, from the fibres of which hemp is made. 
The style of the house, the strong and substantial char- 
acter of the reservoir, and its apparent costliness,, gave 
an imposing character to the hacienda. 


At this place our Indian carriers left us, and we took 
others from the hacienda, with whom we continued 
three leagues farther to another hacienda of the family, 
of much the same character, where we stopped to break- 
fast. This over, we set out again, and by this time it had 
become desperately hot. 

The road was very rough, over a bed of stone thinly 
covered, with barely soil enough for the growth of scrub- 
trees ; our saddles were of a new fashion, and most 
painfully trying to those unused to them ; the heat was 
very oppressive, and the leagues very long, till we 
reached another hacienda, avast, irregular pile of build- 
ings of dark gray stone, that might have been the castle 
of a German baron in feudal times. Each of these 
haciendas had an Indian name ; this was called the ha- 
cienda of Vayalquex, and it was the only one of which 
Donna Joaquina, in speaking of our route, had made any 
particular mention. The entrance was by a large stone 
gateway, with a pyramidal top, into a long lane, on the 
right of which was a shed, built by Don Simon since his 
return from the United States as a ropewalk for manu- 
facturing hemp raised on the hacienda ; and there was 
one arrangement which added very much to the effect, 
and which I did not observe anywhere else : the cattle- 
yard and water-tanks were on one side and out of sight. 
We dismounted under the shade of noble trees in front 
of the house, and ascended by a flight of broad stone 
steps to a corridor thirty feet wide, with large mattings, 
which could be rolled up, or dropped as an awning for 
protection against the sun and rain. On one side the 
corridor was continued around the building, and on the 
other it conducted to the door of a church having a 
large cross over it, and within ornamented with figures 
like the churches in towns, for the tenants of the ha- 


cienda. The whole establishment was lordly in its ap- 
pearance. It had fifteen hundred Indian tenants, 
bound to the master by a sort of feudal tenure, and, 
as the friends of the master, escorted by a household 
servant, the whole was ours. 

We had fallen unexpectedly upon a state of things 
new and peculiar. The peninsula of Yucatan, lying 
between the bays of Campeachy and Honduras, is a 
vast plain. Cape Catoche, the northeastern point of 
the peninsula, is but fifty-one leagues from San Anto- 
nio, the western extremity of the Island of Cuba, 
which is supposed at a remote period to have formed 
part of the American Continent. The soil and atmo- 
sphere are extremely dry ; along the whole coast, from 
Campeachy to Cape Catoche, there is not a single stream 
or spring of fresh water. The interior is equally desti- 
tute ; and water is the most valuable possession in the 
country. During the season of rains, from April to the 
end of October, there is a superabundant supply ; but 
the scorching sun of the next six months dries up the 
earth, and unless water' were preserved man and beast 
would perish, and the country be depopulated. All the 
enterprise and wealth of the landed proprietors, there- 
fore, are exerted in procuring supplies of water, as with- 
out it the lands are worth nothing. For this purpose 
each hacienda has large tanks and reservoirs, construct- 
ed and kept up at great expense, to supply water for 
six months to all dependant upon it, and this creates a 
relation with the Indian population which places the 
proprietor somewhat in the position of a lord under the 
old feudal system. 

By the act of independence, the Indians of Mexico, 
as well as the white population, became free. No man 
can buy and sell another, whatever may be the colour 


of his skin ; but as the Indians are poor, thriftless, and 
improvident, and never look beyond the immediate 
hour, they are obliged to attach themselves to some ha- 
cienda which can supply their wants ; and, in return for 
the privilege of using the water, they come under cer- 
tain obligations of service to the master, which place 
him in a lordly position ; and this state of things, grow- 
ing out of the natural condition of the country, exists, I 
believe, nowhere in Spanish America except in Yuca- 
tan. Each hacienda has its major-domo, who attends 
to all the details of the managemenj of the estate, and 
in the absence of the master is his viceroy, and has the 
same powers over the tenants. At this hacienda the 
major-domo was a young Mestitzo, and had fallen into 
his place in an easy and natural way by marrying his 
predecessor's daughter, who had just enough white 
blood to elevate the dulness of the Indian face into one 
of softness and sweetness ; and yet it struck me that he 
thought quite as much of the place he got with her as 
of herself. 

It would have been a great satisfaction to pass sev- 
eral days at this lordly hacienda; but, not expecting 
anything to interest us on the road, we had requested 
Donna Joaquina to hurry us through, and the servant 
told us that the senora's orders were to conduct us to 
another hacienda of the family, about two leagues be- 
yond, to sleep. At the moment we were particularly 
loth to leave, on account of the fatigue of the previous 
ride. The servant suggested to the major-domo llamar 
un coche ; in English, to " call a coach," which the 
latter proposed to do if we wished it. We made a few 
inquiries, and said, unhesitatingly and peremptorily, in 
effect, " Go call a coach, and let a coach be called." 
The major-domo ascended by a flight of stone steps 


outside to the belfry of the church, whither we followed 
him ; and, turning around with a movement and tone 
of voice that reminded us of a Mussulman in a minaret 
calling the faithful to prayers, he called for a coach. 
The roof of the church, and of the whole pile of build- 
ings connected, was of stone cemented, firm and strong 
as a pavement. The sun beat intensely upon it, and for 
several minutes all was still. At length we saw a sin- 
gle Indian trotting through the woods toward the haci- 
enda, then two together, and in a quarter of an hour 
there were twenty or thirty. These were the horses ; 
the coaches were yet growing on the trees. Six In- 
dians were selected for each coach, who, with a few 
minutes' use of the machete, cut a bundle of poles, 
which they brought up to the corridor to manufacture 
into coaches. This was done, first, by laying on the 
ground two poles about as thick as a man's wrist, ten 
feet long and three feet apart. These were fastened 
by cross-sticks tied with strings of unspun hemp, about 
two feet from each end ; grass hammocks were secu- 
red between the poles, bows bent over them and cov- 
ered with light matting, and the coaches were made. 
We placed our ponchas at the head for pillows, crawl- 
ed inside, and lay down. The Indians took off little 
cotton shirts covering the breast, and tied them around, 
their petates as hatbands. Four of them raised up 
each coach, and placed the end of the poles on little 
cushions on their shoulders. We bade farewell to the 
major-domo and his wife, and, feet first, descended the 
steps and set off on a trot, while an Indian followed 
leading the horses. In the great relief we experienced 
we forgot our former scruples against making beasts of 
burden of men. They were not troubled with any sense 
of indignity or abasement, and the weight was not much. 


There were no mountains ; only some little inequalities 
which brought the head lower than the heels, and they 
seldom stumbled. In this way they carried us about 
three miles, and then laid us down gently on the ground. 
Like the Indians in Merida, they were a fine-looking 
race, with a good expression of countenance, cheerful, 
and even merry in their toil. They were amused at us 
because we could not talk with them. There is no di- 
versity of Indian languages in Yucatan ; the Maya is 
universal, and all the Spaniards speak it. 

Having wiped off the perspiration and rested, they 
look us up again; and, lulled by the quiet movement 
and the regular fall of the Indians' feet upon the ear, I 
fell into a doze, from which I was roused by stopping 
at a gate, on entering which I found we were advancing 
to a range of white stone buildings, standing on an ele- 
vation about twenty feet high, which by measurement 
afterward I found to be three hundred and sixty feet 
long, with an imposing corridor running the whole 
length ; and on the extreme right of the building the 
platform was continued one or two hundred feet, form- 
ing the top of a reservoir, on which there was a wind- 
lass with long arms ; and Indian women, dressed in 
white, were moving round in a circle, drawing water 
and filling their water-jars. This was called the haci- 
enda of Mucuyche. We entered, as usual, through a 
large cattle-yard. At the foot of the structure on which 
the building stood, running nearly the whole length, 
was a gigantic stone tank, about eight or ten feet wide, 
and of the same depth, filled with water. We were 
carried up an inclined stone platform about the centre 
of the range of buildings, which consisted of three dis- 
tinct sets, each one hundred and twenty feet front. In 
that on the left was the church, the door of which was 


open, and an old Indian was then lighting candles at 
the altar for vesper prayers. In front, setting a little 
back, were the apartments of the major-domo, and at 
the other end of the range the mansion of the master, 
in the corridor of which we were set down, and crawl- 
ed out of our coaches. There was something mon- 
atrously aristocratic in being borne on the shoulders of 
tenants from such a hacienda as that we had left to this 
stately pile. The whole appearance of things gave an 
idea of country residence upon a scale of grand hospi- 
tality, and yet we learned, to our astonishment, that 
most of the family had never seen it. The only one by 
whom it was ever visited was the son who had it in 
charge, and he came only for a few days at a time, to 
see how things were conducted, and examine the ac- 
counts of the major-domo. The range consisted of a 
single suite of rooms, one in the centre about eighty 
feet long, and one on each side, communicating, about 
forty feet long each, and a noble corridor extended 
along the whole front and rear. 

We had an hour of daylight, which I could have em- 
ployed very satisfactorily on the spot, but the servant 
urged us to go immediately and see a cenote. What a 
cenote was we had no idea, and Mr. C., being much 
fatigued, turned into a hammock ; but, unwilling to lose 
anything where all was strange and unexpected, I fol- 
lowed the servant, crossed the roof of the reservoir, ce- 
mented as hard as stone, passed on to an open tank 
built of stone, covered with cement inside and out, 
about one hundred and fifty feet square and twenty feet 
deep, filled with water, in which twenty or thirty In- 
dians were swimming ; and, descending to the foot of 
the tank, at the distance of about a hundred yards 
came to a large opening in the ground, with a broad 


flight of more than fifty steps ; descending which, I saw- 
unexpectedly a spectacle of such extraordinary beauty, 
that I sent the servant back to tell Mr. Catherwood to 
come to me forthwith, if he had to be carried in his 
hammock. It was a large cavern or grotto, with a roof 
of broken, overhanging rock, high enough to give an air 
of wildness and grandeur, impenetrable at midday to 
the sun's rays, and at the bottom water pure as crystal, 
still and deep, resting upon a bed of white limestone 
rock. It was the very creation of romance ; a bathing- 
place for Diana and her nymphs. Grecian poet never 
imagined so beautiful a scene. It was almost a profa- 
nation, but in a few minutes we were swimming around 
the rocky basin with feelings of boyish exultation, only 
regretting that such a freak of nature was played where 
so few could enjoy its beauties. On a nobleman's 
estate in England it would be above all price. The 
bath reinvigorated our frames. It was after dark when 
we returned ; hammocks were waiting for us, and very 
soon we were in a profound sleep. 
VOL. II. 3 F 



Journey resumed. Arrival at Uxmal. Hacienda of Uxmal. Major-domos. 
Adventures of a young Spaniard* Visit to the Ruins of Uxmal. First Sight 
of the Ruins. Character of the Indians. Details of Hacienda Life. A delicate 
Case. illness of Mr. Catherwood. Breaking up. 

AT daybreak the next morning, with new Indians 
and a guide on horseback from the hacienda, we resu- 
med our journey. The surface of the country was the 
same, limestone with scrub trees. There was not soil 
enough to absorb the water, which rested in puddles in 
the hollows of the stones. At nine o'clock we reached 
another hacienda, smaller than the last, but still having 
a lordly appearance, where, as before, the women were 
drawing water by a wheel. The major-domo expressed 
his sense of the honour conferred upon him by our visit, 
and his anxiety to serve us, gave us a breakfast of milk, 
tortillas, and wild honey, and furnished us with other 
Indians and a guide. We mounted again ; very soon 
the sun became intensely hot ; there were no trees to 
shade us, and we suffered excessively. At half past 
twelve we passed some mounds of ruins a little off the 
road, but the sun was so scorching that we could not 
stop to examine them, and at two o'clock we reached 
Uxmal. Little did I think, when I made the acquaint- 
ance of my unpretending friend at the Spanish hotel in 
Fulton-street, that I should ride upward of fifty miles 
on his family estates, carried by his Indians, and break- 
fasting, dining, and sleeping at his lordly haciendas, 
while the route marked out for our return would bring 
us to others, one of which was larger than any we had 


seen. The family of Peon, under the Spanish domin- 
ion, had given governors to the province of Yucatan. 
On the establishment of independence, its present head, 
a stanch Royalist, retired in disgust from all kinds of 
employment, and the whole of the large family estates 
were managed by the Senora Donna Joaquina. Unfor- 
tunately, Don Simon had left for Merida, and we had 
missed him on the way. Moreover, owing to the heat 
of the sun and our awkward saddles, we arrived at the 
end of this triumphal march in a dreadfully jaded and 
forlorn condition, and perhaps we never dismounted 
more utterly worn out and uncomfortable. 

The hacienda of Uxmal was built of dark gray stone, 
ruder in appearance and finish than any of the others, 
with a greater appearance of antiquity, and at a distance 
looked like an old baronial castle. A year before it 
had been given to Don Simon by his father, and he 
was making large repairs and additions to the building, 
though, as his family never visited it, and he only for a 
few days at a time, for what purpose I could not con- 
ceive. It had its cattle-yard in front, with tanks of 
water around, some with green vegetation on the top, 
and there was an unwholesome sensation of dampness. 
It had, too, its church, which contained a figure of nu- 
estra Senor, " Our Lord," revered by the Indians of all 
the haciendas around, the fame of which had reached 
the household servants at Merida, and which was the 
first object that attracted the attention of our guide. 
The whole hacienda was immediately at our disposal; 
but, worn down with heat and fatigue, we took at once 
to our hammocks. 

The hacienda had two major-domos, one a Mestitzo, 
who understood the language and business, and in the 
other we found an acquaintance, or, at least, what seem- 



ed so, for about the time that we left New- York he was 
a waiter at Delmonico's. It was a strange encounter 
at this out-of-the-way place, to be brought into close 
connexion with this well-known restaurant, which in 
that country seemed the seat of art and fountain of hap- 
piness. He was a young Spaniard from Catalonia, 
who, with a friend, having taken part in some defeated 
insurrection, fled to Cuba, whence, on the point of being 
discovered, they escaped to New- York, penniless. Ig- 
norant of the language, with no means of getting a live- 
lihood, both were received by Delmonico as waiters at 
his restaurant, where the friend rose to be head choco- 
late-maker; but he was languishing as simple waiter, 
when Don Simon proposed to him to go to Uxmal. 
Without knowing where he was going, except that it 
was to some part of Spanish America, or what was to 
be his business, he found himself in a retired place, sur- 
rounded by Indians whose language he could not un- 
derstand, and having no one near him with whom he 
could exchange a word except the major-domo. These 
major-domos form a class in Yucatan who need sharp 
looking after. Like the Scotch servant applying for a 
place, they are not particular about wages, and are sat- 
isfied with what little they can pick up about the house. 
This is the character of most of the major-domos ; and 
the position of the young man, being white, intelligent, 
and honest, had advantages in that country, as Don Si- 
mon intended to give him, as soon as he understood the 
business, a superintendence over the major-domos of 
three or four haciendas ; but, unfortunately, he wanted 
energy, felt the want of society and the loneliness of 
his situation, remembered scenes of enjoyment with his 
friend and other waiters, and at Uxmal talked of the 
opera ; and when at dinner-time he drew a feeling pic- 


ture of Delmonico's saloon, we sympathized with him 

In the afternoon, rested and refreshed, we set out for 
a walk to the ruins. The path led through a noble 
piece of woods, in which there were many tracks, and 
our Indian guide lost his way. Mr. C., being unwell, 
returned to the hacienda. We took another road, and, 
emerging suddenly from the woods, to my astonish- 
ment came at once upon a large open field strewed 
with mounds of ruins, and vast buildings on terraces, 
and pyramidal structures, grand and in good preserva- 
tion, richly ornamented, without a bush to obstruct the 
view, and in picturesque effect almost equal to the ruins 
of Thebes ; for these, standing on the flat valley of the 
Nile, and extending on both sides of the river, nowhere 
burst in one view upon the sight. Such was the report 
I made to Mr. Catherwood on my return, who, lying in 
his hammock unwell and out of spirits, told me I was 
romancing ; but early the next morning we were on the 
ground, and his comment was that the reality exceeded 
my description. 

The place of which I am now speaking was beyond 
all doubt once a large, populous, and highly civilized 
city, and the reader can nowhere find one word of it 
on any page of history. Who built it, why it was lo- 
cated on that spot, away from water or any of those 
natural advantages which have determined the sites of 
cities whose histories are known, what led to its aban- 
donment and destruction, no man can tell. The only 
name by which it is known is that of the hacienda on 
which it stands. In the oldest deed belonging to the 
Peon family, which goes back a hundred and forty 
years, the buildings are referred to, in the boundaries 
of the estate, as Las Casas de Piedra. This is the only 


ancient document or record in existence in which the 
place is mentioned at all, and there are no traditions 
except the wild superstitions of Indians in regard to 
particular buildings. The ruins were all exhumed ; 
within the last year the trees had been cut down and 
burned, and the whole field of ruins was in view, enclo- 
sed by the woods and planted with corn. 

We passed a most interesting and laborious day, and 
at evening returned to the hacienda to mature our plans 
for a thorough exploration ; but, unfortunately, during 
the night Mr. Catherwood, I believe affected by the 
immensity of the work, had a violent attack of fever, 
which continued upon him in the morning, with a pros- 
pect of serious illness. 

It was Mondayf and very early all the Indians of the 
hacienda, according to their obligation to the master, 
presented themselves to receive directions from the ma- 
jor-domo for the day's work. In remaining about the 
house I had an opportunity of learning somewhat of 
hacienda discipline and the character of the Indians. 

The hacienda of Uxmal is ten leagues or thirty miles 
square, but only a small portion is cultivated, and the 
rest is a mere roaming-ground for cattle. The Indians 
are of two classes : vaceros, or tenders of cattle and 
horses, who receive twelve dollars per year, with five 
almudas of maize per week ; and labradores or labour- 
ers, who are also called Luneros, from their obligation, 
in consideration of their drinking the water of the ha- 
cienda, to work for the master without pay on Limes 
or Monday. These last constitute the great body of the 
Indians ; and, besides their obligation to work on Mon- 
day, when they marry and have families, and, of course, 
need more water, they are obliged to clear, sow, and 
gather twenty micates of maize for the master, each 


micate being twenty-four square yards. When the bell 
of the church is struck five times, every Indian is obli- 
ged to go forthwith to the hacienda, and, for a real a 
day and a ration of three cents' worth of maize, do 
whatever work the master or his delegate, the major- 
domo, may direct. The authority of the master or his 
delegate over these is absolute. He settles all disputes 
between the Indians themselves, and punishes for of- 
fences, acting both as judge and executioner. If the 
major-domo punish an Indian unreasonably, the latter 
may complain to his master ; and if the master refuse to 
give him redress, or himself punishes an Indian unrea- 
sonably, the latter may apply for his discharge. There 
is no obligation upon him to remain on the hacienda 
unless he is in debt to the master, but, practically, this 
binds him hand and foot. The Indians are all improv- 
ident, anticipate their earnings, never have two days' 
provisions in store, and never keep any accounts. A 
dishonest master may always bring them in debt, and 
generally they are really so. If able to pay off the debt, 
the Indian is entitled to his immediate discharge ; but if 
not, the master is obliged to give him a writing to the 
effect following: "Whatever senor wishes to receive 

the Indian named , can take him, provided he 

pays me the debt he owes me." If the master refuses 
him this paper, the Indian may complain to the justitia. 
When he has obtained it, he goes round to the different 
haciendas until he finds a proprietor who is willing to 
purchase the debt, with a mortgage upon him until it is 
paid. The account is settled, and the master gives the 
Indian a writing of this purport: " The account of my 

former servant being adjusted, which is twenty 

dollars, and having paid me the said debt, I, his pres- 
ent master, give him this receipt ;" and with this he 


enters into the service of a new master. There is but 
little chance of his ever paying off the smallest debt. 
He will never work merely to clear off the encum- 
brance, considers all he can get on his body clear gain, 
and virtually, from the time he receives his first dollar, 
goes through life in bondage, varied only by an occa- 
sional change of masters. In general they are mild, 
amiable, and very docile ; bear no malice ; and when 
one of them is whipped and smarting under stripes, with 
tears in his eyes he makes a bow to the major-domo, 
and says "buenos tarde, serior;" "good evening, sir." 
But they require to be dealt with sternly, and kept at a 
distance ; are uncertain, and completely the creatures 
of impulse ; and one bad Indian or a bad Mestitzo may 
ruin a whole hacienda. They inherit all the indolence 
of their ancestors, are wedded to old usages, and un- 
willing to be taught anything new. Don Simon has 
attempted to introduce improvements in agriculture, but 
in vain ; they cannot work except in their own old way. 
Don Simon brought out the common churn from the 
United States, and attempted to introduce the making 
of butter and cheese ; but the Indians could not be 
taught the use of them, the churns were thrown aside, 
and hundreds of cows wander in the woods unmilked. 
The master is not obliged to maintain the Indian when 
sick j though, as he derives a profit from his labour, it is 
his interest to do so ; and, on broad grounds, as it is an 
object always to increase his labradores, it is his inter- 
est to treat them in such a manner as to acquire among 
the Indians a reputation as a good master. 

In the course of the morning I visited many of the 
huts of the Indians. They were built in an oblong 
form, of round poles set upright in the ground and 
thatched, and some appeared clean and comfortable. 


The men were all away at work, and all day there was 
a procession of women in white cotton dresses moving 
from the gate to the well and drawing water. It was 
pleasant to find that marriage was considered proper 
and expedient, conducing to good order and thrift cer- 
tainly, and probably to individual happiness. Don Si- 
mon encouraged it ; he did not like to have any single 
men on the estate, and made every young Indian of the 
right age take unto himself a wife. When, as often 
happened, the Indian, in a deprecating tone, said, " No 
tengo muger," " I have no worrtan," Don Simon looked 
through the hacienda and found one for him. On his 
last visit he made four matches, and the day before our 
arrival the Delmonico major-domo had been to the near- 
est village to escort the couples and pay the padre for 
marrying them, the price being thirteen shillings each. 
He was afraid to trust them with the money, for fear 
they would spend it and not get married. 

The old major-domo was energetic in carrying out 
the views of his master on this important subject, and 
that day a delicate case was brought before him. A 
young Indian girl brought a complaint against a mar- 
ried woman for slander. She said that she was enga- 
ged to be married to a young man whom she loved 
and who loved her, and the married woman had inju- 
red her fair fame by reporting that she was already in 
" an interesting situation;" she had told the young man 
of it, said that all the women in the hacienda saw it, 
and taunted him with marrying such a girl; and now, 
she said, the young man would not have her. The 
married woman was supported by a crowd of witnesses, 
and it must be admitted that appearances were very 
much against the plaintiff; but the old major-domo, 
without going into the merits at all, decided in her fa- 

VOL. II. 3 G 


vour on broad grounds. Indignant at a marriage being 
prevented, he turned to the married woman and asked, 
What was it to her ? what right had she to meddle ? 
what if it was true ? it was none of her business. Per- 
haps the young man knew it and was party to it, and 
still intended to marry the girl, and they might have 
lived happily but for her busy tongue ; and, without 
more ado, he brought out a leather whip cut into long 
lashes, and with great vigour began applying it to the 
back of the indiscreet communicator of unwelcome ti- 
dings. He wound up with an angry homily upon busy- 
bodies, and then upon women generally, who, he said, 
made all the difficulties on the hacienda, and but for 
them the men would be quiet enough. The matrons 
of the hacienda stood aghast at this unexpected turn of 
things ; and, when the case was dismissed, all crowded 
around the victim and went away with her, giving such 
comfort as they could. The young girl went away 
alone ; the hearts of her sex were steeled against her ; 
in savage as in civilized life, 

" Every wo a tear may claim, 
Except an erring sister's shame." 

In the afternoon Mr. Catherwood's fever left him, 
but in a very low state. The hacienda was unhealthy 
at this season ; the great troughs and tanks of water 
around the house were green, and, with the regular af- 
ternoon rains, induced fatal fevers. Mr. Catherwood's 
constitution was already severely shattered. Indeed, I 
became alarmed, and considered it indispensable for 
him to leave the hacienda, and, if possible, the country 
altogether. To carry out my other plans, we intended 
at all events to return. We made a calculation that, 
by setting out the next morning, we could reach the 


Spanish brig in time to embark for Havana, and in ten 
minutes' consultation we determined to break up and 
go home. Immediately we communicated our purpose 
to the major-domo, who ascended to the belfry of the 
church and called a coach, to be ready at two o'clock 
the next morning. 

ol hsmotei I ofoit 
J no show 

.vitiwoo p. 
Htiv/ ,noiJibd oil 

fi'ixbv l8*;I odJ hhfl 



I gnibliud 



Ruins of Uzmal. A lofty Building. Magnificent View from its Doorway. Pe- 
culiar sculptured Ornaments. Another Building, called by the Indians the 
House of the Dwarf. An Indian Legend. The House of the Nuns. The 
House of Turtles. The House of Pigeons. The Guard-house. Absence of 
Water. The House of the Governor. Terraces. Wooden Lintels Details 
of the House of the Governor. Doorways. Corridors. A Beam of Wood, in- 
scribed with Hieroglyphics. Sculptured Stones, &c. 

IN the mean time I returned for one more view of the 
ruins. Mr. Waldeck's work on these ruins had appear- 
ed before we left this country. It was brought out in 
Paris in a large folio edition, with illustrations fancifully 
and beautifully coloured, and contains the result of a 
year's residence at Merida and eight days at Uxmal. 
At the time of his visit the ruins were overgrown with 
trees, which within the last year had been cleared away, 
and the whole was laid bare and exposed to view. In 
attempting a description of these ruins, so vast a work 
rises up before me that I am at a loss where to begin. 
Arrested on the very threshold of our labours, I am un- 
able to give any general plan ; but, fortunately, the 
whole field was level, clear of trees, and in full sight at 
once. The first view stamped it indelibly upon my 
mind, and Mr. Catherwood's single day was well em- 

The first object that arrests the eye on emerging from 
the forest is the building represented on the right hand 
of the engraving opposite. Drawn off by mounds of 
ruins and piles of gigantic buildings, the eye returns 
and again fastens upon this lofty structure. It was 
the first building I entered. From its front doorway 
I counted sixteen elevations, with broken walls and 


mounds of stones, and vast, magnificent edifices, which 
at that distance seemed untouched by time and defying 
ruin. I stood in the doorway when the sun went down, 
throwing from the buildings a prodigious breadth of 
shadow, darkening the terraces on which they stood, 
and presenting a scene strange enough for a work of 

This building is sixty-eight feet long. The elevation 
on which it stands is built up solid from the plain, en- 
tirely artificial. Its form is not pyramidal, but oblong 
and rounding, being two hundred and forty feet long at 
the base, and one hundred and twenty broad, and it is 
protected all around, to the very top, by a wall of square 
stones. Perhaps the high ruined structures at Palenque, 
which we have called pyramidal, and which were so 
ruined that we could not make them out exactly, were 
originally of the same shape. On the east side of the 
structure is a broad range of stone steps between eight 
and nine inches high, and so steep that great care is 
necessary in ascending and descending ; of these we 
counted a hundred and one in their places. Nine were 
wanting at the top, and perhaps twenty were covered 
with rubbish at the bottom. At the summit of the steps 
is a stone platform four feet and a half wide, running 
along the rear of the building. There is no door in the 
centre, but at each end a door opens into an apartment 
eighteen feet long and nine wide, and between the two 
is a third apartment of the same width, and thirty-four 
feet long. The whole building is of stone ; inside, the 
walls are of polished smoothness ; outside, up to the 
height of the door, the stones are plain and square ; 
above this line there is a rich cornice or moulding, and 
from this to the top of the building all the sides are 
covered with rich and elaborate sculptured ornaments, 


forming a sort of arabesque. The style and character 
of these ornaments were entirely different from those of 
any we had ever seen before, either in that country or 
any other ; they bore no resemblance whatever to those 
of Copan or Palenque, and were quite as unique and 
peculiar. The designs were strange and incomprehen- 
sible, very elaborate, sometimes grotesque, but often 
simple, tasteful, and beautiful. Among the intelligible 
subjects are squares and diamonds, with busts of human 
beings, heads of leopards, and compositions of leaves 
and flowers, and the ornaments known everywhere as 
grecques. The ornaments, which succeed each other, 
are all different ; the whole form an extraordinary 
mass of richness and complexity, and the effect is both 
grand and curious. And the construction of these or- 
naments is not less peculiar and striking than the gen- 
eral effect. There were no tablets or single stones, 
each representing separately and by itself an entire 
subject; but every ornament or combination is made 
up of separate stones, on each of which part of the sub- 
ject was carved, and which was then set in its place in 
the wall. Each stone, by itself, was an unmeaning 
fractional part; but, placed by the side of others, helped 
to make a whole, which without it would be incomplete. 
Perhaps it may, with propriety, be called a species of 
sculptured mosaic. 

From the front door of this extraordinary building a 
pavement of hard cement, twenty-two feet long by fif- 
teen broad, leads to the roof of another building, seated 
lower down on the artificial structure, as shown in the 
engraving. There is no staircase or other visible com- 
munication between the two ; but, descending by a pile 
of rubbish along the side of the lower one, and groping 
around the corner, we entered a doorway in front four 


feet wide, and found inside a chamber twelve feet high, 
with corridors running the whole breadth, of which the 
front one was seven feet three inches deep, and the 
other three feet nine inches. The inner walls were of 
smooth and polished square stones, and there was no 
inner door or means of communication with any other 
place. Outside the doorway was loaded with orna- 
ments, and the whole exterior was the same as that of 
the building described above. The steps leading from 
the doorway to the foot of the structure were entirely 

The Indians regard these ruins with superstitious rev- 
erence. They will not go near them at night, and they 
have the old story that immense treasure is hidden 
among them. Each of the buildings has its name given 
to it by the Indians. This is called the Casa del Ana- 
no, or House of the Dwarf, and it is consecrated by a 
wild legend, which, as I sat in the doorway, I received 
from the lips of an Indian, as follows : 

There was an old woman who lived in a hut on the 
very spot now occupied by the structure on which this 
building is perched, and opposite the Casa del Gober- 
nador (which will be mentioned hereafter), who went 
mourning that she had no children. In her distress she 
one day took an egg, covered it with a cloth, and laid 
it away carefully in one corner of the hut. Every day 
she went to look at it, until one morning she found the 
egg hatched, and a criatura, or creature, or baby, born. 
The old woman was delighted, and called it her son, 
provided it with a nurse, took good care of it, so that 
in one year it walked and talked like a man ; and then 
it stopped growing. The old woman was more delight- 
ed than ever, and said he would be a great lord or king. 
One day she told him to go to the house of the gober- 



nador and challenge him to a trial of strength. The 
dwarf tried to beg off, but the old woman insisted, and 
he went. The guard admitted him, and he flung his 
challenge at the gobernador. The latter smiled, and 
told him to lift a stone of three arrobas, or seventy-five 
pounds, at which the little fellow cried and returned to 
his mother, who sent him back to say that if the gober- 
nador lifted it first, he would afterward. The goberna- 
dor lifted it, and the dwarf immediately did the same. 
The gobernador then tried him with other feats of 
strength, and the dwarf regularly did whatever was 
done by the gobernador. At length, indignant at being 
matched by a dwarf, the gobernador told him that, un- 
less he made a house in one night higher than any in 
the place, he would kill him. The poor dwarf again 
returned crying to his mother, who bade him not to be 
disheartened, and the next morning he awoke and found 
himself in this lofty building. The gobernador, seeing 
it from the door of his palace, was astonished, and sent 
for the dwarf, and told him to collect two bundles of 
cogoiol, a wood of a very hard species, with one of 
which he, the gobernador, would beat the dwarf over 
the head, and afterward the dwarf should beat him with 
the other. The dwarf again returned crying to his 
mother ; but the latter told him not to be afraid, and 
put on the crown of his head a tortillita de trigo, a small 
thin cake of wheat flour. The trial was made in the 
presence of all the great men in the city. The gober- 
nador broke the whole of his bundle over the dwarfs 
head without hurting the little fellow in the least. He 
then tried to avoid the trial on his own head, but he 
had given his word in the presence of his officers, and 
was obliged to submit. The second blow of the dwarf 
broke his scull in pieces, and all the spectators hailed 


the victor as their new gobernador. The old woman 
jhen died ; but at the Indian village of Mani, seventeen 
Jeagues distant, there is a deep well, from which opens 
a cave that leads under ground an immense distance to 
Merida. In this cave, on the bank of a stream, under 
the shade of a large tree, sits an old woman with a ser- 
pent by her side, who sells water in small quantities, not 
for money, but only for a criatura or baby to give the 
serpent to eat ; and this old woman is the mother of the 
dwarf. Such is the fanciful legend connected with this 
edifice ; but it hardly seemed more strange than the 
structure to which it referred. 

The other building indicated in the plate is called by 
a name which may originally have had some reference 
to the vestals who in Mexico were employed to keep 
burning the sacred fire ; but I believe in the mouths of 
the Indians of Uxmal it has no reference whatever to 
history, tradition, or legend, but is derived entirely from 
Spanish associations. It is called Casa de las Monjas, 
or House of the Nuns, or the Convent. It is situated 
on an artificial elevation about fifteen feet high. Its 
form is quadrangular, and one side, according to my 
measurement, is ninety-five paces in length. It was 
not possible to pace all around it, from the masses of 
fallen stones which encumber it in some places, but it 
may be safely stated at two hundred and fifty feet 
square. Like the house of the dwarf, it is built entirely 
of cut stone, and the whole exterior is filled with the 
same rich, elaborate, and incomprehensible sculptured 

The principal entrance is by a large doorway into a 
beautiful patio or courtyard, grass-grown, but clear of 
trees, and the whole of the inner facade is ornamented 
more richly and elaborately than the outside, and in a 

VOL. II. 3 H 


more perfect state of preservation. On one side the 
combination was in the form of diamonds, simple, chaste, 
and tasteful ; and at the head of the courtyard two gi- 
gantic serpents, with their heads broken and fallen, 
were winding from opposite directions along the whole 

In front, and on a line with the door of the convent, 
is another building, on a lower foundation, of the same 
general character, called Casa de Tortugas, from sculp- 
tured turtles over the doorway. This building had in 
several places huge cracks, as if it had been shaken by 
an earthquake. It stands nearly in the centre of the 
ruins, and the top commands a view all round of singu- 
lar but wrecked magnificence. 

Beyond this, a little to the right, approached by pass- 
ing over mounds of ruins, was another building, which 
at a great distance attracted our attention by its conspic- 
uous ornaments. We reached it by ascending two high 
terraces. The main building was similar to the others, 
and along the top ran a high ornamented wall in this 

form, from which it was called Casa de Palomos, or 
House of Pigeons, and at a distance it looked more like 
a row of pigeon-houses than anything else. 

In front was a broad avenue, with a line of ruins on 
each side, leading beyond the wall of the convent to a 
great mound of ruins, which probably had once been a 
building with which it was connected ; and beyond this 
is a lofty building in the rear, to which this seemed but 
a vestibule or porter's lodge. Between the two was a 
large patio or courtyard, with corridors on each side, 


and the ground of the courtyard sounded hollow. In 
one place the surface was broken, and I descended into 
a large excavation, cemented, which had probably been 
intended as a granary. At the back of the courtyard, 
on a high, broken terrace, which it was difficult to climb, 
was another edifice more ruined than the others, but 
which, from the style of its remains and its command- 
ing position, overlooking every other building except 
the house of the dwarf, and apparently having been 
connected with the distant mass of ruins in front, must 
have been one of the most important in the city, perhaps 
the principal temple. The Indians called it the quartel 
or guard-house. It commanded a view of other ruins 
not contained in the enumeration of those seen from the 
house of the dwarf; and the whole presented a scene 
of barbaric magnificence, utterly confounding all previ- 
ous notions in regard to the aboriginal inhabitants of this 
country, and calling up emotions which had not been 
wakened to the same extent by anything we had yet 

There was one strange circumstance connected with 
these ruins. No water had ever been discovered ; and 
there was not a single stream, fountain, or well, known 
to the Indians, nearer than the hacienda, a mile and a 
half distant. The sources which supplied this element 
of life had disappeared ; the cisterns were broken, or 
the streams dried up. This, as we afterward learned 
from Don Simon, was an object of great interest to him, 
and made him particularly anxious for a thorough ex* 
ploration of the ruins. He supposed that the face of the 
country had not changed, and that somewhere under 
ground must exist great wells, cisterns, or reservoirs, 
which supplied the former inhabitants of the city with 
water. The discovery of these wells or reservoirs would, 


in that region, be like finding a fountain in the desert, 
or, more poetically, like finding money. The supply 
of water would be boundless. Luneros without number 
might draw from it, and the old city be repeopled with- 
out any new expense for wells or tanks. 

While I was making the circuit of these ruins, Mr. 
Catherwood proceeded to the Casa del Gobernador, 
which title, according to the naming of the Indians, indi- 
cates the principal building of the old city, the residence 
of the governor, or royal house. It is the grandest in 
position, the most stately in architecture and proportions, 
and the most perfect in preservation of all the struc- 
tures remaining at Uxmal. 

The plate opposite represents the ground-plan, with 
the three ranges of terraces on which it stands. The 
first terrace is six hundred feet long and five feet high* 
Et is walled with cut stone, and on the top i& a platform 
twenty feet broad, from which rises another terrace fif- 
teen feet high. At the corners this terrace is supported 
by cut stones, having the faces rounded so as to give a 
better finish than with sharp angles. The great plat- 
form above is flat and clear of trees, but abounding in 
green stumps of the forest but lately cleared away, and 
now planted, or, rather, from its irregularity, sown with 
corn, which as yet rose barely a foot from the ground. 
At the southeast corner of this platform is a row of round 
pillars eighteen inches in diameter and three or four 
feet high, extending about one hundred feet along the 
platform ; and these were the nearest approach to pil- 
lars or columns that we saw in all our exploration of 
the ruins of that country. In the middle of the terrace, 
along an avenue leading to a range of steps, was a bro- 
ken, round pillar, inclined and falling, with trees grow- 
ing around it. It was part of our purpose to make an 


excavation in this platform, from the impression that 
underneath would be found a vault, forming part of the 
immense reservoirs for supplying the city with water. 

In the centre of the platform, at a distance of two 
hundred and five feet from the border in front, is a range 
of stone steps more than a hundred feet broad, and thir- 
ty-five in number, ascending to a third terrace, fifteen 
feet above the last, and thirty-five feet from the ground, 
about equal to the height of the City Hall, which, being 
elevated on a naked plain, formed a most commanding 
position. The erection of these terraces alone was an 
immense work. On this third terrace, with its principal 
doorway facing the range of steps, stands the noble 
structure of the Casa del Gobernador. The fagade 
measures three hundred and twenty feet. Away from 
the region of dreadful rains, and the rank growth of 
forest which smothers the ruins of Palenque, it stands 
with all its walls erect, and almost as perfect as when 
deserted by its inhabitants. The whole building is of 
stone, plain up to the moulding that runs along the tops 
of the doorway, and above filled with the same rich, 
strange, and elaborate sculpture, among which is par- 
ticularly conspicuous the ornament before referred to as 
la grecque. There is no rudeness or barbarity in the de- 
sign or proportions ; on the contrary, the whole wears 
an air of architectural symmetry and grandeur ; and as 
the stranger ascends the steps and casts a bewildered eye 
along its open and desolate doors, it is hard to believe 
that he sees before him the work of a race in whose 
epitaph, as written by historians, they are called igno- 
rant of art, and said to have perished in the rudeness 
of savage life. If it stood at this day on its grand artifi- 
cial terrace in Hyde Park or the Garden of the Tuil- 
eries, it would form a new order, I do not say equal- 


ling, but not unworthy to stand side by side with the re- 
mains of Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman art. 

But there was one thing which seemed in strange 
want of conformity with all the rest. It was the first 
object that had arrested my attention in the house of 
the dwarf, and which I had marked in every other 
building. I have mentioned that at Ocosingo we saw a 
wooden beam, and at Palenque the fragment of a wood- 
en pole ; at this place all the lintels had been of wood, 
and throughout the ruins most of them were still in their 
places over the doors. These lintels were heavy beams, 
eight or nine feet long, eighteen or twenty inches wide, 
and twelve or fourteen thick. The wood, like that at 
Ocosingo, was very hard, and rang under the blow of 
the machete. As .our guide told us, it was of a species 
not found in the neighbourhood, but came from the dis- 
tant forests near the Lake of Peten. Why wood was 
used in the construction of buildings otherwise of solid 
stone seemed unaccountable ; but if our guide was cor- 
rect in regard to the place of its growth, each beam 
must have been carried on the shoulders of eight In- 
dians, with the necessary relief carriers, a distance of 
three hundred miles ; consequently, it was rare, costly, 
and curious, and for that reason may have been consid- 
ered ornamental. The position of these lintels was most 
trying, as they were obliged to support a solid mass of 
stone wall fourteen or sixteen feet high, and three or four 
in thickness. Once, perhaps, they were strong as stone, 
but they showed that they were not as durable, and con- 
tained within them the seeds of destruction. Most, it is 
true, were in their places, sound, and harder than lignum 
vitse ; but others were perforated by wormholes ; some 
were cracked in the middle, and the walls, settling upon 
them, were fast overcoming their remaining strength; 


and others had fallen down altogether. In fact, except 
in the house of the nuns the greatest destruction was from 
the decay and breaking of these wooden beams. If the 
lintels had been of stone, the principal buildings of this 
desolate city would at this day be almost entire ; or, if 
the edifices had been still occupied under a master's eye, 
a decaying beam would have been replaced, and the 
buildings saved from ruin. In the moment of greatness 
and power, the builders never contemplated that the 
time would come when their city would be a desolation. 

The Casa del Gobernador stands with its front to the 
east. In the centre, and opposite the range of steps 
leading up the terrace, are three principal doorways. 
The middle one is eight feet six inches wide, and eight 
feet ten inches high ; the others are of the same height, 
but two feet less in width. The centre door opens into 
an apartment sixty feet long and twenty-seven feet deep, 
which is divided into two corridors by a wall three and 
a half feet thick, with a door of communication between 
of the same size with the door of entrance. The plan 
is the same as that of the corridor in front of the palace 
at Palenque, except that here the corridor does not run 
the whole length of the building, and the back corridor 
has no door of egress. The floors are of smooth square 
stone, the walls of square blocks nicely laid and smooth- 
ly polished. The ceiling forms a triangular arch with- 
out the keystone, as at Palenque /~\ ; but, instead of 
the rough stones overlapping or being covered with 
stucco, the layers of stone are bevilled as they rise, and 
present an even and polished surface. Throughout, the 
laying and polishing of the stones are as perfect as un- 
der the rules of the best modern masonry. 

In this apartment we determined to take up our abode, 
once more in the palace of an unknown king, and under 


a roof tight as when sheltering the heads of its former 
occupants. Different from ruins in the Old World, 
where every fragment is exaggerated by some prating 
cicerone, in general, in this country, the reality exceeded 
our expectations. When we left Captain Fensley's 
brig we did not expect to find occupation for more than 
two or three days. But a vast field of interesting la- 
bour was before us, and we entered upon it with ad- 
vantages of experience, the protection and kind assist- 
ance of the proprietor, and within the reach of comforts 
not procurable at any other place. We were not buried 
in the forest as at Palenque. In front of our door rose 
the lofty house of the dwarf, seeming almost to realize 
the Indian legend, and from every part of the terrace 
we looked over a field of ruins. 

From the centre apartment the divisions on each 
wing corresponded exactly in size and finish, the de- 
tails of which appear in the plan, and the same uni- 
formity was preserved in the ornaments. Throughout 
the roof was tight, the apartments were dry, and, to 
speak understandingly, a. few thousand dollars expended 
in repairs would have restored it, and made it fit for the 
reoccupation of its royal owners. In the apartment 
marked A the walls were coated with a very fine plas- 
ter of Paris, equal to the best seen on walls in this 
country. The rest were all of smooth polished stone. 
There were no paintings, stucco ornaments, sculptured 
tablets, or other decorations whatever. 

In the apartment marked B we found what we re- 
garded as a most interesting object. It was a beam of 
wood, about ten feet long and very heavy, which had 
fallen from its place over the doorway, and for some 
purpose or other been hauled inside the chamber into a 
dark corner. On the face was a line of characters 


carved or stamped, almost obliterated, but which we 
made out to be hieroglyphics, and, so far as we could 
understand them, similar to those at Copan and Pa- 
lenque. Several Indians were around us, with an idle 
curiosity watching all our movements ; and, not wish- 
ing to call their attention to it, we left it with an Indian 
at the moment sitting upon it. Before we were out of 
the doorway we heard the ring of his machete from a 
blow which, on rising, he had struck at random, and 
which chipped off a long shaving within a few inches 
of the characters. It almost gave us a shivering fit, 
and we did not dare tell him to spare it, lest from igno- 
rance, jealousy, or suspicion, it should be the means of 
ensuring its destruction. I immediately determined to 
secure this mystical beam. Compelled to leave in haste, 
on my arrival at Merida Don Simon kindly promised 
to send it to me, together with a sculptured stone which 
formed one of the principal ornaments in all the build- 
ings. The latter is now in my possession, but the for- 
mer has never arrived. In the multitude of regrets 
connected with our abrupt departure from these ruins, 
I cannot help deploring the misfortune of not being as- 
sured of the safety of this beam. By what feeble light 
the pages of American history are written ! There are 
at Uxmal no " idols," as at Copan ; not a single stuc- 
coed figure or carved tablet, as at Palenque. Except 
this beam of hieroglyphics, though searching earnestly, 
we did not discover any one absolute point of resem- 
blance ; and the wanton machete of an Indian may de- 
stroy the only link that can connect them together. 

The ornament above referred to is introduced in one 
of the compartments of the " plan." It is the face of a 
death's head, with wings expanded, and rows of teeth 
projecting, in effect somewha-t like the figure of a death's 

VOL. II. 3 I 



head on tombstones with us. It is two feet wide across 
the wings, and has a stone staple behind, about two feet 
long, by wljich it was fastened in the wall. It had been 
removed by Don Simon entire, with the intention of 
setting it up as an ornament on the front of his haci- 

It was our purpose to present full drawings of the 
exterior of this building, and, in fact, of all the others. 
The plate opposite represents one division, with its sculp- 
tured ornaments, or what I have called mosaic.* As at 
Copan, Mr. Catherwood was obliged to make several 
attempts before he could comprehend the subject so as 
to copy the characters. The drawing was begun late 
in the afternoon, was unfinished when we left to return 
to the hacienda, and, unfortunately, Mr. C. was never 
able to resume it. It is presented in the state given by 
the last touches of the pencil on the spot, wanting many 
of the minute characters with which the subject was 
charged, and without any attempt to fill them in. The 
reader will see how utterly insufficient any verbal de- 
scription must be, and he will be able to form from it 
some idea of the imposing exterior of the building. 
The exterior of every building in Uxmal was orna- 
mented in the same elaborate manner. The part rep- 
resented in the engraving embraces about twenty feet 
of the Casa del Gobernador. The whole exterior of 
this building presents a surface of seven hundred feet ; 
the Casa de las Monjas is two thousand feet, and the 
extent of sculptured surface exhibited by the other build- 
ings I am not able to give. Complete drawings of the 
whole would form one of the most magnificent series 
ever offered to the public, and such it is yet our hope 
one day to be able to present. The reader will be able 
to form some idea of the time, skill, and labour required 

* Since the above was in type it has been determined not to give the engraving. 

fviyu3isi->r, fO-'r-S-r v^=< - ^-rjL-t i w*f? i ass*!;' 



for making them ; and, more than this, to conceive the 
immense time, skill, and labour required for carving 
such a surface of stone, and the wealth, power, and cul- 
tivation of the people who could command such skill 
and labour for the mere decoration of their edifices. 
Probably all these ornaments have a symbolical mean- 
ing ; each stone is part of an allegory or fable, hidden 
from us, inscrutable under the light of the feeble torch 
we may burn before it, but which, if ever revealed, will 
show that the history of the world yet remains to be 




Exploration finished. Who built these ruined Cities ? Opinion of Dupaix. 
These Ruins bear no Resemblance to the Architecture of Greece and Rome. 
Nothing like them in Europe. Do not Resemble the known Works of Japan 
and China. Neither those of Hindu. No Excavations found. The Pyramids 
of Egypt, in their original State, do not resemble what are called the Pyramids 
of America. The Temples of Egypt not like those of America. Sculpture not 
the same as that of Egypt. Probable Antiquity of these Ruins. Accounts of 
the Spanish Historians. These Cities probably built by the Races inhabiting 
the Country at the time of the Spanish Conquest. These Races not yet extinct. 

I HAVE now finished the exploration of ruins. The 
reader is perhaps pleased that our labours were brought 
to an abrupt close (my publishers certainly are) ; but I 
assure him that 1, could have found it in my heart to be 
prolix beyond all bounds, and that in mercy I have been 
very brief; in fact, I have let slip the best chance that 
author ever had to make his reader remember him. I 
will make no mention of other ruins of which we heard 
at more remote places. I have no doubt a year may 
be passed with great interest in Yucatan. The field of 
American antiquities is barely opened ; but for the pres- 
ent I have done. 

And here I would be willing to part, and leave the 
reader to wander alone and at will through the laby- 
rinth of mystery which hangs over these ruined cities ; 
but it would be craven to do so, without turning for a 
moment to the important question, Who were the peo- 
ple that built these cities ? 

Since their discovery, a dark cloud has been thrown 
over them in two particulars. The first is in regard to 
the immense difficulty and danger, labour and expense, 
of visiting and exploring them. It has been my object 
to clear away this cloud. It will appear from these 


pages that the accounts have been exaggerated ; and, as 
regards Palenque and Uxmal at least, the only places 
which have been brought before the public at all, there 
is neither difficulty in reaching nor danger in exploring 

The second is in regard to the age of the buildings ; 
but here the cloud is darker, and not so easily dispelled. 

I will not recapitulate the many speculations that have 
already been presented. The most irrational, perhaps, 
is that of Captain Dupaix, who gives to the ruins of Pa- 
lenque an antediluvian origin ; and, unfortunately for 
him, he gives his reason, which is the accumulation of 
earth over the figures in the courtyard of the palace. 
His visit was thirty years before ours ; and, though he 
cleared away the earth, the accumulation was again 
probably quite as great when we were there. At all 
events, by his own showing, the figures were not entire- 
ly buried. I have a distinct recollection of the condi- 
tion of those monuments, and have no scruple in saying 
that, if entirely buried, one Irishman, Avith the national 
weapon that has done such service on our canals, would 
in three hours remove the whole of this antediluvian 
deposite. I shall not follow the learned commentaries 
upon this suggestion of Captain Dupaix, except to re- 
mark that much learning and research have been ex- 
pended upon insufficient or incorrect data, or when a 
bias has been given by a statement of facts ; and, put- 
ting ourselves in the same category with those who have 
furnished these data, for the benefit of explorers and 
writers who may succeed us I shall narrow down this 
question to a ground even yet sufficiently broad, viz., a 
comparison of these remains with those of the architec- 
ture and sculpture of other ages and people. 

I set out with the proposition that they are not Cyclo- 


pean, and do not resemble the works of Greek or Ro- 
man ; there is nothing in Europe like them. We must 
look, then, to Asia and Africa. 

It has been supposed that at different periods of time 
vessels from Japan and China have been thrown upon 
the western coast of America. The civilization, culti- 
vation, and science of those countries are known to 
date back from a very early antiquity. Of Japan I be- 
lieve some accounts and drawings have been published, 
but they are not within my reach ; of China, during the 
whole of her long history, the interior has been so com- 
pletely shut against strangers that we know nothing of 
her ancient architecture. Perhaps, however, that time 
is close at hand. At present we know only that they 
have been a people not given to change ; and if their 
ancient architecture is the same with their modern, it 
bears no resemblance whatever to these unknown ruins. 

The monuments of India have been made familiar to 
us. The remains of Hindu architecture exhibit im- 
mense excavations in the rock, either entirely artificial 
or made by enlarging natural caverns, supported in front 
by large columns cut out of the rock, with a dark and 
gloomy interior. 

Among all these American ruins there is not a sin- 
gle excavation. The surface of country, abounding in 
mountain sides, seems to invite it ; but, instead of being 
under ground, the striking feature of these ruins is, that 
the buildings stand on lofty artificial elevations ; and it 
can hardly be supposed that a people emigrating to a 
new country, with that strong natural impulse to per- 
petuate and retain under their eyes memorials of home, 
would have gone so directly counter to national and re- 
ligious associations. 

In sculpture, too, the Hindus differ entirely. Their 


subjects are far more hideous, being in general repre- 
sentations of human beings distorted, deformed, and 
unnatural, very often many-headed, or with three or 
four arms or legs thrown out from the same body. 

Lastly we come to the Egyptians. The point of re- 
semblance upon which the great stress has been laid is 
the pyramid. The pyramidal form is one which sug- 
gests itself to human intelligence in every country as the 
simplest and surest mode of erecting a high structure 
upon a solid foundation. It cannot be regarded, as a 
ground for assigning a common origin to all people 
among whom structures of that character are found, un- 
less the similarity is preserved in its most striking fea- 
tures. The pyramids of Egypt are peculiar and uni- 
form, and were invariably erected for the same uses 
and purposes, so far as those uses and purposes are 
known. They are all square at the base, with steps 
rising and diminishing until they come to a point. The 
nearest approach to this is at Copan ; but even at that 
place there is no entire pyramid standing alone and 
disconnected, nor one with four sides complete, but only 
two, or, at most, three sides, and intended to form 
part of other structures. All the rest, without a single 
exception, were high elevations, with sides so broken 
that we could not make out their form, which, perhaps, 
were merely walled around, and had ranges of steps in 
front and rear, as at Uxmal, or terraces or raised plat- 
forms of earth, at most of three or four ranges, not of 
any precise form, but never square, and with small ran- 
ges of steps in the centre. Besides, the pyramids of 
Egypt are known to have interior chambers, and, what- 
ever their other uses, to have been intended and used 
as sepulchres. These, on the contrary, are of solid 
earth and stone,. No interior chambers have ever been 


discovered, and probably none exist. And the most 
radical difference of all is, the pyramids of Egypt are 
complete in themselves ; the structures of this country 
were erected only to serve as the foundations of build- 
ings. There is no pyramid in Egypt with a palace or 
temple upon it ; there is no pyramidal structure in this 
country without ; at least none from whose condition 
any judgment can be formed. 

But there is one farther consideration, which must be 
conclusive. The pyramids of Egypt, as I have consid- 
ered them, and as they stand now, differ most materially 
from the original structures. Herodotus says that in his 
time the great pyramid was coated with stone, so as to 
present a smooth surface on all its sides from the base 
to the top. The second pyramid of Ghizeh, called the 
Pyramid of Cephrenes, in its present condition, presents 
on the lower part ranges of steps, with an accumulation 
of angular stones at the base, which originally filled up 
the interstices between the steps, but have fallen down. 
In the upper part the intermediate layers are still in their 
places, and the sides present a smooth surface to the top. 
There is no doubt that originally every pyramid in Egypt 
was built with its sides perfectly smooth. The steps 
formed no part of the plan. It is in this state only that 
they ought to be considered, and in this state any pos- 
sible resemblance between them and what are called 
the pyramids of America, ceases. 

Next to the pyramids, the oldest remains of Egyp- 
tian architecture, such as the temple of Absamboul in 
Nubia, like those of the Hindus, are excavations in the 
rock, from which it has been supposed that the Egyp- 
tians derived their style from that people. In later 
times they commenced erecting temples above ground, 
retaining the same features of gloomy grandeur, and 


remarkable for their vastness and the massiveness of 
the stone used in their construction. This does not 
seem to have been aimed at by the American builders. 
Among all these ruins we did not see a stone worthy 
of being laid on the walls of an Egyptian temple. The 
largest single blocks were the "idols" or "obelisks," 
as they have been called, of Copan and Quirigua ; but in 
Egypt stones large as these are raised to a height of twen- 
ty or thirty feet and laid in the walls, while the obelisks 
which stand as ornaments at the doors, towering, a sin- 
gle stone, to the height of ninety feet, so overpower them 
by their grandeur, that, if imitations, they are the fee- 
blest ever attempted by aspiring men. 

Again: columns are a distinguishing feature of Egyp- 
tian architecture, grand and massive, and at this day 
towering above the sands, startling the wondering trav- 
eller in that mysterious country. There is not a temple 
on the Nile without them ; and the reader will bear in 
mindj that among the whole of these ruins not one col- 
umn has been found. If this architecture had been 
derived from the Egyptian, so striking and important a 
feature would never have been thrown aside. The 
dromos, pronaos, and adytum, all equally characteristic 
of Egyptian temples, are also here entirely wanting. 

Next, as to sculpture. The idea of resemblance in 
this particular has been so often and so confidently ex- 
pressed, and the drawings in these pages have so often 
given the same impression, that I almost hesitate to de- 
clare the total want of similarity. What the differences 
are I will not attempt to point out ; but, that the reader 
may have the whole subject before him at once, I have 
introduced a plate of Egyptian sculpture taken from 
Mr. Catherwood's portfolio. The subject on the right 
is from the side of the great monument at Thebes known 

VOL. II. 3 K 


as the vocal Memnon, and has never before been en- 
graved. The other is the top of the fallen obelisk of 
Carnac ; and I think, by comparison with the engra- 
vings before presented, it will be found that there is no 
resemblance whatever. If there be any at all striking, 
it is only that the figures are in profile, and this is 
equally true of all good sculpture in bas-relief. 

There is, then, no resemblance in these remains to 
those of the Egyptians ; and, failing here, we look else- 
where in vain. They are different from the works of 
any other known people, of a new order, and entirely 
and absolutely anomalous : they stand alone. 

I invite to this subject the special attention of those 
familiar with the arts of other countries ; for, unless I am 
wrong, we have a.conclusion far more interesting and 
wonderful than that of connecting the builders of these 
cities with the Egyptians or any other people. It is the 
spectacle of a people skilled in architecture, sculpture, 
and drawing, and, beyond doubt, other more perishable 
arts, and possessing the cultivation and refinement at- 
tendant upon these, not derived from the Old World, 
but originating and growing up here, without models or 
masters, having a distinct, separate, independent exist- 
ence ; like the plants and fruits of the soil, indigenous. 

I shall not attempt to inquire into the origin of this 
people, from what country they came, or when, or how ; 
I shall confine myself to their works and to the ruins. 

I am inclined to think that there are not sufficient 
grounds for the belief in the great antiquity that has 
been ascribed to these ruins ; that they are not the 
works of people who have passed away, and whose his- 
tory has become unknown ; but, opposed as is my idea 
to all previous speculations, that they were constructed 
by the races who occupied the country at the time of 


the invasion by the Spaniards, or of some not very dis- 
tant progenitors. 

And this opinion is founded, first, upon the appear- 
ance and condition of the remains themselves. The 
climate and rank luxuriance of soil are most destructive 
to all perishable materials. For six months every year 
exposed to the deluge of tropical rains, and with trees 
growing through the doorways of buildings and on the 
tops, it seems impossible that, after a lapse of two or 
three thousand years, a single edifice could now be 

The existence of wooden beams, and at Uxmal in a 
perfect state of preservation, confirms this opinion. The 
durability of wood will depend upon its quality and 
exposure. In Egypt, it is true, wood has been dis- 
covered sound and perfect, and certainly three thou- 
sand years old ; but even in that dry climate none has 
ever been found in a situation at all exposed. It occurs 
only in coffins in the tombs and mummy-pits of Thebes, 
and in wooden cramps connecting two stones together, 
completely shut in and excluded from the air. 

Secondly, my opinion is founded upon historical ac- 
counts. Herrera, perhaps the most reliable of the Span- 
ish historians, says of Yucatan : " The whole country is 
divided into eighteen districts, and in all of them were 
so many and such stately Stone Buildings that it was 
amazing, and the greatest Wonder is, that having no 
Use of any Metal, they were able to raise such Struc- 
tures, which seem to have been Temples, for their 
Houses were always of Timber and thatched. In those 
Edifices were carved the Figures of naked Men, with 
Earrings after the Indian manner, Idols of all Sorts, 
Lions, Pots or Jarrs," &c. ; and again, " after the part- 
ing of these lords, for the space of twenty years there 


was such plenty through the Country, and the People 
multiplied so much, that old Men said the whole Prov- 
ince looked like one Town, and then they applied them- 
selves to build more Temples, which produced so great 
a number of them." 

Of the natives he says, " They flattened their Heads 
and Foreheads, their Ears bor'd with Rings in them. 
Their Faces were generally good, and not very brown, 
but without Beards, for they scorched them when young, 
that they might not grow. Their Hair was long like 
Women, and in Tresses, with which they made a Gar- 
land about the Head, and a little Tail hung behind." 
" The prime Men wore a Rowler eight Fingers broad 
round about them instead of Breeches, and going sev- 
eral times round thg Waste, so that one end of it hung* 
before and the other behind, with fine Feather-work, and 
had large square Mantles knotted on their Shoulders, and 
Sandals or Buskins made of Deer's Skins." The read- 
er almost sees here, in the flatted heads and costumes 
of the natives, a picture of the sculptured and stuccoed 
figures at Palenque, which, though a little beyond the 
present territorial borders of Yucatan, was perhaps once 
a part of that province. 

Besides the glowing and familiar descriptions given 
by Cortez of the splendour exhibited in the buildings 
of Mexico, I have within my reach the authority of but 
one eyewitness. It is that of Bernal Diaz de Castillo, 
a follower and sharer in all the expeditions attending 
the conquest of Mexico. 

Beginning with the first expedition, he says, " On 
approaching Yucatan, we perceived a large town at the 
distance of two leagues from the coast, which, from its 
size, it exceeding any town in Cuba, we named Grand 
Cairo." Upon the invitation of a chief, who came off 


in a canoe, they went ashore, and set out to march to 
the town, but on their way were surprised by the na- 
tives, whom, however, they repulsed, killing fifteen. 
" Near the place of this ambuscade," he says, " were 
three buildings of lime and stone, wherein were idols of 
clay with diabolical countenances," &c. " The build- 
ings of lime and stone, and the gold, gave us a high idea 
of the country we had discovered." 

In fifteen days' farther sailing, they discovered from 
the ships a large town, with an inlet, and went ashore 
for water. While filling their casks they were accost- 
ed by fifty Indians, " dressed in cotton mantles," who 
" by signs invited us to their town." Proceeding thith- 
er, they " arrived at some large and very well-construct- 
ed buildings of lime and stone, with figures of serpents 
and of idols painted upon the walls." 

In the second expedition, sailing along the coast, they 
passed a low island, about three leagues from the main, 
where, on going ashore, they found " two buildings of 
lime and stone, well constructed, each with steps, and 
an altar placed before certain hideous figures, the rep- 
resentations of the gods of these Indians." 

His third expedition was under Cortez, and in this 
his regard for truth and the reliance that may be placed 
upon him are happily shown in the struggle between 
deep religious feeling and belief in the evidence of his 
senses, which appears in his comment upon Gomara's 
account of their first battle. " In his account of this 
action, Gomara says that, previous to the arrival of the 
main body under Cortez, Francisco de Morla appeared 
in the field upon a gray dappled horse, and that it was 
one of the holy apostles, St. Peter or St. Jago, disguised 
under his person. I say that all our works and victo- 
ries are guided by the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ, 


and that in this battle there were so many enemies to 
every one of us, that they could have buried us under 
the dust they could have held in their hands, but that 
the great mercy of God aided us throughout. What 
Gomara asserts may be the case, and I, sinner as I am, 
was not permitted to see it. What I did see was 
Francisco de Morla riding in company with Cortez and 
the rest upon a chestnut horse. But although I, unwor- 
thy sinner that I am, was unfit to behold either of these 
apostles, upward of four hundred of us were present. 
Let their testimony be taken. Let inquiry also be made 
how it happened that, when the town was founded on 
that spot, it was not named after one or other of these 
holy apostles, and called St. Jago de la Vittoria or St. 
Pedro de la Vittorfa, as it was Santa Maria, and a church 
erected and dedicated to one of these holy saints. 
Very bad Christians were we, indeed, according to the 
account of Gomara, who, when God sent us his apos- 
tles to fight at our head, did not every day after ac- 
knowledge and return thanks for so great a mercy !" 

Setting out on their march to Mexico, they arrived at 
Cempoal, entering which, he says, " We were surprised 
with the beauty of the buildings." " Our advanced 
guard having gone to the great square, the buildings of 
which had been lately whitewashed and plastered, in 
which art these people are very expert, one of our horse- 
men was so struck with the splendour of their appear- 
ance in the sun, that he came back in full speed to 
Cortez to tell him that the walls of the houses were of 

Offended by the abominable custom of human sacri- 
fices, Cortez determined to suppress by force their idol- 
atrous worship, and destroy their false gods. The 
chiefs ordered the people to arm in defence of their 


tempie ; " but when they saw that we were preparing 
to ascend the great flight of steps," they said " they 
could not help themselves ; and they had hardly said 
this, when fifty of us, going- up for the purpose, threw 
down and broke in pieces the enormous idols which we 
found within the temple." Cortez then caused a num- 
ber of " Indian masons to be collected, with lime, which 
abounded in that place, and had the walls cleared of 
blood and new plastered" 

As they approached the territory of Mexico, he con- 
tinues, " Appearances demonstrated that we had entered 
a new country, for the temples were very lofty, and, to- 
gether with the terraced dwellings and the houses of the 
cacique, being plastered and whitewashed, appeared very 
well, and resembled some of our towns in Spain." 

Farther on he says, " We arrived at a kind of fortifi- 
cation, built of lime and stone, of so strong a nature that 
nothing but tools of iron could nave any effect upon it. 
The people informed us that it was built by the Tlasca- 
lans, on whose territory it stood, as a defence against 
the incursions of the Mexicans." 

At Tehuacingo, after a sanguinary battle, in which 
the Indians " drew off and left the field to them, who 
were too much fatigued to follow," he adds, "As soon 
as we found ourselves clear of them, we returned thanks 
to God for his mercy, and, entering a strong and spa- 
cious temple, we dressed our wounds with the fat of In- 

Arrived at Cholula, Cortez immediately " sent some 
soldiers to a great temple hard by our quarters, with or- 
ders to bring, as quietly as they could, two priests." 
In this they succeeded. One of them was a person of 
rank and authority over all the temples of the city. 
Again "within the high walls of the courts where we 



were quartered." And again : the city of Cholnla, he 
says, " much resembled Valladolid." It " had at that 
time above a hundred lofty white towers, which were 
the temples of their idols. The principal temple was 
higher than that of Mexico, and each of these buildings 
was placed in a spacious court." 

Approaching the city of Mexico, he gives way to a 
burst of enthusiasm. " We could compare it to nothing 
but the enchanted scenes we had read of in Amadis de 
Gaul, from the great towers, and temples, and other edi- 
fices of lime and stone which seemed to rise up out of 
the water." 

" We were received by great lords of that country, 
relations of Montezuma, who conducted us to our lodg- 
ings there in palaces magnificently built of stone, the 
timber of which was cedar, with spacious courts and 
apartments furnished with canopies of the finest cotton. 
The whole was ornamented with works of art painted, 
and admirably plastered and whitened, and it was ren- 
dered more delightful by numbers of beautiful birds." 

" The palace in which we were lodged was very light, 
airy, clean, and pleasant, the entry being through a great 

Montezuma, in his first interview with Cortez, says, 
" The Tlascalans have, I know, told you that I am like 
a god, and that all about me is gold, and silver, and 
precious stones ; but you now see that I am mere flesh 
and blood, and that my houses are built like other houses, 
of lime, and stone, and timber." 

" At the great square we were astonished at the 
crowds of people and the regularity which prevailed, 
and the vast quantities of merchandise." 

" The entire square was enclosed in piazzas." 

" From the square we proceeded to the great temple, 


but before we entered it we made a circuit through a 
number of large courts, the smallest of which appeared 
to me to contain more ground than the great square of 
Salamanca, with double enclosures, built of lime and 
stone, and the courts paved with large white cut stones, 
or, where not paved, they were plastered and polished." 
" The ascent to the great temple was by a hundred 
and fourteen steps." 

" From the platform on the summit of the temple, 
Montezuma, taking Cortez by the hand, pointed out 
to him the different parts of the city and its vicinity, all 
of which were commanded from that place." " We 
observed also the temples and adoratories of the adja- 
cent cities, built in the form of towers and fortresses, 
and others on the causeway, all whitewashed and won- 
derfully brilliant." 

" The noise and bustle of the market-place could be 
heard almost a league off, and those who had been at 
Rome and Constantinople said that for convenience, 
regularity, and population they had never seen the 

During the siege he speaks of being " quartered in a 
lofty temple;" "marching up the steps of the temple;" 
" some lofty temples which we now battered with our ar- 
tillery ;" " the lofty temples where Diego Velasquez and 
Salvatierra were posted ;" " the breaches which they had 
made in the walls ;" "cut stone taken from the build- 
ings from the terraces." 

Arrived at the great temple, instantly above four 
thousand Mexicans rushed up into it, who for some 
time prevented them from ascending. " Although the 
cavalry several times attempted to charge, the stone 
pavements of the courts of the temple were so smooth 
that the horses could not keep their feet, and fell." 
VOL. II. 3 L 


" Their numbers were such that we could not make 
any effectual impression or ascend the steps. At length 
we forced our way up. Here Cortez showed himself 
the man that he really was. What a desperate engage- 
ment we then had ! Every man of us was covered with 

" They drove us down six, and even ten of the steps ; 
while others who were in the corridors, or within side 
of the railings and concavities of the great temple, shot 
such clouds of arrows at us that we could not main- 
tain our ground," " began our retreat, every man of us 
being wounded, and forty-six of us left dead on the 
spot. I have often seen this engagement represented 
in the paintings of the natives both of Mexico and Tlas- 
cala, and our ascent into the great temple" 

Again, he speaks of arriving at a village and taking 
up their "quarters in a strong temple;" "assaulting 
them at their posts in the temples and large walled en- 

At Tezcuco " we took up our quarters in some build- 
ings which consisted of large halls and enclosed courts" 
" Alvarado, De Oli, and some soldiers, whereof I was 
one, then ascended to the top of the great temple, which 
was very lofty, in order to notice what was going on in 
the neighbourhood." 

" We proceeded to another town called Terrayuco, 
but which we named the town of the serpents, on ac- 
count of the enormous figures of those animals which we 
found in their temples, and which they worshipped as 

Again : " In this garden our whole force lodged for 
the night. I certainly never had seen one of such mag- 
nificence ; and Cortez and the treasurer Alderete, after 
they had walked through and examined it, declared that 


it was admirable, and equal to any they had ever seen 
in Castille." 

" I and ten more soldiers were posted as a guard 
upon a wall of lime and stone" 

" When we arrived at our quarters at Jacuba it rain- 
ed heavily, and we remained under it for two hours in 
some large enclosed courts. The general, with his cap- 
tains, the treasurer, our reverend father, and many others 
of us, mounted to the top of the temple, which command- 
ed all the lake." 

" We crossed the water up to our necks at the pass 
they had left open, and followed them until we came to 
a place where were large temples and towers of idols." 

" As Cortez now lodged at Cuejoacan, in large build- 
ings with white walls, very well adapted for scribbling 
on, there appeared every morning libels against him in 
prose and verse. I recollect the words of one only : 

' Que trista esta el alma mea 
Hasta que la parte vea.' 

How anxious I am for a share of the plunder." 

" When our party (for I went with Sandoval) arrived 
at Tustepeque, I took up my lodgings in the summit of 
a tower in a very high temple, partly for the fresh air 
and to avoid the moschetoes, which were very trouble- 
some below, and partly to be near Sandoval's quarters." 
" We pursued our route to the city of Chiapas, in the 
same province with Palenque, and a city it might be 
called, from the regularity of its streets and houses. It 
contained not less than four thousand families, not reck- 
oning the population of the many dependant towns in 
its neighbourhood." "We found the whole force of 
Chiapas drawn up to receive us. Their troops were 
adorned with plumage." 

" On our arrival we found it too closely built to be 


safely occupied by us, and we therefore pitched our 
camp in the open field. In their temples we found idols 
of a horrid figure." 

Now it will be recollected that Bernal Diaz wrote to 
do justice to himself and others of the " true conquerors," 
his companions in arms, whose fame had been obscured 
by other historians not actors and eyewitnesses ; all his 
references to buildings are incidental ; he never expect- 
ed to be cited as authority upon the antiquities of the 
country. The pettiest skirmish with the natives was 
nearer his heart than all the edifices of lime and stone 
which he saw, and it is precisely on that account that 
his testimony is the more valuable. It was written at a 
time when there were many living who could contradict 
him if incorrect or false. His " true history" never was 
impeached ; on the contrary, while its style was consid- 
ered rude and inelegant, its fidelity and truth have been 
acknowledged by all contemporaneous and subsequent 
historians. In my opinion, it is as true and reliable as 
any work of travels on the countries through which he 
fought his way. It gives the hurried and imperfect ob- 
servations of an unlettered soldier, whose sword was 
seldom in its scabbard, surrounded by dangers, attack- 
ing, retreating, wounded, and flying, with his mind con- 
stantly occupied by matters of more pressing moment. 

The reader cannot fail to be struck with the general 
resemblance between the objects described by him and 
the scenes referred to in these pages. His account 
presents to my mind a vivid picture of the ruined cities 
which we visited, as they once stood, with buildings of 
lime and stone, painted and sculptured ornaments, and 
plastered; idols, courts, strong walls, and lofty temples 
with high, ranges of steps. 

But if this is not sufficient, I have farther and strong- 


er support. After the siege of Mexico, on the re-entry 
of the Spaniards, a ruthless and indiscriminate destruc- 
tion fell upon every building and monument in the city. 
No memorials of the arts of the Mexicans were left ; 
but in the year 1790, two statues and a flat stone, with 
sculptured characters relative to the Mexican calendar, 
were discovered and dug up from among the remains 
of the great Teocalli in the plaza of the city of Mexico. 
The statues excited great interest among the Mexican 
Indians, and the priests, afraid of their relapsing into 
idolatry, and to destroy all memorials of their ancient 
rites, buried them in the court of the Franciscan Con- 
vent. The calendar was fixed in a conspicuous place 
in the wall of the Cathedral, where it now stands. In 
the centre, and forming the principal subject of this 
calendar, is a face, published in Humboldt's work, 
which in one particular bears so strong a resemblance 
to that called the mask, in the frontispiece of this volume, 
as to suggest the idea that they were intended for the 
same. There are palpable differences, but perhaps the 
expression of the eyes is changed and improved in the 
engraving published, and, at all events, in both the pe- 
culiar and striking feature is that of the tongue hanging 
out of the mouth. The calendar is in bas-relief, and, 
as I understand from a gentleman who has seen it, the 
sculpture is good.* 

And, lastly, among the hieroglyphical paintings which 
escaped destruction from monkish fanaticism are cer- 
tain Mexican manuscripts now in the libraries of Dres- 
den and Vienna. These have been published in Hum- 
boldt's work and in that of Lord Kingsborough, and, on 
a careful examination, we are strongly of the opinion 
that the characters are the same with those found on 

Vues de las Cordilleras, vol. xiii., p. 276. 



/he monuments and tablets at Copan and Palenque. 
For the sake of comparison I have introduced again the 
engraving of the top of the altar at Copan, and another 
from a hieroglyphical manuscript published in Hum- 
boldt's work. Differences, it is true, are manifest ; 


4' \Z*) \(fTi3 t j frr*/ |||^ 


but it must be borne in mind that in the former the char- 
acters are carved on stone, and in the latter written on 
paper (made of the Agave Mexicana). Probably, for 
this reason, they want the same regularity and finish ; 
but, altogether, the reader cannot fail to mark the 
strong similarity, and this similarity cannot be acci- 
dental. The inference is, that the Aztecs or Mexicans, 
at the time of the conquest, had the same written lan- 
guage with the people of Copan and Palenque. 

I have thus very briefly, and without attempting to 
controvert the opinions and speculations of others, pre- 
sented our own views upon the subject of these ruins. 
As yet we perhaps stand alone in these views, but I 
repeat my opinion that we are not warranted in going 
back to any ancient nation of the Old World for the 
builders of these cities ; that they are not the work of 
people who have passed away and whose history is lost, 
but that there are strong reasons to believe them the 
creations of the same races who inhabited the country at 
the time of the Spanish conquest, or some not very dis- 
tant progenitors. And I would remark that we began 
our exploration without any theory to support. Our 
feelings were in favour of going back to a high and 
venerable antiquity. During the greater part of our 
journey we were groping in the dark, in doubt and un- 
certainty, and it was not until our arrival at the ruins of 
Uxmal that we formed our opinion of their compara- 
tively modern date. Some are beyond doubt older than 
others ; some are known to have been inhabited at the 
time of the Spanish conquest, and others, perhaps, were 
really in ruins before ; and there are points of difference 
which as yet cannot very readily be explained ; but in re- 
gard to Uxmal, at least, we believe that it was an ex- 
isting and inhabited city at the time of the arrival of the 


Spaniards. Its desolation and ruin since are easily ac- 
counted for. With the arrival of the Spaniards the 
sceptre of the Indians departed. In the city of Mex- 
ico every house was razed to the ground, and, beyond 
doubt, throughout the country every gathering-place 
or stronghold was broken up, the communities scat- 
tered, their lofty temples thrown down, and their idols 
burned, the palaces of the caciques ruined, the caciques 
themselves made bondmen, and, by the same ruthless 
policy which from time immemorial has been pursued 
in a conquered country, all the mementoes of their an- 
cestors and lost independence were destroyed or made 
odious in their eyes. And, without this, we have au- 
thentic accounts of great scourges which swept over, and 
for a time depopulated and desolated, the whole of Yu- 

It perhaps destroys much of the interest that hangs 
over these ruins to assign to them a modern date ; but 
we live in an age whose spirit is to discard phantasms 
and arrive at truth, and the interest lost in one partic- 
ular is supplied in another scarcely inferior ; for, the 
nearer we can bring the builders of these cities to our 
own times, the greater is our chance of knowing all. 
Throughout the country the convents are rich in manu- 
scripts and documents written by the early fathers, ca- 
ciques, and Indians, who very soon acquired the knowl- 
edge of Spanish and the art of writing. These have 
never been examined with the slightest reference to this 
subject ; and I cannot help thinking that some precious 
memorial is now mouldering in the library of a neigh- 
bouring convent, which would determine the history of 
some one of these ruined cities ; moreover, I cannot 
help believing that the tablets of hieroglyphics will yet 
be read. No strong curiosity has hitherto been direct- 


ed to them ; vigour and acuteness of intellect, knowl- 
edge and learning, have never been expended upon 
them. For centuries the hieroglyphics of Egypt were 
inscrutable, and, though not perhaps in our day, I feel 
persuaded that a key surer than that of the Rosetta stone 
will be discovered. And if only three centuries have 
elapsed since any one of these unknown cities was in- 
habited, the race of the inhabitants is not extinct. Their 
descendants are still in the land, scattered, perhaps, and 
retired, like our own Indians, into wildernesses which 
have never yet been penetrated by a white man, but 
not lost ; living as their fathers did, erecting the same 
buildings of " lime and stone," " with ornaments of 
sculpture and plastered," " large courts," and " lofty 
towers with high ranges of steps," and still carving on 
tablets of stone the same mysterious hieroglyphics ; and 
if, in consideration that I have not often indulged in 
speculative conjecture, the reader will allow one flight, 
I turn to that vast and unknown region, untraversed 
by a single road, wherein fancy pictures that mysteri- 
ous city seen from the topmost range of the Cordilleras, 
of unconquered, unvisited, and unsought aboriginal in- 

In conclusion, I am at a loss to determine which 
would be the greatest enterprise, an attempt to reach 
this mysterious city, to decipher the tablets of hiero- 
glyphics, or to wade through the accumulated manu- 
scripts of three centuries in the libraries of the convents. 

VOL. II. 3 M 



Journey to Merida. Village of Moona. A Pond of Water, a Curiosity. Aboula. 
Indian Runners. Merida. Departure. Hunucama. Siege of Campeachy. 
Embarcation for Havana. Incidents of the Passage. Fourth of July at Sea. 
Shark-fishing. Getting lost at Sea. Relieved by the Helen Maria. Pas- 
sage to New-York. Arrival. Conclusion. 

BUT to return to ourselves. At three, by the light of 
the moon, we left Uxmal by the most direct road for Me- 
rida, Mr. Catherwood in a coach and I on horseback, 
charged with a letter from the junior major-domo to his 
compatriot and friend, Delmonico's head chocolate-ma- 
ker. As I followed Mr. C. through the woods, borne on 
the shoulders of Indians, the stillness broken only by the 
shuffle of their feet, and under my great apprehensions for 
his health, it almost seemed as if I were following his bier. 
At the distance of three leagues we entered the village of 
Moona, where, though a fine village, having white peo- 
ple and Mestitzoes among its inhabitants, travellers were 
more rare than in the interior of Central America. We 
were detained two hours at the casa real, waiting for a 
relief coach. At a short distance beyond, my guide 
led me out of the road to show me a pond of water, 
which in that country was a curiosity. It was sur- 
rounded by woods ; wild cattle were drinking on the 
borders, and started like deer at our approach. At the 
distance of four leagues we reached the village of 
Aboula, with a plaza enclosed by a rough picket-fence, 
a good casa real and fine old alcalde, who knew our 
servant as belonging to the Peon family. 

There was no intermediate village, and he undertook 


to provide us with relief Indians to carry the coach 
through to Merida, twenty-seven miles. It was grow- 
ing late, and I went on before with a horse for change, 
to reach Merida in time to make arrangements for a 
caleche the next day. 

Toward evening it rained hard. At dark I began to 
have apprehension of leaving Mr. Catherwood behind, 
sent the servant on to secure the caleche, and dismount- 
ed to wait. I was too dreadfully fatigued to ride back, 
and sat down in the road ; by degrees I stretched my- 
self on a smooth stone, with the bridle around my wrist, 
and, after a dreamy debate whether my horse would 
tread on me or not, fell asleep. I was roused by a jerk 
which nearly tore my arm off, and saw coming through 
the woods Indian runners with blazing pine torches, 
lighting the way for the coach, which had an aspect so 
funereal that it almost made me shudder. Mr. C. had 
had his difficulties. After carrying him about a league, 
the Indians stopped, laid him down, and, after an ani- 
mated conversation, took him up, went on, but in a little 
while laid him down again, and, thrusting their heads 
under the cover of the coach, made him an eager 
and clamorous address, of which he did not under- 
stand one word. At length he picked up dos pesos, or 
two dollars, and gathered that they wanted two dollars 
more. As the alcalde had adjusted the account, he re- 
fused to pay, and, after a noisy wrangle, they quietly 
took him up on their shoulders, and began trotting back 
with him to the village. This made him tractable, and 
he paid the money, threatening them as well as he could 
with vengeance; but the amusing part was that they 
were right. The alcalde had made a mistake in the 
calculation ; and, on a division and distribution on the 
road, by hard pounding and calculating, each one 



knowing what he ought to receive himself, they discov- 
ered that they had been paid two dollars short. The 
price was twenty-five cents per man for the first, and 
eighteen cents for every subsequent league, besides fifty 
cents for making the coach ; so that, with four men for 
relief, it was two dollars for the first league, and a dol- 
lar and a half for every subsequent one ; and a calcula- 
tion of the whole amount for nine leagues was rather 

It was half past one when we reached Merida, and 
we had been up and on the road since two in the morn- 
ing. Fortunately, with the easy movement of the coach, 
Mr. C. had suffered but little. I was tired beyond all 
measure ; but I had, what enabled me to endure any 
degree of fatigue, a good cot, and was soon asleep. 

The next morning we saw my friend Don Simon, 
who was preparing to go back and join us. I cannot 
sufficiently express my sense of the kindness we receiv- 
ed from himself and his family, and only hope that I 
may have an opportunity at some future time of return- 
ing it in my own country. He promised, when we re- 
turned, to go down with us and assist in a thorough 
exploration of the ruins. The Spanish vessel was to 
sail the next day. Toward evening, after a heavy rain, 
as the dark clouds were rolling away, and the setting 
sun was tinging them with a rich golden border, we left 
Merida. At eleven o'clock we reached Hunucama, 
and stopped in the plaza two hours to feed the horses. 
While here, a party of soldiers arrived from the port, 
waving pine torches, having just returned victorious 
from the siege of Campeachy. They were all young, 
ardent, well dressed, and in fine spirits, and full of 
praises of their general, who, they said, had remained 
at Sisal to attend a ball, and was coining on as soon a? 


it was over. Resuming our journey, in an hour more 
we met a train of caliches, with officers in uniform. 
We stopped, congratulated the general upon his victory 
at Campeachy, inquired for a United States' sloop-of- 
war which we had heard was there during the block- 
ade, and, with many interchanges of courtesy, but with- 
out seeing a feature of each other's faces, resumed our 
separate roads. An hour before daylight we reached 
Sisal, at six o'clock we embarked on board the Spanish 
brig Alexandre for Havana, and at eight we were un- 
der way. 

It was the twenty-fourth of June ; and now, as we 
thought, all our troubles were ended. The morning 
was fine. We had eight passengers, all Spanish; one 
of whom, from the interior, when he came down to the 
shore and saw the brig in the offing, asked what ani- 
mal it was. From my great regard to the captain, I 
will not speak of the brig or of its condition, particular- 
ly the cabin, except to say that it was Spanish. The 
wind was light ; we breakfasted on deck, making the 
top of the companion-way serve as a table under an 
awning. The captain told us we would be in Havana 
in a week. 

Our course lay along the coast of Yucatan toward 
Cape Catoche. On Sunday, the 28th, we had made, 
according to the brig's reckoning, about one hundred 
and fifty miles, and were then becalmed. The sun was 
intensely hot, the sea of glassy stillness, and all day a 
school of sharks were swimming around the brig. From 
this time we had continued calms, and the sea was like 
a mirror, heated and reflecting its heat. On the Fourth 
of July there was the same glassy stillness, with light 
clouds, but fixed and stationary. The captain said we 
were incantado or enchanted, and really it almost seem- 


ed so. We had expected to celebrate this day by dining 
with the American consul in Havana ; but our vessel lay 
like a log, and we were scorching, and already pinched 
for water ; the bare thought of a Fourth of July dinner 
meanwhile making Spanish ship-cookery intolerable. 
We had read through all the books in the mate's libra- 
ry, consisting of some French novels translated into 
Spanish, and a history of awful shipwrecks. To break 
the monotony of the calm, we had hooks and lines out 
constantly for sharks ; the sailors called them, like the 
alligators, ennemigos de los Christianos, hoisted them 
on deck, cut out their hearts and entrails, and then 
threw them overboard. We were already out ten days, 
and growing short of provisions ; we had two young 
shaiks for dinner. Apart from the associations, they 
were not bad quite equal to young alligators ; and the 
captain told us that in Campeachy they were regularly 
in the markets, and eaten by all classes. In the after- 
noon they gathered around us fearfully. Everything that 
fell overboard was immediately snapped up ; and the 
hat of a passenger which fell from his head had hardly 
touched the water before a huge fellow turned over on 
his side, opened his ugly mouth above the water, and 
swallowed it : luckily, the man was not under it. To- 
ward evening we caught a leviathan, raised him four or 
five feet out of the water with the hook, and the sail- 
ors, leaning over, beat his brains with the capstan bars 
till he was motionless ; then fastening a rope with 
a slipnoose under his fins, with the ship's tackle they 
hoisted him on deck. He seemed to fill half the side 
of the vessel. The sailors opened his mouth, and fas- 
tened the jaws apart with a marlinspike, turned him 
over on his back, ripped him open, and tore out his 
heart and entrails. They then chopped off about a foot 


of his tail and threw him overboard ; what he did I will 
not mention, lest it should bring discredit upon other 
parts of these pages which the reader is disposed to 
think may be true ; but the last we saw of him he 
seemed to be feeling for his tail. 

In the afternoon of the next day we crossed a strong 
current setting to northwest, which roared like break- 
ers ; soundings before one hundred and twenty fathoms j 
during the evening there was no bottom, and we sup- 
posed we must have passed Cape Catoche. 

On the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh 
and twelfth there was the same dead calm, with a seu 
like glass and intense heat. We were scant of provis- 
ions, and alarmed for entire failure of water. The cap- 
tain was a noble Spaniard, who comforted the passen- 
gers by repeating every morning that we were enchant- 
ed, but for several days he had been uneasy and alarmed. 
He had no chronometer on board. He had been thirty 
years trading from Havana to different ports in the Gulf 
of Mexico, and had never used one ; but out of sound- 
ings, among currents, with nothing but the log, he could 
not determine his longitude, and was afraid of getting 
into the Gulf Stream and being carried past Havana. 
Our chronometer had been nine months in hard use, 
jolted over severe mountain roads, and, as we suppo- 
sed, could not be relied upon. Mr. Catherwood made 
a calculation with an old French table of logarithms 
which happened to be on board, but with results so dif- 
ferent from the captain's reckoning that we supposed it 
could not be correct. At this time our best prospect 
was that of reaching Havana in the midst of the yellow 
fever season, sailing from there in the worst hurricane 
month, and a quarantine at Staten Island. 

On the thirteenth of July everything on board was 


getting scarce, and with crew and passengers twenty 
in number, we broached our last cask of water. The 
heat was scorching, and the calm and stillness of the 
sea were fearful. All said we were enchanted ; and the 
sailors added, half in earnest, that it was on account of 
the heretics ; sharks more numerous than ever \ we 
could not look over the side of the vessel without see- 
ing three or four, as if waiting for prey. 

On the fourteenth the captain was alarmed. The log 
was thrown regularly, but could not give his position. 
Toward evening we saw an enormous monster, with a 
straight black head ten feet out of water, moving di- 
rectly toward us. The captain, looking at it from the 
rigging with a glass, said it was not a whale. Another 
of the same kind appeared at the stern, and we were 
really nervous ; but we were relieved by hearing them 
spout, and seeing a column of water thrown into the air. 
At dark they were lying huge and motionless on the 
surface of the water. 

On the fifteenth, to our great joy, a slight breeze 
sprang up in the morning, and the log gave three miles 
an hour. At twelve o'clock we took the latitude, which 
was in 25 10', and found that in steering southward at 
the rate of three miles an hour by the log, we were fifty- 
five miles to the northward of the reckoning of the day 
before. The captain now believed that we were in the 
midst of the Gulf Stream, had been so perhaps two or 
three days, and were then two or three hundred miles 
past Havana. Mr. Catherwood's chronometer gave 88 
longitude ; but this was so far out of the way by our 
dead reckoning, that, with our distrust of the chronome- 
ter, we all disregarded it, and the captain especially. 
We were then in a very bad position, short of provis- 
ions and water, and drifted past our port. The captain 


called aft passengers, sailors, cook, and cabin-boy, spread 
the chart on the companion-way, and pointed out our 
supposed position, saying that he wished to take the 
advice of all on board as to what was best to be done. 
The mate sat by with the log-book to take notes. All 
remained silent until the cook spoke, and said that the 
captain knew best ; the sailors and passengers assented ; 
for, although we considered it all uncertain, and that we 
were completely lost, we believed that he knew better 
than anybody else. The captain pointed out the course 
of the Gulf Stream, sajd it would be impossible to turn 
back against it, and, having a light, favourable breeze, 
recommended that we should follow the stream, and 
bear up for New Providence for a supply of provisions 
and water. All assented, and so we put about from 
the south and squared the yards for the northeast. At 
that moment we considered ourselves farther from Ha- 
vana than when we started. 

With most uncomfortable feelings we sat down to a 
scanty meal. Supposing that we were in the Gulf 
Stream and in the track of vessels, the captain sent a 
man aloft to look out for a sail, who very soon, to our 
great joy, reported a brig to leeward. We hoisted our 
flag and bore down upon her. As we approached she 
answered our signal, and with a glass we recognised 
the American ensign. In an hour we were nearly with- 
in hailing distance ; the captain could not speak Eng- 
ish, and gave me the speaking-trumpet ; but fancying, 
from his movements, that our countryman did not like 
he Spanish colours, and afraid of some technical irreg- 
ularity in my hail, which would make us an object of 
suspicion, we begged him to lower the jolly-boat. This 
was lying on the deck, with her bottom upward and her 
seams opened by the sun. The water poured into her 
VOL. II. 3 N 


and before we were fifty yards from the brig she was 
half full. "We sat up on the gunwale, and two of the 
men had as much as they could do to keep her afloat, 
while we urged the others to pull. Sharks were play- 
ing around us. and for a few moments we wished to be 
back on board the old brig. A breeze seemed to strike 
the vessel, which for two or three minutes kept steadily 
on ; but, to our great relief, she hove to and took us on 
board. Our Spanish colours, and our irregular move- 
ment in attempting to board without hailing, had exci- 
ted suspicion, and the sailors said we were pirates ; but 
the captain, a long, cool-headed down-easter, standing 
on the quarter with both his hands in his pockets, and 
seeing the sinking condition of our boat, said, " Them's 
no pirates." The brig was the Helen Maria, of North 
Yarmouth, Sweetzer, master, from Tobasco, and bound 
to New- York ! The reader cannot imagine the satis- 
faction with which I greeted on the high seas a coun- 
tryman bound for New- York. My first question was 
whether he could take us on board, next for provisions 
and water for our friends, and then where we were. 
He showed us his observation for the day. We were 
about four hundred miles from the spot we supposed. 
The current which sets up between Cape Catoche and 
Cape Antonio the captain had taken for the Gulf Stream. 
If we had attended to Mr. C.'s chronometer we should 
not have been far out of the way. As it was, we were 
perfectly lost ; and if we had not met this vessel, I do not 
know what would have become of us. The captain 
was but seven days from Tobasco, with a wind that had 
carried away one of his sails, and had lost one of his men. 
He had no surplus of provisions, particularly with two 
additional passengers ; but he sent on board what he 
could, and a supply of water. We returned, told the 


captain, much to his surprise and astonishment, of his 
position, not more than two hundred miles from Sisal, 
and bade all hands farewell. They were not sorry to 
get rid of us, for the absence of two mouths was an 
object; and though, perhaps, in their hearts they thought 
their bad luck was on account of the heretics, it was 
pleasant, that with all our vexations, parting thus on the 
wide ocean, we shook hands with captain, passengers, 
sailors, cook, and cabin-boy, having no unkind feeling 
with any one on board. How long they were out I do 
not know, but I heard that they arrived at Havana in 
wretched condition, having eaten up the last morsel on 

Our new vessel had a full cargo of logwood, the deck 
being loaded even with the quarter, and stowed so close 
that the cabin-door was taken off, and the descent was 
over a water-cask ; but the change from the Spanish to 
the American vessel was a strange transition. The 
former had a captain, two mates, and eight sailors ; the 
latter one mate and three sailors, with plank over the 
deck-load for sailors to run on, an enormous boom main- 
sail, and a tiller instead of a wheel, sweeping the whole 
quarter-deck, and at times requiring two men to hold it. 
In the evening we had two or three hours of calm ; we 
were used to it, but the captain was annoyed ; he de- 
tested a calm ; he had not had one since he left Tobas- 
co ; he could bear anything but a calm. In the evening 
the charm was broken by a squall. The captain hated 
to take in sail, held on till the last moment, and then, 
springing from the tiller, hauled on the ropes himself, 
and was back again at the rudder, all in a flash. Mr. 
C. and I were so well pleased with the change that we 
were in no hurry ; and, noticing the shortness of hands, 
and stumbling over logwood, we suggested to the cap- 


tain that if he lost another man he would have difficulty 
in carrying his vessel into port ; but he put this down 
at once by swearing that, if he lost every hand on board, 
the mate and he could carry her in themselves, deck- 
load and all. 

On the thirty-first of July we arrived at New- York, 
being ten months less three days since we sailed, and 
nine without having received any intelligence whatever 
from our friends at home ; deducting the time passed 
at sea, but seven months and twenty-four days in the 
prosecution of our work. This, I am sure, must recom- 
mend us to every true American ; and here, on the same 
spot from which we set out together, and with but little 
hope of ever journeying with him again, I bid the reader 


HAVING mentioned in the preceding pages efforts to introduce 
into this country some of the antiquities therein described, the 
author considers it proper to say that, immediately on his re- 
turn home, a few friends, whose names he would have great 
pleasure in making known if he were at liberty to do so, under- 
took to provide the sum of $20,000 for the purpose of carrying 
that object into effect. Under their direction, the author wrote 
to his agent at Guatimala, to purchase the ruins of Quirigua, or 
such monuments as it might be considered advisable to remove, at 
a price beyond what would have been accepted for them when 
he left Guatimala ; but, unfortunately, in the mean time, a notice 
taken from Mr. Catherwood's memoranda, and inserted by the 
proprietors in a Guatimala paper, had reached this country, 
been translated and copied into some of our own journals, and 
one eulogistic paragraph, probably forgotten as soon as written, 
was sent back to Guatimala, which gave the proprietor such 
an exaggerated notion of their value that he refused the offer. 
From vague conversations with foreigners who had never seen 
and knew nothing of them, he conceived the idea that all the 
governments of Europe would vie with each other for their pos- 
session ; and still entertaining the foolish belief that the author 
was acting on behalf of his government, said that, if the Presi- 
dent of the United States wanted them, he must pay $20,000 for 
them ; in the mean time, he resolved to wait for offers from 
England and France. By the last advices he was still under the 
same hallucination. . 

In regard to Palenque, the author has just received a letter 
from Mr. Russell, enclosing four documents brought to him by 
Mr. Pawling, which, translated so far as the manuscripts can be 
made out, are as follows : 


" The governor has been informed that the vice-governor of 
Balize" (meaning, no doubt, Mr. Secretary Walker and Captain 
Caddy) " came to explore the ruins a few days since, with fourteen 
armed men, and you have neither prevented him nor given any 
information to this government. 

" Now he is again informed that some citizens of the United 

States of the North are doing the same ; in virtue of which, his 

excellency orders me to tell you to inform him immediately upon 

the truth of these facts, that he may take the necessary measures. 

" God and liberty. 

" ENRIQUE Ruiz. 
" San Cristobal,* October 1, 1840." 

" The subscribers, inhabitants of this town, as true patriots, 
and lovers of the prosperity and advancement of their country, 
before you, with due respect, and with the legal right that we 
may have, appear, spying that it is something like more than 
three months since a citizen of North America, named Henry 
Paulin, has fixed his residence on the ruins in this district, with 
the view of making moulds of every monument and precious 
thing that there is on them ; as, in fact, he is making them, 
since, up to this date ; he has already made something like 
thirty moulds of plaster of Paris, including two which he took to 
the town of Carmen, without giving notice to anybody, and with 
the object of shipping them for the North" (these two have been 
received by the author). " The said moulds are so much like 
the originals, that at the first sight it may be observed that they 
may be taken, surely, for second originals, and no doubt they 
may serve to mould after them as many copies as might be 
wished, and in this manner they may supply the world with 
these precious things without a six cents' piece expense. Mr. 
William Brown, married to Donna Trinidad Garrido, offered 
from eight to ten thousand dollars only for the leave to extract 
four or six principal stones from these rums, in quality of a loan 
* * * * or to * * * * ^ e p rec i s e nature of MR. WILLIAM 
BROWN'S offer cannot be made out, from the illegible character 

* Or Ciudad Real, the capital of the State of Chiapas. 


of the handwriting), " promising all these things with the most 
satisfactory guarantees. Saving you, sir, from any responsibil- 
ity, we take it upon ourselves, since we are aware of your bad 
state of health, and we suppose that you do not know of this fact" 
(manuscript illegible), " on account of this master operation, 
or whosoever is concerned in it, make this gentleman pay four 
or five thousand dollars, to apply them to benevolent works, and 
to the embellishment of this town, or else let him in no manner 
take away with him any of the moulds of plaster of Paris he has 
made and continues making. Indeed, if this treasure is ours, 
and by right belongs to our town, why should it not be benefited 
by it? 

" It is an honour to us, sir, to make a demand of this nature, 
since we have not heard that any offer whatever has been made 
at all about this undertaking up to this date. Let the visitors of 
these ruins make moulds, drawings, &c., but let them also con- 
tribute with sums proportionate to their operations. This is, sir, 
if we are not mistaken, a business of a great speculation. The 
persons concerned in this affair are men of importance. There- 
fore we beg of you most earnestly, and in virtue of our legal 
right, not to permit the removal of any of the said moulds of 
plaster of Paris from this town without the said sums being 
paid, grounded on the great utility that the extractors may de- 
rive from it, as well as on the aforesaid offer made by Mr. Brown. 

" Palenque, October 15, 1840." 

" Don Santiago Froncoso having informed the governor that 
he and two other inhabitants of that town have presented a me- 
morial before you in regard to the removal of the antiquities of 
the ruins at Palenque, his excellency consulted the departmental 
junta on the subject, which junta answered by approving the pe- 
tition, which copy I send you enclosed, with the decree of his ex- 
cellency written under it, that you may cause it to be fulfilled. 
I send you, likewise, two copies of the regulations for passports 
for the archives of that subprefecture, with the object that the 



subprefect should act according to it, in the introduction of for- 
eigners in your district, and also a copy of the order of the 17th 
of June, 1835, and his excellency orders me to tell you to inform 
him immediately with regard to the issue of the fulfilment of his 
said decree. 

" It is a copy. God and liberty. 

" San Cristobal, December 1, 1840." 

" His excellency the governor, having read youi information 
of the 15th inst., orders me to tell you to keep a watchful eye 
upon the strangers who visit the ruins ; and when any of them 
arrive, to give notice of it to this government without delay, ex- 
pressing their numbers, whence they come, and what is their ob- 
ject, without allowing them to make any operation or excava- 
tion, and much less to remove anything whatever, however in- 
significant it may appear. 

" Consequently, if they arrive with the only object of visiting, 
let them do it in company with one, two, or more officers of that 
subprefecture, that the above dispositions may be fulfilled. 
" It is a copy from the original. 

" God and liberty. 

" San Cristobal, November 30, 1840." 

Under these orders Mr. Pawling has been compelled to leave 
the ruins, and the casts belonging to the author, for the making of 
which he had subjected himself to considerable expense, have 
been seized and detained by the prefect. Perhaps, instead of 
unavailing regrets, he ought rather to congratulate himself that 
he had left the ruins, and that Mr. Catherwood's drawings were 
safe, before the news of their visit reached the capital. He can 
imagine the excitement in the village, and the annoyance and 
vexation to which future travellers will be subjected ; but he can- 
not understand exactly the cause. His purpose of leaving Paw- 
ling to make casts was known in the village, and no objections 
whatever were made. Don Santiago Froncoso, the first of the 
" true patriots" whose names are signed to the complaint, was 


his particular friend, from whom, late in the evening before he 
left Palenque, he received the following note (translation) : 

Mr. (I do not know your surname), at his house, June 3, 1840. 


" I have just arrived, because my wife sent me notice yesterday 
that you (permit me to address you on the footing of a friend*) 
and your estimable companion depart to-morrow without fail. 
If it is really true, continue your journey with all the felicity 
which my great affection desires. I send you, together with my 
gratitude and affection, this raw silk from the ruins to keep for 
my sake. 

" Farewell, my friend and dearest sir. Command whatever 
you wish, and from whatever distance. 

" Your most affectionate friend, 


" Senor ex-plenipotentiary envoy near the government of Cen- 
tral America from the government of North America." 

The author feels assured that, if he had been on the spot him- 
self, Don Santiago would have been the last man in the place to 
embarrass his operations. He is now violent against foreigners. 
The author has received no letter from Mr. Pawling, and fears 
that he has in some way got into difficulty with the people of the 
village, or else the author's plans have been defeated, and his casts 
are detained and kept from being introduced into the United 
States, by the agency and offers of Mr. William Brottm. In 
the absence of any farther information than what appears in these 
documents, the author makes no comments ; but he mentions, 
that this Mr. William Broum is an American, known in this 
city as Captain William Brown, having been for several years 
master of a vessel trading between this port and Tobasco. 

It was the hope of the gentlemen before referred to, with 
the monuments of Quirigua, casts from Copan and Palenque, 
or the tablets themselves, and other objects from other places 
within their reach, to lay the foundation of a Museum of Amer- 
ican Antiquities which might deserve the countenance of the Gen- 

* Don Santiago apologizes for not using the title your excellency. 

VOL. II. 3 


eral Government, and draw to it Catlin's Indian Gallery, and every 
other memorial of the aboriginal races, whose history within our 
own borders has already become almost a romance and fable. 
The author does not despair of this yet. The difficulty will per- 
haps be increased (the author trusts he will not be considered 
presumptuous) by the attention that will be directed to the re- 
mains of Palenque and the other ruined cities by the publication 
of these pages, and the consequently exaggerated notions that 
the inhabitants will form of their value ; but then he is persua- 
ded that the Government of Mexico will, on proper representa- 
tions, order a restitution of the casts now detained at Palenque, 
and that the republic, without impoverishing herself, will enrich 
her neighbours of the North with the knowledge of the many 
other curious remains scattered through her country. And he 
entertains the belief also that England and France, whose for- 
midable competition has already been set up, as it were in ter- 
rorem, by one proprietor, having their capitals enriched by the 
remains of art collected throughout the Old World, will respect 
the rights of nations and discovery, and leave the field of American 
antiquities to us ; that they will not deprive a destitute country 
of its only chance of contributing to the cause of science, but ra- 
ther encourage it in the work of bringing together, from remote 
and almost inaccessible places, and retaining on its own soil, the 
architectural remains of its aboriginal inhabitants. 


T. jAR 6 1959 

University of Toronto 








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