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^7 P^' 

^ / 





London : 

Spottiswoodb and Shaw, 
Net?-street- Square. 





a gbtt^ at tfyt Vlittaxjl at f^e Ue^uUfc, 






The object of this work is to furnish the English 
reader with some trustworthy information respecting 
Central America, a portion of the world almost un- 
known in England. It consists chiefly of extracts 
from the Author's private journal, and contains a 
brief sketch of the history of the Republic of Central 
America, from its origin to the present time ; together 
with an account of the most remarkable phenomena 
and productions, and the present state of its society, 
agriculture^ and commerce. During its completion 
the Author had not at hand any of the works which 
treat of Central America; but this is the less to 
be regretted, as the only publications he has seen 
relating to it were merely notices of hurried travels 
through the country, which, .while abounding with 
palpable inaccuracies, contidned no statistical or use- 
ful information of any description. 

December, 1846. 

The last sheet of this work had scarcely passed 
through the press, when intelligence was received of 


the Author's death. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to 
give a sketch of his short but eventful career ; but a 
few words may be permitted to the Editor, and may 
be not without interest to the reader. 

Robert Glasgow Dunlop was born at Seafield, near 
Ayr, in August, 1815. He was the seventh and 
youngest son of John Dunlop, then third surviving 
son of John Dunlop of Dunlop, and consequently a 
grandson of Mrs. Dunlop, the first kind patroness of 
the poet Burns. After enjoying the usual education 
afforded by a Scotch parochial school, he joined the 
London University, and made great progress in the 
study of Latin and Mathematics. His fondness, too, 
for History, Poetry, and Classical Literature was 
extreme, and so great was his power of application, 
that he found leisure to attain considerable proficiency 
in Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, and other branches 
of science. His academical studies over, he entered 
a mercantile office. He soon transferred the same 
zeal and acumen to his new pursuit, and, after a 
short initiation into business in London and else- 
where, he eventually repaired to Guatemala. 
* * « * # 

From early boyhood he studied and was intimately 
acquainted with the Bible, and, though fondly at- 
tached to the Presbyterian faith, in which he was 
educated, he could sympathise with all who read 
and obeyed the word of God. Though reserved, 
and too nervously sensitive to allow his feelings to 
be scanned by the rude or careless, his heart expanded 



in love to every object of creation ; and the love 
of truth, which characterised him even in infancy, 
continued to be cherished by him in manhood, and 
must stamp a value on the pages now given to the 
world. Repeated attacks of fever, common to the 
country in which he had made his home, severely 
tried his always delicate constitution, and after a 
month's illness he expired on the first of January, 
1847. He is the sixth of seven brothers who rest 
in a foreign soil. 


18tli June, 1847. 



Voyage from Guayaquil and Arrival in Central America. — 
Description of the Port of the Union. — Voyage to Nacas- 
colo. — Description of old and new Chinendega. — Leon and 
Realejo. — Sugar and Indigo Estate of Don Bernardo Ven- 
ereo. — Return to Nacascolo. — Ascent of the Volcano of 
Cosiguina and Description of its Eruption in 1835. — San 
Miguel. — Account of Indigo growing. — Port of Realejo, 
with Notices of the Canal of Nicaragua - Page 1 


Voyage to Punta Arenas. — Coast of Nicoya, Punta Arenas. — 
Journey to, and Description of San Jose, Alhajulea, and 
Heridia. — Cultivation of Coffee. — Visit to Cartago and 
Ascent of the Volcano. — Return to Punta Arenas. — Arri- 
val at Realejo and Chinendega. — War with Honduras. — 
H. B. S. Ship Daphne. — Blockade of the Union. — Ascent 
of the Volcano of Conchagua. — Journey to Guatemala with 
a Description of the Towns of San Salvador and Sonsonate, 
and the Volcano of Isalco - - - 39 

CHAP. in. 

Description of Guatemala. — General Carrera. — Journey to 
Old Guatemala and Description of the City and its Vicinity. 
— Departure from Guatemala. — Dangerous Mistake. — 

.. Journey to the Union. — War between San Salvador and 
Nicaragua. — Departure from the Union. — Arrival at 
Realejo. — Warlike Operations. — Acajantla. — taken for 
Spies. — Arrival at and Departure from Sonsonate. — A 
Night in the Woods. — Arrival at Guatemala. — Insurrec- 
tion of 2nd Feb. 1845 - - - - 75 

• • • 


CHAP. IV. / 

Departure from Guatemala. — Encounter with Robbers. — , 

Arrival at San Miguel, and Betum to Guatemala. — De- j 

scription of Amatitlan. — ^Extraordinary Proximity of Volcanic 
Fires. — A Lake and River heated by them. — Cultivation 
of Cochineal Estates, and Process of raising the Insect in 
Amatitlan and Old Guatemala. — Towns near Amatitlan. — 
Ascent of the Volcano of Tormentos. — Journey to San 
Miguel, and Return to Amatitlan. — r A Guatemala Noble. ^- 
Feast of Amatitlan ... Page 112 


History of Central America from the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence to the Dissolution of the Federal Government, 15th 
September, ia21, to 1st February, 1839 - 156 


History of Central America from the Dissolution of the federal 
Government, 1st February, 1839, to December 1846 206 


Climate, Productions, Animals, Geology, Mineralogy, Mines, 
Volcanoes, and Earthquakes of Central America - 256 


Articles of Food. — Houses and Furniture. — Value of Land 
and Houses. — Belgian Colony of Saint Thomas. — Com- 
merce. — Revenue. — Customs. — Currency. — Debt. — Ports. 
— Rivers and Lakes .... 294 


Population. — State of Education. — Religion and Administra- 
tion of Justice of Central America ^ . 338 














On the nigfat of the 14th of March, 1844, we em- 
barked, at Guayaquil, on board the brigantine Au- 
gustina, bound for Central America. At daylight on 
the following morning the pilot came on board ; we 
got up the anchor, and, having a fine run down the 
riVer, passed the pilot station at 4 p. m., where the 
pilot left us. We here saw the wrecks of two vessels, 
one the Colocolo, belonging to Mr. G. of Valparaiso, 
the other a French vessel; both were lost at the 
entrance to the river, in smooth water. The first 
(as I was told by two seamen whom we t6ok on 
board belonging to her) was purposely run on the 


rocks in a fine day^ and the master refused to ac- 
cept the assistance of two pita balsas^ choosing to 
leave on board a large quantity of specie said to 
have been taken in at Masatlan in Mexico. The 
French vessel was also said to have a large quantity 
of specie on boards which was all lost in a similar 
manner ; but the master^ who was previously con- 
sidered a needy man, some time afterwards appeared 
in Lima as a man of fortune. It is shrewdly con- 
jectured that, in such cases, the specie is rarely taken 
on board, but left at Masatlan with some accom- 
plice, the boxes being filled \^ith stones for appear- 

Our passage from Guayaquil was most tedious, the 
winds being light and mostly contrary, the heat ex- 
cessive, and the deck of the schooner so lumbered 
with spars and bamboos, taken on board at Guayaquil, 
that thei»e? was not room to move. My fellow-pas- 
sengers were two Spaniards, very quiet and harmless 
people, submitting to all the insults of the master 
without a murmur. The crew was a most motley 
assemblage, being composed of six or seven nations, 
including two Englishmen and one North American. 

On the 24th we csame in sight of the island of Coco, 
but could see nothing but a fog, as it rained heavily, 
which it had done for mord thane ten days : the heat, 
too, was excessively oppressive, and the miserable 
little box of a cabin so insupportable, that I prefelrred 
keeping wet on deck. To crown our discomforts, 
the fresh provisions were gone, and we had to live 
on biscuit and half-rotten North American beef and 
pork for the rest of the passage. 

On the. 1st of April we were, by dead reckoning 


(there being no chronometer on board), close to the 
entrance of Conchagua Bay, but we did not sight 
land tiM the following day at sunset, when a yol- 
canic peak was faintly seen in the distance, which 
the master decided to be that of San Miguel, though 
it must have been that of Viejo Chinendega, as we 
steered towards it all night, and at daylight found 
ourselves in the middle of Conchagua Bay, nearly 
q^site Bealeja About 10 a. m. a smart breeze 
l^pihing up dead ahead, and tacking about all day, we 
had at night only gained a few miles. The scenery 
around the Bay of Conchagua, and the entrance to 
the port of the Union, is wild and magnificent in the 
e:iLtreme, no fewer than nine volcanic mountidns^ 
being at the same time visible. None are at present 
smoking, but four, namely, Cos^uina, famed for 
its eruption of January 1835,. supposed to be the 
most terrific ever recorded in any part of the world ; 
SiAH Miguel, every few years in violent action, and 
San Salvador and Ninderi^ may be considered as 
aetive volcanic vents, though the two last have now 
been quiet for some centuries. The rest, namely, 
Antigua, Chinendega, San Vicente, Tigre Island, 
San Lorenzo, and Conchagua, are what may be 
termed extinct volcanoes, there being no tradition of 
their having broken out, though there exist abundant 
proofs of there having been an eruption within the 
recent geological period. At 10 p. m. we anchored 
at the entrance of the bay g£ the Union, called also 
the inner bay of Conchagua, to wait the turn of the 
tide, and getting i^ain under Weigh at 2 a. m., 
stnehored opposite the village of the Union before 
daylight on the 4th of April. 

B 2 


About 6 A. M. we were visited from the shore by 
a mestizo in a canoe^ who represented the harbour 
master (capitan del puerta). Of course we said 
nothing about the yellow fever being at Guayaquil, 
BO that we were allowed to land without impedi- 

The bay of the Union is a fine sheet of water, 
possessing anchorage from three to twelve fathoms, 
free from shoals, and well protected from all winds, 
being a near approach to a circle, and about ten 
miles in diameter; it is surrounded on three sides 
by high land, and the entrance is protected by a 
number of islands, with many deep and safe chan- 
nels, only one of which is at present used by ships 
entering and leaving, although many of the others 
are no doubt equally good, and would be quite as 
available if surveyed. 

On landing, I presented my passport to the port 
captain. Sen. Nicholas Espinosa, an ugly little dirty 
mestizo, but a man of most polished manners and 
address, well known, as I afterwards found, for his 
want of principle, and distinguished for crime even 
in a country full of thieves and assassins. 

I landed my luggage in the afternoon, and Sen. 
Espinosa passed it without examination with a very 
polite bow. After a great deal of diflSculty and 
search, we found an empty room to sleep in, and, 
after another search, a bedstead and table. In no 
part of Central America is the traveller ever accom- 
modated with any thing beyond an empty rooni ; 
hence a hammock is an indispensable article in a 
journey, otherwise he must make shift with an un- 


Pbocbed to NACABCOI.0. 6 

tanned hide to lay upon the floor, for eating, sleeping, 
&c., and even this is not always to be had. 

The heat here was truly oppressive, even after 
that of Guayaquil, wliicli is nearly under the equator, 
and far exceeded an}'thing I ever felt even in the 
tropical parts of Aula and Africa. I afterwards 
found that it is the hottest place in Central America. 
The country round the Union, with the exception 
of a few patches of maize, is entirely in a Btate of 
nature, and covered with a dense forest ; it is, how- 
ever, by no means incapable of cultivation ; on the 
contrary, the nature of the soil seems excellent, being 
composed of a rich black loam, though mixed with a 
number of volcanic stones and cinders, aa in nearly 
all parts of Central America. There are, however, 
no streams in the neighbourhood with water in the 
dry season, nor indeed any natural springs above 
high-water mark, though they are abundant in the 
bay between the limits of high and low water. Several 
wells have, however, been dug in the village, where 
excellent water is found at a depth of twelve to fif- 
teen yards. 

On the 15th of April I proceeded to Nacascolo, in 
^e «tate of Nicaragua, in a large canoe (called a 
bongo), full of native passengers ; and after passing 
two days and nights in the greatest discomfort imc^n- 
able without obtaining a moment's sleep, being cramped 
up in the bottom of the canoe, which was quite full 
of people who emelt worse than any cwgo of pigs, 
we reached what is termed from custom the port 
Nacascolo, being a little mud creek in a small stre 
thickly bordered with mangroves, where there i 
just room to thrust in the canoe. I immediately 


quired for the village (Nuello), but found there was 
no such place — the only resemblance to a habitation 
being a little dirty shed not fit for pigs in most part» 
of the world, where a naked Indian was at work, 
who could give me nothing to eat, not even the usual 
country food of tortilias, ** haTing," as he said, " no 
woman.'' I however managed to procure a horse, and 
set off towards Chinendega, accompanied by a man 
who was one of the passengers, and had been re* 
commended to me ^s a guide in the Union, on another 
horse bare backed. The road lay through a deep 
native forest, and consisted, as all the roods in Central 
America, of merely a narrow track, 8u£Scient wood 
having been cut away to enable a single horse to pass. 
Passing some small huts buried in the forest, we reached 
Old Chinendega, a distance of only four leagues, in 
three hours time, having gone at a slow pace on ac- 
count of the wretched condition of the horses. 

Old Chineudega is a neat little town for Central Ame- 
rica, containing, perhaps, 3000 to 4000 inhabitants : 
the only man of wealth or consideratioa being Don 
Bernardo Venereo, who is possessed of two fine sugar 
estates besides one of indigo. Pas^g Old Chinendega, 
we reached the new town of Chinendega in an hour 
more, where we proceeded to the house of Don Chro- 
santo Medina, a large building resembling an English 
bani, but the best house in the place. Mr. Medina was 
not at h(»ne, having been obliged to fiy from the state 
for killing an assassin, whose brother, however, being 
an influential person with the government, would most 
certainly have got Medina assassinated had he not 
quickly made his escape. I had a most gruff recep- 
tion from Mr. Medina's steward, which led me to be- 


I W^ tbat though his master had given me a letter to 
bim with iuatruetions to entertain me^ the poor fellow. 
hM not the means to do so> being probably le£b witht- 
out cashf After a long delay, however, my guide 
nxanaged to get me something to eat from a sort 
of cookshop, kept by an unfortunate Frenchman. 
Haying got a bedstead, though withaut any bed as 
usual, I lay down a little without undressing ; it was 
the third night I had had no sleep. 

Chineudega is a rather pretty town, with from 8000 
to 10^000 inhabitants, finely situated in a rich undu- 
lating plain, which, if properiy cultivated, might pro- 
duce sugar and cotton to supply all Central America. 
The hoi^ses, as in n^ost p9*rta of Spanish America, con- 
sist oidy (rf HI graund floor S they aj?e built in a very 
struggling manner, and occupy a larger space than 
wotfli) be done i^ Europe bj a^ ^ity containing 50,000 
i^aibitaiit?- A iiumber of fruit trees, principally 
<9t^^ n^t ekV,d orange, with spi^e other species peculiar 
to tb(B cwntry, give a very pleofliog aspect to the 
tQWn* the elimate, though of ooufse tropical, is very 
4i^^:ent from that of the Union ; for a genUe breeze 
is cjmod; constantly blowing, and the beat 19 rarely 
0{>f)re6sive. This town is one of the few in Central 
An^erica which have increased since the independence; 
1$ }B only three leagues from the port of Bealejo, 
aiU ^e trade oi which passes through it, and per- 
haps few better situations could be selected in any 
pqrt jof tfee world for the formation of a large city. 

Having procured two horses, we started at 8 A. M. 
HQxt morning, the 18th pf April, for the city of 
Jjeon, wherje we arrived after four hours' ride,stoj^iiig 
9t the house of Mr. Thomas Manning, ^ gen^tleraiin 

B 4 

8 LEOIf. 

who has resided nearly twenty years in Central 
America, and made a considerable fortune. He is a 
native of England, and, like several of his countrymen 
in South America, turned Roman Catholic to marry 
a mulatto lady, who is almost white, and very good 
looking. His house is the best in Leon, and fur- 
nished somewhat in the European style, which is 
very rare in most parts of this country. 

Leon is the second city in the republic, and once 
contained 50,000 inhabitants, though now it cer- 
tainly has not half that number. Since the inde- 
pendence,, it has been the scene of several bloody 
revolutions, and in 1824, made a desperate defence of 
1 14 days against the federal troops, who were finally 
repulsed with loss. At least a third part of the city 
is now in ruins, and the whole has a most wretched 
and desolate appearance. The inhabitants, who, it is 
said, were once among the most peaceful and industrious 
of the republic, are now noted as the worst of all 
Central America, and are engaged in perpetual broils. 
Assassination is now so common in the state of Nica* 
ragua, that it is little thought of, and is almost never 
punished by the authorities ; but the relations of the 
murdered man, if he has any, generally revenge his 
death by another assassination, and imless the victim 
be a person of importance, the assassin merely keeps 
out of the way for a day or two and reappears without 
fear. I have seen a native enter a house in Kealeja 
with his hands bloody, and when questioned as to the 
cause, reply with great coolness, that he had met such 
and such a person on the road, and as he had long 
determined to kill him, had just plunged his knife 
into his body and left him in the wood. On my first- 

tEON. 9 

arrival I felt naturally somewhat shocked at such a 
recital ; but I afterwards heard assassination so com- 
monly and coolly talked of, that such stories seemed 
nothing strange nor out of th« usual course. 

The houses of Leon, as in most parts of South Ame- 
rica, excepting Lima, Quito, and perhaps one or two 
more of thtj principal cities, consist of a ground 
story only, in the form of a square, and are all built 
of "tapeal" mud, beat hard with a mallet, with 
merely a few stones at the comers to strengthen them. 
The cathedral is a large Gothic building, but in rather 
bad taste, and contains many splendid ornaments, 
despite its have been several times plundered of 
all the riches which could be discovered. The re« 
maining churches exceed twenty in number, but none 
of them are remarkable in a Koman Catholic country. 
Most of them, like the houses, are principally of mud 
and but few have officiating priests, as even the forms 
of the Bioman Catholic church are not generally kept 
up in the state, the people having long ago ceased to 
respect them, and being at present actually destitute 
\ of any moral code whatever, or any religion beyond 
i few unmeaning forms kept up by women and old 
men as a sort of charm, or talisman, which they do 
not pretend to understand. Leon was again taken 
and plundered by Malespein de Ferrera, at the head 
of the San Salvador and Honduras troops, on the 
24th of January, 1845, when a great part of the 
buildings which had before escaped were reduced to 
ruins, and it would require many years of a regular 
government for it to recover its former splendour. 

After remaining two days in Leon, and being 
introduced to the grand marshal, who received me 

B 5 


dressed in a regatta shirt and trowsers> and more 
than half seas over^ I proceeded to the port of 
Bealejo> or rather the town of that name ; the road 
being, like all roads in Central America, a narrow 
mule track, through a country nearly perfectly level 
and covered with a dense forest of lofty trees and 
a thick scrub below them, excepting some small 
patches which have been cleared for maize, sugar* 
cane, and cotton* Having lost our road, we did not 
reach a sugar estate belonging to Don Bernardo 
Yenereo till noon, though we had started at day- 
light, and the distance did not exceed six leagues. 
Shortly after leaving the estate^ I was stopped by 
three soldiers, ruffianly looking rascals nearly naked, 
and with no part of what is in Europe considered as 
a soldier's equipments except a musket ; they wished 
me to go with them to their commander, which I 
positively refused, thinking that it must be a mere 
pretence for robbing me. After some parley, one of 
them presented his musket at me, telling me to follow 
directly; I returned the compliment by presenting 
a pistol, telling him that the musket would be very 
likely to miss, but that I would answer for the pistol ;. 
this seemed to damp their courage a little, and on 
my guide saying, ^^ let him pass, he is an English- 
man," they whispered to one another a little, and 
either convinced that I was a stranger with whom 
they could have no enmity, or afraid of attempting 
violence, seeing that I was well armed, they per- 
mitted us at length to proceed, and we reached 
Bealejo about two hours afterwards, stopping at a 
dirty little public house, kept by a native woman. 
The towA of Realejo is about two leagues dis- 


tant from the part of the creek where vessels lay^ 
but even at present there is a sufficient depth of 
water for small vessels to come within a mile 
of the town, and a very little labour would make 
it accessible to large ships ^ but an enlightened 
government would probably prefer moving the 
town opposite the reach where vessels lay, where 
ther^ is a site extremely suitable for the purpose^ 
and where a quay might easily be erected capable 
of accommodating any number of ships. The pre^ 
sent town is merely a collection of mud huts, and 
though it once possessed two churches, the one is 
now a complete ruin, and the other, though entire, 
is without a curate or any officiating priest. In tfa<s 
time of the Spanish government, several vessels, 
some of 300 to 400 tons, were built at Bealejo, 
which affords facilities fully equal to Guayaquil, or 
any other port on the coast; while the wood is 
much superior and more durable, consisting as it 
does of cedar and mahogany, besides a wood re- 
sembling Malabar teak, and a vast number of hard 
woods, said to be almost imperishable. The trade of 
this port is, however, yearly declining from the 
wretched state of the government of Nicaragua, 
which is composed of the worst thieves and assas- 
sins of the state. 

A few years ago a number of foreigners embarked 
in the Brazil wood speculation ; but the majority 
were swindled by the government and native traders, 
the former refusing to let the wood be cut on various 
pretences, and the latter not delivering it in ac« 
cordance with their contracts, even after they had 

B 6 


been paid in advance. Captain Moore, the principal 
adventurer, and most of the rest, were ruined. 

The present exports from Realejo may be 400 or 
500 bales of cotton, principally sent to Costa Rica 
for the manufactures of that state ; about 1000 tons 
of Brazil wood, principally sent to Great Britain and 
the United States of America; a small quantity 
of chancakee (the crude juice of the sugar-cane 
boiled till it crystalises), sent to Chili ; about 1000 
bales of indigo, the quality being the best of any 
produced in the republic ; and a few hundred bales 
of Granada cocoa, sent to the states of San Salvador 
and Honduras. On the following morning, the 23d 
of April, we returned to Chinendega, and next day 
proceeded to see the sugar and indigo estates near 
Old Chinendega belonging to Don Bernardo Ve- 
nereo, which are splendidly situated, and might 
produce an unlimited amount of sugar and indigo. 
In most countries they would be very Valuable ; they 
possess a fine stream of water, and may be irri- 
gated at all seasons. The sugar mill is a small 
machine driven by water, but Don Bernardo Ve- 
nereo has sent to England for fresh machinery ; he 
at present only manufactures coarse spirit (aguar- 
diente) for the consumption of the state, and a small 
quantity of chancakee, part of which is exported to 
Chili; the sugarcane grows most luxuriantly, and 
is more than sufficient to keep the present mill con- 
stantly employed, though not a tenth of the land is 
at present planted. The description of cane here 
used is a native of the country, and very different 
from the Asiatic cane, which is now exclusively cul- 
tivated in the West Indies, Brazils, and the United 


States of North America. It is said to be about 
equally productive with the foreign species, the canes 
being slenderer and softer, but containing more and 
stronger juice in proportion to their size ; two crops 
are taken annually. 

Having this afternoon engaged a bongo to convey 
us back to the Union, next morning we returned 
to the splendid port of Nacascolo, and embarked at 

1 p. M., having arranged to land on the passage to 
view and ascend the celebrated volcano of Cosi- 
guina. We got down to the entrance of the creek 
with the tide, where the boatmen wished to wait all 
night, but I forced them to lift up the stone which 
served for an anchor when the tide turned at 1 a. m. 
At 8 A. M. we reached the pomt of land opposite 
Cosiguina, where we landed. One of the boatmen 
undertook to be my guide in the ascent, or rather to 
the foot of the mountain (as he had never ascended 
it), and to carry a small quantity of provisions for 
the journey. After scrambling among bushes mixed 
with cinders, scoriae, and other volcanic substances, 
for three hours, we reached the foot of the mountain, 
and commenced the ascent amidst huge blocks of 
vitrified stones, mixed with large black-looking 
rocks. The mountain is far from being remarkably 
steep, nor is the ascent nearly so difficult as that of 
most volcanic cones. Vegetation has recommenced 
in some places amidst the cinders ; but the ap- 
pearance is sufficiently desolate, and there are many 
marks of the late fearful convulsion. It was nearly 

2 P. M. before we reached the top, owing to the 
burning sun, which made the black volcanic rocks so 
hot that they almost burnt the skin when touched. 


The crater is a large rugged orifice^ probably a 
league in circumference^ the sides being sur- 
rounded by sharp-edged> precipitous rocks^ making 
a descent into it quite impossible^ unless the ex- 
plorer were lowered by a rope ; every thing about 
it is in wild disorder^ and the granite rocks, of which 
the mountain seems to be formed, are partly melted 
and partly cracked by the intense heat ; but there 
is no trace of any lava strewn, and as far as I could 
see into the abyss of the crater, nothing was visible 
but a succession of sharp-pointed black rocks. No 
smoke is now evolved in any part, and before an- 
other eruption takes place the winter rains may 
probably stop the vent with sand and ashes, and fill 
the crater with wateff, thus giving it the aj^earance 
of an extinct volcano, which it was supposed to be 
previously to the late eruption. The height of the 
mountain cannot exceed from 2000 to 3000 feet, 
and viewed from a distance it has nothing pecu- 
liar in its ^pect, not even the appearance of a vol- 

Having staid about two hours on the top, and col- 
lected a few specimens of the rocks composing the 
sides of the crater, we set out on our return, meeting 
on our journey several patches of sulphur in an al- 
most pure state. In some cases it assumes a beauti- 
ful bronze colour, showing, it would appear, the 
presence of iron, and at others it is mixed with some 
mineral which gives it a green colour. We reached 
the shore a little after sunset, and after wandering 
some time, at the risk of &lling over one of the many 
precipices with which the sea is bordered, we at last 
discovered the canoe, and not wishing to remain on 


board among the stinking natives any longer than 
necessary^ I lay down by the side of an overhanging 
rock, telling the men to rouse me as soon as the 
tide turned^ which they did at 2 a. m., and having 
got under weigh, we reached a small wooded island 
at the entrance of the port of La Union, where 
we remained tiU 2 P. m., when we again proceeded 
and reached the town of the Union a little after 

Previously to 1835, the mountain called Cosiguina 
was taken for an extinct volcano, although there 
were traditions of its having been in a state of erup- 
tion upwards of 300 years before, and abundant 
vestiges of its previous ravage^. 

At half-past six in the morning of the 20th of 
January, 1835, the inhabitants of Chinendega, Leon, 
Bealejo, La Union, San Miguel, and the neighbour- 
ing country were alarmed by a loud explosion, and 
immediately afterwards all the horizon was illumined 
by a dense yellow light, and a strong odour of 
sulphur was smelt, while a heavy shower of fine 
wUte powder feU, penetrating into every recess, and 
rendering respiration painful and difficult : this con- 
tinued till one o'clock in the morning of the 23d, the 
sun and stars being meanwhile invisible, and a pale 
sickly light, like some of the London fogs, pervading 
the country ; at the same time a terrific explosion 
was heard throughout all Central America, and as 
far as the borders of Mexico, the republic of New 
Granada, and the island of Jamaica. The scene that 
followed was terrific in the extreme — the birds 
rushed out of the woods, and fell down dead in the 
fields and villages — the wild beasts wandered into 


the towns and along the public roads, bellowing with 
terror, their natural ferocity and timidity being 
equally subdued. The astonished people supposed 
that the day of judgment was come, and rushed to 
the churches, throwing themselves upon the floors 
before the images of their saints; others confessed 
their sins and implored mercy ; all was terror and 
dismay ; and, to complete the horror of the scene, a 
terrific darkness, deeper than the most obscure night, 
continued for forty-three hours; so that no person 
could see a yard before him, and even artificial lights 
could not be distinguished at more than a few feet 
distance. During this time there were continued 
noises, louder than the most terrific peals of thunder, 
accompanied by lightnings, which played in all direc- 
tions, rendering the darkness more terrible, and such 
immense quantities of ashes fell as in some parts to 
cover the earth three feet deep. These effects were 
more or less felt to a distance of fifty leagues round 
the volcano, as far as the capital of the state of San 
Salvador — about .fifteen leagues distant in a direct 
line from the volcano ; and Don Juakin Salgero, at 
that time collector of customs (Administrador de 
la Aduana), told me that words could not describe 
the terrific nature of the scene ; and considering it, 
as he did, to be an eruption of the extinct volcano of 
Conchagua, distant about a league, or some neigh- 
bouring mountain, he set off for San Miguel in the 
midst of the darkness, some men carrying torches of 
lighted pine to discover the road, which, however, 
was very difficult, as the darkness was so pitchy that 
a torch could not be seen at three yards' distance. 
He was accompanied in his flight by a number of 


the terrified inhabitants^ some on foot and some on 
mules and horses. The cattle and even the wild 
animals followed the lights along the road ; while the 
birds came and lit upon the persons and horses of 
the travellers, and would not be driven away ; even 
the lizards and other reptiles seemed to look to them 
for protection, instead of flying from them as usual. 
They reached San Miguel in about fifteen hours, the 
usual time for the journey being half that period (it 
being only a distance of fifteen leagues) ; but on 
their arrival the darkness continued nearly as in- 
tense, though the other phenomena had slightly 
abated in violence. Two considerable streams of 
water flowing past the side of the mountain were 
covered with ashes and stones, and have since en- 
tirely disappeared ; and immediately after the erup- 
tion two islands were discovered in twelve fathoms 
water, a little off the coast opposite the volcano, 
which still exist. 

Not a vestige of habitations, or of animal or 
vegetable life remained for some leagues round the 
mountain, and the sites where some excellent cattle 
farms existed are still pointed out, though now 
covered with a thick mass of cinders and charred 
rocks. The effects of this eruption were distinctly 
felt in the islands of Jamaica and Hayti, and other 
parts of the West Indies, and the ashes ejected 
reached as far as Oajaca in Mexico, a distance of 430 

On reaching the town of the Union, I imme- 
diately landed, and, after the usual diflSculties, at last 
found a place to sleep, being pretty well tired with 
my first essay at travelling in Central America. 


On the 4th of Mskj, at 8 p. M., we started for San 
Miguel^ in company with Don Chrosanto Medina 
and San Don Nicholas Espinosa^ the captain of the 
port, Mariano Salazari Medina's brother-in-hiw, and 
two odier natives. At 10 p. m. we stopped at a hut 
in a small village called the Baranka, four leagues 
from the Union, where I lay down outside the hut 
till three in the morning (without sleeping^ of 
course), when we again proceeded on our journey at 
8 A.M., passing the village of San Antonio, which 
consists of about twenty huts, bordering on a small 
river of the same name^ and arriving at San Miguel 
at ten in the forenoon. The plan of travelling at 
night to avoid the heat may appear very plausible 
in a tropical climate ; but the danger of the beasts 
falling on the unmade tracks or of being tumbled off 
by coming in contact with the branch of a tree in 
the dark, appears to me to more than countervail the 
advantages. In a long journey it would be quite 
impracticable, without carrying tents and three or 
four mules laden with provisions, &c. ; for otherwise 
no sleep could be obtained, as there is no such 
thing as a separate apartment to be had in all 
Central America for travellers. The plan is not 
followed by the natives, who give another good 
reason against it, namely, the impossibility of being 
certain of the right path in the dark, where the road 
is no more than an Indian track, and in many cases 
nearly obliterated. 

The only cultivation on the road is at San 
Antonio, where a little maize is grown. There 
is, however, another road by San Alejo, which 
I have also travelled : it is about a league longer. 



but passes through a much more interesting country, 
cultivated in several parts^ besides San Alejo^ whioh 
is a beautifully situated village, containing about 
2000 inhabitants, principally Indians. 

The town, or, as it is called, the " city," of San 
Miguel, a name very freely applied in Central 
America^ is said to contain upwards of 10,000 in- 
habitants, but, judging from its extent and the density 
of the population, I feel assured it cannot contain so 
many. The streets are wide, at right angles, and 
pretty well paved; the houses have all, as usual, 
merely a ground floor, and, with a few exceptions, of 
mud ; there are eight churches, all rather mean edi- 
fices, and unworthy of notice. San Miguel is only 
celebrated for its fairs, three of which are hel<} there 
in the course of the year ; the principal, which is the 
most important in Central America, takes place on 
the 21st of November. At these fairs more business 
is done than in all the rest of the state during the 
remainder of the year. Several vessels generally 
arrive a^ the Union from South America at these 
periods, and nearly all the indigo (the only produce 
of any importance) is disposed of : formerly it reached 
10,000 bales, but at present it will not, at most, ex- 
ceed 3000 bales of 150 lbs. each. 

The indigo, well-known in Europe by the name of 
Guatemala indigo, was never cultivated in that pro* 
vince (in the same manner as not a grain of the 
Honduras cochineal is grown there), being entirely 
grown in the state of San Salvador, in the vicinity 
of San Miguel, San Vicenti, and the city of San 
Salvador, with the exception of a small quantity of 
very superior quality grown in the state of Niqaxagaa 


and a few bales in Costa KIca, which is all consumed 
in the state. Under the government of Spain the 
produce of the state of San Salvador alone had reached 
10,000 bales, and that of Nicaragua 2000, the pro- 
duce of San Salvador in 1820, two years before 
its independence, being 8323 bales. But since 1822 
the annual produce has gradually declined, and at 
the present period (1846), it does not exceed 1000 
to 1200 bales, nearly all the indigo estates being 
abandoned, partly, no doubt, from the great fall in 
the price of the article, but more on account of the 
impossibility of getting labourers to work steadily, 
the continued civil wars having imbued the whole 
population with idle habits and a disinclination to 
labour, while the insecurity of property and the rob- 
beries of government have discouraged all parties 
from attempting any cultivation which requires out- 
lay of capital, and reduced it nearly to maize and 
other articles required for food. 

The plant cultivated in Central America for the 
manufacture of indigo is the indigofera, a triennial 
plant, supposed to be a native of America ; but there 
is also an indigenous perennial plant, abounding in 
many parts of Central America, which produces indigo 
of a very superior quality, but gives less than half 
the weight which is produced by the cultivated spe- 
cies. The ground for sowing the indigo seed is pre- 
pared in April — a piece of good forest land near one 
of the towns being selected, a part is cut to make a 
rude fence, and the remainder burnt, which is easily 
accomplished as every thing is very dry at that season 
— and the ground is afterwards scratched with two 
Bticks fastened crosswise, to resemble somewhat the 


shape of a plough, and the seed scattered over it by 
hand. The rainy season always commences early in 
May, and the indigo is ready for cutting about the 
middle of July, taking about two and a half months 
to come to perfection. The growing crop somewhat 
resembles lucerne, and is in the best state for making 
indigo when it becomes covered with a sort of green- 
ish farina. 

The crop of the first year is small, and sometimes 

not worth manufacturing ; that of the second year is 

the best ; and the third is also very good if it has 

been carefully weeded ; but many indigo fields have 

lasted more than ten years without being resown, as 

the seed which falls naturally springs up again, and 

where the land is good yields nearly as large a crop as 

a new sown field. "When the plant is ready for 

manufacturing, a number of men are collected, each 

of whom is either provided with or brings his own 

mule or horse, if he has one. Two men always go 

together, cut the plant, then about the height of 

full grown red clover, and take it to the vats, which 

are large tanks made of brick and lime, holding at 

least 1000 gallons, and some as much as 10,000. 

Into these the plant is thrown till they are nearly 

full, when weights are put above it to prevent its 

floating, and the vats filled with water till it covers 

the mass of the indigo plant. After remaining from 

twelve to twenty-four hours, according to the state of 

the plant, weather, and other circumstances (the time 

required being determined by the colour which the 

water assumes), the herb is taken out, and the water 

beaten with paddles in the very small vats, and by a 

wheel suspended above, and turned by men or horses 


in the larger ones, till it changes from a green colour, 
which it has acquired ere the removal of the herb, to 
a fine blue, when it is allowed to stand for some hours 
till the colouring matter has settled to the bottom 
of the tank, — a process which is generally hastened by 
throwing in an infusion of certain herbs to facilitate 
its settlement, or, as the natives term it, to curdle 
(cuajar) the coloured water. As soon as all the colour 
has settled, the water is drawn off, and the blue, which 
is of the consistency of thin mud, is taken out of the 
rat and spread upon cotton, or coarse woollen cloth, 
and dried in the sun. The colour, in a great mea- 
sure, depends upon removing the herb exactly at the 
proper time, and upon properly beating the water, 
neither too long nor too short. Unless these pro- 
cesses are properly performed, the indigo will never 
be of first-rate quality ; but some estates will never 
produce the best indigo, whatever care inay be be- 
stowed on the manufacture. A mansana of 100 
yards square, which is nearly two British statute 
acres, produces generally aboiit 100 to 120 j>otfnds of 
indigo, the carriage and cutting of the herb costing 
about twenty dollars, and the cleaning of the field 
and all x>ther expenses connected with it, including 
the manufacture of the indigo, about as much 

The indigo of Central America is not put into 
moulds when drying as that of Bengal, but is allowed 
to remain in the rough shape in which it dries, and 
without further preparation is r^ady for baling and 
exportation. The bales are generally made up in 
150 lbs. each, and the quality h classed by numbers 
from 1. to 9. ; Nos. 1. to 3. being of the quality called 


cobres in Europe, Nos, 4. to 6. of that called cortes, 
and Nos. 7. to 9. of that called flores; Nos. 1. to 6. 
do not, at present, pay the expenses of manufacture, 
and are never intentionally made. No doubt, with a 
little more skill in the manufacture, the whole might, 
as in Bengal, be made of the quality called flores ; 
but such improvements cannot be expected till a new 
race ef people inhabit Central America. At present, 
about one half of the indigo produced is under Na. 7., 
and as the cultivation is said not to pay at the present 
prices — and^ indeed, hardly can be suj)posed to com- 
pete with Bengal, a country where labour is so much 
cheaper, and capital abundant — it is probable that 
the cultivation will shortly be entirely abandoned, 
unless the price should again rise in Europe. Such 
nn event would leave the state of San Salvador with- 
out any available export whatever, as the value of 
the other productions is not worth naming, and the 
natives seem to have no intention of turning their 
industry to other aarticles whi(^ might be profitably 

San Miguel is situated at the foot of the volcano 
of that name, which rears its lofty head, literaUy as 
it would appear, to the skies ; though not nearly the 
highest mountain in Central America^ yet as it rises 
abtuptly from a plain very little above the level of 
the sea, it has a more magnificent appearance, and 
looks higher from below, than any other mountain I 
have ever seen in any part of the world, not except- 
ing Chimborazo, and the Mountains of the Moon. 
All the country for more than ten leagues round is 
covered with vestiges of its eruptions, and it has 
several times threatened to destroy San Miguel, 


Tvhich is evidently built upon the site of an ancient 
eruption^ the whole of the land being covered vdth 
immense masses of lava, scoriae, and charred rocks ; 
even now the mountain is threatening an eruption, 
the last having taken place only two years ago. 

San Miguel is distant about a league from a fine 
river called the Rio Grande (great river). Why it 
was not built on the banks I cannot conceive. To 
be sure there is no lack of water, for in its immediate 
vicinity there is a number of most copious springs, 
which burst from under the masses of volcanic rocks 
and cinders, through which it would appear that the 
water filters for some distance, till its underground 
course is stopped by meeting with more solid strata, 
when it rushes out in a large stream clear as crystal, 
forming a number of inimitablis natural baths which 
are used by the natives. The country round San 
Miguel is but scantily cultivated, and there is nearly 
an entire absence of gardens or fruit trees, though 
the few that have been planted thrive admirably, and 
show that the indolence of man, not nature, is to 
blame for their deficiency. 

War had just been declared against the state 
of Guatemala, and the government were occupied in 
catching men for soldiers like wild cattle here and in 
all parts of the state, and raising money by forced 
contributions, so that the fair, which was about to 
take place, must prove an entire failure* Those 
who had anything to be robbed of were taking 
themselves off as quickly as possible, and the common 
people were hiding in the woods to avoid being taken 
for soldiers. My acquaintance, Don Chrosanto Me- 
dina, and a friend of his, a Spaniard, Don Francisca 


Geral, wished to make all their property over to me, 
to prevent its being seized for government contribu- 
tions. I told them that they were welcome to do so, 
but that if it was seized I should not be able to 
claim it from the government through her Britannic 
majesty's consul, as he would probably require me to 
swear that the property was mine before making the 
claim. This difficulty seemed to surprise them a good 
deal, as a false oath is thought nothing of in Spanish 
America, and they tried the Jesuits' argument, '* that 
the oath would not be made for a bad purpose," in 
order to get over my scruples ; but finding that they 
could not convince me, they were obliged to take other 
schemes for protecting their property. They man« 
aged so badly that, as I afterwards learned, the go- 
vernment got 10,000 dollars from them. 

I have always refused to lend my name to natives 
to enable them to avoid the exactions of their govern- 
ment, as the discovery of such a practice would form 
a good excuse for robbing British subjects, who have 
hitherto, with but few exceptions, been saved the 
payment of forced loans. This, I believe, is not a 
little owing to the firm measures and determined 
stand made against all such exactions by the present 
consul-general, Mr. Chatfield, as even the French 
are often forced to pay while the British are excepted. 
On the 7th, the day before the fair, I was introduced 
to Mr. Walter Bridge, a gentleman who has been 
more than twenty years resident in Nicaragua. He 
is a British subject, and though now possessed of a 
handsome fortune, has once or twice been plundered 
of everything by the government, and has passed 
through many interesting adventures. He is most 



kind and hospitable to all his countrymen^ and I have 
had occasion, in many instances, to be grateful to him 
for his advice and assistance. On the 1 0th of May 
we returned to the Union, and Mr. Bridge, having 
been kind enough to offer me a passage on board his 
ship, the Albert Henry, to Costa Rica, we embarked 
on the 14th, calling at Realejo, where Mr. Bridge 
had some business to transact, besides seeing his lady 
in Chinendega. We reached the port in twenty 
hours from leaving the Union, the Albert Henry, 
a North American vessel under the United States' 
iSag, being a fast sailer, like so many vessels of that 

I may confidently say that Realejo is at least as 
good a port as any in the known world. I have seen 
Portsmouth, Rio Janiero, Port Jackson, Talcujana, 
Callao, and Guayaquil, and to all of these I consider 
it decidedly superior. It is a salt-water creek, into 
which several small streams of water empty them- 
selves. The entrance is protected by an island about 
two miles long, which leaves at each end a channel 
where ships can enter the harbour, but extending 
opposite the main land, forming the port in such a 
manner as to protect it entirely from any wind that 
can possibly blow, and also entirely breaking the 
swell which enters the outer bay of Conchagua-from 
the ocean. The north entrance is about a quarter of 
a mile wide, and that at the south of the island rather 
nan'ower, both being entirely free from rocks or 
hidden dangers, and having in no part less than five 
fathoms' depth of water. At one of these openings, 
vessels can at all times enter with a leading wind from 
whatever quarter it may blow. The inside consists 


of a noble basin of water, nowhere less than four 
fathoms deep> with a bottom of mud^ where 200 
ships of the line might lie at all times in the most 
perfect security. Merchant-vessels generally lie 
about a mile from the entrance, in the branch of 
the creek which runs up to Realejo, where there are 
about five fathoms water over a mud bottom. Op- 
posite this port there is a fine level beach, possessing 
deep water close to the edge, which would form 
an admirable site fi)r a town; and where, at very 
little expense, a wharf might be constructed capable 
of accommodating almost any number of vessels. 
Were proper batteries erected on the rocky island at 
the entrance, no enemy could possibly enter, for, if 
required, a chain could also be extended across each 
of the two mouths. One of the branches of this 
creek extends inland to within three leagues of the 
lake of Leon or Managua. The intermediate country 
is a gentle slope, where, undoubtedly, should enter 
one of the ends of the canal to connect the Pacific 
and Atlantic Oceans ; and it is much to be regretted 
that Mr. Bailey was not instructed to make his sur- 
veys on this line instead of that adopted. From the 
report of this able engineer, it will be seen that the 
only difficulties in the line he surveyed are in cross- 
ing the chain of hills between the lake of Nicaragua 
and Saint John of the south, which would be en- 
tirely avoided by bringing the canal through the 
lake of Leon (connected as it is with that of 
Nicaragua by a river that might be rendered navi- 
gable at a moderate cost), into the above-named 
branch of Eealejo harbour, thus securing the great 

c 2 


advantacre of an excellent harbour at each end of the 
canal, besides many others which can certainly not 
be met with at Panama, Tehuantepec, or any other 

As I have referred to this subject, I shall here 
make a few extracts from a pamphlet published in 
Guatemala, which I trust will prove generally in- 
teresting. " The opening of a canal to connect the 
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has commanded more 
or less attention ever since the discovery of America, 
and even the Spanish government has had its atten- 
tion forcibly drawn to it; The reasons given for not 
attempting such a work, are of a most singular nature. 
The government of the sixteenth century were, it ap- 
pears, deterred by the fear that if such a work were 
undertaken, the necessary labour would finish the 
remnant of Indians left by the oppression of the con- 
querors, or that if the voyage round Cape Horn were 
altered for so short and easy a passage, the coasts 
would become infested by pirates, who would prey 
upon the commerce passing through the canal. The 
learned prelate, P. Acorta, writing in 1588, gives 
a reason against it, which appears still more strange in 
the present day ; speaking of the project he says : * I 
am of opinion that no human power would be suf- 
ficient to cut through the strong and impenetrable 
bounds which God has put between the two oceans, 
of mountains and iron rocks which can stand the fury 
of the raging seas. And if it were possible it would 
appear to me very just to- fear the vengeance of 
Heaven for attempting to improve the works which 
the Creator, in his Almighty will and providence, 
ordered from the creation of the world.' Others have 



pretended to fear that were a canal cut through the 
isthmus, the rush of waters from the Pacific would 
swamp the West India Islands, and even Europe 
itself, and many learned treatises have been written 
to prove it; but even were it possible to cut through 
a level canal without ascending locks, which is suf- 
ficiently absurd to expect, there would be no reason 
to fear any such catastrophe, as according to the 
measurements made by Mr. Lloyd, at the Isthmus of 
Panama in 1829, the Pacific at high water only rises 
13*55 feet above the average level of the Atlantic, 
and at low water falls 6^ feet below it, so that the 
difference in the level of the two seas is very trifling. 
The British have made several attempts to possess 
themselves of Saint John of Nicaragua and Bealejo, 
with a view, no doubt, to secure the country through 
which the proposed canal should pass, but with singu- 
larly bad fortune; the first attempt was made in 
1740, by the superintendent of the Moschito coast, 
but the attempt was disavowed by the British govern- 
ment, which, however, in 1780, sent a squadron com- 
posed of two frigates, two brigs of war, and a line of 
battle ship, carrying a number of fiat boats, and 2000 
men, under the command of Colonel J. Poison. 

" On the 28th of March, the flotilla reached the port 
of Saint John of Nicaragua, but none of the vessels 
would venture to cross the bar, except the corvette 
Henchinbrack, commanded by the afterwards cele- 
brated Nelson, who ascended the river for many 
leagues, as far as the island of Mico ; the troops were, 
however, embarked in the flat boats, and ascended 
the river without opposition as far as the port of 
San Carlos, which they took after about a month's 

c 3 


siege, making prisoners the garrison of 160 men^ 
but in the mean time the government had coUected 
large forces &om San Miguel and other parta 
Great difficulties also presented themselves to the 
British. The wet season set in with its accompany- 
ing sickness, and the Zombors of the coast, who had 
been hired to track up the boats, went away, so that 
the soldiers were forced to walk in the water and 
mud to pull the boats forward, from which labour 
they suffered exceedingly, great numbers falling sick 
and dying daily ; meanwhile, reinforcements having 
been received under Captains Campbell, Dalrymple, 
and Leith, which increased the force to 8000 men, the 
expedition was persevered in ; but the armed boat, 
called the Lord Germain, was the only one which 
reached the lake of Nicaragua, where it arrived in 
the end of May. The increase of sickness among 
the troops to so alarming an extent, that not a 
fourth part were fit for service, prevented the expedi- 
tion from moving forward ; they remained, however, 
till the commencement of November, expecting fresh 
reinforcements, till they received notice that they had 
disembarked at Jamaica, typhus fever having been 
discovered on board the squadron, when it was judged 
necessary to abandon this mismanaged attempt. But 
not one half of the men ever left the country, the re- 
mainder having died of tropical fevers. Had the 
ministry, who planned this expedition, been at all 
informed regarding the nature of the country they 
proposed to conquer, they would, of course, have 
sent the expedition so as to arrive at the com- 
mencement of the dry and healthy season, and had 
this been done, the result might have been very 


different. It would appear that one of the dcheo^es 
of Goodaj^ ' the Prince of the Peace,' was the 
opening of the Nicaragua Canal, but his fall put an 
end to this and many other excellent schemes, which 
might have, in some degree, compensated for hi» 
treacherous conduct to the Spanish royal family. 

" After the independence of Central America, the 
first attempt towards opening this canal was made 
by Sen Manuel Antonie de la Cerda, afterwards 
Governor of the state of Nicaragua, who, in July 
1823, urged the matter upon the federal congress, 
laying before them an imaginsury plan of the river of 
Saint John, the lake of Nicaragua, and the territory 
between it and the Pacific ; but the succeeding dis- 
turbances prevented any thing being done till the 
year 1825, when difierent proposals were made by 
foreign speculators on the subject ; and the National 
Federal Congress, on the 16th of June of that year, 
passed the following decree : — 

" Art. 1. Authorises the opening of a canal fitted 
for the passage of the largest vessels in the state of 

" Art. 2. The works to be of the most solid con- 

" Art. 3. The government shall oflFer to the under- 
takers an indemnification equivalent to the cost and 
labour of the work. 

" Art. 4. The government shall take all means of 
facilitating the object : permitting the cutting of 
wood; assisting the surveyors ; forwarding the plans; 
and, generally, in every manner not injurious to 
public or private interests. 

c 4 


** Art. 5. No duty shall be charged on instniments 
and machinery imported for the works of the canal. 

** Art. 6. The expense of the work shall be acknow- 
ledged as a national debt^ and the tolls of the canal 
shall all be applied to that purpose, after deducting 
the necessary costs of maintenance and repairs, and 
the maintenance of a garrison for its defence. 

" Art. 7. Any dispute regarding its liquidation or 
proofs of outlay, shall be determined according to the 
laws of the republic. 

'^ Art. 8. The Congress shall be entitled to establish, 
and at all times alter, the rates of toll as it may think 

<^ Art. 9. The navigation shall be open to all nations, 
friends or neutrals, without privilege or exclusion. 

** Art 10. The government shall maintain on the 
lake the necessary vessels for its defence. 

"Art. 11. If invincible impediments discovered in 
the course of the work prevent its execution, the 
republic shall not be liable to make any remuner- 
ation whatever. 

" Art. 12. In case only a boat canal can be opened, 
the indemnification shall be proportioned to the 
smaller benefit which will then result to the re- 

** This decree, passed by the Congress, was published 
jointly with another of the government, fixing the 
term of six months for receiving the proposals of such 
parties or companies as should ofier to undertake the 
enterprise. The period being too short to admit of 
measures being taken for forwarding such an enter- 
prise in Europe, the Congress only received a re- 
petition of a part of the proposals before made. The 



principal of these were made by Mr. Bailey and Mr. 
Charles Beniski ; the first as agent for the house of 
Messrs. Barclay, Herring, Richardson and Company^ 
of London^ and the second for Messrs. Aron and 
Palmer of New York. The government certainly 
ought to have preferred the first of these offers, both 
on account of Mr. Bailey's known character and ex- 
perience, and the respectability of the house with 
which he was connected ; but Mr. Bailey only offered 
to make a conditional agreement, subject to the ap- 
probation of the principals in London, whereas 
Beniski did not hesitate at once to sign an uncon- 
ditional contract, in which, as a further inducement, 
he offered to advance 200,000 dollars to government 
for objects connected with the canal. This and other 
magnificent offers, which were easily made by a per- 
son who could lose nothing by their non-fulfilment, 
decided the government in favour of Beniski's offer, 
without (as the representatives of a more enlightened 
nation would have done) inquiring what security 
they had from the agent of a New York broker, for 
the fulfilment of so great an enterprise. Beniski, 
therefore, bound himself to open through Nicaragua, 
a canal navigable for vessels of all sizes, and to de- 
posit in the city of Granada the sum of 200,000 
dollars for the preliminary expenses within the period 
of six months ; to erect fortresses for the safety of the 
canal, and to have all the works in progress within 
twelve months at latest. In compensation, he was 
to receive two thirds of the profits of the tolls upon 
the canal, until all the capital laid out in the under- 
taking was repaid, with interest at the rate of 10 per 
cent., besides afterwards receiving half the proceeds 

c 5 


of the canal for seyen years, and certain privileges 
for the introduction of steam vessels. The govern- 
ment was to put at his disposal all the documents 
relating to the subject existing in the archives ; per- 
mit the cutting of wood and furnish labourers for the 
work, who, however, were to be paid by the con- 
tractor, though remaining under the inspection of the 

" In case of non-completion, the government was 
not bound to allow anything for the works executed. 
But Beniski soon found that he could not secure, 
either capital or other means to carry out his engage- 
ment ; having, first, without success, tried to get up 
a company in the United States, and afterwards in 
London, where a magnificent prospectus was put 
forth, declaring that the scheme was under the pa- 
tronage of the President of the United States, and 
giving a list of the leading members of the national 
senate and the government of New York as directors, 
but without successfully gulling the public. 

** It seems, however, very probable, that none of the 
other speculators, though of a much more respectable 
class, would have been able to secure the immense 
capital required for so grand an undertaking. 

" After this disappointment, the project was allowed 
to sleep till October 1828, when the King of the 
Netherlands proposed to undertake the work, if it 
should be considered practicable, after the necessary 
surveys had been executed. The idea seems to have 
originated with General Verveer, minister from the 
Netherlands to the grand diet of Panama, who was 
doubtlessly urged to it by the representatives of 
Central America, aware as they were of the great 


advantage the line of Nicaragua possessed over that 
of Panama. In March 1829^ die Dutch general 
arrived in Guatemala, as plenipotentiary from his 
government to the United States of Central America, 
and also with instructions regarding the undertaking 
of the canal ; but, as Central America was then in 
the midst of one of her incessant revolutions, nothing 
was done till the following year, when the matter 
was taken up by the federal congress, and on the 
2l8t of October, they passed a series of new reso- 
lutions upon the subject The offers made by the 
King of the Netherlands were of an extremely liberal 
nature ; the work was to be executed by a company of 
Dutch capitalists under the protection of the king ; 
as soon as the outlay with 10 per cent, interest was 
repaid to the company, the canal was to revert to the 
republic of Central America. The government hav- 
ing determined to send envoys to the Netherlands 
with full powers to conclude all the arrangements, 
little doubt appeared that the work would finally be 
proceeded with; but the revolution of Belgium, and its 
separation from Holland, put an end to these hopes. 
In 1832, endeavours were made to revive the nego- 
tiation with Holland, and the legislature of the state 
of Nicaragua passed a number, of resolutions agreeing 
to the proposals of the Dutch envoy ; but nothing 
beyond talking was done by the Central American 
government. No envoy was sent to Holland, nor 
did any plenipotentiary again reach Central America, 
so that the subject has been quite dropped by both 
parties. In 1837, the subject was again taken up by 
the srovernment of General Morazan, which resolved 
to have the proposed line of the canal exactly sur- 

c 6 



veyed, intending to raise a loan in Europe for the 
execution of the work. Mr. John Bailey was em- 
ployed for the former purpose ; but when, after three 
years' labour, he had completed the whole of the 
survey of the line indicated, except the levels between 
the lake of Nicaragua and the Atlantic, his work was 
brought to a sudden close by the dissolution of the 
federal government, and the whole of his labours have 
as yet been entirely unpaid by the wretched shadows 
of governments which have succeeded in the different 
states. A short summary of the results of the survey 
will be found in the comparison made by Mr. Bailey 
between the advantages of the canals of Nicaragua 
and Panama ; but it is much to be regretted, that 
the survey was not carried on the line passing through 
the lakes of Leon or Managua to the port of Kealejo, 
which is universally considered preferable by parties 
well acquainted with the country." 

The Journal des Debats has the following shrewd 
remarks regarding the execution of a canal be- 
tween the two oceans. *^ It is not sufficient (says 
that journal, of the 13th of August, 1845) to plan 
a canal, it is, moreover, necessary to make it — 
it is necessary to procure workmen and provisions 
for their maintenance. If masons and sappers be 
brought from a distance, they must not be placed in 
an unhealthy climate, where they will probably be 
decimated by epidemic diseases. In this view the 
line by Chagres and Panama is vastly deficient. The 
population is very small, and the few inhabitants are 
of an exceedingly lazy disposition, so that it would 
be indispensable to transport thither a whole army 
of workmen, whose best composition would be a 


mixture of negroes for spade works, and land and 
marine engineers for the finer works. Besides, part 
of the territory, through which the canal ought to 
extend, is marshy and in a most deadly climate, 
where the burning rays of the sun fall nearly ver- 
tically during the whole year, which would prove 
most fatal to European workmen. On the contrary, 
the borders of the lakes of Nicaragua and Leon are 
healthy, only the vicinity of the coasts being subject 
to epidemic fevers. All travellers agree in saying 
that it is a delightful country, of extraordinary fer- 
tility, and, that as much as four crops of maize are 
produced in the year in some places. Here we also 
meet with populous towns and villages, more thickly 
strewn than in some parts of Europe ; this is an in- 
estimable advantage." 

I can fully confirm the truth of all these re- 
marks except the last, in which there is a little 
exaggeration; and being well acquainted with both 
climates, would certainly say that no comparison can 
be drawn between Panama, one of the most deadly 
climates in the known world, and Nicaragua, one of 
the most healthy for a tropical climate. 

The surveys of the canal were not completed, 
when the state government of Nicaragua proposed 
a preliminary scheme of making a road from the 
lake of Leon to Realejo, and clearing the rivers of 
Saint John, and that forming the junction of the two 
lakes. This scheme would be more within the means 
possessed by the country, though even this would be 
far too much to expect from the present government 
without foreign assistance: but from the great im- 
provements now making in railroads, it may perhaps 


be deemed expedient to make one for the three 
leagaes required to join the lake of Leon and the 
harbour of Bealejo only, clearing and improving the 
natural navigation of the rest of the line. In 1838, 
a convention was made between the states of Ni- 
caragua and Honduras, under which Sen Pedro 
Bouhand was authorised to conclude an agreement 
in France for the formation of a company to make 
the canal, and other objects, but he returned without 
effecting any thing ; the same result has attended 
the measures taken by Dr. Don Gorg^ Viteri, am- 
bassador from Rome, and Bishop of Saint Salvador, 
and of a second envoy sent to the court of France 
by the governments of Nicaragua and Honduras, 
the French government wisely declining to treat 
with the representative of two such despicable and 
petty governments. 

From what has been said, it is to be presumed 
that no doubt can be entertained of the practicability 
of this grand and most useful undertaking, and it is 
to be hoped that many years will not elapse before 
it will be put in progress by the intervention of 
Great Britain, or some of the great naval powers 
most interested in its completion. 



On the 17th of May, at 6 p. m., we left Eealejo for 
Funta AreDaa, which we reached od the 2lBt, at 
11 A.M., having had a light fur wind during the 
whole passage. 

We sailed close along the coast of Nicoya, which 
once formed part of the state of Nican^a, but two 
years ago joined the more quiet and secure govem- 
ment of Costa Rica. It is a most picturesque and 
beautiful country, and like many other parts of Cen- 
tral America, capable of producing nearly every 
tropical plant to advantage, being intersected with 
numerous rich valleys watered by copious streams. 
At present the population is very scanty, and the 
only branch of industry is the rearing of cattle for 
the CoBta Rica market. A pearl fishery has long 
existed on this coast, and pearls are said to be mom 
abundant along it than even at Fanama. Considei 
able quantities have been offered me for sale at Funt 
Arenas, but they were all of very inferior quality, an 


worth very little. I had reason, however, to suspect 
that the best pearls had previously been picked out, 
and that the refuse were offered to me in the hope 
that I did not understand the articles, and might be 
induced to purchase from the low price. 

The port of Punta Arenas, as its name (literally, 
sandy point) implies, consists of an inner and outer 
harbour ; the first is formed by a long sand spit and 
the main land, and is only accessible for vessels not 
drawing above seven feet water. The outer harbour 
is pretty well sheltered by two islands from the 
winds and swell rolling into the Gulf of Nicoya from 
the Pacific. The anchorage is but indifferent, and 
as vessels, not able to enter the inner harbour, must 
lie a league from the landing-place, all the cargo 
must be landed in boats, and, there being no wharf 
or pier, the landing can only be effected for about 
half of the tide, which causes a great delay in loading 
and unloading vessels. 

The village is built upon the sand spit, which is 
about two leagues long, and not exceeding a quarter 
of a mile broad, and in no part more than ten feet 
above high-water mark ; it is all formed of loose 
sand, into which the foot sinks several inches at 
every step, and forms a most disagreeable residence, 
every thing when the wind blows, being covered with 
fine sand, which penetrates into the innermost re- 
cesses of the housjBS. It produces nothing but the 
wild indigo plant, which is manufactured to a small 
extent by the natives, and a poisonous shrub, called 
the manzanilla ; but singular to relate, fresh water is 
found in all parts of the point, of most excellent 
quality, by digging two or three yards below the 




Blurface. This would appear to be sea water filtered 
by passing through the fine sand^ and is a singular 
instance of the purification of salt water in so short 
a distance, as the wells produce equally good water 
when dug close to the high water mark of the sea. 

Punta Arenas is a new settlement, made by the 
government of Costa Kica. From its position, it 
is open to the breeze on every side, and, though a 
most unpleasant residence, is far from unhealthy. 
The former port on the S. W. side is Calderas, a 
remarkably fine harbour, very safe and convenient, 
but possessing so fatal a climate that nearly all the 
government officers died off in two years' time : this, 
no doubt, arose from its situation, buried as it is in 
a dense primeval forest. 

It is now, again, proposed to move the port 
to Tercoles, a creek higher up the bay, which is 
said to possess the advantages of being nearer the 
capital of the state, with a much better harbour, 
a fertile territory, and greater salubrity. I, how- 
ever, doubt much if the government will consent 
to the sacrifice of losing what they have laid out 
upon Punta Arenas in building a custom-house, &c. 

Punta Arenas being the only port of any consider- 
ation (for the trade of Matina, the port of the N.E. 
coast, is not worth mentioning) in the thriving State 
of Costa Bica, possesses a rapidly increasing com- 
merce. This year (1845) the exports of coffee were 
about 50,000 quintals, and in three years more they 
are expected to reach 100,000, and the imports will 
of course be in proportion. This is the end of the 
coffee season, as the crop is gathered in February ; 
but there are still loading in the port two British 
vessels of 300 tons each, one Hamburger of 400 tons, 


one North American of 180, and one Chilian, and 
one Equador schooner. 

On the 24th of May, at daylight, we set off for 
San Jose, having with great diflSculty procured 
mules and a guide. I was accompanied by a young 
man, a native of the state, who had arrived from 
Guatemala, with woollen manufactures, to the value 
of some thousand dollars. Here he is called a 
comerciante (merchant), but would in England be 
called a pedlar. All Spanish Americans are, how- 
ever, fond of high-sounding titles, and as they cost 
nothing, they are pretty liberally applied : he is a 
dark-coloured Mestizo, which is rare in this state. 
At 2 p. M. it commenced to rain hard, and we were 
obliged to stop for the night at a small hut about 
ten leagues on our journey. This hut is pleasantly 
situated, being close to the foot of the Table Land, 
where nearly all the population of the state is 
situated : it lias a neat garden, with a pretty brook 
running alongside, and the people are much more 
obliging than I have seen them in other parts of the 
Republic, in consequence of their being accustomed 
to be paid for whatever is asked for, which is very 
frequently not the case in the other states, where 
the parting salutation (Dios lo pague) ** God will pay 
you," is often too appropriate for the poor natives. 
Strangers, however, seldom pay in this coin, and are, 
consequently, generally more readily and better at- 
tended to. 

Early in the morning we ascended a steep moun- 
tain (Cuesta de Jocote), the seat of a number of 
gold mines, part of which are worked by a pri- 
vate English company, which, though it is said to 


possess several very rich mines^ has never paid any 
dividend. I visited two of the mines; but, like 
all gold workings, there is nothing to be seen ; for 
the gold is contained in a dark reddish earth, which 
is stamped by machinery, and then stirred in run* 
ning water to remove its lighter particles, the gold 
and heavier parts falling to the bottom. The re- 
sidue, in which no gold can be detected by the eye, 
is then dried, and the metal taken up by quicksilver, 
the process I believe being the same in all gold 
mines. Great numbers of loads of auriferous earth 
have been discovered in this mountain, and as it is 
nearly all unexamined as yet, and covered with a 
dense forest, it is reasonable to suppose that many 
more would reward an active search: the gold is 
pure, that is to say, not mixed with any other metal. 
Ascending the mountain of Jocote, we encountered 
a large troop of long-armed monkeys, the largest 
being about four feet in height. They did not ap- 
pear to be the least timid, but kept close above us in 
the lofty trees, springing from one to another by in- 
conceivably long leaps, and as usual, making comical 
gestures when we looked at them. At 10 a. m. we 
reached the fortress, which commands the pass of 
Jocote, about five leagues from San Jos^, where we 
breakfasted : this is the only possible route by which 
the city can be entered from this side of the con- 
tinent, all the rest of the country being rendered 
impassable by huge ravines and perpendicular rocks, 
over which a deer could not force its way, and a few 
men and guns would make it quite impossible for 
any body of troops to force an entry. In 1842, 
General Morazan only entered from the treachery of 


the forces sent to guard it; otherwise he could 
not have thought of attempting it. An enemy not 
possessed of shipping could hardly attempt to enter 
by the other coast. Even after landing at Matina^ 
an army could scarcely manage to march through the 
intervening swamps and forests; and as the Table 
Land, where the population is concentrated, pro- 
duces abundant food for the inhabitants, this little 
state could never be subdued against the inclination 
of its inhabitants. The government of Costa Kica 
deserves great praise for being the only one in 
Spanish America which has made passable roads 
since their independence. The road from San Jos6 
to Punta Arenas, though far from rivalling such 
works in Europe, is quite passable for the carts of the 
country, each of which conveys half a ton of coffee 
from the capital to the port, a distance of twenty- 
five leagues over a couotry naturally of the most 
impassable nature, in four or five days. There is an 
export duty of a real a quintal, applied to making 
and keeping the roads in repair, and private sub- 
scriptions to a considerable extent have also been 
made among the planters. 

Three handsome bridges have been erected over 
deep ravines, and two more are in course of con- 
struction over the two most rapid rivers on the road. 
At 2 P.M. we entered among the coffee plantations, 
and at three o'clock reached the city of San Jos6 
during a smart shower of rain. 

The city of San Jos^, now capital of the state of 
Costa Bica, is situated in an extensive plain. The 
towns of Heridia and Alhajuela are respectively two 
and four leagues distant, and are easily seen from 


San Jos^. These three towns and the old capital | 

of Cartaga^ which is only six leagues distant, contain 
all the population of the state, with a trifling excep- 
tion. San Jos4 is estimated to contain 20,000 in- 
habitants, which I think may be a little under the 
mark. It has only one church, and no building 
worthy of notice. The streets are, as usual in 
America, straight and at right angles, dividing the 
city into squares of 100 Spanish yards (varas). The 
houses have never more than a ground story ; a few 
are of stone, but by far the greater part of mud. In 
the interior arrangements and comfort, however, the 
houses are only second to those of Guatemala, though 
far from comparable with those of more advanced 
countries. All the surrounding country, except a 
common of a mile square belonging to the city, is 
richly cultivated, being mostly partitioned out into 
coffee plantations, of which it is the centre, the 
neighbourhood producing two-thirds of the crop. 

The situation is very fine, being a plain averaging 
five leagues in width, and ten in length, but partly 
interspersed with low hills, which are rocky and 
cannot be cultivated. A pleasant stream, on which 
are placed mills and machines for cleaning coffee^ 
passes the city. 

The inhabitants of this state are nearly all white, 
not having mixed with the Indians as in other parts 
of Spanish America, and the few who are coloured 
have no doubt come from the neighbouring states. 
Their character is very different from all other parts 
of Central America; they are industrious, though 
riot fond of hard work ; every family has a small 
coffee or sugar-cane plantation ; the lower orders ap- 


pear very simple in their habits; all many very 
young, and the promiscuous intercourse between the 
sexes which exists in the other states is unknown. 
Life and property are also very secure, and it is 
four years since a murder took place ; a state of 
things very different from the other governments, 
where they occur almost daily, and are so common 
as generally to excite no attention. 

Still there are many customs which would sound 
very strange to English ears. For instance, it is 
quite common for unmarried ladies and gentlemen 
in the most respectable families to sleep in the same 
room, and in beds almost touching each other. 
The free manner of speaking with either sex is not 
less surprising to a stranger, and what would be 
thought the most indecent expression in the lowest 
company of England, would be a pretty compli- 
ment to the most delicate young lady in Costa 
Kica. An elderly lady of the first respectability, 
one day told me, that she disliked the ladies of Gua- 
temala, they were such hypocrites ; and on my in- 
quiring in what manner, she said, ^^ A married lady in 
Costa Kica who makes a slip, will confess it to her 
husband, beg pardon, and promise better behaviour 
in future; whereas the ladies of Guatemala take 
every means to conceal it, and even deny it in the 
face of positive proof; and some husbands have been 
such fools as to get the aggressor assassinated, while 
in Costa Kica, it is only laughed at by both parties." 

On the 20th of June, we visited Alhajuela, and 
Heridia, and remained at the former place two days, 
at the house of the chief of the state, San Jos^ Maria 
Alfaro, who has been long afflicted with gastritis. 


After a great deal of persuasion, I was induced to 
prescribe for him, and with good result, though the 
case was rather beyond my hopes. I make no doubt 
that he would have died under the hands of the 
native doctors. There is only one really educated 
professional man in the country. Sen Montealegre, 
who studied at the University of Edinburgh ; but there 
are several foreign quacks, one of whom, an English- 
man, says he has lost his diploma, a very common 
misfortune among foreign medical practitioners in 
Central America. Montealegre is a very well edu- 
cated and gentlemanly man, but very indolent, and 
too well oiT to care about practising in a country 
where he would be so badly paid. A little sugar 
and coffee is grown at Alhajuela, which may contain 
7000 to 8000 inhabitants. Heridia is about the same 
size, and coffee is grown in the neighbourhood, which 
produces about the fourth of the entire crop. 

On the 23d, we visited the coffee and sugar estate 
of Don Juan Jose Lara, three leagues beyond Alha- 
juela, in a small valley. It seems to possess very fine 
and productive lands, and were the owner possessed 
of more capital, it might be made a most splendid 
estate: at present, no sugar is manufactured, the 
whole of the cane juice being made into crude spirits, 
which are drunk in the country. Next morning we 
returned to Alhajuela to breakfast, the ride being 
through a most picturesque country, to which the 
morning shadows and the white fleecy clouds, inter- 
spersed on all sides like snow, and the blue mountain 
tops peeping above them, gave the appearance of some 
fairy scene. We returned to San Jos^ after break- 
fast with the chief and his retinue, sadly tired with 


our slow movements, as the chief stopped to talk and 
shake hands with nearly every peasant he met ou 
the road« 

The cultivation of coffee forms the present riches 
of Costa Bica, and has raised it to a state of pros- 
perity unknown in any other part of Central Ame- 
rica. It was begun about twelve years ago ; a few 
plants having been brought from New Granada, and 
the first trial being successfiil, it has rapidly extended. 
All the coffee is grown in the plain of San Jos^, where, 
as already observed, the three principal towns are 
situated — about two-thirds being produced in the en- ' 

virons of the capital, a fourth in those of Heridia, and 
the remainder at Alhajuela and its vicinity. The land 
which has been found, by experience, to be best suited 
to coffee, is a black loam, and the next best a dark red 
earth — soils of a brown and dull yellow colour being 
quite unsuitable. The plain of San Jose is mostly 
of the first class, being, like all the soils of Central 
America, formed with a large admixture of volcanic 
materials. Contrary to the experience of Java and 
Arabia Felix, coffee is here found to thrive much 
better, and produce a more healthy and equal berry, 
on plain land, than upon hills or undulating slopes, 
which doubtless arises from the former retaining its 
moisture better, and generally containing a larger 
deposit of loam. 

I am inclined in a great measure to attribute the 
practice of sowing coffee in sloping land in Java, to the 
fact that the plains are generally occupied by the more 
profitable cultivation of sugar-cane. In Arabia, the 
plains are generally of a sandy nature (being lands 
which have, apparently, at no very distant geological 



period formed the bed of the sea), which may account 
for the plantations existing only upon the low hills 
and slopes. 

A coifee plantation in Costa Rica produces a crop 
the third year after it is planted, and is in perfection 
the fifth year. The coffee tree^ are planted in rows, 
with a space of about three yards between each and 
one between each plant, resembling in appearance 
hedges of the laurel bay. The weeds are cut down 
and the earth slightly turned with a hoe, three or 
four times in the year ; and the plant is not allowed 
to increase above the height of six feet for the facility 
of gathering the fruit. The coffee tree here begins 
to flower in the months of March and April, and 
the berry ripens in the plain of San Jos6 in the 
months of November and December, strongly re- 
sembling a wild cherry in form and appearance, 
being covered with a similar sweet pulp. 

As soon as the crimson colour assumed by the ripe 
fruit indicates the time for cropping, numbers of men, 
women, and children are sent to gather the berry, 
which is piled in large heaps to soften the pulp for 
forty-eight hours, and then placed in tanks through 
which a stream of water passes, where it is continually 
stirred to free it from the outer pulp ; after which it 
is spread out upon a platform, with which every 
coffee estate is furnished, to dry in the sun ; but 
there still exists an inner husk, which, when perfectly 
dry, is, in the smaller estates, removed by treading 
the berry under the feet of oxen ; and, in the larger, 
by water mills, which bruise the berry slightly to 
break the husk, and afterwards separate it by fannerp. 
The entire cost of producing a quintal (101^ lbs. 



British) of coffee^ including the keeping of the estate 
in order, cleaning and pruning the plants, and gather- 
ing and preparing the berries, is, at the present rate 
of wages (two rials or about a shilling per day), 
calculated at two and a half dollars (equal to ten 
shillings) ; but the labourers are now hardly sufficient 
for working all the estates which are planted, so that 
the price may probably rise a little, though the pre- 
sent rate of payment enables the natives to live much 
better than has been their wont. 

The price of coffee in San Jos^ during the months 
of February, March, and April, after which none can 
generally be met with, was, in 1846, about five dol- 
lars cash per quintaL The price of conveyance i^ 
about one dollar per quintal ; the duty (which is col- 
lected for the repairs of the road) one rial more, so 
that the speculator makes, at least, ten rials, or about 
20 per cent*, by purchasing and sending the coffee to 
the port, on his outlay and charges ; but it is often 
bartered for manufactured goods, and is also pur- 
chased beforehand — half being paid in imports, and 
half in cash to the grower. The voyage from Punta 
Arenas to Europe is at least five months, while that 
from Matina, the port on the N.E. coast, which is 
about equidistant from San Jose, or perhaps a league 
or two nearer, would not generally exceed six weeks, 
and the freight would cost SOs. or 40«. instead of 6L 
a ton. 

. It is, however, said that the nature of the country 
between San Jos6 and Matina is so difficult, that a 
passable road for carts, such as is made to Punta 
Arenas, would cost an immense sum; and the con- 
tinued rains that fall nearly all the year on the N.E. 
co^st, render the climate so unhealthy, that it would 



be difficult to induce the people to embark in such an 
undertaking on any terms. But the fine port of San 
Juan de Nicaragua is only about twenty leagues dis- 
tant, while both Matina and Punta Arenas are twenty- 
five ; and could arrangements be made with the state 
of Nicaragua, or should the British government take 
possession of it in accordance with their claim so 
often repeated on account of the Moschito Indians, 
it would immediately become the only port of Costa 
Rica, as the country between it and San Jose is said 
to be very practicable for a good road, and it is 
decidedly the finest port on the N.E. coast, tolerably 
healthy, and not above forty or fifty days' voyage 
from Europe by sailing vessels, and perhaps twenty 
by steamers. The largest coffee estates of Costa 
Rica are possessed by the family of Montealegre and 
Don Juan Moira. The principal of these I have 
examined; they appear to be very carefully and 
judiciously managed, possess good mills for clean- 
ing and husking the coffee worked by water power ; 
and annually produce upwards of 500 tons. The 
entire produce of the year 1846 amounted to about 
3000 tons, and it is expected that the crop of 1847 
will exceed 4000 tons, near which quantity it will 
probably continue, till the population gradually in- 
creases, the labourers, as already mentioned, being 
barely sufficient for the present cultivation. As the 
value at the present average price in the English 
market of 50^. a cwt. will give 200,000/., the pro- 
duce of the district will appear pretty considerable 
for a petty American state, possessing only 80,000 
inhabitants, and just emerging from a half savage 

J> 2 



On the 10th of July we visited Cartago, the old 
capital of Costa Kica^ which was ruined by the earth- 
quake of the 2d of September, 1841. It is still 
nearly a mass of ruins, and has three churches de- 
molished and only one standing ; this building, which 
is sacred to the Virgin Mary, was saved, it is pre- 
tended, by her special interference. Her ladyship 
has, however, shown " horrid bad " taste in preserving 
it, for it is the smallest and ugliest church in the 
city, and its destruction would rather have been a 
benefit than otherwise, as it would have led to the 
construction of a new church, which could hardly 
have been so unseemly. 

On the 12 th, we ascended the old volcano of Car- 
tago, which, though it continues to smoke a little, has 
not broken out within the memory of man, but has 
left terrible mementos of its earlier ravages — all the 
country for many miles round being a mass of stones, 
lava, and scoriae. The previous night I had slept at 
a small hut belonging to cattle herdsy about one-third 
of the way up the mountain, where I found it bitterly 
cold, though this is the hottest season of the year, 
and the people told me that snow often falls here in 
the month of January. 

Starting before sunrise I reached the top of the 
mountain at 9 A. M. ; during the ascent I was kept 
pretty warm by walking quick, but I had not been 
ten minutes on the top before my teeth were chatter- 
ing with cold, and the Mestizo, who was my guide, 
seemed to suffer still more. The day was fortunately 
remarkably clear for the season of the year, and I 
succeeded in getting a glimpse of the Atlantic ocean. 
In the months of December and January I was told 


that both it and the Pacific are clearly seen from the 
top. The view is, however, in other respects, pro- 
bably more singular and picturesque at the present 
season : the whole landscape below is covered with 
white fleecy clouds which slowly move along the 
lower ground, followed by others like flocks of 
monster-shaped animals ; while the fields and trees ap- 
pear of a dark blue colour through frequent breaks, 
which give to them the aspect of motion, and to the 
clouds an aspect of rest (in the same manner as at sea 
the waters seem to move and the ship to stand still). 
But while this covering is placed over the low ground 
like a ragged sheet, the volcano and all the high 
mountains are perfectly clear, and the sky above is 
of an intense blue colour without the least speck or 
cloud. Leaving the guide, who said that no reward 
would tempt him to enter the crater, I proceeded 
alone to examine it ; and perceiving a small rill of 
smoke issuing from the side of the grand crater, I 
was so eager to examine it that I descended without 
thinking of the difficulty of the re-ascent, and after 
satisfying my curiosity, I found this to be impossible 
from the slippery nature of the ground, composed as 
it is of ashes and cinders. After two or three at- 
tempts and several violent falls, I found that there 
was no resource left but to descend to the bottom of 
the crater, and seek my way out by another path. 
After descending some distance as best I could, I 
came to a perpendicular ledge of rocks at least twenty 
feet high, but, on examination, I perceived that if I 
could manage to get down the face of it and creep 
round the end of a large projecting rock, I should 
be able to reach a small break in the side by which 

D 3 


I might get to the bottom ; so tying my riding-belt, 
neckcloth^ and pocket handkerchief together, which 
I afterwards found to measure between twelve and 
thirteen feet, I fastened them, as best I could, to a 
point of rock, and lowered myself to within about a 
yard of the projecting ledge. While, however, I was 
looking how I might properly alight on it, the belt 
became detached from the rock, and I was precipitated 
forward. By a great effort I managed on touching 
the ledge to keep myself from falling down the pre- 
cipice (which would certainly have been a singular 
death), and descending the crater walked to a hole in 
the centre, some hundred yards in diameter. I looked 
into it, but <x,uld see no bottom to the yawning 
abyss ; and I then rolled in some stones, which fell from 
rock to rock till the noise was lost in the distance. I 
longed much for a rope to lower myself a short way 
down, but this was out of the question. The sides 
of the crater were formed of a dark blue granite, in 
many parts completely melted, and in others only 
cracked with heat ; but there was no sulphur, nor any 
appearance of lime, clay, magnesia, or any of the 
metallic bases which are supposed to form volcanoes 
by their combustion when brought in contact with 
water. Having found a more easy path to ascend, I 
returned to my guide, five hours'having been spent 
in the crater and in the descent and ascent. He 
appeared much surprised and rejoiced to see me — 
having, as he confessed, given up all hope of my re- 
turn. He was very curious to know what I saw at the 
bottom ; and I told him that I had talked with the 
Devil for two hours, who told me many curious 
stories which I must not repeat. He fully believed 


me^ and I heard him on the way home telling the 
atory to several people, who shook their head and ap- 
peared fully to believe it also. One said, ^^ Yes, it may 
well have happened if he is English." Descending the 
mountain I was seized with a sudden faintness, arising, 
I suppose, from the sudden change fix)m a cold to a 
hot temperature^ combined with the effect of violent 
exertion. Finding that I was ready to fall from my 
horse, which I had remounted at tiie hut of the cattle- 
herd^ I^ got down, and was for about an hour de- 
prived of all power of motion, though not of sense 
and speech ; but I recovered from this singular at- 
tack, and proceeded onwards, reaching Cartago about 

On the 14th I returned to San Jos6, and on the 
2Qth to Punta Arenas, where I had to wut a 
month before I could encounter a vessel to take me 
northwards. I was here attacked with a complaint 
peculiar to this country, viz. boils in the flesh, which 
commence with a large red swelling, and produce a 
degree of pain hardly to be conceived by those who 
have not felt it. Each boil lasts about eight days, 
during which time the patient is in a continual fev^, 
and unable to sleep or do any thing. Several people 
had died here of dysent^y, and I was successful in 
curing a number who were suffering severely from it, 
and among the rest the Aministrador of the customs. 
My principal receipt was an ounce of prepared chalk 
well mixed with the whites of half a dozen eggs. 

On the 21st of August, I embarked on board the 
schooner Constellation, and reached Bealejo in seven 
days, which was considered a fine passage at this 
season of the year. The port had just been blockaded 

V 4 


bj the British corvette. Daphne, for claims made 
against the government of the state on the part 
of three British subjects — Messrs. Bridge, Manning, 
and Glenton. The miserable government, not having 
a farthing to pay them, agreed to give up the 
tobacco monopoly for four years to settle the claims 
of the two last, and to pay Mr. Bridge from the first 
receipt of the custom house at Bealejo : thus, the 
government was only left with the monopoly of spuits 
and the customs' revenue collected at Saint John, 
though the whole of the revenue is never sufficient to 
meet the current expenses ; and they were at that 
moment engaged in a war with the state of Hon^ 
duras. Next morning I proceeded to Chinendegai 
where I stayed at Mr. Bridge's house. 

The government of Nicaragua had for some time 
been urged by that of Saint Salvador to assist them 
against Guatemala, and had pretended to comply about 
twenty days previously, sending forward 1000 men ; 
but instead of assisting San Salvador, they were con- 
ducted against Honduras, in which state, the Grand 
Marshal Fonsecus, who is supreme in Nicaragua, 
hoped to effect a revolution. But it turned out very 
differently, for the invaders being attacked by a much 
inferior force of Honduras troops, fled in the most 
disgraceful manner, the soldiers throwing away their 
arms, and the officers their new uniforms, which they 
had made up in bundles to put on and exhibit in the 
capital of Honduras. The town of Chinendega was 
full of the runaways, the dirtiest mob of ragged 
rascals I ever beheld ; none had an entire shirt, and 
as for trousers, some had only one leg, the other 
being torn away. As usual in Central Americaii 


wars, all the men ran away to the forest, leaving 
the women to take care of the houses, judging, it 
would appear, that as they could not be taken for 
soldiers they would only be improved by a little com- 
munication with the troops. There was not one 
labouring man in Chinendega. 

We returned to Eealejo early on the morning of the 
30th, and immediately re-embarked with the master of 
the schooner, but as the wind was dead ahead, we did 
not sail. On the following morning, we made an ex- 
cursion to a lemon grove in one of the creeks of the 
harbour. The lemon trees were no doubt planted in 
the time of the Spanish government, but were now in 
a completely wild state, mixed with the indigenous 
forest trees. Near the grove was a large plot of land 
covered with a long rank grass but free from trees, 
although all the surrounding country was most densely 
wooded. It is called by the natives tierra encantada 
(the enchanted land), and it is difficult to find a reason 
for its not being wooded, as all the lands cleared in 
this state, when left a few years without cultivation, 
return to their original condition of dense forest. The 
wind becoming fair a little before sunset, we got up 
the anchors and proceeded out of the harbour. At 
the entrance we met H. B. M.'s corvette. Daphne, 
the lieutenant of which came on board : the captain 
had, it appears, raised the blockade of the port of 
the Union after remaining only a week, and having 
not even received any answer to the letters he sent to 
the government of San Salvador, making a claim of 
about 100,000 dollars for seizures made of British 
property. It was a foolish business, and the natives 
were very triumphant — remarking, that it is easy 

D 5 


to tire out the English bj a little fimmess. Un- 
fortunately, it is the custom of the captains of 
H. B. M.'s vessels always to find some excuse for not 
visiting ports where they are not likely to get a good 
freight c^ specie ; and though the claim gainst the 
state of San Salvador has been adjusted for more 
than six years up to this period, December, 1846, 
no means have beeit. taken to enforce it, nor has any 
vessel of war appeared since the visit of the Daphne, 
in August, 1844. 

We anchored at the entrance of the Union harbour 
on the night of the 1st of September, and on the 2d, 
at 4 A. M. in front of the village of the Union. After 
breakfast we went on shore without waiting for the 
visit, and so far from finding fault, the captain of the 
port thanked us for delivering the despatches from 
the Nicaragua government ; we also found that they 
had no boat to come on board with, so that we saved 
them the dignity of squatting down in a canoe. On 
the 15 th of September, we ascended the extinct vol- 
cano of Conchagua, which though not a high moun- 
tain, has, from its position, the most magnificent view 
I have ever seen from any hill in Central America, 
or any other part of the world. The panorama ex- 
tends for more than fifty leagues around, embracing 
the bay of Conchagua and the islands around it, the 
ports of the Union, San Lorenzo and Kealejo, and 
the cities of San Miguel, Camayagua and Leon, and 
a large part of the states of San Salvador, Honduras, 
and Nicaragua. I counted eighteen volcanoes, and 
there were so many hills, mountains, and streams, that 
I could not attempt to number them. On the top is a 
singular place covered with green grass, and a number 


of pine trees^ showing a climate averaging more than 
ten degrees below the plain at the foot. How the 
fir trees got there is a mystery, as there are none 
nearer than about thirty leagues off on the mountains 
of Honduras. The plain pleased me so much, that if 
I have ever again to reside any time at the Union, 
I shall get a hut made on the top of this moun- 
tain, where a temperate climate may always be 
enjoyed, resembling the table lands of Guatemala and 
Costa Bica. This mountain is plainly of volcanic 
origin, as the whole surrounding country is covered 
with cinders, which have been ejected from it ; but 
it must be of a great age, as no crater is now visible. 
Probably its eruptions ceased before the commence- 
ment of the volcano of San Miguel, which may 
be about twelve leagues distant in a direct line, as 
it appears that two active vents cannot exist so near 
each other. 

On the 8th of October I was surprised at seeing 
a great stir in the village of the Union; the men 
began to escape as quickly as possible, and the 
women to run about like troubled spirits. I asked 
several what was the matter, but they only shook 
their heads and replied (quia sabe) " who knows ; " at 
last one said, (hay una revoluoion fuerte) " there is a 
great revolution : " some advised me to escape to the 
woods with the rest, but having no cause to fear one 
faction more than another, I positively declined to 
do so. About 3 o'clock p. M. our speculations were 
brought to a close by the arrival of Greneral Caba- 
nas with about 200 troops. The government soldiers 
having made their escape, leaving their arms behind, 
he quietly took possession of the place, and having 

D 6 


come to the public house kept by Dona Lorenza 
Zapata^ where I was residing, he immediately asked 
me to what nation I belonged, and remarked that I 
was happy in not having occasion to fear any party, 
or the effects of any revolution. 

On their arrival, Cabanas and his officers gave out 
that there was a revolution in the capital of San 
Salvador, and that the government of Malespein was 
overturned, but this turned out not to be the case ; 
in fact, they were flying from that government, which 
they were informed intended to put them to death. 
Having chartered the British brig Diana to take 
them to Realejo, they left on the 11th, having 
conducted themselves with the greatest moderation, 
and taken nothing without pajdng for it. Cabanas 
is a smart little man, of a mild address, and has 
about the best character of any who have mixed in 
the revolutions of Central America : though often 
holding high commands, he has always remained poor, 
and is one of the very few whose hands have never 
been stained by plunder. He was accompanied by a 
son of the late General Marazan, a very gentlemanly 
and good-looking young man, and apparently well 
educated for the country ; also by Colonel Banas, 
the late governor of San Miguel, a good officer, but 
far from possessing the mild and moderate disposition 
of General Cabanas. Shortly after the Diana had 
left the harbour, about 100 government troops ar- 
rived, pretending to be in pursuit ; but as it appeared 
that they halted about two leagues' distance, till they 
heard that Cabanas was off, it was pretty plain they 
were of opinion that discretion was the better part 
of valour. 


I had for some time been waiting for the Con- 
stellation to proceed on to Iztapa, the port of Gua- 
temala^ but this hope being at an end, I determined 
to proceed by land> and having after a great deal of 
difficulty hired a mule and purchased a horse, on the 
5th of October, I set off for San Miguel on my way 
to Guatemala; but remembering, after I had gone 
about eight leagues on the journey, that I had for- 
gotten some letters, I returned to the Union, where 
I arrived at 9 P. M., most thoroughly drenched by the 
rain, which had poured in torrents for three hours. 
At 4 next morning I again started on my journey, 
breakfasted at San Antonia, and arrived at San Mi- 
guel about noon. At the request of Messrs. Medina 
and Gerel, I remained a day at San Miguel, to 
enable the latter to write to the British Consul re- 
garding the forced contributions required from him 
by the Government, property to the amount of 
10,000 dollars having been seized upon his refusal 
to pay the contribution ; and as this was a part of 
some goods purchased by him from some English mer- 
chants in Valparaiso, he was anxious to make it ap- 
pear as British property,- and as such, to prefer a 
claim through H. B. M.'s Consul General. I how- 
ever told him I thought the plan would not succeed, 
as the Consul must require positive proof of the 
ownership before making his claim. Having got 
my passport visSd, I again started at 8 A. m. on 
the 9th, in company with Don Juakin Saynes; at 
noon we reached an indigo estate called El Puerto, 
where we rested two hours, and again started, 
travelling through a deep forest totally deserted, 
without one single habitation. We were several 

62 THE Biy£B LEMPA. 

times nearly losing our road, and had to go three 
leagues round to avoid the lava thrown out two 
months before by the volcano of San Miguel, which 
was still glowing and smoking in all parts. At the 
edge it formed a wall of about twenty feet high, 
composed of rugged scorise, but so hot that it could 
not be approached. It appears to cover from two to 
three leagues square, and is probably several hundred 
feet deep in some parts. The lava is entirely hid by 
large rugged masses of cinders, which in some places 
form ridges like low hills, and in others sharp spires 
of twenty or thirty feet high; it is also thickly 
covered with burnt trees and detached stones, much 
like those now lying on the surrounding ground, 
which would appear to have floated on the liquid 
lava, as an iron weight floats in a vessel full of 
quicksilver. The part of the lava next the volcano 
is at least five leagues distant from its foot, and more 
than double that distance from the crater whence 
it was ejected, so that the force with which it was 
thrown must have been terrific. Luckily, the part 
of the country where the lava was thrown was 
quite uninhabited, so that the only injury it did was 
in killing the cattle and wild animals which roam in 
•that part of the native forest, and in blocking up 
the mule track. 

Night overtook us in this dreary forest, but about 
7 P. M. we met some people, who informed us of 
the vicinity of the town of Usulatang, which we 
reached shortly afterwards. Don Juakin was far 
too ceremonious to seek for lodgings in this country, 
but at last he found them in the house of a widow 
of decayed family. At daylight we started again. 


traveUing all day through the same interminable 
forest5 and meeting only two desolate huts till 3 F. M.^ 
when we reached the river Lempa^ the largest river 
in the State, and^ next to Saint John, the largest in 
Central America. It is capable of floating a line of 
battle ship for many miles, but possesses a bad bar 
at the mouth. We slept at a small rancho belonging 
to a cattle estate of Don Jorje Ponce, who was there 
with several ladies of his family. 

At daylight we started again, travelling still 
through a nearly uninhabited country, though in 
some few places cleared and cultivated^ and much 
more varied than the two last days' journey. At 2 p. M. 
we reached the town of San Vicente, where Don 
Jiiakin left me, remaining at the house of Don Jorje 
Ponce. There was a young man, a native of Belize, 
in Mr.' Ponce's employment, of the name of Evans, 
who, to my no small amusement, asked me in 
Spanish, From what part of Spain do you come ? I 
replied to him in the same language, that I was a 
native of Great Britain, and inquired what part of 
Central America he was born in, which appeared 
to put him sadly out, and made Don Juakin laugh 
heartily at his expense. After about half an hour's 
delay, I continued my journey alone, dining at the 
town of Atapetitan, the district where all the tobacco 
used in the State is grown, the lands being very fine 
and well suited for the article. It is a strict go- 
vernment monopoly, all the growers being required 
to deliver it, at one rial a pound, to the govern- 
ment, which resells it at two rials. Till sold, it is 
lodged here in a warehouse built for the purpose; 
but the government have for the last two years 





neglected to pay the growers, and no one will this 
year deliver their tobacco to the receiving officers, so 
that the monopoly will become a dead letter. At the 
present moment (December, 1846) the government 
are about establishing the monopoly on a more just 
as well as effective footing. The tobacco is said to 
be of very fine quality, and equal to that of Ha- 
vannah for naaking cigars ; but, as I do not smoke, I 
cannot pretend to give an opinion in the matter. 

Proceeding on our journey we were benighted, and 
obliged to stop at a small Indian village on the top 
of a hill called Jiboa, a league and a half beyond 
Atapetitan, where I was very well received by the 
Alcalde, who conducted me to an uninhabited hut, 
and procured grass for my two beasts. At daylight I 
again started, in spite of a drizzling rain, which soon 
became heavy, making the road so slippery that my 
horse fell at every step, so that I was obliged to stop 
at Cojutepeque, which we reached at 8 a. m. Here 
I was forced to remain all day, as the rain continued 
to fall in torrents, but I was most hospitably enter- 
tained in the house of an Indian, the women running 
about to get me every thing for which I expressed a 

Cojutepeque is a large town, with 15,000 in- 
habitants, mostly Indians, who are among the most 
quiet and industrious in the State. It possesses 
three churches in no way remarkable. All the 
houses are made of mud, and placed according to 
the general custom in Central America. We started 
again at daylight, and breakfasted at a small village 
called San Martin, five leagues from Cojutepeque, 
and six from the city of San Salvador, where we 




arrived at 4 P. m. By good luck there was an inn or 
public house here, called Fonda de Montoya, kept by 
a woman of that name. This is a rare convenience even 
in the principal cities of Central America, and the 
innkeeper, a dark mulatto woman, told me that she 
could not make a living by the inn alone, so that she 
was obliged also to keep a shop to sell spirits, wines, 
and sweet cordials. Here, for the first time since 
leaving San Miguel, I was furnished with a separate 
sleeping room and a bedstead. A bed would be 
too great a luxury to expect in any part of Central 

The city of San Salvador, capital of the state of 
the same name, and also of the federal Republic of 
Central America previous to its dissolution, is, like 
most of the towns in America, regularly laid out, 
but has a mean appearance, none of the houses 
having more than a ground floor. It is much inferior 
in appearance and extent either to Guatemala or 
Leon. None of the buildings, not even the churches, 
are worthy of notice. The little trade which it 
transacts is all concentrated in some fifty shops 
round the principal square, which, as in all Spanish 
American towns, is the place where every thing is 
brought for sale. The situation, however, is most 
splendid, the city being built in a rich valley sur- 
rounded with an amphitheatre of low hills, and 
watered by a fine river; and though from No- 
vember to May more than a very slight shower 
never falls in Central America (and even that but 
rarely), the dews are so heavy in the neighbour- 
hood of San Salvador that the grass, so far from 
being burnt up in the dry season, as in most other 


parts^ is equally verdant all the year round. The 
climate in all respects is most delightful, — never 
chilly ; and though sufficient for the production 
of all tropical plants, never oppressively hot, the 
temperature only varying a few degrees in the 
year. In the evening I had a long talk with the 
brother of President Malespein ; he seemed rather a 
well-informed man for the country, and spoke in very 
complimentary terms of the English. He is a dark* 
coloured and certainly a very ill-looking Mestizo, 
though rather better looking than his brother. 

Finding a difficulty in hiring mules direct for 
Guatemala, I proceeded on to Sonsonate, starting on 
the morning of the 15th, and arriving late on the 
same day. The distance is twenty leagues, two of 
which are nothing but the bed of a wild mountain 

Stopping at a cattle estate called the asienda of 
Guaramal, I was, for the first time in Central 
America, refused entertainment by the surly steward 
of the estate. I took care to tell him my opinion, 
and proceeding onwards, breakfasted at a hut on 
the road side. In case the meaning of Central 
American hospitality may be mistaken, I may 
explain that it merely means leave to lie down 
in the corridor of the house like a dog, and to pur- 
chase what may be had in the house to eat. At 4 
F. M. I passed a village called the Port of Guamaka, 
and a little after sunset, the town called, as usual. 
City of Isolco, which is a collection of mud huts, 
with 2000 or 3000 inhabitants. At 9 P. M. we 
reached Sonsonate, and after seeking all about for 
some place to sleep in, we were at last admitted 


into the house of Don Eugenio Oyarsan, a Peruvian, 
and administrator of the custom-house. Throughout 
Central America it is quite easy, in some towns, to 
obtain lod^ngs, the people seeming glad to gain a few 
rials by letting them ; while in others, as San Miguel, 
Sonsonate, and Guatemala, the poorest people, who 
have not perhaps a dollar in the world, will not admit 
any person into their house, whatever they may offer 
to pay, without a special recommendation. The city 
of Sonsonate (which word in the Indian dialect means 
seven rivers) is a pretty little village buried amidst 
groves of cocoa-nut and other fruit-trees. It shows 
many symptoms of decay, and five out of twelve 
churches ve nearly in ruins. It has a fine river, with 
a bridge llitely erected by private subscription ; the 
neighbouring country is, perhaps, the richest in all 
Central America, and capable of producing all the 
most valuable articles cultivated in tropical countries; 
but the produce is yearly decreasing under the present 
disorganised and insecure government, and the few 
sugar and indigo estates which still exist are fast 
falling into decay. 

Here is produced the celebrated gum improperly 
called ** balsam of Peru," from its having been sent 
to Lima by the Spaniards previous to its exportation 
to Europe; also vanilla, cocoa, coffee, rice, sugar, 
indigo, saffron, tobacco, and Indian-rubber. The 
city is one of the cleanest in Central America, but 
has a very desolate appearance. It may still contain 
from 6000 to 6000 inhabitants. 

I was most kindly received by Don Victor Le- 
nouvel, a Erench merchant, who possesses nearly all 
the little foreign trade of Sonsonate, and who is 


universally noted in all parts of Central America for 
his faospitalitj and liberality ; and by Dr. Drivon, a 
native of the West India island of St. Lucia^ and 
consequently a British subject, though bom of 
French parents. He possesses the best sugar estate 
in Central America, which he took me to see. It 
was in most respects equal to the best estates in Java 
and the East Indies ; it would be capable of annually 
producing a thousand tons of sugar, but the Doctor 
unfortunately had not capital to carry it on, and it has 
been so much injured by the continued revolutions 
and disturbances of the state, that it will not fetch 
the amount for which it is mortgaged. 

Having, by Dr. Drivon's kind assistance, procured 
a couple of good mules, and found a person to take 
care of the horse and mule I brought from the Union, 
I again started on my journey at 7 A. M., on the 17th, 
with a new servant, the one I brought with me having 
started off the moment we arrived, without giving me 
any notice (as is not unfrequently done by servants 
in all parts of Spanish America) to the port of Aca- 
joutla, of which he was a native. 

Ascending a steep mountain, we passed the villages 
of Nahuisalco, Salcuatitan, and Apaneca, respectively 
three, four, and six leagues distant. At the last- 
named village, which lies at the top of the mountain 
ridge and very cold, we breakfasted, having on the 
road had a fine view of the volcano of Isolco, which 
is always in a state of eruption. 

This volcano rose from a plain seventy-seven years 
ago, and has ever since continued increasing in size. 
It is always burning, but does no harm to the neigh- 
bouring country. Previous to the year 1769 there 


existed a fine cattle estate upon the present site of 
the volcano; about the end of 1768 the people re- 
sident upon it were alarmed by frequent earth* 
quakes and noises under ground, which became more 
.violent till the 23d of February, when the earth sud- 
denly opened about half a mile from the house, on 
the asienda (estate), and vomited flames and smoke. 
The inhabitants fled in terror, abandoning all they 
possessed; but the cattle-herds, who of necessity 
visited the vicinity, reported that the flames and smoke 
increased daily, and they shortly devoured the build- 
ings of the estate, the site of which is now occupied 
by a part of the crater. 

This volcano, and JoroUo in Mexico, are the only 
ones which have originated since the discovery of 
America. Unlike all the other volcanoes, it may be said 
to be in a continued state of eruption, not only eject- 
ing flames and smoke like the mountains of Pacaya 
and Old Guatemala, but large quantities of stones, 
cinders, and ashes. Its explosions are regular, oc- 
curring exactly every sixteen minutes three seconds. 
When close to the mountain, as in the ascent to 
Salcuatitan, I heard loud reports like the discharge 
of a park of artillery, and immediately after a dense 
cloud of smoke rose from the mountain in gradual 
ascent, and passed off* with the wind, and stones were 
seen to fall and roll down the sides. Viewing it at 
night (as I have frequently done) from Sonsonate, 
the explosion is followed by a red glare from the 
volcano like that from a smith's furnace, and the 
stones may be seen to rise a great height red hot ; 
the greater number falling back into the crater, but 
a part of them rolling down the sides of the mountain. 


Between the explosions, the mountain appears per- 
fectly quiet and emits no smoke or flames ; the period 
between the explosions is said to be exactly regular, 
but at some periods they are much more violent than 
at others ; at present they are but slightly heard in 
Sonsonate, which is three leagues distant from the 
volcano, and are sometimes said to be inaudible, while 
at others they are regularly heard like the discharge 
of a large gun a short distance off. The volcano has 
now attained the height of at least 700 or 800 feet 
from the base to the top, and its height is con- 
stantly increasing; but even should its eruptions 
continue as at present without intermission, which 
seems improbable from the analogy of other volcanoes, 
many ages will be required before it can reach the 
height of the volcano of San Miguel, or those of 
Old Guatemala. It has never ejected any lava, but 
when the wind blows from it towards Sonsonate, it 
is said to disperse a very fine powder, which is in- 
haled in the lungs, to the serious injury of many 
people. In removing the tiles from the roofs of 
• houses, a deposit of the powder has been discovered 
underneath some inches in thickness. As this moun- 
tain is so interesting a phenomenon, I may mention 
that my information regarding its origin was derived 
from Don Manuel Zapata, a native of Sonsonate, and 
a man of the best character and fully entitled to 
credit: he was ten years old when the mountain 
commenced its formation. 

At 2 p. M. we passed the town of Ahuachapan, 
which is finely situated at the top of a most beautiful 
undulating plain nearly four leagues square. It is 
clear of trees, and covered (it is said) all the year round 





with green grass5 which at present is very rich and 
luxuriant : this, however, was to be expected, as it 
was just the end of the rainy season. The town may 
contain 2000 or 3000 inhabitants, and has a few 
decent houses close to the principal square, the re- 
mainder being merely mud huts ; the situation is very 
good, and the climate warm but temperate ; the 
plain, which is one of the richest in Central America, 
could easily support a population of 50,000 inha- 
bitants without the necessity of importing food for 
their consumption. 

At sunset we passed the deep ravine through which 
flows the Rio Paz (river of peace), which divides the 
State of San Salvador from that of Guatemala, and 
at 8 P. M. we reached the asienda of Cocos (cocoa- 
nuts), where we slept. This is merely the residence of 
the manager of a cattle estate ; it has no water within 
a league, and is destitute of any cultivation. We 
started again a little before sunrise, and breakfasted 
at the town (villa) of Zalpatagua, a distance of four 
leagues from the Cocoa nuts. The change of scene 
on entering the state of Guatemala is very remark- 
able: indeed, it is a singular circumstance that nature, 
not man, appears to have separated the different states 
of Central America, each of which is entirely of a 
different geological and physical character from the 
rest ; and the change from the green undulating hills 
of San Salvador, to the wild precipitous moimtains 
and rocks of Guatemala, is most striking. Zal- 
patagua would in most parts of the world be called 
a miserable little village, and the people seem to par- 
take of the rugged and sullen nature of their country. 
Seeking for a hut to prepare our breakfast, we were 




not received with the kind and mild answer," como no" 
(certainly), on asking if we might rest a little at on^ 
of the huts, but, ^^no hay onde" (there is no room), 
uttered in a surly and forbidding tone, and we had 
to repeat the request at several huts before we could 
obtain permission. Continuing our journey, and pass* 
ing over five leagues of a most desolate country 
covered with cinders, stones, and broken masses of 
rock, at noon we reached the Cuesta de Leon (hill 
of the lion), a most steep and rugged ascent through 
the midst of a vast native forest, celebrated as the 
haunt of robbers, and again descending a precipitous 
rugged hill, at 2 p. m. we rested at a village situated 
in a deep ravine surrounded by huge perpendicular 
rocks, called the Oratoria or CoUeja de Sylva. All 
the inhabitants are mule drivers, andean when required 
turn out 500 mules among them ; they carry nearly 
all the merchandise which passes between the States 
of Guatemala, and San Salvador and when most of 
the goods for Guatemala were landed at Acajantla, 
the port of Sonsonate, they were continually em- 
ployed, Now their business is not so good, though 
they have a good deal to do in conveying sugar from 
Santa Ana and Ahuachapan, for the supply of Gua- 
temala, and bring back the manufactures of that 
state. At 4 p. m. we proceeded again on our journey 
through a dense forest quite unbroken by the hand 
of man, but varied by a number of streams of water 
breaking through its solitude, and at sunset passing 
over (I believe) the only bridge erected by the 
Spaniards in this country, we reached the village 
(Puello) of the Esclavos, and stopped at a hut that 
served for the Cabildo, a public building existing in 


all Spanish towns for the accommodation of travel- 
lers^ the administration of justice^ meeting of the 
municipality, &c. 

This is a miserable dirty little village, though 
beautifully situated in a rich valley, watered by a fine 
river. Before sunrise we started again, and at 7 a.m. 
reached the town (villa) of Cuajinequilapa, which next 
to Ahnachapau is the lai^est town on the road from 
Sonsonate to Guatemala, and may perhaps contain 
from 2000 to 3000 inhabitants. The only decent 
house in the town belongs to a man appointed by 
government to examine the masses of merchandize 
passing this road, and remit a statement of it to the 
custom-house at Guatemala, in order to prevent its 
clandestine introduction ; all the rest of the resi- 
dences are merely mud huts. Passing the Corral 
de Arana, a league further on our journey, we 
reached a small population (rancheria) called the 
Corral de Piedra where we breakfasted. Here is a 
handsome residence belonging to the proprietor of 
the land, on which the population is situated; 
shortly afterwards we passed over a magnificent 
plain, containing a beautiful lake, and forming part 
of an immense estate belonging to Don Jorge Ponce, 
one of the largest landed proprietors in Central 
America. This is called the plain of Mai Pays, from 
the supposed bad disposition of the people who inhabit 
the surrounding country ; it is clean and covered with 
verdant herbage, but at one end there is a thick wood 
called " Borsque de Ladrones" (the robbers' forest). 
At 1 P. M. we reached the village of Serro Rodondo, 
or Los Arcos, (the Arches); which latter name is 
derived from a long series of arches built to keep 


the level in conyejiDg water to a neighbouringe state. 
Stopping a short time at a collection of hute called 
Los YerdeB (the green pastures), a little beyond 
Los ArcoB, and again resuming onr journey and 
passing tvo collections of huts named Tnjanes, and 
the Haeieuda of Craeola, we reached the town (villa) 
of Guadaloupe at 5 P. m. ; from the hill, which we 
descended previous to entering the town, there is a 
fine view of the city of Guatemala, the numerous 
churches of which, Ecen amidst groves of trees, have 
a very magnificent appearance, 

Passing through the town of Guadaloupe, we pro- 
ceeded amidst a heavy shower of ran over an open 
undulating plain totally uncultivated, but covered 
with fine grass, on which large herds of cattle were 
browing ; and entered Guatemala by the gate called 
Guarda Provincial, a little before snnset. After seek- 
ing about for lodgings an entire hour without suc- 
cess, I was forced, on the night setting in, to take up 
my quarters at one of the miserable public houses 
called mesones, and serving as the residences of mule 
drivers and native petty dealers. My dormitory 
was a small dirty room without a window ; and its 
furniture comprised an old deal table, a broken chair, 
and a raw ox skin, stretched on a frame to serve as 
a place for sleeping, here called a bed, though 
possessing none of the requisites usually considered 
as belonging to that luxurious piece of furniture in 
d as stone. 


CHAP. m. 








In spite of being pretty tired, as might be expected 
after a journey of 130 odd leagues over Central 
American roads with a rough trotting mule, the na- 
ture of my couch combined with the attacks of 
innumerable fleas, and all sorts of biting insects, 
proved as effectual an antidote of sleep as ever did 
the magic rod of Mercury. 

At daylight I got up in a complete fever, and 
found the old man who passed for my servant, 
(though really he had served me in nothing but to 
show me the road,) sleeping like a hog on the pave- 
ment outside my door, wrapped up in my poncho, 
which is a long figured blanket, with a hole in the 
middle to put the head through, and an indispens- 
able article with all the natives of Central America. 
With some difficulty I roused him up, and after a 
great deal of explanation, got, in about two hours 
time, a cup of what was called coffee, though it had 
no resemblance to that pleasant drink as prepared in 

E 2 


other parts of the world, a plate of a description 
of black kidney beans, called frijoles, and scraps of 
meat fried in rancid hogs' lard; the two latter I sent 
away, and after wasting another hour in explana- 
tions succeeded at last in obtaining two boiled eggs 
and a roll of bread. The woman who brought 
them was in agony at not having been allowed to 
daub them over with hogs' lard, and could not help 
exclaiming, ^* que jeute san los Ingleses ! " (what ex- 
traordinary people these English are I) I may men- 
tion that the word ^^ Ingles^ (Englishman) is ap- 
plied to all strangers except Spaniards, in Central 

This being Sunday, the day was ushered in with 
a strange jingling of bells, letting off crackers, and 
a great noise and bustle in the streets. 

Having washed and dressed as well as I could, I 
proceeded to see Mr. George Skinner, of the firm of 
Klee, Skinner and Co., for whom I had a letter of 
introduction. I was very well received, and he most 
kindly set out with me to look for lodgings for the 
few days I was to remain in Guatemala ; but as none 
could be got till the middle of the week, he very 
obligingly offered to make me a bed in the sitting 
room of his house, which I could not but accept, 
as it was too much to think of passing another night 
in the meson. Mr. Skinner afterwards introduced 
me to the French consul, (to whom I had brought 
a letter on business,) and a number of the prinicipal 

The present city of Guatemala, sometimes called 
New Guatemala, can boast of no antiquity ; having 
been only commenced in the year 1776, (three years 


after the earthquake of 1773, which partially de- 
stroyed Old Guatemala, the former capital) in the 
valley of Hermita, where previously there only existed 
a small Indian village. Its situation is very fine, be- 
ing at the end of a plain about twenty miles long 
and six broad, and surrounded on the greater por- 
tion of three sides by a deep ravine, which by a lit- 
tle skill might be rendered nearly impassable to an 

Its situation, however, commands but few advan- 
tages beyond a fine appearance, and natural strength. 
The country in the neighbourhood, though not ste- 
rile, is remarkably deficient in water, which must 
be brought from five leagues distance, at a great ex- 
pense, by a long artificial watercourse, the level 
being maintained by an immense number of arches, 
varying in height where the ground is depressed; 
but, as there is not a sufficient supply of water for 
irrigation, the country round is burnt up during the 
dry season, and is nearly all uncultivated, vegetables 
and fruits being carried by the Indians from the 
neighbourhood of Old Guatemala, which is ten 
leagues distant, and "even fodder for the horses from 
Mizco, a distance of three leagues. It is also most 
disadvantageously situated for commerce, being 
seventy leagues distant from the nearest port on the 
Atlantic Ocean, called Isabel, which also can only be 
entered by small vessels ; and twenty-three leagues 
from Iztapa, the nearest port of the Pacific, which is, 
besides, nothing more than an open roadstead, having 
a tremendous surf continually breaking upon the 
beach ; and as no boats are kept for hire, vessels pro- 
ceeding there without proper surf-boats for landing 

E 3 


their cai^oes, are almost certain to lose some boat 

A short time ago a Spanish vessel there lost her 
longboat full of goods, and four men who were on 
board ; and even with a proper surf-boat and every 
possible care, part of the cargo is generally damaged 
on landing. 

The number of fine churches, and the trees and 
gardens interspersed among the houses, give Gua- 
temala a very handsome appearance when viewed 
from a short distance ; but on entering the city the 
illusion is dispelled, for, although the streets are 
wide, straight, and very clean, the houses have a 
mean and dismal appearance, none having more than 
a ground story, and the windows being small, with 
iron gratings. 

This city, like nearly all in Spanish America, is 
regularly divided into blocks of 100 Spanish yards 
square, called cuadros ; nearly all the streets having 
exactly that distance between them, and all being 
exactly parallel or cutting each other at right angles. 
Each house in the block generally forms another 
square, having rooms on two or three sides, and on 
the remaining, stables, offices, and a fountain of 
water. Some of the houses occupy a segment con- 
taining a quarter of the whole block. They are 
uniformly built of stone, the comers, doors, windows, 
&c., being hewn, and the remainder of the walls 
plastered and whitewashed, and the roof covered 
with tiles similar to those used in some very old 
English houses ; the inside of the square has a wide 
corridor under the same roof with the rooms, which 
are uniformly floored with square flags made of burnt 


red clay, which In a short time become broken and very 
uneven, the hollows forming a harbour for myriads 
of fleas, which almost devour a stranger, or at least 
give him no rest day or night, till he has become 
habituated to the nuisance. None of the rooms are 
even carpeted, and in most houses the furniture is 
very scanty and ordinary, a few of the rich traders 
and the French consul, being the only persons who 
have their rooms furnished similarly to those in re- 
spectable European houses. The plaza (market- 
place) is a square, equal in size to four of the blocks 
which compose the city, having on one of the four 
sides, the cathedral, clerical university, and arch- 
bishop's palace; on the opposite, the government 
house and some of the law courts; another of the 
two sides being occupied by the guardhouse, bar- 
racks, and some shops, and the remaining side by a 
corridor full of shops, where more business is done 
than in any other part of the city. 

In the centre is a fountain, with the figure of a 
whale ejecting a stream of water from its mouth. 
The market-place would have a handsome appearance 
were it not spoiled by a number of wooden sheds in 
the centre, which are occupied by different petty 
dealers, who pay a rent to the corporation. 

The government and guardhouses are large build- 
ings, consisting of only a ground story, and present 
nothing remarkable ; but the cathedral is one of the 
most chaste, and for its size, one of the finest build- 
ings in the world. It was built under the superin- 
tendence of an Italian architect, but unfortunately the 
outside has never been finished, two side turrets being 
yet deficient, which gives it an incomplete appear- 

E 4 


ance. The front is of the Ionian order^ built of 
hewn sandstone, not unlike that of Portland, the 
pillars being fluted and the cornices richly orna- 
mented. The entrance consists of three magnificent 
aisles, which traverse the entire length of the build- 
ing, 120 yards, with Gothic arches of white sand- 
stone, beautifully carved. Unlike most Roman 
Catholic churches, it is unincumbered with gaudy 
ornaments, the figures and pictures of saints being 
all put against the walls of the two outer aisles, the 
whole body of the church, which is paved with 
marble slabs, being clear up to the further end, 
where the altar, sacristy, &c., are placed. It is 
not nearly the largest of the sixty-two churches of 
Guatemala; that of San Francisca being almost 
double the size, but not built in so chaste a style, 
and also much injured by the earthquake of 1830, 
which has likewise shaken several of the other 
churches, though but slightly. Many of the churches 
are remarkably fine buildings, and would be ad- 
mired in any part of the world, though a particular 
description would not be generally interesting. They 
are all decorated with numerous shrines, and figures 
of male and female saints gaudily dressed and adorned 
with tinsel. Formerly, there were seven large con- 
vents, which were all abolished during the rule of 
Morazan, and their revenues appropriated by govern- 
ment. The greater part of them now form bar- 
racks for soldiers : one of the smaller ones of the 
order of St. Domingo has lately been re-established; 
but the government refused to assign it any re- 
venues so that it is supported by voluntary con- 
tributions and the labour of the nuns. 



Guatemala^ like all cities founded bj the Spaniards^ 
is most liberally supplied with public fountains, of 
which there are about fifty in different parts of the 
city. Many of them are covered with handsome 
stone buildings, and not only supply the poorer 
classes with water, but are partitioned off into stone 
troughs for washing clothes. All the respectable 
houses have also fountains in their yards; and though 
the water has, with immense labour, been brought 
a distance of twelve miles, it is most abundant, of 
excellent quality, and never fails even in the driest 

The inhabitants of Guatemala appear to have 
little of the desire for public amusements seen in 
most cities : the only places for public exhibitions are 
a small half-open theatre, and a building for the ex- 
hibition of bull-fights ; but they are only occasionally 
opened on Sundays and the holidays of the Roman 
Catholic church. Concerts, balls, and other public 
amusements are unknown ; almost the only recrea- 
tion of the natives, being the religious processions, 
at which the figures of the saints are paraded and 
great quantities of fire-works let off; of these, there 
are two or three nearly every month. Visiting is 
rare among the inhabitants, but when a visit is 
made, a great deal of ceremony is practised. Refresh- 
ments are never offered to the visitor, nor are in- 
vitations to dinner given, except upon public occa- 
sions and marriages. 

There is not one hotel, nor even a decent public 
house in Guatemala, the more respectable natives al- 
ways going to the house of some acquaintance. A 
stranger, arriving without introductions, can only 

E 5 


go to a sort of very low public houses, denominated 
" mesones," which are intended for the accommoda- 
tion of mule drivers, cattle herds, and petty retail 
dealers, somewhat resembling in arrangement the 
carayanseras of the East. A stranger will in every 
respect be better entertained in most Indian villages, 
than in Guatemala. 

Nearly all the commerce of the state is centered in 
this city, and the number of shops exceeds, it is said, 
300 ; but the principal trade is transacted by twenty 
or thirty persons, who are called importing merchants, 
and who have correspondents in England, Spain, or 
France, who ship to them assortments of goods which 
they retail out. No wholesale dealers exist; the 
largest of their merchants will sell a piece of calico, 
or a yard of woollen goods; and nearly all the shops 
are general stores containing every article, however 
trifling, of general consumption. 

Guatemala contains a college, which is said to have 
attained some celebrity in the time of the Spaniards ; 
at present, it is not equal to a second rate school in 
Europe, and none of the professors could pass as a 
Scotch parish schoolmaster. It has also an ecclesias- 
tical college for the education of priests, and another 
school (also called a college) for younger boys, about 
equal to a European infant school, and one or two 
private teachers, one of them a Frenchman of the 
name of Domingaez, being a man of some learning. 
The best school was that of Mr. Crow, expelled at 
the instigation of the bishop in April 1846. 

Carrera has just finished the erection of a new 
fort, planned by a person called an English engineer, 
but really, as I am informed, a native of Jamaica. 


It is built on a small mound at the south end of the 
city, but completely commanded by another height 
about 1000 yards distant; and, though it mounts 
about twenty guns, ten to thirty pounders, it could 
easily be destroyed by one or two properly placed 
on the neighbouring height, over which the road 
passes, and which is quite undefended ; but the ob- 
ject of this fort would appear to be to overawe 
Guatemala, not to defend it from an enemy. 

The soldiers are a most ill-looking, dirty set of 
ruffians, whose appearance in the streets of London 
would ensure them a place in the watch-house. 
Carrera has adopted the British colour (scarlet) for 
clothing his troops, but the red jackets are few in 
number, and only put on upon feast days, and other 
extraordinary occasions ; and, even then, the strange 
figures of the men, all clothed in jackets of one size, 
none of which of course fit the wearer, make them 
look like a band of robbers who had dressed them- 
selves in stolen clothes. The officers dress them- 
selves, according to fancy, in strange nondescript 
uniforms, the most respectable resembling English 
footmen out of place. Carrera has got an English 
general's coat, which he puts on upon great occa- 
sions ; but the tailor could not be expected to suit 
his strange mis-shapen figure, so that he resembles a 
scarecrow with a coat pinned on. The dress of an 
Indian chief would look natural upon him, but an 
European uniform is most ridiculous. 

Guatemala possesses the only decent cemetery I 
have seen in any part of Spanish America ; and what 
is most remarkable, it has a separate place for the 
burial of persons not of the Roman Catholic religion. 

E 6 


The principal burial ground is a square of about 300 
yards, enclosed by thick stone walls fifteen feet high ; 
in the wall are some thousand niches, in which those 
who are interred in coffins are placed, the charge 
being four dollars each; as soon as the niche is 
filled, the entrance is plastered up and the name and 
date written outside. These niches are calculated to 
be filled in six years' time, when the first filled will 
be opened, and gradually all the rest, the bones being 
thrown into square holes built on purpose, at the four 
corners of the cemetery, to make room for new oc- 
cupants ; those, however, who can pay twenty dol- 
lars, are entitled to a piece of ground for a separate 
grave, which is not to be touched, and they may if 
they choose, fence it in. Those who are too poor, 
even to pay the four dollars, are interred in the 
ground in the centre, generally without coffins ; but 
their bones will be dug up as soon as the ground is 
required again. Interring in churches is now pro- 
hibited, but the friends of the deceased may, after 
the body has been a year in the niche, open it and 
convey his bones to a church. This, however, I am 
told, is never done ; as, though very foolish expenses 
are incurred at funerals, the dead are never thought 
of after. 

Adjoining the cemetery is the hospital, the only 
one in Central America, and which is kept up in a 
manner not inferior to the best in London, having 
four large rooms well ventilated, neat and clean, 
for the poor, and separate apartments for those who 
can afford to pay, — a plan which might well be 
copied in more advanced countries. Both this and 
the cemetery, are the work of the Spanish govern- 


ment ; but the part for the burial of those not of 
the Koman Catholic religion was set apart by Presi- 
dent Galnez, and affords a proof of his enlightened 

Guatemala is entered by six gates. It is almost 
inaccessible on three sides from a ravine, over which 
there are two bridges thrown for two of the entrances, 
the approach in the other parts being impeded by a 
dry ditch, which however is too small to cause any 
serious obstacle. At each of the gates, a custom- 
house oflOicer and some soldiers are placed, one of 
whom is sent to the custom-house with all goods 
that enter. 

There are no regular police ; but, in 1839, it was 
found necessary on account of the frequent robberies 
and assassinations which occurred after dark, to es- 
tablish a body of watchmen (vigilantes), who are 
armed with a cutlass, and have been found very ef- 
ficient in lessening the commission of those crimes. 
Guatemala despatches three mails weekly, — to Isabel 
with the mail for Belize, Europe, &c. ; to San Sal- 
vador, Honduras, &c., and to the Altos and Mexico. 
The arrival of these mails is respectively announced 
by the hoisting of a white, blue, and red flag. 

Provisions, and indeed any article of ordinary con- 
sumption, are very moderate in Guatemala: meat 
costs about a medio (Sd. sterling) per pound; poultry 
one to two reals (6d. to 1^.) each, and turkeys four 
reals each. Vegetables and fruit, though all brought 
to a distance of ten leagues from old Guatemala, are 
very moderate in price. Maize, or Indian corn, is 
worth about six reals to a dollar ; the fancya, which 
weighs about 300 pounds, consisting of 400 heads of 


com; and, as thia forms the genera! food of the 
lower classes, it will be seen that they can live for 
very little. Flour, made from wheat, la worth from 
three to four dollars the 100 pounds ; and all com. 
mon articles of British manufacture can he bought 
at about the same price as they are retted for in 
country towns in England, while some trifling ar- 
ticles on which the English retail shopkeepers charge 
a large profit, can be bought considerably lower in 

Two newspapers, the Govenunent Gazette and the 
Aurora, are published weekly ; they are printed upon 
email paper, and their circulation can do little more 
than pay expenses. There are from four to five 
printing offices, and three almanacks are published, 
very neatly got up, and containing much more useful 
information than those generally published in Europe. 
There is no bookseller's shop, though a few volumes of 
novels toe exposed for sale by many of the dealers. 
Keading is rarely resorted to in Guatemala, the only 
amusements of the men being gambling and making 
love to the fair sex, and of the women, intriguing 
and scandal 

Safael Carrera, the commander in chief and presi- 
dent of the state of Guatemala, is a dark-coloured 
lely ill looking mestizo. He was originally 
a woman of no very respectable character 
Ian, and afterwards to a Spaniard, from 
I supposed he learnt the little knowledge 
ug he poBseesed when he first appeared on 
il stage of Guatemala ; afterwards he was 
IS a pig driver ; that is, in purchasing and 
driving pigs from the villages to Guatemala 


and the more populous towns. The cholera morbus 
having appeared in April 1837, the Indians were led 
to believe that the waters had been poisoned by 
emissaries sent by the parties then ruling the state ; 
and being also excited against the system of trial by 
jury, (then lately brought into operation by parties 
inimical to liberal institutions,) they united, to the 
number of some thousands in the town of Santa Kosa, 
and under the command of Carrera, who had been 
one of the most active in deceiving them, destroyed 
a party of forty dragoons who had been sent out to 
disperse them. Carrera's faction was frequently de- 
feated, and a vast slaughter made of the Indians who 
followed him at Villa Nueva, by the government 
troops under the command of General Salagar, on 
the 11th of September 1838 ; but they have always 
reunited in greater force, and on the 13th of April 
1839, Carrera took Guatemala at the head of 5000 
Indians; since which time he has retained all the 
real power in his hands. For some time he acted 
nominally under Mariano Rivera Paz, president of 
the state, but he has since dissolved the shadow of a 
representative assembly which existed ; and, having 
on the 19th of March 1840, defeated General Ma- 
razan (the legal president of the republic) by means 
of an immense superiority of force, and driven him 
out of Guatemala, after he had occupied it for a 
day, he has since remained sole and supreme dic- 
tator of the state. It must be allowed, however, 
that though at the commencement of his power, 
he perpetrated some horrid acts of cruelty which 
any one must shudder to recount, and frequently 
put to death his real or supposed enemies with the 

88 Cabrera's private character. 

most dreadful tortures, without a shadow of proof or 
form of trial, he has since conducted himself with 
remarkable moderation, and has done much to im- 
prove the administration of the laws, destroy robbers, 
and consolidate the government. By extortions 
and confiscations, he has amassed some himdred 
thousand dollars in cash, lands, and houses ; and it 
is consequently his interest to maintain a settled 
government and give protection to property ; but 
in his private life, he is more indecently immoral 
than could be conceived or understood by most En- 
glish readers. 

I have only twice conversed with General Carrera ; 
on the first occasion, when introduced by Mr. Skinner, 
he was sick in bed, and, as usual among the natives, 
had not sent for a doctor, but asked me to prescribe 
for him. He asked me, among other questions, how 
long I had been learning Spanish, and if I could read 
and write it ; and when I replied, that I had learnt 
to read and write it perfectly with about three 
months^ study, he said, that he supposed he would be 
able to learn English in the same time ; which how- 
ever appeared to me rather problematical, as he has 
only learned to read and write a very little since he 
was made general, and knows nothing of the gram- 
mar even of his own language, as was proved in 
rather a ridiculous manner, after he had been about 
two years in Guatemala. At a meeting of the mem- 
bers of the government, Don Jorge Viteri, then the 
minister, but now bishop of San Salvador, proposed 
some measures not agreeable to Carrera, who said in 
a positive tone that they should not be passed ; upon 
which the minister replied, ^^ Vos tiene la fuerza 


iisica, pero nosotros tenemus la fuerza moral " (you 
have brute force on your side, but we have the 
moral force on ours). But as Moral is a name of 
several families in Guatemala, Carrera mistook the- 
minister's meanings and, supposing that he meant 
they had the force of the Morals to rely upon, he 
hurried off to the barracks and collected together the 
troops, exclaiming. Where are the Morals that are 
going to oppose me? and putting a guard on the 
room where the members of government were as- 
sembled, he kept them prisoners for several hours. 

Carrera has none of the affected pride or officious 
politeness which attaches to most of the Spaniards 
and their half-bred descendants ; his manners much 
more resemble the quiet dignity and easy freedom of 
an Indian chief, than those of any other mestizo I 
have seen. Although the war cry of his party was 
death to the strangers, he is now remarkably civil to 
all he meets, and asks and listens very attentively to 
their advice, frequently expressing his regret at his 
own ignorance and the general want of education in 
the country. 

Though he was raised to power by the faction of 
self-called nobles, the priests and their party, he is 
pretty cool to both, and has of late chosen none of 
his ministers from among them. Some time ago he 
avowed his intention of laying down his authority 
and making a voyage to Europe ; but he appears to 
have altered his mind, though it certainly would have 
been a prudent resolution, as he has wealth enough 
to live in any part of the world, and must be certain, 
that if he remain in Guatemala, he will share the fate 
of all who have governed in Central America, and be 


either obliged to fly for his life with the loss of every 
thing, or taken and shot. His power has already 
endured longer than is usual in the country, but it 
now shows symptoms of being on the wane, for, by 
allying himself with the whites and mestizoes, he has 
in a great measure lost his influence among the 
Indians, who say that he has betrayed them. All 
the other classes have never ceased to hate and fear 
him, and watch an opportunity to overturn his power; 
and, though he takes great care always to keep a 
body of troops near his person, and has large supplies 
of arms and ammunition at hand, he will certainly 
find, that the very troops in whom he trusts will 
betray him, and that the arms and ammunition will 
one day be used for his destruction. 

On the 25th of the month, we visited the old 
capital of Guatemala, which was partially ruined by 
an earthquake in the year 1773. I was hospitably 
received by Doctor Weems, the United States' Con- 
sul-General, to whom Mr. Skinner gave me a letter 
of introduction. He showed me the principal part 
of the town, and in the afternoon took me to visit a 
cochineal estate at Dueiias a distance of three leagues, 
belonging to Mr. Wild, an Englishman, where I 
remained all night. The estate is but of small ex- 
tent, being not more than thirty mansanas, or about 
fifty-five British acres, and its quality is not very 
good, though Mr. Wild has made a little money 
during the six years he has been engaged in the 

Old Guatemala is situated in a deep valley, having 
an opening towards the S. W. only, but closed by high 
mountains on the other sides ; on each side an enor- 


mous volcanic peak rears its giant head, that on the 
S.E. being denominated the Volcano of Water, (agua), 
and that on the N. W., the Volcano of Fire (fuego). 
At the foot of the Volcano of Water, two leagues 
S.W. of Old Guatemala, lies a small village with 
a church, and what was formerly a very large con- 
vent. Here, the original city of Guatemala was 
founded in 1525 by Gonzales, but three years after 
it was nearly destroyed by a torrent of water, which 
rushed down from the volcano with such violence as 
to level every thing it met in its passage, hurling 
before it immense rocks, trees, and mounds of earth. 
From this the volcano acquired its name, it being 
supposed that it vomited water instead of fire, but 
the fact appears to be that the old crater was full 
of water, which by its pressure overthrew one of 
the sides and rushed down as described. Very fa- 
bulous accounts have been given regarding the catas- 
trophe in Europe ; and a most able scientific work 
lately published, states that the site of the old city is 
now occupied by a lake, which is so far from the fact, 
that no lake exists nearer than that of Amatitlan, 
which is twenty miles distant. The site of the old 
city is rather high, and remarkably dry and free 
from all stagnant water. The Volcano of Water has 
often been ascended by natives and strangers, and 
on the measurement made by a German some 
years ago, it rises to 14,450 feet above the level 
of the sea. Its summit appears to be almost touch- 
ing the region of perpetual snow, and the lake of 
water which fills the external crater is frozen in the 
months of December, January, and February, when 
the Indians of the neighbouring villages ascend it 


to fietdi ioe, and hoar finost, which hUs so heftyHj 
as to lesemble snow, for the sa(q[>ly ni the capital. 
Old Guatemala, and Amaddan ; while at the same 
period the ayeiage temperature a£ the foot of the 
monntain is 75^ to 80^ Fahrenheit, and on the coast 
in the same latitude npward9 of 90^. Thoe af^wars 
to be every reason to beUeTe, that the Tolcano, which 
is only about fiye leagues distant fiom the other, 
called the Volcano of Fire, must have become dor- 
mant before the other commenced its eruption, as 
it appears impoeoble, finom analogy, that two volcanic 
vents should exist so near each other, and as no 
increase in the height of the Volcano of Fire has 
been observed within the historical period. 

The Volcano of Fire has never been ascended by 
any person, and the steepness of its cone, which is 
covered with ashes resembling fine sand, makes, it is 
said, such an ascent impossible. It always emits a 
wreath of smoke from the extreme top, where the 
crater would appear to exist : but there is no tradi- 
tion of any eruption having taken jJaoe, nor could 
it do so without destroying Old Guatemala and a 
number of other towns atuated at its base. Still 
the continued emission of smoke shows that its fires 
are still active, and that they may vet again break 
out with terrific violence, as the immense maizes 
of vitrified rock, volcanic sand, and lava, scattered 
all over the neighbourhood for many kagnesi, show 
has been done in past ages. The immense height 
and inaccessible position of the crater, render 
examination impracticable, and even a slight erup- 
tion could hardly be perceived at the great dis- 
tance below at which the nearest villages are situ- 


ated. Old Guatemala^ like most parts of Central 
America, was always very subject to violent earth- 
quakes, which is an exception to the supposed rule 
of their not being violent in the immediate vicinity 
of volcanic vents. That of 1773 was undoubtedly 
very violent, though, like all similar catastrophes, 
much exaggerated in some accounts given of it ; 
the same ridiculous fictions of the earth opening 
in immense fissures, and vomiting fire and smoke, 
swallowing entire houses, with their inhabitants, 
&c. &c., being related both of it, and of the earth- 
quakes of Quito, Lima, and Conception. Though 
the churches, government buildings, and many of the 
private houses were a good deal shaken, and some 
few of them thrown down by the violence of the 
shock, the damage was not at all of an extent to 
render necessary the abandonment of the city. 
This was a job got up on speculation by the officers 
of government in order to make money by selling 
the land in la Hermita for the new capital. The 
present ruined and desolate appearance is caused 
more by the destruction that took place for the pur- 
pose of obtaining materials for new erections, and by 
seventy years' neglect, than by the efiects of the 

Many of the churches and other buildings, however, 
still remain entire, and many others are not more in« 
jured than might be expected from so long an abandon- 
ment. The Spanish government tried in vain for 
many years, after the removal of the capital, to force 
all the inhabitants to leave Old Guatemala; but- 
the superior fertility of its land offered such in- 
ducements to remain, that it was finally obliged to 


permit the poorer classes to continue in the old 

The present appearance of the city, however, is 
nearly what might have been expected after the 
convulsion. Kuins of magnificent 1;>uildings exist in 
every street, few attempts having been made to 
repair the damaged edifices, or to pull them down 
and build others ; and the huts of the poorest inha- 
bitants are in some places strangely mixed up with 
the magnificent buildings, which have partly yielded 
materials for their construction. Two sides of the 
market-place contain the ruins of the cathedral and 
the palace ; the first was a splendid Gothic edifice of 
hewn stone, and, though it was a good deal shaken 
by the earthquake, and a large part of the walls were 
removed for other buildings, enough still remains to 
show that it must have been one of the most beau- 
tiful and costly edifices in America. It measures 
about 200 yards in length, and 70 in breadth, and is 
built in the form of a double cross, the columns and 
arches being most richly and elaborately carved. 
The palace has been a magnificent building, consist- 
ing of two stories, built of hewn stone, and forming 
for the whole length, upwards of 200 yards, a mag- 
nificent piazza, supported by Corinthian pillars. 
The upper story is entirely in ruins ; but the 
greater part of the lower is still used for shops and 
other purposes. Many of the churches, of which 
there were a hundred, and the monasteries, which 
exceeded twenty, must have been most magnificent; 
about twenty-five are still used by the priests, and 
many more are turned into dwelling-houses ; while 
several have huts erected, and cactus planted inside 


their walls. The population of Old Guatemala 
before the earthquake^ is stated to have exceeded 
60^000, being more than that of New and Old 
Guatemala jointly at present ; the population of the 
former being estimated at SS^OOO, and the latter cer- 
tainly not exceeding 20,000. 

The city is well watered by two rivers, one of which 
is a large stream, and the other small, but of beauti- 
fully clear water : the latter is called the Rio Pensa- 
tivo (river pensive), and was famed in Spanish poetry. 
Many of the fountains which ornamented the city 
still exist, and it is most abundantly supplied with 
pure water. The cultivation of cochineal was intro- 
duced twenty years ago from Oajaca, in Mexico, and 
with some interruptions, has gone on gradually in- 
creasing down to the present time ; the largest pro- 
duction, that of 1841, being about 9000 bales; that 
of the present year (1846) has been about 6000. A 
return of the quantity imported is kept in the cus- 
tom-house of Guatemala; but the produce of Old 
Guatemala, Amatitlan, and Yilla Nueva, is not sepa- 

Most of the cochineal lands belong to the muni- 
cipality, and are let by them on nine-year leases, 
which period is calculated as the ordinary duration 
of a cochineal plantation, as at the end of that time 
the cactus is exhausted and being very small and 
* stunted In its growth is not worth seeding with the 
insect; so that it must either be replanted or cut 
down by the root, and left two or three years to 
grow up again. The land about Old Guatemala, 
would in many parts be well suited to the growth of 
coffee, which has been successfully tried to a small 


extent : it also produces nearly all the vegetables 
and fruits which are consumed in the capital ; these 
are mostly cultivated by the Indians who have 
small gardens, and who carry the produce, which 
they cannot sell in Old Guatemala, on their backs 
to the capital. It is curious that, after carrying 
a load, perhaps worth a dollar, to Guatemala, a 
distance of thirty miles, they are quite contented 
to sell it at the same price or a little lower, than 
they will do when it is purchased at their own 
doors; and for the carriage of the same weight to 
Guatemala, they would require a dollar and a half. 
The sugar cane thrives very well in the neighbour- 
hood of Old Guatemala, but takes eighteen months 
to come to perfection, instead of six, the time re- 
quired near the coast. There are four or five sugar 
estates, which however only manufacture the crude 
juice of the cane, boiled till it crystallises (and called 
chancaca), and common unrectified spirits or rather 
high wines. The climate of Old Guatemala is cer- 
tainly one of the most healthy and agreeable in any 
part of the world. Frost is unknown, and the 
thermometer never exceeds 80° of Fahrenheit. The 
coldest months are December and January, and the 
hottest March and April. The rainy season generally 
sets in about the end of May and ceases in the be- 
ginning of October, though occasional showers occur 
two or three weeks before and after these periods. 
Gales of wind (which are very frequent in the capital, 
and extremely unpleasant in the dry season, when the 
country is parched and the roads covered with quan- 
tities of dust) never occur in Old Guatemala ; and, 
were it not the single objection of the frequency of 


earthquakes, which, however, is rather a nominal 
than a real inconvenience, the old capital of Guate- 
mala would be a complete earthly paradise as far as 
nature could make it. 

The present governor of this city is Sotero Car- 
rera, brother of the president, whom he surpasses in 
every vice. In his drunken fits, which are very 
frequent, he thinks nothing of ordering some of the 
inhabitants to be assassinated, without any reason 
whatever ; and even on one occasicm he threatened 
and insulted Mr« Chatfield, the British Consal-Ge-* 
neral, who resided for some years in Old Ouate- 
mala; but, as he is the brother of the dictator, no 
one dares to call him to account for his numberless 

Already this country, so new in tlie world's his- 
tory, presents many traces of fallen grandeur, owing 
to its continued civil wars, and the instability of 
government preventing the building of new edifices, 
or the repair of old ones. 

On the 1st of November I left Guatemala, in 
company with Don Francisco Geral and Don Juakin 
Saynes. We mounted at 5 A* M., but did not start 
till eight o'clock. Having had no breakfast I wished 
to stop at ten o'clock to get something to eat; 
but, as the others objected, I got in a pet and re* 
fused afterwards to stop at all till the end of the 
day's journey, believing that I could endure hunger 
longer than a Spaniard or any of their descendants : 
and in this I was not mistaken, as my two companions 
were ready to faint before night. At sunset we 
reached Cuajinequilapa, where, from the bad selec* 
tion of Don Juakin Paynes, who as the most expe- 

98 t>A^G£i^OtrS MISTAKE* 

rienced tmveller acted afe guide, we were most miser- 
ably lodged. We started agam before daylight, and, 
after a most tedipns Aiy% jotrmey, arrived at the 
cattle estate of the Cocos two hours after subset ; 
where, I preferred sleeping in the forest to being 
pestered wit^ Don Juakin's formalities and non- 
sense, though I awoke next morning, in conse- 
quence, with a bad cidd and a considerable touch 
of fever. 

The mules were not to be found in the morning, 
so that we did n(^ «tart till 8 A,. M«, and after pas^ng 
the Rio Pa2, we lost our road and wandered for six 
hours through a lonely forest without meeting a 
human being. At laat we met a iK)litary Indian 
who directed us= how to gain the iroad. After a most 
fatiguing day's journey we arrived *t the town (villa) 
of Chinchilapa about 8| F. M. ; but wioen about to 
enter the principal sqwar« (plaza), we w^e suddenly 
stopped by two men utmei with muskets who com- 
menced abusing us in the ovost violent language, 
and* one of them, at leiigtii, pointed his musket at 
the foremost of the party. I pushed forward and put 
a pistol to his head, «ttid in a moment would have sent 
him to the other world had he not suddenly dropped 
his imusket, exclaiming, *^ there is the priest, you 
robbers." This gentleman, who had arrived so oppor- 
tunely, very politely requested to know who we were^ 
and, finding that we certainly weie not robbers, in- 
formed us that the people who had attacked us were 
no more so than ourselves, but worthy citizens 
who had turned out to defend their town from a 
noted band of robbers who had entered And plundered 
sopie bouses the preceding day* I took care to tell 


him, tiiat I suspected ikej were well aware that we 
were not really robbers or they would not have been 
80 valiant, and that I had very nearly sent one of 
the faithful guardians to account to another tribunal ; 
which the priest admitted I should have been quite 
justified in doing. After a short parley, the guardians 
became our guides to the house of a friend of Don 
Jnakin Saynes, where we passed the night, all being 
in terrco* of another visit from the robbers who had 
plundered and beaten, and it was supposed, murdered^ 
a number of people on the Santa Ana road; they 
told us we must not think of proceeding on our 
journey, and succeeded in frightening Don Juakin 
so completely, that he and Don Francisco Geral de^ 
termined on returning back and proceeding by Son-* 
sonate. I told them to go where they liked, but that 
I would proceed on my journey ; and Don Francisco, 
who had been a military officer, annoyed by my jeers, 
said he would go with me, so that Don Juakin was 
shamed into following his example, though evidently 
sorely against his wilL StartiDg at day-light, we 
arrived safely at Santa Ana at 10 a. h. without 
meeting anything like a robber, though Don Fran- 
cisco and I kept our pistols cocked in our hands 
nearly all the road» Santa Ana, which as usual jb 
denominated a city though it only contains 4000 
or 5000 inhabitants, has a sad and half ruined ap- 
pearance ; and though none of its buildings are in 
any way remarkable, numbers of tottering walls, 
covered with trees and arches half fallen give it the 
venerable appearance common to the towns of Central 
America. Santa Ana has been the scene of fierce 
conflicts between the troops of San Salvador and 

r 2 


Guatemala. On the 17 A of December 182?^ a most 
bloody battle was fought between them, when the 
streets were filled with dead and coloured with 
streams of blood : in this and other actions daring 
the civil wars the town has suffered mach« Santa 
Ana and its neighbourhood supply the greater part 
of this state^ and also the city of Guatemala, with 
*sugar, which, is of rery fine quality, forming the 
hardest and whitest lump I have ever seen in sugar 
which had not been refined. The article is manu- 
factured in small farms, each containing patches with 
a few acres of sugar-cane, which i» ground in small 
wooden mills driven by oxen, called by the natives 
trapiches; and the creaking of the wooden rollers 
may be heard a mile off in travelling along the roadr 
The cane is all of the description indigenous to 
America, which, though here not so large nor so 
quick in its growth as on the .coast, is said to produce 
twice as much sugar and of a much better quality, 
the l^s from the molasses being very trifling in com- 
parison. The climate of Santa Ana is excellent, 
being two or three degrees hotter than that of the 
city of San Salvador. 

Again proceeding on our journey, and passing 
through the village of Cuatapeke, at Bunset we 
reached a small collection of huts, called the 
asienda of Cajoco, six leagues from Santa Ana. 
We started again at dawn, and passing through 
San Andres, at 10 A. M. reached Saltapeke, a 
large village rather prettily situated, about twelve 
leagues distant from Santa Ana, and eight from 
San Salvador. After breakfast we again proceeded 
on our journey, the road being covered with im* 


tnense masses of scoriae (called by the natives mal 
pais), and huge blocks of vitrified rock ejected 
from a low mountain in the neighbourhood, which 
would appear to be an extinct volcano as no tra- 
dition exists of its eruptions, which have however 
at some former period covered the country to the 
depth of several hundred feet. Passing the village 
of Ajapa, two leagues further on our road, we reached 
San Salvador at sunset^ being stopped at the gate 
and asked a great many questions, for the government 
was at the time in a very tottering condition, and 
in hourly fear of a revolution ; however, on showing 
our passports which were from Guatemala^ where 
nothing was then feared, we were permitted to pro- 
ceed. The keeper of the public-house being from , 
home we were forced to seek fresh quarters, which 
I found very readily ; but seeing the rest of the party 
wandering about the streets, I invited them to come 
in till their servants could find accommodation. To 
my surprise they began to hang up their hammocks^ 
and prepare to sleep in my room, which appeared to 
be far too free and easy, whereupon I saddled my 
beasts and left in search of other lodgings, which I 
very soon found. I have always perceived, that when 
alone I am much better received by the natives, than 
when travelling in company with their countrymen. 

Completely disgusted with travelling in company, 
I was glad to find my companions intended to re* 
main some days, and I prepared to proceed next 
day alone; but being detained till three o'clock 
p. M., I only reached San Martin an hour after 
dark^ where I slept. I breakfasted at Cojutepeke, 
and was again received with the greatest delight 

F 3 


by the Indian, at whose bouse I staid during the 
wet day on my fonner journey. I reached Atape- 
titan at 6 P. M., and San Vicente about an hour after 
sunset, where I slept at the house of Don Joze Ponce. 
Having^ hired another mule, (the one taken from the 
Union being sore-backed, caused by the badness of 
the country saddle hired with it,) I did not reach the 
river Lempa till 2 p. M« ; whence we ascended a wild 
desolate hill covered with stunted trees but entirely 
without water. The new mule would not go beyond a 
walk, do what I would, and, although the spurs were 
stuck into its side till the blood ran down in a stream, 
all was in vain ; the brute was proof against all my 
efforts^ being, I suppose, a common caigo mnle and 
never accustomed to any thing but a walk. This 
day's journey was consequently most tedious ; but at 
last, about 9 p. m., we reached a small hut, and find- 
ing we were close to the cattle estate of Hamanas, we 
proceeded thither; and the owner, who was pretty civil, 
gave me an empty room to sleep in. This estate is of 
great extent, but, from its retired situation, of but little 
value. It consists of a table land, I should think at 
least 1500 or 2000 feet above the level of the sea, and 
the atmosphere is cool and pleasant; a small stream 
of water, the only one to be met with for many 
leagues, passes close by the house, which, like most 
of those on cattle estates, is a large rude building 
with a yard in front for collecting the cattle. There 
is abundance of land in the neighbourhood capable 
of cultivation, but nothing is grown beyond a little 
maize for the use of the servants of the estate. Pro-^ 
ceeding again on our journey before daylight, we 
reached Chinemeka at 10 A. M. The whole of the 


road id it auccession of steep ascenis and descents^ 
and the country is as wUd and desolate as can be con- 
ceived^ though there is abundance of good land ca- 
pable of cultivation were there inhabkants to occupy 
it. Chinemeka ia prettily situated in a very rich 
alluvial valley, part of which is cultivated, and only 
an industrious population is wanted to make it a com- 
plete garden. 

The people here seem to be miserably poor, and 
though the population mwy amount to from 3000 
to 4000, principally Mestizoes, the woman at whose 
house I stopped to breakfast, t<dd me that there was 
no person in the town who had got a capital of a 
hundred dollars* Here, as in most parts of Central 
America, there appears to be no wish for improve- 
ment ; the people just plant enough of maize to exist 
on, and a few dollars serve to procure calico sufficient 
to clothe them« A great proportion of the population 
have the enlargement of the glands of the neck, called 
goitre, some of them to a hideous extent ; and, though 
it is a common complaint in all the mountainous 
parts of Central America, and not generally thought 
a deformity, I have never seen it so general among 
all ages and sexes as in Chiaemeka, Leaving Chi- 
nemeka, we passed over a ridge of hills, having a 
long and isteep ascent and descent; at long intervals 
there are some patches of cultivation, and in two 
places patches of cane, near which I heard the creak- 
ing of the wooden mills grinding it. At 3 p. m. we 
reached the village of Guaymoka, close to which 
there is a beautiful natural fountain of crystal 
water gushing from th^ foot of a basaltic rock, and 
discharging some hundred gallons every minute. 

F 4 


Here we rested a little^ and watered the beasts; 
after which, proceeding on our journey, we reached 
San Miguel at 5 p. m* 

I found Don Angel Moglea, at whose house I 
stopped, about to proceed to the Union early in the 
morning, and although pretty well tired, and still ill 
of the fever I caught by sleeping in the forest at the 
Cocos, I prepared to follow him, only waiting till I 
could purchase some food for the beasts to eat next 
morning ; as in all Central American towns it is im* 
possible to procure food for horses after 4 P. m., 
the grass and other herbage for them being always 
brought into town in the early part of the day and 
sold, no person buying more than they want for the 
present use of their own horses and mules« Leaving 
San Miguel at 7 A. m., we rested an hour's time 
under the shade of some trees along side the river at 
San Antonio, and reached the Union at 4 P. m. The 
port was in a very busy state, five vessels having 
arrived with merchandise for the November fair, 
which, however, it was clear would again turn out a 
disappointment, on account of the war with the state 
of Nicaragua, merchants being afraid to go to San 
Miguel, lest the government should levy contributions 
from them, and the farmers and labouring classes not 
daring to come and make their usual purchases, lest 
they might be taken for soldiers. I was subsequently 
informed that no dealers of the country, except 
women, actually made their appearance, and that the 
whole of the sales eflfected were a mere trifle, not ex- 
ceeding fifty or sixty thousand dollars, so that the ves- 
sels took most of their cargoes to Costa Bica, and 
Iztapa, the port of Guatemala. All this time the vil* 


lage of the Union was in a continued state of bustle 
from the arrival and departure of troops for Nicara- 
gua ; couriers were also daily arriving with accounts 
of the proceedings before Leon, which was closely 
besieged by the forces of Honduras and San Sal- 
vador, commanded by the presidents of these states. 
The inhabitants were in some fear of a \dsit from 
the enemy, who had a small vessel ready to convey 
troops; and much more justly, of the robbery and 
oppression of their own government. Valuable goods 
were brought me daily to take care of, and merchandise 
in the government warehouse was made out in my 
name, though I did not much like the responsibility, 
for which I knew I should hardly get thanked by 
the miserable natives ; and I took care to tell them 
not to suppose that I would say the goods were 
really mine if taken possession of by the government, 
or claimed for them through H. B. M. consul. 

On the 23d of December I again embarked, in 
company with Mr. Bridge, on board his vessel, the 
Albert Henry, in which he was a second time so 
kind as to give me a free passage. We reached Be* 
alejo the following day, and found anchored in the 
port two coasting vessels, one belonging to Mr. 
Moglea, and the other to Mr. Ye Picarte, a French- 
man resident in Costa Bica, both of which had been 
taken forcible possession of by Malespein for his 
operations against Nicaragua ; and also the Caroline, 
a schooner chartered by the Nicaraguan government, 
of which the people of the Union had so long been 
in fear, but which had just been captured by General 
Sachet, with a body of troops sent for that purpose 
by one of the stolen vessels, the Argentina. The 

F 5 


town of Bealejo waa in poeaesBion of Malespein'a 
troops, and all the male inhabitants had left to hide 
themselves in the woods, though it ia a^d they had 
no occasion to do so as the San Salvador troops had 
behaved in a very orderly manner, and plundered no 
one nor committed any excess. Most of the women 
remained quietly in their houses, and were making a 
little money bv selling provisions and whatever else 
they had disposable, to the San Salvador soldiers. 

Having passed as melancholy a Christmas as I ever 
did, in this miserable little vill^e, we again went on 
board on the afternoon of the following day, and got 
out of the harbour the same night. Making a re- 
markably fine passage, we reached Acajantala, the port 
of Sonsonate, on the 28tb at 2 p. m. ; and, proceeding 
on shore, the deputy of the harbour master refused to 
let us return on board, assigning as his reason, the 
unsettled state of the government and his fear that 
we might be iirienda of the discontented, who had 
come to take advantage of the defenceless state of the 
port. Mr. Bridge tried to frighten him into com- 
pliance without effect ; but finally, the seijeant of the 
guard came forward, and assured the timid officer 
that we were English, that it was all right, and some 
of the boatmen who knew me sasured him that he 
need not be afimd, so that we were at last permitted 
to re-embark. 

Acajantala was a plaee of some importance during 
the Spanish government, as all the merchandize in- 
tended for Guatemala was there disembarked, and 
)uBe, built by the former rulers, still 
uperior to any yet erected in Central 
e port cannot be denominated good. 


being little more than a roadstead, partially sheltered 
by a neck of land, protecting it from the westerly 
swell but leaving it completely open to the south-^ 
ward ; the beach is long and shelving ; a continued 
surf breaks upon it, and a good deal of care 
is required to prevent an ordinary boat being 
swamped. Still the port is naturally superior to that 
of Valparaiso, and many others on the American 
coast which are a good deal frequented; and, were a 
jetty carried to the outside of the surf, which could 
readily be done at a very moderate expense, there 
would be no difficulty in at all times landing 
cargoes, without the possibility of their being da- 
maged. After breakfast, on the morning of the 
29th, we agsdn landed, but could not procure horses 
for Sonsonate till next morning ; so that we took up 
our quarters at Don Victor Lenouvel's house, where 
there was at present no person biit an old woman 
residing, it being made use of only when he has any 
goods to receive in the port. Next morning we 
proceeded to Sonsonate, which is only five leagues 
distant, the road being almost perfectly level, and 
sufficiently good to admit the passage to and fro of the 
native carts, which, like those in all parts of Spanish 
America, are merely small boxes with wooden 
wheels made from a krge tree sawed transversely. - 
I was detained in Sonsonate on business till the 
6th of January, when I started for Guatemala, with 
a cavalcade of mules, including one laden with 
money. This being specially recommended to my 
care, I tied it to my servant's horse, keeping close 
behind so as to cover it with my pistols. We were 
rather late in getting the mules ready, and did not 

F 6 


leave Sonsonate till 8 a. m. We reached Apenecd 
at Doon ; and after resting there an hour, proceeded 
on our journey towards the river Paz, whea we were 
benighted, having missed a cattle estate where I had 
intended to sleep. About 8 p. m., I was alarmed by 
hearing my servant call out, and, immediately, his 
own mule and the one laden with money, tied behind, 
fell down, and a North American of the party going 
forward to see what was the matter, fell headlong 
also ; luckily, no one was hurt, and I immediately 
dismounted, and saw that 'we had come to a steep 
precipice which it would be quite impossible to 
descend in the dark. After in vain trying to find a 
better road, we had no resource left but to sleep in 
the forest, which we entered, and, unloading the 
mules made a lai^e fire. We were not destitute of 
provisions, but had no water, which made the rest of 
the party complain sadly, though I did not feel the 
inconvenience, not being accustomed to drink much. 
At dawn I examined our position, and found that 
we had not, as I supposed, got out of the mule 
track in the dark, hut hod come to the top of the 
valley through which the river Paz flows, the de- 
scent into which is difficult enough in the day- 
time, but quite impracdcable in a dark night. We 
" ! estate of the Cocoe to breakfast; 
letained by the mule carrying the 
again overtaken by darkness long 
each the hut where I intended to 
g a river we lost our road, but I 
1, after some delay, to find it again 
; ground carefully on foot, and at 
d a small hut at the bottom of the 


hill of La Leona, though I did not feel very com^ 
fortable at having to remain here^ as all the inhabit- 
ants of the neighbourhood have an extremely bad 
character. However, I managed to prevent their 
seeing what the boxes contained, and, for greater 
security, put them below my head at night in the 
open shed where I slept. Starting again on our 
journey at daylight, we breakfasted at the Oratorio, 
and arrived at the Corral de Piedra at 4 P. M., where 
we remained for the night, reaching Guatemala the 
next day. I had, luckily, not to go to the meson, 
as Mr. Skinner kindly gave me a bed in his sitting* 
room till I could get lodgings. 

On the 2d of February, 1845, I witnessed what is 
called a revolution in Guatemala, though, as the 
rising produced no change in the government, it 
should be more properly called an insurrection. 

Carrera having gone to his estate in the Altos, 
three long days' journey distant, a conspiracy was 
got up by a part of the self-called nobles of Guate* 
mala, and other parties whose names may probably 
never transpire, to change the government. The 
greater part of the soldiers, in number about 300, 
were tampered with, and, at a signal early in the 
morning, rushed to arms, deposed their officers, and 
breaking open the gaol, let out all the prisoners. 
Among these was Colonel Monte Kosas, who was 
imprisoned on account of an attempted revolution 
the preceding year, and who was now put at the 
head of the msurgents. 

Being awoke in the morning by a continued 
firing, I imagined it was merely the celebration of 
the carnival, of which this was the first day, till 


a young man, a friend of the owner of the house 
where I was lodging, entered in the greatest terror, 
exclaiming, "There is a revolution." The firing 
soon ceased, the small part of the troops, who ad^ 
hered to Carrera's interest, being killed and driven 
out of the city, and the insurgents having taken 
possession of the barracks and all the arms and am- 
munition, remained in undisputed possession for four 
days. During this time accounts arrived that Car- 
rera's brother and some of his officers were collecting 
troops to attack the city ; but, as all the arms of the 
state were in possession of the insurgents, they were 
a good deal puzzled what to do, and Carrera's bro- 
ther, after approaching the city, retreated in con- 
fusion before a body of the insurgents, who sallied 
out to attack him. This victory was celebrated in 
Guatemala by ringing all the church bells, firing 
guns, letting off crackers, &c ; but it soon appeared 
that the triumph was premature, for none of the 
respectable citizens joined Bosas, considering him, it 
was said, to be as bad as, or worse than, Carrera. 

It appeared most surprising that such a set of 
desperadoes, as a large part of Monte Bosas's troops 
were, should have conducted themselves so moderately 
as they did. They neither plundered nor committed 
any violence after the first outbreak was over, though, 
\ as usual, all the horses were taken for the officers. 

I saved those in the house where I was staying, for, 
when the officer came with a troop to take them, I 
appeared to answer his summons, and told him he 
had better leave alone the property of British sub- 
jects ; upon which he went away without touching 
them. As no attempts were made to barricade the 


\ i 


streets, or take other means to defend the city, it 
was clear that Monte Bosas despaired of success when 
he saw that no respectable persons joined him ; and 
on the 6th, he entered into a convention with the 
civic authorities, by which he was to receive 5000 
dollars to divide among his troops, who were to march 
out of the city and deliver up their arms, not being 
further molestisd. This convention was, however, 
entirely disregarded by Carrera's party. His brother 
pursued and attacked the insurgents, who were dis- 
persed and offered little resistance, killing a great 
many ; but Monte Rosas, and most of the officers, 
managed to escape to Mexico. 

Kafael Carrera, on the first account of the insur- 
rection, had become quite desperate, and was thrown 
into a high fever; during which he proposed to 
resign his authority and leave the state, but hear- 
ing of the suppression of the revolt, he returned to 
Guatemala on the 10th, making a pompous entry, 
with 2000 unarmed troops, or rather vagabonds 
whom his leaders had collected in the villages in hopes 
that they would be allowed to plunder Guatemala. 
Finding that nearly all the self-called nobles and most 
of the party who had raised him to power, had favoured 
the revolt, he prudently contented himself with minor 
victims. About ten were shot without any form of 
trial, one or two of whom were afterwards found ac- 
tually to have been unfavourable to the revolt ; and 
the city was forced to collect 20,000 dollars as a gift 
to the vagabonds who had entered with Carrera. 








Ok the 23d of April, 1845, we left Guatemala for 
Sonsonate and San Miguel. My servant who had 
been with me for nearly twelve months, had consented 
to accompany me, but having found another place the 
day before, he left me at a moment's notice and I 
was obliged to engage a stranger, a native of San 
Salvador, the only servant I could find at the moment. 
At 5 A. M. we passed Cuajinequilapa, where I was 
detained half an hour by a smart shower of rain. At 
6 P. M. we reached the miserable little village, called 
the Esclavo, sixteen leagues on our journey. The 
cabildo, which is the building legally appropriated 
to the accommodation of travellers, &c., being occu- 
pied by a priest, I had much difficulty in finding 
^ any place to pass the night, but at last was permitted 

\ to remain at a small hut, as usual full of men, women, 

\ pigs, dogs, fowls, &c. Shortly afterwards, three very 

ill-looking men came up and obtained permission to 
remain at the hut, and soon become very familiar 
with my servant, who chattered to them like a parrot. 


though I several times ordered him to be silent^ but 
to no purpose. After procuring something to eat, 
we lay down to rest in a small shed full of maize. 
About midnight one of the men came up to where I 
was lying, and when he had approached within about 
two yards, I raised one of my pistols, which lay beside 
me, and pointing it at him, asked him what he wanted, 
when he immediately withdrew without replying. 
Being unable to sleep, I got up, and awaking my 
servant ordered him to saddle the beasts, but he was 
so very slow in doing it, that though the three men 
did not awake for half an hour afterwards, they saddled 
their horses and started before us. 

I had not liked their appearance from the first, and 
the occurrence of the preceding night and the manner 
in which they had left, made me somewhat suspicious 
that they intended no good; and as I had heard my 
servant tell them where I was bound for, and all about 
me, I felt pretty certain of again seeing them. Having 
carefully examined my pistols, I sent my servant on 
fifty yards before, telling him to call out if he saw 
any of his friends of the preceding evening. I had 
so little confidence in him from what I had seen, 
that I preferred being without his company in any 
encounter which might happen. I had proceeded 
about a league and a half on my journey and was 
going at a slow pace along the narrow mule-track, 
with a dense forest on each side, when I discovered 
by the light of a dusky morning, it being then about 
sun rise, the figures of three men mounted on horse-' 
back standing still in the path, though my servant 
had given no alarm. I immediately took my two 
pistols, one of whicjji was double barrelled, out of the 
holsters, and putting them on full cock stuck them 


in my belt and proceeded forwards. When about 
ten yards from the men, one of them called out, " por 
onde vas," (where are you going to). I replied, *' que 
le importa," (what does that matter to you), pro- 
ceeding cautiously forward ; when about three yards 
distant, another of the men said, ^^quiero ver su paso- 
porte " (I wish to see your passport). Haiving taken 
an aim at him with my pistol, in such a manner how '^ 
ever that he did not see it, I replied, " liiega voy en- 
seuarle," (I will show you it directly). The same 
man immediately added "apeate," (dismount and get 
down on to your feet), and as he put his hand upon 
a large knife in his belt, I instantly fired the two 
barrels of my double barrelled pistol, one at him and 
the other at one of his companions ; the first only 
appeared to take effect, the speaker tumbling off his 
horse upon the ground. I could not well have missed 
as he was only about three yards distant. My horse 
not being accustomed to fighting or not liking the 
use of strange weapons, gave two or three violent 
plunges, and took me forward about twenty yards 
before I could rein him up ; as soon as I had done so, 
I took the pistol which was still loaded, in my hand, 
and returned to finish the combat, but though not five 
minutes had elapsed, the men and their horses had 
disappeared in the thick forest which surrounded us, 
and knowing that it would be useless to seek them 
further, I put my horse into a quick pace to come up 
with my servant, who commenced to chatter and in* 
quire at what I had fired, &c. ; but I soon silenced 
}^m by putting a pistol to his head, saying, 'Hhe 
first word that you speak again on the road, you 
shall have the contents of this.J' At 8 A. M. we 
reached the town of the Oratorio, and at sunset the 


xstttle estate of the Cocos which is thirty-five leagues 
from Guatemala. I cannot take any merit for courage 
in the preceding encounter ; the men were not evi- 
dently real or professed robbers, but some idle rascals 
who probably had planned the attack from the in- 
formation of my servant, and yet were frightened the 
moment an effectual resistance was made. 

Leaving the Cocos at dawn on the 26th, I reached 
Sonsonate the evening of the same day, though I was 
led a circuit of three leagues by my servant, who 
pretended to know the road. Having hired fresh 
mules at Sonsonate, I again set off on my journey 
on the 28th, reaching San Salvador before sunset the 
next day, and Atapetilan on the following* One of 
my mules got completely lamed, but as I was a 
stranger, no one w^ould lend me another, although I 
offered to deposit its value in the hands of the alcalde 
(the civic judge). Next morning, getting along as 
well as I could with a lame beast, we reached a cattle 
estate about three leagues beyond San Vicente, where 
the lady owner at once agreed to lend me a horse, her 
only fear being that the government officers might lay 
hands on the mule which I proposed leaving till my 
return ; but I got over this difficulty by giving her a 
document to the effect that it belonged to me, a British 
subject, and requesting that no one should touch it 
at his peril. We reached the cattle estate of Hamanas 
at 6 p. M., but being refused lodging, were obliged to 
sleep under an open shed, outside a small but in the 
neighbourhood, which proved but poor shelter from 
the rain that fell in torrents during the night. The 
following day, the 1st of May, 1845, we reached 
San Miguel at 5 p. M. 


The fair at San Miguel was again a disappoint- 
ment) owing to the war with Honduras; and^ al- 
though the government endeavoured to assure the 
people, as far as they could, they were so used to 
have their property taken by forced loans from 
government, and themselves seized for soldiers, that 
they did not venture to appear openly. The only 
dealers who opened shops were a few foreigners, who 
were less timid and had better security for the non-in- 
terference of government ; and the only purchasers 
were women, who are not afraid to appear, as they can- 
not be taken for soldiers. Being consequently unable 
to transact any business, and having, moreover, got 
a severe attack of San Miguel fever, I set off on the 
12th, on my return to Guatemala, but so ill that I 
could not mount on horseback without assistance; 
a powerful dose of calomel, however, joined to removal 
from the burning and suffocating temperature of San 
Miguel, worked so speedy a cure that I reached San 
Salvador nearly well. 

I remained one day at San Salvador, and was in- 
troduced to the new acting president, Guzman, a 
native of Costa Kica, and like most of his country- 
men, more remarkable for cunning than honour or 
courage* His manners are gentlemanly ; he has no 
mixture of coloured blood, and is rather good-looking, 
though he appears to possess but little talent or 

I left San Salvador on the 16th, and reached 
Sonsonate the evening of the same day. Leaving 
Nahuisalco at dawn, we reached Cocos at sunset, 
completely soaked again by a heavy thunder shower. 
The next day also was cloudy, with showers, oc- 


casionally so violent that we could not get beyond 
the Oratorio at night. The following day was 
equally bad, and the road a complete quagmire, but 
we managed to get to the Trijahes, a small Tillage 
six leagues distant from Guatemala where there was 
a neat little cabildo. The alcalde, an old venerable 
looHng Indian, received me most politely, and pro- 
ceeded to bring me a load of hay for the horses on 
his own back. Having purchased two reals worth of 
maize, I was astonished at receiving more than three 
times as much as the beasts could eat ; but I founds 
on inquiring, that maize has no fixed value there, as 
all that is disposed of is sold in Guatemala, where a 
fancga, or mule-load, about 350 lbs. weight, is now 
worth only six reals (three shiUings British> By way 
of cross-examining the old man, I afterwards asked 
him what the hire of a mule or horse to Guatemala 
was worth ; he told me, that the lowest price was 
twelve reals (six shillings), from which, it wUl be 
perceived, necessarily results the amusing conclusion 
that maize at the Trijanes is worth six reals less than 
nothing. Such contradictions as these are far from 
rare in Central America. 

After a most unpleasant journey, and being every 
day wet to the skin since leaving Sonsonate, we 
reached Guatemala on the 21st of May, and Mr. 
Skinner was again so kind as to entertain me till I 
could find lodgings. 

On the 23d of August I proceeded to Amatitlan, 
where I remained tiU the 24th of April, the greater 
part of the time engaged in the management of a 
cochineal estate. As I am the first British subject 
who has ever been resident in Amatitlan^ and this 


district of Central America, though one of the most 
interesting, is entirely unknown to foreigners, I shall 
here give a brief description of it as well as of the 
cultivatioQ of cochineal, which, as far as I am 
aware, has never yet been correctly described in the 
English language. 

Amatitlan is six leagues distant from the capital, 
lying N, N. W. in the direct road to Iztapa, iJie port 
of Guatemala, on the Pacific, from which it is twenty- 
three leagues distant; the road, as in aU parts of 
Central America, being merely a track cleared in 
the woods by cutting down the trees and bushes, 
but without any attempt being made at levelling or 
draining, or even removing the stones and other 
natural impediments. The descent from Guatemala 
to the top of the valley of Amatitlan is gradual, but 
continued ; but before entering the valley it is neces- 
sary to descend a steep hill, as it is on all i^des sur- 
rounded by rugged and precipitous mountains, with 
the exception of a narrow outlet into which a river 
escapes. Nearly half of the entire valley, and what 
is most remarkable, the highest part, is occupied by 
a lake three leagues and a half long, with an average 
breadth of about half a league. The basin of the lake 
cannot, in many parts, be sounded ; and I make little 
doubt that the whole valley of Amatitlan, together 
with the lake, has at some period been the site of an 
immense volcano, which has been blown to pieces by 
an extraordinary convuMon. All the strata Ibrming 
the sides of the surrounding mountains seem cut off 
perpendicularly, and have exactly the appearance of 
the sides of the craters in many volcanoes I have ex- 
amined in America* Immense quantities of pumice 



stone may generally be found floating in some parts 
of the lake, and lying cm its shores ; in one place it 
forms a considerable piece of land, which shakes and 
qxuvers upon any person stepping upon it, being, in 
fact, a floating promontory formed by an immense 
collection of this formation, which is much lighter 
than water, as is readily proved by throwing into the 
water any of the stones lying upon the banks, which 
so far from sinking, float like a eork. 

Two streams of water enter the lake, and a con- 
siderable river, certainly much larger than both 
united, runs out of it ; the temperature of the latter 
being many degrees hotter than the former. 

Aiidund the lake in all parts> and the borders of 
the river, springs of boiling water gush out, many of 
them emitting large volumes of steam ; and in the 
lake I ihake no doubt there must be many more, for 
though the river is equal to one of the second rate 
English streams, its temperature, and that of the lake, 
is many degrees above that of the atmosphere at all 
times ; so that to the bather it has the efiect of a 
tepid l^th, and early in the morning, when the air 
is coolest, it feels quite hot. The temperature of 
the lake was, I found, 93"^ Fahrenheit, while at the 
same time the average temperature of the air for 
twenty-four hours was 79*^, so that the temperature 
of this imnftense body of water was raised 14* by 
volc^iic heat. 

On some of the mountains on the north side of 
the lake, I discovered several crevices which emitted 
large volumes of steam of so high a temperature that 
in a moment it burnt my hand, though, angular to 
relate, tbere were a number of mosses and some water 






plants growing in the openings^ which did not eeem 
to suffer from la heat equal to boiling water. 

The town, or as it is to be called by order of the 
state government, the city, of Amatitlan is situated 
about a quarter of a league lower down the valley 
than the lake, below which the different parts may 
lie from fifty to a hundred feet. ^ 

It is said to contain 20,000 inhabitants by the 
residents, but from a rough guess I should not be 
inclined to estimate them at much more than half 
that number. The houses are built in a straggling 
manner, none having more than the ground story, 
and they are principally constructed of mud, beaten 
hard with a wooden mallet after being put into a 
wooden box of the dimensions of the walls, which 
is moved from place to place till the desired height 
and dimensions are attained. Each house has a 
large yard and a plantation of cactus attached to it, 
the leaves of which are cut and ranged in long 
narrow sheds to preserve the insect in the winter 

The soil is all composed of volcanic matter, in 
many parts mixed with entire cinders, large block, 
of lava, pumice, and toad stones. 

The wells in the town are all of brackish water, 
having a mixture of alum and salt ; but those in most 
parts of the suburbs and neighbourhood are all of 
hot water, free from any considerable mixture of 
minerals. In one which I got opened in the Kincon, 
the site of most of the larger cochineal plantations, 
the heat became intense after ten yards had been 
excavated ; at twenty the ground thrown out was so 
hot as almost to burn my hands. Two men who 


bad engaged to open the well, abandoned it ; at last 
I found a third, of a salamander nature, who, for a 
high reward engaged to follow it till he found water, 
which he did at thirty-two yards' depth, but actually 

The heat in this well was so intense, that I won- 
der how any human being could endure it. On one 
occasion, I descended about half-way, but found I 
should have fainted had I gone any lower; the 
ground where this well was opened was situated 
rather high, but in the low grounds, near the lake 
and river, boiling water is met with everywhere at 
a depth of two or three yards, and in many places 
rises spontaneously to the surface; early in the 
morning before sunrise, if the hand be placed upon 
the ground it feels quite hot, and the steam may 
be seen ascending through the pores of the earth in 
all parts. 

The hot water is always perfectly clear and free 
from all minerals, apparently rising from a great 
depth, while th^ springs of cold water appear to be 
formed in the upper strata, and are all impregnated 
with alum and salt ; there is, however, only a small 
space, forming a part of the town, where cold water 
can be met with, the wells in all other parts being 
hot in different degrees, and those in the lowest 
situation always boiling. It would appear, that the 
volcanic fires are still active at a certain depth along 
the whole extent of the valley, as hot water is in 
all places met with on reaching a yard or two below 
the bed of the river and lake, and in most parts 
much sooner, appearing as if the water were forced 
up by the steam from below. The natural springs 



are very irregular, sometimes disdiarging immense 
volumes of water, and a few hours afterwards being 
nearly dry, but they have no regular period, as the 
intermittent springs in some parts of the world. 
Many of the wells and natural springs emit large 
volumes of gas, while in others the water boils as if 
it were in a large pot. In all parts, except where 
vegetation is checked by the presence of alum, 
which is destructive to the growth of most plants, 
the cactus, on which the cochineal insect feeds, the 
sugar-cane, and most other vegetables thrive most 
luxuriantly, the high temperature at which the soil 
is always kept, and the gases emitted, having evi- 
dently a most powerful effect in promoting vege- 

Amatitlan can boast of tolerable antiquity for an 
American town, having been one of the principal 
seats of the Jesuits, where they had large sugar 
estates and a number of s&ives; the descent from 
whom is still to be traced in the colour and features of 
most of the natives, who, instead of being mestizoes, 
a mixture of the Spaniard and Indian, are nearly all 
mulattoes and zamboes, a mixture of the negro 
with the Spaniard and Indian. This mixture seems 
to form a class much superior to the mestizo, they 
are more active and industrious, and in a great 
measure without the apathy which attaches to the 
mestizoes and white Creoles in all parts of America. 
All the principal owners of cochineal plantations 
are of negro descent, and the best workmen always 
belong to the same class. They are remarkable for 
their enterprise, and also for their integrity, compared 
with the other classes, although they are extremely 


i^gnorant^ few of the cochineal growers being able either 
to read or write. Their principal vice is drunkenness. 
On Sundays, and the feast days of the Koman Ca- 
tholic Church, it is rare to meet a sober person in 
the streets, and not one of these days passes without 
several people being killed in drunken frays. The 
habit of carrying knives is universal in all parts of 
Central America ; and, of course, when the parties 
are intoxicated, the least real or supposed provoca- 
tion leads to their employment-. 

After the expulsion of the Jesuits, which took 
place at one time in all the Spanish dominions, 
Amatitlan was for many years a place of no im- 
portance, and as poor as most of the miserable vil- 
lages in Central America; the only cultivation, ex- 
cept for the food of the place, being water melons to 
sell in G-uatemala. But the cochineal insect having 
been introduced about twelve years ago, has suc- 
ceeded beyond expectation, and Amatitlan has for 
several years been by far the most successful place 
for its cultivation. 

The cochineal insect is generally supposed to be 
indigenous to the country near Oajaca in Mexico, 
though some persons in GhiatemaJa have attempted 
to prove that it is a native of that state. It feeds upon 
some few species of cactus. The varieties which have 
been tried in Central America are five, the ^' penka 
beaver" (hedge cactus), which grows to a large size, 
the young insect readily attaching itself to the leaves, 
but the greater part is found to fall off before it 
is ready for gathering, and it was therefore only 
tried at the first introduction of the culture, but 
speedily abandoned ; the " penka amarilla" (yellow- 

o 2 


flowering cactus), this species has a very large round 
shaped leaf, sometimes as much as eighteen inches in 
diameter ; the cochineal thrives well upon it, but is 
found to yield very small crops, and the plant be- 
comes exhausted after the insect has been allowed to 
feed upon it for three or four years ; the " penka 
blanca" (white-flowering cactus), has a leaf gene- 
rally about a foot long, four or five inches broad, 
and two inches thick of a dark green colour; this 
species is much superior to the former sorts, and 
grows quicker than any other, but it is found to 
become exhausted in five or six years, and the leaf 
growing exactly upright, the slightest shower of 
rain washes off the insect. 

The fourth kind is called *^ mosote." It has a 
bright crimson flower, the leaf being of the same 
shape, but rather smaller than the white flowered, 
and* of a lighter green than the panka blanca ; the 
growth of this variety is ihe slowest of all, but it is 
found to give food to a much larger proportion of 
the insects, and to last many years longer than the 
other varieties. It Is now universally preferred in 
Amatitlan, and in the best land a plantation is found 
to last twelve years, yielding two crops a year. The 
" costanea " has a bright red flower, and a leaf of a 
round shape, much smaller than any of the precede 
ing varieties ; but it grows fa&t, and has more leaves 
than the other sorts, and when only one crop is 
taken in the year, is found to produce much more 
cochineal than any of the other* descriptions of the 
plant. It does not, however, last above seven years, 
und will not stand more than one crop annually. 


This variety was brought from Oajaca, shout eight 
years ago, and is now preferred in Old GKiatemala, 
- The general size of the cochineal plantations in 
Amatitlan valley varies from one to ten mansanas, a 
space which contains 100 Spanish, or 88f English 
yards square. Three or four estates of a much larger 
size have lately been planted, and oiie belonging to 
Sen Francisco Lopez contains 150 mansanas; but 
these estates are not nearly so productive as those of 
a smaller size, as the immense ntiinber of people 
who must be employed to work them causes a con- 
fusion and great loss of labour. The insect is pre- 
served during the winter upon leaves cut off the 
cactus, and ranged in long narrow buildings, called 
almacenes, erected for the purpose. The roof of these 
buildings is from a yard to a yard and a half wide, and 
for the first six weeks' the front, which is open, is 
covered with a screen made of cotton cloth, to pro- 
tect the young insect from a sort of fly which lays 
an egg among them, which in a few days turns into 
a caterpillar and does a great deal of mischief, de- 
vouring a large quantity of the young animals; 
after that period they are left open to the sun 
and air. It is so arranged that the insects begin to 
breed in the beginning of October, aboiit which time 
the rains cease in Amatitlan, though somewhat later 
in the vicinity, and mot&t other parte of the state- 

The insect is carefully removed from the leaves as 
soon as it begins to deposit its young, and put into 
small square pieces of muslin, calico, or the bark of a 
description of palm-tree, the latter being cheaper, 
and much preferable for the month of October, as 
it does not fall together when damp like a cotton 

o 3 


fabric ; the four comers are pinned together with the 
thorn of a bush (a species of mimosaX which is very 
abundant in the neighbourhood ; after about a hun* 
dred of the insects haye been put in^ one of these 
packets, called hj the natives cartuch, is attached 
to each leaf or two, or one to each side between two 
leaves, whidi latter method is generally preferred. 
If the weather is fine and' warm, the insect breeds so 
quickly, that in a few hours each leaf contains a 
sufficient quantity of the small insect, when the bag 
must be removed and attached to another leaf; for if 
it is left too long, the leaf becomes too thickly covered 
with young insects, which, from being too numerous, 
cannot obtain nourishment ; and never attaining the 
proper size, produce, when dried, a small grained and 
very inferior cochineal, called *^ grancella," which is 
not worth more than half the price of the proper 
quality. As the cactus is always planted in rows of 
a certain length, it is usual to cover at one time the 
leaves of one or more rows with the bags containing 
the mother insect, and when they are sufficiently 
covered with the young animal, called peojillia, to 
remove and attach them to other rows of cactus. 

This may be done once every day if the weather 
is fine, but if it is windy or cold, they have often to 
remain three or four days without moving, for the 
wind blows away the young insects as they creep 
out of the bag, and prevents them from attaching 
themselves to the leaves. The insect does not breed 
so fast if the weather is chilly, and a large portion is 
often killed on the leaves; even a heavy dew will 
destroy many at the first stage. In the October 
seeding in Amatitlan^ when it is never required to 


load the plant, the weather being fine and the mother 
cochineal in a thriving state, the bags may often be 
shifted, ten or twelve times before it has done breed- 
ing ; but if the weather be at all unfavourable, or the 
mother cochineal in a sickly state, or too soon or too 
late gathered, it cannot be shifted nearly so often. 

When the mother codiineal is done breeding, or 
when the young insect begins to be sickly and of a 
dark red colour, the bags are taken oif, and their 
contents shaken out and dried in the sun ; and when 
sifted they form, what is denominated in the country 
cascarilla, and in England, black cochineal, which 
always fetches a higher price than the silver cochineal, 
the name given to it when the insect is dried before 
commencing to breed. 

During the first stage of its growth, as already 
remarked, the young insect is very easily injured, 
but when about ten days old, it is not nearly so easily 
destroyed. Still, as heavy showers of rain sometimes 
occur in October, it is nothing rare for the cochineal 
grower to find nearly all his labour and outlay lost, 
and a great part of his crop destroyed in a few 
minutes ; but, when such misfortunes occur, all the 
growers suffer nearly equally, consequently the price 
is enhanced, and the loss is in some degree com- 
pensated by the increased value of what remains. 
In Amatitlan, such accidents only occur to the first 
crop seeded in October, the greater part of the pro- 
duce of which is always used for seeding the cochineal 
estates in Old Guatemala in the month of January, 
and when the crop is not large, fetches a much higher 
price than it would be worth if dried for exportation. 

o 4 



Id about twenty daye after the young insect has 
attached iteelf to the leaf, it changes ita skin, which 
is called the first " muds " (chaoge or transformation); 
and in about a month more it again undeTgoes the 
same process, at each of which periods H slightly 
shifts ita position on the leaf. At the time of the 
second change, the male makes its appearance in the 
bhape of a very small Sy, but how it is produced is, 
strange to say, not quite determined ; all the natives, 
and even the foreigners in Guatemala, who state that 
they have made experiments for the purpose of ascer- 
taining it, assert that it is produced by the female at 
the second change, that is to say, about the middle 
of its growth ; but-this would appear quite impossible 
irom all data in natural history. 

I had not leisure to make proper experiments, but 
an intelligent North American gentleman, a doctor 
by profession, who had done so, informed me that 
previously to, and some time after, the second trans- 
formation or casting of its skin, the male and female 
insects are nearly equal in number, and cannot be 
distinguished on the leaf; but that, about fifteen days 
after the first transformation, all the male grubs 
change into chrysalises, interring themselves in a 
downy covering, and weaving a small thread, let go 
their hold of the leaf, and hang by it for about fifteen 
days more, when the female is in the second change. 
About this time the chrysalis hatches, and the male 
mnlroa Ua •inruHi.i^ance as stated ; and, almost imme- 
pregnating the female, falls off the 
When the smallest quantity of rain 
s period, the males are washed off 


before the females are impregnated, and the insect is 

In from eighty to ninety days, according to the 
nature of the weather, the cochineal insect attains its 
full growth in Amatitlan, and commences to breed. 
It is then left upon the leaf long enough to produce 
a sufficient quantity of young insects for the second 
crop, which attach themselves to the same leaves, 
and in the same manner as the first; and the full 
grown insect is removed by touching it with a sniall 
piece of cane, and offered for sale in flat baskets, each 
containing about twelve pounds weight of the insect. 
The greater part of the crop is sent, as before stated, 
to Old Guatemala for the purpose of seeding the 
cochineal estates there. This process is nearly iden- 
tical with that of the October seeding in Amatitlan, 
already described, only that a larger quantity of 
the insects are allowed to attach themselves to the 
leaves, and some parties attach the mother cochineal 
in small pieces of reed, instead of bark or cloth. 

In Old Guatemala, all the cochineal estates are 
seeded but once in the year, from the beginning of 
the month of January to the middle of February, 
but as the climate there is considerably colder than 
in Amatitlan, the insect does not attain its full size, 
so as to be fit for gathering in less than a hundred 
days after it has attached itself to the plant ; and, bs 
the rainy season often commences in the beginning 
of May, a great part of the crop is frequently lost by 
being washed off by the rains before it is fit for 
gathering. In Amatitlan, the second crop is ready 
for getting in, eighty days after the first has been 
gathered, and is therefore always got in before the 

o 5 

130 LliClLITT TO ntJCBT, 

raisa commence, -windi certaaaij givei it great ad- 
vantages over Old Guatemala ; but tbe second crop is 
always much ranaller grained and worth considorably 
less than the firsL Labonr ia aleo mnch dearer in 
Amatitlan tlian Old Guatemala, and an estate of equal 
extent coeta at least twice as much to keep it in order ; 
the wages in the former place being 2^ to 3 reals 
'equal to \t. 3d. to 1*. 6d.) per day, and in the latter, 
1^ reak(eqnaIto9(J.). Besides this, the cactus and co- 
chineal insect have a number of enemies in Amatitlan, 
which do not exist in Old Guatemala. The prindpal 
injury to the former is matted from a spedes of 
lai^e ant, called senpope, which eats all the young 
shoots of the cactus, so as to prevent its increami^. 
The nests of this insect are very large, wd sometimes 
extend to a depth of twenty feet in the ground, along 
which they run for some fifteen or twenty yards ; and 
the insects are often so numerous, that if let alone 
they will entirely destroy a cochineal estate. The 
natives have no means of destroying them, except 
digging them out of the ground ; and though I dis- 
covered a means of poisoning them by pouring into 
their holes water, into which a small quantity of cor- 
rosive sublimate had been dissolved, I do not sup- 
pose that the discovery will generally be made use of 
by the inhabitants, who are too stupid and ignorant 
to understand any thing not palpable to the eye. 

The principal enemies of the cochineal insect, are 

three sorts of caterpilkrs, called by the natives 

guisanofi (worms) ; the most common, resembles an 

nni:«„^., ~.»^_r,:u..- „„j ]g produced from the e^ 

like a wasp, but without a 

mes so numerous, that two 


or three may be seen on each leaf of the cactus, and 
if not speedily taken off, will, in a month, the period 
of their existence, eat up nearly all the cochineal 
insects. Another sort spin a web, with which they 
entangle the insect and destroy it; and the third, 
called *^ anguilla " (the eel), which is by far the most 
destructive, moves over the leaf like an earth-worm, 
eating all the insects, when small, with surprising 
rapidity, and transferring itself to another leaf, pro- 
ceeds as before. Luckily, this last mentioned species 
only makes its appearance in some years, and is 
never nearly so numerous as the first named. No 
means have yet been found of destroying these cater- 
pillars, except employing people to pick them off, 
which is done at so much for every twenty grubs, 
according to their abundance or scarcity, the price 
being seldom under what is equivalent to a half- 
penny for each twenty, or above one penny for that 
number. Still, when the grubs are very numerous, 
it is sometimes necessary to abandon the crop of 
cochineal, which is not worth the expense of picking 
off the caterpillars ; this, of course, is however a rare 
occurrence, and never happens to the whole of an 
estate of any size- 

With all its objections, cochineal-growing has 
certainly been more profitable in Amatitlan than 
in Old Guatemala, or any other place yet dis- 
covered. Nearly all the cultivators in Amatitlan 
are well off, and many who were without means a 
few years ago, are now rich for Central America, 
having a fortune of from ten to thirty thousand dol- 
lars, while nearly all who have attempted the ciilti- 

G 6 


vation in Old Guatemala have been ruined, and very 
few have realised any money. Still) the supposed 
fatality of the climate of Amatitlan, has bo great an 
effect as not only to mse enormouBly the price which 
must be paid to the workpeople to induce them to do 
the necessary labour, but keeps the value of cochineal 
estates rather lower than in Old Guatemala. The 
second crop of cochineal is fit for gathering in 
Amatitlan, from the end of March to the 20th of 
April ; and the crop in Old Guatemala, from the 
middle of April till the lOtb or 20th of May, ac- 
cording to the season. Nearly the whole of both 
these crops are dried and cleaned for exportation to 
Europe, of which they are the principal source of 
supply. But a small number of insects are preserved, 
and being put into small bags, similar to those be- 
fore described, are attached to leaves, carefully ranged 
upon shelves under the long narrow buildings, called 
almaccncs, the leaves being seeded in a similar man- 
ner to the growing plants. This must attain its full 
size, and commence to breed again in about ninety 
days, which brings it to the month of July, when 
the insect so reared is gathered and again attached 
in the same manner to fresh leaves of the cactus, 
ranged under cover in the same manner ; this crop 
is again ready for gathering in the month of October, 
when the rains cease in Amatitlan, and is sold for 
seeding the cochineal estates. The price being regu- 
lotoil hv tlio Biinnlv <ia pnin^aTed With thc demand, 

value of dry cochineal; 

'S then worth at least 
in the months of April 

r exportation. A good 


cochineal estate requires, in the month of October, 
from 100 to 140 pounds of the live mother insect to 
seed each mansana of 100 Spanish, or 89| English 
yards square ; and each pound of the insect so used 
ought, if the weather be good and all circumstances 
favourable, to produce eight pounds in the crop time. 
The January seeding in Old Guatemala, being much 
heavier, as only one crop is there taken, from 150 to 
170 pounds are generally used to seed each mansana. 
In Amatitlan, the first crop collected in January, 
generally yields from 800 to 1200 pounds of the live 
insect, from each mansana of cactus in a really good 
estate, which is sold at from 2^ to 8 reals (Is, *Sd. to 
,4s. sterling) a pound, according to the demand, the 
abundance of the crop, &c. ; but the first crop is, one 
year with another, calculated to pay all the expenses 
of weeding and managing the estate, and the cost of 
the seed, cochineal insect, and labour of seeding it, 
&c. The second crop is always dried, and each 
mansana wiU yield from 1800 to 2700 pounds of 
the insect, and from 600 to 900 pounds of dry 
cochineal, which is considered to be the net profit of 
the cultivator. 

In Old Guatemala, each mansana ought to give 
3150 to 4050 pounds of the live insect, and 1050 to 
1350 pounds of dry cochineal, three pounds of the 
live insect yielding as nearly as possible one of dry 

The cost of production in Old Guatemala, one year 
with another, allowing for the current losses from 
rain, &c., is rated at 4 reals (or 2s. sterling) per 
pound. The cochineal insect when not intended for 
breeding, is, as soon as gathered, spread out very 


thin upon flat shallow trays^ made of cane, and 
covered with cotton cloth, and put into stoves con- 
structed on purpose, each capable of containing from 
100 to 200 baskets, and either heated by burning 
charcoal put in large clay vessels made on purpose, 
or by a small, brick flue, into which wood can be put 
and lighted from the outside (the former method is 
the most costly and tedious, but gives the finest 
coloured cochineal); when completely dry, it is 
sifted, cleaned, and packed in bales, covered with an 
untanned ox hide, containing 150 pounds, in which 
state it is sent to Europe for sale. During the wet 
season, a cochineal estate requires almost constant at^ 
tention in cleaning and keeping down the weeds, and 
this must be done at least five times in the year in 
Amatitlan, or the cactus will be injured ; though in 
Old Guatemala not more than two or three cleanings 
are given. The cactus must also be pruned at least 
twice in the year, once at the commencement of the 
rainy season in May, to make it sprout strongly, -and 
again at the commencement of the dry season in 
October, when it is necessary to remove the long 
shoots, which would by their weight break down the 
cactus, and to trim the plants so as to give them an 
equal height and form. 

In Amatitlan a good cochineal estate in full bear- 
ing is worth from 600 to 800 dollars a mansana, and 
somewhat more in Old Guatemala ; but in the latter 
a great proportion of the lands fit for growing the 
cactus belongs to the corporation, who, instead of 
selling, let them out in leases of nine years, which 
enables the lessee to take off six or seven crops of 
cochineal, as the plant is fit for seeding in twa or 



diree years, according to the quality of the land. 
During the last three years, the increase in the 
number of cochineal estates has been very great, 
especially in Old Guatemala; and it is calculated 
that those now planted will be capable of producing 
at least 12,000 bales of 150 pounds each of dry 
cochineal, while hitherto the produce of the best 
years has not much exceeded half that quantity. 
The increase in Amatitlan is also considerable ; and 
the whole valley is now covered with cochineal 
estates, which may, jointly, be capable of producing 
5000 to 6000 bales. A number of new cochineal 
estates have also, within the last two years, been 
planted at Villa Nueva, which is four leagues from 
Guatemala and two from Amatitlan, and also at 
Chiquimala, and in the province of Vera Paz at 
Salamar ; so that, taken together, the produce of the 
state of Guatemala should shortly be equal to about 
20,000 bales of cochineal, which is considerably more 
than the entire annual consumption of the article. 

Hence, either the use of the dye must be greatly 
extended or the price must fall so low as to force 
part of the cultivators to abandon the business. 
When 1 first proposed going to manage a cochineal 
estate in Amatitlan, most of the natives and Spaniards 
told me not to think of it, as it would be impossible 
for a stranger to manage the natives ; but, aware of 
the spirit of exaggeration common to the Spaniards 
and their descendants, I paid little regard to such 
stories, and I found that I uniformly got better on 
with the work-people than the natives or Spaniards 
themselves. Still it cannot be denied that many of 
the people who came to labour in Amatitlan are the 


refuse of all Central America. I was never person- 
ally attacked or even insulted except once, when one 
of the labourers with whom I had found fault drew 
his knife in a threatening manner ; but I hit him a 
blow on the head with one of the pistols I always 
carried in my belt, not choosing to shoot him, as I 
saw he was half intoxicated, and he afterwards begged 
my pardon and thanked me for my forbearance. 

The following occurrence shows a curious trait of 
Central American character. As I required a large 
number of the square pieces of bark called cartuches, 
which are used in seeding the cactus as before de- 
scribed, I had a number of people sent to the woods 
near the coast to gather bark and cut them, and, in 
accordance with the uniform custom of the country, 
I made them all small advances to maintain them 
during the work, to be repaid on the delivery of the 
cartuches. One of these advances was made to three 
men, who agreed to work jointly, two being strangers 
and one a resident in the town. After a rather long 
absence, the two strangers appeared with a small 
quantity of cartuches, the value of which did little 
more than repay their advance. They reported that 
they had left their companion sick in a town called 
Santa Rosa, and proposed returning for more car- 
tuches. I gave them some medicine to take to their 
sick companion ; but the wife of the supposed sick 
man, hearing of the arrival of the others, came to 
inquire about her husband, and, when I told her 
what I had heard, appeared very suspicious of its 
truth ; and the two men having gone out, she com- 
menced examining the bundles of clothes which they 
had left in the corridor of my house, and finding 


among them part of her husband's clothes bloody, 
she went to the judge, who had the two men ap- 
prehended and put in prison. On their examination, 
they told quite a different story from what they had 
related to me ; the man whom they had left behind, 
they said, had attempted to murder one of the others, 
and had been seized and put in prison by the alcalde 
(Indian judge) of Santa Kosa : one of them showed 
a severe wound partially healed, which he stated the 
other had given him. I conceivied this to be but a 
very clumsily invented fiction, and made no doubt 
whatever that they had murdered their companion ; 
but the judge determined on sending an aguacil 
(constable) to Santa Rosa to inquire into the truth 
of the matter, and requested the authorities of that 
town to send the other man, if there, to Amatitlan. In 
due course the aguacil returned with some others from 
Santa Kosa, bringing the man prisoner, and, upon 
his examination, he at once confessed that in a fit of 
intoxication he had wounded one of the other men ; 
so that their second story was pretty nearly correct, 
and they were set at liberty. Being surprised at 
such an unaccountable love of prevarication, I asked 
them why they had not at once told me the truth. 
The reply was almost similar to what I have received 
on innumerable occasions — that if they told the 
truth they feared it might have resulted in doing 
them some harm, and they had consequently con- 
cocted between them the story which they told me. 
It appeared that the clothes which were found by the 
man's wife, and the part of the cartuches belonging 
to him had, on a principle of Indian law or equity, 
been made over to the man he had wounded by the 


alcalde of Santa Rosa, and^ had the men told the 
truth, there could have been no blame whatever 
attached to them. The natives of Amatitlan are 
exceedingly mean in aU their transactions, and will 
often rather lose their crop of cocluneal, than pay the 
smallest advance to the labourers over the wages to 
which they have been accustomed. Many of them, 
worth 20,000 or 30,000 dollars, do not spend a media 
(3rf. sterling) a day ; and keep no servant, living in a 
dirty little hut of which the poorest Indian might be 
ashamed. On one occasion, noticing a boy of one of 
the principal and richest families, whose leg was set 
crooked, rendering him a most miserable object, I 
inquired of his mother how it had happened, and 
she very coolly told me that he had fallen with a 
horse, which had tumbled upon him; that he was 
brought home with his leg broken, and that they 
had tied it up as well as they could, but did not send 
for the doctor as he would have charged too much. 
I replied, " Well, but what are a few dollars compared 
with deforming the boy, and making him a wretched 
cripple for life ? " To this she answered, with a good 
deal of surprise, ** Well, I am sure you do not know 
how hard we have worked for our money, or you 
would not talk so." 

The temperature of Amatitlan is several degrees 
hotter than Guatemala, but is still far from oppres- 
sive, except occasionally in the end of the dry season 
in March and April; and the picturesque nature of 
the scenery in the neighbourhood, would render it a 
most pleasant residence were not the climate found 
to be very fatal to Europeans, and even more so to 
the natives of the neighbouring towns, great numbers 


of whom die in the rainy season. Even the natives 
are not exempt from intermittent fevers ; this, how- 
ever, I attribute in a great measure to the dissipated 
and irregular life led by the mestizoes, mulattoes, 
and even the white Creoles, having myself never felt 
any bad effects from the climate of Amatitlan, though 
often exposed to the sun all day, and in the rainy 
season wet several times daily. To the Spaniards who 
have attempted to settle, the climate has certainly 
also proved rather fatal ; but, as those who came out to 
America are the very worst of the most debased pro- 
vinces of Spain, the greater part being literally the 
sweepings of Cadiz, they at once adopt all the vices 
of the Creoles in addition to their own, which are 
neither few nor trifling, and generally lead an even 
more debased and irregular life, so that it is not to 
be wondered at that they cannot stand a trying 
climate. The principal towns near Am{(titlan are, to 
the S. W., Paliny and Esquintla, on the road to the 
port of Iztapa ; Metapa to the N. E., and Barias to 
the eastward, besides the small village of Apacaga to 
the south. In none of these places does the cultiva- 
tion of cochineal succeed from various causes, except 
in the last named, where the suitable lands are very 
trifling in extent. Paliny is a pretty little village 
three leagues distant from Amatitlan, with very pro- 
ductive lands in the vidnity, which are planted to 
some extent with sugar-cane. The cactus grows well, 
but there is a large ant which devours the cochineal 
insect, and these are so numerous as to prevent its 
cultivation. It is imbedded in a beautiful vaUey 
surrounded with low green hills mostly covered with 
long grass, and, were it situated in a more advanced 


country, it would be famed, even in Europe, for the 
beauty of its scenery. Esquintla, situated in a 
continuation of the same valley, which then opens 
out to a considerable extent, is three leagues nearer 
the port of Iztapa, and is a town of some size, con- 
taining 5000 or 6000 inhabitants. The heat is too 
great for rearing cochineal, but far from oppressive. 
A beautiful clear river flows past the town, which is 
imbedded in orange and lemon groves mixed with 
cocoa-nut, aguacata, guava, and a vast variety of fruit 
trees, both indigenous and foreign. It is from Es- 
quintla that Guatemala is principally supplied with 
fruit, which owing to the fineness of the climate, and 
the great fertility of the soil grows naturally without 
the least cultivation. The climate, though warm, 
is equal all the year, and remarkably pleasant and 
healthy. Sickness is almost unknown,^ and the na- 
tives live to a great age, many of them exceeding 100 
y^ars ; the adjacent rivisr abounds with fish, and the 
woods abound in all sorts of game and wild animals. 
Venison is so cheap that an entire deer may be always 
bought from four reals to a dollar (or 28. to 45. ster- 
ling). Esquintla is one of the favourite^resorts of the 
inhabitants of Guatemala, who proceed thither in the 
month of March to bathe and amuse themselves, 
remaining about six weeks, till the beginning of 
May, when they proceed to Amatitlan for the same 

Barias is a village containing 500 or 600 inhabit- 
ants, principally workmen of the neighbouring cattle 
estate. It is most beautifully situated on a verdant, 
undulating plain, the surrounding mountains rising 
in the most magnificent grandeur on all sides ; little 

METAPA. 141 

IS at present cultivated, though the soil is of the 
richest description, and all sorts of tropical produc- 
tions, and most of those of temperate regions thrive 
well. This plain, which is four and a half leagues 
distant from Amatitlan, is three or four leagues 
square, and like innumerable other parts of the state, 
only requires industrious inhabitants to make it a 
complete garden. 

Metapa is about one and a half leagues from Ama- 
titlan, and five from Guatemala. It lies in a rich plain 
of three or four leagues in length, and half a league 
in breadth ; it was a seat of the Jesuits, but the 
buildings they occupied now present considerable 
ruins. The population may amount to 500 or 600, 
the only production being canes (cana Castilla), 
which are sent for sale to all parts of the vicinity, 
being much used in building houses, sheds, and al- 
macenes for preserving the cochineal insect in winter. 
Here, and at Barias, the rains commence a month 
sooner, and end a month later than in Amatitlan, 
which, although favourable to the growth of all sorts 
of vegetation, prevents the cochineal insect from 
being successfully cultivated. In Barias and Metapa, 
the average temperature, which does not vary more 
than five or six degrees in all the year, is about 
69 Fahrenheit, and the climate extremely salubrious, 
and well fitted for the residence of Europeans. 

The village of Apacaga is about a league and a 
half from Amatitlan, above which it is situated at 
least 1000 feet; the road to it is up a steep and 
rugged hill, the top of which, however, extends into 
a short plain about a mile square. The village does 
not contain above fifty inhabitants, who are employed 


in supplying Amatitlan with building and fire woodJ 
Having often visited this village^ I had a strong de- 
sire to ascend an active volcano which rises dose to 
it; and^ on the 15th of February, 1846, set out for 
that purpose, haying procured a native to act in 
i^me degree as guide, though the volcano had not 
previously been ascended by any person as far as I 
could ascertain. 

. The volcanoes of Apacaga are three, called " Agua" 
(water), *' Cenizco " (cinders), and " Tormentos " 
(tempests or thunders). We had proposed ascending 
the Volcano of Cenizco, but on approaching it, I de- 
termined on that of Tormentos instead, although my 
guide assured me it would be impossible. 

The Volcano of Tormentos is much the highest of 
the three, and its name is derived from its being 
nearly always covered by dark heavy clouds of black 
smoke, through which scattered gleams of fire are 
seen at night ; but its top is rarely visible, being 
always concealed by sulphury vapours and dense 
smoke. Now and then, loud reports, like broken 
peals of thunder, and frequent shocks of earthquake, 
proceed from it. 

About 8. A.M., we reached the small village of 
Apacaga, which is about two leagues distant, in a 
direct line from the foot of the volcano, to which we 
proceeded, (leaving our horses at the village,) as direct 
as the rugged and broken nature of the country 
would permit, but we did not reach it till the sun 
had considerably declined to the horizon. We 
commenced the ascent amidst broken and charred 
rocks, intermixed with cinders and broken pieces of 
lava. After about two hours hard toil, we approached 


the part of the mountain which is covered with 
smoke^ and the discordant noises we heard as we 
approached it^ became loud and terrific, while the 
ground shook as with one continued earthquake. Of 
a sudden, we were enveloped amidst the smoke, and 
heard a loud explosion, which scattered ashes all 
around us. My guide exclaimed, " O I santissima 
Maria somus perdidos " (Oh I most holy Mary we 
are lost), and called out to me, " for Grod's sake let us 
return if it be possible ; " but I felt so strong a curio- 
sity to go on that I would not be deterred, so I an- 
swered, " go back if you like, nothing shall prevent 
my going forward." Scrambling up like a cat among 
the cinders, which were in some places so hot as to 
bum my shoes, and guiding myself by the flashes of 
lightning which played about the volcano, and the 
direction from which the loudest noises proceeded, as 
the smoke entirely obscured the vision, I slowly 
ascended among the lava and cinders ; which however 
occupied a good deal of time, and in my eagerness 
to penetrate into the strange scene before me, I did 
not reflect that the day must be passing. At last, 
a lurid glare penetrating from amongst the smoke, 
and the increased proximity and brilliancy of the 
flashes of lightning, accompanied by a noise like 
that of the burning of an immense furnace, showed 
my near approach to the grand centre of the volcano. 
I slowly proceeded towards it, but at last feeling 
exhausted by my exertions, I sat down on a block of 
lava and began to eat a piece of bread I carried in 
my pocket, but I was roused by a tremendous explo- 
sion, louder than any thunder I ever heard; an 
immense lurid flame rose from the crater, the intense 


light of which seemed to penetrate the smoke, and 
illuminate all the neighbouring country. The ground 
felt as if sinking below me. I felt myself thrown 
with violence among the ashes, and lay for some time 
stunned with the noise, and blinded with the light. 
When, after a little, I recovered my observation, I 
heard the smothered roar of the volcano near, but 
faint, and saw the smoke slowly rising from the cra- 
ter, the rocking of the ground had ceased, and the 
eruption seemed to have passed over ; here and there 
a twinkling star appeared through the vapour, and 
the moon was for a moment seen, now and then 
through the smoke ; the dread solemnity of the scene 
might make an impression on the least sentimental. 

I sat still some time, as it were bewildered, looking 
at the red glare of the crater which appeared like the 
chimney of a huge furnace. I then attempted to 
approach its edge, but the heat and suffocating 
vapours prevented my reaching it within about 
twenty or thirty yards. Being aware that it would 
be impossible to find my way among the precipices, 
forming the sides of the mountain at night. I waited 
till the grey light, penetrating through the smoke, 
announced the approach of day, and having found a 
more accessible path than that by which I had as- 
cended, emerged from the smoke just as the sun was 
rising, clear behind the eastern hills, and the sky of 
an azure blue without the least speck or cloud. In 
about two hours 'more I reached the rugged plain 
below the mountain of thunders, and winding my 
way to the village, found my guide waiting, though 
it appeared, with little hope of again seeing me. 


I mounted my horse^ and we reached Amatitlap a 
little after uoon. 

This mountain^ though perpetually burning, has 
not made any destructive eruption for seventy years, 
when it vomited an immense mass of lava and cinders, 
entirely destroying the village of Tres Bios, ('* three 
rivers,") about two leagues distant, and the three rivers 
from which it took its name have entirely disappeared. 
The immense masses of lava, in many places more 
than a hundred feet thick, show the magnitude of the 
eruption, and the lava, which has run from the moun- 
tain like a great river, looks as fresh as if it had 
just cooled. The volcano of Cenizco still continues 
to emit a little smoke occasionally, though there is 
no tradition of any eruption ; it is of a conical form 
and composed entirely of black cinders, without the 
least trace of vegetation in any part of the cone, but 
it is much lower than either of the other two peaks, 
not exceeding, I should think, a thousand feet, while 
the volcano of Tormentos must be four or five thou- 
sand at least. The volcano of Aqua would appear, 
like that of old Guatemala, which bears the same 
name, not actually to vomit water, as the natives 
suppose; but it is probable that the crater having been 
long extinct, the vent has gradually got stopped up 
and the basin filled with water from the winter rains, 
and finally, the pressure of an immense weight of 
water has broken the edge of the crater and poured a 
destructive torrent over the neighbouring country, a 
catastrophe which last occurred about a century ago, 
when it did not, however, like the volcano of Old 
Guatemala, wash away the capital, but only a few 
Indian huts, and was little talked of, so that one 



may live his whole life in Guatemala^ only eleven 
leagues distant, without knowing of the existence of 
the volcano. 

Besides the last catastrophe, there exist along its 
sides ample vestiges of many more of a similar na- 
ture, looking as if a mighty river had been poured 
out of the crater. It is considerably lower than 
the volcano of Tormentos, and its sides are so 
broken and uneven, that it could easily be as- 

The three volcanic peaks are so near each other 
that their bases almost unite, which, I believe, is a 
phenomenon to be seen in no other part of the world. 

_ ♦ 

On the road to Amatitlan, at a distance of four 
leagues from Guatemala, is the town of Villa Nueva, 
where the cochineal insect has been cultivated, 
though to a much smaller extent than at Old Guate- 
mala or Amatitlan, and much less successfiilly than 
at the latter place. The climate is a little better for 
the cultivation than that of Old Guatemala, but the 
soil is not so good for growing the cactus, and the 
poverty of the inhalutants has prevented the planta- 
tions from being extended, so that hitherto it has 
never produced above three or four hundred bales of 
cochineal ; but of late several new estates have been 
planted, and a small piece of land in a hollow called 
the Hoja del Aqua (" leaf of water"), containing about 
a hundred British acres, is said to produce two crops 
of cochineal as well as in Amatitlan. The people of 
Villa Nueva have a large number of almacenes foir 
preserving the insect during the winter season, and 
annually supply Amatitlan with about five thousand 
pounds of the mother insect for the October seeding. 


Th^ town is well situated in an undulating plain, 
though the situation is much inferior to many others 
in the neighbourhood ; it may contain from four to 
five thousand inhabitants, who are an industrious and 
quiet race of people for Central America. Here on 
the 11th of September, 1838, General Salazar, with 
nine hundred government troops, defeated Carrera 
at the head of a force four times as large, making a 
great slaughter of the Indians who accompanied him, 
and the town was in consequence called Villa de 
Victoria (*^ town of Victory"), but the new name 
has been dropped since Carrera obtained supreme 

On the 24th of April, we left Amatitlan for 
Sonsonate and San -MigueL Passing tha, town 
of Patapa, which I have before described, about a 
league further, we reached Santa Ignes, a village 
prettily situated at the head of Amatitlan lake, in a 
small valley. It contains extensive ruins of a large 
(Establishment of the Jesuits ; and the situation, like 
all those selected by that body, is well chosen. The 
soil is a deep black loam, but not a fourth part of the 
valley is now cultivated, and the lands once cleared 
have returned to a state of nature. The population 
does not exceed three or four hundred. 

Two leagues further we passed the small village 
of San Jos4, consisting of twenty or thirty Indian 
huts upon a hill, and two leagues further a village 
called the ^^ Rosario," containing perhaps two or three 
hundred inhabitants. This was also one of the seats 
of the Jesuits ; but part of the buildings are now ap- 
propriated as the residence of a cattle estate. A fine 
aqueduct is now to be seen in ruins. Immediately after- 

H 2 


wards I passed through immense masses of scoriae which 
extend for about a league and a half, entirely covering 
the face of the country, and in many places appearing 
quite fresh and generally destitute of all vegetation. 
As there is no volcanic mountain in sight from 
which these masses may be supposed to have been 
ejected, it is difficult to form a guess whence such 
vast quantities of volcanic matter can have proceeded, 
unless it be supposed that the level of the country 
has entirely changed since their deposition. 

At sunset we reached the village of the *^ Bega," 
attached to the principal residence in the immense 
cattle estate of Don Jorge Ponce. Failing to get 
accommodated in the village I was obliged to trespass 
on Don Jorge's kindness, but was most hospitably 
received. The house is a huge building, without any 
taste or beauty, and not incumbered with much furni^ 
ture. Don Jorge told me that the temperature is 
not very different from that of Amatitlan, and that 
the wet season is as late in commencing and as soon 
over, so that it would doubtless prove suitable for 
the cultivation of cochineal. At present nothing 
is cultivated but a little maize, though there are 
immense tracts of the finest land suitable for the 
growth of any production ; the principal value of 
the estate being its fine pasturage for fattening cattle 
for the Guatemala market. 

The state of San Salvador appears to be in a most 
exhausted and ruined condition from the effects of 
the long-continued civil war. All sorts of industry 
are nearly at an end, and the people are so accustomed 
to being robbed and plundered, that they appear to 
have lost all desire of raising any thing more than 


what may be required for their imtnediate wants. 
The fair of San Miguel has also sadly fallen oflF; the 
importers from South America have for the last two 
years done so badly, that only one vessel arrives with 
a small quantity of merchandise, but even that is more 
than the people have cash to pay for. All classes are 
evidently so demoralised and reduced that many years 
of a firm government would be necessary to restore 
the state to a flourishing condition. I had in San 
Miguel a long conversation with the new President, 
Don Benito Aguilar, a quiet man of moderate prin- 
ciples, a doctor of medicine, and well informed for 
the country. He appeared very anxious to give pro- 
tection to industry and encourage strangers to settle 
in the country ; but I fear that his talents and de- 
termination will not be found suflScient to rule this 
turbulent state, and that his government will be a 
^hort one« 

On the 14th of May, before sunrise, I started from 
San Miguel, congratulating myself in having this time 
at least escaped without an attack of fever. The 
day turned out extremely hot, but the mules being 
fresh, we reached the estate of Humanas, which is 
generally considered a day's journey, at 2 p. m., and 
we proceeded on without stopping to the river Lempa. 
I could not help being a good deal scorched by the 
burning rays of the sun, but having never hitherto 
in all my journeys sustained any harm from it, I con- 
cluded that I was proof against any injury from this 
cause* The atmosphere of Lempa is actually burning 
hot during the night, but a native who was at the 
same hut with me insisted on shutting all the doors 
for fear of robbers, and as the ordinary houses In 

H a 


Central America never have windows^ I was almost 
suffocated. About two o'clock in the morning I was 
alarmed by the doleful lamentation of my servant^ 
who was sleeping outside the hut where I was lodged. 
On inquiring what was the matter he told me in a 
most deplorable tone that he was dying, as an insect 
had got into his ear and was eating his brain. I was 
myself suffering, and having often before seen the 
same accident, I adopted the simple remedy of putting 
a few drops of water in his ear, which the insect not 
liking moved out again mid left the man well in ten 
minutes. Proceeding again befoie dayUght I managed 
to get to San Salvador at 4 p. M.j but in greater agony 
than I have ever before suffered in my life, my pulse 
being 134. I had in fact caught a violent rheu* 
matic fever. I remained a week in San Salvador^ 
making use of the most powerful remedies, but I only 
succeeded in reducing the fever a little, without in 
the least alleviating the rheumatic pains. 

The third day after my arrival in San Salvador^ 
I was surprised by an aguacil (constable) coming to 
my lodgings with a message that the alcalde (civic 
magistrate) wished to see me immediately. I told 
him that he must certainly have made a mistake, as 
the alcalde could not want anything with me, and 
did not even know my name : but he returned in a 
few minutes to say that it was not a mistake, and 
required my immediate attendance. Proceeding to 
the cabilda, I was astonished to find a clidm made 
against me by a servant who had run away from me 
in the town of Nahuisalco, on account of some clothes 
he left behind and lost on that occasion. I told the 
alcalde that I did not suppose I was obliged to ac^ 


count for the clothes of a person who had behaved 
in such a manner, and that I had not thought myself 
bound to take charge of them, but had abandoned 
them as worth nothing to me : but I found that he 
was determined to give judgment in favour of his 
countryman; and, feeling indignant at such a robbery, 
I told him that I would not pay, but should appeal to a 
higher court. A gentleman who was present, and who 
appeared to be a lawyer, told me that it was a very 
unjust demand, but that if I did not settle it I should 
have to leave a power of attorney, and incur much 
more expense than the amount in question. The al- 
calde then proposed that I should pay half the demand, 
which was for 21 dollars. I offered him five dol- 
lars, and he then proposed seven, which I preferred 
paying to being further bothered. I was informed 
that, as all the civic officers are chosen by the lowest 
of the people from their own class, a respectable per-* 
son, or, indeed, any white, has no chance whatevet^ 
of having justice done him in any dispute he may 
have with a mestizo, or any one of the lower classes. 
As there was little chance of my being cured in the 
way I was forced to live in San Salvador, having, 
as usual, no bed to lie upon, nor any possibility of 
obtaining such accommodation as would be required 
by the poorest person in Europe, I on the 25th 
left for Sonsonate, which I reached the same night, 
more dead than alive, having been forced to dismount 
several times and lie down on the road-side to pre- 
vent my fidling off the mule. On the 27th I again 
proceeded on my journey. The road was in a most 
horrible state, and, from the nature of the soil of the 
ridge of hills which it is necessary to cross on the 


first day's journey, waa as slippery as grease. After 
great difficulty and several falls, I reached Apcmeca, 
near the top of the chain of hills, in the midst of a 
heavy shower of rain, at 11 a.m. The rain continued 
fof four hours, when I proceeded agfun on my journey, 
and reached Ahuachahan at snnset, covered all over 
with mud, and severely hruised with falling, being 
unable to walk, though riding in such roads is at- 
tended with great risk of breaking one'e neck. Next 
evening we reached the town of Zalpatagua, well 
wet by a heavy thunder shower. Starting in the 
morning with a drizzling rain, which soon grew 
heavier, we managed, by walking the horses through 
the mud; to reach the Oratorio at 1 P. H. ; and, the 
rain becoming still heavier, we were forced to remain 
all night, and, after two or three days most uncom- 
fortable travelling, we at length reached Amatitlan, 
where I commenced curing my rheumatic fever by 
the only treatment I have ever found successful with 
myself or others (small continued doses of calomel) ; 
and in a week I was nearly quite recovered. 

This was the end of what is called the " temporada" in 
Amatitlan, when all the idle people come from Gua- 
temala for the nominal purpose of bathing. Every 
house is theu full of visitors, most of them having live 
nts, and often as many as twenty in each 
time is spent in gambling and intrigues 
sexes, and among the visitors are many 
mhlers, who come on purpose to victim- 
neal growers, one of whom admitted to 
bad twice played away all his crop of 
gambling tables are to be seen placed 
the houses, with the doors wide open, 


^nd the inhabitants who may be passing are invited 
in on different pretexts. The games are of different 
sorts^ no doubt of Spanish origin^ and the stakes at 
the principal tables are generally for bales of cochi- 
neal5 one of which is represented by each counter, so 
that if the simple natives can be induced to play^ 
they are almost certain to be deprived of all theii? 
crop by the Guatemala sharpers. It is, however, most 
surprising to see how quietly a native will lose all 
his property at the gambling table ; the utmost sign 
of impatience he will ever show being the exclama- 
tion, Jesus, Santissima Maria, (" Jesus, most holy 
Mary,") in a gay tone of voice, though perhaps the 
victim may be forced to sell his cochineal estate, and 
his family in a moment reduced from comparative 
comfort to the condition of common labourers. In- 
deed, it has always astonished me to see the great 
command of countenance possessed by all the Spa- 
niards and their descendants. Though they are, per- 
haps, the most avaricious people in the world, they 
will hear of any loss or disaster, however severe or 
unexpected, without the slightest apparent emotion, 
or the least change of expression, generally passing 
some joke upon the occasion with more than usual 

Before concluding this journal, I must not omit td 
mention the lake of Cojutepeke, the native name of 
which is lUobasco, which I have already cursorily 
noticed, but have since ascertained that it is subject to 
a most singular phenomenon which renders it worthy 
of a fuller description. This lake is, as already stated; 
a few leagues distant from the large town of Cojute- 
peke in the state of San Salvador, from which it may 

H 5 


be readily seen. It is about twelve miles long, of an 
irregular 8hape5 on an average about five miles 
broad, and surrounded on all sides (except a small 
opening at which a stream of water runs out) by ma- 
jestic and precipitous mountains. Some small rivulets 
flow into the lake, and the surrounding scenery is 
most romantic and beautiful. The lake is, in some 
parts, of great depth, though no attempts have been 
made to ascertain it with exactness. In smooth 
weather the water has no peculiar appearance or dif- 
ference from that of other lakes, nor can parties then 
walking on the banks observe any fish, but after a 
brisk wind it. assumes a dark green colour, and the 
fish flock to the shores in such numbers that the na* 
tives not only catch them in large quantities with 
nets, but in buckets, and even with the hand* 
This singular phenomenon is called by the natives la 
cosecha de pedcados (" the fish harvest "); and the 
Indians suppose that a demon who lives in the middle 
of the lake then troubles the water, the fish es-' 
caping from his presence to the borders of the lake* 
The most likely explanation would appear to be, that 
the middle of the lake contains a number of thermal 
springs charged with carbonic acid gas and some 
mineral which colours the water. This water, being 
heavier than that which enters from the mountain 
streams, remains at the bottom of the lake and the 
pure water covers the upper surface, so that in 
smooth weather the fish find no difficulty in main- 
taining themselves in the uncontaminated water, 
readily avoiding that at the bottom of the lake, in 
which they cannot exist ; but when the lake is agi- 
tated by strong winds the mineral water becomes 



mixed with that v/hich is superineumbent, and the 
whole body of the lake then becomes destructive to the 
fish, which are compelled to repair to its borders, 
where it is shallow, and consequently composed en- 
tirely of pure water without i^ny understrata of that 
charged with the gas or other noxious principle. 

This lake is certainly well worth the minute ex- 
amination of men of science, and, though I have no 
pretensions to that character, I regretted that on all 
the occasions I passed through the town ot Cojute- 
peke I was too much hurried to spare time for a ftiU 

H 3 






The states now known as the republic of Central 
America formed (with the addition of the province 
of Chiapas^ which has joined Mexico) the Spanish 
captain-generalship of Guatemala, a name which still 
attaches to the largest state of the Confederation. The 
other states had the same names and nearly the same 
divisions as at present, but were all subject to the 
Captain-General, who resided in Guatemala and ap- 
pointed Intendentes (governors) for the subordinate 

On the 15th September, 1821, the city of Guate- 
mala proclaimed its absolute independence from the 
mother country of Spain, and invited the other pro- 
vinces of the captain-generalship to follow its ex- 
ample. As the Spanish authorities had almost no 
force at their disposal, they had no resource but 
quietly to submit to the declaration : many of them 
joined the new government which was then pro- 
visionally established, and the remainder returned to 
Spain, or repaired to the island of Cuba, without 
attempting to offer a futile resistance to what appeared 
to be a general movement of the country. Upon the 
intelligence of the movement in Guatemala the pro- 



vinces of San Salvador and Honduras immediately 
followed their example, deposing the authorities of the 
Spanish government, most of whom, however, joined 
the new order of things. Being generally natives of 
the country, they of course had no objection to ex- 
change a delegated for an independent authority, 
which they thought they would be enabled to main-* 
tain with facility ; but the government authorities of 
the province of Nicaragua (actuated, it would appear, 
by the bishop, who shrewdly guessed that the revolu- 
tion would be destructive of his authority,) refused 
to follow the example of the capital of the captain- 
generalship, stating that they deferred declaring their 
independence till they saw what sort of government 
might be established. On the 11th of October, 
however, they altered ^his resolution, declaring for 
the plan of Iguala, after the example of Mexico, the 
object of which was to offer the government to a 
Spanish prince, who should, however, be independent 
of the mother country; in this they were shortly 
afterwards joined by the city of Quesaltenango in 
the department of the Altos of Guatemala. 

The new government of Guatemala immediately 
proceeded to abolish all the restrictions upon foreign 
commerce, which had been enacted in the time of the 
Spanish government; decreeing the liberty of the 
press, and the abolition of all monopolies, with many 
other liberal measures ; but they were not destined 
to proceed long in their career, as the adventurer 
Iturbide, having been proclaimed Emperor of Mexico, 
used a mixture of persuasion and force to induce the 
provinces of the old captain-generalship of Guatemala 
to join that government. Some engagements took 


place between the two parties^ and blood was for the 
first time spilt in Guatemala on the 30thof November, 
1821; but the Mexican party appeared to gain ground, 
being joined hj the capitals of Nicaragua and Costa 
Bica, and the city of Quesaltenanga, and only op- 
posed by San Salvador and Granada. The Mexican 
government was proclaimed in Guatemala on the 
5th of January, 1822, and by a decree of the Emperor 
dated the 4th of November of the same year, the old 
captain-generalship was divided into three districts, 
each bearing the title of captain-generalship ; namely, 
Chiapas, Sacataquez^ and Costa Rica, the capital of 
the first being Ciudad Real, of the second the city of 
Guatemala, and of the third Leon in Nicaragua* 
But as the people everywhere showed themselves 
unfavourable to this new division, it was never carried 
into effect, and the names and divisions of the old 
provinces continued to be used. San Salvador, how- 
ever, refused to agree to its incorporation with the 
Mexican Empire, a^d, on the 3rd of June, General 
Arzee attacked the capital of that state for the pur- 
pose of reducing it, but was defeated, and his forces 
completely routed and dispersed. The provisional 
congress of this state, seeing their inability to resist 
all the others backed by Mexico, passed an act, 
bearing date the 2nd of December, 1822, declaring 
themselves united to the government of the United 
States of North America, but this decree remained 
entirely null, and it is not known what reply, if any, 
was made to it by the United States. San Salvador 
was inunediately afterwards invested by Don Vicente 
Fisiola with two thousand Imperial troops, and after 
the loss of about a hundred men was taken. The inde- 


pendent party then submitted^ and the whole country 
might be considered as joined to the Mexican Empire^ 
though Granada in Nicaragua and San Jose in Costa 
Kica still refused to acknowledge it : but the fall of 
Iturbide having again thrown Mexico into a state of 
anarchy, it ceased to give any support to its party, 
which formed a very small minority in the captain- 
generalship of Guatemala, and insurrections took 
place against the Mexican authorities, who were. 8UC!i> 
cessively expelled from all ,the States, or joined the 
independent party ; and General Fisiola, at the time 
the most popular officer in the country, having called 
an assembly of national representatives, all ithe pro- 
vinces resolved to unite and form an independent 
government, except Chiapas, which refused to assent 
to the resolution and adhered to Mexico ; the remain- 
ing provinces, namely, Guatemala, including the 
Altos, San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and 
Costa Bica, agreed to form a federal government 
closely resembling that of the United States of North 
America ; each state in a similar manner forming a 
separate internal government, the custom duties, 
being, however, collected by the federal government 
and a supreme court of appeal in civil suits created ; 
the federal government to take the name of the 
Kepublic of Central America. ' 

The same assembly afterwards proceeded to decree 
the abolition of all titles of nobility and the Spanish 
title of Don: anew flag of blue, white, and blue, 
placed horizontally, was adopted, and new armorial 
bearings, being a representation of the sun rising 
behind a ridge of mountains, and the words, " Deus, 
Union, Libertad," (God, Union, Liberty), They also 


abolished the sale of papal bulls and indulgences/ and 
several other abuses of the Spanish Government. 
Many liberal and very excellent laws were passed by 
this assembly, of which unfortunately only the record 
now remains. Among others, it was enacted that 
the property of strangers resident in the Republic 
should, under all circumstances, be respected, and that 
neither they nor their property should be interfered 
with, even in case of war with the country of which 
they were natives. That they might practise any 
profession or trade without hinderance, or purchase 
and hold land and houses, or any other property, 
having in every respect the same privileges as 
natives of the country. The Republic appeared 
quiet and contented, and every thing wore a prosper-, 
ous and improving appearance at the end of the year 

In the commencement of 1824, the peace of the 
Republic was, however, disturbed by insurrections in 
Nicaragua. On the 13th of January, the mob of 
the city of Leon forced the provisional government 
to remove Basilic Carrillo from the chief command, 
and substitute Carmen Salazar in his place; and on the 
4th of May, the mob and soldiers raised another in- 
surrection, deposing the governor of the city of Leon, 
Justo Milla, and naming Pablo Melendez in his place, 
but the latter was a few days afterwards deposed in 
another insurrection ; and on the 22nd of July, Cleto 
Ordonez, an artilleryman, having managed to gain the 
favour of the mob and common soldiers, (who in 
Central America are always mixed with the populace, 
and agree with them in their a<5ts and opinions,) got 
himselfproclaimed commander-general of the province* 


lut his authority was resisted by the towns of Ma-» 
Hagua &nd Nicaragua^ which set up another govern-^ 
ment^ formed of a junta of their inhabitants. On the 
6th of August} some districts of the city of Leon 
^ain rose in insurrection, for the purpose of re-estab- 
lishing the authority of Pablo Melendez, who had a 
few days before been deposed by Ordonez. The in- 
surgents were repulsed by the new authorities, but 
not before they had plundered a great part of the 
city, ill-treating the women and murdering the men 
who fell in their way, so that Leon suffered all the 
horrors that could have been inflicted by the invasion 
of a savage enemy* Unfortunately, this appeared to 
be only the commencement of a state of continual 
anarchy, which has reduced this city (formerly one of 
the finest in the new world) to little more than a 
mass of ruins; inflicting greater injury than any 
earthquake or volcano has ever done, even in the 
country so remarkable for these catastrophes. 

On the 9th of August the town of Viejo Chinen- 
dega, in the same province, joined the party of 
Managua ; and with their joint forces, amounting to 
two thousand men, invested Leon, the capital of the 
state ; and on the 14 th of the same month another 
body of troops in the interest of the Managua party, 
commanded by Coronel Chrisanto Sacano, attacked 
the town of Granada, which had declared for the 
party of Ordonez, or the Leonese faction, but, after 
a number of petty skirmishes, retired without being 
able to take the town ; and a few days afterwards a 
body of Leonese and Granada troops attacked Ma-^ 
nagua with the same result. On the 13th' of Sep- 
tember the forces of Yiejo Chinendega and Managua, 


under the command of . Coronel Chrisanto Sacano 
and Juan Joa6 Salas, a Colombian officer, attacked 
Leon, and after a number of skirmishes took posses- 
sion of the suburbs and the greater part of the city, 
the besieged being hemmed in in the market-place and 
some of the adjoining streets, which were barricaded 
and desperately defended. The siege lasted 114 
days, and during that period the greater part of 
the city was plundered; upwards of 900 houses 
were burnt or demolished, and both parties acted 
with a degree of cruelty and barbarity almost un- 
heard of among the most savage nations ; and al- 
though members of the same family were often 
engaged on different sides, no men^ was shown by 
them to their fellow-countrymen and relations, 
neither age nor sex being respected. The very 
churches were flooded with the blood of victims who 
had taken refuge within them, such being (as might 
be expected) principally the old and infirm, women 
and children, upon whom the ferocious soldiery 
glutted their fury, for want of other victims : still 
the besiegers were finally compelled to retire on the 
4th of January, 1825, leaving the city of Leon in a 
state of ruin, from which it has never since re- 

In the commencement of the year 1825 General 
Arzee entered the state with a body of San Salvador 
troops, and both parties submitted to him with little 
resistance, so that the state of Nicaragua was again 
for a short time reduced to acknowledge the federal 
authorities ; though the seeds of anarchy, which 
were soon to spread to the other parts of the Be- 






public, were not extirpated, but merely smothered 
for a brief interval. 

The other states forming the Republic of Central 
America remained quiet during the years 1824 and 
1825, and increased in wealth and prosperity, while 
the national assembly continued to enact wise aaid 
useful laws, though many of them, as it afterwards 
appeared, were too liberal, for the backward state 
of the country. On the 17 th of April, 1824, a 
decree was passed declaring all the slaves absolutely 
free, and further that slavery should never in : fu- 
ture exist in any part of the territory of Central 
America, the citizens being prohibited from carry- 
ing on the slave trade under heavy penalties. The 
decree produced but little alteration in the labour 
of the country, as the daves were very few in 
number, not exceeding five or sit. hundred at most, 
and were nearly all employed as household ser-* 
vants ; had they been more numerous so sweeping a 
measure must have excited great resistance. 

On the 15 th of May, the national convention i^eed 
that a congress should be called, each of the states 
having respectively the following number of repre- 
sentatives: namely, Guatemala 18, Honduras 11, 
Nicaragua 13, and Costa Rica 11. Those of Gua- 
temala met in the city of Old Gruatemala, of Hon- 
duras in Aguanqueteric, of Nicaragua in the town 
of Managua, and of Costa Rica in San Jose; the 
congress of the state of San Salvador, composed of 
eleven members, had previously met in the capital of 
that state. 

The states were also to send deputies to a federal 
congress, to meet in the city of Guatemala for regu- 


lating the general government, in the following pro-* 
portions ; namely Guatemala 17 representatives, 
Sati Salvador 9, Honduras 6, Nicaragua 6, and 
Costa Kica 2* On the 20th of August the new 
government was acknowledged by Mexico, which 
had previously given up all attempts to recover its 
lost dominion in Central America^ During the 
remainder of 1824 the representative assemblies were 
occupied in defining the boundaries of the different 
states, and dividing them into provinces ; regula-* 
tions which can possess no interest to European 
i-eaders, or indeed to any person out of the country* 
- The first federal congress met on the 6th of 
February, 1825, and afterwards had eleven sessions 
previously to the year 1838, when the federal union 
was virtually dissolved, all the different states having 
proclaimed themselves independent, and refused to 
assent to any national government. General Arzee 
was elected the first president of Central America, 
and installed in his oflice on the 29th of April* In 
the same month a federal senate met in Guatemala, 
elected in a similar manner to that body in the U. S. 
of North America, the vice-president of the republic, 
Mariano Beltraneno, being also appointed president 
of the senate. In this year the state of San Sal- 
vador, moved by jealousy at the authority claimed 
over that state by the Bishop of Guatemala, ap- 
pointed Dr, Matras Delegado bishop of San Sal-» 
yador ; and although the pope disapproved formally 
of the appointment, and at the suggestion of the 
Archbishop of Guatemala threatened to excommuni* 
cate the state government, he retained his office 
about four years. But this occurrence caused a violent 



dispute between the states of Guatemala and San 
Salvador, which was only to be decided by an appeal 

\ to arms, and it has to this day left a rankling hatred 

} between the two states, ready always to break out 

into open violence. Shortly afterwards, Costa Bica, 
which previously had been under the ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction of the Bishop of Nicaragua, followed the 
example of appointing a separate bishop ; but the 

' people of that state being of a pacific disposition, it 

had not a similar result, and the two states now 

' remain without any bishop, or much probability of 

[ one being again appointed. 

, A supreme court of legal appeal was this year 

j also established in Guatemala, Dr. Tomas Ant. 

Oberon being the first president. Guatemala and 
the other provinces also appointed State Courts in 
place of the old Spanish tribunals, but the laws and 
customs, and most of the oflSces belonging to the old 
courts, were retained. 

The commencement of the year 1826 was marked 
by an attempt to revive the Spanish authority in the 
state of Costa Bica — a Spaniard, called Jose Zamara, 
having with that object excited an insurrection in 
the town of Alkajuela, but he appeared to have acted 
with the most foolish rashness, and meeting with no 
support, was seized and shot by order of govern* 

On the 6th of September of this year. General 
Arzee, the President of the Bepublic, having secret 
information of the intention of the authorities of 
Guatemala to rebel against the federal government, 
caused Sen Jose Barrundia, Governor of the State> 
to be arrested in the government house, and the 


oiyic militia [to be disarmed. Taken by surprise^ 
they offered no resistance whatever. The President 
shortly afterwards, on his own authority, convoked 
an extraordinary national congress to meet in the 
town of Cojutepeke, in the State of San Salvador, 
for the purpose of considering and remedying the 
discontent of the different states, but the state 
government of San Salvador, actuated by a factious 
opposition to the federal government, directed the 
representatives to meet in the town of Ahuacha- 
pan, and the consequence of these contradictory 
instructions was, that no meeting took place. 
Immediately after this, the continued disturbances 
commenced, which have since reduced most of the 
states of the republic to the verge of ruin. 

On the 13th of October, the mob of the city of 
Quesaltenango, the capital of the province of the 
Altos, rose and murdered the vice-governor Cerilio 
Flores, then acting governor of the state of Guate- 
mala, in the parish church. Several of the members 
of government were also assassinated, and the re- 
mainder of them and the representatives of congress 
had to escape for their lives, leaving the state without 
any form of government. On the 18 th of the same 
month, Coronel Jos^ Pierzan defeated the insurgents 
in Salcaya, and entered Quesaltenango without 
resistance, but on the 28th of the month was in turn 
attacked by Brigadier Francisco Cascaras with a 
body of federal troops and totally defeated. 

On the 31st of December, the objections enter- 
tained by the president to the meeting of congress 
in Guatemala, being removed by the destruction of 
the members of the former government in Quesalte- 


nango^ the representatives met in the capital of that 
state. In this year, a law was passed in the state of 
Guatemala, preventing either sex from entering oon-r 
vents under the age of twenty-three, or taking the 
pionastic vows under twenty-five, a measure soon 
followed up by the suppression of these institutions. 

Two members of the senate having retired on the 
2nd of September, that body was dissolved, and 
afterwards dispensed with. 

On the 29th of July of this year, a treaty of 
friendship and commerce was signed between the 
Kepublic and the government of the U. S. of North 
America: this treaty, which expired in 1837, ad- 
mitted the produce and manufactures of the IT. S. of 
North America at one-half the duties paid by all 
other countries, or ten per cent, and also stipulated 
that citizens of Central America should, on entering 
the U. S« of N. America become citizens of that 
country, and that citizens of the U. S. of N. 
America should do the same on entering Central 
America : the latter stipulation has, I believe, in no 
case been claimed, and was manifestly anything but 
an advantage to North American citizens sojourning 
in a country without any stable form of government, 
where the natives were exposed to all sorts of robbery 
and imposition. 

In the commencement of 1827, Nicaragua was 
again the scene of disturbances. The vice-governor of 
the State of Juan, Arguello, having excited an insur- 
rection, forcibly dissolved the state legislature then sit- 
ting in the town of Granada. This was the signal for 
a renewal of insurrections in all parts of the state, 
three or four parties springing up, each pretending 


to consult the general good, but in reality only aiming 
at the supreme power, for the purpose of plundering 
and oppressing all the rest of the inhabitants. A 
detailed history of the petty revolts and skirmishes 
which took place would present no interest, as it 
resembled a general mania, the populace one day 
taking part with one factious demagogue, and the 
following day with another, without being able to 
assign any reason for such excitement. On the 
14th of September, Coronel Cleto Ordonez again 
excited an insurrection of the troops in Leon, and 
deposed the Vice-governor, but was very shortly 
afterwards in turn deposed, and the state of Nica^ 
ragua continued split up into petty factions, none of 
which were sufficiently strong to enforce the law, or. 
establish a settled government. 

On the 1st of March, Mariano Aycinena, an old 
Spaniard of noble family, was popularly elected 
governor of the State of Guatemala : from this time 
the division of the Republic into two factions, called 
liberals and serviles, may be dated, the former being 
composed of the middle classes, and the latter of a 
union between the old Spaniards and the lowest of 
the mob. 

The former advanced just and liberal measures, 
but with far too great precipitation for a country 
accustomed to the despotic government of Spain, 
while the latter strove, by every means, to check the 
movement, calling fanaticism and all the worst pas* 
sions of the mob to their assistance. Aycinena be- 
longed to this latter party. In the same month a 
military tribunal was established in Guatemala for 
judging political offences in a summary manner; this 


tribunal passed sentence of proscription against 
Dr. Molina, and eight others of the principal mem- 
bers of the liberal party in Guatemala ; and also 
against Sachet a French oflSicer, and Colonel Pierzon 
a native of Columbia, and the latter, being shortly 
afterwards taken, was immediately shot. 

This example of putting to death without legal 
forms, was quickly followed by the other states of 
Central America, the chiefs of the victorious factions 
uniformly constituting themselves a tribunal to judge 
and condemn their opponents ; but even this empty 
form was at last dispensed with, and the leading 
general, or assassin (which in Central America are 
generally synonymous terms), issued his orders to put 
whomsoever he thought proper to death, without 
condescending to assign a reason. 

On the 10th of March of the same year, a di vision 
of the federal troops, under the command of Colonel 
Justo Milla, took possession of Comayagua, the 
capital of Honduras, and imprisoned the governor 
of the state, Dionisio Herrera, who a short time 
before had refused to acknowledge the federal autho* 
rities and had endeavoured to separate Honduras from 
the rest of the republic. Most of the government 
officers and members of the state congress, having 
entered into his views, were displaced by order of 
the president of the republic, and new deputies and 
government officers were elected. The new authori- 
ties, however, only maintained their post during the 
presence of the federal troops, upon whose with- 
drawal they lost all control, and were driven out by 
a fresh insurrection. 

On the 18th of May, General Arzee, the president 



of the republic, at the head of about two thousand 
troops attacked the city of San Salvador (the state 
government of which had a short time ago deckred 
itself separated &om his authority) ; but after five 
hours' fighting, he was repulsed with the loss of 
two hundred men, and in consequence obliged to 
abandon the state of San Salvador. On the 28th of 
September, however, the federal troops, commanded 
by Colonel Millar, defeated the united forces of San 
Salvador and Honduras at Sabana Grande ; but the 
federal troops were again in their turn defeated by a 
body of San Salvador and Nicaragua troops, com- 
manded by Lieut. CoL Remigio Dias, the victory 
being principally owing to the conduct of Francisco 
Morazan, a native of Honduras, who then first 
figured in the politics of Central America. Having 
been secretary-general of that state in 1824, he 
afterwards turned his attention to military matters, 
and rose to be first president or chief of Honduras, 
and afterwards of the republic. A brief notice of 
this chief, who is the only person of talent or ability 
to light up the dreary career of anarchy and mis- 
rule which forms the history of Central America, 
may perhaps be acceptable. 

Francisco Morazan was born in the state of Hon- 
duras, in or about the year 1799, his father being, it 
would appear, a native of one of the French West 
India Islands, and his mother, of the country. His 
education was such as might have been expected in a 
country so backward in all sorts of knowledge, con- 
sisting merely of reading and writing ; but he early 
evinced great quickness in acquiring knowledge, and 
was distinguished for his violent and fiery temper so 


different from the apathy of disposition common 
among the natives of Spanish America. 

His figure was good^ and his features handsome 
and intelligent, his ruddy complexion and bright blue 
eye proving that his blood was different from that of 
his mongrel Spanish countrymen. His address was 
frank and independent, and quite free from the 
mixture of pride and ignorance, fawning and inso- 
lence, so universal in the natives of Spanish America 
who have attained a little brief authority. He had 
acquired a knowledge of the French language after 
leaving school, and from reading French books and 
history, combined with his descent, he had imbibed a 
great partiality for that nation, and it would appear 
a prejudice against the British ; which was not a little 
increased by disputes he afterwards had with H. B. M. 
consul-general, Mr. Chatfield, who was generally 
considered as unfavourable to the liberal party of 
which General Morazan was the head. His private 
character was good for a Central American, and 
would be tolerable in most countries. Great Britain 
and North America excepted. 

It would appear that, aware of his great supe- 
riority over the natives, he was at last led utterly 
to despise them, considering that every thing must 
at once yield to his talents and valour, and that his 
very appearance would insure victory, however in- 
ferior his forces might be ; in this he was confirmed, 
by the facility with which he overthrew the party in 
power at the commencement of his career. 

Morazan would have been quite unfitted to be the 
head of any country possessing men of real ability 
and understanding ; his talents being better adapted 

I a 


for undertaking and oan*ying out a dangerous en- 
terprise, than maintaining his acquired authority^ 
or securing the wise and peaceful government of the 

On the 17th of December, a sanguinary engage- 
ment took place in the city of Santa Ana, in the 
state of San Salvador, between the troops of that 
state, commanded by Coronel Merino, and those of 
Guatemala by Brigadier Cascaras, which, after the 
loss of about three hundred men on both sides, was 
terminated by a convention, according to which both 
generals were to retire with their forces. Cascaras 
retired in accordance with the xjonvention ; but 
Merino, notwithstanding it, kept possession of Santa 

. During the year 1828 the disputes between the 
different states continued, leaving the republic in a 
complete state of anarchy. On the 9th of February, 
the officers commanding the troops under General 
William Perks excited an insurrection against their 
commander, who in consequence was forced to resign 
his command, and was succeeded by Colonel Antonio 
Jos^ Irzarri. In the same month the president of 
the republic. General Arzee, having deposited his 
command for a short time in the hands of the vice- 
president, Beltranena, the latter refused to relinquish 
his authority when required, and continued governor 
of the state and nominal president of the republic 
till he was expelled by General Morazan. General 
Aice, although a man of a mild and pacific temper, 
was never able to recover his authority, having no 
^natural talent, and being of too gentle a temper foi? 
; managing the violent elements that agitated his 


country. Had a man of more determined character 
in the first place attained the supreme power in 
the republic, he might in the beginning have de-- 
fitroyed the seeds of insurrection, and procured a 
different destiny for the people. 

On the Ist of March of this year the forces of 
Guatemala, commanded by Brigadier Arza, defeated 
the forces of San Salvador under Coronel Merino ; 
the battle was extremely obstinate, and no quarter 
was given by either party, so that upwards of 
600 fell, the greater number of whom were killed 
after the battle, during a general massacre which took 
place from the barbarous determination of taking 
no prisoners, but putting to death all who fell into 
their hands — a practice too often followed, which 
has given a most savage character to the wars in 
Central America, and has caused the exhibition 
of cruelties almost unheard of in the nineteenth 
century. After the engagement the victors laid 
siege to the city of San Salvador ; but after great 
loss on both sides the besiegers retired, their leader 
being wounded by the bursting of a cannon; but 
the troops of San Salvador being again defeated by 
a force of Guatemala soldiers, commanded by Colonel 
Dominguez, who afterwards entirely reduced the 
department of San Miguel, the state of San Salvador 
was compelled again to submit to the federal govern- 
ment, and the union of a national congress in Santa 
Ana ; the city of San Salvador to be in the mean 
time occupied by the federal troops. But the mob of 
San Salvador, on hearing of this convention, rose 
against the government; and having removed the 
pacific members, the civil war was resumed with 

» 3 


renewed hatred and fury ; and the federal troopa 
occupying the city were, on the 20th of September, 
taken prisoners, with their leaders. 

On the 6th of July the forces of Honduras, for 
the first time, commanded by General Morazan, 
attacked, and after an obstinate engagement defeated 
the Guatemala forces, under the command of Colonel 
Dominguez, who had previously subdued the depart- 
ment of San Miguel. The engagement took place 
on the border of the river Lempa, and the retreat of 
the federal troops having been cut off, they retired 
to San Antonio; where, being again attacked by 
General Morazan, they laid down their arms; so 
that the authority of the federal government was 
entirely destroyed in the state of San Salvador, and 
might be considered as suspended in all the republic, 
till General Morazan again re-established it in his 
own person. 

The state of Guatemala had sustained nearly all 
the brunt of the war against San Salvador and Hon- 
duras ; and finding that its troops were in all parts 
defeated, it endeavoured, but in vain, to negotiate a 
peace, removing all the authors of the war who had 
any share in the government, and replacing them 
with men understood to be friendly to peace. 

In Quesaltenango a conspiracy was formed against 
the existing government of Guatemala; the troops 
were attacked in their barracks, and killed or taken 
prisoners. Among the latter was the governor ; but the 
mass of the people rose against the insurgents, and 
killed or dispersed them all, restoring the governor 
to his authority. 

The end of this year was marked by the expiring 
efforts of the servile party in Guatemala, passing 


laws against religious dissent, and for the burning of 
all prohibited books, or those not authorised by the 
Church of Rome, These laws, however, were abro- 
gated the following year upon the destruction of the 
government and party which enacted them ; but were 
again put in force in 1841 by the servile party, and 
are still in force in the state of Guatemala, though 
not in the other states which formed the republic. 
Still the existence of such laws cannot be of much 
importance till the general diffusion of education 
shall excite a desire of reading ; and as soon as this 
takes place they will doubtless be repealed, or become 
a dead letter. 

The year 1829 was principally distinguished by 
the rise and consolidation of Morazan's power. 

On the 22nd of January an insurrection took 
place in Old Guatemala ; the authorities of the state 
were expelled, and although the insurgents werq 
easily subdued, arid the authority of the government 
re-established in a few days, it encouraged General 
Morazan to invade the state at the head of 2000 
Honduras and San Salvador troops. The first attack 
on the city of Guatemala was made on the 5tU of 
February, when Morazan was repulsed with a trifling 
loss; he then proceeded to Old Guatemala, where 
he was received with open arms, the authorities of 
government making their escape without attempting 
any resistance ; but having again advanced to Mizco, 
a town distant three leagues from Guatemala, he 
was a second time repulsed by the government forces, 
with the loss of about 150 men ; the victors, how- 
ever, pursuing their advantage too eagerly, were some 
days afterwards attacked by the General, and defeated 

I 4 


in their turn; and, on the 15th of March, he gained 
another victory, killing about a hundred of the 
government troops. The authorities of Guatemala 
now in vain attempted to negotiate a treaty with 
Morazan, offering to recal all the liberal party who 
had been exiled, and even to share the government 
with them ; after two months of continued skirmish-* 
ing, generally to the disadvantage of the government 
troops, the city of Guatemala was attacked on the 
12th of April, and the greater part carried at the 
point of the bayonet. The remains of the govern-* 
ment forces agreed to evacuate the city upon a 
capitulation, the principal points of which were that 
the city should be saved from plunder or violence, 
and that a new representative assembly should be 
called to settle the government, the former autho- 
rities remaining in power till new ones were elected } 
but General Morazan immediately afterwards assert- 
ing that the officers of government were intriguing 
against him, entered the city with his troops, im- 
prisoned or drove out all the existing authorities, 
and ordered the re-establishment of the government 
officers deposed in Quesaltenango in October 1826* 
All the chiefs of the liberal party having assembled, 
and the deputies of the Congress deposed at Que- 
saltenango, Nicholas Espinosa, being president, 
decreed extraordinary honours to General Morazan, 
striking a gold medal to commemorate his success, 
and ordering his portrait to be hung in the hall of 
Congress. The federal congress and senate, dissolved 
in 1826, again assembled; and having declared all 
the laws enacted, and all proceedings adopted 
during their absence as illegal, and the government, 


from the 6th of April 1826 to the lath of April 
1829, to have been an unconBtitutional usurpation, 
the senior senator, Jos^ Francisco Barrundia, received 
the name of president by a decree of the Congress, 
though all the power was really in the hands of the 
victorious soldier, who had in so short a time exalted 
his party. On the 10th of July the archbishop of 
Guatemala, Raman Casaus (who had been discovered 
carrying on intrigues against the new government) 
was, by Moiuzan's order, seized at midnight by a 
party of soldiers, hurried to the port of Isabel, and 
put on hoard a vessel ; the monks and friara of the 
three principal convents were also expelled from the 
state in a summary manner; and the Congress of 
Guatemala in the same month decreed the suppres- 
sion of all the male convents, and prohibited females 
from becoming nuns for the future ; appropriating to 
the government the revenues of the suppressed monas- 
teries. This act was fully approved by the federal 
congress on the 7th of September following, which 
declared all religious orders at an end throughout tl 
republic; it received also the universal sanction 
the people, and was immediately carried into effe 
in all the states. 

On the 22nd of August the federal congress pass< 
an act, banishing the late president, vice-presiden 
and ministers of the republic, and also the ta 
governor of Guatemala and his ministers, and t 
the other officers lust employed in the federal ai 
state government ; further ordering that they shou 
return the amount they had received on account 
their salaries, and that the third part of their properl 
should be confiscated to pay the damages and cxpen. 


of the war. This appeared but a just retribution for 
the severities exercised by the servile party during 
their domination ; but as most people belonged to one 
or other of these parties, the property of nearly all 
the principal people has been successively confiscated 
to enrich adventurers of the opposite party. 

On the 1st of April of this year, the legislature of 
Costa Bica declared that state independent, and 
separated from the rest of the republic; and proceeded 
to enact different laws and duties which continued in 
force till January 1831, when the decree was annulled 
and the federal authorities again peaceably acknow- 
ledged. The great difference between this and 
most of the revolutions which have taken place in 
the other states of Central America, is that it was 
effected without any loss of life or property and as 
peaceably as any government could be changed in the 
best regulated European state. 

During the same year, the state government of Hon- 
duras passed a decree that no regulation made by the 
pope in regard to religion could be carried into effect 
without the consent of the government; this law, which 
has also at different times been adopted in all the states, 
has been most violently resisted by the priests, and 
has been abrogated and revived according to the faction 
which obtained the lead in the government. The con- 
gress of Costa Rica abrogated the usury laws in that 
state, which had prohibited the exacting of above six 
per cent, on money. This permission has again been 
most foolishly recalled, and though the interest actually 
paid on the very best security is from one to two per 
cent per month, laws at present exist in all the states 
prohibiting the charge of above six per cent per an- 
num. These laws are, however, as in all countries. 


easily evaded and only serve to encumber fair businesi^ 
transactions. The state of Honduras this year also 
attempted to put on a property tax, but it met with 
such universal resistance that it could not be collected ; 
the same result was afterwards experienced in the 
states of San Salvador and Guatemala, people 
who would not attempt to resist a forced contribution 
of some thousand dollars, refusing to pay a legally 
imposed tax of four or five. This appears to be part 
of the national character of all the Spanish descend- 
ants, who will, without a murmur submit to be 
robbed by an insurgent government, but will take 
every means to avoid the payment of the most neces- 
sary duties and taxes, however fairly and moderately 

About the end of this year some insurrections took 
place in Honduras, but these being quelled by the 
interference of General Morazan, and the government 
settled, the whole of the states were in a state of 
entire tranquillity, during this, and nearly all the 
succeeding year, 1830 and 1831, being the longest 
period of entire quiet which has been enjoyed by 
Central America. The state of Costa Sica remained 
separated from the rest during 1830, being reunited 
to the federal government in the beginning of 1831 ; 
but under the peaceable administration of Juan Mora, 
this state had wonderfully increased in wealth and 
prosperity, its retired position enabling the government 
to avoid meddling in the disputes which in the interim 
had convulsed all the other states- Mora was elected 
in 1824, re-elected in 1829, and continued governor 
of the state to the end of 1832. In the month of 
June 1830, the British authorities of Belize took 

I 6 

if^m/tmtmmmmmmmmmim^mnm ■■ ■ 


possession of the island of Roafan^ off the coast of 
Honduras, and always considered as having formed 
part of the Spanish captain-generalship of Guatemala, 
and afterwards of the republic of Central America ; 
but upon a complaint being made by the federal 
government it was abandoned, the British government 
disallowing the act of the Belize superintendent. Still, 
it would appear that the island is claimed by the 
British, who have prevented the republic from colon- 
ising it though they have not themselves taken formal 

In February 1831 the federal congress, upon the 
suggestion of Captain Chitty of the French ship of 
war Diana, passed a decree authorising the negotia- 
tion of a treaty of commerce with the French govern- 
ment, which treaty was signed in Paris in the month 
of June 1832 ; but some of the articles not being 
approved by the federal senate they declined to ratify 
it, and nothing was finally agreed on, so that Central 
America has never negotiated any treaty except with 
the United States of North America, and as this 
expired some years ago, it has at present no treaty 
with any foreign power. 

In June 1830, the assembly of Guatemala declared 
the archbishop of that state a traitor, confiscating 
his property and banishing him for ever from the 
state ; this decree was reversed on the return of the 
servile party to power in 1839, but the archbishop, 
who in the interim had taken up his abode in -the 
Island of Cuba, refused to return and remained till 
his death, in 1845, when his bones were sent to 
Guatemala for interment. 

The federal congress also decreed that the appoint- 



tnent of church dignities pertained to the nation and 
should be made by the president of the republic ; 
and also prohibited the sale of papal bulls of all 
descriptions, without the previous consent of the 
executive government. This last decree has been a 
severe blow to the papal dominion in Central America, 
as although the government of some of the states has 
since done away with the prohibition, the people in 
the meantime had learnt to do without them, so that 
they failed in re-establishing the traffic. 

In May 1830, the legislature of Honduras passed 
a law, permitting the marriage of secular priests ; 
this liberal enactment, which was, it is said, brought 
forward by the express desire of the deputy bishop 
of the state, was shortly afterwards abrogated ; but 
about the same time a law was passed declaring that 
the illegitimate children of all priests should succeed 
to their father's property in the same manner as if 
they were legitimate,— a law which is still in force. 
By the laws of Spain, adopted by Central America, 
the whole of a man's property must be equally divided 
among his family, and he can leave nothing to any 
other person provided he has legitimate children ; thus 
it would appear, that concubinage is legally autho- 
rised to the clergy, though marriage is prohibited. 

The years 1830 and 1831, were noted by the 
establishment of a school in Guatemala, on the Lan- 
casterian principle; and universities, supported by 
government, in San Salvador and Leon. 

During the civil wars, bands of robbers had sprung 
up in different parts of the country, which were 
attacked and exterminated by General Morazan's 
government. Agriculture and commerce began to 


revive; the cultivation of indigo in the state of 
San Salvador^ which had greatly fallen off^ again 
reached 7000 bales annual produce^ while the culti* 
vation of cochineal had been successfully introduced 
in the state of Guatemala^ and that of coffee in Costa 

In the month of November 1831^ Ramon Guzman^ 
governor of the castle of Omoa, being recalled^ refused 
to resign his command and endeavoured to excite 
an insurrection against the federal government, but 
finding no adherents he hoisted the Spanish fiag and 
solicited assistance from Cuba ; and failing in his 
application, he was at the end of five months de- 
livered up to the federal general, Colonel Agustin 
Guzman, by his troops, the Spanish fiag being 
dragged through the streets of Omoa tied to a horse's 

At the commencement of 1832, all the elements of 
discord, which had slumbered for two years, seemed 
to break out with fresh vigour. The legislative as- 
sembly of San Salvador on the 7th of January, 
declared the federal compact at an end and refused 
to acknowledge the authorities of the republic. The 
president of the republic, who, with his ministers, 
was proceeding to San Salvador to investigate the 
alleged grievances of that state, having reached Santa 
Ana on his journey, was compelled to return to 
Guatemala. But General Morazan, having collected 
forces in Honduras and Nicaragua, defeated the San 
Salvador forces near San Miguel on the 14th of 
March, and marching onward without further re- 
sistance laid seige to the city of San Salvador on the 
26th of the same month ; and having after two days' 


resistance taken the city, put all the officers of the 
existing government in prison, afterwards sending 
them with a guard of troops to Guatemala for trial. 
He then declared himself president of the state of 
San Salvador as well as of the republic ; and having 
chosen a new government from among his own 
adherents, all the acts of the late government were 
declared illegal, and its members were ordered to 
refund all the money they had received on account 
of their salaries from the public treasury, and to 
forfeit all claims they might have against the 

On the 24th of October the new authorities of San 
Salvador, having in order to maintain the govern- 
ment decreed a property tax, the people resisted its 
collection in every part, and the government were 
not only forced to abandon the collection but to 
leave the capital and proceed to the town of San 
Vicente. Perceiving that the rage of the people 
was not calmed, the governor, Mariano Prado, re- 
signed. San Miguel was afterwards taken by 
Colonel Benites, and several of the insurgents were 
capitally punished ; but the government of Central 
i America have always found it impossible to enforce 

! direct taxation, which the ignorant people consider 

! as unjustifiable robbery ; hence when the duties on 

j imports fall short, their only resource is to exact a 

• forced contribution from the merchants and others 

who have got a little ready capital. Tliis destructive 
^. alternative has gradually ruined the industry and 

^ ■ enterprise of all parties ; and the first step towards 

the commencement of a better system must be the 
enforcement of reasonable taxes, collected if neces- 




sary under military protection, by which alone the 
ruinous system can be avoided. 

On the 3rd of December, 1832, the representative 
assembly of Nicaragua declared that state separated 
from the rest, until certain alterations which they 
proposed were made in the federal constitution, and 
proceeded to take possession of the customs' duties 
and apply them to the purposes of the state govern- 
ment. The state of San Salvador adopted the same 
measures in the month of February following ; Hon- 
duras in the month of May ; and Costa Rica in the 
month of September, leaving the federal government 
only the duties collected in Guatemala. The dis- 
contented states having proposed the calling of a 
new federal congress, the federal government accor- 
dingly issued writs for that purpose, on the 20th of 
April 1833; but as the smaller states insisted on 
sending an equal number of representations as Gua- 
temala (which possessed a population nearly equal to 
all the rest jointly), and refused to elect representatives 
on any other principle, no elections took place under 
this summons ; and although Guatemala afterwards 
even agreed to the principle of an equal repre- 
sentation, and part of the states elected deputies for 
the new Congress, subsequent events prevented it 
from ever assembling, and the old Congress continued 
the only representative body of the federation. A 
faction, calling itself the Reform Association, in the 
town of Managua in Nicaragua, declared itself sepa- 
rated from the existing government of the state, and 
refused to acknowledge the acting president, Dionisio 
Herrera. Masaga and Matagalpa took part with the 
insurgents, and Leon and Granada with the govern- 


ment ; and after a number of skirmishes attended with 
a considerable loss of life^ and an entire state of 
anarchy in all parts of the country, the government 
' party obtained the advantage, and captured Managua 

I on the 29th of June, the insurgents being killed or 

dispersed. This insurrection appears to have been 
I excited by agents of Spain, as a number of prints 

•■ were discovered in Managua, bearing on one side the 

' likeness of Ferdinand VII., and on the other a priest 

in the attitude of preaching, with the words " God 
r save Ferdinand VII., king of Spain and the Indies." 

On the 24th of July of this year, Ajiastasia Aquino, 
an Indian native of the aboriginal town of Santiago 
Nunuaico, having formed a conspiracy for the de-» 
struction of the white and coloured population, and 
the establishment of a native government in the state 
of San Salvador, collected a large body of Indians 
and proceeded to attack the neighbouring towns, 
putting to death the whites and mestizoes ; but being 
defeated by the government troops in an attack upon 
San Vicente, he and all his followers were captured 
and immediately put to death, and orders given to 
hunt down the Indians in every part. Very few how- 
ever were put to death, beyond those who had taken 
an active part in the insurrection. 

On the second of May, 1832, the federal congress 
passed an act of entire religious freedom throughout 
I the republic, permitting the inhabitants to profess 

I any religion they might choose, and to preach it 

! privately and publicly; this law was approved and 

. passed by all the state legislators, but it would 

appear to have been far too liberal, considering the 
state of the country and the ignorance and bigotry 


of the lower ordere, who being entirely guided by the 
Koiuan Catholic prieatSf were taught by them to 
believe that every thing done to weaken the authority 
of the Church of Kome was a sacrilegious outrage. 
Trom the amall number of strangers in Central Ame- 
rica this law was also quite unimportant, for, if all the 
protestants in the republic were united they would 
not amount to half a hundred. The law has since been 
abrogated in all the states, except San Salvador, 
the religious worship of persons dissenting from the 
Church of Rome being limited to their own houses. 
On the 15th of July, the legislature of the state of 
Guatemala decreed the entire abolition of tithes, which 
bad previously been reduced to one half; this law was 
abrogated in 1839, and again enforced; a measure 
which took place in all the states according to the 
nature of the party in power. At present the impost 
nominally exists in all the etatea, except San Sal- 
vador ; but the resistance to all direct taxation nearly 
prevents the collection of this, as it has done of all 
other imposts, so that it produces next to nothing, and 
the priests have to subsist almost entirely from the fees 
of marriages, baptisms, burials, masses, &c., and vo- 
luntary contributions exacted from the lower orders. 
In the month of August, the state of San Salvador 
established trial by jury in all cases, and their ex- 
ample was followed by Nicaragua, and Guatemala 
in 1835 ; but this law, like many others, proved too 
liberal for so backward a state of society ; and instead 
of producing any benefit, has caused continual oppo- 
sition and disturbances, and has gradually been dis- 
used, and finally legally abolished. 
_ In August 1832, the federal congress adopted the 


singular resolution of a general mourning for the 
death of Jeremy Bentham, the act being, as it would 
appear, copied from that of the French Chamber of 
Deputies with reference to Benjamin Franklin. 

On the 5th of Frebruary, 1834, the federal con- 
gress removed its sitting to Sonsonate, in the state of 
San Salvador, in accordance with a restriction which 
had been passed by that body in the preceding June ; 
and in the succeeding June again removed to the 
city of San Salvador, which then became the capital 
of the republic. This arrangement seemed in every 
respect a proper one, as the situation of San Sal- 
vador is nearly central, while that of Guatemala is 
j far removed from the greater part of the states; 

still the act would really appear to have been ill 
j advised, as from Guatemala being the largest and 

I richest city, its concurrence was of most importance, 

! and the dissatisfaction at seeing the importance of 

j their city reduced by the removal of the government 

i has in a great measure caused the revolt of that state, 

I and finally the dissolution of the federal government. 

I In the month of February, 1835, the city of San 

i Salvador, and the surrounding district for ten leagues, 

was erected into a federal department, and con- 
tinued to be the nominal capital of the republic, till 
it was again resumed by the state government on 
the dissolution of the federation. 

This, like many of the national acts, was manifestly 
copied from the United States of North America with- 
out taking into account the very different circumstances 
of the two countries. On the 13th of February, 
i, 1835, the federal congress decreed anew constitution 

for the republic upon the basis of that of 1824, but 


it was universally disapproved, and rejected by all 
the states except Costa Kica, from not containing the 
alterations and reforms which they had desired. 

In May, 1834, the towns of Granada and Metapa, 
In Nicaragua, rebelled against the government of that 
state, at the instigation of Colonel Candio Flores 
who aspired to the chief command. The insurgents 
at first obtained some advantages, defeating some 
government troops sent against them, and took 
possession of the town of Managua ; but on the 13th 
of August, being defeated and driven out by the 
government troops, Granada was invested and taken 
after three days siege ; and four of the leaders of the 
insurrection were publicly executed, and the re- 
mainder dispersed. 

On the 23rd of June of the same year, the state 
government of San Salvador having passed a number 
of laws disapproved by the federal government, pre- 
pared again to assert its independence by force: a 
sanguinary engagement took place between the troops 
of the state, commanded by Colonel Jose Dolore 
Castillo, and the federal troops of the garrison, com- 
manded by General Salazar, and after an engagement 
of five hours' duration, and the loss of about three 
hundred men, victory declared in favour of the federal 

The success of the federal party was followed up 
by the proscription of the San Salvador government, 
which was afterwards administered by the vice-pre- 
sident of the republic, and the state congress dis- 
solved. It is certainly a remarkable trait in the 
Central American character, that the two govern- 
ments, appointed by General Morazan within two 


years time, both opposed his measures and finally took 
up arms against the supreme government of which 
he was the head. To this they were apparently forced 
by the strong dislike shown by the people of the 
state to his government; yet, we shall shortly see 
the same people supporting him against all the rest 
of the republic. 

The month of September, 1835, exhibited the rare 
occurrence of an insurrection in the peaceable little 
state of Costa Kica, which had all along so happily 
continued exempt from the disturbances which dis- 
tracted all the other states of Central America. This 
insurrection was supposed to have been excited by 
the priests who were enraged at the adoption, by the 
legislature, of a law suppressing tithes in imitation 
of similar acts passed by all the other states. 

The municipality of Cartago, the old capital of the 
state, having declared itself separated from the state 
government invited the other towns to join it and 
assemble a new congress, to be popularly elected by 
universal suiSrage, whereas by the laws of Costa Kica, 
electors must possess lands worth one hundred dollars. 
The towns of Heridiaand Alhajuela took part with the 
insurgents, and having assembled an armed force of 
about two thousand men, marched to attack the go- 
vernment in the city of San Jos^; but being defeated 
in two engagements by the party which adhered to 
government, the insurgent towns had to surrender at 
discretion, the most active parties in the revolt having 
made their escape. 

The proceedings of the federal and state con- 
gresses in 1834 and 1835, are of little importance; 
the states of Guatemala and Costa Eica suppressei) 


all the holidays of the Koman Catholic Church, 
except Sundays, and five other days in the year. 
This measure, however, could never be carried into 
effect owing to the bigotry of the lower classes, 
who at the instigation of the priests denounced the 
act of the legislature as an impious attempt to 
profane the holy festivals of the Church. Hence 
it had no result beyond making the government 
hated by the lower orders, and precipitating the 
fall of the liberal party ; and though the law is 
etill in existence, the endless festivals of the 
Komish calendar are, as before, universally cele- 
brated by idleness and every sort of debauchery. 
It is too evident that, until the people are better 
instructed, the enactment of more liberal laws is not 
only useless, but gives demagogues an opportunity of 
exciting the brutal feelings of the mob for their own 
selfish purposes. 

The year 1836 forms one of the very few periods 
of repose in all parts of the republic, but, unfortu- 
nately, as no progress was made towards the final 
establishment of a settled government, it can only 
be compared to one of the intervals between the 
eruptions of one of the active volcanoes, which form 
so apt an emblem of the people in the country where 
they are situated. The year was signalised by the 
establishment of a British settlement by a company 
got up in England ; the situation chosen for the 
establishment was the Boca Nueva, in the depart- 
ment of Vera Paz, state of Guatemala. The pro- 
jected town was to be called Abbotsville. The first 
emigrants arrived in July of this year, and alto- 
gether about a thousand individuals went thither 


for the purpose of settling. But the climate, as 
might have been expected from its being the coast 
of a tropical country covered with rank vegeta- 
tion, proved very fatal to the new settlers; and 
the affairs of the company, being conducted by men 
quite ignorant of the country, were mismanaged. 
Hence it declined rapidly, and in two years' time 
was entirely abandoned to the ruin of the share- 
holders in the company, and the emigrants who had 
been induced to settle in so ill-selected a situation. 
Some few of them still remain in other parts of Cen- 
tral America, but the majority of the survivors 
either returned to England or went to the West 
Indies or United States. It seems a most singular 
infatuation in Europeans to attempt colonising on 
pestiferous shores under a burning sun, where no 
native of a temperate region, not even those of the 
interior of the same country, can enjoy tolerable 
health. Had they, instead, secured lands on the de- 
lightful banks of the Lake of Nicaragua, or on the 
table lands of Guatemala or Costa Rica, with a com- 
munication to the nearest port, the result might 
have been very different ; but the failure of most 
colonies lately founded, no doubt arose from their 
being undertaken by people strangers to the country 
and the climate where they were to be established ; 
and it is to be hoped, that if such schemes are again 
undertaken, persons acquainted with the country 
will previously be consulted. 

The commencement of the year 1836 was marked 
by a recurrence of the often repeated distractions in 
the state of Nicaragua. A part of the garrison of 
Leon, commanded by Branlio Mondiolo, rose against 

^ - 


the government and murdered the governor. Colonel 
Jos^ Zepeda; but the vice-governor, Jos^ Nunez, 
having collected a body of troops defeated the in-- 
surgents, and having taken their leader prisoner put 
him immediately to death. 

On the first day of the year, the Livingstone code 
of laws, which had been adopted by the state legis- 
lature in 1834, was put in execution, and the new 
court for trial by jury was formally opened in 
Guatemala on the 23rd of January, and successively 
in the other ten districts of the state. 

This system had the same unfortunate result as 
all the laws prematurely copied from more enlightened 
states, and formed one of the principal causes of the 
disasters and revolution in Guatemala, and of the 
ruin of the federal government; and so great was 
the discontent of the people, and the clamour raised 
against it, that in the succeeding year it was found 
necessary to suspend the law ; nor has it since been 
revived ; the only part of the code still in force 
being the law " of habeas corpus," though this also has 
become a dead letter in most cases. This code of 
laws was, also, in the same year adopted by the 
federal congress, but caused more or less discontent 
in all the states and was soon discontinued and the 
old Spanish law reverted to. 

On the 6th of March, a serious disturbance took 
place in the town of San Juan Ostuncala, the people, 
who were nearly all aborigines, being provoked at 
being compelled to work at the construction of 
prisons, and excited against the new laws, rose en 
fnasscy to attack the circuit judges, at that time 
holding theii: first court of justice in the town. They 


and the officers accompanying them were compelled 
to save themselves from the popular indignation \)y 
a precipitate flight. The magistrate of the district, 
escorted by a troop of dragoons, proceeded to re- 
monstrate with the Indians ; but he had no sooner 
begun to speak than they directed against him a 
shower of stones. An engagement then took place 
between the mob and the dragoons, when the former 
was dispersed with considerable loss after killing 
twenty-four of the dragoons. The Indians left behind 
them an idol and a jar filled with stones collected from 
the bed of a neighbouring river. It appears that they 
had been made to believe that the jar, if broken at the 
moment of the attack, would throw lightning upon 
the enemy, and, by enchantment, a number of veno- 
mous snakes were to rush out from a neighbouring 
wood and bite the soldiers ; -— an event which was to 
be brought about by the assistance of the old gods 
of the country, which, though nominally discarded 
by the Indians, are always recurred to in times of 
necessity, as the Romish superstition is by those in 
Europe pirofessing a purer creed. The idol was a 
monstrous figure of a man seated cross-legged, with 
the head reclining upon the back, and the arms, en- 
compassing an enormous belly, hanging down from 
the throat, being doubtless one of the old idols which 
had been concealed from the careful search of the 
inquisition. The figure is still preserved in Guatemala. 
On the 19th of April, the first case of cholera 
morbus made its appearance in Guatemala; and a 
little sooner or later it found its way into all 
parts of the republic successively, being particu- 
larly faial in Amatitlan and some other towns^ 



where most of the houses were deserted, and all 
industry at an end for two months ; but it gradu- 
ally disappeared every where, towards the end of the 

The 9th of June of the same year was also 
fatally remarkable for the commencement of an in- 
surrection among the lower orders, which eventually 
overturned the existing government and destroyed 
the federation. The people having been excited 
against the new law of trial by jury by the priests 
and other ill-disposed persons, and persuaded that' 
the cholera was caused by the poisoning of all the 
rivers and springs by the government agents, in 
several instances murdered the doctors who were 
sent by the authorities to visit the towns where the 
cholera was prevalent, and began to collect in bodies, 
under different chiefs inimical to regular government 
or hoping to exalt themselves in a general anarchy. 
Of these meetings the largest and most formidable 
was held on the 9th of June, in the town of Santa 
Rosa, in the district of Mita. It attracted the 
especial notice of government, which deemed it 
necessary no longer to defer the measures for 
suppressing the insurrection : and accordingly, the 
magistrate of the district was despatched with an 
escort of forty dragoons and a strong body of 
infantry, with instructions to attempt in the first 
instance to dissolve the assembly quietly, but if 
unable to do so, to make use of force. That func- 
tionary having incautiously advanced with the dra- 
goons, without waiting for the rest of the force, no 
sooner began to practise the legal formalities for dis- 
persing the mob, than they broke out with cries 


of execration against juries and poisoners, and at- 
tacking the troop of dragoons, killed a part and put 
the rest to flight. The principal leader of the mob 
on this occasion was Kafael Carrera, who afterwards 
had so fatal an influence on the destiny of the re- 
public At this time he was about one and twenty 
years of age, a dark-coloured and extremely ill-look- 
ing mestizo. It appears that, when a boy, he had 
been servant to a woman in Amatitlan of the name 
of Hertuides Dias, and afterwards had been occupied 
in driving pigs for sale from the country to Guatemala 
and other large towns ; and, having by his talent 
acquired considerable influence among the aboriginal 
natives in the district of Mita, he used it to excite 
them against the government, circulating among 
these ignorant beings the story that the cholera 
morbus was caused by the poisoning of the waters. 
He and his followers, however, disappeared on the 
sight of a strong body of troops, but though often 
defeated, he has always contrived to re-assemble his 
followers in greater force. He is undoubtedly a man of 
great natural talent, but of a violent temper, exces*< 
sively ignorant, and, consequently, led principally by 
designing ill-principled persons. Though supported, 
and finally induced to enter Guatemala by the servile 
party (at the head of whom are the self-called nobles 
and old Spaniards), in the hope that he would serve 
as their instrument, he has proved too cunning foi; 
them, and instead of being (as they intended) removed 
when he had suited their purpose, he has kicked away 
the ladder by which he mounted to power; and 
having possessed himself of absolute authority, has 

K 2 


the good sense to employ liberal ministers in thd 

On the 15th of June, a strong body of government 
troops attacked and dispersed the insurgents of Mita, 
in the vicinity of the town of Matequesquintla, 
making a great slaughter of the Indians ; and after- 
wards entered and plundered the town, treating 
the inhabitants with such cruelty that they were 
driven to desperation, and every subsequent attempt 
at reconciliation rendered impossible. The Indians 
showed a desperate courage, and readily sacrificed 
their lives, urged on as they were by the priests, 
who promised heaven to all who were killed in the 
war ; so that though often dispersed they continued 
to re-assemble, and like bees attacked their supposed 
oppressors, who were tired out by the impossibility 
of following them and the interminable nature of the 

The new legislative body of Guatemala met in 
extraordinary session on the 16th of June, when 
acrimonious disputes passed between the ministerial 
and opposition parties. The president, in order to 
attempt a pacification, appointed as new ministers, 
Juan Jose Acynena, and Manuel 2iebadua, who were 
supposed to be neutral, or if any thing, favourable 
to the servile interest ; but as they were men of no 
talent, they entirely failed in effecting a reconcilia- 
tion, and were soon dismissed with the hatred and 
contempt of both parties, the political horizon daily 
wearing a more threatening aspect. 

This year a treaty was also made with the inde- 
pendent tribe of Indians^ called Menche, inhabiting 
the N.E. part of the state of Guatemala, by which 


they agreed to place themgelves under the protection 
of the republic of Central America. They were to 
be allowed six years before being subjected to the 
laws of the republic, and no alteration was to be 
made in their religion or in the law permitting plu-^ 
rality of wives ; yet this treaty has continued entirely 
a dead letter, and the states of Central America have 
found too much employment in their own affairs to 
permit their interfering with the Indians, who con- 
tinue to live in their own way. 

In the commencement of 1838, strong symptoms of 
disaffection to the state government having shown 
themselves in several of the departments of Gua- 
temala, the government declared those of Sacate- 
pequez and Guatemala in a state of rebellion, and 
proclaimed martial law. The same disturbances con- 
tinued throughout the year without intermission. 

On the 18 th of January, the city of Old Gua- 
temala, capital of the department of Sacatepequez, 
separated itself from the state, and invested with 
supreme power a provisional government, which 
placed itself directly under the protection of the 
federal government, and declared that of Guatemala 
in a state of insurrection. 

This example was followed by the department of 
Chiquimula on the 25th of the month, and five days 
afterwards by the departments of Salamar and Vera 
Paz, thus leaving the whole state in complete anarchy. 

On the 26th of January, one of the battalions of 
the troops in Guatemala rose against the government, 
demanding the re-establishment of the ministers dis- 
missed on the 13th of November preceding, and of 

K 3 


Don Mariano Galvez, the governor, whose resignation 
had been forced by the opposition party. This 
insurrection hastened the attack of the different in- 
surgents upon the capital. On the 30th of the 
same month, the troops of Old Guatemala and the 
insurgents of Mita laid siege to Guatemala; and 
after four days defence, the small garrison was forced 
to retif e, and the city submitted to the authority of 
Don Pedro Velasquez, who took upon himself the 
government in place of Mariano Galvez, who had 
administered it for two years with great moderation. 
The people of Guatemala in this, as in most other 
disputes, showed the most perfect apathy with regard 
to the result, and neither attempted to defend the 
government of their selection, nor dispute the will of 
the victors. 

On the 2nd of February, the departments of the 
Altos, apparently disgusted with the weakness and 
insecurity of the Guatemala government, separated 
themselves for the purpose of forming a sixth in- 
dependent state in the federation of Central America, 
and established a provisional government, composed 
of Messrs. Marcelo Malino, Jose M. Galvez, and 
Jose A. Aguilar. On the 5th of June following, 
the new state was recognised by the federal con- 
gress, and the provinces of Quesaltenango, Tona- 
necapan, and Solala were declared for ever separated 
from Guatemala; but this new state had a very 
ephemeral existence, being re-incorporated with Gua- 
temala about a year afterwards. The opposition 
party, being now triumphant in Guatemala, made 
an entire change in the government, and behaved 
most violently towards the other parties, thus opening 


the passage to another faction, which was soon to 
overwhelm them all, and to treat the ignorant quacks 
pretending to administer the government as they 
deserved, but at the same time to sweep away the 
last vestige of liberty. 

On the 30th of March, General Morazan, the pre- 
sident of the republic, opened the first campaign 
against the insurgents of Mita, repulsing them in the 
valley of Mataquesquintla ; but after three months 
of continued marches, counter-marches, and skir- 
mishes, the president, though victorious in every 
engagement, found the enemy increase instead of 
diminishing, and the cunning of Carrera seemed to 
be more than a match for the bravery of General 
Morazan, who was forced to return to Guatemala 
without having made any real progress in the subju- 
gation of the insurgents. A second campaign, un- 
dertaken in the month of November, was brought to 
a close by treaties made at the end of the year. 
The people and government of Guatemala finally 
alarmed at the progress made by the insurgents, and 
the government seeing that it had lost its credit with 
all parties, it was determined that all the authorities 
of the state should resign their ofiices into the hands 
of the president of the republic, and that during his 
absence the chief authority should be vested in the 
commander-in-chief of the army, associated with 
two other officers, while the election of a new house 
of representatives was taking place, which should 
have competent authority to re-organise the govern- 
ment. The vice-president, Valenzuela, being made 
aware of this determination, resigned on the 23rd 

K 4 


of July, and Mariano Bivera Paz, as president 
of the council, entered upon the office of chief 
magistrate. The people, who had assembled in a 
tumultuous manner to act against the government, 
were no sooner aware of this arrangement and the 
promise to call a new representative assembly, than 
they at once dispersed, and public tranquillity was 
thus restored for a brief period. 

The new government immediately reversed all the 
former decrees of proscription, pardoning all anterior 
acts, and decreeing a general oblivion of all that had 
occurred from the 15th of September, 1821, to that 

In the month of August, General Morazan, having 
been forced to proceed to San Salvador, for the pur- 
pose of quelling a revolt got up by Francisco Males- 
pein and other demagogues, the insurgents of Mita, 
commanded by Kafael Carrera, attacked and de- 
feated the federal troops, under the command of 
Colonel Bonilla, in the plains of Xalapa; and so 
complete was the overthrow, that he could only save 
a small part of his force by retiring into the state of 
San Salvador. After this success, the insurgents 
increased in numbers and confidence, and advanced 
towards the capital of Guatemala in such large force 
that there appeared no possibility of resisting them. 
Diverging, however, to the town of Fatapa, they there 
again defeated the government troops, under Colonel 
Fonseca (who had only intended to reconnoitre the 
ground), but, by the forwardness of their leader, he 
was brought to an engagement, and pursuing their 
advantage, the insurgents made a rapid advance 
upon Old Guatemala, which they occupied the fol- 


lowing day without resistance, exercising the greatest 
cruelties upon the inhabitants^ and plundering a 
great part of the city: but on the 11th of September 
General Salazar, at the head of about nine hundred 
troops, encountered the insurgents in the town of 
Villa Nueva, returning from the plunder of Old 
Guatemala, and the country being covered with a 
dense fog, which is very common in this district 
(being merely a cloud resting on the table land), the 
government forces were enabled to form for the 
attack before the insurgents were aware of their pre- 
sence, and thus suddenly attacked, they were easily 
defeated and slau&^htered in g^i^eat numbers by the 
victors, who pursued them iL the houses in the 
town, and bayoneted them without mercy, leaving 
about five hundred of the Indians dead. The re- 
mainder, with their leader Carrera, fled in the great- 
est disorder ; and had they been promptly pursued, 
it appears probable that the faction of Mita might 
have been entirely extinguished; but General Sa- 
lazar, owing to disputes with the other commanders, 
was obliged to proceed to Ghiatemala, where he 
resigned his commission in disgust; and, though 
he was afterwards induced to resume the command, 
the insurgents in the interior again gained head, 
and the opportunity of crushing them was for ever 

On the 25th of October the Mita insurgents, who 
had again collected in force, made an incursion 
into the state of San Salvador, as far as the town of 
Santa Ana, which, together with Ahnachapan, and 
other towns on the road, was put under contribution 

K 5 


by them. Having with great celerity repassed the 
river Naz, which separates the states of San Salvador 
and Guatemala, they attacked Colonel Carballo, 
commanding a division of government troops at Che- 
quimalilla, but were repulsed with the loss of about 
150 ihen. During the succeeding month a number of 
skirmishes took place, without any decided result ; 
but on the 23rd of December, a treaty was made 
between the insurgents and government, by which 
the former agreed to deliver up their arms and 
recognise the existing authorities of the state ; the 
government pledging itself in return, to name their 
leader, Carrera, commander of the district of Mita, 
and not in any way to punish the late acts of the 
insurgents. This convention was ratified by the 
president of the republic immediately after, thus 
evidently showing the weakness of government, who 
were obliged to leave in Carrera's hands an official 
authority to keep up his troops, and the actual power 
of making himself more formidable than ever. 

On the 30th of May of the same year, the federal 
congress passed an act enabling the government of 
each state to make such laws as it might deem 
proper, without the consent of the federal govern- 
ment, merely acknowledging its authority in external 
relations and the collection of custom-house duties. 
This liberty, which had in reality existed for some 
years previously, was one of the last steps towards 
the total dissolution of the federation, which took 
place soon after. 

On the 20th of July, the twelfth and last session of 
the federal congress was closed, the president being 
Don Basilio Porras ; shortly afterwards, the different 


states proclaimed their independence, and they have 
since been unable to agree among themselves in the 
formation of a national government. In the month 
of October, the representative assembly of the state 
of Guatemala also dissolved itself. 

The state legislature of Nicaragua assembled in 
the month of May (Pedro Solis being elected pre- 
sident), for the purpose of revising the constitution 
of that state ; and in the succeeding month, declared 
the state of Nicaragua free and independent of the 
federation and all other governments till a new 
agreement should be made between the states form-^ 
ing the republic of Central America. 

Costa Rica was also subjected to a change of 
government but, as usual, without bloodshed. Branlio 
Carrillo, the late chief of that state, having excited 
an insurrection against the legal governor, Manuel 
Aguilar, the latter was deposed and Carrillo vested 
with the supreme command. This chief, who seemed 
to be a man of considerable talent, though, as it 
would appear, destitute of personal courage, having 
compelled the representative assembly to proclaina 
the state independent and separate from the rest of 
Central America, established an absolute government, 
his will being the only law in every thing, and the 
lives and property of all the inhabitants entirely at 
his disposal, so that for four years this little state 
was submitted to a more absolute despotism than 
even exists in Russia or Turkey ; still he encouraged 
all sorts of industry, made good roads and bridges, 
and, what is still more extraordinary in America, 
paid the principal and interest of the part of the 
foreign debt pertaining to the state of Costa Bica. 

K 6 


Being enabled by its retired situation to avoid all 
interference with the other governments^ the state, 
during his administration, increased in an unparalleled 
degree in industry and wealth, and the people seemed 
to have acquired a taste for improvement which was 
afterwards continued. Thus the state which was once 
the poorest, became the richest province (for its popu- 
lation and extent) in Central America. 

The second constituent assembly of the state of 
Honduras having met on the 7th of October, elected 
for president Jos^ Santiaga Buezo ; and the muni- 
cipality of the town of Tegucigalpa, having declared 
it separated from the rest of the states (until the 
government decreed its independence and resumed 
the custom-houses and duties of the state), removing 
the governor of the department, and placing itself, 
in the interim, under the protection of the Nicaragua 
government, the assembly was forced to decree 
the absolute independence of the state, which they 
did by a decree bearing date the 5th of Novem- 
ber, thus leaving the federal authority entirely 
abrogated in three of the states forming the nominal 
republic. The states of San Salvador, Guatemala, 
and the new state of the Altos, jBtill adhered to the 
federal government, which however could never re- 
gain its lost authority and was clearly hastening to 
its fall. 

On the 18th of January, the states of Honduras 
and Nicaragua, having formed mutual treaties of 
alliance, proceeded to join their forces and invade 
San Salvador, then the only stronghold of the federal 

On the Ist of February of the year 1839, General 


Morazan concluded his second legal period as pre- 
sident of the republic, to which he was never again 
legally elected; and, though the semblance of a fede- 
ral government was kept up some time longer in 
the state of San Salvador, the republic of Central 
America may properly be considered as dissolved 
from this date. 





In the month of March, 1839, the troops of Nica- 
ragua, consisting of about two thousand men, entered 
the state of San Salvador, with the professed object 
of freeing that state from the dominion of General 
Morazan, who continued to call himself president of 
the republic, and to keep up the form of a federal 
government in the capital of San Salvador, the only 
state which still adhered to the federal government. 
On the 15 th of March, the federal troops were de- 
feated by those of Nicaragua at the river Lempa, and 
the victors marched forward and took possession of 
San Vicente without further resistance ; but after- 
wards, proceeding onwards towards the capital of 
San Salvador, they were in their turn routed by the 
San Salvador troops commanded by Colonel Benitez, 
and driven back with some loss. The troops of 
Nicaragua, as usual, were a disorderly rout of 
half naked savages, and were received with terror by 
the more civilised inhabitants of San Salvador. 
Their career was everywhere marked by robbery, 
bloodshed, and unheard of cruelties, which will long be 
remembered in the state. Indeed, the crimes imputed 


to these wretches would hardly be believed in a 
civilised country. 

The defeated troops of Nicaragua, having retreated, 
were joined by a force of Honduras troops, com- 
manded by General Francisco Ferrera, and again 
advanced without resistance to the river Lempa, 
where, on the 6th of April, they were met by the 
forces of San Salvador, commanded by General Mo- 
razan ; and though the force of the latter was not 
half as large as that commanded by General Ferrera, 
they commenced the attack with. great fury; and 
after an engagement of two hours' duration, the 
united forces of Honduras and Nicaragua were 
totally routed, with the loss of upwards of three hun- 
dred men, and forced to fly in the greatest disorder. 
This victory was principally owing to the personal 
valour of General Morazan, who charged the enemy 
with great fury and determination, and received a 
severe wound in the right arm. General Morazan 
being fully occupied in the state of San Salvador, 
deputed General Cabanas to pursue the enemy into 
Honduras ; and this leader, following up the success, 
defeated the Honduras troops in several engage- 
ments, and on the 28th of August, entered and took 
possession of Comayagua, the capital of Honduras ; 
but General Ferrera, having after his defeat collected 
another force of 2000 men in Honduras and Nicaragua, 
entered the state of San Salvador by another route 
(giving the slip to Gen. Cabanas), and penetrating to 
the village of Pedro Perulapan, with the intention of 
joining the discontented party in the city of San 
Salvador, was there met by General Morazan at the 
head of 600 troops ; and notwithstanding their supe- 


riority in point of numbers (more than three to 
one), the troops commanded by General Ferrera 
were repulsed and routed with great slaughter; 
and General Cabanas having again encountered 
and routed the Honduras troops, took the city of 
Tegucigalpa, the largest town in Honduras, and the 
only one in possession of any commerce and riches. 
This, however, appeared to be the last success of 
that brave and noble-minded general, who was in 
the month of January following attacked by a 
very superior force of Honduras and Nicaragua 
troops, under the command of Colonel Quijano, and 
compelled to retreat from the state. The fall of 
General Morazan and the federal party was now 
evidently hastening, and had only been deferred a 
little by the bravery and talent of that generaL 

On the 16th of September, 1839, the mob of San 
Salvador rose against Morazan's authority ; but on 
his return to that city two days afterwards, the in- 
surgents fled without striking a blow, — his mere 
personal appearance, with a very small force, being 
sufficient to frighten his enemies, who afterwards had 
recourse to treachery and intrigue, though then 
freely pardoned by Morazan, as it would appear, in 
contempt for their cowardice. 

This year was noted for an entire revolution in 
Guatemala and the destruction of the liberal party, 
who had ruled since April 1829, and the final sepa- 
ration of that state from the federal government, 
which, indeed, only then nominally existed. 

On the 2l8t of March, Bafael Carrera, now digni-. 
fied with the name of general, at the head of about 
five thousand armed Indians, made a rapid incursion 


upon the city of Guatemala^ and the small garrison of 
300 troops being unable to offer him any opposi- 
tion^ and the citizens refusing to arm in their de- 
fence^ the city was taken without resistance. Car- 
rera exacted such terms as he thought proper from 
the terrified inhabitants, — these were the deposition 
of all the existing authorities, the restitution of 
Mariano Kir^ra Paz (who had been removed, in 
course of law, by the new government at the com- 
mencement of the year) to the supreme command, 
and the payment of 20,000 dollars to him and his 
Indians ; — depaands which appeared extremely mode- 
rate, as Guatemala lay entirely at his mercy. 

The new government declared all the acts of the 
former authorities illegal. Acting under Carrera's 
orders, who continued from this time to be the only 
real governor of the state, it proscribed and put to 
death all the opposite party who had not made their 
escape in time ; and by a decree, dated the 17th of 
April, declared the federal compact dissolved, and 
the state of Guatemala a sovereign and independent 
government. This decree was ratified by an as- 
sembly, called a representative council, summoned by 
the new government, and consisting, of course, only of 
their partisans. The new government afterwards 
made treaties of alliance with most of the other 
states, stipulating for mutual privileges in trade, 
which were also agreed on between most of the 
other states ; but in every other respect they were 
treated as foreign nations, though the empty name 
of the republic of Central America was still kept up. 
The new Guatemala government, being composed of 
the servile party, proceeded to abolish most of the 



liberal laws enacted by the preceding governments, 
and re-established the legal tribunal of the oonsolado, 
the commission of protection of the Indians, some of 
the suppressed convents, and other institutions abo- 
lished by the liberal party ; their apparent object 
being, as far as possible to revert to the state of 
the Spanish government, without, however, being 
able to restore the peace and security which it pos- 
sessed. The priests strongly pressed for the re-im- 
position of tithes, the resumption of the church 
property, and shortly after, the independence : but 
though many were well-inclined to adopt these mea- 
sures, Carrera prudently refused to create a power 
which would soon have overwhelmed him ; and the 
small remnant of liberty nominally preserved to the 
state of Guatemala would appear more to be owing 
to the prudent moderation of General Carrera, than 
any efforts made by the people themselves. 

The new governor took the title of president of 
the sovereign and independent state of Guatemala, 
— a title which was afterwards adopted in the states of 
Honduras and San Salvador; the government of 
Nicaragua adopting that of supreme director, and 
Costa Kica alone continuing the use of the ancient 
title, Gefe (chief or governor). 

The legislature of the state of Nicaragua this year 
ordered the new code of laws passed in 1837 to be 
put in force in that state. This, and the code of laws 
used in San Salvador, are said to be much simpler 
and better arranged than the old Spanish code which 
is still used in the other states. 

At the end of this year all the states of the no- 
minal republic, except Costa Rica, presented the sad 


appearance of anarchy and ruin ; all branches of 
industry being nearly at an end, the towns falling 
to ruin, the cultivation of the fields nearly aban- 
doned, and the inhabitants in a sad state of wretched- 
ness and demoralisation. 

In the commencement of 1840, the Indians of the 
new state of the Altos, enraged at being obliged to 
pay larger taxes to the new government than they 
had paid to that of Spain or Guatemala, and being 
excited by the priests, whose power the new govern- 
ment had attempted to diminish, rose in insur- 
rection in several places, being secretly encouraged 
by agents from Guatemala, the new administration 
of which hoped to re-annex the province ; for which 
purpose General Carrera invaded it with a strong 
force ; and another of the Guatemala leaders, Major- 
General Monteroso, having, on the 20th of January, 
attacked and defeated the division of Altos troops 
commanded by Colonel Carzo (who was proceeding 
by the coast of the Pacific, to effect a junction with 
the troops invading Guatemala from San Salvador, 
under the command of General Morazan), their leader 
and many of the oflicers were murdered by the Indians 
in their attempt to retreat, these ignorant wretches 
exhibiting a degree of savage cruelty to the unfor- 
tunate ofiicers of government who fell into their 
hands, before unheard of among the aborigines of 
Central America. 

On the succeeding day the other division of the 
invaders, under General Carrera, defeated and dis- 
persed the government troops guarding the pass of 
Solola, and entering Quesaltenango without further 
opposition, took prisoners the acting governor, Guz- 


many and all the authorities of government who had 
not made their escape. These unfortunate men were 
treated in the most brutal manner by Carrera and his 
Indians, many being put to death by slow torture. 
The ephemeral state of the Altos ceased from this 
time to exist, being re-incorporated with Guatemala. 

General Morazan, having determined to make a 
final attempt to recover his lost authority and re- 
establish the federal government, invaded Guatemala 
in the commencement of March, at the head of 
twelve hundred San Salvador troops ; and after se- 
veral skirmishes, in which he had the advantage, 
took possession of Guatemala on the 18th of the 
month ; but being there surrounded by 5000 troops, 
commanded by General Carrera, and abandoned in 
the most cowardly manner by the parties who 
had invited him to the city, he was forced, after 
a most desperate defence of twenty-two hours' 
duration, to retire, cutting his way through the ene- 
my with about half the troops which had entered. 
The greater number of the remainder, being unable 
to make their escape, were massacred by Carrera's 
men withont mercy, no quarter being given. A 
few of the officers took refuge in the British and 
French consulates; but a great part of the former, who 
were given up on the promise that they should have 
a legal trial, were immediately afterwards butchered 
in the streets. General Morazan managed his re- 
treat in a manner which would have reflected credit 
on a European general with European troops, and 
repulsed all the forces sent to pursue him. But, 
upon the news of his defeat in Guatemala, all the 
factions in San Salvador united against him, and 


seeing that further resistance was hopeless^ he em- 
barked on board the schooner Isalcho, from the port of 
Libertad, on the 5th of April, together with the late 
vice-president of the republic and thirty-five of his 
principal partisans and friends, and arrived safelj in 
the port of Valparaiso, in Chili. 

The defeat and banishment of Morazan was im- 
mediately followed by the invasion of the state of 
San Salvador by a large body of Indians, led by 
General Carrera (nominally in pursuit of General 
Morazan), who marked their career with robbery and 
desolation ; but having removed all the authorities 
of the late government, and replaced them with 
others supposed to be in his interest, he retired to 
the state of Guatemala, leaving, however, a hatred 
to himself and all his party which no time can 
ever obliterate. 

A new representative assembly, which met in the 
city of San Salvador in the month of July, declared 
all previous decrees of proscription void, and invited 
all exiles to return to the state. 

On the 20th of September, the commander of the 
troops in San Salvador persuaded his men to declare 
against the governor, Antonio Jos€ Canas, and that 
chief thereupon resigned his command, and was suc- 
ceeded by Norverto Ramires. 

On the 30th of January, 1841, a decree was passed 
by the legislative body, giving the name of republic 
to the state of San Salvador ; but this title, being too 
evidently absurd when applied to a petty province 
containing 300,000 inhabitants, was never actually 
made use of, the old name estado (state) being still 
used on all occasions. The new laws and constitution 

'^c . ■i.JiHpai^^^Hp 


of the self-styled republic have also remained pretty 
much a dead letter. 

The people of San Salvador soon began to regret 
the absence of Morazan, the only man of talent who 
had ever governed in Central America. Many 
intrigues were shortly set on foot to secure his return, 
and the overthrow of the new government ; and the 
House of Representatives being suspected of favouring 
these schemes, was forciblv dissolved in the middle 
of the session, contrary to all real or pretended law. 

In Guatemala extraordinary honours were decreed 
to General Carrera by the congress elected under 
his auspices, and the people of that state seemed to 
submit quietly to the absolute rule of this fortunate 
individual, who in four years' time had risen from a 
pig-driver to the supreme power. The servile party, 
who had brought him into power, having abolished 
the liberal enactments of their predecessors, and 
done away with religious toleration, proposed to 
restore the revenues of the Koman Catholic church, 
depriving those possessed of the land and houses 
formerly belonging to that establishment of their 
property (after the example of the Spanish govern- 
ment of Ferdinand VII.), without making any 
recompense for the robbery, which was to be called 
a " restoration of sacred property, sacrilegiously 
obtained ; " but General Carrera, who began thus 
early to show the priests and servile party that 
he had no affection for them, though he had 
made use of them to get into power, prohibited 
the servile legislature from passing such an act, and 
remarked, that those who wished the assistance of 
priests might pay for it; however, all the eccle- 


siastics exiled by the preceding governments were 
recalled and put into possession of their churches. 

The state of Costa Kica continued peaceable and 
prosperous under the absolute government of Branlio 
Carillo, who, in order to separate the state moiie 
entirely from the rest, decreed the use of a new flag 
and coining die, which continued to be used till his 
government was overthrown in April 1842; since 
which time Costa Kica has returned to the use of 
the flag and arms of the republic, which also con- 
tinue to be kept up in all the other states (though 
their laws and government are entirely separate): 
this, and the clause enabling vessels which have paid 
port dues in the port of one state, to enter those 
of all the others without extra charge, being the only 
remnants yet left of the federal republic, which still 
continues to exist in name, even while the states 
composing it are making war upon each other, and 
the inhabitants of the different states are actuated 
by the most intense mutual hatred. 

The British government, in 1841, again revived 
the claim on behalf of the Moschito Indians to the 
port of San Juan, in Nicaragua, and Mr. Alexander 
Macdonald, superintendent of the British settlement 
of Belize, proceeded thither in the frigate Tweed 
merely, it would seem, for the purpose of keeping 
alive the claim ; and on Colonel Qjiijano appearing, 
and, as governor of the port, objecting to some of his 
proceedings, he ordered him to be seized and carried 
on board the Tweed, where they shaved his face, and 
afterwards landed him alone on a desert part of the 
coast. This farce, however, hardly seemed consist- 
ent with the dignity of a British oflScer, governor of 


a settlement. If the British justly claim the port of 
San Juan^ they ought to send a sufficient force to 
take and keep possession of ity instead of making 
rambling incursions upon it, by which they give the 
miserable shadows of governments existing in Central 
America a just reason to complain that a bad ex- 
ample is shown them by the most civilised nation in 
the world/ 

Since the dissolution of the federal government in 
1839^ different proposals had been made by individual 
states for the formation of a new general govern- 
ment ; and the states of San Salvador^ Honduras^ 
and Nicaragua^ having finally agreed to elect de- 
putieSj and meet and discuss these proposals^ the 
representatives of these states met in the town of 
Chinendega, in Nicaragua, on the I7th of March 
1842 ; giving to the assembly the name of the na- 
tional congress, and electing Manuel Barbereno pre- 
sident. The assembly then proceeded to enact laws 
and regulations for a new national government, 
which they determined should consist of a supreme 
delegate, chosen by the majority of the states ; a 
body of councillors similarly elected ; and a supreme 
tribunal of legal appeal from all the state courts: 
each state was to possess its own government, and 
separate laws, and to administer its own revenue ; 
so that the proposed federal government would 
merely have had a nominal existence, which, though 
it might have commanded some respect in a peace- 
able and well regulated country, would have been 
utterly inadequate for any purpose whatever, in a 
country like Central America, in a lawless and half 
barbarous state. 


The assembly chose Antonio Jos^ Canas president 
of the nominal federation; but, as Guatemala was 
prevented from joining in any such arrangement by 
General Carrera, who did not choose to share his 
authority with any one, and Costa Rica also kept 
aloof from the federation, the acts of the assembly 
were never carried into effect, and shortly afterwards 
were entirely forgotten. 

Many similar attempts have since been made to 
revive the national government, but without effect ; 
the state of Guatemala, which, in territory, popula- 
tion, and riches, is nearly equal to all the rest 
jointly, being prevented from joining them. 

Should such a government, however, be establish- 
ed by any means, it will manifestly share the fate of 
the last ; and it is unlikely that they should find 
a more able or popular president than General 

A central government, possessing the whole re- 
venue, and a large military force, is evidently the only 
one capable of ruling in Central America : and it is 
to be hoped that some person capable of forming such 
a government may shortly be found, as till then, the 
inhabitants cannot expect security, justice, or the 
least real liberty. 

General Morazan, who, in the month of April, 
1840, had left the republic for Chili, accompanied by 
his principal followers, having been encouraged by 
the accounts sent him by his partizans in the state 
of San Salvador, returned to the port of the Union 
in that state in the middle of February, but on 
his arrival, being discouraged by the statements of 
his friends, he proceeded to Calderas, then the 



onlj settled port of Costa Bica, on the Pacific 
Ocean^ where he landed his officers, and a few 
men who had joined him at the union. Having 
managed by his partizans, and papers circulated 
among the inhabitants, to gain a considerable number 
of adherents, he proceeded towards San Jose ; and 
having induced the troops defending the Pass of 
Jocote (where a hundred determined men might defy 
any force) to desert to his standard, he entered the 
capital of the state without exposition, where he was 
received with every apparent sign of rejoicing by 
nearly all the inhabitants, and with real satisfaction 
by a large portion, who were tired of the absolute 
government of Carrillo. 

The people assembled as to a grand festival, and 
named him provisional governor of the state till he 
could be legally elected. The most violent of the 
liberal party proposed to shoot Carrillo, but Morazan 
would not permit any injury to be inflicted on 
him, and gave him a guard of troops to the port, 
where he embarked for the state of San Salvador. 

General Morazan having called a new represent- 
ative assembly, was unanimously elected governor of 
the state ; the acts of the former government were 
declared void, and the state, which for some time had 
formed an independent government, was formally 
united to the republic of Central America. 

The assembly voted handsome subsidies to Mo- 
razan, who immediately commenced preparations for 
making war against Nicaragua, intending to march 
troops into that state, and after having reduced it, to 
proceed against the rest, and re-establish his authority 
in the republic For this purpose he demanded the 


kvy of 2000 soldiers, and a contribution of 50,000 
dollars ; but seeing that the people, and even the le- 
gislative body electied under his own auspices, strongly 
objected to the war, and that all the men hid them- 
selves in the woods to escape the levy, he put guards 
upon their houses, and declared that the women and 
children should be imprisoned till the men made their 
appearance. At the same time while carrying out these 
violent measures, he most imprudently despatched 
General Sachet to the port Calderas, with nearly all 
his troops, who were strangers and natives of the 
other states, to be present at the trial of a young 
and popular oflScer of the name of Malino ; who, 
having forcibly carried away a young lady of good 
family from her father's house, and being reprehended 
and imprisoned for the act by his superior officer. 
General Rivas, had excited an insurrection among 
the troops, and put him to death. 

For some time previously, intrigues had been 
secretly carried on for the purpose of overthrowing 
General Morazan and his party ; probably, as it 
would appear, under the instigation of parties in 
Guatemala, where the outbreak was spoken of at the 
time it took place, though the overland mail takes 
fifty days in going from San Jos^ to Guatemala; 
and the most expeditious messenger, with a relay of 
horses, could not make the journey in less than thirty 
days. The real origin of this conspiracy is involved 
in a good deal of mystery, being by most of the 
natives attributed to the British consul-general, Mr. 
Chatfield ; but this is quite improbable, as although 
that gentleman was supposed to dislike the person 

L 2 


and goveTDment of General Motazan, he is a man 
of far too mucl) prudence to commit Mmself so far 
as to stir up an iuauirection agalDst any of the state 
govemmenta ; and it wonld, moreover, appear quite 
impossible that a atranger who had not even visited 
Costa Rica, could, by merely using his name as 
British consul, exert sufficient influence among the 
people to excite so general a rising ; but, whoever 
was the exciter of the catastrophe, it was plunly at 
the time brought on by the tyrannical and foolish 
conduct of General Morazan himself, which was 
sufficient to have roused the most peaceably disposed 
people to revolt ; and his leaving himself without 
the accustomed guard of troops greatly facilitated 
the insurrection. 

On the 11th of September, the towns of San 
Jos^, Heridia, and Alhajuela rose, simultaneously, 
ag^nst the government authorities; the leader of 
the first place being Colonel Finto, a naturalised 
Portuguese, and of the last, Jos^ Maria Alfaro, the 
principal landed proprietor in the town of Alha- 

The government trOops in Alhajuela and Heridia, 
being very few in number, were easily overcome, and 
' ' of the insurgents, under the command of 
irched t^inst San Jos^ to the number of 
men. Genend Morazan had with him, 
to some accounts, 300 men, and according 
twice that number ; yet the long and reso- 
ie they made (eighty-eight hours), plainly 
»t the result would have been very differ- 
is best troops and generals not been de- 
} the port. 


Finding his troops overcome by fatigue, he, sword 

in hand, cut his way through the insurgents, and 

retired to the city of Cartago, which had not joined 

in the insurrection, and was supposed to be favour* 

able to his party ; thua he hoped to be joined by 

the people of the old capital, always jealous of the 

other towns, especially San Jos^, the new capital ; 

but as none of the inhabitants moved to assist him, 

he soon perceived that his hope was vain. Still he 

might have made his escape by retiring to Matina ; 

but whether he continued to indulge false hopes 

of assistance, or had determined to fall with his 

fortunes, he did not avail himself of this la«t resource, 

•and being pursued to Cartago, was taken prisoner 

and brought back tx) San Jos6 by the insurgents, 

together with two of his sons, and some of the officei's 

and troops who still adhered to him ; and on the 18th 

of the same month was put to death, together with 

Brigadier Villasenor, one of the best generals of his 


It appears that General Cabailas, together with 
fifty of Morazan's most devoted adherents, had, as 
soon as they heard of his capture, hurried from the 
port, determined to free him or die in the attempt ; 
but they were met by a Spaniard of the name of 
Espinach (who had pretended to be much attached 
to Morazan), who dissuaded them from the attempt, 
assuring them upon his honour that he would suffer 
no injury, but that mules were already engaged to 
convey him to Calderas. Upon this assurance Ca- 
bauas and his party returned to the port, and the first 
proof they had of the deceit which had been passed 
off upon them was the notice of their leader's death, 

L 3 


10 is umTersally despised and execrated 
i\ Americans of any honour, durst not 
te of San Salvador, where Morazan's 
[ cherished by a great majority of the 
razan's eecretary, Miguel Sarevia, said 
g man of great talents and rare acquire- 
ossessing an amiable disposition, which 
Diversaliy esteemed, killed himself by 
n, apparently in despair at the ruin and 
unster, and not from the fear of any ill 
Horazan's two sons, and the officers 
ten at Cart^o, were liberated after two 
nsomuent, but expelled the state of 

The troops which had been sent to- 
Calderas embarked on board the two 
bich they had arrived, which were still 
of which they established a blockade, 
lional predatory excursions on shore for 

when they SMied to the port of the 
1 Salvador ; where, through the influence 
Malespein, afterwards president of the 
m possessing all the real power of the 
they were permitted to land, and pro- 
te of a decree of proscription against 
razan and all his followers, which had 
by the state legislature on the intel- 
having colled at the Union before pro- 
}sta Hico. 

Ird of the same month the civil, mili- 
Ktlesiastical officers, having assembled 
m in San Jos6, elected Jos^ Maria 
sional governor {gefe-proviaional), and 
a commander-in-chief, and declared all 


the acts of the late government illegal. A new 
Congress, which shortly afterwards assembled, con- 
firmed these decrees : thus, after a short revolution 
of three days' duration, Costa Rica again returned 
to its usual state of quiet, which has not since been 
interrupted ; and, however cruel the conduct of the 
people might seem in putting to death the illustrious 
General Morazan, whom they had hailed five months 
before with such transports of joy, it has certainly 
been the means of preserving the peace and pros- 
perity of the little state, which probably would have 
been destroyed for a long period had Morazan suc- 
ceeded in drawing it into a war with the other 
states ; and instead of being, as at present, a bright 
example of one industrious and orderly community 
in Spanish America, it would probably have been 
reduced to the same wretched condition as the rest of 
Central America. 

After the overtTirow and death of General Mora- 
zan, a temporary calm, arising more from exhaustion 
than from the establishment of any firm and settled 
form of government, followed for the remainder of 
1842 and the whole of the year 1843. 

In Guatemala, Mariano Rivera Paz continued 
nominal president of the state, the whole of the real 
power and authority being in the hands of General 

In San Salvador, Malespein, who had been the 
most active party in the overthrow of Momzan's 
government, gradually got all the power into his 
hands, being first elected commander-in-chief, which 
in Central America gives the whole power of govern- 

L 4 


meat, and at the end of 1833 chosen president, prin^ 
cipally through the intrigues of Dr. Jos6 Vitero, 
the bishop of San Salvador, who had conceived a 
hatred to the legal president, Juan Jos6 Guzman, 
and endeavoured to get the authority into his hands> 
through Malespein, who he supposed would prove 
a convenient instrument, though it turned out that 
he was as much mistaken as the nobles of Guatemala 
were in choosing Carrera. 

Malespein having been first put in power by the 
invading forces of Guatemala under General Carrera, 
it was supposed that he would be an uncompromising 
enemy of the liberal party. But when Morazan's 
partizans arrived at the port of the union after the 
death of that general, he not only admitted them 
into the state, but shared among them several 
of the principal oflSces of government, by which 
he considerably strengthened his party in the 
state ; and had his after conduct been prudent, he 
might perhaps have induced the citizens to forget 
his former crimes, and the manner in which he had 
raised himself from a common highway robber to the 
first place in the government. Honduras continued 
to be governed by Francisco Ferrara, who had been 
elected governor in 1841 ; a name which he afterwards 
exchanged for that of president. 

In Nicaragua, the authority of Pablo-Buitrago, 
who had been elected supreme director in 1841, was 
superseded by General Fonseca, who was styled 
Grand Mar&hal, and having got the command of 
the troops, left the government merely existing by 
his sufferance. This man had, as is usual among the 
governors of Central America, raised himself by the 



most atrocious villany, and, though a drunkard, and 
extremely ignorant and brutal in his manners, had 
the lives and property of all at his nod. 

Costa Rica, after its brief revolution, relapsed 
into its previously quiet state, the people having for- 
tunately imbibed a taste for industry and comfort, 
which prevented them from again relapsing into 
anarchy, like the other states. 

The incongruous elements composing the govern- 
ments of the four principal states, however, gave no 
prospect of any lasting quiet ; and in the beginning 
of 1844 General Aice, formerly president of the 
republic, but then reduced to a sort of wandering 
vagabond, being supplied with arms by General 
Carrera, who was jealous of the favour shown by 
Malespein to the officers of the late General Mo- 
razan, made an incursion into the state of San Sal- 
vador, and succeeded in taking some small towns ; 
but none of the people joined him, and being sud- 
denly attacked by a body of government forces, his 
troops were routed, and he himself forced again to 
take refuge in Guatemala. 

The San Salvador government remonstrated 
against this invasion ; and, though the government of 
Guatemala disclaimed all participation in it, and 
even imprisoned General Aice and the officers who 
had accompanied him, their apology was not ac- 
cepted, and Malespein, having rapidly collected a 
body of 2000 men, entered the state of Guatemala, 
where the government was in no condition to resist 
him, and, had he pushed rapidly on, he might readily 
have taken the city of Guatemala ; but tlie troops 

L 5 


after entering that etate^ revolted against Malespein^ 
and declared for General Cabanas, one of the best of 
Morazan's officers, and a man of moderate principles 
and excellent character ; and, though he refused to 
accept a command to the injury of his benefactor, 
Malespein, full of rage and indignation at the pre- 
ference the troops had shown for another, com- 
manded a retreat, and disbanded the troops sup- 
posed to be the most favourable to Cabanas. In the 
mean time Carrera had got together a force of about 
5000 Indians, with which, after the retreat of the 
San Salvador troops, he made an incursion into that 
state ; but, as he feared to absent himself for any 
time from the city of Guatemala, lest he should find 
himself shut out on his return, he achieved nothing, 
and after taking a few small villages on the borders of 
the state, he returned to Guatemala, no engagement 
having taken place between the two armies. Hence 
the war had no result whatever beyond mutually 
impoverishing the states, in both of which the 
governments extorted forced contributions from all 
who could pay them at the bayonet's point. In San 
Salvador lists were made of all the traders and 
landed proprietors, with sums attached to their 
names, and if they neglected to pay the amount 
demanded within three days, their property was 
seized and sold for what it would fetch. In many 
cases where parties were really unable to pay the 
amount demanded by the government, the assessing 
officer called in a friend to value their property, and 
having put a price upon it, (perhaps not a fifth of its 
real value,) an order was immediately given to the 
same person to take possession of the property, and 


pay the amount of the valuation to government, 
while no attention was shown to the prayers of the 
victii||0, even to granting them a few days to raise 
the sum demanded. Bands of men in the pay of 
government traversed the country, seizing on all they 
could find to make soldiers of, treating them more 
like African slaves than free citizens who were 
called on to fight for their country. The proceed- 
ings in Guatemala were scarcely less oppressive; 
but as that state possessed a much larger population 
and more wealth, they were not quite so ruinous in 
their efiects. 

During the dispute, the government of San Sal- 
vador had made urgent applications to the states of 
Nicaragua and Honduras to assist them in overturn- 
ing Carrera's government. The Grand Marechal, Fon- 
seca, who ruled in the former, pretended to comply 
with the request, and raised 1200 men nominally for 
that purpose, but instead of assisting San Salvador, 
the troops were sent to attack Honduras, the go- 
vernment of which they hoped easily to overturn. 
Having entered that state on the 12 th of August, 
they were, three days afterwards, attacked by a force 
of 500 Honduras troops, under Colonel Guardiola, 
in the town of Choluteca, and notwithstanding their 
superiority of force, entirely routed ; when, throwing 
away their arms, they fled in the most disgraceful 
manner, not halting till they reached Chinendega. 
The victory was principally owing to the entire state 
of disorganisation of the Nicaragua troops, and 
partly to the determined valour of Guardiola, whose 
name continued afterwards to be a terror to all par- 

L 6 


On the 25th of August, peace was declared be- 
tween the states- of San Salvador and Guatemala, 
leaving both parties in their former position, with 
the exception of the robberies made by their own 

Having made peace with Guatemala, Malespein 
had leisure to vent his rage against General Cabafias 
and his party ; but, having obtained secret information 
of his intentions, they hastily made their escape to San 
Miguel, where they were joined by Barias, the governor 
of that city, who was also proscribed; and, having 
seized the arms belonging to the government, pro- 
ceeded, with aboi^t 200 men, to the port of the 
Union, where they arrived on the 8th of September, 
and chartered the English brig Diana to take them 
to Bealejo, in the state of Nicaragua, where they 
found but little difficulty in inducing the govern- 
ment and the Grand Mar^chal, Fonseca, to take part 
with them against Malespein, and the existing go- 
vernment of San Salvador and Honduras. 

The Nicaragua government, assisted by the San 
Salvador exiles, proceeded to collect money by forced 
contributions and enlist troops, at the same time 
instituting a most strict cordon to prevent any com^ 
munication with the state of San Salvador ; but on the 
Constellation, a small coasting vessel under the 
Equador flag, belonging to a French citizen in Costa 
Bicav, calling at Eealejo in her voyage along the 
coast, the government took the master prisoner as 
soon as he landed, intending to seize the vessel to 
assist in the invasion. However, the father of one of the 
passengers, by name Chrisanto Medina, a native of 
Buenos Ayres, and an enemy to the faction ruling 


in Nicaragua, found means to communicate with his 
son; and the latter, fearing that he would be as- 
sassinated if the vessel was taken, and be obliged to 
land, persuaded the crew to lift the anchor, and 
brought the vessel to the port of the IJDion on the 
6th of October, where he gave information to the 
government of the preparations making in Nicaragua 
for the invasion of the state. Upon this information 
a treaty was concluded between San Salvador and 
Honduras, the government of the latter state being 
not only enraged at the invasion of their territory 
in the preceding month of August, but fully aware 
that General Cabanas's object was as much directed 
against their government as that of San Salvador : 
his well-known object being to give a preponderance 
to the liberal party in each of the three states, and 
having united their forces, to proceed against Gua- 
temala and re-establish a federal government. Un- 
fortunately, this scheme was better planned than 
executed; and this general, one of the very few 
whose bravery is unquestionable, and whose hands 
are unsullied with bribery, and untainted with mur- 
der, has, with the exception of his first achievements 
under the government of General Morazan, been 
uniformly unfortunate, and brought ruin on himself 
and his party. The aforesaid treaty having been 
negotiated between Honduras and San Salvador, the 
usual means of collecting money by forced contri- 
butions, and seizing men for troops, were liberally 
resorted to by both governments : the Honduras 
government, moreover, resorting to their usual ex- 
pedient of issuing copper money for five times its 
real value. In the mean time, Fonseca and Cabanas 


having got read; a force, invaded the state of Hon- 
duras with about 2000 men, but being, on the Ut 
of November, met by Guardiola with a much 
inferior force of Honduras troops, a desperate en- 
gagement ensued. Yet sJl the valour and exertions 
of Cabanas could not secure the victory, and after 
an engagement of several hours' duration, the Nica- 
ragua troops were repulsed with con^derable loss. 
A few days afterwards Cabailas, with a body of San 
Salvador emigrants, defeated and dispersed a much 
latter force of Honduras troops; but finding it quite 
impossible to enforce any diaciphne among the Ni- 
caraguans, who absolutely refused to obey him or 
any of their leaders, he was forced to retreat into 
the state of Nicaragua; and the San Salvador troops 
under Malespein, and those of Honduras under 
Guardiola, having united, and forming a body of 
about 3000 men, entered Nicaragua in the end of 
November, and after defeating the Nicaragua troops 
in several engagements, l^d siege to Leon, the capital 
of the state. 

Leon, being the last hold of the party of Morazan, 

called the Coquimbo party, from the name of the 

vessel in which they arrived, was defended with 

desperation; and the Honduras and San Salvador 

troops were not sufficiently numerous to invest it 

, so that they could not cut off the supply 

as : but the people of Granada, who had 

1 opposed to Fonseca (the possessor of all 

;hority in the ruling faction), revived the 

1 had been nearly extinguished, and being 

the towns of Managua and Nicaragua, 

a provisional government, at the head 


of which Sen Sylva was placed ; and having collected 
a force of about 3000 men^ marched to the assist- 
ance of the united forces of San Salvador and Hon- 

In the mean time5 a number of engagements took 
place between the parties5 generally to the advantage 
of the besiegers, and the San Salvador government 
having taken possession of two coasting vessels, fitted 
them out to act against the enemy, and captured 
another vessel which the Nicaragua government had 
taken in a similar manner. None of the vessels 
belonged to, or were paid for by, the governments, 
and only one of them was ever restored to the owner, 
and in a very damaged state, the two others being 
lost in the course of the civil wars, and the owners, 
a Frenchman and a Colombian, being left without 
redress by the respectable government which had 
seized their property contrary to all semblance of law 
or justice. 

On the 18th of December the besieged, to the 
number of about 800, sallied out of Leon to open a 
communication with their adherents in Chinendega, 
but were repulsed and entirely defeated by 500 men 
who had been despatched by Malespein to lie in 
ambush for them. The leaders found their way back 
to Leon, but the troops were nearly all dispersed, 
and never again united. In the end of the year 
1844, the troops of San Salvador and Honduras were 
joined by the auxiliaries sent by the new provisional 
government established in Granada, and the city of 
Leon was invested on all sides, but defended with 
a desperation previously unheard of in the Central 
American wars. Meanwhile the unfortunate city 


endured iaconceivable horrors ; all the inbabitantB, 
against whom any auBpiclon of favouring the be- 
siegers woB entertained, were assassinated hy order 
of the Grand Mar&:halj and the besieged even ex- 
ceeded the besiegers ia the unheard of atrocities thej 
committed. Nearly all the houses in the district, of 
which they still were masters, were plundered, and 
dead bodies lay unburied in all the streets. It was 
proved, from the desperate defence of this city, that 
its inhabitants, though despicable soldiers in the open 
field, greatly excelled in this sort of warfare. But the 
besieged, being at length reduced to the last extre- 
mity, and having, like desperate wild beasts, sacked 
the part of the city which they still held, murdering 
even their own friends with unheard of cruelty, and 
violating the women in the most brutal manner, were 
deserted by Cabanas, Barras, Morazan's two sons, 
and the remnant of their party, who, to the number 
of eighteen, managed to elude the besiegers and 
make their escape on the 23d of January, 1845. 

llowing day a general assault was made 
in and Cruardiola, who placed loaded 
ind their troops, to be fired upon them 
turned back ; and the two generals, and 
troops being intoxicated, rushed forward 
fury. The barricades were desperately 
■ the Leonese troops for some time, but 
3 all finally forced, and the defenders 
iven out ; after which the victors made 
issacre, no age or sex being spared, and 
spected. The women, who hadjtakc' 
le churches, were first violated and then 
jy the savage soldiery; and these sacred 


edifices were literally filled with mangled bodies, and 
covered with blood. 

Every single house in the city was plundered, and 
completely gutted, except that belonging to Mr. 
Thomas Manning, a British subject, partner of the 
English vice-consul, Mr. Forster, which was pro- 
tected by a guard of troops placed there by Male- 
spein. The Grand Mar^chal had managed to take 
refuge in Mr. Manning's house, where he was hid for 
two days, but in a subsequent attempt to escape, was 
taken by Malespein's troops, and immediately put 
to death. Several houses were rased to the ground 
by the conquerors, and this being found too tedious 
a process, attempts were made to burn them; but the 
solid and detached nature of the buildings, and the 
absence of wood in all parts except the roofs, which 
were all covered with tjles, prevented this measure 
from having the desired effect to the extent intended, 
and they left standing a considerable part of the once 
beautiful and rich city of Leon, in the midst of ruins 
and desolation. 

In the month of September Jos6 Maria Alfaro, 
who, from bad health, had ceased to exercise the 
government of Costa Rica for some time (leaving it 
to be administered by Oriomono, the vice-chief), 
finished his legal term as governor, and not wishing 
to be re-elected, Oriomono, was legally chosen 
in his place ; but as he declined to act, Seii Moira was 
appointed to the office, and on his also refusing it. 
Sen Rafael Gallegos was chosen at a third election 
held in the beginning of 1845. And although dis- 
turbances were apprehended from the people of 
Alhajuela^ who wished again to force the govern^ 


ment upon their citizen^ Jose Maria Alfaro^ against 
his will, they were at the time avoided by the 
exertions of all parties, and Gallegos continued to 
wield the government till the 11th of July in the 
succeeding year, the state continuing to progress in 
wealth and industry. 

On the 20th of December, 1844, groups assembled 
in the streets of San Salvador, crying out " Guzman 
for ever, down with Malespein ; " but the vice-pre- 
sident, Guzman, had not sufficient courage to let 
himself then be declared president, and persuaded 
the mob to disperse, and, though frequently urged 
to assume the supreme power, he positively refused 
it on several occasions. But Cabanas and Barras 
having, as stated, escaped from Leon the day before 
its capture, reached San Miguel in ten days' time, 
safely passing through Honduras without being dis- 
covered ; and being there joined by about 300 men, 
they hurried on to San Salvador, increasing their force 
upon the march so that they entered the city at the 
head of nearly 1000 men. There they were enthu- 
siastically received by the population, who rose in 
a body to join them. Most of the adherents of 
Malespein saved themselves by a precipitate flight ; 
but his brother and two sisters, with his best general, 
Belloso, were taken and put in prison. A few were 
also put to death by the mob. 

The vice-president, Guzman, being, by this re- 
volution, freed of all apprehensions from Malespein, 
readily consented to be appointed provisional pre- 
sident, and the change of government was enthusi- 
astically hailed by all the state. Intelligence of this 
revolution having reached Leon, all the San Salvador 



troops deserted Malespein, and the new Nicaragua 
government, having brought a large force to take 
possession of the city, thanked the Honduras and 
San Salvador generals for their assistance, and in- 
timated to them that their presence was no longer 
necessary ; and General Guardiola, finding himself 
too weak, after the desertion of the San Salvador 
troops, to resist the command, though, doubtless, he 
had hoped to exact something more from the state, 
was forced to retire with his troops into Honduras. 
He was accompanied by General Malespein, who 
still entertained hopes of being restored to the com* 
mand in San Salvador, and having amassed a con- 
siderable sum of money by his robberies, he was en- 
abled to bribe the Honduras government to take his 
part. General Guardiola, having hurried forward with 
the troops he bad brought from Leon, entered the 
state of San Salvador on the 2d of March with a 
force not exceeding 800 men, hoping to reach the 
city of San Salvador before the new government 
could prepare to oppose him. But in the mean time 
Cabanas, having collected a superior force, hastened 
to meet him, and a battle took place at Quelepa, 
about eight leagues beyond San Miguel, on the San 
Salvador road, where victory declared for Guardiola, 
who, passing the river Lempa, hurried on to San 
Vicente, where another engagement took place, in 
which the victory was claimed by both parties. But 
as Cabaiias was immediately afterwards reinforced 
with 1000 men, making his entire force about 2000, 
Guardiola was forced to make a precipitate reti'eat 
after eluding the enemy in a very clever manner, 
having, in both his marches, plundered all the towns 


on his road, and treated the inhabitants with great 
cruelty; a method which, though successful in striking 
terror into the enemy, seemed a doubtful plan of re- 
placing Malespein as president of the state. Having 
failed in the attempt to crush the new government 
before it could be established, negotiations were entered 
into between the states of Honduras and San Sal- 
vador ; but, as Malespein's interest was predominant 
in the former state, it was soon evident that they 
would lead to no result. The new San Salvador 
government having sent a request to that of Hon- 
duras for the return of the arms of that state taken 
away by Malespein, and of the two vessels which 
had been taken from their owners, as before stated, 
were met by a counter demand that they should do 
justice to Malespein, paying him the claim he made 
against the state, and again receiving him as governor 
till a new president should be legally elected. Both 
parties, therefore, prepared for an appeal to arms, by 
which alone it was evident the dispute could be settled. 
The people readily enlisted under Cabanas, who was 
declared commander-in-chief, and in a short time 
had 3000 men ready to march into Honduras ;^ h^t 
symptoms of distrua^ tsuon began to show themselves 
between ^e different parties in government, which, 
moreover, wanted the means of supplying Cabanas 
with money, as, though all classes were ready for 
war with Honduras, few were inclined to advance 
any money to the government. Indeed, few had 
the means of doing it, as all classes were ruined by 
the heavy contributions which had been exacted from 
them, first for the war against Guatemala, and 
afterwards for that against Nicaragua, combined 


guardiola's private character. 237 

with the total stagnation of industry throughout the 

Honduras was even poorer than the contending 
state^ but had the ruinous resource of issuing copper 
money at five times its value, and also of selling 
mahogany to the Belize merchants. The forces of 
the latter state were commanded by Guardiola, a 
man in all respects different from his antagonist, 
except in personal valour, in which he seemed even 
to excel him. He is a dark coloured mestizo, stout- 
built, and rather corpulent, his face expressing his 
fiendish temper; but well liked by the soldiers, 
whom he indulges in every way. To his habits of 
intoxication may be added every species of vice 
which can be named among the vicious inhabitants 
of Central America ; and frequently, in his drunken 
fits, he orders people to be shot who have in nothing 
offended him, while at all times the most trifling 
expression, incautiously uttered, is sufficient to cause 
the babbler to be shot without mercy. In private 
life he is as brutal as can well be imagined. 
In all the towns through which he passes, he makes 
a habit of calling in the best-looking women he 
can see, and, after subjecting them to infamous 
treatment, he drives them forth with the most 
insulting epithets ; yet he is certainly the best and 
most successful general of any now existing, and, 
probably, of any who have appeared in Central 
America. Like Marius, the Boman leader, his 
brutal manners serve to terrify the enemy ; hence, 
while the arrival of Cabanas, and most of the other 
leaders, is looked upon without fear by the people of 
the contending states, the bare name of Guardiola 


is sufficient to make all the inhabitants fly to the 
woods, leaving every thing behind them ; and his 
mere appearance was, at last, often sufficient to ter- 
rify and put to ffight a much superior force to what 
he brought with him. 

Cabanas having entered Honduras in the beginning 
of May, proceeded without opposition as far as Co- 
mayagua, the capital, which he entered on the 8th 
of June ; but the government of San Salvador having 
neglected to supply him with the necessary funds 
either to pay the troops or purchase provisions, 
great discontent was caused among the soldiers, 
who were daily left in numbers to return home. 
In reply to strong remonstrances on the subject, 
the provisional president wrote that he must pay 
and feed his men by the plunder of the enemy ; 
but Cabanas replied, that he had entered Honduras 
not as an enemy, but a friend to the inhabitants, 
merely to overturn an unconstitutional government, 
and that he would on no account permit his troops 
to rob, whatever might be the result. It was now 
perfectly clear that the provisional president and his 
party had determined to sacrifice Cabanas, of whose 
popularity they were afraid. The San Salvador 
troops were left in the most wretched and almost 
starving condition; and Cabanas having spent the 
little money he could collect among his friends, 
for he himself was too honest ever to be possessed 
of any, the troops merely subsisted on what was 
sent them in charity by the inhabitants of Hon- 
duras, who were astonished at the moderation of 
their leader. But after they had remained three days 
in Comayagua, a report was raised that Guardiola 


was at hand with the Honduras forces^ and the dis- 
pirited troops absolutely refused to encounter him. 
The greater part throwing away their arms^ fled 
back to the state of San Salvador; not fifty men 
remained with Cabanas5 who was forced to a precipi- 
tate flight. On reaching San Miguel he endeavoured 
to collect a part of his scattered forces to oppose 
Guardiola, but to no purpose ; so that on the 22nd 
of July he entered that city, which Cabanas was 
forced to abandon. Nearly all the inhabitants had 
fled from San Miguel, which Guardiola gave up to 
be plundered by his troops, only respecting the 
house of Don Angel Moglea, who remained to take 
care of a large amount of property, principally be- 
longing to British merchants resident in the state of 
Nicaragua. Guardiola called upon this gentleman, 
and seemed well pleased at his having reposed sufli- 
cient confidence in him to remain in the city ; he 
intimated that he knew the property in his house 
was British, which he was directed to respect ; but 
it would appear that this was the only native he 
considered as privileged, as the houses of two French 
merchants, who had their national flags flying, were 
plundered and completely gutted ; this, however, 
probably arose from their having left the city, afraid 
to wait his arrival. 

Having sacked San Miguel, Guardiola proceeded 
towards the city of San Salvador, it being arranged 
that another force of 1000 Honduras troops would 
enter the state by the north, and uniting at Cajuta- 
peke, march upon the capital; but the Honduras 
government, having exhausted its funds by so long- 
continued a war, were unable to send a sufficient 


force for that purpose, so that Guardiola did not on 
this occasion pass the river Lempa. 

In the mean time, all was terror and confusion in 
San Salvador: Cabanas having resigned the com- 
mand in disgust, no one could be found to succeed 
him, and the provisional president was known to be 
a great coward. The bishop, however, preached up 
a crusade against the Honduras troops, having pre- 
viously excommunicated Ferrera, the president o£ 
that state, and General Malespein, the ex-president 
of San Salvador, whom his intrigues had formerly 
raised to the supreme power; but he afterwards 
quarrelled with him as he would not be guided by 
his advice, and retired to Guatemala, from which he 
returned on receiving news of the revolution of the 
2nd February 1845 in San Salvador. By the bull of 
excommunication, all parties holding any communi-* 
cation with the Honduras troops were also excom- 
municated ; and, upon any of the invaders entering 
a town, the priests were to seize the Eucharist 
and fly with it, together with as many of the 
inhabitants as would fellow; superstition, however, 
was at too low an ebb in the state to make this 
decree very effective, but the cruelty of Guardiola 
did much more to effect the desired purpose. Ditches 
were cut across the streets of San Salvador, and 
barricades erected at the ends of all the streets, the 
people appearing determined to defend it to the last 

Meanwhile the government was in the utmost 
confusion, and the different factions disputed with 
the most bitter acrimony. The Coquimboes, as 
the officers who had served the late General Morazan 


were called, formed one party, the bishop and his 
friends another, and the friends of the provisional 
president, Guzman, a third. The first stood highest 
in public opinion, but the two others, especially the 
bishop's party, excelled in intrigue; and even the 
vicinity of the enemy could not prevent their bicker- 
ing and abusing each other in the most violent 
manner. At the same time, all the state between 
Honduras and the Biver Lempa was at the mercy of 
Guardiola's troops, whose cruelty caused universal 
terror and dismay ; so that nearly all the inhabitants 
deserted the towns and villages, and hid themselves 
in the woods, where many, principally the old and 
infirm, died of himger. 

Finally, finding it difficult to maintain his troops 
in a country which they had desolated, and not ven- 
turing to advance upon the city of San Salvador 
without a larger force, Guardiola i^etumed to Hon- 

The greater part of the months of August and 
September was spent in negotiations between the 
two states. The government of San Salvador ap- 
peared sincere in its desire for peace ; but that of 
Honduras seemed only to seek an excuse for prolong- 
ing the time to increase their forces, judging from 
the result of the last incursion that they could not 
fail to take the capital of San Salvador, and destroy 
the government at one blow with the increased force 
they were preparing. 

In the commencement of October two expeditions 
were fitted out from Honduras ; one, under Guar- 
diola, proceeded by land, and the other, by sea, to 
the port of the Union, on board the two vessels 


which Malespein had seized from their owners to act 
against Nicaragua^ and afterwards^ upon the revolu- 
lution in San Salvador, transferred to the port of 
San Lorenzo, in Honduras. But Colonel Caravallo, 
who commanded the San Salvador forces, having 
tampered with Colonel Barras, who commanded a 
part of the Honduras troops, suddenly fell upon 
them in a valley caUed Obrajuela, full of indigo 
plantations, and before they could put themselves 
in order for fighting defeated them with considerable 
loss, and took 120 prisoners, whom he massacred in 
cold blood ; and, afterwards, marching upon the 
Union, he took prisoners part of the forces em- 
ployed in the other expedition, though the greater 
portion were enabled to get on board the vessels in 
time to escape. 

Guardiola, however, saved himself, with the greater 
part of his troops ; and having put Barras to death, 
and received secret information that Colonel Cara- 
vallo was in the Union with about 250 men, silently 
marched thither by land with a somewhat superior 
force, and unexpectedly entering the place, easily 
overcame all resistance. Colonel Caravallo and all 
bis troops were immediately put to death, and every 
male in the place, except a few who were enabled to 
escape to the neighbouring woods, were put to the 
sword: afterwards, having plundered the govern- 
ment warehouse of the bonded goods, principally 
belonging to the San Miguel merchants, and ran- 
sacked the town, he retired, leaving the place in 
utter desolation, the streets and houses being full of 
dead bodies, and no person even left to bury them. 
He returned without opposition to Honduras. 


After this^ negotiations were again resumed be- 
tween the two states^ but^ as they did not proceed 
very satisfactorily^ Guardiola again entered the state 
of San Salvador in the month of November, and, on 
the 20th of that month, approached within five 
leagues of San Miguel, where a large concourse of 
people had collected for the fair, which is at its 
height on the 21st, and is the largest in all Central 
America; but upon receiving notice of Guardiola's 
vicinity all was consternation, and all the traders 
abandoned the city with the utmost precipitation. 
Bargains were left half concluded, and debtors 
were unable to pay, or creditors to receive, while 
all the merchandise which could be packed up was 
sent away in the greatest hurry ; and as nearly 
all the payments for purchases contracted in this state 
are made payable either at this fair, or that of the 8th 
of May, the great inconvenience and loss of such a 
dispersion may be conceived. But the authorities 
having barricaded the streets, and collected a force 
of 900 men to oppose Guardiola, the latter thought 
proper to retire without attacking^ the city. Both 
parties being at last completely tired of the war, 
and without funds to carry it on any longer, peace 
was at last concluded between the states of San 
Salvador and Honduras on the 20th of December, 
upon the terms, that Malespein should restore one of 
the vessels he had unjustly seized (the other being 
lost) to the owner, and that his family should 
have all their property restored to them, all the 
prisoners taken by both parties, to be set free with- 
out ransom, and that no punishment should be in- 

M 2 


flicted in either state> on the partisans of the other, 

for then: acts during the war. 

In Guatemala the absolute government of Carrera 

was continued, and the shadow of a representative 

assembly having been dissolved in June, 1844, he 

assumed the office of president of the state on the 

1st of January, 1845 ; but, as the whole power of 

government had been in his hands since March, 

1839, and the former president, Mariaua Kivera 

Paz, and his ministers, entirely subservient to his 

orders, it made no real change in the government. 

During 1844 the state of Guatemala was the scene 

of two insurrections. The first was got up by Monte 

Kosas, one of Carrera's generals, who collected a body 

of troops, with which he hoped to supplant his master ; 

but being suddenly attacked by Carrera at night in 

the place where he was encamped, about a league from 

the capital, his men, who amounted to about 200, 

were easily defeated and dispersed, and his horse 

falling as he was attempting to jump a ditch in 

his escape, he was taken and committed to prison : in 

this insurrection* only two or three of the insurgents 

were killed. The second was a revolt of a corps, 

called the permanent battalion, on the 20th of Sep* 

tember, which was promptly suppressed, though not 

before the insurgents had plundered some of the 

shops in the principal square. This revolt seemed 

to be without any more ostensible object than the 

hope of profiting by plunder. Some of the principal 

leaders were shot, and the remainder of the corps 


A revolt of a much more serious iiature took 


place on the 2nd of February, 1845 ; and, had it 
been conducted by men of ordinary courage and 
popularity, would doubtless have ended in a change 
of government. Carrera having gone to one of his 
estates, about forty leagues from the city of Guate- 
mala, a revolution was organised by a party mostly 
composed of the self-called nobles and priests, who 
had been disappointed that Carrera had not shown 
them more favour after they had assisted to put him 
in power. They gained over nearly all the troops, 
about 200 in number ; and those in two of the bar- 
racks rose simultaneously early in the morning of the 
2nd, deposed their officers, opened the gaols and let 
out all the prisoners, among whom was Monte 
Bosas, whom they put at their head, and being joined 
by the greater number of the troops from the other 
barracks, they put to death or drove out all who 
adhered to Carrera's interest ; and having, with the 
accession of all the prisoners, got together a force of 
about 800 men, and taken possession of all the 
government arms and ammunition, there seemed no 
chance of Carrera's being able to resist them, as he 
was without men, money, or arms. On the follow* 
ing day Sotero Carrera, brother of the president, 
approached from Old Guatemala with 200 men he 
had collected, almost without arms, but was attacked 
in the town of Mizco, and put to flight by 400 of 
the insurgents. 

But few of the citizens showed any wish to join 
Monte Bosas, who was generally considered worse 
than Carrera; and the self-called uobles, who had 
excited the revolt, in the most cowardly manner bar- 

H 3 



ricaded their houses^ and waited to see the restdt 
before declaring for either party. 

Carrera showed that he was almost as cowardly 
as his antagonists, for when he was informed of the 
revolt, he was taken violently ill, and nearly died of 
fright; but some of his generals showed more 
courage, and managed to collect about 2000 Indians 
from* the towns in his interest, though nearly un- 
armed, the insurgents being in possession of all the 
arms in Guatemala. Bad Monte Bosas adopted 
determined measures, it would appear quite im- 
possible that any force could have been collected 
capable of contending with him; but finding that 
he was not joined by the citizens, as he had been 
led to expect, he immediately despaired of the 
result; and having received 5000 dollars from the 
municipality, he left the city, of which he had held 
possession for four days, under the agreement that 
he should give up his arms to Carrera^ receiving a 
free pardon. The convention was not, however, ob- 
served, on one side at least, and the day following 
Sotero Carrera pursued the insurgents, who were 
awaiting his brother's arrival to lay down their arms 
at a village on the road to Old Guatemala, and 
coming up with them attacked and killed a great 
number in cold blood, as they made no resistance ; 
Monte Kosas, and nearly all the leaders, however, 
escaped to Mexico. 

Carrera, having heard of the suppression of the 
insurrection, returned to Guatemala, and put to 
death ten individuals, supposed to have been con- 
cerned in the revolt, without any form of trial, and 


contrary to the convention entered into by the mu- 

It certainly showed either an extraordinary degree 
of forbearance or cowardice in a man of the infamous 
character of Monte Rosas, possessing so large a band 
of desperadoes, not to have plundered Guatemala, and 
to have retired enriched with its spoils to some of 
the states, where he might have been received with 
open arms ; and it was quite impossible that Carrera 
could have prevented his doing so, nor would the 
inhabitants of Guatemala ever have had the courage 
or unanimity to offer any resistance. -Ai*ter the 
suppression of the revolt, the state of Guatemala 
remained perfectly quiet for the rest of the year 
1845 ; and Carrera, either frightened by the revolt 
or pleased that Guatemala had not joined in it, or 
becoming more civilised in his manners, seemed 
inclined to relax the severity of his government a 
little, and appointed a liberal minister, Don Guakin 
Duran, a lawyer of talent, and generally well spoken 
of by the people. This minister, after holding his 
ofBce for a few months, was succeeded by General 
Pais, a man of the worst character ; but, to the sur- 
prise of all, he has governed better than any of his 
immediate predecessors. Having been collector of 
customs at Izabel, he made some wise laws for the 
suppression of smuggling, by which he so much in- 
creased the revenue of the state that it is not only 
amply sufficient for the expenses of government, 
but has enabled him to pay off part of the debts 
due to private merchants, almost a new occurrence in 
the government of the state. 

The bishop of Guatemala having died in the island 

H 4 


of Cuba, his body was brought to the city of Gua- 
temala, to be interred according to his directions; 
and the funeral took place in the month of May, 
with all the pomp and ceremony which the govern- 
ment could muster* At the same time a conspiracy 
to assassinate Carrera was got up by a number of 
young men ; but General Pais, the minister, having, 
as it would appear, received secret intelligence of the 
scheme, caused all the troops who were paraded (in 
number about 500), for a salute, to load with ball. 
The cannons were also shotted: and these preparations 
caused the attempt to be deferred. But the authors 
were not discovered till the month of July, when 
one of the conspirators (as is generally understood) 
having given secret information, a number of arrests 
were made on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of the month, 
and the whole plot was laid open. The scheme was 
to shoot Carrera as he was coming out of the 
cathedral, for which purpose ten or twelve young 
men were armed with loaded pistols, but hearing 
of the preparations made by the troops, their courage 
failed. It seemed to be a very foolish affair, as the 
parties had made no preparation for establishing 
any other government, and the death of Carrera 
under such circumstances would probably only have 
led to a state of anarchy till the government was 
seized by some person equally bad, who would have 
had to enrich himself by a fresh series of robberies ; 
whereas Carrera, having amassed a fortune beyond 
his most sanguine wishes, has a strong interest in 
maintaining peace and public security in order that 
he may quietly enjoy it. 

The state of Guatemala having (with the excep- 


tion of the short contest with San Salvador) enjoyed 
an almost uninterrupted tranquillity for six years, 
has improved considerably in wealth and industry; 
and, although liberty, and even law and justice, are 
but an empty name under the absolute government 
of the ignorant and profligate person, who governs 
with a power more absolute than the Emperor of 
Kussia, or the Sultan of Turkey, there is," perhaps, 
more security for life and property than in most 
parts of Spanish America ; and, could the govern- 
ment ]>e induced to establish schools on liberal prin- 
ciples, it might be hoped that the population, in- 
creasing in knowledge and morality, as well as in 
riches and industry, might in time be capable of 
appreciating and establishing a firm and respectable 

The states of San Salvador and Honduras have, 
from their long civil war, been reduced to the most 
deplorable state of poverty and misery. Industry 
is at an end, and the people, though in the most 
indigent state, have become so reckless and demoral- 
ised that they will not work or do any thing to earn 
an honest livelihood. The cultivation of indigo, the 
only article of exportation from the former, and the 
working of the mines, the only branch of industry in 
the latter state, are nearly extinct. 

In the end of March the election of a president took 
place in San Salvador; and the different parties, 
prudently passing by their favourites, almost unani- 
mously chose Eugenic Aguilar, Doctor of Medicine, 
a man of moderate principles and good private cha- 
racter, though of but little talent. On the 11th of 
July an insurrection was got up by the Bishop of 

H 5 


San Salvador. This intriguing prelate^ who had 
desired to govern the president, finding that he 
employed men of all parties, and but little con- 
sulted him in the government, hoped, as he had suc- 
ceeded in overturning the two former governments, 
to destroy that of Doctor Aguilar still more easily ; 
but having taken his measures badly, the conspirators 
got intoxicated, and commenced the attack upon the 
government authorities before the signal was given, 
and before the greater number of the insurgents 
had arrived. After a short combat in the streets of 
San Salvador, they were routed and dispersed by the 
government troops, about thirty being killed in the 
fray: and the proofs of the bishop being at the 
head of the revolt being quite indisputable, he was 
banished from the state by the government. Upon 
the revolt breaking out, the president, with charac- 
teristic timidity, had resigned his authority to 
Fermingo Palacios, the senior senator, and was only 
with much difficulty prevailed on to resume it on its 

Honduras ccHitinues quiet, and at the election of 
president, held in July last year. Sen Grual (whose 
real name is probably Wall, the same as that of the 
famous Spanish minister who was of Irish descent,) 
was chosen. This, however, would be of little im- 
portance in the government had not Ferrera, the 
commander-in-chief, who, since the overthrow of 
Morazan, has been the only real governor of the 
state, and his general, Guardiola, whose very name 
was dreaded by all parties, resigned their offices. 
The new president is stated to be one of the most 
wealthy and respectable men in the country ; so that 


Honduras may possibly at last enjoy a period of 
repose and returning prosperity. 

Nicaragua is even in a more miserable condition 
than any of the other states. Sen Sandoval^ a man 
of good character and moderate principles, was elected 
director in the beginning of December, 1845, but 
the government is almost quite powerless, either in 
enforcing obedience to the laws, or punishing any 
infringement of them. 

On the 18 th of March thirty assassins, headed by 
a person called Bemadas Sumoso, seized a schooner 
belonging to the San Salvador government, in the 
port of the Union, forcing the master, an English- 
man, to convey them to Sealejo, where they landed, 
and, proceeding to Old Chinendega, cruelly mur- 
dered Don Bernardo Venereo, the most wealthy and 
respectable native in the state, having first com- 
pelled him to deliver all his money. They assassi- 
nated afterwards, in the same manner, Don Domingo 
Guzman and two Spanish merchants in Chinendega : 
who were among the most quiet and inoffensive 
men in the state. And so helpless was the govern- 
ment that, although Venereo sent them notice of the 
landing of the assassins, and asked a body of troops 
for his protection, they could not induce the soldiers 
to march for want of their pay, which, though it 
amounted to only twenty-five dollars, they were 
unable to raise. 

Agriculture, and all sorts of industry, are at an 
end in every part of this state except in Granada and 
its neighbourhood, where the people are not yet so 
corrupted as in other parts, and though possessing 
natural advantages unequalled by almost any other 

M 6 


part of the world for agriculture, mining and trade, 
natural productions of great value, and a soil of 
unsurpassed fertility, the natives live in the greatest 
misery imaginable, almost naked, and feeding upon 
plantains and other fruits growing naturally in the 
woods without cultivation; while the state is re- 
duced to the lowest condition of poverty and degra- 
dation, without commerce, industry, or the least 
hope of amelioration, till it shall be colonised by a 
new race of people. . 

In Costa Bica, Sen Raphael Gallegas, who was 
constitutionally elected chief of the state in the be- 
ginning of 1845, continued to exercise his authority 
till the 7th of June in the following year, when a 
revolution was got up in San Jos6 by the military 
officers, in which Gallegas was deposed, and Jos6 
Maria Alfaro, much against his will, was forced to 
accept of the supreme command. The revolution 
was not attended with any bloodshed, and the motive 
for the change was difficult to guess at, unless, as is 
probable, the military chiefs thought that Jos^ Mari^ 
Alfaro would be a more convenient tool in their 
hands than Sen Gallegas. In the manifesto issued 
by the leaders of the revolution, no grievance is 
stated except one which might be applied to most 
representative governments, namely, that the legis- 
lative assembly talked a great deal and did very 
little. The resolutions of the leaders comprise the 
abolition of the former state constitution ; the pro- 
clamation of Jos6 Maria Alfaro absolute chief of 
the state, for no specified time, (so that it may be 
supposed that it is for life, or during good behaviour,) 
the immediate election of a new vice-chief, who 


must be a native of the state, not under twenty-five 
years of age, married, or a widower with children, 
must possess property worth not less than 10,000 
dollars, and must not have been criminally punished, 
except by a pecuniary fine, nor executed for debts 
contracted in the state; must have served in other 
public offices without taint, and must be friendly to 
the independence and separate government of the 

A new legislative chamber was to be immediately 
convoked by the chief, and the manner of election to 
be fixed by him ; in the interim, the present assembly 
was to continue its sittings. 

The chief shall be obliged, in the shortest possible 
time, to seek a good port on the north coast, and 
make a road to it from the capital, using for that 
purpose the funds of the public treasury. 

It is much to be feared that this revolution may 
tend to disturb the quiet progress in industry and 
wealth of this little state, as a revolution brought 
about in so illegal a manner cannot be permanent, 
and may probably lead to a series of disputes before 
a return to constitutional government. This is much 
to be regretted, as Costa Rica is one of the few pro-- 
vinces in Spanish America which has made an almost 
uninterrupted progress in prosperity and wealth since 
its independence from the mother country. 

During the year 1846, various attempts were made 
by different states to induce the rest to unite in 
forming a federal government. The 15th of May 
was appointed for the meeting, in Sonsonate, of two 
representatives from each state, but at the appointed 
day only the deputies from San Salvador and Costa 


Rica had arrived, those of Honduras and Nicaragua 
arriving a few days afterwards. The deputies from 
Guatemala did not however appear till the middle of 
July, during which time one of the representatives 
from Costa Rica had died, and the other refused to act 
alone, so that the rest dispersed without effecting 
any thing towards a reunion of the states, or the 
formation of a general government. 

It is evident that Carrera, who exercises the go- 
vernment of Guatemala, is little inclined to agree to 
the formation of any central or federal power which 
might afterwards be used to control his own autho- 
rity ; and the new government, established in Costa 
Rica by the revolution of the 7th of June, has passed 
resolutions declaring that state separate and inde- 
pendent from the rest; consequently no hopes can 
be entertained for the present of a resuscitation of 
the republic of Central America. 

In the mean time, the states of San Salvador, 
Hondiuras, and Nicaragua, may be said to possess 
popular governments legally elected, and Guatemala 
and Costa Rica absolute and self-elected govern- 
ments ; and it is rather a bad sign of their capacity 
for enjoying constitutional liberty that the three 
states possessing a popular government are decidedly 
in the most miserable and disorganised state ; but it 
must also be remembered that the three popular 
governments are almost newly elected, none having 
yet existed for two years continuously, which is not 
sufficient to enable us to judge of their effects upon 
these states. 

During the brief period of the independent exist- 
ence of the nominal republic of Central America (a 


country inferior in extent to any of the other pro- 
vinces of America once belonging to Spain, and only 
containing about 2,000,000 of inhabitants), no fewer 
than 396 persons have exercised the supreme power 
of the republic and the different states, under the 
names of chiefs, governors, presidents, directors, or 
ministers under these officers ; which fact alone, 
without the preceding outline of revolutions and 
massacres, would show the unparalleled want of sta- 
bility in the government of a country which, pos- 
sessing one of the richest territories in the world, 
and a situation without exception the most favourable 
for commerce of any part of the globe, has reached 
the lowest state of poverty, while its trade is nearly 
wholly destroyed, and the people entirely corrupted 
and brought to the most wretched and disorganised 
condition of any country in the whole catalogue of 
nations pretending to the smallest degree of civili- 

Little hope can be entertained of any permanent 
improvement in Central America till some man of 
decided ability shall unite the states and form a cen- 
tral government capable of making itself feared or 
respected by all parties, or till it shall £a,ll under the 
dominion of some foreign power capable of forming 
a firm and powerful government of a nature suited 
to the country, overawing the factious and affording 
ample protection to the industrious and well-disposed. 
It is to be hoped that one or other of these events 
may soon occur to rescue this delightful country 
from its present anarchy, and gradually place it in 
the elevated rank which it would undoubtedly hold 
under an enlightened government. 




The climate of Central America presents a most re- 
markable feature to a European, both on account of 
its great variety of temperature and its equality during 
all seasons of the year. The former arises from the 
great diflFerence in the altitude of the country, and the 
latter, from the rainy season commencing in May 
(which would otherwise be the hottest season), and 
ending in October (which would otherwise be the 
coldest), a circumstance by which the year is as it 
were reversed, the summer months being, on an 
average, a few degrees colder than those of the 

Central America lies between 8° and 17** north 
latitude, and were the land low, would possess a 
climate somewhat hotter than the West Indian 
Islands; but the great difference of altitude has 
caused an endless variety of climate, from the average 
heat of the months of April and May in England, to 
that of the slave coast of Africa. 

The whole of the coast on each side of the con- 
tinent possesses, as might be expected, a nearly 
uniform climate, the variation of latitude not being 
sufficient to cause almost any difference, though the 
heat is a little modified by the form and position of 
the coast ; but the temperature and climate of the 


two coasts differ considerably, owing to the prevail- 
ing winds and figure of the land. On the S.W. 
coast the rains commence regularly in the beginning 
of May ; and, with the exception of a short intermis- 
sion (in some seasons only) of about twenty days 
in the end of July and beginning of August, con- 
tinue tiU the month of October, and in some parts 
and seasons till the middle of November. During 
the rest of the year rain is almost unknown, a slight 
shower not sufficient to lay the dust occurring very 
rarely. On the N.E. coast the rains, on the con- 
trary, continue nearly all the year, with a short and 
uncertain intermission of three or four months ; the 
driest period being from the month of June to Oc- 
tober, and the wettest from October to May. The 
consequence of this, as may be supposed, is, that 
whilst the interior and S.W. coast possess an almost 
equal temperature during the whole year, the N. E. 
coast is extremely sultry during the summer months, 
and is also found to be very unhealthy, on account 
of the superabundant moisture ; while the rest of the 
republic, with some local exceptions, is perhaps more 
healthy than any other country within the same de-» 
grees of latitude. 

Beginning at the most northern point of the re- 
public, we find the province of the Altos (high land) 
for a short time an independent state, but now form- 
ing part of Guatemala. The average temperature of 
the table land of this province, where nearly all the 
population is concentrated, may be equal to that of 
Valencia in Spain, and in some of the higher situa- 
tions the cold is intense, and greater on an average 
than in any part of Britain. In the capital, Quesal- 


tenango, the heat is never so great as during the 
summer months in England ; snow sometimes falls in 
the months of December and January, but it never 
lies on the ground, and the temperature never falls 
to within several degrees of the freezing point. 

Solola, the next largest town in the province, has 
about the summer temperature of York, and the 
winter of Madeira. The climate of New and Old 
Ghiatemala is, in the dry season, about equal to 
the summer in the south of England, and, in the wet 
season, to the winter of Morocco, the thermometer 
rarely rising above 80°, or sinking below 60° of 

The province of Vera Paz is about ten degrees 
hotter than that of Guatemala, and the heat gra- 
dually increases towards the coast. 

The state of San Salvador lies, on an average, 
considerably lower than that of Guatemala, but the 
heat is never oppressive except near the coast. The 
average temperature of the city of San Salvador 
may be equal in the dry season to the south of 
France, the wet season being about eight degrees 
colder than the dry. 

Many of the largest towns in this state, as Son- 
senate and San Miguel, are situated very little above 
the level of the sea, and have an oppressively hot 
climate, varying from 80 to 90 degrees in the wet 
and dry seasons. 

Honduras, as its name (depths or valleys) implies, 
has a very unequal surface; the capital, Comay- 
agua, has a climate little cooler than that of the 
coast, but its principal commercial town, Tegoci- 
galpa, is nearly as cool as Guatemala. Many parts 


of the interior of this state have a most delightful 
climate, of the average temperature of the south of 
Europe ; while the N. E. coast, including the two 
principal ports of Omoa and Trujillo, have a climate 
similar to British Guiana, the heat during part of 
the year being excessive, and the climate very un- 

The greater part of the state of Nicaragua consists 
of plains and undulating slopes, there being no dis- 
tricts of table lands, as in all the other states, and of 
mountains, which occupy but a small proportion of 
the surface, being for the most part rugged and pre- 
cipitous volcanic peaks, with few habitations on 
their steep sides; hence the temperature of most 
of the towns in the state, including Leon, the capital, 
is nearly the same as that of the S. W. coast. The 
cities of Ghinnada and Nicaragua being on somewhat 
higher land, possess a rather more temperate climate, 
though not so cool as most parts of the other states ; 
while Segovico, which is situated to the north, near 
the state of Honduras, possesses a delightful climate, 
its altitude being nearly the same as that of the 
capital of San Salvador. 

The part of Costa Bica, where the population is 
concentrated, is a high table land. The old capital 
of Cartago has nearly the same average temperature 
as Guatemala ; but being on the N. E. side of the 
Cordillera, the wet and dry seasons are reversed, the 
rains commencing in November, and ending in April 
or May. The new capital of San Jos6, and the 
only two other towns of any importance, Heridia 
and Alhajuela, have a climate a few degrees hotter, 
but the rains continue fully a month longer than in 


the states of Guatemala^ San Salvador^ and Nica- 
ragua, commencing in the end of April, and ending 
in the beginning or the middle of November. 

The northernmost states of Central America, in 
the centre and S. E. coast, appear to have the 
driest weather. More than half the N. E. coast is 
claimed hj the British and Moschito Indians ; and 
the parts which still belong to Central America 
are but thinly inhabited, by a different race of 
people from those of the centre and S. W. coast, 
who greatly dread the N. E. coast on account of 
its climate, which proves very fatal to natives of 
the interior. 

The vegetable productions of Central America are 
perhaps more varied than those of any other part of 
the world. If the country were in the possession of 
an industrious and enterprising people, it could not 
fail to be one of the richest on the globe ; but at 
present its only exports of any importance are cochi- 
neal, indigo, coffee, and Brazil wood. The three first 
could be produced in any quantity in many parts of the 
republic, and perhaps more advantageously than in 
any other part of America ; but at present, the only 
parts which exhibit any approach to industry, are 
the small state of Costa Bica, and the cities of Old 
Guatemala and Amatitlan. It would, indeed, appear 
as if all the parts which were most productive in 
the time of the Spaniards were now the most 
wretched and abandoned, while the only two arti- 
cles of cultivation, which seem likely to be con- 
tinued, are of late introduction, and established in 
districts which produced nothing in the time of the 


> \ 

Commencing at the most northerly point of the ^ 

republic, is the province of the Altos, now forming 
part of the state of Guatemala. Wheat of a very 
superior quality is produced in many parts of this pro- 
vince ; but, as there are no roads, and as it must be 
carried on the back of mules by the tracks opened in 
the forest, it can only be sent to a short distance. 
The value of wheat of the best quality does not 
exceed one dollar a fancga of 300 lbs. in Quesalte- 
nango, while the carriage of the same quantity to 
Guatemala, which is not quite a hundred miles dis- 
tant, costs at least six dollars. About 2000 fancgas 
are sent in the year to New or Old Guatemala. 
This province contains considerable flocks of sheep, 
which may be purchased at about four reals (two 
shillings) each ; the quality of the wool is very va- 
rious, but none is equal to the better qualities of 
Germany or Spain. It is generally sold in Quesal- 
tenango at a media (three pence) a pound, all quali- 
ties mixed together ; when in demand it occasionally 
is worth a real (sixpence), but it is never exported, 
as the freight to the nearest port would cost more 
than its value in any part of the world ; so that it is 
all manufactured by the natives into gerga, a coarse 
twilled fabric, thick fringed and bordered cheques 
and stripes for jackets, and large plaids, called 
ponchos by the natives. In the manufacture of the 
two latter articles, considerable taste is shown, and 
some of the work would not disgrace one of our 
Scotch manufactories. The prices of the lower qua- 
lities are very moderate, and decidedly cheaper than 
they could be made in England at the present prices 
of wool there. 


The hotter districts of the province of the Altos 
produce yaailla of very fine quality, and caoutchouc ; 
the latter might be collected in large quantities, as 
the tree is very abundant, but at present it is only 
used for making footballs, and the Indians of course 
only collect what they can sell ; it is worth about a 
media (thi'ee-pence) a pound. 

The state of Guatemala produced nothing when 
under the Spanish government, as the indigo called 
by its name was all grown in San Salvador and 
Nicaragua; but cochineal, which has been parti- 
cularly described in the account of Amatitlan, has, 
within the last twenty years, proved an export of 
considerable value and importance. Cocoa, of most 
excellent quality, is reared on the S. W. coast, 
but it is not sufficient for the supply of the state, 
and bears too high a value — 4 reals (two shil- 
lings) a pound — to make it available for export- 
ation, even if the roads and other circumstances per- 
mitted it. 

Coffee is also produced in small quantities for the 
supply of Guatemala; some large plantations have 
lately been made, but it is doubtful if they wiU 
prove profitable till roads are made, and ports esta- 
blished for exportation. 

The principal produce of the state of San Sal- 
vador is indigo, which has been particularly noticed 
in the account of that state. But the province of 
Sonsonate also produces the celebrated balsam of 
Peru, which is called by that name from its having 
been taken by the Spaniards to Lima, and thence 
exported to Spain, though the article is only pro- 
duced in the neighbourhood of Sonsonate. It is ob- 


tained by boring a hole into the heart of the tree^ 
into which a piece of palm leaf is inserted, a jar 
being placed below to receive the liquid which flows 
from it. It is sold in the city of Sonsonate by the 
Indians, who prepare it in small bottles made up of 
a sort of gourd, at about four reals (two shillings) a 
pound. The balsamita, called white balsam, is made 
by steeping the seed of the same plant in strong 
spirits, and is said to be the best remedy in existence 
for allaying the inflammation of wounds. Vanilla is 
also collected in small quantities, but of very fine 
quality ; it is the seed pod of a small climbing plant, 
found in the same places as the balsam tree, but it is 
not here cultivated as in Mexico, the Indians merely 
gathering the seed pod when they find it wild in the 
woods, but never attempting to propagate it. 

In the neighbourhood of the city of San Salvador 
and of Cojutapeke, very fine ginger, equal to the 
best West Indian is produced, but it has not as yet 
been exported. 

A considerable quantity of sugar is grown in the 
state, and enough might be produced to supply all 
Central America. The sugar made in the neighbour- 
hood of Santa Ana is the best, and forms the principal 
supply for the consumption of Guatemala; although 
manufactured in the rudest manner, it is often as 
white as English refined sugar, the crystal being the 
hardest I have seen in any part of the world, so that 
it can be carried on the back of mules, packed only 
in a few leaves, without the loaf being crushed or 
broken. A sugar estate merely consists of a small 
patch of cane, and a rude wooden mill worked by 
oxen, the pans being imiformly made of clay. None 


of the mills can make above twenty quintals in a 
day, their utmost produce being twenty or twenty- 
five tons a year. Doctor Drivon has got a sugar 
estate at Sonsonate, with machinery imported from 
England, brass pans, and all other conveniences; 
but, from disagreements between him and the mort- 
gagee and importer of the machinery, it has not 
succeeded well, and is now offered for sale at less 
than half its cost, without the least chance of meeting 
a purchaser. 

The doctor told me, that what is called *^chan- 
caca" (the juice of the sugar-cane merely boiled till 
it crystallises, but not cleared of molasses), might 
be produced at 10 reals (5 shillings) a quintal (101^ 
lbs. English). The freight to Valparaiso from Aca- 
jantla, the port of Sonsonate, never exceeds a dollar 
a quintal, and the price there is from three or four 
dollars, sold as it arrives on board ship. But I 
believe that the diflSculty of inducing the natives to 
work steadily, and the risk of all the workmen being 
taken away on the breaking out of one of the very 
frequent civil wars, to the utter ruin of the culti- 
vator, are objections strong enough to prevent most 
persons from attempting any sort of cultivation on a 
large scale in any part of Central America, but most 
especially in this, and the neighbouring states of 
Hondui*as and Nicaragua. 

Proceeding S.E., Honduras is the next state of 
the nominal federation ; it is, naturally, by far the 
most rugged and barren part of Central America, 
and, though with an industrious population many 
articles of value for exportation might be cultivated, 
there is not the least hope of it at present, as, from 


the continued civil wars and exactions of the go- 
vernment, the only branch of industry, viz. the gold 
and silver mines, is almost abandoned. A small 
quantity of sarsaparilla, and about 20,000 bides, 
are annually exported frc^m Trujillo and Omoa; 
and the Belize merchants annually purchase from 
the state government from five to ten thousand 
trees of mahogany, which they cut and export at 
their own expense, paying the government a dollar 
for each tree, however it may turn out. The woods 
of this state on the S. W. side, produce niany ar- 
ticles which might be advantageously exported to 
Europe, if roads were made. A gum, resembling 
that of Senegal, is very plentiful, and a number of 
trees and herbs which produce dyes of different 
colours, the most important being a shrub that 
yields a seed about the size of an almond, with a 
similar husk, and dyes a most beautiful and fast yel- 
low colour; I cannot however say how it might 
stand the voyage to Europe. Vegetable productions 
have never been much attended to in Honduras; 
and the mines, which were always the grand source 
of wealth, are now nearly abandoned, and, unfortu- 
nately, have not been replaced with any other branch 
of industry ; hence the state is fallen into the 
greatest poverty, and the foreign trade is reduced 
to a mere trifle; nor can industry, I fear, be ex- 
pected to revive till it is inhabited by a new race of 

The next state to the S. E. is Nicaragua, which 
possesses lands of unequalled fertility, the whole 
stsite (with the exception of the provinces border- 
ing on Honduras and Costa Hica, and a few volcanic 



ranges), consisting of plains and gentle slopes formed 
of a rich black loam. 

Cotton, of a quality superior to that of Brazil, 
may be produced in any quantity. As much as 
50,000 bales of 300 lbs. each, clean and pressed 
cotton, have been exported ivt the year, but like 
all other articles produced in this state, the cultiva- 
tion is now at a very low ebb ; and, though a 
machine, capable of cleaning 20,000 bales in the 
year was some time ago put up near Bealejo, it is 
now almost unused, as the little cotton which is 
yet produced is nearly all sent to Costa Bica, with^ 
out cleaning, or manufactured 1^ the natiyes of the 
state into a coarse sort of cloth, which is used in 
making hammocks, sail cloth, &C;. Sugar and indigo^ 
the latter being equal to the finest Bengal, were at 
one time extensively manufactured ; but the sugar 
now exported is reduced to about 100 tons of Chan- 
caca (the name given to the cane juice boilied till it 
crystallises) ; and from 100 to 150 bales of indigo. 

Near Granada there are a number of cocoa planta- 
tions, which produce an article only second in quality 
to the cocoa of Soconoscoy and the coast of Guate- 
mala; these plantations supply a. great part of the 
consumption of the states of Nicaragua, Honduras, 
and San Salvador, the remainder being made up by 
importations from Guayaquil. The usual price in 
Granada is from fifteen to twenty dollars a quintal, 
but none is now exported, except to the other states 
of Central America, as the plantations produee less 
every year, not being renewed, and are not now 
equal to the demand of the republic ^ and, as Guaya- 
quil cocoa, which ought to cost nearly as much in the 


production, is sold at from five to six dollars a quintal^ 
the profit in Granada must be enormous ; stilly like all 
other branches o£ cultivation, it is rapidly falling off, 
and soon promises to be at an end. Brazil wood, 
cedar, and mahogany, are found in the forests of this 
state, in what may be termed inexhaustible quanti*- 
ties. Of the first named, five ot six cargoes are 
annually shipped from Realejo ; the tree has a very 
crooked and stunted appearance, and can be com- 
pared to no European species ; it is conveyed about 
forty lef^ues to the port, and put along side the 
launches at Kealejo, at from two to two and a half 
dollars a quintal. Mr. Bridge has erected a saw-mill 
for cutting boards, and annually sells a few thousand 
yards of plank for shipment to Costa Kica and the 
South American states ; but, as he remarked to me, 
before establishing any work in these countries, people 
should import purchasers, and money for them to 
purchase with. A small quantity of mahogany is 
exported from Saint John's, the port of the N. £• 
side of the state (now claimed by the Moschito 
Indians); also about 15,000 hides, the remainder, 
about 10,000, being shipped from Brealejo. 

The state of Costa Bica yielded nothing in the 
time of the Spaniards, the only export being a small 
quantity of gold, produced in the hill of Aguacate ; 
•but since the introduction of coffee (the cultivation 
of which I have already described), it has made such 
xapid progress, that this year, 1836, 70,000 quintals 
worth in the i)ort of Punta Arenas (seven and a half 
dollars a quintal) have been exported, and the export 
of next year is expected to reach 100,000 quintals ; 
where it must probably remain stationaify till the 

N 2 


population increases, as all the present inhabitants are 
not more than sufficient to work the plantations now 
existing. Chancaca sugar was manufactured near 
Alajuela, about 200 tons being annually exported for 
some years ; but there is now little more grown than 
is sufficient for the consumption of the state. The 
tobacco of Costa Kica is of very superior quality, and 
supplies that state and Nicaragua ; it is -a govern- 
ment monopoly, and is soM for home use by retail, 
at 4 reals per pound, and for the supply of Nica- 
xagua^ at from 2 to 3 reals. Should the cultivation 
©f coffee be at any time wholly or partially dis- 
continued, this might form an important article 
of export, as it is considered by many people fully 
equal to the best tobacco produced in the island of 

Near the coast there are large fields of the wild 
indigo plant, which is manufSEictured by the natives 
to a small extent, in the same manner as the culti- 
vated plant in San Salvador ; a canoe cut out of a 
large tree serves instead of a tank, and two men, 
with common paddles, supply the place of the wheel 
for beating the water, to give it the desired colour. 
Near the coast there are also two or three indigo 
estates, that produce a few bales of indigo, which 
is all consumed in the state ; but the great success 
of the coffee plantations has caused nearly all other 
descriptions to be abandoned. Wheat enough is 
still, however, grown near San Jos6 for the con- 
sumption of the city ; that, however is but small, 
tortillas being preferred here, as in all parts of 
Central America. 

Central America contains moat of. the animals 



known in the tropical and temperate regions of this 
continent* In its vast forests are found the puma, 
an animal in shape resembling the Asiatic and 
African lion,- but in size not exceeding a Newfound- 
land dog, also a species of leopard, called a tiger by 
the natives ; and on the N. E. coast there exists a 
black animal of this species, which, though not 
larger than an English terrier dog, sometimes attacks 
the human species. 

Monkeys are extremely numerous, and in great 
variety. The most ordinary are about two feet 
high, of a brown colour; another species, very 
abundant in Costa Kica, and some other parts, have 
long arms, and a body about three feet high ; in the 
6ame state is found a very small monkey, whose height 
does not exceed nine inches, having a white face, 
its body prettily formed, very gentle, and easily 
domesticated. In the woods of San Salvador, Nica-* 
ragua, and Honduras, large black monkeys, from 
four to five feet in height, are abundant ; they are 
of a hideous form, and cannot be domesticated. 
In the latter state, I am told that a species of 
monkey has been seen with blue eyes, white face, 
and about five feet in height, but I could not obtain 
a specimen. 

A small species of fallow deer is very numerous in 
all parts of Central America, and forms a common 
food for the inhabitants ; when caught young they 
are easily domesticated, and become as tame as dogs. 
Hares, sloths, weasels, and squirrels, abound in most 
parts, and in the retired districts a species of opossum, 
not differing much from those of the island of Van 
Diemen's Land, is very numerous. 

N 3 


TheTBBt Tuietjrfbbds would fbnii a kigefidd 
for die omitiMdagiBft ; s Bpedes of cairioii Tuliiue 
(called aope b j the natmB) ahomwlB every wfcere» 
and upon tlie deatk of anj anianl tbej oaBect in 
HiH i ie i Mie floAs to deroor H ; they are the ecaTei^cn 
in all parts of SpaoiahAmexicawhidi I have jei seen. 
PdicuiB, and a species of paeons, dhonnd in the 
cnltivated fidds. Macaws panots, and puroqn^^ 
also abound in the woods; and dndo^ teal, and 
qnaiby all £flkrent froaiithe Eoropean qieeiea^in the 
lakes andmanhes. 

A great Taiietyof serpents are to bo met with, 
some bring of the most poiaonooB SQstB. The OMialy 
a small snake, with a Ua<^ head, and a beaotifuDj 
striped bodj, is the most yenomons qpedes of reptile 
known. Its bite is said to be ineorable. The lattle- 
8nake(called Ga8cand)isalsofieqnentljmet with, but 
isnotsodeadljasooHunonaoooontsrqHeamtit. Some 
^leries of serpoite attain a large aae, and I ha^e 
seen them exceed twelre feet in length ; but the boa 
constrictor is only found amoii^ the swamps of the 
N. £. coast. One Tariety has a Innown back and 
yeQow belly ; its moticms are slow^ and its lute is 
not Tcnomoas ; it is killed by the natiTes on account 
of its fat, which is eagerly sought after, beuBg a siqp- 
poaed core for outward and inward bruises. 

Lizards swarm in all parts, the most numerous on 
the coast beii^ a large qiecies (called iguana) fire- 
qoently weighing as mudi as 10 lbs. each, whidi 
are deyoured by the natives ; in Punta Arenas, and 
some other towns on the coast, they literally swarm, 
and may be seen basking in the sun in hundreds. 
They enter all the hooaes^ and steal any food they 


can find ; they are not venomous, but, if caught, bite 
eererely. There is another variety of lizard (called 
avechuche) which is small sized, not exceeding two 
or three inches in length, and of a brilliant colour, 
being purple striped with gold, but exceedingly 
venomous ; they do not easily enter the towns, and 
are only «een in the fields and roads. 

Poisonous insects are by far the greatest pests of 
alL Scorpions, large potsonoue bugs, and centipedes,, 
are very numerous on the coast and middle land, but 
are uot found in the cool r^ions. There is also a 
sort of spider (called cassanpulga, not resembling 
the tarantala, having the body of a blue colour, 
small legs, and working a large and strong web) 
which is said to have the p«wer oi poisoning any 
animal by means of its urine. From the mere touch 
of it several people have died; and the only remedy, 
it is said, is to immerse them in water till they are 
nearly choked. Bees abound in the woods, making 
their nests in the hollow branches of trees, which 
the natives frequently cut down, and hang outside 
their houses, where the bees continue to work quite 
contentedly; there are a great variety of species, 
many without stings: and there is another insect, 
with long legs and small body, called doncella, which 
makes honey and bright yellow wax. 

Ants are in most parts exceedingly numerous, 
and the city of San Salvador appears as if it were 
built on a large ant nest ; they swarm in all the 
houses, and every description of food, not carefully 
protected, is in a short time covered with them. A 
large description of brown ants (called sonpopes) 

K 4 



are very numerous In the fields^ and exceedingly de- 
structive to the cochineal plantations and the young 
maize plant, as they come in swarms, and in a few 
days eat up all the young shoots. 

Many sorts of bats are numerous along the coast ; 
and in Punta Arenas there is a sort of crab, a noc- 
turnal animal, which enters all the houses, and not 
only disturbs people's rest, but destroys clothes or 
any article placed within its reach. 
. The domesticated animals are nearly the same aa 
those of Europe, and the lama and alpaca of South 
America are unknown. Herds of cattle are nume-» 
rous, but not so abundant as in many other parts of 
America ; neither is their value ever so low, as on the 
estates they are worth from four to five dollars, and in 
the principal towns, when fit for killing, from ten ta 
fifteen each ; the dense forest which covers most parts 
of the country not being nearly so favourable to their 
increase as the prairies of North America, or the 
pampas of Buenos Ayres; nor does the uneven and 
rocky nature of the country afford them good pas-* 
turage. Horses are abundant, but never run wild, 
as in some parts of America ; in the towns they are 
worth from ten to a hundred dollars ; but mules are 
much more appreciated, being considered better for 
travelling on the unmade roads or tracks, capable of 
enduring more fatigue, and maintained with less 
food. Sheep and goats are only reared in the pro* 
vince of the Altos, in Guatemala, where there are 
large flocks of the former ; they have been tried in 
the highlands of Costa Rica, but were found not to 
thrive, owing, it is supposed, to the dampness of the. 
climate. Pigs abound in all the villages, where they 


run about in a half starved state, and are always ready 
to pounce upon the food which a traveller may give 
to his mules. They also assist the vultures and dogs 
in devouring carrion : when fattened they are killed 
principally for their fat (with which the Central 
Americans besmear every article of food) ; their flesh 
is not much eaten. Common fowls are abundant in 
all the villages, and live in the houses, mixed with 
the pigs and inhabitants. Turkeys and ducks are 
also generally met with, and from the equal tem- 
perature of the climate lay eggs and breed all the 
year. Pigeons and rabbits have also been intro- 

The fish, both of the rivers and coast, are of little 
variety, and none that I have seen are of good taste 
or flavour ; a small sort, like the tench, is the best 
description ; none are to be found at all resembling 
the salmon, trout, heron, haddock, turbot, sole, or 
cod fish. In the lake of Amatitlan a small fish, 
called by the natives mojaro, is very abundant, but 
there is no variety of species. 

Turtle are abundant on both coasts ; the tortoise- 
shell of those found on the N. E. beinff the best and 
thickest, and fetching the highest price of any sent 
to Europe. Oysters are very plentiful at the Union 
and Punta Arenas, the former are principally found 
on the rocks, and the latter in immense beds, mixed 
with mud ; they are of a very good quality, but an 
extraordinary size, so that they must be cut into a 
number of pieces to be eaten. The quantity appears 
to be quite inexhaustible. 

All parts of Central America, with the exception 
of the plains of Nicaragua, bear the most certain 

V 5 


proofs of having at some period suffered most tre- 
mendous catastrophes by earthquakes and volcanic 
eruptions. More than half the states of Guatemalot 
and San Salvador are covered with scorias and vitri- 
fied stones, the greater part of which appear as fresh 
aa if they had just been ejected from the crater of 
9ome volcano, though in many cases there is no 
mountain bearing the appearance of ever having 
been volcanic within twenty leagues ; and in other 
cases the volcanoes from which they would appear 
to have been ejected must have been extinct for 
many ages, and now present no vestiges of craters, 
their volcanic origin being principally deduced from 
their shape, or the layers of the strata. In many 
cases the vitrified stones, which have been ejected and 
forced to a distance of five or six leagues, are of 
enormous size, and must weigh many hundred tons ; 
hence, fearful as are some of the recorded volcanic 
eruptions, they are nothing to compare with those 
which must formerly have taken place. 

In all the mountainous parts of the states of San 
Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, the broken 
state of the different strata proves the occurrence 
of a vast succession of earthquakes. Near Old Gua« 
temala, the granite is in many places raised upwards 
several hundred feet, and the strata in places is 
broken ofi" short as if the uplifting force had been 
applied to one part only, while other parts have been 
very unequally raised or, perhaps, depressed. In. 
some parts, the rock appears to have been decom* 
posed in some places, while others have remained 
solid ; and the decomposed parts being washed away 
by water, have left immense ravines, exposing the 




superincumbent strata to the depth of upwards of 
1000 feet, the whole being eomposed of successive 
layers of scorias, lava^ vitrified stones, volcanic sand 
and gravel, which have evidently been successively 
ejected from the neighbouring volcanoes, until they 
have attained this enormous depth. 

In every part of the states of Guatemala and San 
Salvador which I have visited, the earth is mixed with 
cinders and vitrified stones^ and the soil in all parts 
appears to consist of decomposed volcanic matter, 
with a small admis;ture of vegetable substances. 

Between the city of San Salvador and Cajutepeke, 
the surface of the country is divided into ridges 
resembling the waves of the sea, the average depres* 
sion and elevation appearing to be about 500 feet. 
In many places the granite and gneiss strata are 
forced up perpendicularly, and in others appear as if 
they had been broken off and turned over. The ori- 
ginal inequality, after the catastrophe or succession of 
movements which caused it, must have been much 
greater than it appears at present, as the rains have 
washed down the softer parts of the rocks into the 
valleys, which now contain portions of level and 
sloping land evidently composed of materials washed 
from the heights. ' 

Vast assemblages of boulders are to be seen in 
many parts of the states of Guatemala} San Sal- 
vador, Honduras, and Costa Bica; in some places 
they are intermixed with volcanic rocks, so that it 
is difficult to decide whether they have been ejected 
from some volcano, or conveyed to their present po- 
sition by an immense rush of water. 

N 6 



All the rocks I have seen are composed of granite, 
gneiss, basalt, or some volcanic ejection, no part 
appearing to be of secondary formation ; and the 
sand appears all to he either of direct volcanic for- 
mation, or formed by the trituration of the rocks in 

I have been informed, that marine shells have 
been found on the tops of some of the mountains of 
Costa Rica, but I could not procure any samples of 
them, nor have I ever noticed any on the mountains 
I have ascended there, or in Guatemala and San 
Salvador, in all of which the frequent appearance of 
cinders and vitrified rocks showed most clearly their 
volcanic origin, or their vicinity to volcanic vents. 

Brimstone, in a remarkably pure state, is found in 
many of the volcanoes. In that of San Miguel it is 
very abundant, and resembles in appearance that 
refined in Europe, As this volcano is only fifteen 
leagues distant from the most excellent port of the 
Union, it might become an article of export, if good 
roads should ever be made in Central America. 
Sal ammoniac is said to be found in many of the vol- 
canoes in large quantities, but I did not see it in 
any of those I visited. Diamonds have occasion- 
ally been found in the Altos, and in part of Hon- 
duras, and rock crystals are very abundant in 
many parts. Limestone is occasionally met with in 
all the states, and seams of coal are discovered by 
the convulsions which have taken place in all parts 
of the state of Guatemala, and, as I have been in- 
formed, also in the states of San Salvador and Hon- 

Nitre is produced near Old Guatemala, in quanti- 


ties sufficient for the consumption of the state ; and 
alum is abundant near Amatitlan, and many other 
places. Building-stone is pretty generally dispersed 
in all districts, but is not used to any extent except 
in Guatemala, all the houses in the other towns 
being made either of mud or of wood. The gra- 
nite is exceedingly hard, being much finer grained 
than that of Aberdeen, with which the streets of 
London are paved, and (like all the rocks I have 
seen in Central America) entirely destitute of mica, 
being generally of a dark lead colour, and extremely 
equal and solid. Slate is found in many parts of Gua- 
temala, but it is not worked, the natives universally 
covering the roofs of their houses with tiles; and 
the difficulty of conveying slate on the backs of 
mules would probably prevent its general use, even 
if any one had enterprise enough to attempt the 
working of the mines. 

Though the vegetable productions of Central 
America are so valuable, the hidden treasures are 
scarcely of inferior worth, and in no part of the 
world are mines of the precious metals so generally 
found, nearly in every district. Commencing at the 
S. W. part of the republic, mines of gold and silver 
are very numerous among the mountains of the pro- 
vince of the Altos, and some were successfully worked 
before the Conquest, and during the Spanish do- 
minion. There are also mines containing lead in a 
nearly pure state, the ore yielding upwards of ninety 
per cent, of metal ; it is said, that some specimens 
contain as much as twenty-five per cent, of silver 
mixed with the lead, but I do not vouch for the 
truth of the assertion, as some specimens I analysed 


jid uot oontaiii any silver ; and of a number which 
were brought me^ none contained a quantitj worth 

No mine is at present regularly worked in the 
Altos^ though many old workings exist near Totoni- 
capan and Gueguetenanga, the natives having fol- 
lowed the lode as long as it paid the expense of 
working, but never attempting to sink shafts, or 
work the mine in a scientific manner. The Indians 
still collect a little gold in the beds of the rivers, but 
not in any quantity worth consideration. 

Mr. Anderson, a half-pay officer in the British 
service, and formerly governor of the ill-fated colony 
of Abbotsville, has lately formed a company in 
England, and brought out a number of miners, for 
the purpose of working some silver lead mines in 
this province, which are said to promise well. He 
is also engaged in working a mine, newly discovered, 
near the Boca Nueva, on the N« E. coast of the 
state of Guatemala; some specimens of the ores 
from which were previously shown me, and from 
some simple tests I applied to them they appeared 
to contain a considerable proportion of silver ; but 
though I offered to analyse them, without charge, if 
the proprietor would pay for the necessary materialfi^ 
he did not choose to do so, and I had not sufficient 
curiosity to lay out money for his benefit. 

At the village of Patapa, nine leagues from Santa 
Ana, in the state of San Salvador, are some very 
rich mines of iron, which produce a purer and more 
malleable metal than any imported from Europe; 
the ore is almost close to the surface, and very 
abundant, and there are extensive forests in the 


immediate yicinity, which serve for making charcoal ; 
but the quantity of iron manufactured does not even 
supply the trifling consumption c^ the state, which 
does not exceed at most eight or ten tons in the year, 
and the workmen are so independent, that they will 
not labour unless the money is advanced some twelve 
months before they deliver the iron, which at present 
i& worth ten dollars per 100 lbs. 

In the same neighbourhood are several silver 
mines, which were successfully worked in the time 
of the Spanish government, but are now entirely 

About five leagues north from San Miguel are a 
number of mines, principally silver, many of which 
were celebrated in the time of the Spanish govern- 
ment. Among the mines of El Encuentro was one, 
called La Carolina, worked by a Spaniard about 
thirty years ago. Having laid out all his own pro- 
perty, atid what he could borrow from his friends, 
amounting to about 50,000 dollars, he borrowed 
50,000 more from the government, but, after getting 
the mine into working order, he in less than six 
months paid all he owed, and dying a few months 
afterwards, left 70,000 dollars, the produce of the 
mine, in gold and silver : after his death, the owner* 
ship of the mine was dbputed, and though it 
would appear that he had just begun to find its 
riches, it has been since entirely abandoned, and the 
rains have now filled it with water. The minea of 
the Tabanco were even more celebrated than those 
of the Encuentro, and yielded upwards of a million of 
dollars annually, though worked in a most rude 
manner, without machinery ; some few are still 


worked, but to a very trifling extent, the want ot 
capital in the country, and the insecurity of govern- 
ment, preventing all extensive undertakings. 

The principal of these mines, said to have yielded 
200,000 dollars annual profit in the time of the 
Spanish government, has lately been recommenced 
by Don Bartola Geral, a native of Valencia, in 
Spain, and brother to Don Francisco Geral, whose 
mining speculations in Costa Rica were so successful ; 
he has been working it and another contiguous mine, 
for about eighteen months, and spent about 20,000 
dollars, and has lately discovered a very promising 
lode of silver ore. If he had money to put up 
the requisite machinery, &c., it appears probable 
that the mine might yet be found as productive as 
ever ; but want of capital, and the difficulty of find- 
ing constant labour, will, I fear, greatly hamper the 
speculation. Proceeding twenty degrees to the N.E. 
of San Miguel, we reach the town of Tegucigalpa, 
the centre of the mining district of the state of Hon- 
duras, which still produces some amount of the pre- 
cious meta,ls, although not one tenth of what they 
have formerly done. All the hills in the neighbour- 
hood possess mines of gold and silver, the two metals 
being most generally mixed together ; and although 
none have been excavated to any depth or worked 
with proper machinery, they have formerly yielded 
more than 2,000,000 of dollars annually, and, were 
European capital and science introduced, it is im« 
possible to say what the produce might amount to. 
About six leagues distant are the mines of Quayaca, 
near which a considerable quantity of gold is col- 
lected. I am positively assured, on the best autho- 


rity, that these mines have never been examined by 
any scientific miner, and the only stranger who has 
attempted working them is Captain Moore, a half-pay 
officer in the British service, who himself told me 
he knew nothing at all about mining, and had not 
seen a mine till he arrived in Central America. He 
was assisted by a native of the United States, a 
working miner, but who knows nothing whatever 
of the scientific part of the business. Captain Moore 
is a man by no means fitted to get on in Central 
America, being far too liberal in his dealings, and 
allowing himself to be plundered by the natives on 
all hands, and far too honourable and gentlemanly 
to compete with the Spaniards (who form the bulk 
of the population) in their low cunning. 

The natives of Tegucigalpa are among the best 
class of people in Central America; and as, from 
the most authentic statements I have been able to 
collect, its neighbourhood would appear to possess 
natural stores of the precious metals, even exceeding 
those of the celebrated naines of Potosi, in Bolivia ; 
it would appear a very good speculation for a scien- 
tific and practical miner, supported with sufficient 
capital, to attempt their working ; perhaps the best 
adventure now to be found in Spanish America. 

The ores generally contain from twelve to fifteen per 
cent, of silver, and from one to one and a half per cent. 

I of gold ; but the latter metal is also found pure in 

many places, and the value of some thousand dollars 
is annually collected by the Indians in the sands of 
the rivers, pieces of gold weighing as much as 5 or 

\ 6 lbs. being occasionally discovered. 

' Traces of gold and silver are found in nearly all 


the mountainous parts of Honduras, which^ as before 
stated, form nearly the whole of the state, and, were 
they examined by competent persons, no doubt most 
valuable discoveries would be made. From the vi* 
dnity of all parts of this state to the ports of the 
Atlantic, it possesses great advantages over the in* 
terior of Mexico, Colombia, and Bolivia ; but the un- 
settled state of the government, and the wretched con- 
dition of the roads, certainly form a great objection : 
yet the roads in most parts of Mexico and Peru are 
equally bad, and these governments have made a habit 
of exacting oppressive contributions from strangers, 
which the states of the nominal republic of Central 
America are prevented from attempting to levy by 
their extreme weakness. 

Some rich gold washings exist at Matagalpa, near 
Segovia, on the northern extremity of the state of 
Honduras, which are only worked by the Indians, 
who annually collect and dispose of a few pounds of 
very pure gold ; but the precious metals have not 
been collected in any other part of Nicaragua, though 
traces of them have been found in the mountainous 
districts. Several veins of copper ore have been dis- 
covered in this state, one of which was some years 
ago worked by Messrs. Manning and Glentow, but, 
from the unskilful manner in which the workings 
were managed (for they had no miner to assist them, 
and were totally ignorant of the business) the spe- 
culation turned out a losing one, although some of 
the ores shipped to England yielded thirty-five per 
cent, of copper, and the lode was very wide and 
promising. As fuel is very abundant in all parts 
of Central America, it would appear that the ore 


should undoubtedly have been smelted on the spot 
instead of being shipped. 

In the district of Nicoya, lying between the pen 
pulous parts of Nicaragua and Costa Bica, and now 
belonging to the latter state, many traces of the 
precious metals are said to exist ; but, as the country 
is only inhabited by a few hundred cattle-herds, and 
almost no foreigners have ever passed through it, 
little can be known of what it really contains. 

In the mountain of Aguacate, on the road from 
the port of Punta Arenas to San Jos€, the capital 
of Costa Rica, several very profitable gold mines 
have been worked ; one of them was, till about six 
years ago, possessed by Messrs. Geral and Espinach, 
two Spaniards, who, in a short time, made a net 
profit of upwards of 200,000 dollars. They after- 
wards sold the mine to a private English company, 
by which it is still worked, and is said by the na- 
tives to be as rich as ever ; but I believe the com- 
pany has never made any dividend of the profits, 
though it is said that most of the people employed 
in charge of the mine have somehow netted very 
handsome sums of money. Two other mines are 
worked near the same place by an Englishman of the 
name of Philips (who I understand is a common 
working miner, almost wholly uneducated), and se- 
veral by natives ; but as the labourers prefer working 
in the cofiee-plantations, there is, as Mr. Philips and 
several of the natives have informed mo^ great diffi- 
culty in procuring labourers, even at an advanced 
price, as the natives of Costa Bica, though more 
industrious than those of any other part of Central 
America, or, indeed, of any part of the old Spanirii 


colonies I have seen, are yet too fond of their ease 
to engage in so laborious a work as mining, when 
they can gain more than is required to live better than 
they have been accustomed to do, by the light work 
required in cultivating coffee ; so that it would be 
almost necessary for any person attempting extensive 
mining speculations in Costa Rica to bring labourers 
with them. 

In no country in the world of similar extent are 
active and extinct volcanoes so extensive as in Central 

The principal active volcanoes are about ten in 
number. Commencing at the N. W. end of the 
republic we observe the volcano of Atitlan, situated 
near the lake of Panajachel, in the state of Guate- 
mala, remarkable for the frequency and violence of 
its eruptions, the last of which took place in 1828 
and 1833 ; on both of which occasions it vomited 
immense quantities of stones and ashes, covering the 
coast of Suchtepequez for many leagues, and utterly 
destroying all traces of vegetation and animated na- 
ture. Its explosions were terrific, accompanied with 
violent earthquakes, which levelled every building 
in the neighbourhood, and detached immense masses 
of rock from the neighbouring mountains ; the whole 
surrounding country, for upwards of thirty miles, 
remaining for fifty hours buried in the most pro- 
found darkness. 

Next to this is the volcano of Old Guatemala, 
called "fuego" (fire), from which smoke is almost 
continually issuing, accompanied with occasional ex- 
plosions and shocks of earthquakes ; but there is no 
tradition of any violent eruption, though, as I have 


remarked when speaking of Old Guateitiala^ it has 
left sufficient monuments of tremendous ravages at 
some former period, the country being in some parts 
covered with ashes, sand, and other volcanic mate- 
rials to a depth of more than a thousand feet ; and 
immense masses of rock, weighing many tons, being 
hurled to a distance of five or six leagues. 

The immense height, and precipitous cone of this 
volcano must render an eruption most fearful in its 

The volcanoes of Pacaya are not distant more than 
seven or eight leagues in a direct line from those of 
Old Guatemala, and they would appear to have ori- 
ginated much more recently than the former, their 
eruptions being (as I have stated in the account of 
my visit to them) of a much more recent date. 

Proceeding about forty leagues in a direct line 
east, we meet the volcano of Isolco, the only volcanic 
mountain in Central America which has been formed 
since the historical period. As before stated, it is in 
a continued state of activity, but has never caused 
any devastation in the surrounding country, which 
appears generally to be the case with those volcanoes 
which are in a continued state of eruption, the most 
violent explosions generally proceeding from those 
mountains, the periods between whose eruptions are 

The volcano of San Salvador has not broken out 
for more than three centuries; and, as it is only 
about twelve leagues distant in a direct line from 
that of Isolca, it would appear that the volcanic vent 
is changed. Its ravages within the historical period 
have not been great, but in some former age it has 


€(jected immense masses of lava and scoriae (to a dis- 
tance of more than six leagues) which cover many 
square miles. In all directions immense rocks may 
be seen thrown to great distances, but its most vio- 
lent eruptions have evidently taken place very long 
before the time reached by any tradition, as the vol- 
canic rocks are in many places worn by the weather, 
or covered with moss ; while all the lava and stones 
thrown out by eruptions of which there is any ao 
count, and many of a more remote period, have a 
perfectly fresh appearance. The volcano of San 
Salvador is remarkable for the great deptJi of its 
crater, the bottom of which is now occupied by a 
lake of water. Dr. Weems, a North American 
gentleman, and the first person who ever descended 
it, conceives that it must at least have a league^, 
or 5000 Spanish yards (equal to 14,166| English 
feet) perpendicular descent, even the half of which 
would much exceed the depth of the crater of any 
other volcano yet explored. The sides of the crater 
are stated to slope like a cone, forming a perpendi- 
cular wall on each side, the top being about three 
leagues in circumference ; and it must have required 
an inconceivably immense body of lava to fill so 
laige a basin, which it must have done before running 
over the top of the volcano. 

Proceeding E. S.E., San Miguel is the next 
active volcanic vent. This mountain rises to an 
immense elevation from the plain, but has never 
been ascended. It has been estimated by rough 
measurements at about 15,000 feet high; but, as 
the plain below it is nearly on a level with the sea, 
it appears more majestic than any other mountain 


I have ever seen, not excepting Chimborazo, the 
highest of the Andes. All the surrounding country 
for upwards of ten leagues is covered with cinders 
and half-melted stones, some of immense size, which 
have evidently been ejected from the volcano ; and 
the site of the city of San Miguel is covered with 
lava and ecoriee, which it has ejected before the 
period of tradition, San Miguel being one of tlie 
oldest cities in America. Its last eruption took 
place in 1844, the effects of which I have already 
described; but some of its former eruptions are 
proved, by the immense masses of rock which have 
been ejected, to have been of a much more violent 

Conseguina lies about twenty leagues in a direct 
line fix)m San Miguel. I have already particularly 
described this mountain and its eruption in January, 
1835, supposed to have been the most violent of 
which history gives an account in any part of the 

Near the lake of Managua, or Leon, is the volcano 
of Momotonga, regarding which the Indians have a 
tradition of a tremendous eruption about a century 
before the Spanish conquest, when they assert that 
the lava ran into the lake and destroyed all the fish ; 
but I am told, by parties who have visited the place, 
that this cannot be true, as the lava appears never 
to have reached the water. 

On the road from the town of Nicaragua to Costa 
Rica is the village of Ninderie, near which is a low 
volcanic mountain, stated to have been in a state of 
eruption about 250 years ago, when some monks 
having appi^aohed the edge of the crater, saw a clear 


stream of yellow liquid running below, which they 
fancied to be melted gold, and, having procured an 
iron bucket and chain, they let it down in hopes of 
procuring a sample, but the bucket and part of the 
chain were melted by the heat, and the monks baffled 
in their design. I leave those who have attempted 
to approach the crater of any active volcano to judge 
of the probability of the story. 

The only other active volcano with which I am 
acquainted in Central America is that of Cartago, 
which I have before spoken of. This mountain has 
left most evident traces of the violence of its former 
eruptions ; but they are all before the historical pe- 
riod, the only proof of its present activity being a 
small rill of smoke which may be seen from the 
foot of the mountain. 

Near many of the active, and some of the extinct 
volcanoes, are openings in the ground called by the 
natives ausoles or infernales. They are generally of 
a small size, and nearly circular form, and emit 
smoke or steam. The principal with which I am 
acqusdnted are those near Amatitlan, Ahnachapan, 
San Salvador, and San Vicente ; but I understand 
that they are to be found in many other parts of 
Central America. Those near Ahnachapan are nu- 
merous, and in a very active state. They would 
appear to proceed from the same source as the vol- 
cano of Isolco, which is about eight leagues distant 
on the other side of a chain of hills ; about nine are 
in continued activity, and emit steam and smoke, 
accompanied with a rushing noise. Their sides are 
covered with brimstone, and other volcanic produc- 
tions. It would appear that these openings may 


cither be the incipient commencement of volcanoes, 
or the remnant of those called extinct, though their 
fires are not quite extinguished. Hot springs are 
often found in their vicinity, and, indeed, very fre- 
quently in all parts of the country. 

Half of the mountain peaks in Central America 
are probably extinct volcanoes, and there is no part 
of the republic where five or six, evidently of volcanic 
origin, may not be seen at the same time. The most 
remarkable of those with which I am acquainted, 
are those of " Agua" (water), mentioned in the ac- 
count of Old Guatemala; San Vicente, remarkable 
for its lofty double-peaked top ; Conchagua, already 
described; Old Chinendega, near the town of 
that name, in Nicaragua, remarkable for its sharp- 
pointed peak and detached position; and Tigre, a 
volcanic mountain rising out of the sea in the bay 
of Conchagua, somewhat resembling the peak of 
Teneriffe, but much inferior in height ; also the ex- 
tinct volcanoes of Telega, Managua, Masaya, and 
Nicaragua. It would appear reasonable to suppose 
that all the extinct volcanoes have become dormant 
before the origin of the active vents in their vicinity, 
as San Salvador appears to have done since the origin 
of Isolco, and, if the time required by some of the 
existing active volcanoes to attain their present great 
elevation (as that of San Miguel and Fuego at Old 
Guatemala) be considered, it will be seen that the 
extinct vents must have been closed for a vast length 
of ages, although the lava ejected from some of them 
appears as if it had just cooled ; and it is evident, 
from the masses of rock ejected, that, terrific as were 
the late eruptions of Amatitlan and Coseguin% they 



are nothing compared with some that must formerly 
have taken place. 

As might be anticipated^ in a country abounding 
with volcanoes^ and which has been the scene of such 
great convulsions, earthquakes are of very frequent 
occurrence, and sometimes very violent. That of 
1773, which caused the abandonment of Old Guate- 
mala, is the most known, from accounts published in 
Europe, though it was not nearly so violent in its ef- 
fects as some which have since occurred in other parts 
of the republic. The accounts of the earth opening and 
swallowing entire houses^ vomiting fire, &c. (which 
I have read in some statements of the catastrophe 
published in England) are, as I have stated when 
speaking of Old Guatemala, an absurd fiction; 
and those who copied them from the Spanish nar- 
ratives might as well have added the other interesting 
particulars of devils being seen to ascend out of the 
earth when it yawned, and to assist actively in pull- 
ing down the sacred edifices ; and wooden and stone 
figures of the saints running away and beckoning the 
inhabitants to follow them, with many other occur- 
rences equally novel and surprising. If such phe- 
nomena really occurred in the earthquakes of Lisbon 
and Calabria, they must have been much more severe 
than any which have occurred in Central America 
in modem times ; but, as I have read the same fables 
regarding the earthquakes of Quito, Lima, Valpa- 
raiso, and Conception, borrowed apparently from the 
most authentic sources, and ascertained from per- 
sonal examination, and parties present at the time, 
I am inclined to think that they never have takea 
place except in the terrified imi^nations of the in** 


At a quarter before nine at night on the 23d of 
April, 1830, a smart shock of an earthquake was felt 
in the capital of Guatemala, and stated to be the 
most severe since 1773. All the inhabitants deserted 
their houses, and passed the night in the squares and 
streets ; and the government officers, and many of 
the inhabitants, fled to Jocotenango, a village two 
leagues distant. The injuries inflicted by the earth- 
quake were, however, found to be not nearly so great 
as was at first supposed. Very few houses were 
thrown down, the principal injury being the demo- 
lition of the towers and cracking of the vaulted roof 
of the church of St. Francisco, and some injury done 
to the churches of Santa Teresa and the Kecollection. 

In the month of February, 1831, and again in 
September, 1839, smart shocks of an earthquake 
were experienced in the city of San Salvador, both 
of which ruined a great part of the city, and caused 
the terrified inhabitants to fly from it. In the latter, 
three distinct shocks were felt, immediately preceded 
by a loud report like a distant discharge of a park of 
artillery. The shock, which seemed to come in a hori- 
zontal direction from the volcano, overturned a great 
number of buildings. The government officers, and 
most of the inhabitants, fled to the town of Cajute- 
peke, which, although only ten leagues distant, was 
not affected by the earthquake, where they remained 
nearly a month before venturing to return. 

Cartago, the old capital of Costa Bica, was, on the 
2nd of September 1841, nearly levelled with the 
ground by a succession of violent shocks of earth- 
quake, and, of about 3000 houses previously existing, 
not 100 remained entire. Of eight churches^ also^ 

o 2 


seven were entirely ruined, while one of them, dedi- 
cated to the Virgin Mary, (and, as the inhabitants sup- 
pose, preserved by her special care,) was uninjured ; 
unfortunately it is the smallest and ugliest of the 
whole, but its preservation is proof of the partial 
effects of earthquakes. 

In May, 1844, a succession of violent shocks of 
earthquakes was felt along the N.E. coast of Nica- 
ragua, which neaiiy ruined the city of Granada, and 
did a great deal of damage to the town of Nica- 
ragua, the water in the lake of Nicaragua having 
been observed to rise and fall several times, as if it 
possessed a tide. 

In the end of March, 1845, several violent shocks 
of earthquakes were felt in the towns of Amatitlan, 
Patapa, Paling, and other parts, near the volcanoes 
of Pacaya, which had been in an unusually quiet 
state for some time previously. These shocks were 
continued during all the month of April, and hardly 
left a house standing in the district, forcing the 
people to live in the woods, or in the fields in shedd 
made of cane, which could not be shaken down. 
Many people left the vicinity, dreading that it would 
end in some terrible convulsion ; but, finally, on the 
3rd of May, the volcano of Tormento, at Piacaya, 
threw out large volumes of flame and smoke, accom- 
panied by loud explosions, and has continued burning 
ever since. Since this period no severe earthquakes 
have been experienced in the vicinity, though slight 
shocks may be felt almost daily. 
* In Sonsonate, on the 26th of May, 1846, I felt 
the smartest shock of an earthquake I have expe- 
rienced in Central America. It was preceded 


by a noise resembling a number of coaches at 
full gallop, or the passing of a railway train, and 
violently shook the house where I was residing, but, 
as far as I could ascertain, did not throw down any 
building. The inhabitants said it was the hardest 
shock they had felt ; Sonsonate, probably owing to 
its immediate vicinity to the volcano of Isolco, which 
is continually burning, not being liable to violent 
earthquakes. It had, however, been remarked that 
the volcano was remarkably quiet for some time 

The vicinity of active volcanoes is always very 
liable to shocks of earthquake, but they are often 
so slight that a stranger does not perceive them ; 
and as long as the volcano is in a state of activity 
no severe shocks ever occur; but when a volcano, 
generally in a state of activity, has been quiet for 
some time, there is cause for apprehension in its 

The shocks would appear to be of two classes; 
viz. perpendicular, which are only felt in the im- 
mediate vicinity of volcanoes, and horizontal, which 
reach considerable distances from the place where 
they originate, and are very unequal in their progress, 
in some parts rocking the ground violently, and in 
others in their direct line, nearer their source, 
being but slightly felt ; this, doubtless, arises from 
the nature of the superincumbent strata. 

o 3 







The mode of Kving in Central America is ex- 
tremely different from that of any part of the old 
world. Though wheat, barley, and other European 
grains, have been long introduced, they are only 
grown to some extent in the province of the Altos, 
the state of Guatemala, and in small quantities on the 
table land of the other states ; and wheaten bread is 
only used by a few individuals in the principal towns, 
and even there more as a luxury than an article of 
food. The universal food of all classes consists of 
maize or Indian com, boiled, and ground to a pulp 
between two stones, in which state it is made into 
cakes, and toasted over the fire upon an earthen 
girdle, snch as the Indians have doubtless used for 
ages. Every house is provided with stones for 
grinding the maize, and every Indian and mestizo 
woman understands the manufacture of these cakes, 
which are called tortilios. Next to tortilios, the food 
most in use is a sort of French bean (called frijoles), 
generally of a black colour, but possessing scarcer 
varieties, which are red, brown, and white. These 
beans, when eaten by the natives, are boiled in 
water, which is drained off, and the beans mashed 
and mixed with hog's lard (manteca). 


In the villages^ meat, as soon as killed, is cut into 
long stripes and dried in the sun, and when prepared 
for eating is always fried in hog's lard, a most neces- 
sary article in all- sorts of Central American cookery, 
though most disgusting to a native of Great Britain. 
In the cities, cookery is of course differently man- 
aged, but even there nearly every thing is daubed 
with hog^s lard, and the stranger finds great difficulty 
in inducing the natives to give him his food without 
besmearing it with this article. The upper classes 
have copied the Spanish taste in eating a great quan- 
tity of fruit, vegetables, salad, and sweetmeats. Solid 
joints of meat, as in England, are unknown. 

Chocolate is the universal beverage, and is pre- 
ferred by natives to all others ; but, combined with 
the immense quantities of hog's lard consumed by all 
classes, it is certainly most unhealthy, as is proved 
by the continued stomachic complaints from which 
nearly all the natives suiFer. In Costa Rica, how- 
ever, the use of chocolate is giving way to that of 
coffee, and a few individuals who have visited the 
ports have learnt to prefer tea, though as yet the 
quantity used is very trifling. 

Wines and foreign spirits are very little used, but 
the working classes always spend a large part of 
their earnings on an intoxicating liquor, made either 
from the crude juice of the sugar cane or ripe plan- 
tains, which is of a most unwholesome quality, and 
causes a great deal of sickness. 

Smoking tobacco is the universal passion of all 
classes, ages, and sexes, and it is not thought by any 
means rude to stop a lady in the street and ask her for 
a light from her cigar, nor strange for a lady to make 

o 4 


the same request of any gentleman. The ladies of 
the higher classes generally smoke small cigars, made 
by rolling chopped tobacco in pieces of paper, large 
cigars not being fashionable for females. 

The houses in Central America always consist of 
a ground story only, and in nearly all the cities and 
towns, except the capital of Guatemala, they are 
formed of what is called tapial, being common earth 
put moist into boxes of the dimensions of the walls, 
and beaten with mallets ; the boxes are without top 
or bottom, and in order that the masses of beaten 
earth may be properly joined together, one of the 
ends is also taken out, the sides being fastened to- 
gether with four round sticks, which are removed as 
soon as the earth has been properly hardened, leaving 
only small holes in the wall, which are filled up 
with a little mud ; and the boxes are removed from 
place to place till the wall is completed, a few stones 
mixed with mud being placed at the angles. As 
all the houses are protected by projecting roofs, and 
generally by wide corridors, these walls cannot get 
wet, and last for a long period, though they are 
always unseemly, and form nests for all species of 

Another sort of building, very common in the 
country and smaller towns, is made by driving a 
number of poles into the ground, at the distance of 
a yard or two from each other in the part where it 
is intended to form the walls of the house. To 
these, long canes are tied with a species of climb- 
ing plant (very suitable for that purpose, and 
abundant in most of the woods), and the space be- 
tween the canes is filled up with mud, or a mixture 


of mud and stones, and when dry the outside is 
plastered over with mortar ; this description of 
building is called bajerique. 

The climate of Costa Kica is found to be too moist 
for tapial buildings ; hence part of the houses are 
there made of bajerique, but the great majority are 
formed of cedar planks, which have the advantage of 
being put up with less labour than any other sort of 
building, though for security, and excluding heat 
and cold, it is much inferior to that used in the other 

Window glass is only used in the better houses of 
the principal cities, and in the smaller towns all 
descriptions of windows are considered superfluous ; 
hence in doing any thing requiring a portion of 
light it is necessary to open the door, when dogs, 
pigs, and fowls, are always ready to rush in. All 
the more respectable houses are roofed with tiles, the 
use of slates or shingles being unknown, and the poorer 
houses being covered with straw and reed grass. 

The reason given in all parts of Spanish America 
for making the houses of a ground story only, is the 
frequency of earthquakes, and most strangers seem 
to have held this reason to be quite sufficient ; but its 
invalidity is proved by the durability of the churches, 
which have sometimes spires upwards of 100 feet 
high. Many of these, which have been built for some 
centuries, may stand till visited by one of those rare 
convulsions which indiscriminately level the palace 
and the peasant's hut. The true reason is to be 
found in the indolence of the inhabitants, and their 
slowness in adopting improvements, their present 
houses being exactly of the shape, size, and materials, 

o 5 


in which they were built by the Indians at the time 
of the conquest; and no improvements being ever 
attempted in the buildings, customs, or manufactures 
of the aboriginal inhabitants. 

The only articles of furniture invariably found in 
a house, are a large hammock, a table, a bedstead 
without mattress, and two or three chairs ; the 
latter being merely a frame of hard wood tied together, 
with straps of raw hide stretched across, forming a 
more elastic and durable seat than cane. The ham- 
mocks are generally made of a sort of hemp, extracted 
from the heart of the wild pine-apple leaf, much re- 
sembling fine Manilla hemp, dyed of different colours 
and twisted in fine cords, which are afterwards plaited 
into the required shape. They are handsome in ap- 
pearance, and extremely durable, while the price is 
very moderate, being from twelve reals to two dollars 
(from six to eight shillings) for hanmiocks eight to 
twelve yards long. 

Carpets are unknown, but the brick floors of a few 
of the principal houses are covered with figured mat- 
ting made by the Indians near Sonsonate, of a sort of 
flat grass, which are very moderate in price, and not 
a bad substitute for carpets. Very tolerable furni- 
ture is now manufactured by the native carpenters 
in Guatemala, and at prices which have quite put 
an end to its importation from abroad. Cedar, 
mahogany, rose-wood, and a variety of most beau- 
tiful woods for cabinet work, are indigenous to 
Central America ; but the first named is the only 
description made use of, its cutting and manufacture 
being attended with much less labour than any 
other. The only luxury in furniture, for which the 


Central Americans and all the Creole Spaniards show 
a passion, is prints and paintings, which cover the 
walls of all respectable houses. In the cities, the 
most common are French, with, occasionally, a few 
English prints. Tolerable foreign paintings are of 
course rarely seen, and only in a few of the first 
houses ; but figures of the saints, painted in the 
country, are stuck upon the walls of every house, 
and are the general remedy employed for all kinds of 
sickness, each complaint having its patron saint ; and 
if these ^o no good, they are, probably, at least less 
noxious than the quack medicines used by the poor 
in England. Furnished lodgings are never to be 
met with in any part of Spanish America, not even 
in the capitals ; and when a stranger has succeeded 
in engaging apartments he finds, on entering, nothing 
but bare walls, and has, probably, the first night 
(before furniture can be procured) to sleep on the 
floor, in company with fleas, neguas, and many other 
unpleasant bed-fellows, unless he be so far natural* 
ised as to carry a hammock with him on all occa- 

All the roads in Central America, with the single 
exception of that from San Jos^ to Punta Arenas, 
in Costa Kica, are merely tracks made passable for 
mules, by cutting down the trees in the woods ; and 
where a precipice is met with, making an excavation 
like a ditch, to admit the passage of a single mule. 

The old footpaths of the aboriginal Indians seem 
universally to have been followed, no attempt being 
ever made to seek the most level track, or to drain 
or put metal on the roads ; hence they generally form 
channels for the water in the rainy season, and, ex- 

o 6 


cept in rare instances, are not even filled up in the 
dry season, when they resemble the dry beds of 
mountain torrents ; and would, with English horses, 
be quite impassable, even for single riders. But 
the horses, and more especially the mules of the 
country, are so accustomed to them that they will 
ascend hilLs, wind along the edge of precipices, and 
climb among loose, slippery stones, in a manner that 
would baffle most persons on foot. 

The mode of travelling is on the back of mules, 
either hired or purchased. A stranger finds it dif- 
ficult to procure them, as the natives are very sus- 
picious, and afraid of being robbed of their beasts. 
Hired mules are always sent with merely a rope 
round their neck, every person being supposed 
to furnish his own saddle and bridle, and the hire 
is always paid beforehand. 

No inns, nor any sort of houses for public accom- 
modation, exist in Central America, but every town 
or village possesses a public building, called the 
cabildo, where justice is administered, and the meet- 
ings of the town officers are held ; here, all travellers 
having a government passport are entitled to sleep 
at night, paying two reals (one shilling) for its hire, 
the constable (aguacil) being obliged to furnish them 
with fire and water, and purchase for them at the 
current price whatever the place will afford. Where 
there is no cabildo, and, indeed, in most parts, the 
inhabitants rarely object to admit a stranger into 
their houses, without expecting any payment be- 
yond the value of what they may eat, but in this 
case, as there are never more than one or two rooms 
to accommodate the whole family and brute attend- 


ants, the traveller has only the liberty of hanging 
his cot among multitudes of men, women, children, 
pigs, and fowls, which make such a snoring, squall- 
ing, yelping, grunting, and cackling all night, that 
it would require a considerable apprenticeship to the 
business before he can get any sleep. 

As might be anticipated (in a country of which not 
one hundredth part of the available soil is cultivated) 
the value of the land is nearly nominal, and, in 
ordinary cases, is actually of no marketable value 
whatever, except in the vicinity of some large town. 
Still, the lands in the state of Guatemala suitable 
for the growth of the " cactus cochinelifer," and 
where the climate is fit for the growth of cochi- 
neal, and in Costa Rica, where it is found suit- 
able for the growth of cofiee, fetch a pretty fair 

The choice lands near Old Guatemala for fonning 
cochineal estates are worth about 800 dollars a man- 
sana, or 98/. per English acre ; and those similarly 
situated near Amatitlan, about 500 dollars a man- 
sana, or 61/. 5s, per English acre, while the best 
lands near the capital may be purchased at 20 dol- 
lars a mansana, or 2/. 9*. per English acre. The best 
land in the immediate vicinity of the capitals of the 
states of San Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, 
are certainly not worth so much, though capable of 
producing almost any of the numerous articles cul- 
tivated in Central America. 

At a distance from the towns, estates can seldom 
be sold for the value of the improvements upon them, 
unless they are of such extent as to maintain large 
herds of cattle ; and one of this description, belong- 


ing to Don Manuel Oliveres, on the road about half 
way between Guatemala and Sonsonate^ with a large 
house^ and other buildings, possessing 2000 cabal- 
leros, or 210,800 acres of land, a considerable part of 
which is capable of cultivation, was lately offered for 
40,000 dollars, four years' credit, or 10,000 dollars 
annually, and could doubtless be purchased much 
cheaper for ready money, but is not at all likely to 
meet a purchaser. The best indigo estates in San 
Salvador may now be purchased for much less than 
the cost of the buildings and vats ; and the sugar 
estate belonging to Dr. Driven, at Sonsonate, the 
buildings and machinery of which have cost upwards 
of 50,000 dollars, though possessing all the advan- 
tages which could be united together in any part of 
the country, such as being only a league distant from 
Sonsonate, on the road to the port of Acajantla, from 
which it is only four leagues distant, with a good 
road, possessing ample lands of good quality, an 
inexhaustible supply of water for irrigation and the 
working of machinery in all seasons, is not valued 
at more than 10,000 dollars; and even that sum 
could probably not be obtained without a long 

In Honduras, or Nicaragua, no person would 
dream of purchasing land for cultivation at any price, 
though a great portion of the latter state is of the 
richest black loam, of almost unequalled fertility, 
and capable of producing crops of sugar-cane, rice^ 
cotton, or indigo, equal, if not superior, to any other 
part of the known world. The best coffee lands 
in the immediate vicinity of San Jos^, in Costa 
Bica, are worth 100 dollars a mansana, or 12/. 6s* 


an English acre; while the value of those in the 
neighbourhood of Heridia and Alhajuela varies from 
20 to 50 dollars a mansana. In other parts of the 
state the price is nearly nominal. 

Houses in towns can almost never be sold for the 
cost of their construction, allowing nothing for the 
land on which they are built. In Guatemala, they 
have a nominal value attached to them which could 
never be realised; but there, and in all parts, they 
are generally sold at a price much above their value, 
judging from the rents paid, and the current interest 
of money. 

In most countries in Europe, land is the fa- 
vourite investment, and yields the smallest return 
for capital, in Central America it is nearly unsale- 
able, whereas houses find ready purchasers ; for 
example, — 

A house occupied by H. B. M. vice-consul in Gua- 
temala, at a rent of 500 dollars per annum, is valued 
at 15,000 dollars. 

A house let in San Salvador at 300 dollars per 
annum, is valued at 6000. 

A house in San Miguel, let at 600 dollars, was 
sold by auction for 8000. 

A house in Chinendega, let at 300 dollars, was 
sold by private contract for 10,000. 

A house in San Jose, Costa Rica, let at 150 dollars 
per annum, was sold at 4000. 

It must, however, be allowed, that except in the 
commercial towns of the states of Guatemala and 
Costa Bica, a sale could hardly, at present, be ef- 
fected at any price. 

In May, 1842, an agreement was entered into be- 


tweea a Bel^an company and the exisliiig govern- 
ment of the state of Guatemala, and after some little 
delay a farther conventioa was ngned between tliem 
in October, 1843. The principal articles were 
the conditional sale to the Belgian company of 
the lands lying between the left hank of the 
river Matagua, and the right bank of the river 
Cajabon and Polocliic, including all the coast and 
neighbouring islands within these limits, and pro- 
ceeding inland as &r as Gualan, and the interior 
limits of the province of Saint ThomaB, the company 
paying at the rate of twenty dollars the caballeros, 
or, as nearly as may be, 105| British statute acres ; 
16,000 dollars to be paid annually, till the amount 
is completed. The company also binds itself to 
present to the Guatemala government 2000 mus- 
kets similar to those used in the Belgian army, and 
four large guns, and to pay the fifth part of the 
expenses of erecting a city at Siunt Thomas, to make 
a cart road to the river Matagua, and to introduce 
steamers for navigating the river. The company 
also bound itself to introduce into the purchased 
t least a hundred families of five members 
lally, till the number of one thousand fami- 

onists must be all Boman Catholics from 
tural countries of continental !Europe,.or 
y Isles ; and from the moment of their 
i to be reckoned as Guatemala citizens, and 
'ht to make any claim against the state, 
eir own government or its agents. 
)nists were, with certmn exceptions, to be 
by thar own laws, and be exempt from 


all duties on articles of exportation^ and also on the 
importation of all sorts of provisions^ arms for hunt- 
ing game, agricultural instruments, books, and mate- 
rials, for building houses. The company was to 
have the preference in the construction of all the 
roads and canals which the state government might 
deem it advisable to make in the district, and in 
collecting the established tolls; and the Custom 
House, existing at Isabel, should be removed to Saint 

By perusing the translations of the agreements, it 
will be seen that all the articles are most favourable 
to the state of Guatemala, and it would therefore 
appear that the object of the Belgians must have 
been to get possession of the district on any terms, 
hoping afterwards to be able to retain it by negotia- 
tion or force, and raise it to a colony which would 
give an outlet to their manufactures and surplus 

Though the company was got up under the pa- 
tronage of the King of the Belgians, the agreement 
is said to have been signed without the previous 
approbation of his government, which, most justly, 
disapproved of many parts of it. The company com- 
plied with the conditions for the first two years ; but 
the port of Saint Thomas, like all parts of the N. E. 
coast, having proved very fatal to new comers, and 
many of the emigrants having died, and others re- 
turned with bad accounts of the settlement, they 
have found it difficult to induce more to emigrate ; 
and, though the Belgian government have supported 
the company with the grant of 1,000,000 of francs, 
it is to be feared that the settlement will share the 


fate of the one attempted by the British in 1836 
(called Abbotsville), and be finally abandoned. The 
Belgian government is said this year to have offered 
2,000,000 of dollars for the absolute purchase of the 
district; which, however, the Guatemala government 
refused to cede in sovereignty on any terms. 

Had the company secured a tract of country in 
the interior, where the climate is cool and healthy, 
with a road to the nearest port, they might have 
succeeded ; but it was very foolish to suppose that 
natives of the north of Europe could, without 
previous preparation, be enabled to live and labour 
under the burning sun of tropical America. 

The aggregate value of the exports of Central 
America has certainly declined since the revolution, 
as the increase in the single state of Costa Kica is not 
nearly equivalent to the falling off in the rest, conse- 
quently the gross value of the imports must be sup- 
posed to be less; though from the value of most 
articles being less than a fifth of what they were sold 
for under the Spanish government, the actual amount 
of goods introduced from abroad, and consumed by 
the people, is much greater. 

As no returns of the amount of imports are 
published by the Custom House, an approximation to 
their nature and value can only be made; but as 
they must be all paid for by a corresponding ex- 
portation of produce or money, their value may be 
pretty nearly calculated by means of this know- 

Commencing with the state of Guatemala, the 
imports, from England and the British colony of 
Belize, consist of white, grey, and printed calicoes, 


broad cloth, and other woollen fabrics, ironmongery, 
and cutlery, and a very small quantity of fancy 

Formerly, nearly all the British trade passed 
through Belize, but latterly the dealers finding it so 
much more to their interest to have a direct commu- 
nication with England, all the most respectable 
have at present their London and Liverpool corre- 
spondents ; only the smallest and poorest dealers, 
who cannot afford to make a remittance to England, 
continue to import on credit from Belize, as, by so 
doing, they obtain a twelvemonths' credit on their 
purchases, instead of being forced to send cash or 
produce, as must generally be done by those who 
import direct. Three or four British ships, char- 
tered in England, annually visit Estapa, the port of 
Guatemala, on the Pacific ; but by far the greater 
part of the imports, and all the valuable goods of 
easy carriage, are sent to Belize by the mahogany 
ships, and transhipped from thence to Isabel, in the 
state of Guatemala, by small vessels which can enter 
that port. 

Some vessels have lately come to the new port of 
Saint Thomas, but, as there is not even a mule track 
through the forest yet cleared, to that port, the 
carriage of goods to Guatemala is next to impos- 
sible. Were a road made, it would probably become 
the only port of introduction into this state, as 
vessels of all sizes can at all times enter it, and lie 
in perfect safety, and it is only a few leagues more 
distant from the capital than Isabel. 

The trade of Guatemala with England and Belize, 
certainly forms more than a moiety of its entire 


comnierce. The next in importance is the trade with 
Spain, from which five or six vessels annually land 
cargoes at Istapaza, the bulky nature and small 
value of the importB (which consist of Spanish 
brandy, wines of low quality, oil for salad, Biscay 
iron and steel, paper, and some few manufactured 
goods of Valencia) not admitting the payment of 
freight from Belize, and carriage from Isabel. 

Several small United States' vessels annually call 
at Isabel, bringing coarse grey calicoes, and a few 
trifling manufactures and toys. 

Two or three French vesssls, also, annually arrive 
at Belize with cargoes for Guatemala, consisting of 
silk, shawls, muslins, ribands, fancy hosiery, gloves, 
perfumery, and toys. 

The only export from the state is cochineal, of 

which 9037 bales of 150 lbs. each have been exported 

this year (1846), the average value in Guatemala 

being six and a half reals (equal to three shillings 

and three pence sterling) per lb., thus making the 

value of the exports of the year 211,804/. 13«. 9d. 

sterling, which may be safely assumed as nearly the 

e value of the imports from foreign countries, 

gh it must somewhat vary according to the profit 

ss made upon the cochineal, and must be slightly 

iosed, as a small amount of specie b annually 

to Belize ; but as this is all smu^led, to avoid 

jxport duty of 4 per cent., the amount can only 

uessed at, and does not, it is smd, exceed 50,000 

3,000 dollars in the year, 

portion of the British piece-goods are not con- 
jd in the state, being smuggled into Mexico, 
igh the adjoining province of the Altos, partly 


by natives, and partly by Mexicans, who bring gold 
and silver to purchase them in Guatemela; and, 
owing to the extravagant duties and frequent prohi- 
bitions of the Mexican tariff, the business is suffi- 
ciently profitable when only the moderate duties of 
Central America are paid. It is difficult to ascer- 
tain the amount of this trade, but, from the large 
amount of Mexican money circulating in the state, 
which can only be obtained by this traffic, it must be 

Guatemala imports a great part of the cocoa con- 
sumed in the state from Soconesco, formerly a part 
of Central America, but six years ago annexed to 
South America. 

About 100,000 dollars, principally in gold coin, 
are annually received from Costa Rica for the pur- 
chase of woollen clothing, made in the Altos, which 
is generally worn in Costa Kica ; the money is al- 
ways personally brought by the natives .of that state, 
who return with the woollen manufactures which 
they retail to their countrymen. 

All the sugar consumed in Guatemala is imported 
from the neighbourhood of Santa Ana and Ahnacha- 
pan, in the state of San Salvador, and, since the 
separation of the states, is principally paid for in 

For some years after the declaration of independ- 
ence the trade of the state of San Salvador was equal, 
if not superior, to any state of the republic, the in- 
digo, then almost the only produce which was im- 
ported, being nearly all produced in that state ; but, 
since 1825 it has gradually diminished, and is now 
very trifling indeed. 


and Omoa, and paid for in British and North Ame- 
rican manufactures. One cargo was, three years 
ago, imported from Chili at San Lorenzo, the port 
of the S.W. side, by the only vessel that ever entered 
that port ; but a small quantity of goods, principally 
Cruayaquil cocoa and hats, are sent to it from the 
Union, the passage from which is made in eight 
hours by the native canoes, called bougoes, the 
water being always perfectly smooth, as both ports 
are in the same land-locked bay. 

Nicaragua was formerly the richest state in pro- 
ductions next to San Salvador, but is now the most 
wretched and impoverished of all ; this has been 
brought about by the never-ceasing revolutions, 
which have entirely demoralised the population, and 
made life and property even more insecure than in 
any of the other states. For some years the great 
export was Brazil wood, of which as much as 10,000 
tons were shipped to Europe in one year, the effect 
of which, however, was to reduce the price so low 
as hardly to pay freight, and ruin all the speculators 
in the article. At present about 500 or 600 tons 
are annually shipped, vessels often taking in a small 
quantity for tonnage at Realejo, and proceeding to 
Punta Arenas to fill up with coffee. 

The other articles of export are, a few bales of 
indigo, and about 30,000 hides, of which about 
12,000 are shipped from Realejo, the port of the 
Pacific, and the remainder from St. John, on the 
river of that name, the port of the Atlantic, but now 
clidmed by the British government on behalf of the 
Moschito Indians. Nearly all the trade of Realejo 
Is carried on by three English merchants, who possess 


two fine vessels, navigated under the North American 
flag (having found that they can be sailed much 
cheaper than British vessels), and annually import 
two cargoes of British and North American manu- 
factures, worth about 100,000 dollars each, which they 
sell principally in Chinendega and Leon, though 
they send a portion to Punta Arenas and the Union, 

Granada, of which St. John is the port, carries on 
a trade with England^ France, and North America, 
which, though once of some consideration,' is now 
very insignificant, and annually decreasing. ' Cocoa 
of very excellent quality, but inferior to that of So- 
conosco, and the S.W. coast of Guatemala, is pro- 
duced in the vicinity of Granada, whence it is 
sent to Honduras and San Salvador, to the extent 
of 200 to 300 bales, of 150 lbs. each in the year. 
Tobacco is a government monopoly, and is imported 
from Costa Bica, being purchased at from two to 
three reals per lb., and afterwards retailed at from 
four to five reals by the holders of the monopoly. 

The monopoly is now in the hands of Messrs. 
Manning and Glenton, who took it in lieu of 
their claims against the Nicaragua government to 
the extent of about 40,000 dollars, on account 
of which the state was blockaded for nine months 
by a British ship-of-war ; and they are understood 
to be gaining more than 100 per cent, by their 

The trade of Costa Bica, as I have before stated, 
has nearly all sprung up within the last twelve years, 
the only production previously being that from the 
gold mines of Aguacate, tobacco, and a small quan- 
tity of Chancaca sugar. The exports now consist of 



upwards of 70,000 quintals of coffee, worth seven 
and a half dollars in the port of Punta Arenas, which 
is paid for partly in gold brought from Chili, 
in British and French manufactures brought from 
the same place, and in British, North American, 
Spanish, and French produce and manufactures, 
brought direct from those countries. 

Two large British vessels annually arrive at Punta 
Arenas, bringing cargoes for tw^o German merchants 
settled in San Jos^, and return laden with cofiee. 
Their import cargoes consist of aU sorts of British 
manufactures, but principally white and printed cot- 
ton goods. 

Two or three Spanish vessels, generally, in the 
year, visit this and the other ports of Central Ame- 
rica, with the same description of goods as are im- 
ported to Guatemala ; and some North American, 
French, and Hambro' vessels have also of late visited 
Punta Arenas, bringing the manufactures of their 
respective countries, and taking cargoes of coffee in 
return. The consumption of British goods, however, 
greatly exceeds that of all the others jointly, and is 
not a little assisted by the preference given in Eng- 
land to Costa Rica coffee, and the lower duty at 
which it is admitted, as the produce of free labour. 

Goods, to the value of a few thousand dollars, are 
also imported into this state by Matina, the port of 
the N.E. side; but the extreme badness of the port, 
and the almost impassable state of the roads, prevent 
the trade from being carried to any extent. 

Costa Bica supplies the state of Nicaragua with 
tobacco for the government monopoly, and the article 
is also monopolised by the government of the state. 


Which alone is permitted to purchase it from the 
growers, and sell it for ihe consumption of the state, 
and the supply of Nicaragua. 

Trade is perfectly free in all the "states of Central 
America, and foreigners possess all the privileges 
enjoyed by the natives, with the additional advantage 
of not being obliged to contribute to the forced loans 
exacted of all classes by the state governments ; a 
practice which is now fortunately rarely adopted. 
The governments have been forced to refund the 
whole amount, with interest, to British subjects 
and French citizens, and are now obliged to except 
them when such exactions are made, though Spa- 
niards, and other nations, have no such exemp- 

The whole commerce of Central America is of an 
exceedingly petty character, and all the importers, 
without a single exception, have retail shops, without 
which, I am informed, they could not make the trade 
answer. Long credits are given to the petty dealers, 
who buy second-hand of the importers ; and cash is 
most generally advanced to the growers of cochineal 
and indigo, and to the poorer classes of coffee-growers, 
six months before the crop time, to enable them to 
work their estates and get in their crops, they binding 
themselves to deliver the whole, or a part of the pro- 
duce, to the party advancing the money. The price 
fixed is generally about twenty-five per cent, below 
the current rate of the last season. This advance 
is called a habilitation, and, in the payment, is legally 
preferred to all debts whatever ; although, as may be 
expected in a country where there are no means of 
enforcing the laws, the punctual fulfilment of this, 

p 2 


and all other engagements, depends principally on 
the character of the parties contracting them. 

The Belize merchants complain greatly of the dis- 
honesty of the traders, especially those of Guatemala 
and San Miguel, with whom alone they have trans- 
acted business to any amount ; but in this they ap- 
pear only to have their own reckless conduct to 
blame, having given credit to nearly every person 
who asked it, without knowing almost any thing of 
their means or character, and having no more security 
than their word that they were the persons represented. 
To me it is more surprising that, in a country where 
there are, in fact, no available laws, and where all 
parties have such facility for making away with their 
property without the possibility of its being recovered, 
or the act being punished, the great majority should 
have paid honestly, the defaulters generally being 
miserable wretches who have been ruined by the ex- 
actions of government, Qr, occasionally, who have 
gambled away all their property. 

I feel certain that in a British colony the losses to 
parties acting similarly would have been much greater, 
in spite of the severe, and, in some cases, tyrannical 
laws which have been enacted and enforced in most 
of them. 

No Central American traders keep any regular 
books, and generally have only an obscure notion of 
the amount of their assets and liabilities, nor do they 
think of meeting them with any regularity, a few 
days', or even weeks', delay in making a payment 
being considered of no importance; and, where the par- 
ties are unwilling to pay, it is utterly useless to resort 
to legal measures, as in such cases all their property 


uniformly disappears^ without their being compelled 
to give any account of it^ and^ as no books are 
kept, it is, of course, impossible to move a step. 
Some parties have resorted to the only efficient 
method of recovering from a debtor unwilling to 
pay, viz. threatening his life ; and this has, in many 
instances, been successful in Guatemala after all other 
means have failed. There are two British houses in 
Guatemala, who do a pretty good share of the import 
trade, but inferior to that transacted by several Spa- 
niards ; also three French, as many Germans, and 
four Italians, who do' a petty business, the prin- 
cipal trade being in the hands of five Spanish houses, 
who have correspondents in England, France, and 
Spain. In San Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, 
nearly all the imports are made by foreigners, princi- 
pally English and French, the natives being afraid 
to appear to transact a large business on account of 
the exactions made by the state governments from 
all who they think have the means of paying. In 
Costa Rica the principal trade is in the hands of two 
German and two Spanish merchants, but, as the 
government of that state is of a niore respectable 
character, and has not raised any forced contributions 
for many years, the natives are also enabled to en- 
gage in trade without fear ; and, as they are noted 
for their shrewdness and talent in making a bargain, 
being, in the other states, called the Jews of Central 
America, the foreigners are not enabled, as in the 
other states, to make most usurious profits by some 
bargains; but they have the advantage of being 
much more secure of their profits, and the Costa 

V 3 


Bioaos are very punctual in their payments, and 
bankruptcy is almost unheard of. 

The ordinary revenue in all the states of Central 
America is derived from duties on imports, a duty of 
five per cent, on the transfer of real property, a mo- 
nopoly of the sale of spirits, and also of tobacco, in 
the states of Costa Kica and Nicaragua, which the 
governments of San Salvador and Guatemala are 
now also proposing to establish. The state of Hon-* 
duras derives part of its revenue from the sale of 
mahogany to the Belize merchants, and from a very 
injurious custom' of issuing debased copper money. 
. The federal tariff, established by the government of 
the republic of Central America in 1824, and which is 
still adhered to by all the states except Costa Eica, 
fi:xed a duty of 20 per cent, on all imports, but 
the valuation which was then made has not been 
altered, though the prices of many articles have 
fallen 50 per cent., so that it is in many cases equal 
to a real duty of 40 per cent. ; for example, iron of 
all sorts is valued at 6 dollars per 100 lbs., and 
brandy of all sorts at 20 dollars a keg of 16 gallons ; 
but on cotton and silk goods the value is more justly 
taken, the invoice being generally exhibited, and if 
any doubt arises the packages are opened and ex- 
amined, which, however, is very rarely done. 
According to the regulations, till lately in force in 
Guatemala, one-third of the duties could be paid in 
government paper; namely, the acknowledgments 
given to the payers of forced loans, which could 
generally be purchased at from 50 to 60 per cent, dis- 
count. Honduras receives one-half in government 
paper, which, however, is never at so heavy a dis- 


county and San Salvador and Nicaragua have^ up to 
the time of the last revolution, received two-thirda 
of the amount in government paper, which could 
generally be purchased at 80 per cent, discount, and 
the existing governments promise again to do so as 
soon as the present pressing engagements are re-, 
lieved. Costa Rica alone has no debt, and therefore 
requires to make no laws for taking up her paper. 
Besides the foregoing indulgences, a term of credit 
of three months is always given for paying the duties 
if they amount to 500 dollars, and from three to six 
months for larger sums, from the day the goods are 
removed from the government warehouse. A charge 
of four reals per 100 lbs. weight is made for ware- 
house rent, whether the goods are warehoused or 
not, and whatever time they remain in bond. 

Though the duties are certainly far from oppres- 
sive, smuggling is of very common occurrence, and, 
though when discovered it is by law punished by 
the confiscation of the goods, if clearly proved to be 
designed, and by double duties if it can be passed off 
as a mistake ; it is, in fact, always conunuted for a 
small fine, or more frequently hushed up by a bribe. 
But the safest and most general method of smuggling, 
or, as the natives term it, the most honourable, is to 
agree with the collector of customs for a part, gene- 
rally a half, of the duties, the greater part of which 
he himself of course retains, giving permits for the 
goods in the usual manner, and accounting to the 
government as he thinks proper. 

Since the separation of the states, each exacts full 
duties on all merchandise, even if they have been 
paid in one of the other states; %nd though the 

p 4 



British and French consuls have protested strongly, 
against it^ on the principle that no state had a right 
singly to rescind the laws made by the universal 
consent of the whole (it being enacted by the federal 
tariff that merchandise, having paid duty in one state, 
should pass freely through the rest), they have not as 
yet induced the states to leave off the exaction, or 
return the amount so paid since their separation, al- 
though such restitution will, as I am informed by 
H. B. M. consul, be certainly enforced in the case of 
British subjects* The custom is most inconvenient, 
and completely paralyses the internal trade; and as 
some of the states have no convenient ports on the 
Pacific, and others none at all on the Atlantic, it is of 
course exceedingly injurious to the interests of them 
all, and if continued will leave them in the same in- 
convenient situation as the petty states of Germany, 
before the Custom's Union was established. 

From no statement of the revenue of any state 
being ever published; it is very difficult to tell its 
exact amount ; the following is the nearest approxi- 
mation I can make, from the information given me 
by the ministers and collectors of the different 
states : — 

Guatemala, including the Altos . . - . 260,000 

State of San Salvador 127,000 

Honduras (exclusive of copper money issues) - 72,000 

Nicaragua --. ^0,000 

Costa Kica (exclusive of duty on coffee, applied to 

the roads) 87,000 

The finances of all the states except Costa Bica, 
are almost always in the most disorganised condition, 
the expenditure at all times exceeding the ordinary 


revenue ; and, as tHeir credit is sunk to the lowest 
ebb, their only means of making up the deficiency 
is by forced, loans, or money taken up on the most 
usurious and ruinous terms. About eighteen months 
ago the government of Guatemala borrowed 50,000 
dollars of the two British houses, to be repaid out 
of the customs' duties as fast as they were col- 
lected, with the addition of 50 per cent ; biit after 
repaying about half the amount, the mock legislature 
made a law authorising the government to resume 
the Custom-House duties, postponing the payment of 
the loan for an indefinite period ; however, after sundry 
threatening letters from the British consul, they 
have, it appears, paid the balance of this debt ; and 
taking into account the date of the former payment, 
these merchants have made more than 50 per cent, 
per annum by their advance. Still, ruinous as this 
interest undoubtedly was, and ruinous as it must be 
to any government or individual paying it, no Spa- 
niard or native would advance money to government 
even on these, or indeed on any terms, being almost 
certain that they would never be repaid, as has hap- 
pened to some merchants in Guatemala, who made' 
a similar advance some years before, and have no 
prospect of being repaid, though the British mer- 
chants who negotiated the loan long afterwards have 
received their money. 

The government of San Salvador, on a late occa- 
sion, paid 5 per cent, per month to a Frenchman of 
the name of Casamayor, and no person will now lend 
them money on any terms. Some years ago the 
Honduras government adopted the ruinous scheme 
of issuing a debased copper currency, the real value 

p 5 


of the metal being about a seventh of the amount for 
which it passes current ; but having cost the govern- 
ment one-fifth of its nominal value, being bought at 
an extravagant price, this money is issued by govern- 
ment in their payment, but is not received in settle- 
ment of duties which must be paid in gold or silver. 
This debased money has already fallen to a third of 
its nominal value ; and as there is not the least hope 
that such a government will ever redeem it, it must 
soon be depreciated to its real value ; at present the 
issue of it is, perhaps, a more polite method of rob* 
bery than that practised in the other states, though 
in the end it must prove even more destructive to 
commerce and prosperity. 

The government of Nicaragua is in the most 
wretched state of all ; the tobacco monopoly, and 
the Custom-House at Bealejo, being mortgaged for 
the claims of British subjects against the government. 
On a late occasion, Mr. Forster, the British vice- 
consul, states that they could not raise twenty-five 
dollars to pay the troops they wished to send against 
a band of robbers and assassins. In consequence of 
this they refused to march, so that the assassins 
were left to plunder whom they pleased, without any 
interruption whatever ; and, in fact, they robbed and 
put to death five most respectable individuals in their 
houses in open day. 

The current money of Central America, with the 
exception of Honduras, is nearly the same as the 
Spaniards left it, and, as all the southern republics 
in pretending to improve it have only robbed the 
public by issuing a debased currency, it is fortunate 
that they have left it alone. It consists principally of 


pieces of silver rudely cut and stamped^ of the value 
of from one half to four reals ; it is rather finer than 
the current hard dollars^ but from long use the coin, 
especially the smaller pieces, have lost a great part 
of their weight ; and I find from examination that 
one with another they may be said to have lost 20 per 
cent., eight reals of the current money being one- 
fifth lighter than a new hard dollar, which passes 
for the same value. It is also most embarrassing for 
a stranger to count any large amount, or even dis- 
tinguish the different values. But even this state of 
the currency is preferable to that of New Granada, 
Equador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chili, where the go- 
vernments have uniformly deducted about 50 per 
cent, either in the weight or fineness of their last 
coinages of small silver money, hard dollars being 
worth a considerable premium in all these countries. 
All the coins of Mexico pass current in Central 
America, and, next to the cut silver, form the bulk 
of the circulating medium ; but only the gold ounces 
and hard dollars of the southern republics are re- 
ceived.. The gold ounce (improperly called doubloon, 
in English) weighs 317 grains, and should be ex- 
actly 21 carats fine. Those of Mexico and Central 
America, and the old republic of Colombia, are said 
to be pretty exactly of that fineness, but many of 
those lately coined by the southern republics have 
been depreciated ; the ounce passes for sixteen dol- 
lars in Guatemala and San Salvador, and for seven- 
teen in Nicaragua and Costa Kica, but current 
silver and hard dollars are generally worth 6 per 
cent, premium in the latter states, which makes it 
of actually the same value in them all. 

r 6 


It is much to be regretted that the government of 
Costa Hico, BO much superior to that of the other 
statea in most other respects, haB lately given the 
bad example of coining a depredated small silver 
money ; which is not received except in that state, 
all the natives of Central America being excellent 
judges of the purity of the precious metals. 

Central America, in imitation of all the American 
governments (Bolivia only excepted), has contracted 
a debt in London; having, in 1826, empowered 
Messrs. Barclay, Herring, & Co. to contract a loan of 
7,000,000 of dollars. But fortunately for the British 
public, Messrs. B. H. & Co. could not succeed in 
negotiating more than 816,500 dollars, or 163,300/. 
sterling, of which it appears, that the Central Ameri- 
can government, owing to the failure of their agents, 
did not receive quite one half, though of course respon- 
sible for the whole amount. Messrs. Eeid, Irving, 
& Co., after the stoppage of Messrs. Barclay, Herring, 
& Co., were appointed stents for the republic, and 
paid about two years' interest of the debt ; but the 
government neither attempted to reimburse them 
nor make any provision for the future payment 
of the interest, either during the existence of the 
federal government or after its dissolution. But in 
1838 the state of Costa Bica, induced by the strong 
ntations of H. B. M, consul-general, took 
tself the liquidation of the proportion of the 
il debt asmgned to it, namely, one twelfth of 
ole amount, with interest ; and for that pur- 
slivered 2,000 bales of tobacco to Mr. Forster, 
itish vice'consul, in Nicaragua, but the pro- 
)f the article which was sold in Nicaragua 


being invested in indigo for remittance to England, 
did not, from the state of the markets, realise the 
anticipated amount, netting only 16,210/. 16^. 3rf., 
instead of 26,7657. IS*. 4e/., the amount with interest 
due by Costa Rica as their share of the debt. The 
English creditors, glad no doubt to recover any 
part of what appeared entirely lost, decided on ac- 
cepting the amount netted in full of their claims 
against Costa Kica, so that the state is entirely free 
from debt ; and I make no doubt that the British 
creditors would be most happy to compound the rest 
of their claims against Central America on similar 
terms. I believe that none of the other states ex- 
cept Honduras, have ever made a proposal for dis- 
charging any part of the debt ; and it is most probable 
that, small as is the amount for a nation consisting 
of 2,000,000 of inhabitants, and possessing one of the 
most fertile territories in the world, no effectual at- 
tempt will be made to discharge their liabilities, unless 
the British government should consider themselves en- 
titled to use compulsory measures in exacting pay- 
ment, which as yet they have not thought proper to 
do in similar circumstances with any government. 

Central America, as might be expected from its 
position, contains a greater number of excellent ports 
than any other continental country of the same size. 
About two days' sail from the British settlement of 
Belize is the port of Isabel, at present the principal 
medium of the foreign trade with the state of Gua- 
temala. Isabel is naturally most beautifully situated 
for a port, being upon a lake about thirty miles long, 
from which a river flows into the ocean. The town 
is about twelve leagues from the sea. The depth 


' of water in the lake and river is not less than four 

fathoms^ but the latter^ unfortunately, possesses a 
mud bar at the mouth, which prevents the entrance 
of vessels drawing more than six to eight feet of 
water; but the bank is said to be of very limited 
extent, and of materials which could very easily be 
removed by the most ordinary dredging machine, so 
as to admit large vessels. Were this done, Isabel 
would be one of the finest ports in the world. At 
present the trade is principally carried on by small 
coasting vessels, which convey the imports from, and 
the exports to Belize, through which nearly all the 
trade passes, the only vessels which arrive direct 
being some small craft from the United States of 
North America. Very near the mouth of lake 
Isabel is the most excellent port of St. Thomas, 
- where the Belgians have established their settlement, 
and which would, of course, become the only outlet 
for the trade of the state were the agreements of the 
Belgian commissioners carried into effect ; but of this 
there appears (as I have before stated) to be little 
chance at present. 

St. Thomas is well sheltered from all wind, of easy 
ingress and egress, and has every natural facility for 
forming wharfs, quays, etc., and appears to be a most 
excellent situation for the formation of a port. The 
coast possessed by Guatemala on the N. E. is of small 
extent, though more than sufficient for any useful 
purpose at present, and possessing two excellent 
ports. About thirty leagues east by north is the 
port of Omoa in Honduras, and about sixty leagues 
further in the same direction, that of Trujillo, in the 
same state ; through these two ports the trade of the 


state passes in about equal proportions. They pos- 
sess albundant natural advantages, being both very 
safe and accessible at all times. Few vessels, how- 
ever, visit them direct from Europe, the principal 
trade being with Belize, and the United States of 
North America. 

The Mosquito coast intervenes between Trujillo 
and San Juan of Nicaragua. It is a large tract of 
country covered with dense forests ; and the in- 
habitants are a mixture of negroes and Indians, 
nominally under the protection of Great Britain. 

The port of San Juan del Norte is situated on the 
river of that name, about twenty leagues from its 
mouth. Ships of all sizes can ascend to it with fa- 
cility, and the port is large, safe, and well situated 
for the entrepot of the trade of the states of Nicara- 
gua and Costa Rica ; but, owing to the sepai'ation 
of the government, it possesses none of the trade of 
the latter. It supplies the cities of Granada and 
Nicaragua, and the smaller towns on that side of the 

The British have, for some years past, claimed 
this port on behalf of the Mosquito Indians, but do 
not appear inclined to enforce the claim. The only 
other port on the N. E. coast worth noting is that of 
Matina, in Costa Bica, which is merely a creek for 
boats, vessels having to lie in an open roadstead. 
It formerly had some little trade (principally contra- 
band) with Jamaica, but this is now understood to 
be nearly at an end. The road from it to San Jose 
is almost impassable, and its situation is said to render 
it most pestiferous, and very fatal to strangers and 
natives of the cooler districts. 


Commencing at the most northernly part of the 
S. W. coast, the first of the ports upon the Pacific 
is Jocos, which is the only place in the province of 
the Altos ever visited by vessels. It is an open 
roadstead, where a landing is always effected with 
some difficulty, on account of the continued heavy 
surf breaking upon the shore. It has only been 
visited by two or three small vessels, and, since the 
annexation of the province to the state of Guatemala, 
goods cannot be landed there but by special license 
from the government. 

Iztapa, the port of Guatemala, on the Pacific, is 
little better than the foregoing: it is twenty-five 
leagues from the capital of that state, and the country 
is of such a nature that a passable road for carts 
might be made at little expense ; though there is no 
probability of its being attempted under the present 
government. Five or six vessels visit Iztapa in the 
course of the year, and bulky goods, which will not 
bear the expense of carriage from Isabel, are sent 
there. It is probable that, were it in the hands of 
an enlightened government, a breakwater might be 
made to improve the port ; but landing a cargo at 
present is dangerous, and exceedingly tedious and 

About forty leagues to the eastward is the port of 
Acajantla, in the state of San Salvador, which is 
much superior to the foregoing, being sheltered from 
all winds except S. W. Still there is always a heavy 
swell upon the beach, and the entire absence of a 
wharf, makes landing somewhat difficult. Five or six 
vessels generally visit this port in the year. Twenty 
leagues further along the coast is the roadstead of 


Libertad, which is in all respects inferior to Aca- 
jantla^ but has been occasionally made use of for 
embarking and disembarking bulky goods, as it is 
the nearest point along the coast to the city of San 
Salvador, from which it is only twelve leagues distant. 

Eight leagues further to the eastward is the bay 
of Conchagua, near the head of which, on the west 
side is the port of the Union, which I have already 
described pretty fully, and which is by far the best 
in the state of San Salvador. 

On the opposite side of the bay, nearer the entrance, 
is the port of San Lorenzo, the only one possessed 
by the state of Honduras on the Pacific coast. The 
port is safe and convenient, and of easy access ; but, 
as nearly all the commerce of this state is carried on 
by the Atlantic coast, it is little attended to, only 
one vessel having entered it, for the temptation of 
admitting her cargo duty free, offered as a premium 
to the first vessel visiting the port. Some canoe- 
loads of merchandise, principally Guayaquil cocoa, are 
annually sent to it from the Union. 

A few leagues eastward of the entrance of Con- 
chagua bay, is the port of Realejo, in the state of 
Nicaragua, which I have already described. It can 
hardly be surpassed by any in the world. It com- 
mands about half the trade of the state. About fifty 
leagues further to the eastward is the port of San 
Juan del Sur, to which place it was proposed to 
bring the canal, connecting the two oceans, though 
Kealejo would appear to be much preferable in most 
respects. The gulf of Papagaya, where the port is 
situated, is very difiicult to enter with a sailing ves- 
sel for five months in the year, during which a strong 

330 BIYEHSj 

wind continually blows off the land. The port has^ 
I onderstand, only been entered by one sailing- vessel. 

Along the coast of Nicoya there are, doubtless, 
many creeks which would form good ports, but the 
district contains so few inhabitants that no person 
has thought it worth examining with that object. 

The only other port at present made use of on this 
coast is Punta Arenas, in Costa Kica, regarding 
which I have before said sufficient in my account of 
that state. At present it engrosses nearly all the 
trade ; but it is to be hoped that a better situation 
may shortly be discovered, as there are, probably, 
many in the vicinity preferable to the present port. 

The rivers of central America are very numerous, 
but, as might be anticipated (from the nature of the 
country), small, and none of them at present avail- 
able for the navigation of vessels of any size, except 
St. John, in Nicaragua, which flows into the Atlantic,, 
and the Lempa, in San Salvador, which flows into 
the Pacific Unfortunately, the latter has a very 
bad bar at the mouth, over which vessels drawing 
more than six feet of water cannot pass. As it is, 
however, formed of mud brought down by the river, 
it could be easily removed ; and, if this were done, 
the river would afford not only an excellent port, 
but an inland navigation of twenty leagues for 
large vessels in the very heart of the state. Of 
this, however, there is not the least hope at present. 

Many other rivers could easily be rendered 
navigable with a little expense ; as the river of Mon- 
tagua, which the commissioners of the Belgian com- 
pany have agreed to clear ; the river Dulce, near the 
same part ; the river at Iztapa, and several others. 




But these improvements could only be expected to 
take place under a government of a very different 
character from any which at present rules in Spanish 

The inland lakes are numerous, the principal being 
those of Nicaragua or Granada, and those of Mana- 
gua or Leon, in the state of Nicaragua ; Panajachel, 
Solalo, and Amatitlan, in the state of Guatemala ; 
Cajutepeke, in the state of San Salvador ; and some 
others. The first named of these lakes, from which 
the river St. John flows, and through which the 
projected canal to connect the two oceans should 
pass, is about 120 miles in length, and 50 in average 
width, and contains a number of islands. It is in 
some parts upwards of 100 fathoms deep: the soil 
on its banks is rich, and capable of producing all sorts 
of tropical produce, besides mahogany, cedar, and 
Brazil wood, which grow naturally in great abund- 
ance upon its banks. The lake of Leon is about 
forty miles long, and twenty- five broad, and is con- 
nected with the lake of Nicaragua by a river, which 
flows from it into the latter. This river could be 
rendered navigable for small vessels merely by slightly 
cleaning its bed ; but, were it desired to bring the 
grand canal through these two lakes to the harbour 
of Realejo, it would most probably be necessary to 
carry it alongside, instead of attempting to deepen 
the connecting river. The banks of this lake are 
fertile, like those of Nicaragua, but at present only 
possess some small patches of cultivation. The 
scenery surrounding the lakes of Panajachel, Solola, 
and Cajutepeke is very beautiful and magnificent, 
but as they can never serve for the purpose of an 


extended nayigation^ or indeed any farther than for 
communication between the Tillages on their banks^ 
they do not merit particular notice in a cursorj yiew 
of the geography of the country. All the rivers and 
lakes abound with fish^ but the variety is small, and 
they are all much inferior to the salmon and trout.' 
The most common sort is called mojaro, a small 
tasteless fish, generally caught with nets, but also 
with worms and flies. 





The native population of Central America may be 
said to consist of six distinct races^ which, however, 
have been intermixed to so great an extent, that 
their derivation cannot often be traced. 

1st. May be classed the white descendants of 
Spanish colonists. 

2nd. The mestizo, descendants of Spaniards and 

3rd. The mulatto, descendants of Spaniards and 

4th. The zambo, descendants of Indians and 

5th. The native, or indigenous Indian. 

6th. The African negro. 

In all the states except Costa Kica, the second and 
fifth classes are much the most numerous. The state 
of Guatemala is said to contain about a million of 
inhabitants, the Indians of whom probably amount to 
800,000, the mestizoes to 150,000. The whites in 
New and Old Guatemala may amount to four or five 
thousand ; but in other parts of the state not above 
twenty or thirty will be found in the largest towns, 
and I do not suppose that their total number ex- 
ceeds seven or eight thousand. 


The natives of negro blood are principally found 
on the N. E. coast, and in Amatitlan. They are 
the descendants of the slavea kept by the JesuitSt 
and are rarely to be met with in any part of the 
state. The pure negroes do not amount to so many 
as the whites, the remainder of the population being 
mulattoes and zamboes. 

In San Salvador, supposed to contain 350,000 in- 
habitants, the number of whites does not appear to 
exceed three or four thousand, as they are only found 
in the principal towns of the state ; of the rest, 
about two-thirds would appear to be mestizoes and 
indigenous Indians, the number of the other classes 
being very trifling. Honduras is said to contain 
a population of 250,000, of these there may be from 
four to five thousand whites, and twenty to thirty 
thouBand negroes, zamboes, and mulattoes, on the 
N, E. coast only, the remainder consisting of about 
one-half mestizoes, and one-half indigenous Indians. 
In Kicart^na, the population of which is estimated 
at 300,000, there may be two or three thousand 
whites, and five or six thousand of negro blood in 
the ports ; of the remaining population, abont a third 
are mfestizoes, and two-thirds indigenous Indians. 

In Costa Hica, the population of which is rated nt 
"' TOO, at least 70,000 are whites, the remainder 
jisting of a few negroes near the port of Matina, 
the N. E. coast, and mestizoes and their de- 
idants who have come from the other states ; 
ive not noticed a single pure Indian. 
)f the foreigners, the natives of Spain are by far 
moat numerous, being generally emigrants from 
lalusia and Murcia, either of the lower classes, or 


desperate adventurers who have been ruined in their 
own country and come to Central America^ to push 
their fortunes in any manner. Unfortunately, they 
form the great bulk of the commercial class ex- 
cepting the petty dealers, and have a character de- 
cidedly worse in all respects, than the same class 
among the natives. I do not think there are a 
dozen English in all Central America ; there may be 
thirty or forty French, and as many Germans, and 
twenty or thirty of all other foreigners, excepting 
the Belgians, who, since the formation of the colony 
of St. Thomas, are much more numerous in the 
state of Guatemala. 

The ignorance, vice, and superstition prevailing in 
Central America, are probably hardly to be equalled 
in any other part of the world, unless it may be in the 
interior of Africa or the East India islands. In the 
towns, not one in ten can read or write, and in many 
parts of the country, not one in a thousand. In 
many villages containing some thousand inhabitants, 
no person is to be found who can read, and, when a 
traveller is compelled to show his passport to the 
alcalde, who is the first civil and criminal judge, he 
is generally requested to read it. Morality is at the 
lowest ebb among all classes, especially the whites 
and Creoles ; indeed, I could never find, that among 
them any disgrace was attached to any sort of 
crime except petty larceny. Murder, perjury, forgery, 
and swindling of all sorts are considered as quite 

The priests are, for the most part, blind leaders of 
the blind ; and the better educated merely consider 
themselves as actors, whose business it is to extort 



money by acting the part which will please the 
people. Forms and religious parade are carefully 
kept up, but no one thinks of inculcating private 
morality or even decency. The marriage ceremony 
IS, also, as might be expected, considered merely as 
a form to keep up public decency, and both man and 
wife act in private as they please. 

I never have found any native of Central America, 
who would admit that there could be any vice in 
lying; and when one has succeeded in cheating 
another, however gross and infamous the fraud may 
be, the natives will only remark, " Que hombre 
vivo " (what a clever fellow). All classes are ad- 
dicted to gambling, and far more money changes 
hands in this manner than in commerce or any le- 
gitimate business. Nearly all the Guatemala mer- 
chants, who are the only ones possessed of any 
capital, have commenced their career with some 
rascality. One of the richest of them was some 
years ago, when in bad circumstances, sent to look 
after a quantity of very valuable goods which had 
been abandoned by the carriers in some revolu- 
tionary panic; but, instead of restoring the goods 
to their owner, he altered the marks and so mixed 
them together, that when they came to Guatemala 
they could not be identified ; there he managed 
to keep the greater part, by selling which he at 
oncQ accumulated a good capital for commencing busi- 
ness; and being a shrewd dealer, and above all, a 
successful gambler, he has realised what is in Central 
America a large fortune, and he is courted by all the 
Belize merchants. Concubinage is common among 
all possessed of any wealth; nor is this, as in other 


countries, done secretly, if at all; but even wives 
will publicly speak of their husbands' mistresses, 
and express their approbation and disapprobation of 
their taste. 

Nearly all the purchases and sales are conducted 
by women, who among the lower classes plant the 
maize for the family, make the tortilias carry the 
surplus produce to market, and bring back the 
proceeds ; while the men are lying all day in their 
hammocks, or dosing under the shade of a tree. I 
only speak of the lower and middle classes, as the 
women of the higher ranks are as depraved and in- 
jdolent as the men. 

The character of the indigenous Indians is very 
various in different parts of the country. Some of 
their villages, such as the Kavinal, and many others 
of smaller extent, are inhabited by a very industrious 
class of natives, who form the best workmen in the 
state of Guatemala, their dress being neat and clean, 
and their conduct humble and courteous ; while in 
others, the people are lazy and insolent, and go en- 
tirely naked, with the exception of a cloth round the 
middle. They are all very shrewd in their dealings, 
and their promises may much more safely be trusted 
to than those of the white and mixed breeds. The 
greater part are continually intoxicated whenever 
they have the means of being so, and make a habit 
of drinking on the Sunday all they have gained in 
the week, without ever saving any thing to take 
home to their villages. To this, however, the Indians 
of the Bavinal, and some other places, are an excep- 
lion ; they will walk fifty and sixty leagues to Ama- 
titlan and Old Guatemala to seek work, and remain 



a month or two^ spending almost nothing upon their 
food, but when returning home thej will purchase 
some article of dress, and take the rest of their gains 
to spend in their native village ; they are noted for 
their honesty and veracity, and are said to be very 
moral in their private Eves* 

The Indians of the Altos are, also, generally an 
industrious class, and by them is spun nearly all the 
clothing used by the lower and middle classes of 
Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Bica, and all the tem- 
perate parts of Central America. 

I have always found the Indians of the state of 
San Salvador most civil and obliging, and though 
very ignorant and superstitious, they are without many 
of the vices of the mixed breeds ; the same applies to 
the Indians of Honduras and Nicaragua. But as the 
Indians of the two latter states have had less inter* 
course with strangers, they are in many parts in a 
more savage state, and are almost entirely directed 
by the priests, who make them conform to the un- 
meaning ceremonies of the Church of Home, and 
exact a large proportion of their little gains, without 
attempting to teach them the true spirit of the 
Christian religion, or in the least improving their 
education or morality. 

As I menticmed, when speaking of Amatitlan, the 
mulattoes of that place are in some respects superior 
to the inhabitants of other parts, and are decidedly 
less superstitious, and more moral in their conduct. 
Those in the ports of the north coast are somewhat 
more industrious than the mestizoes : but, with this 
solitary quality, I believe that the negroes, mulattoes, 
and zamboes, are no better than the other classes.. 


As far as I can judge from my own observation, 
and the opinion of those strangers most competent to 
&peak, the Central American character is naturally 
simple and timid ; and, unfortunately, their extreme 
timidity and diffidence have prevented the most 
respectable classes from mixing in the government, 
or at all interfering in politics, so that the adminis- 
tration of public affairs has fallen, not into the hands 
of the wealthy and respectable classes, but first, of 
needy adventurers more cunning and impudent than 
the rest ; and afterwards, of robbers, assassins, and 
others, who would not hesitate at any means to 
attain their end. All the revolutions are made by a 
, very few of this class, while the mass of the people 
submit without a murmur to what they direct, and 
even prefer being robbed by any desperate adven- 
turer, to laying aside the national indolence and 
timidity to resist them. 

The present corrupted character has evidently re- 
sulted from the brutalising influence of continued 
civil wars, and the infamous examples shown by the 
assassins, who from time to time seized the govern- 
ment; the members of which have almost always 
been the most immoral, false, and despicable of the 
population, and, so far from encouraging morality, 
or the social virtues, made it a rule to outrage them 
on every occasion. Whatever crime is committed, 
the perpetrator has only to declare himself a violent 
partisan of some of the factions which divide the 
country, to be not only protected from justice, but 
rewarded, and the power of tyrannising over the 
rest of the community put into his hands. 

All the most industrious and respectable people, 

Q 2 

|^W^H^|PiHaB«lBV^^BHaP^«^E9""""^^"*^>V"""^*^"JI'*- BU .-^^F9P^E=^<^^V^ 


and, indeed, all who have either cash or character to 
lose, are afraid to have any thing to do with the 
government ; conseqirently, they are made the vic- 
tims of all sorts of oppression, and have heavy con- 
tributions exacted from them, when one robber or 
assassin has collected a few rascals to attack another; 
The rulers are, indeed, so far from being " a terror 
to evil doers," and " a praise to those who do well," 
that they may most truly be termed a terror to those 
who do well, and a protection to evil doers. Under 
such a government, and with a people spiritless 
enough to submit to it, there can be little hope of 
any moral improvement; and except the state of 
Costa Bica, which under a more enlightened govern- 
ment has made such rapid strides in improvement, 
I can see no prospect of any amelioration in the 
character of the people, till an absolute government 
shall be established by some foreign power ; or, per^ 
haps, till a long course of poverty and misrule shall 
force even this most apathetic people to rise and ex- 
terminate the infamous characters who have pretended 
to govern them, and seek out the most worthy and 
capable to supply their place. But the past history 
of the country certainly leaves us rather to hope for, 
than expect, such a result in the present age. 

While the present generation are so deplorably 
ignorant of the elements of education, the state of 
the public schools and means of instruction offers no 
better prospect for the future. 

Two colleges (as they are callied) exist in Guate- 
mala, which, though they are by far the first esta- 
blishments of the kind in Central America, are far 
below the most ordinary public school in England ; the 


only qualification required previous to entering them, 
being to write and read the Spanish language. The 
branches taught are, arithmetic, dignified with the 
name of mathematics, the Latin, French, and Eng- 
lish languages, philosophy of Aristotle, and practice 
of medicine. No attempt is made to teach che-* 
mistry, astronomy, mechanics, or geometry ; but, 
above all, the ignorance of geography among the 
best informed classes is most ridiculous. A young 
^an, about five-and-twenty, of one of the richest 
and proudest families of Guatemala, and of the self-* 
called nobles, inquired of me whether I was a native: 
of London, or England ; and, upon my stating that I 
was a native of neither, though of Great Britain, he 
again inquired, if Great Britain was not a province 
of London, or England. Another asked me if I 
was English of England, or English of France ; and 
seeing that I smiled, he added, then you may be an 
English North American. 

I have often been asked whether Guatemala, or 
England, contained the larger population; but the 
most amusing definition was propounded by a large 
landed proprietor in the state of Guatemala, who 
has no small opinion of his learning ; namely, that 
there were only two real nations in the Old World — 
England and Spain, and that the rest were all ^^ gua-* 
nacos ; " a name applied to the natives of the smaller 
states by those of Guatemala, apparently brought 
down from the time of the Spanish government, 
when that province was the residence of the captain- 
general, and meaning ignorance and rusticity. 
. Though, according to law, education is entirely 
free, no person except a Koman Catholic could ven- 

« 3 


ture to set up a school, as he would be certain to 
be forced to abandon it by the priests, as was exem- 
plified in the case of Mr. Crow. 

Some of the teachers in Guatemala, not employed 
in the Universities, are said to be men of good educa- 
tion, but not accustomed to the best method of 
instruction ; and, as they can hardly make an exist- 
ence by teaching, they generally trade, farm, or 
employ themselves in some other way, teaching only 
at their leisure hours ; but the acquirements of 
teachers in the smaller towns are very slender indeed. 
The steward of a small Chilian vessel, a stupid-look- 
ing mestizo, offered himself to me as servant in the 
port of the Union in November, 1844, when I told 
him I did not require his services ; but meeting him 
a few days afterwards, he told me that he had been 
appointed schoolmaster of the town, with a salary of 
sixteen dollars a month ; which occupation he evi- 
dently thought much inferior to five dollars a month, 
with board and lodging, as a servant. 

Some few Central Americans who have visited 
England have perfectly learned the English language ; 
and they appear to have the same quickness in learn- 
ing possessed by the West Indian Creoles, and a 
great readiness in comprehending any subtle theory 
or argument, which attaches to most people not 
well brought up from childhood, and having only a 
smattering of some branches of education. 

The consequence is, that all the exertions of the 
priests have only served to limit general knowledge ; 
while all the young people above the labouring 
classes have, in spite of them, imbibed infidel opi- 
nions, and make no hesitation in calling the Chris- 


tian reyelation a ridiculous fable, and the priests, 
comedians and cheats. They speak of them in a 
much more disrespectful manner than any Protestant 
would think of doing, while, at the same time, they 
comply with the unmeaning Bomish ceremonies, and 
kneel and cross themselves before the figures of their 

Though the entire liberty of religious worship, 
both private and public, was guaranteed by the federal 
constitution of Central America, acts have been 
since passed by the states of Guatemala, Honduras, 
and Costa Bica, in reference to this and some other 
of the federal laws, declaring that parties differing 
from the Church of Rome are only at liberty to 
exercise their religion in private. Indeed, such re- 
ligious liberty could never in reality exist, whatever 
the laws might be on the subject, as the priests, who 
have the entire control over the greater part of the 
lower orders, would be certain to excite them to 
assassinate any person who should attempt to expose 
their idolatry, and introduce a purer system of 

The religion of the lower classes resembles at present 
what is described as having existed in some parts of 
Europe in the thirteenth century, and consists of 
certain unmeaning forms, sedulously kept up by the 
priests, without the least attempt being made to in- 
culcate morality, much less any part of the vital prin- 
ciples of Christianity. 

In America, there is none of the majestic solem- 
nity attached to the Roman Catholic religion, which 
is found in some of the countries of continental 

Q 4 


Innumerable images of all the saints of the Romish 
calendar are to be seen in all the churches, and to 
toe or other of these figures the lower classes always 
address their prayers; never, as they have oftett 
admitted to me, supplicating the Supreme Being, or 
the Mediator of the Christian covenant. Rich offer* 
ings are often made to these saints, or, more pro- 
perly, to the priests who take care of them (and in 
their sermons extol their virtues in the most ridicu- 
lous and indecent manner, in order to extract offer- 
ings from the people), by persons who are sick, in 
order to purchase a cure; and sometimes, though 
not nearly so often, by those who have committed 
some crime^ to purchase absolution. These saintd 
are, on particular days, paraded about the streets in 
procession ; and, as often as they pass, the lower 
classes fall on their knees« 

Many of the images have the supposed power o£ 
working miracles ; but the most celebrated of all, is 
called Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas (our Lord of Es- 
quipulas). It is a small image, and, as I have been 
informed by those who have seen it, of an ill-looking 
black man ; but it is understood to be a representa- 
tion of the Supreme Being, impiously drawn in a' 
human figure. This image, which it is pretended^ 
fell down from heaven, has the supposed power of 
healing all diseases, and granting any request which 
may be preferred to it; and, such is its celebrity, 
that the credulous people bring the sick from all parts 
of the republic, even a distance of 500 miles, on foot. 
It is said, that more than 100,000 persons annually 
visit it on the three festival days, appointed for that 
purpose, in the year ; and the priest, though he has 


no revenue except the offerings made to the saint, 
possesses by far the richest living in Central America, 

The following account of one of the pretended 
miracles wrought by the image was given me by Don 
Manuel Zapata, as trustworthy a gentleman as any 
in Central America, and well known to all persons 
who have resided in the state of San Salvador. 
Having gone, with others, to the great annual fair, 
held on one of the saint's festivals, on the 6th of 
January 1324, and having got into the body of the 
church amidst an immense crowd of people, after he 
had waited some time, and seen some minor miracles 
of rather an equivocal character performed, he saw a 
man brought in who appeared to be a most wretched 
object, his legs and arms being twisted upwards, and 
his whole body distorted in a most horrible manner. 
He was placed before the image, and exclaimed in 
a hollow voice, — " I have come upwards of a hun- 
dred leagues to see our Lord of Esquipulas, and will 
never leave till he has cured me : " this he repeated 
several times, when suddenly he gave a spring, and 
appeared healed in a moment ; his body became 
straight, his legs and ams resumed their fomier 
position, and he stood before the image a stout hale 

Upon the completion of this most wonderful 
miracle, the musicians in attendance struck up a 
dancing tune ; large sums of money were collected 
for the saint, and the object of the miracle, and the 
painters in attendance commenced painting copies of 
it for sale. Don Manuel told me, that though he 
had before had strong doubts about the authenticity 

Q 5 


of the miracles, and every thing else pertaining 
to priestcraft, he could not contradict or deny what 
appeared, without doubt, to be a miraculous cure. 
The next morning he had to leave Esquipulas ; and 
in the suburbs of the town he met a gentleman 
mounted on a very fine mule, with handsome Mex- 
ican saddle and trappings. Saluting each other, ac- 
cording to the custom of the country, they entered 
into conversation ; the stranger told him that he 
had been present at the disgraceful farce of the pre- 
ceding day, that he well knew the man on whom 
the pretended miracle had been wrought; that he 
was a noted robber who lived near the river Paz, 
and that he had wished to apprehend him as a cri- 
minal and impostor, but that the priests would not 
permit it, as they said that all he had done was for 
the glory of Grod, and, that to apprehend him would 
injure the fame of our Lord of Esquipulas. 

While all the forms and ceremonies enjoined by 
the priests are most scrupulously and devoutly per- 
formed by the Indians, and the greater part of the 
humbler classes of all breeds, and the images of the 
saints are most devoutly worshipped, and all the 
ridiculous fables told regarding them fully believed, 
the more educated classes are almost universally 
sceptics; and, though the more prudent outwardly 
conform to the Boman Catholic ceremonies in pub- 
lic, they never go to church, except officially on 
some public occasion, or partake of any of the 
Catholic sacraments except baptism — marriage — and 
the Eucharist, when they are about to die. The first 
and last named are practised as a sort of charm, and 
the second is reckoned necessary for the sake of 


public decency, when the parties are of good family : 
but when speaking with a stranger they have no he- 
sitation in ridiculing the religion and ceremonies of 
their church. 

The character of the priests in Spanish Ame- 
rica, with very few exceptions, is grossly immoral 
and corrupt ; nearly all publicly live in concubinage, 
and a great number drink and gamble. Such being 
their own character, they can hardly be expected to 
inculcate morality on others ; yet their supposed 
sacred character makes them worshipped by the 
lower orders, though they are ridiculed and despised 
by the more educated. 

After the independence, the Roman Catholic 
Church in Central America bad no communication 
with the pope for many years ; but five years ago, 
on the triumph of the servile party, an ambassador 
was sent to his holiness, and Don Jos6 Viteri re- 
turned bishop of San Salvador. The pope shortly 
afterwards appointed Dr. Francisco Garcia Palaez, 
coadjutor, to supply the place of the archbishop of 
Guatemala, who, on his expulsion by Morazan, re- 
paired to the island of Cuba. 

Doctor Francisco Garcia Palaez, formerly coad- 
jutor, but now, by the death of the late archbishop 
Casaus, archbishop of Guatemala, is a native of the 
state, a man of narrow capacity, and badly educated ; 
he is more discreet in his moral conduct than most 
of the class, but he is so exceedingly bigoted, that 
if he had it only in his power he would revive 
the darkest period of the Spanish Inquisition. 
Luckily this is now out of the question, and the 
priests in Central America have been too lately 



hunted down to attempt any thing which may 
render them unpopular. Still he has had it in his 
power to persecute, and finally expel from the state^ 
an Englishman, of the name of Crow, who was sent 
out by one of the Bible societies in England to the 
British settlement of Belize, and afterwards proceeded 
to Guatemala, where he set up a school, in which he 
was so successful that nearly all the respectable 
natives and foreigners sent their children to be 
taught by him ; but though, as far as I have heard^ 
he was a man of unexceptionable character, and 
strictly abstained from interfering with the religion 
of the country, the archbishop and priests seemed 
afraid that to educate the rising generation would 
teach them to despise their superstition, and aided 
by the municipal authorities, who wished to please the 
lower classes, by whom they are selected, they con-* 
tinually annoyed him in every possible manner, and 
sent him orders to close his school ; which, relying 
on his privilege as a British subject, he refused tQ 
do. In the beginning of last April, however, he 
received a positive order immediately to quit th^ 
state ; and after having in vain applied for assistance 
to Mr. Chatfield, the British consul-general (of whose 
motives in refusing it I am not aware, though of 
course they must have been sufficient), he was seized 
by a body of soldiers when coming out of the Belgian 
consulate, where he had taken refuge, set upon a 
mule, and conveyed to the port of Isabel, where he 
was forced to embark on board a vessel bound to the 
British settlement of Belize. 

It is said that General Carrera was unfavourable 
to the act, though he permitted it to please the 


priests; but it is to be hoped the British govern- 
ment will not permit so gross ah injury to one of 
their subjects to be inflicted, contrary to law, by the 
wretched and contemptible provincial government of 
Guatemala without condign punishment. 

Don Jose Viteri, the bishop of San Salvador, is a 
man of more talent and education than the arch- 
bishop of Guatemala; he was formerly minister to 
the Guatemala government ; — an oflfice for which 
he would appear much better fitted than for that of 
an ecclesiastic. He is of one of the first families in 
San Salvador, and having travelled in Europe, is a 
man of most polished manners and pleading address ; 
but his private character is notoriously vicious and 
debased, and he is one of the greatest political 
incendiaries and promoters of civil war in all the 

Much less bigotry exists in the states of San Sal- 
vador and Nicaragua, but in other respects they are, 
perhaps, rather worse than some of the others. Thq 
priests have never quite recovered the power they had 
before the time of Morazan, and their influence seems 
still to be on the decline, except in the states of Guate- 
mala and Costa Kica, where it is at present supported 
by the government for party purposes. Probably 
this is, after all, the least of two evils ; for until the 
people are educated, and taught a purer religion, the 
overthrow of the Koman Catholic church would only 
be depriving them of the little remaining moral 
restraint which, though based on so degrading a su** 
perstition, still forms some check to the lower classes* 
I do not mean to compare the degraded and childish 
superstition which at present exists in Central Ame- 


rica, with the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland^ Ger- 
many^ or even Italy, which probably differs much less 
from the purest reformed church, than that of Central 
America does from them ; but I have no hesitation 
in saying that the religion of China, Birmah, Turkey, 
or Persia, is infinitely superior to that which at pre- 
sent exists in Spanish America ; and I have no doubt 
that such a degrading superstition is one main cause 
of the ignorance, immorality, and indolence, which 
pervades so large a proportion of the population of 
all the American countries formerly belonging to the 
Spanish crown. 

The admirable, though often disputed maxim of 
Pope, — 

" That which is best administered is best,** 

certainly admits of no dispute when applied to laws, 
and is most strongly exemplified in all the Spanish 
American states, whose laws are generally founded 
upon the modem Spanish code, one of the most ex- 
cellent that can be framed by human intellect, con- 
sisting of the best parts of old Spanish, English, 
and French jurisprudence, but entirely free from the 
cumbrous rubbish of ancient statutes still retained in 
more enlightened countries. 

With so excellent a base, and some slight altera-^ 
tions, suggested by experience and local circum- 
stances, it might be supposed that the laws of Central 
America would be as nearly perfect as human falli- 
bility would admit ; and I feel convinced that no 
person can read the enactments throughout, without 
admiring their wisdom, simplicity, completeness, and 
adaptation to all classes and circumstances. The 


peculiar difiference between laws founded upon the 
British and Spanish codes is^ that^ while in the former 
lawsuits are managed by lawyers, according to cer- 
tain unintelligible forms, and evidence is loosely 
taken, verbally, from the persons tendering it ; in the 
latter, the lawyer never makes his a^ppearance, though 
parties may take his advice when they think proper. 
Everything is also done in writing, to which all verbal 
testimony must be reduced and sworn to in the pre- 
sence of the judge trying the case, before it can be re- 
ceived in evidence. Another peculiarity, which would 
not be approved of by English lawyers, is, that a 
civil action is always commenced by examining the 
defendant upon his oath ; and, if he then admits the 
claim, fiirther proof is unnecessary. Unfortunately, 
though perjury is by law punishable by the loss of the 
right hand, it is actually never punished in any part 
of Spanish America, and is not considered as any 
crime, or even disgrace ; so that, when the defendant 
admits any important legal points against himself, 
it is more from want of shrewdness than from fear 
of committing perjury. 

The alcalde, who is the magistrate elected by the 
people, takes cognisance of petty claims and offences ; 
such as, labourers who have received advances on 
account of work which they have not performed as 
stipulated, and petty disputes between the working 
people, which he generally disposes of in a summary 
manner as he thinks just, but without any regard 
whatever to law. In small towns he is the only 
magistrate, and his decisions are, I believe, never 
disputed, though by law an appeal may be made to 


the corregidor, whose office is similar to that of a 
head police magistrate, and, like the latter, he is 
appointed by government. 

The primary civil tribunal in Guatemala, where 
commercial disputes are generally decided, is the 
Consolado, the judges of which are composed of the 
principal shopkeepers (for want of wholesale mer- 
chants). Two merchants selected by lot, and the 
president, a lawyer, form a tribunal, by which the 
disputes are tried. All witnesses are examined by 
this tribunal, and their evidence reduced to writing 
by a clerk in attendance. The plaintiff and defen- 
dant may, when not summoned for examination, or 
after their statement has been taken, appear, either 
personally or by a friend, but, as already observed, 
no lawyer is allowed to be present. 

The statements of both parties being carefully 
made out in writing, are tied together and sealed, 
and, as soon as the defendant has replied to all the 
assertions of the plaintiff, and all the witnesses, if 
any, have been examined, and their evidence reduced 
to writing and commented on by both parties, and 
replied to by both as fully and as often as they think 
proper, the two merchants give their decision (gene- 
rally reserving any legal points for settlement by the 
civil judge) ; and by this the parties must abide, un- 
less they prefer appealing to the supreme court, in 
which case the dispute is gone over anew, without 
any reference to the previous decision ; and the 
judge gives his decree in writing at great length, 
stating fully the grounds, both legal and equitable, 
on which it is founded. Either party can, however, 


object to the grounds of the award upoli legal or 
Equitable reasons ; and, upon their paying a small 
fine, and giving security for the costs, the case will 
be gone over again: and finally, according to the 
authority of Central America, either party may" 
appeal to the House of Kepresentatives, who will 
appoint a committee of lawyers to examine the 
grounds of the award, and, if any of them are decided 
to be bad, order a new trial. 

Disputes which have nothing to do with commerce 
are, in the first instance, decided by the petty judge 
of the district where they occur (JueA de la primera 
instancid)y an appeal lying to th6 superior tri- 
bunals as in commercial disputes ; and as the tribunal 
of the Consolado only exists in the state of Guate- 
mala, the district judge must first be applied to in 
all cases in the other states. 

As might be anticipated in a country where all 
classes are demoralised, the fountain of justice is also 
corrupted, and it is never attempted to be denied, 
that a few gold ounces are the most convincing 
arguments that can be offered to a judge. As might 
also be expected, many of the district judges are 
not only deplorably ignorant of law, but destitute of 
the most ordinary education. The judge of the 
Consolado in Amatitlan (a mulatto cochineal grower), 
who can just sign his name, issued a summons in- 
tended for me on account of a petty demand, but as 
the name contained in the document did not in the 
least resemble mine, I paid no attention to two 
orders to attend ; and some days afterwards, when^ 
luckily, I was not at home, a troop of soldiers were 

354 A judge's honesty. 

sent to fetch me. On 1117 return, I sent to ask the 
judge what he meant by such a prooeedhig (as I had 
preyiously notified to him that the summons to 
attend was not in my name), and he at once admitted 
that he knew I was not properly cited, but added, 
that this made no difference, as I knew the order 
was intended for me. The civil judge, however, hap- 
pened to be a lawyer^ and advised the dispenser of 
cochineal and mercantile law to be a little more 
cautious in his proceedings with British subjects. 

A late supreme judge of Guatemala, who had 
some mercantile transactions with the principal 
foreign mercantile house there, by way of security, 
made over to them the estates of a person for whom 
he pretended to be legal agent, producing letters and 
powers of attorney authorising him to do so. Some 
time afterwards the judge took himself off, and the 
owner of the transferred estates appearing to claim 
them, actually produced a letter from the judge 
stating that all the documents were forged. This 
judge had been considered one of the best and most 
active ever known in Guatemala ; but, of course, a 
man who could act in such a manner would never 
hesitate to sell justice to the highest bidder. 

I believe that lawsuits with government are in all 
countries bad cases, and that a prudent man will 
generally prefer submitting to injustice to going to 
law ; but in Central America, it would not only be 
utter madness to think of such a thing, but no person 
will attempt to bring an action against any officer in 
the employ of government, or even his friends or 
near relations ; and it is customary for parties fancy- 


ing themselves aggrieved by the decisions of the 
judges, to represent their case to the head oflScer of 
government, who, if he is convinced by the argu- 
ments, or some more tangible process, sends a posi- 
tive order to the court to reverse its decisions. 
General Carrera, the present president of the state 
of Guatemala, continually interferes in this manner, 
and has, occasionally, when the judges gave a deci- 
sion contrary to his wishes, sent for them to his 
house, and after calling them pigs, dogs, jackasses, 
and other polite terms, ordered them instantly to 
reverse their decision. Were the judges men of 
honour, integrity, or independence, it is needless to 
say that they would not serve under such a govern- 
ment ; but such men would not be acceptable to a 
government which daily violates all semblance of law 
and justice. 

One of the principal stipulations of the Central 
American constitution is, that no government can 
demand a forced loan on any pretence, or impose 
any duties or taxes not authorised by the represen- 
tatives of the people ; but so little notice is taken of 
this law, so necessary in a free country, that scarcely 
a year passes in any of the states, except Costa Rica, 
without the government demanding one or more 
forced loans. A list of the traders and other people in 
the state supposed to possess property having been 
made out, they are assessed according to the fancy of 
government, the amount demanded from each being 
taken at the point of the bayonet. 

During the government of Malespein in San Sal- 
vador, many people were quite unable to pay the 




amount at which they were assessed, when a most 
novel piece of tyranny was had recourse to. Two 
of their neighbours, friendly to government, and 
supposed to possess property, were called in to value 
the effects of the person unable to pay, and forced to 
take the goods at their own valuation, handing over 
the amount to government. It may be supposed 
that these appraisers took good care not to put too 
high a value on the property : hence,' parties un- 
able at once to meet the illegal demands of govern- 
ment, were certain of being entirely ruined, while 
others got their property for a small fraction of its 

Criminal justice is, also, nominally administered ac- 
cording to the Spanish code ; but only two crimes 
(murder and theft) are ever actually punished, all 
the others enumerated in modem codes, such as rape, 
perjury, forgery, &c., being considered venial, and 
currently talked of as no disgrace to the parties con- 
victed of them. 

According to the Spanish law, no crime can be 
punished unless there be sufficient personal evidence 
of its committal, and where the accused can command 
a few dollars, this evidence is never sufficient, not 
even in the case of murder, unless the individual killed 
be a friend of some officer of government, or have 
relations who will pay more than the accused. In- 
toxication is taken as a sufficient excuse for the com- 
mission of murder or any other crime; hence the 
only crimes ever punished are murder committed by 
the lower classes, when they cannot plead intoxica- 
tion, and petty larceny, — the former by shooting, 


and the latter, by a certain term of labour on the 
public works. 

Political offences are the ones which meet a cer-? 
tain and immediate punishment, the parties supposed 
to be guilty being generally seized and shot, without 
any pretence of trial, upon the information of some 
accomplice or enemy, and often, of course, most 
unjustly. For when an insurrection takes place, 
whether successful or not, the lives of the losing 
party are supposed to lie, justly, at the disposal of 
the conquerors. If the government proves strongest 
and maintains itself, it shoots as many of the people 
as it thinks proper; if it is overthrown, the new 
government shoots as many of the members of the 
old and its adherents as suits their pleasure. This, 
as was remarked to me by the wife of General 
Sachet (one of the best informed and most respec- 
table women I have seen in Central America), was 
all right and proper. But any one who has an 
enemy takes the occasion to call on the general of 
the victorious party, and after complimenting him 
upon his success, and professing devotedness to his 
interest, proceeds to accuse the person against whom 
he has a spite, of having spoken against him, or of 
being an adherent of the opposite party, or of some 
other political offence, perhaps, of really a very 
trifling nature ; and, the result is, that the person so 
accused is often seized, and put to death without 
examination or even knowing what he is accused of, 
though he is, perhaps, all the while actually friendly 
to the dominant faction. There is, of course, no 
means of punishing those assassinations, except by 


Others of a similar nature when the friends of the 
murdered party are in the ascendancy ; hence disputes 
are embittered to the utmost^ and revenge is from 
time to time treasured up^ and when wreaked at 
lengthy only leaves a new score to be settled on the 
next convenient opportunity. 


London : 

Spottiswoodb and Shaw, 




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PrEiad'i Csnu of RihIU Ri^ 
Sudn-i TlM TiUu - 

HoUiuori-.TM oCCulii. nckJiii, ni 






London*! (Mr.) Amateur Gardener - - 18 

Reptoa's Landscape Garde ulng, etc. - 36 

Rirers's Rose Amateur's Guide . - 26 

Roberts on the Vine . - - - - 26 

Rogers's Vegetable CultiTator . . • 26 

Schleideu's Scientific Botany ^ . . 26 

Smith's Introduction to Botanj • - 27 

Smith's English Flora . - - . 27 

,, Compendium of English Flora - 27 

Specimen Flora of British Botanj - - 11 


Blair's Chronological Tables . • • 6 
Nicolas's Chronology ot History • -23 

Riddle's Ecclesiastical Chronology . - 25 

Tate's Horatins Restitutus - . - - 29 



Barlis's Arithmetic of Annuities - - 6 

Gin>art On Banlting . - - . 12 

M'CulIoch's Dictionary of Commerce - 20 

Reader's Time Tables - - - - 26 

Steel's Shipmaster's Assistant • • - 28 

Srmond's Merchant Seamen's Laws - 29 

Thomson's Tables of Interest • • - 30 

Walford's Customs' Laws - . . 81 


Butler's Ancient and Modern Geography 7 

Atlas of Modem Geography • 8 

f. Ancient Geography - 8 

,, ., General Geography - 8 

Cooley's World Surreyed - - - 8 

De Strzelecki's Nenr South Wales • - 10 

Forster 's Historical Geography of Arabia 1 1 

Hall's Laxve General Atlas ... 13 

M*Culioch^ Geographical Dictionary - 20 

M<Leod's Sacred Geonaphy • • - 20 

Murray's Encyclopteoia of Geographr . 22 
Ordnance Maps, and Publications ot the 

Geological Society - - - • 23 

Parrot's Ascent of Mount Ararat . . 8 


Adair's (Sir R.) Mission to Vienna - 

" Constantinople . . . • 
Bell's History of Russia . . . . 
Blair's Chron. and Historical Tables 


Bloomfield's Translation of Tliucydides . 

., Edition of ThucYdides • 
Cooley's Maritime and Inland Discovery 
Crowe'sHistor? of France ... 
De Sismondi's Fall of the Roman Empire 

„ Italian Republics 

Dnubam's History of Spiun and Portugal 
,, Europe in the Middle Ages 
,, History of the German Empire 
,, Denmarlc, Sweden, and Norway 
,, History of Poland ... 
Dnnlop's History of Fiction 
Eccleston's English Antiquities 
Fergus's United States of America 
Grant (Mrs.) Memoir and Coresuoudence 
Grattan's History of Netherlands 
Grimblot's WLUinm III. and Louis XIV. 
Guicciardini's Hist. Maxims ... 
Halsted's Life of Richard III. 
Haydon's Lectures on Painting and Design 
Historical Charades ..... 14 
Historical Pictures of the Middle Ages - 14 
Horsiev's (Bp.) Biblical Criticism . . 14 
Jeffrey's (Lord) Contributions 
Keightley's Outlines of History • 
Laing's Kings of Norway 
Lempritee's Classical Dictionary 
Macaulay's Essays • • . 

Mackiunou's History of Civilisation 




Mackintosh's History of England - - 19 
,. Miscellaneous Works • 19 

M<CuUoch's Dictionary, Historical, Geo« 

graphical, and SUtiAtical - - 20 

Maunder's Treasury of History • •21 
Maury's Statesmen of America • - Si 
Miiner's Church History . - - . 21 
Moore's History of Ireland • - .22 
MoKheim's Ecclesiastical History - - 23 
Nicolas's Chronology of History • .23 
Ranke's History of the Reformation - 25 

Rome, History of 26 

Russell's Bedford Correspondence . . 6 
Scott's History of Scotland - • - 26 
Sinnett's Byways of History ... 27 
Stebbing's History of the Christian Church 28 
„ History of the Reformation • 28 
,. Church Histoiy - - - 21 
Switierland, History of • - - •28 
Sydney Smith's Works . . - . S8 
Thirlwall's History of Greece - • .29 
Tooke's History of Prices . . - 30 
Turner's History of England • . - 30 
Tytler's Elements of General History - 31 
Zumpt's Latin Grammar .... 13 


Amy Herbert •-.-.• 
Boy's (The) Own Book . - . - 
Gertrude ....... 

Gower's Scientific Phenomrna 

Hawes's Tales of the N. Americas Indiana 

Howitt's Boy's Country Book - 


Buirs Hints to Mothers - 

„ Management of Children 
Copland's EHctionary of Medicine 
EUiotson's Human Physiolotty 
Esdaile's Mesmerism in India - 
Holland's Mecfical Notes - 
Lane's Water Cure at Malyem 
Pereira On Food and Diet 
Recce's Medical Guide 
Thomson on Food - • . 


Adshead on Prisons . . . . . 

Bray's Philosophy of Necessity 

„ Social Systems - . . . 
Cartoons. (The Prise) - . *- . 
Clayers's Forest Life . . • . 
Cocks's Bordeaux, its Wines, etc. - 
Collegian's Guide . . . . . 

Colton's Lacon ...... 

De Burtin On the Knowledge of Pictures 
De Morgan On Probabilities ... 
De Stnelecki's New South Wales - 
Dresden Gallery . . . . . 

Dunlop's History of Fiction . . . 
Good's Book of Natore • . . - 



Historical Charades ..... 14 
Laneton Parsonage • - . - 
Mackintosh's Life of Sir T. More • 
Marcet's Conyersations— 

On the History of England 
On Chemistry .... 
On Natural Philosophy 
On Political Economy 
On Vegetable Physiology - 
On Land and Water . • - 
On Language • - . . ■ 
Marryat's Masterman Ready - 
„ Priyateer's-Man 
,, Settlers in Canada • 
M Mission ; or. Scenes in Africa 
Pycroft's Course of English Reading 
Twelye Years Ago - - - - . 






















„ EluitnuofNiitimlHLiiorT- 
KiSmtU-t ZiiolDfT irf iki EnilUb l>oi 









• 8 

Calleott** Scripture Herbal 
Cooper'a Sermoni - - • « - 
Dale*! Domestic Litni^ ... 

Uibdin'sSandaj Library . . • . 
Doddridge's Familf Kxpositor 
Kngliahman'i Hebrew Coucordance 
,« Oreelc Concordance • 

Etherld^e'a STrinn Churches 
Fltsrr*y*s (Ladf) Scripture Conrenatlons 
Forster's Historical Geographj of Arabia 

t» Life of Bishop Jebb • 
From Oxford to Rome - . - . 
Gaacoyne on the Apocalypse ... 
Gertrude, edited hj the Rct. W. Sewell • 
Hoolt's (Dr.) Lcrtnres on Pansion Week 
Home's lntrodu«-tion to the Scriptures - 

,t Compendium of ditto •• •• 

Horslej'st^Bp.) Biblical Criticism - . 14 

», Psalms ----- J4 
Jebb's Correspondence with Knox - 

,, Translation of the Psalms - 
Kip s Christmas in Rome - - • . 
Knox's (Alexander) Remains ... 
Laing's Notes on the German Schism - 
Laneton Parson Rge ----- 
Letters to mr Unlcnown Friends - • 
Maitland's Church in the Catacombs 
Marrarel Perciral ..... 
Micfielefs Priests, Women, and Families 

„ ' and Qnlnet's Jesuits 
Milner's Church History .... 
Moore oh the Power of the Soul • 

„ on the Use of the Body 
Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History • 
MyYouthful Companions ... 

Partibles - 

Parkes'tf Domestic Duties ... 

Pearson's Prayers for Families 
Peter Plymley^s Letters - - - - 
Pitman's Sermons on the Psalms - 
Qttinet's Christianity 




Kiddle's Letters frhm a Godfather 









Sandford On Female Improrement - 
f. On Woman . - . 
„ 's Parochialia ... 

Sermon on the Mount (The) - * 

Shepherd's Horse Apostolic* 

Smith's Female Disciple ... 
„ (G.) Perilous Times • 
„ Religion of Ancient Britain 

„ Sarred Annals . - 

Soutbey's Life of Wesley - . 

Stebbing's Church History • 

Steepleten - • . . . 

Sydney Smith's Sermons 
Tate's History of St. Paul 
Tay]«r's(Re?.C.B.) Margaret; or.thePeari 29 

Sermons . - 29 

Dora M elder - .29 

Lady Mary . -29 

Taylor's (Jeremr) Works - - - 29 

Tomline's Introduction to the Bible • 80 

Trevor; or the New ht.Frnnris - . 80 

IVollope's Analecta Theologica - - 80 

Turner's Sacred History . . .80 

Twelve Years Ago • - - . - 81 

Wardlaw On Socinian ControTersy . 81 

Well's Bible, Koran, and Talmud - - 32 

Wilberforce's View of ChrisUanity - 32 

Wilkinson'sCatechisms of Church History 32 
Willoughbr's (Lady) Diary - . J 32 

Woodward^s Essays, Sermons, etc. - 83 

Blaine's Dictionarr of Sports ... 6 
Ephemera on Angling • . . • II 
Hansard's Fishing in Wales . .13 

Hawker's Instructions to Sportsmen - IS 



I^udon*s(Mrs.) Lady's Country Companion IB 
Stable Talk and Table Talk ... 38 



Bakewell's Introduction to Geology • fi 

Balmain's Lessons on Chemistry . - 6 
Brande'tf Dictionary of Science, etc. - 7 
Brewster's Optics - - . - - 7 
ConTcrsatlons on Mineralogy - - 8 

De la Berhe on theGeology of Cornwall, etc. 9 
Donovan's Chemistrr - . - . lo 
Farey on the Steam Kngine - - - 11 
Foshrokeon the Arts nf the Ancients • 11 
Gower's ScientiAc Phenomena - - 13 
Greener on the Gun - - • - IS 

Herschel's Natural Philosophy • - 13 
„ Astronomy - . - - 13 
Holland's Manufactures in Metal - - 14 
Humboldt's Cosmos . . • • 15 
Hunt's Researches on Light • • • 16 
Kater and Lardner's Mechanics • - 16 
La Place's System of the World - - 16 
Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia - - 16 

,t Hydrostatics and Pneumatics . 17 
and Walker's Klectiicity - I7 

Arithmetic • - - .16 
Geometry - - - . 17 

„ Treatise on Heat . . . 17 
Lerebonrs On Photography - - - 17 
Marcet's ConTersations on the Sciences 20 
Memoirs of the Geological Surrey - - SI 
Moseley's Practical Mechanics - . 2S 

„ Engineering and Architecture 22 
Nesbit's Mensuration - - . . 23 
Owen's Lectures On Comparative Anatomy S3 
Pearson's Practical Astronomy - - 23 
Peschel's Physics - - . . .34 
Phillips's PalKOXoicFossilsof Cornwall, etc. 24 

f. Guide to Geology - - •24 

,, Treatise on Geology - . - S4 
Poisson's Mechanics - - . - 34 
Portlock's Geology of Londonderry > S4 
Powell's Natural Philosophy - - - 34 
Qnarterlr Journal of the Geological Society 34 
Ritchie (Robert) on Railways - .35 

Topham's Agricultural Chemistry « » 80 
Whitley's Agricultural Geology . .83 


Allan's Mediterranean - . . 
Cooley's World Surveyed 
Costello's (Miss) North Wales 
De Custine^s Russia - . - 
De Strzelecki's New South Wales . 
Erman's Travels through Siberia - 
Harris's Highlands of iEthiopia - • 
Klnr's (Colo Argentine Republic - - 
Kip's Holvdays in Rome 
Laing's Tour in Sweden 
Mackay's English Lakes 
Montauban's Wanderings - . 
Parrot's Ascent of Mount Ararat - 
Paton's (A.A.) Servia ... 

„ Modern Syrians 

Pedesman Reminlncences 
Schopenhauer's Pictures of Trawl - 
Seaward 's Narrative of his Shipwreck 
Tlschendorrs Travels in Russia 
Von Orlich's Travels in India 


Miles On the Horse's Foot > 
Stable Talk and Table Talk - 
Thomson on Fattening Cattle 
\^nter On the Horse ... 

























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