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Title: Memoir of an Eventful Expedition in Central America - Resulting in the Discovery of the Idolatrous City of - Iximaya, in an Unexplored Region; and the Possession of - two Remarkable Aztec Children, Descendants and Specimens - of the Sacerdotal Caste, (now nearly extinct,) of the - Ancient Aztec Founders of the Ruined Temples of that - Country, Described by John L. Stevens, Esq., and Other - Travellers.
Author: Velasquez, Pedro
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoir of an Eventful Expedition in Central America - Resulting in the Discovery of the Idolatrous City of - Iximaya, in an Unexplored Region; and the Possession of - two Remarkable Aztec Children, Descendants and Specimens - of the Sacerdotal Caste, (now nearly extinct,) of the - Ancient Aztec Founders of the Ruined Temples of that - Country, Described by John L. Stevens, Esq., and Other - Travellers." ***

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Transcriber's Note

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. A list of corrections
is found at the end of the text. Inconsistencies in spelling and
hyphenation have been maintained. A list of inconsistently spelled
and hyphenated words is found at the end of the text.

Oe ligatures have been expanded.



  In an unexplored region; and the possession of two


  Descendants and Specimens of the Sacerdotal Caste, (now
  nearly extinct,) of the Ancient Aztec Founders of the
  Ruined Temples of that Country,



  Translated from the Spanish of

  E. F. Applegate, Printer, 111 Nassau Street.



The above three figures, sketched from engravings in "Stevens's Central
America," will be found, on personal comparison, to bear a remarkable
and convincing resemblance, both in the general features and the
position of the head, to the two living Aztec children, now exhibiting
in the United States, of the ancient sacerdotal caste of _Kaanas_, or
Pagan Mimes, of which a few individuals remain in the newly discovered
city of Iximaya. See, the following _Memoir_, page 31.


These two figures, sketched from the same work, are said, by Senor
Velasquez, in the unpublished portion of his narrative, to be
"irresistible likenesses" of the equally exclusive but somewhat more
numerous priestly caste of _Mahaboons_, still existing in that city,
and to which belonged Vaalpeor, an official guardian of those children,
as mentioned in this memoir. Velasquez states that the likeness of
Vaalpeor to the right hand figure in the frontispiece of Stevens' second
volume, which is here also the one on the right hand, was as exact, in
outline, as if the latter had been a daguerreotype miniature.

While writing his "Narrative" after his return to San Salvador, in the
spring of the present year, (1850,) Senor Velasquez was favored, by an
American gentleman of that city, with a copy of "Layard's Nineveh," and
was forcibly struck with the close characteristic resemblance of the
faces in many of its engravings to those of the inhabitants in general,
as a peculiar family of mankind, both of Iximaya and its surrounding
region. The following are sketches, (somewhat imperfect,) of two of the
male faces to which he refers:


And the following profile, from the same work, is pronounced by
Velasquez to be equally characteristic of the female faces of that
region, making due allowance for the superb head dresses of tropical
plumage, with which he describes the latter as being adorned, instead of
the male galea, or close cap, retained in the engraving.


These illustrations, slight as they are, are deemed interesting, because
the Iximayans assert their descent from a very ancient Assyrian colony
nearly co-temporary with Nineveh itself--a claim which receives strong
confirmation, not only from the hieroglyphics and monuments of Iximaya,
but from the engravings in Stevens' volumes of several remarkable
objects, (the inverted winged globe especially,) at Palenque--once a
kindred colony.

It should have been stated in the following Memoir, that Senor
Velasquez, on his return to San Salvador, caused the two Kaana children
to be baptized into the Catholic Church, by the Bishop of the Diocese,
under the names of Maximo and Bartola Velasquez.


In the second volume of his travels in Central America--than which no
work ever published in this country, has created and maintained a higher
degree of interest, both at home and abroad--Mr. Stevens speaks with
enthusiasm of the conversations he had held with an intelligent and
hospitable Padre, or Catholic priest, of Santa Cruz del Quiche, formerly
of the village of Chajul; and of the exciting information he had
received from him, concerning immense and marvellous antiquities in the
surrounding country, which, to the present hour, remain entirely unknown
to the world. The Padre told him of vast ruins, in a deserted and
desolate region, but four leagues from Vera Paz, more extensive than
Quiche itself; and of another ruined city, on the other side of the
great traversing range of the Cordilleras, of which no account has been
given. But the most stimulating story of all, was the existence of a
_living_ city, far on the other side of the great sierra, large and
populous, occupied by Indians of the same character, and in precisely
the same state, as those of the country in general, before the discovery
of the continent and the desolating conquests of its invaders.

The Padre averred that, in younger days, he had climbed to the topmost
ridge of the sierra, a height of 10 or 12,000 feet, and from its naked
summit, looking over an immense plain, extending to Yucatan and the Gulf
of Mexico, had seen, with his own eyes, in the remote distance, "a large
city, spread over a great space, with turrets white and glittering in
the sun." His account of the prevalent Indian report concerning it was,
that no white man had ever reached that city; that the inhabitants, who
speak the Maya language, are aware that a race of white strangers has
conquered the whole country around them, and have hence murdered every
white man that has since attempted to penetrate their territory. He
added that they have no coin or other circulating medium; no horses,
mules, or other domestic animals, except fowls, "and keep the cocks
under ground to prevent their crowing being heard." This report of their
slender resources for animal food, and of their perpetual apprehension
of discovery, as indicated in this inadequate and childish expedient to
prevent it, is, in most respects, contradicted by that of the
adventurous expedition about to be described, and which, having passed
the walls of their city, obtained better information of their internal
economy and condition than could have been acquired by any Indians at
all likely to hold communication with places so very remote from the
territory as Quiche or Chajul.

The effects of these extraordinary averments and recitals of the Padre,
upon the mind of Mr. Stevens, together with the deliberate conclusions
which he finally drew from them, is best expressed in his own language.

     "The interest awakened in us, was the most thrilling I ever
     experienced. One look at that city, was worth ten years of an every
     day life. If he is right, a place is left where Indians and a city
     exist, as Cortez and Alvarado found them; there are living men who
     can solve the mystery that hangs over the ruined cities of America;
     who can, perhaps, go to Copan and read the inscriptions on its
     monuments. No subject more exciting and attractive presents itself
     to any mind, and the deep impression in my mind, will never be

     "Can it be true? Being now in my sober senses, I do verily believe
     there is much ground to suppose that what the Padre told us is
     authentic. That the region referred to does not acknowledge the
     government of Guatimala, and has never been explored, and that no
     white man has ever pretended to have entered it; I am satisfied.
     From other sources we heard that a large _ruined_ city was visible;
     and we were told of another person who had climbed to the top of
     the sierra, but on account of the dense clouds raising upon it,
     he had not been able to see anything. At all events, the belief at
     the village of Chajul is general, and a curiosity is aroused that
     burns to be satisfied. We had a craving desire to reach the
     mysterious city. No man if ever so willing to peril his life, could
     undertake the enterprise, with any hope of success, without
     hovering for one or two years on the borders of the country
     studying the language and character of the adjoining Indians, and
     making acquaintance with some of the natives. Five hundred men
     could probably march directly to the city, and the invasion would
     be more justifiable than any made by Spaniards; but the government
     is too much occupied with its own wars, and the knowledge could not
     be procured except at the price of blood. Two young men of good
     constitution, and who could afford to spend five years, might
     succeed. If the object of search prove a phantom, in the wild
     scenes of a new and unexplored country, there are other objects of
     interest; but, if real, besides the glorious excitement of such a
     novelty, they will have something to look back upon through life.
     As to the dangers, they are always magnified, and, in general,
     peril is discovered soon enough for escape. But, in all
     probability, if any discovery is made, it will be made by the
     Padres. As for ourselves, to attempt it alone, ignorant of the
     language and with the mozos who were a constant annoyance to us,
     was out of the question. The most we thought of, was to climb to
     the top of the sierra, thence to look down upon the mysterious
     city; but we had difficulties enough in the road before us; it
     would add ten days to a journey already almost appalling in the
     perspective; for days the sierra might be covered with clouds; in
     attempting too much, we might lose all; Palenque was our great
     point, and we determined not to be diverted from the course we had
     marked out." Vol. II, p. 193-196.

It is now known that two intrepid young men, incited probably by this
identical passage in Mr. Stevens's popular work--one a Mr. Huertis, of
Baltimore, an American of Spanish parents, from Cuba, possessing an
ample fortune, and who had travelled much in Egypt, Persia, and Syria,
for the personal inspection of ancient monuments; and the other, a Mr.
Hammond, a civil-engineer from Canada, who had been engaged for some
years on surveys in the United States, agreed to undertake the perilous
and romantic enterprise thus cautiously suggested and chivalrously

Amply equipped with every desirable appointment, including daguerreotype
apparatuses, mathematical instruments, and withal fifty repeating
rifles, lest it should become necessary to resort to an armed
expedition, these gentlemen sailed from New-Orleans and arrived at
Belize, in the fall of 1848. Here they procured horses, mules, and a
party of ten experienced Indians and Mestitzos; and after pursuing a
route, through a wild, broken, and heavily wooded region, for about 150
miles, on the Gulf of Amatique, they struck off more to the south-west,
for Coban, where they arrived on the morning of Christmas day, in time
to partake of the substantial enjoyments, as well as to observe the
peculiar religious ceremonies, of the great Catholic festival, in that
intensely interior city.

At this place, while loitering to procure information and guides for
their future journey to Santa Cruz del Quiche, they got acquainted with
Sr. Pedro Velasquez, of San Salvador, who describes himself as a man of
family and education, although a trader in indigo; and his intermediate
destination, prior to his return to the capital, happening also to be
the same city, he kindly proffered to the two Americans his superior
knowledge of the country, or any other useful service he could render
them; and he was accordingly very gladly received as their friend and
companion on the way. It is from a copy of a manuscript journal of this
gentleman, that the translator has obtained the only information as yet
brought to the United States concerning the remarkable results of the
exploring expedition which he will proceed to describe, or of the fate
of Messrs. Huertis and Hammond, its unfortunate originators and
conductors, or of those extraordinary living specimens of a _sui
generis_ race of beings, hitherto supposed to be either fabulous or
extinct, which are at once its melancholy trophies and its physiological
attesters. And it is from Senor Velasquez alone that the public can
receive any further intelligence upon this ardently interesting subject,
beyond that which his manuscript imperfectly affords.

In order, however, to avoid an anticipatory trespass upon the natural
sequence of the narrative, it may be proper to state, that prior to his
departure in their company from Coban, Senor Velasquez had received from
his fellow travellers no intimation whatever concerning the ulterior
object of their journey, and had neither seen nor heard of those volumes
describing the stupendous vestiges of ancient empire, in his native
land, which had so strongly excited the emulous passion of discovery in
their minds.

Frequently called by his mercantile speculations, which he seems to have
conducted upon an extensive scale, to perform long journeys from San
Salvador, on the Pacific side of the Cordilleras, to Comyagua in the
mid-interior, and thence to Truxillo, Omoa, and Ysabal, on the Bay and
Gulf of Honduras, he had traversed a large portion of the country, and
had often been surprised with sudden views of mouldering temples,
pyramids, and cities of vast magnitude and marvellous mythology. And
being, as it evidently appears, a man of unusual intelligence and
scholastic acquirements, he had doubtless felt, as he states, a profound
but hopeless curiosity concerning their origin and history. He had even
seen and consecutively examined the numerous and ornate monuments of
Copan; but it was not until he had proceeded to the second stage of the
journey from Coban to Quiche, that he was shown the engravings in the
first volume of Stevens's Central America, in which they are so
faithfully depicted. He recognized many of them as old acquaintances,
and still more as new ones, which had escaped his more cursory
inspection; and in all he could trace curious details which, on the
spot, he regretted the want of time to examine. He, moreover, knew the
surly Don Gregorio, by whom Mr. Stevens had been treated so
inhospitably, and several other persons in the vicinity of the ruins
whom he had named, and was delighted with the _vraisemblance_ of his
descriptions. The Senor confesses that these circumstances inspired him
with unlimited confidence in that traveller's statements upon other
subjects; and when Mr. Huertis read to him the further account of the
information given to Mr. Stevens by the jolly and merry, but intelligent
old Padre of Quiche, respecting other ruined cities beyond the Sierra
Madre, and especially of the living city of independent Candones, or
unchristianized Indians, supposed to have been seen from the lofty
summit of that mountain range, and was told by Messrs. Huertis and
Hammond that the exploration of this city was the chief object of their
perilous expedition, the Senor adds, that his enthusiasm became
enkindled to at least as high a fervor as theirs, and that, "with more
precipitancy than prudence, in a man of his maturer years and important
business pursuits, he resolved to unite in the enterprise, to aid the
heroic young men with his experience in travel and knowledge of the
wild Indians of the region referred to, and to see the end of the
adventure, result as it may."

He was confirmed in this resolution by several concurring facts of which
his companions were now told for the first time. He intimately knew and
had several times been the guest of the worthy Cura of Quiche, from whom
Mr. Stevens received assurances of the existence of the ruined city of
the ancient Aztecs, as well as the living city of the Candones, in the
unsubjugated territory beyond the mountains. And he was induced to yield
credence to the Padre's confident report of the latter, because his
account of the former had already been verified, and become a matter of
fact and of record. He, Senor Velasquez, himself, during the preceding
summer, joined a party of several foreigners and natives in exploring an
ancient ruined city, of prodigious grandeur and extent, in the province
of Vera Paz, but little more than 150 miles to the east of Guatimala,
(instead of nearly 200, as the Padre had supposed,) which far surpassed
in magnificence every other ruin, as yet discovered, either in Central
America or Mexico. It lay overgrown with huge timber in the midst of a
dense forest, far remote from any settlement, and near the crater of a
long extinct volcano, on whose perpendicular walls, 300 or 400 feet
high, were aboriginal paintings of warlike and idolatrous processions,
dances, and other ceremonies, exhibiting like the architectural
sculptures on the temples, a state of advancement in the arts
incomparably superior to all previous examples. And as the good Padre
had proved veracious and accurate on this matter, which he knew from
personal observation, the Senor would not uncharitably doubt his
veracity on a subject in which he again professed to speak from the
evidence of his own eye-sight.

The party thus re-assured, and more exhilarated than ever with the
prospect of success, proceeded on their journey with renewed vigor.
Although the Senor modestly abstains from any allusion to the subject,
in the MSS. which have reached us, it cannot be doubted that Messrs.
Huertis and Hammond considered him an invaluable accession to their
party. He was a guide on whom they could rely; he was acquainted with
the dialects of many of the Indian tribes through which they would have
to pass; was familiar with the principal stages and villages on their
route, and knew both the places and persons from whence the best
information, if any, concerning the paramount object of their journey,
could be obtained.

It appears, also, from an incidental remark in his journal, that Senor
Velasquez would have been at their right hand in a fight, in the event
of any hostile obstruction on their way. As a volunteer, he had held a
command under Morazan, during the sanguinary conflicts of the republic,
and had been a soldier through several of the most arduous campaigns, in
the fierce struggle between the general and Carrera. He was thus,
apparently, in all respects, precisely such an auxiliary as they would
have besought Providence to afford them, to accomplish the hazardous
enterprise they had so daringly projected and commenced.

Unfortunately for the public, the Senor's journal, fragmentary
throughout, is especially meagre concerning the incidents of travel
between the capital of Vera Paz and Santa Cruz del Quiche. At this
period he appears to have left the task of recording them almost
entirely to his two friends, whose memoranda, in all probability, are
forever lost. Some of those incidents appear, even from his brief
minutes of them, to have been of the most imminent and critical
importance. Thus under the date of February 2nd, 1849, he says, "on the
bank of a branch of the Salamo, attacked in the night by about thirty
Indian robbers, several of whom had fire-arms. Sr. Hammond, sitting
within the light of the fire, was severely wounded through the left
shoulder; they had followed us from the hacienda, six leagues, passed us
to the north and lay in ambush; killed four, wounded three; of the rest
saw no more; poor Juan, shot through the body, died this morning; lost
two mules."

After this, there is nothing written until the 16th, when they had
arrived at a place called San Jose, where he says, "Good beef and fowls;
Sr. Huertis much better; Sr. Hammond very low in intermittent fever;
fresh mules and good ones." Next on the 5th of March, at the Indian
village of Axitzel, is written, "Detained here five days; Hammond,
strong and headstrong. Agree with Huertis that, to be safe, we must wait
with patience the return of the good Cura." Slight and tantalizing
memoranda of this kind occur, irregularly, until April 3rd, when we find
the party safely arrived at Quiche, and comfortably accommodated in a
convent. The jovial Padre, already often mentioned, who maybe regarded
as the unconscious father of the expedition, had become helplessly, if
not hopelessly, dropsical, and lost much of his wanted jocosity. He
declared, however, that Senor Velasquez's description of the ruins
explored the previous summer, recalling as it did his own profoundly
impressed recollection of them, when he walked through their desolate
avenues and deserted palaces; and corroborating as it did, in every
particular, his own reiterated account of them, which he had often
bestowed upon incredulous and unworthy ears, would "act like _cannabis_
upon his bladder," as it already had upon his eyes; and if he could but
live to see the description in print, so as to silence all gainsayers,
he had no doubt it would completely cure him, and add many years to his
life. He persisted in his story of the unknown city in the Candone
wilderness, as seen by himself, nearly forty years ago, from the summit
of the sierra; and promised the travellers a letter to his friend, the
Cura of Gueguetenango, requesting him to procure them a guide to the
very spot from whence they could behold it for themselves.

This promise, in the course of a few days, the Senor says, he faithfully
performed, describing from recollection, by the hand of an amanuensis to
whom he dictated, not only the more striking but even minute and
peculiar landmarks for the guidance of the guide. On the 10th of April,
the party, fully recruited in health and energy, set out for
Totonicapan; and thence we trace them by the journal through a
succession of small places to Quezaltenango, where they remained but two
days; and thence through the places called Aguas Calientes, and San
Sebastiano, to Gueguetenango; this portion of their route being
described as one of unprecedented toil, danger, and exhaustion, from its
mountainous character, accidents to men and mules, terrific weather and
loss of provisions. Arrived, however, at length, at the town last named,
which they justly regarded as an eminently critical stage of their
destiny, they found the Cura, and presented him with the letter of
introduction from his friend, the Padre of Quiche. They were somewhat
discouraged on perceiving that the Cura indicated but little confidence
in the accuracy of his old friend's memory, and asked them rather
abruptly, if they thought him really serious in his belief in his
distant vision of an unknown city from the sierra, because, for his own
part, he had always regarded the story as one of Padre's broadest jokes,
and especially since he had never heard of any other person possessing
equal visual powers. "The mountain was high, it is true, but not much
more than half as high as the hyperbolous memory of his reverend friend
had made it, and he much feared that the Padre, in the course of forty
years, had so frequently repeated a picture of his early imagination as
to have, at length, cherished it as a reality." This was said in smooth
and elegant Spanish, but says the Senor, "with an air of dignified
sarcasm upon our credulity, which was far from being agreeable to men
broken down and dispirited, by almost incredible toil, in pursuit of an
object thus loftily pronounced a ridiculous phantom of the brain." This
part of Senor Velasquez's journal being interesting and carefully
written, we give the following translation without abridgement:--

     "The Cura, nevertheless, on finding that his supercilious
     scepticism had not proved so infectious among us as he expected and
     that we were rather vexed than vacillating, offered to procure us
     guides in the course of a day or two, who were familiar with many
     parts of the sierra, and who, for good pay, he doubted not, would
     flatter our expectations to the utmost extent we could desire. He
     advised us, however, in the same style of caustic dissuasion, to
     take with us both a barometer and a telescope, if we were provided
     with those instruments, because the latter, especially, might be
     found useful in discovering the unknown city, and the former would
     not only inform us of the height of the mountain, but of the
     weather in prospect most favorable to a distant view. Senor Huertis
     replied that such precautions would be adopted, as a matter of
     course, and would, moreover, furnish him, on our return to
     Gueguetenango, with the exact latitude and longitude of the spot
     from which the discovery might be made. He laughed very heartily
     and rejoined that he thought this operation would be much easier
     than to furnish the same interesting particulars concerning the
     location of the spots at which the discovery might fail to be made;
     and saying this he robed himself for mass, which we all, rather
     sullenly, attended.

     "Next morning, two good looking Meztitzos, brothers, waited on us
     with a strong letter of recommendation from the Cura, as guides to
     that region of the sierra which the Padre's letter had so
     particularly described, and which description, the Cura added, he
     had taken much pains to make them understand. On being questioned
     concerning it, they startled and somewhat disconcerted us by calm
     assurances, in very fair Spanish, that they were not only familiar
     with all the land-marks, great and small, which the Cura had read
     to them, but had several times seen the very city of which we were
     in search, although none but full-blooded Indians had ever ventured
     on a journey to it. This was rather too much, even for us, sanguine
     and confiding as we were. We shared a common suspicion that the
     Cura had changed his tactics, and resolved to play a practical joke
     upon our credulity--to send us on a fool's errand and laugh at us
     for our pains. That he had been tampering with the two guides for
     this purpose, struck us forcibly; for while he professed never to
     have known any man who had seen the distant city, he recommended
     these Meztitzos, as brothers, whom he had known from their boyhood,
     they declared they had beheld it from the sierra on various
     occasions. Nevertheless, Senor Huertis believed that the young men
     spoke the truth, while the Cura, probably, did not; and hoping to
     catch him in his own snare, if such had been laid, asked the guides
     their terms, which, though high, he agreed to at once, without
     cavil. They said it would take us eight days to reach the part of
     the sierra described in the letter, and that we might have to wait
     on the summit several days more, before the weather would afford a
     clear view. They would be ready in two days; they had just returned
     across the mountains from San Antonia de Guista, and needed rest
     and repairs. There was a frankness and simplicity about these fine
     fellows which would bear the severest scrutiny, and we could only
     admit the bare possibility of our being mistaken.

     "It took us three days, however, to procure a full supply of the
     proper kind of provisions for a fortnight's abode in the sky, and
     on the fourth, (May 5th,) we paid our formal respects to the Cura,
     and started for the ascent--he not forgetting to remind us of the
     promise to report to him the precise geographical locality of our

The journal is again blank until May 9th, when the writer says, "Our
altitude, by barometer, this morning, is over 6000 feet above the valley
which we crossed three days ago; the view of it and its surrounding
mountains, sublime with chasms, yet grotesque in outline, and all
heavily gilded with the setting sun, is one of the most oppressively
gorgeous I ever beheld. The guides inform us that we have but 3000 feet
more to ascend, and point to the gigantic pinnacle before us, at the
apparent distance of seven or eight leagues; but that, before we can
reach it, we have to descend and ascend an immense barranca, (ravine,)
nearly a thousand feet deep from our present level, and of so difficult
a passage that it will cost us several days. The side of the mountain
towards the north-west, is perfectly flat and perpendicular for more
than half its entire height, as if the prodigious section had been riven
down by the sword of the San Miguel, and hurled with his foot among the
struggling multitude of summits below. So far, the old Padre is accurate
in every particular." In a note opposite this extract, written
perpendicularly on the margin of the manuscript, the writer says, "The
average breadth of the plain on this ridge of the sierra, (that is the
ridge on which they were then encamped for the night,) is nearly half a
mile, and exhibits before us a fine rolling track as far as we can see.
Neither birds, beasts, nor insects--I would there were no such
barranca!" On the tenth he says, "on the brink of the abyss--the
heaviest crags we can hurl down, return no sound from the bottom."

The next entry in the journal is dated May 15th.--"Recovered the body of
Sebastiano and the load of his mule; his brother is building a cross for
his grave, and will not leave it until famished with thirst and hunger.
All too exhausted to think of leaving this our first encampment since we
descended. Present elevation but little above that of the opposite ridge
which we left on the 11th, still, at least 3000 feet to climb." On the
19th, 4 o'clock, P. M., he records, "Myself, Sr. Hammond and Antonio, on
the highest summit, an inclined plain of bare rock, of about fifteen
acres. The Padre again right. Sr. Huertis and others just discernable,
but bravely coming on. Elevation, 9,500 feet. Completely in the clouds,
and all the country below invisible. Senor Hammond already bleeding at
the nose, and no cigar to stop it." At 10 o'clock, the same night, he
writes, "All comfortably asleep but myself and Sr. Hammond, who is going
to take the latitude." Then follows, "He finds the latitude 15 degrees
and 48 minutes _north_." Opposite this, in the margin is written, "the
mean result of three observations of different stars. Intend to take the
longitude to-morrow." Next day, the 20th, he says, "A bright and most
auspicious morning, and all, but poor Antonio, in fine health and
feeling. The wind by compass, N. E., and rolling away a billowy ocean of
mist, toward, I suppose, the Bay of Honduras. Antonio says the Pacific
will be visible within an hour; (present time not given) more and more
of the lower mountains becoming clear every moment. Fancy we already
see the Pacific, a faint yellow plain, almost as elevated as ourselves.
Can see part of the State of Chiapas pretty distinctly." At 12 o'clock,
meridian, he says, "Sr. Hammond is taking the longitude, but finds a
difference of several minutes between his excellent watch and
chronometer, and fears the latter has been shaken. Both the watch and
its owner, however, have been a great deal more shaken, for the
chronometer has been all the time in the midst of a thick blanket, and
has had no falls. Sr. Huertis, with the glass, sees whole lines and
groups of pyramids, in Chiapas." At 1 o'clock, P. M. he records, "Sr.
Hammond reports the longitude, 92 degrees 15 minutes _west_. Brave
Huertis is in ecstacy with some discovery, but will not part with the
glass for a moment. No doubt it is the Padre's city, for it is precisely
in the direction he indicated. Antonio says he can see it with his naked
eye, although less distinctly than heretofore. I can only see a white
straight line, like a ledge of limestone rock, on an elevated plain, at
least twenty leagues distant, in the midst of a vast amphitheatre of
hills, to the north east of our position, toward the State of Yucatan.
Still, it is no doubt the place the Padre saw, and it may be a great

At 2 o'clock P. M., he says "All doubt is at an end! We have all seen it
through the glass, as distinctly as though it were but a few leagues
off, and it is now clear and bright to the unaided eye. It is
unquestionably a richly monumented city, of vast dimensions, within
lofty parapeted walls, three or four miles square, inclined inward in
the Egyptian style, and its interior domes and turrets have an
emphatically oriental aspect. I should judge it to be not more than
twenty-five leagues from Ocosingo, to the eastward, and nearly in the
same latitude; and this would probably be the best point from which to
reach it, travelling due east, although the course of the river Legartos
seems to lead directly to it. That it is still an inhabited place, is
evident from the domes of its temples, or churches. Christian churches
they cannot be, for such a city would have an Archbishop and be well
known to the civilized world. It must be a Pagan strong-hold that
escaped the conquest by its remote position, and the general retreat,
retirement, and centralizing seclusion of its surrounding population. It
may now be opened to the light of the true faith."

They commenced their descent the same day, and rested at night on the
place of their previous encampment, a narrow shelf of the sierra. Here,
on the brink of the terrible ravine, which they had again to encounter,
they consulted upon a plan for their future operations; and it was
finally agreed that Messrs. Huertis and Hammond, with Antonio, and such
of the Indian muleteers as could be induced to proceed with the
expedition, should follow the bottom of the ravine, in its north-east
course, in which, according to Antonio, the river Legartos took its
principal supply of water, and remain at a large village, adjacent to
its banks, which they had seen, about five leagues distant; while Senor
Velasquez was to trace their late route, by way of Gueguetenango, to
Quezaltenango, where all the surplus arms and ammunition had been
deposited, and recruit a strong party of Indians, to serve as a guard,
in the event of an attack from the people of the unexplored region,
whither they were resolutely bound. In the meantime, Antonio was to
return home to Gueguetenango, await the return of Velasquez, with his
armed party, from Quezaltenango, and conduct them over the mountains to
the village on the plains, where Messrs. Huertis and Hammond were to
remain until they should arrive. It appears that Senor Velasquez was
abundantly supplied with solid funds for the recruiting service, and
that Mr. Huertis also furnished Antonio with a liberal sum, in addition
to his stipulated pay, wherewith to procure masses for the repose of his
unfortunate brother.

Of the adventures of Messrs. Huertis and Hammond, in the long interval
prior to the return of Velasquez, we have no account whatever; nor does
the journal of the latter contain any remarks relative to his own
operations, during the same period. The next date is July the 8th, when
we find him safely arrived with "nearly all the men he had engaged," at
an Indian village called Aguamasinta, where his anxious companions were
overjoyed to receive him, and where "they had obtained inestimable
information regarding the proper arrangement of the final purpose."
After this we trace them, by brief memoranda, for a few days, on the
devious course of the Legartos, when the journal abruptly and finally
closes. The remaining narrative of the expedition was written by Senor
Velasquez from memory, after his return to San Salvador, while all the
exciting events and scenes which it describes were vividly sustained by
the feelings which they originally inspired. As this excessively
interesting document will be translated for the public press as soon as
the necessary consent of its present proprietor can be obtained, the
writer of this pamphlet the less regrets the very limited use of it to
which he is now restricted--which is but little more than that of making
a mere abridgement and connexion of such incidents as may serve to
explain the origin and possession of those _sui generis_ specimens of
humanity, the Aztec brother and sister, now exhibiting to the public, in
the United States. From the introductory paragraphs, we take the
liberty to quote the following without abridgement:--

     "Our latitude and longitude were now 16° 42' N. and 91° 35' W; so
     that the grand amphitheatre of hills, forming three fourths of an
     oval outline of jagged summits, a few leagues before us, most
     probably inclosed the mysterious object of our anxious and
     uncertain labors. The small groups of Indians through which we had
     passed, in the course of the day, had evidently been startled by
     sheer astonishment, into a sort of passive and involuntary
     hospitality, but maintained a stark apprehensive reserve in most of
     their answers to our questions. They spoke a peculiar dialect of
     the Maya, which I had never heard before, and had great difficulty
     in comprehending, although several of the Maya Indians of our
     party understood it familiarly and spoke it fluently. From them we
     learned that they had never seen men of our race before, but that a
     man of the same race as Senor Hammond, who was of a bright-florid
     complexion, with light hair and red whiskers, had been sacrificed
     and eaten by the Macbenachs, or priests of Iximaya, the great city
     among the hills, about thirty moons ago. Our interpreters stated
     that the word "Iximaya" meant the "Great Centre," and that
     "Macbenach" meant the "Great Son of the Sun." I at once resolved to
     make the most of my time in learning as much as possible of this
     dialect from these men, because they said it was the tongue spoken
     by the people of Iximaya and the surrounding region. It appeared to
     me to be merely a provincial corruption, or local peculiarism, of
     the great body of the Maya language, with which I was already
     acquainted; and, in the course of the next day's conversation, I
     found that I could acquire it with much facility."

To this circumstance the writer is probably indebted for his life. In
another day, the determined explorers had come within the circuit of the
alpine district in which Iximaya is situated, and found it reposing, in
massive grandeur, in the centre of a perfectly level plain, about five
leagues in diameter, at a distance of scarcely two from the spot they
had reached. At the base of all the mountains, rising upon their sides,
and extending nearly a mile inward upon the plain, was a dark green
forest of colossal trees and florid shrubbery, girding it around; while
the even valley itself exhibited large tracts of uncultivated fields,
fenced in with palisades, and regular, even to monotony, both in size
and form. "Large herds of deer, cattle, and horses, were seen in the
openings of the forest, and dispersed over the plain, which was also
studded with low flat-roofed dwellings of stone, in small detached
clusters, or hamlets. Rich patches of forest, of irregular forms,
bordered with gigantic aloes, diversified the landscape in effective
contrast with bright lakes of water which glowed among them."

While the whole party, with their cavalcade of mules and baggage were
gazing upon the scene, two horsemen, in bright blue and yellow tunics,
and wearing turbans decorated with three large plumes of the quezal,
dashed by them from the forest, at the distance of about two hundred
yards, on steeds of the highest Spanish mould, followed by a long
retinue of athletic Indians, equally well mounted, clothed in brilliant
red tunics, with coronals of gay feathers, closely arranged within a
band of blue cloth. Each horseman carried a long spear, pointed with a
polished metal; and each held, in a leash, a brace of powerful
blood-hounds, which were also of the purest Spanish breed. The two
leaders of this troop, who were Indians of commanding air and stature,
suddenly wheeled their horses and glared upon the large party of
intruders with fixed amazement. Their followers evinced equal surprise,
but forgot not to draw up in good military array, while the blood-hounds
leapt and raged in their thongs.

     "While the leaders," says Senor Velasquez, "seemed to be intently
     scrutinizing every individual of our company, as if silently
     debating the policy of an immediate attack, one of the Maya
     Indians, of whom I had been learning the dialect, stepped forward
     and informed us that they were a detachment of rural guards, a very
     numerous military force, which had been appointed from time
     immemorial, or, at least from the time of the Spanish invasion, to
     hunt down and capture all strangers of a foreign race that should
     be found within a circle of twelve leagues of the city; and he
     repeated the statement made to us from the beginning, that no white
     man had hitherto eluded their vigilance or left their city alive.
     He said there was a tradition that many of the pioneers of
     Alvarado's army had been cut off in this manner, and never heard of
     more, while their skulls and weapons are to this day suspended
     round the altars of the pagan gods. He added, finally, that if we
     wished to escape the same fate, now was our only chance; that as we
     numbered thirty-five, all armed with repeating rifles, we could
     easily destroy the present detachment, which amounted to but fifty,
     and secure our retreat before another could come up; but that, in
     order to do this, it was necessary first to shoot the dogs, which
     all our Indians regarded with the utmost dread and horror.

     "I instantly felt the force of this advice, in which, also, I was
     sustained by Senor Hammond; but Senor Huertis, whom, as the leader
     of the expedition, we were all bound and solemnly pledged to obey;
     utterly rejected the proposition. He had come so far to see the
     city and see it he would, whether taken thither as a captive or
     not, and whether he ever returned from it or not, that this was the
     contract originally proposed, and to which I had assented; that the
     fine troop before us was evidently not a gang of savages, but a
     body of civilized men and good soldiers; and as to the dogs, they
     were noble animals of the highest blood he ever saw. If, however, I
     and his friend Hammond, who seemed afraid of being eaten, in
     preference to the fine beef and venison which we had seen in such
     profusion on the plain, really felt alarmed at the bugbear legends
     of our vagabond Indians, before any demonstration of hostility had
     been made, we were welcome to take two-thirds of the men and mules
     and make our retreat as best we could, while he would advance with
     Antonio and the remainder of the party, to the gates of the city,
     and demand a peaceable admission. I could not but admire the
     romantic intrepidity of this resolve, though I doubted its
     discretion; and assured him I was ready to follow his example and
     share his fate.

     "While this conversation was passing among us, the Indian
     commanders held a conference apparently as grave and important. But
     just as Senor Huertis and myself had agreed to advance towards them
     for a parley, they separated without deigning a reply to our
     salutation--the elder and more highly decorated, galloped off
     towards the city with a small escort, while the other briskly
     crossed our front at the head of his squadron and entered the
     forest nearer the entrance of the valley. This opening in the
     hills, was scarcely a quarter of a mile wide, and but a few minutes
     elapsed before we saw a single horseman cross it toward the wood on
     the opposite side. Presently, another troop of horse of the same
     uniform appearance as the first, were seen passing a glade of the
     wood which the single horseman had penetrated, and it thus became
     evident that a manoeuvre had already been effected to cut off our
     retreat. The mountains surrounding the whole area of the plain,
     were absolutely perpendicular for three-fourths of their altitude,
     which was no where less than a thousand feet; and from many parts
     of their wildly piled outline, huge crags projected in monstrous
     mammoth forms, as if to plunge to the billows of forest beneath. At
     no point of this vast impassible boundary was there a chasm or
     declivity discernable by which we could make our exit, except the
     one thus formidably intercepted.

     "To retire into the forest and water our mules at a copious stream
     which rushed forth from its recesses, and recruit our own exhausted
     strength with food and rest, was our first necessary resource. In
     tracing the rocky course of the current for a convenient watering
     place, Antonio discovered that it issued from a cavern, which,
     though a mere fissure exteriorly, was, within, of cathedral
     dimensions and solemnity; we all entered it and drank eagerly from
     a foaming basin, which it immediately presented to our fevered
     lips. Our first sensations were those of freedom and independence,
     and of that perfect security which is the basis of both. It was
     long since we had slept under a roof of any kind, while here a few
     men could defend our repose against an assault from thousands; but
     it was horribly evident, to my mind, that a few watchful assailants
     would suffice to reduce us to starvation, or destroy us in detail.
     Our security was that of a prison, and our freedom was limited to
     its walls. Happily, however, for the present hour, this reflection
     seemed to trouble no one. Objects of wonder and veneration grew
     numerous to our gaze. Gigantic statues of ancient warriors, with
     round shields, arched helmets, and square breast-plates, curiously
     latticed and adorned, stood sculptured in high relief, with grave
     faces and massive limbs, and in the regular order of columns around
     the walls of this grand mausoleum. Many of them stood arrayed in
     the crimson of the setting sun, which then flamed through the tall
     fissure into the cavern; and the deep gloom into which long rows of
     others utterly retired from our view, presented a scene at once of
     mingled mystery and splendor. It was evidently a place of great and
     recent resort, both for men and horses, for plentiful supplies of
     fresh fodder for the latter were heaped in stone recesses; while
     the ashes of numerous fires, mingled with discarded moccasins and
     broken pipes and pottery, attested a domiciliary occupation by the
     former. Farther into the interior, were found seats and
     sleeping-couches of fine cane work; and in a spacious recess, near
     the entrance, a large collection of the bones, both of the ox and
     the deer, with hides, also, of both, but newly flayed and suspended
     on pegs by the horns. These last evidences of good living had more
     effect upon our hungry Indians than all the rest, and within an
     hour after dark, while we were seeking our first sleep, four fine
     deer were brought in by about a dozen of our party, whom we
     supposed to have been faithfully guarding our citadel. It is
     unnecessary to say that we gladly arose to the rich repast that
     ensued, for we had eaten nothing but our scant allowance of
     tortillas for many days, and were in the lassitude of famine."

Tempting as such extracts are, we must avoid them, and hasten through a
summary of subsequent events. There is one singular incident, however,
mentioned in the passage immediately following the above, possessing too
important a connexion with the final catastrophe to be pretermitted at
this place. Mr. Hammond, the Canadian engineer, fearing that the
peculiarity of his appearance, as a man of fair and ruddy complexion,
among a swarthy race, would subject him to great annoyance, and perhaps
involve him in the horrible fate of a similar person, reported by the
Indians, resolved to stain his skin of a darker hue, by means of some
chemical preparation which he had precautionarily provided for this
purpose, before he left the United States. With the friendly
assistance of Antonio, this metamorphosis was completed over his whole
person before he retired to rest; his red whiskers were shaved off, and
his light hair died of a jet black; and so perfect was the disguise,
that not one of the party who went foraging for venison recognized him
on their return, but marvelled, as he sat at supper, whence so singular
a stranger could have come. Velasquez states, however, that his new
complexion was unlike that of any human being on the face of the earth,
and scarcely diminished the certainty of his becoming an object of
curiosity, among an Indian population.

In the morning, about the break of day, the infernal yells of a pack of
blood-hounds suddenly rang through the cavern, and the party could
scarcely seize their rifles before many of the dogs, who had driven in
the affrighted Indians on guard, were springing at their throats. Mr.
Huertis, however, the American leader of the expedition, with that
presence of mind which seems always to have distinguished him, told the
men that rifles were useless in such a contest, and that the hounds must
be dispatched with their long knives as fast as they came in, while the
fire-arms were to be reserved for their masters. This canine butchery
was accomplished with but little difficulty; none of the party received
any serious injury from their fangs; and the Indians were exhilarated
with a victory which was chiefly a conquest of their fears. These
unfortunate dogs, it appears, were the advanced van of a pack, or
perhaps merely a few unleashed as scouts to others held in reserve; for
no more were seen or heard for sometime. Meanwhile, Mr. Huertis seems to
have struck out a brilliant scheme. He collected his whole party into
that obscure branch of the cavern, near its entrance, which has been
described as a depository of animal bones, and ordering them to sling
their rifles at their backs, bade them stand ready with their knives.
Almost instantly, they observed a party of ten dismounted natives, in
scarlet tunics, and armed with spears, enter the cavern in single file;
and, it would seem, from seeing the dogs slain and no enemy in sight,
they rushed out again, without venturing on farther search. In a few
minutes, however, they returned with forty or fifty more, in the same
uniform, headed by the younger of the two personages whom they had seen
in command the previous evening. As soon as they were well advanced into
the cavern, and heard disturbing the tired mules, Mr. Huertis and his
party marched quietly out and seized their horses, which were picketed
close by, in charge of two or three men, whom they disarmed. At a short
distance, however, drawn up in good order, was another squadron of
horses, which Mr. Huertis determined instantly to charge. Ordering his
whole party to mount the noble stallions they had captured, and reserve
their fire until he gave the word, he, Velasquez, and Hammond, drew the
short sabres they had worn on their march, and led the attack. The
uniformed natives, however, did not wait the encounter, but scattered in
wonderment and consternation; doubtless under the impression that all
their comrades had been slain. But the rapid approach of a much larger
force--which is found, eventually, to have consisted of two detachments
of fifty each, being just twice their number--speedily reassured them,
and falling in line with this powerful reinforcement, the whole hundred
and fifty charged upon our comparative handful of travellers, at a rapid
pace. Huertis promptly ordered his little party to halt, and form in
line, two deep, with presented arms; and doubtless feeling that,
notwithstanding the disparity of numbers, the enemy, armed only with
spears and small side-hatchets, held but a slender chance of victory
over a party of thirty-eight--most of them old campaigners in the
sanguinary expeditions of the terrible Carrera--armed with new
"six-shooting" rifles and long knives, generously commanded them to keep
aim upon the horses only, until further orders. In the meantime, most of
their plumed opponents, instead of using their long spears as in lance
practice, threw them through the air from so great a distance that
nearly all fell short of the mark--an infallible indication both of
timidity and inexperience in action. The unfortunate Mr. Hammond,
however, was pierced through the right breast, and another of the party
was killed by being transfixed through the bowels. At this instant
Huertis gave the word to fire; and, at the next, no small number of the
enemy were rolling upon the sod, amid their plunging horses. A second
rapid, but well delivered volley, brought down as many more, when the
rest, in attitudes of frantic wonder and terror, unconsciously dropped
their weapons and fled like affrighted fowls under the sudden swoop of
the kite. Their dispersion was so outrageously wild and complete that no
two of them could be seen together as they radiated over the plain. The
men and horses seemed impelled alike by a preternatural panic; and
neither Cortez in Mexico, nor Pizarro in Peru, ever witnessed greater
consternation at fire-arms among a people, who, for the first time,
beheld their phenomena and effects--when mere hundreds of invaders
easily subjugated millions of natives chiefly by this appalling
influence--than was manifested by these Iximayans on this occasion.
Indeed, it appears that these primitive and isolated people, holding no
intercourse whatever with the rest of mankind, were as ignorant as their
ancestors even of the existence of this kind of weapons; and although
their modern hieroglyphical annals were found to contain vague allusions
to the use of them in the conquest of the surrounding country, by means
of a peculiar kind of thunder and lightning, and several old Spanish
muskets and pistols were found in their scant collection of foreign
curiosities, yet, not even the most learned of their priests had
retained the slightest notion of the uses for which they were designed.

While this summary conflict was enacted on the open lawn of the forest,
the dismounted company in the cavern having completed their fruitless
search for the fugitives, emerged from its portal with all the mules and
baggage, just in time to see and hear the fiery explosions of the rifles
and their effect upon the whole body of scarlet cavalry. The entire
scene, including the mounted possession of their horses by uncouthly
attired strangers, previously invisible, must have appeared to these
terror-stricken natives an achievement of supernatural beings. And when
Mr. Huertis wheeled his obstreperously laughing party to recover his
mules, he found most of the astounded men prostrated upon their faces,
while others, more self-possessed, knelt upon the bended knee, and, with
drooping heads, crossed their hands behind them to receive the bonds of
captives. Their gallant and gaily accoutred young chieftain, however,
though equally astonished and dismayed, merely surrendered his javelin
as an officer would his sword, under the like circumstances, in
civilized warfare. But, with admirable tact and forethought, Huertis
declined to accept it, immediately returning it with the most profound
and deferential cordiality of manner. He at the same time informed him,
through Velasquez, that, though strangers, his party were not enemies
but friendly visitors, who, after a long and painful journey, again to
be pursued, desired the temporary hospitality of his countrymen in their
magnificent city.

The young chief replied, with evident discomposure and concern, that his
countrymen showed no hospitality to strangers, it being interdicted by
their laws and punishable with death; that the inhabitants of their city
held intercourse only with the population of the surrounding valley, who
were restricted alike by law and by patriotism from ever leaving its
confines; he and his fellow soldiers alone being privileged to visit the
neighboring regions for the purpose of arresting intruders, (_cowana_,)
and escorting certain kind of merchandize which they exchanged with a
people of their own race in an adjoining district. He added, with much
eloquence of manner, and as Velasquez believed, of language, which he
but partially understood, that the independence and peace of his nation,
who were a peaceful and happy people, depended upon these severe
restrictions, which indeed had been the only means of preserving it,
while all the country besides, from sea to sea, had bowed to a foreign
yoke, and seen their ancient cities, once the seats and centres of
mighty empires, overgrown with forest, and the temples of their gods

He further added, says Velasquez, in a very subdued but significant
tone, that some few strangers, it was true, had been taken to the city
by its guards in the course of many generations, but that none of them
had been allowed an opportunity of betraying its existence and locality
to the cruel rapacity of the foreign race. He concluded by earnestly
entreating them, since he could not compel them as prisoners, to enter
the city as friends, with the view of residing there for life; promising
them wives, and dwellings, and honors; for even now, if they attempted
to retreat, they would be overtaken by thousands of armed men on fleet
horses, that would overpower them by their numbers and subject them to a
very different fate.

Mr. Huertis rejoined, through the same interpreter, that he could
destroy any number of armed men, on the swiftest horses, before they
could approach him, as the chief had already seen; and since he could
enforce his exit from the city whenever he thought proper, he would
enter it upon his own terms, either as a conqueror, or as a friend,
according to the reception he met with; that there was now no race of
conquerors to whom the city could be betrayed, even if he were disposed
to do so, as the people of the whole country, of all races, were now
living in a state of perfect freedom and equality; and that, therefore,
there was no necessity for those unsocial and sanguinary laws which
secluded the Iximayans from friendly intercourse with their fellow-men.
Saying which, and without waiting for further colloquy, he ordered his
party to dismount, restore the horses to their owners, and march with
the train of mules toward the city, in the usual style of travel. With
this order, his Indians complied very reluctantly, but on assuring them
that it was a matter of the highest policy, they evinced their wonted
confidence in his judgment and ability. To the young chief he restored
his own richly caparisoned steed, which had fallen to the lot of the
unfortunate Mr. Hammond, who was now lying desperately wounded, in the
care of the faithful Antonio. For himself and Senor Velasquez, Mr.
Huertis retained the horses they had first seized, and placing
themselves on each side of the Iximayan commander, with their friend
Hammond borne immediately behind them, in one of the cane couches of the
cavern, on the backs of two mules yoked together, they advanced to the
head of their party, while the red troopers, followed by the surviving
bloodhounds leashed in couples, brought up the rear. Huertis, however,
had taken the precaution to add the spears and hatchets of these men to
the burdens of the forward mules, to abide the event of his reception at
the city gates. The appearance of the whole cavalcade must have been
unique and picturesque; for Velasquez informs us, that while he wore the
uniform of a military company to which he belonged in San Salvador, much
enhanced in effect by some brilliant additions, and crowned with a broad
sombrero and plume, Huertis wore that of an American naval commander,
with gold epaulettes; his riflemen and muleteers generally were clothed
in blue cotton and grass hats, while the native cavalry, in the
brilliant tunics and feathered coronals, already described, must have
completed the diversity of the variegated cortege. Had poor Hammond been
mounted among them, his costume would have been as equivocal as his new
complexion, for he had attired himself in the scarlet coat of a British
officer of rank, with several blazing stars of glass jewels, surmounted
by a white Panama hat, in which clustered an airy profusion of ladies'
ostrich feathers, dyed blue at the edges.

In passing the spot of the recent skirmish, they found that nine horses
and two men had been killed, the latter unintentionally, besides the
rifleman of their own party. Many other horses were lying wounded, in
the struggles of death, and several of their riders were seated on the
ground, disabled by bruises or dislocations. Huertis' men buried their
comrades in a grave hastily dug with the spears which lay around him,
while the Iximayans laid their dead and wounded upon horses, to be
conveyed to a village on the plain. The former, it was found, were
consumed there the next day, in funereal fires, with idolatrous rites;
and it was observed by the travellers that the native soldiers regarded
their dead with emotions of extreme sensibility, and almost feminine
grief, like men wholly unaccustomed to scenes of violent death. But
Velasquez remarks, that the strongest emotion evinced by the young
chief, throughout their intercourse, was when he heard the word
"Iximaya," in interpreting for Huertis. He then seemed to be smitten and
subdued, by blank despair, as if he felt that the city and its location
were already familiarly known to the foreign world.

As already intimated, the distance to the city was about six miles. The
expedition found the road to it bordered, on either side, as far as the
eye could reach, with a profuse and valuable vegetation, the result of
evidently assiduous and skilful culture. Indigo, corn, oats, a curious
five-eared wheat, gourds, pine-apples, esculent roots, pulse, flax, and
hemp, the white as well as the crimson cotton, vineyards, and fruit
orchards, grew luxuriantly in large, regularly divided fields, which
were now ripe for the harvest. The villages, large and populous, were
mostly composed of flat-roofed dwellings with broad overhanging eaves or
architraves, supported by heavy columns, often filletted over spiral
flutings, in the Egyptian style, and generally terminating in foliaged
capitals, of the same character. None of the houses were mean, while
many were superb; and of the mosque-like larger buildings, which
occasionally appeared, and which were supposed to be rural temples, some
were grand and imposing. A profusion of bold sculpture, was the
prevailing characteristic, and perhaps defect, of all. The inhabitants,
who thronged the wayside in great numbers, appeared excited with
surprise and exultation, on beholding the large company of strangers
apparently in the custody of their military, while the disarmed
condition of the latter, and the bodies of the slain, were a mystery
they could not explain. Many of the husbandmen were observed to be in
possession of bows and arrows, and some of the women held rusty spears.
The predominant costume of both sexes was a pale blue tunic, gathered in
at the breast and descending to the knee, with reticulated buskins, of
red cord, covering the calf of the leg. The women, with few exceptions,
were of fine form, and the highest order of Indian beauty, with an
extraordinary affluence of black hair, tastefully disposed, and
decorated with plumes and flowers. At the village where the dead and
wounded were left, with their relatives and friends, doleful
lamentations were heard, until the expedition approached the city.

The walls of this metropolis were sixty feet high, sloping inward from
the foundation, surmounted by a parapet which overhung in a concave
curve and rested upon a plain moulding. They were evidently a massive
work of a remote period, for although constructed of large blocks of
granitic stone, white and glittering in the sun, passing ages had
corroded rough crevices between the layers, and the once perfect
cornices had become indented by the tooth of time. The sculptured annals
of the city recorded them an antiquity of four thousand years. They
formed a parallelogram four miles long and three in width, thus
inclosing an area of nearly twelve square miles, and they breasted the
cardinal points of the horizon with a single gate, or propylon, midway
on every side. On approaching the eastern gate, the travellers
discovered that the foundations of the walls were laid in a deep foss or
moat a hundred feet wide, nearly full to its brink and abounding with
water-fowl. It was replenished from the mountains, and discharged its
surplus waters into the lakes of the valley. It was to be crossed by a
draw-bridge now raised over the gate, and the parapet was thronged with
the populace to behold the entrance of so large a number of strangers
for whom there was no return.

At a signal from the young chief, the bridge slowly descended and the
cavalcade passed over; but the folding gates, which were composed of
blocks of stone curiously dovetailed together, and which revolved upon
hinges of the same material by a ball and socket contrivance above and
below, were not yet opened, and the party were detained on the bridge. A
small oval orifice only appeared, less than a human face, and an ear
was applied there to receive an expected word in a whisper. This
complied with, the ponderous gates unfolded, and a vista of solemn
magnificence was presented to the view. It was a vista at once of
colossal statues and trees, interminable in perspective and extending,
as it was found, the whole length of the city to its western gate.
Incredible as it may be, until we reflect upon the ancient statuary of
the eastern world, Velasquez reports each and all of these monuments as
being exactly of the height of the city wall, that is, sixty feet, and
all possessing the proportions of the human figure. He adds, what is
equally marvelous, that no two of them were precisely alike in
countenance, and very few in their sculptural costume. There was some
distinctive emblem upon each, and he was informed that they were statues
of the ancient kings of Assyria, from before the foundation of Babylon,
and of their descendants in the Aztec empires of this continent. They
stood sixty feet apart, with a smaller monument of some mythological
animal between each, and were said to number one hundred and fifteen, on
each side of the avenue they formed, which was one hundred and twenty
feet in width. A similar but shorter avenue, it appears, crossed the
city from north to south, having a proportional number of such monuments
through its entire extent; and these two grand avenues ran through wide
areas of green sward richly grouped with lofty trees. But the translator
finds himself trespassing upon forbidden ground and must forbear.

As the cavalcade advanced through this highway to the centre of the
city, they found it crowded on each side with the masses of the
population assembled to behold a spectacle so unprecedented and
mysterious; but the utmost order prevailed and even the silence was
profound. The news of the slaughter and dispersion of their military
guardians, by an army of strangers, wielding deadly weapons of fire and
smoke, had already run through every quarter of the city with increasing
exaggeration and terror; but the people wisely left its investigation to
their constituted authorities, and were rendered comparatively tranquil
by their personal observation of its actual results. Arrived at the
quadrated point, where the two great avenues we have described
intersect, Mr. Huertis boldly demanded of his guide the further course
and character of his destination. He was answered by his dignified
companion, that he would be conducted to the building immediately before
him, which is described as one of majestic dimensions and style, where
the monarch of the nation daily assembled with his councillors, at the
hour of noon, to administer justice and listen to complaints. In the
meantime, his wounded friend could be placed in a state of greater ease
and repose, in one of the apartments of the edifice, while the mules
and baggage could be disposed of in its basement vaults. When this was
accomplished the hours of audience had arrived.

The entire party of strangers, with the young chief and several of his
subordinates, were then led into a large and lofty hall, surrounded by
columns, and displaying three raised seats covered with canopies of rich
drapery and design. On the one of these, which stood at the eastern end,
sat the monarch himself, a personage of grave but benignant aspect,
about sixty years of age, arrayed in scarlet and gold, and having a
golden image of the rising sun, of extraordinary splendor, displayed on
the back of his throne. On the seat on the southern side, sat a
venerable man of advanced age, not less gorgeously attired; and the seat
at the western end was occupied by a functionary of similar years and
costume. Around the apartment, and especially around the steps of the
throne, sat other grave looking men, in scarlet robes. Huertis,
Velasquez, and their Indians, still carrying their loaded rifles, of
which he had not suffered them to be deprived, stood on the left side of
the monarch, and the young chief and his soldiers on the right. The
latter gave his statement with truth and manly candour, although the
facts which he averred seemed to fill the whole council with amazement,
and left a settled gloom upon the imperial brow. The whole proceeding
possesses great interest in Velasquez's narrative, but we can only
briefly state that it resulted in the decision, which was concurred in
by the associate councillors, that the strangers having magnanimously
released and restored the company of guards, after they had surrendered
themselves prisoners; and having voluntarily entered the city in a
peaceable manner, when they might possibly have effected their escape,
were entitled to their personal freedom, within the limits of the city,
and might eventually, under voluntary but indispensable obligations,
become eligible to all the privileges of citizenship, within the same
limits. In the mean time, they were to be maintained as pensioners of
state, on condition that they made no use of their dangerous weapons,
nor exhibited them to terrify the people. With this decision, Huertis
and his companions were perfectly satisfied, for the latter had
undiminished confidence in his ability and determination to achieve
their escape, as soon as he should have accomplished the scientific
objects of his expedition. On leaving the hall of justice, they observed
the elder military chief, of whom a slight mention has been made,
brought in with two others of inferior rank; and it was afterwards
currently reported that they had been sentenced to close imprisonment.
It was, also, ascertained by Velasquez, that the four companies of
rangers, already noticed, composing a regiment of two hundred men,
constituted the whole military force of this timid and peaceful people.

From this point, our abstract of the narrative must be chiefly a brief
catalogue of the most important of the concluding events. The place of
residence assigned to our travellers, was the vacant wing of a spacious
and sumptuous structure, at the western extremity of the city, which had
been appropriated, from time immemorial, to the surviving remnant of an
ancient and singular order of priesthood called Kaanas, which, it was
distinctly asserted in their annals and traditions, had accompanied the
first migration of this people from the Assyrian plains. Their peculiar
and strongly distinctive lineaments, it is now perfectly well
ascertained are to be traced in many of the sculptured monuments of the
central American ruins, and were found still more abundantly on those of
Iximaya. Forbidden, by inviolably sacred laws, from intermarrying with
any persons but those of their own caste, they had here dwindled down,
in the course of many centuries, to a few insignificant individuals,
diminutive in stature, and imbecile in intellect. They were,
nevertheless, held in high veneration and affection by the whole
Iximayan community, probably as living specimens of an antique race so
nearly extinct. Their position, as an order of priesthood, it is now
known, had not been higher, for many ages, if ever, than that of
religious mimes and bacchanals, in a certain class of pagan ceremonies,
highly popular with the multitude. This, indeed, is evident from their
characteristics in the sculptures. Their ancient college, or hospital,
otherwise vacant and forlorn, was now chiefly occupied by a much higher
order of priests, called Mahaboons, who were their legal and sacerdotal
guardians. With a Yachin, one of the junior brethren of this order,
named Vaalpeor, a young man of superior intellect and attainments,
Velasquez soon cultivated a friendly and confidential acquaintance,
which proved reciprocal and faithful. And while Huertis was devoting all
his time and energies to the antiquities, hieroglyphics, ethnology,
science, pantheism, theogony, arts, manufactures, and social
institutions of this unknown city and people, the ear of this young
pagan priest was as eagerly imbibing, from the wiley lips of Velasquez,
a similar knowledge of the world at large, to him equally new and
enchanting. If Huertis had toiled so severely, and hazarded so much,
both as to himself and companions, to acquire a knowledge of this one
city and people, it soon became clear to the penetrating mind of
Velasquez, that Vaalpeor possessed enough both of mental ambition and
personal energy to incur equal toil and risk to learn the wonders of the
cities and races of the greater nations of mankind. Indeed, this desire
evidently glowed in his breast with a consuming fervor, and when
Velasquez, after due observation proposed the liberation of the whole
expedition, with Vaalpeor himself, as its protected companion, the now
consciously imprisoned pagan, horror-stricken at first, regarded the
proposition with complacency, and finally, with a degree of delight,
regardless of consequences. It was, however, mutually agreed that the
design should be kept secret from Huertis, until ripe for success. A
serious obstacle existed in his plighted guardianship of the Kaana
children, whom he could abandon only with his life; but even this was
not deemed insurmountable.

In the meantime, Huertis, to facilitate his own objects, had prevailed
upon his entire party to conform in dress and habits with the community
in which they lived. The city was surrounded on all sides by a lofty
colonade, sustaining the upper esplanade of the city walls, and forming
a broad covered walk beneath, in which the population could promenade,
sheltered from sun and shower. In these places of general resort, the
new citizens appeared daily, until they had become familiarly known to
the greater part of the eighty-five thousand inhabitants of the city.
Huertis, moreover, had formed domestic and social connexions; was the
welcome guest of families of the highest rank, who were fascinated with
the information he afforded them of the external world; had made tacit
converts to liberty of many influential persons; had visited each of
the four grand temples which stood in the centre of the several
quadrangular divisions of the city, and externally conformed to their
idolatrous worship. He had even been admitted into some of the most
sacred mysteries of these temples, while Velasquez, more retired, and
avowedly more scrupulous, was content to receive the knowledge thus
acquired, in long conversations by the sick couch of poor Hammond, now
rapidly declining to the grave.

Mr. Hammond's dreadful wound had but partially healed in the course of
several months; his constitution was exhausted, and he was dying of
remittent fever and debility. His chief regret was that he could not
assist his friend Huertis in his researches and drawings, and determine
the place of the city by astronomical observations which his friends
were unable to take. The day before he died, he was visited by some of
the medical priesthood, who, on seeing numerous light spots upon his
skin, where the preparation with which he had stained it had
disappeared, they pronounced him _a leper_, and ordered that all
intercourse with the building should be suspended. No explanation would
convince them to the contrary, and his death confirmed them in their
opinion. Availing himself of this opportunity, and under the plea that
it was important to their safety, Vaalpeor removed the two orphan
children in his charge to one of the country temples in the plain, and
the idle mules of the strangers were employed to carry tents, couches,
and other bulky requisites for an unprovided rural residence. It may be
added that he included among them much of the baggage of his new
friends, with the greater part of their rifles and ammunition. In the
mean time Huertis, Velasquez, and about half of their party, were
closely confined to the part of the edifice assigned for their
occupation. Their friend Hammond had been interred without the walls, in
a field appropriated to lepers by the civic authorities. Huertis, was
now informed of the plan of escape, but was not ready; he had more
daguerreotype views to take, and many curiosities to collect. The
interdicted period of nine days having expired, the young priest, who
had free access to the city at all times, again appeared at their abode
and urged an early retreat, as the return of the orphan children would
soon be required. But Huertis was abroad in the city and could not be
consulted. He remained absent all the day, and did not return to his
apartments at night. It was so all the next day and night, and
Velasquez was deeply alarmed. On searching his rooms for his papers,
drawings and instruments, for secret transmittal into the country, he
found them all removed, including those of Mr. Hammond which were among
them. It was then vainly hoped that he had effected his escape with all
his treasures, but his Indians knew nothing of the matter.

Shortly after this discovery, Vaalpeor arrived with its explanation.
Huertis had made a confidant of his intended flight whom he idly hoped
would accompany it, and she had betrayed him. His offence, after his
voluntary vows, and his initiation into the sacred mysteries, was
unpardonable, and his fate could not be doubted. Indeed, the trembling
priest at length admitted that he had been sacrificed in due form upon
the high altar of the sun, and that he himself had beheld the fatal
ceremony. Huertis, however, had implicated none of his associates, and
there was yet a chance of escape. To pass the gates was impossible; but
the wall might be descended in the night by ropes, and to swim the moat
was easy. This was effected by Velasquez and fifteen of his party the
same night; the rest either did not make the attempt or failed, and the
faithful Antonio was among them. The fugitives had scarcely reached the
secluded retreat of Vaalpeor, and mounted their mules, before the low
yelp of blood-hounds was heard upon their trail and soon burst into full
cry. But the dogs were somewhat confused by the scent of so many
footsteps on the spot at which the party mounted, and did not follow the
mules until the horsemen led the way. This afforded time for the
fugitives, racing their swift mules at full speed, to reach the opening
of the valley, when Velasquez wheeled and halted, for the pursuers were
close at hand. A conflict ensued in which many of the horsemen were
slain, and the young kaana received an accidental wound of which he
retains the scar. It must suffice to say, that the party eventually
secured their retreat without loss of life; and by break of day they
were on a mountainous ridge many leagues from Iximaya. In about fourteen
days, they reached Ocosingo, after great suffering. Here Velasquez
reluctantly parted with most of his faithful Indians, and here also died
Vaalpeor, from the unaccustomed toil and deprivations of the journey.
Velasquez, with the two Aztec children, did not reach San Salvador until
the middle of February, when they became objects of the highest
interest to the most intellectual classes of that city. As the greatest
ethnological curiosities in living form, that ever appeared among
civilised men, he was advised to send them to Europe for exhibition.

With this view they were taken to Grenada where they remained the
objects of much local curiosity, until it was deemed proper and
advisable first to exhibit them to the people of the United States. The
parties whom Senor Velasquez first appointed as their temporary
guardians brought them to New York via Jamaica, and they will no doubt
attract and reward universal attention. They are supposed to be eight
and ten years of age, and both are lively, playful and affectionate. But
it is as specimens of an _absolutely unique_ and nearly extinct race of
mankind that they claim the attention of Physiologists and all men of

Transcriber's Note

The following errors were corrected.

  Page  Error
   4  Vaalpeor, in changed to Vaalpeor, an
   4  Diocess changed to Diocese
   5  scirra changed to sierra
   6  attemped changed to attempted
   6  Gautamala changed to Guatimala
   6  seirra changed to sierra
   6  rasing changed to raising
   7  seirra changed to sierra
   7  Balize changed to Belize
   8  way changed to way.
   8  Hammand changed to Hammond
   8  attestors changed to attesters
   9  proceded changed to proceeded
   9  regreted changed to regretted
   9  repecting changed to respecting
   9  experince changed to experience
  10  idolitrous changed to idolatrous
  10  invaluble changed to invaluable
  11  joval changed to jovial
  11  mentined changed to mentioned
  13  realitily changed to reality
  13  rediculous changed to ridiculous
  14  guilded changed to gilded
  14  pinacle changed to pinnacle
  15  mountians changed to mountains
  15  Chiapas. changed to Chiapas."
  16  limbstone changed to limestone
  16  parapetted changed to parapeted
  16  Aarchbishop changed to Archbishop
  17  amunition changed to ammunition
  17  orign changed to origin
  18  Mayua changed to Maya
  18  interpeters changed to interpreters
  18  provinical changed to provincial
  19  pewerful changed to powerful
  19  I changed to "I
  19  solemly changed to solemnly
  21  mocassins changed to moccasins
  21  States changed to States.
  24  defferential changed to deferential
  27  pine-apples changed to pine-apples,
  29  a ear changed to an ear
  29  disperson changed to dispersion
  29  ran through changed to run through
  30  appartments changed to apartments
  30  indispensible changed to indispensable
  31  destinctive changed to distinctive
  33  amunition changed to ammunition
  33  apropriated changed to appropriated
  33  appartments changed to apartments
  34  Valasquez changed to Velasquez
  34  transmital changed to transmittal

The following words were inconsistently spelled or hyphenated.

  blood-hounds / bloodhounds
  land-marks / landmarks
  Meztitzos / Mestitzos
  re-assured / reassured

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoir of an Eventful Expedition in Central America - Resulting in the Discovery of the Idolatrous City of - Iximaya, in an Unexplored Region; and the Possession of - two Remarkable Aztec Children, Descendants and Specimens - of the Sacerdotal Caste, (now nearly extinct,) of the - Ancient Aztec Founders of the Ruined Temples of that - Country, Described by John L. Stevens, Esq., and Other - Travellers." ***

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