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Title: Los Gringos - Or, An Inside View of Mexico and California, with Wanderings in Peru, Chili, and Polynesia
Author: Wise, H. A. (Henry Augustus), 1819-1869
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.

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LOS GRINGOS:

Or,

An Inside View of Mexico and California, with Wanderings
in Peru, Chili, and Polynesia.

by

LIEUT. WISE, U.S.N.



New York:
Baker and Scribner,
145 Nassau Street and 36 Park Row.
1849.

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1849, by
Baker and Scribner,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.

Printed by C. W. BENEDICT,
201 William street.



PREFACE.


The title--_Los Gringos_--with which this volume has been christened, is
the epithet--and rather a reproachful one--used in California and Mexico
to designate the descendants of the Anglo-Saxon race; the definition of
the word is somewhat similar to that of Greenhorns, in modern
_parlance_, or Mohawks in the days of the Spectator. Although many of
the scenes were passed in those countries, yet the narrative takes a
wider range, and embraces portions of the South American Continent in
Brazil, Chili, and Peru,--together with visits to some of the groups of
the Pacific at the Sandwich, Marquesas and Society Islands.

The sketches embodied in the narrative were all written on the field of
their occurrence: the characters incidentally mentioned are frequently
_noms de mer_.

It is not expected by the Author that even the most charitable reader
will wholly overlook the careless style and framing of the work, or
allow it to pass without censure; nor has it been his object to deal in
statistics, or any abstract reflections, but merely to compile a
pleasant narrative, such as may perchance please or interest the
generality of readers; and in launching the volume on its natural
element--the sea of public opinion--the Author only indulges in the
aspiration--whether the reader be gentle or ungentle--whether the book
be praised or condemned--that at least the philanthropy of the
Publishers may be remunerated, wherein lies all the law and the profits.

NEW YORK, _October, 1849_.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

                                                                  PAGE
We sail from Boston, and how we felt.--Cure for
Sea-Sickness.--Delights of the Ocean.--Crossing the Equator.--What
the Mess was composed of.--We become reconciled to our Fate.--Pass
Cape Frio, and have no Inclination to bivouac on the Rocks.          1


CHAPTER II.

Rio Janeiro, and what is to be seen there.--Life in the
City.--Diamonds and Levites.--Police.--Cookery and Currency.--The
Omnibus Jehu to Boto Fogo.                                           9


CHAPTER III.

Gloria Hill.--Il Cateto.--Architecture.--Visit from a Scorpion,
and the Habits of other Reptiles.--The Opera.--The Emperor and
Court.--The Brazilians think of carrying the War into Africa.       16


CHAPTER IV.

We leave Rio, and march towards the Horn.--Man overboard and
drowned.--La Plata.--We take an Albatross.--Terra del
Fuego.--Pitch of the Cape.--A Marine dies.--How the Yankee
Corvette doubled Cape Horn.--What we did for Pastime.--Dr.
Faustus.--The Island of Chiloe.                                     20


CHAPTER V.

Valparaiso.--Bell of Quillota and Tupongati.--Where and how the
Town is built.--Birlochea.--Shops.--The Terraces.--El
Almendral.--Carmencita.--Creole Ladies.--Tertulias.--The
Samacuéca.--Climate.--Dust.--The Donçella who caught a Flea, and
how she did it.--General Bulnes.--Army.--Government and
Resources.--True Elements of Happiness.                             27


CHAPTER VI.

Weigh Anchor, with some Trouble and Broken Bones.--Bid adieu to
Pleasures of the Shore.--Islands of St. Ambrose and Felix.--We
lose some Shipmates.--Alta California.--Monterey.                   39


CHAPTER VII.

Summary of Events Preceding our Arrival.--Difficulties between
Fremont and Castro.--Operations of Naval Forces.--Skirmish at San
Pascual.--Battles of San Gabriel and La Mesa.--The Volunteers
Disbanded.                                                          41


CHAPTER VIII.

Town of Monterey.--Our First Impressions.--Days of
Barricades.--Sentinels.--The Rocky-Mountain Men.--Keg of Whiskey,
and the Use it was put to.--The Trapper's little Anecdote
concerning Old Ginger and the Indians.                              47


CHAPTER IX.

Treaty of Los Angeles.--The Lady that had a Strange Taste In
Jewelry.--The Disregard of Soap in those Countries.--Visit to an
Extensive Establishment.--The Doña herself, with her Small Family
and Prospects.                                                      53


CHAPTER X.

Mission of Carmelo.--Tramp in the Mountains.--Wolves and
Venison.--We become bewildered, but encounter a Guide.--Boudoirs
for Damsels.--The Fandango.--How the Gentlemen amused
themselves.--We take to Hunting for Pastime.--Climate.--Juaquinito
and his Mama.--Plains of Salinas.--Bill Anderson, his Windmill and
History.--Wild Geese.--Native Entertainment.                        58


CHAPTER XI.

Maritime Alps of California.--Entrance to Bay of San
Francisco.--Yerbabuena.--Society.--Pranks on
Horses.--Saddles.--New York Regiment.--The Cannibal Emigrants, and
the Dutchman's Appetite; with Baptiste's Remarks thereon.--Perils
of Emigration.                                                      69


CHAPTER XII.

Sousoulito.--The Belle of California.--The Bears of the same, who
chase us.--Angel Island.--Deer and Elk Shooting.                    76


CHAPTER XIII.

Monterey again.--The Pioneer Newspaper, with the Editor, Dr.
Semple.--We Sail for the Mexican Coast.--Island of
Guadalupe.--Peninsular of Lower
California.--Jesuits.--Trade.--Ports and Resources.--We blockade
Mazatlan.--Reconnoissance, and the Ballet that ensued.--Yankee
Bombs.--The Ladies deceive us.--The Chased Diana.                   82


CHAPTER XIV.

Cruise of the Rosita.--Anchorage of Venados.--The Oyster-boat.--We
received a Hostage in Doctor Barret, and learn his
Misfortunes.--Change of Position.--We take a Prize, and afterwards
nearly taken for another.--Set fire to the Dried Grass.--A False
Alarm.--The Fish that broke Pat's Nose.--Our Supper and
Attendants.--The Commodore orders us Home.                          89


CHAPTER XV.

Period of the Blockade of Mazatlan.--The Commandante, Telles; his
Habits and Hospitalities.--The Frigate takes her Departure.--The
Shark.--Anchor in Monterey the Third Time.                          99


CHAPTER XVI.

Dispatches and Equipments.--Californian Gamesters.--The
Vacuero.--Don Herman.--The Youthful Mother and her Gay
Deceiver.--We Sup on Eggs.--Murphy's Rancho.--Pretty
Ellen.--Picturesque Location.--Puebla.--Santa Clara.--Priests and
Indians.--Ladies drying Beef.--Reach Yerbabuena.                   102


CHAPTER XVII.

Sail up the Bay.--Embarcadera of San José.--We sleep at a
Rancho.--Don Ignacio proves to be a Scamp.--Puebla.--Architecture
and Agriculture.--Mission of Santa Clara.--The Cannonier.--The
Padres.--The Dandies.--We attend Mass.--"The Forwardest Gall of
the Mission."--Bear Hunt with Dan Murphy.--Rustic
Politeness.--Mission of San Juan.--The Gascon.--Crescencia is
taken with Fits.--Empirical Practice.--Get back to Monterey.       111


CHAPTER XVIII.

San Francisco once more.--Head Waters.--Bay of San Pablo.--Village
of Sinoma. Vallejo.--Captain Swayback.--Hunting.--We Kill an
Antelope.--Straits of Carquinez.--City of Benecia.--Mares
Island.--Tulares Valley.                                           122


CHAPTER XIX.

California becomes tranquil, and the Columbus sails for
Home.--Sailors drilled on Shore.--We Return to Monterey.--Town
increasing.--The Reverend Alcalde, and how he collected
Treasure.--Indians hung.--Diet and Games of the same.--Merendas.   130


CHAPTER XX.

Final Adieu to Monterey.--Reach Cape San Blas, and San José.--We
visit Alcaldes, and how they passed their Leisure.--Our First
Search for the Enemy.--When we are offered a Baby, but
decline.--Watering Ship, and other Pleasantries.--A Small Garrison
landed to occupy San José.                                         136


CHAPTER XXI.

Demonstrations before Mazatlan.--Summons to Surrender.--We land
Sailor Troops, and occupy the Town.--Positions and Selections for
Defence.--Land Ordnance.--Ayuntamientos.--Mexican Morality.--Piety
of the People.--Climate and Diseases.                              142


CHAPTER XXII.

Burning Launches.--Skirmishing.--A Reefer's Idea of Bullets.--The
Retreat.--We lose the Road, and are scared.--Affair at
Urias.--Ambuscade.--Escaramuza. Flight.--Burial of the Slain.--We
are presented with a Black Charger, and return to the Port.        150


CHAPTER XXIII.

Duties of a Garrison.--The Garita.--We Make a Night March, and
Surprise Ligueras.--The Killed.--Lady with them.--Our
Trophies.--The Commandante's Wife.--Is the Innocent Cause of
Murdering a Horse.--False Alarm.--Another Night Skirmish; when the
Guide gets a Bullet through his Head, and is Cursed by his Family. 159


CHAPTER XXIV.

How they Marry in Mazatlan.--Fights with Cuchillos.--The Man who
is divested of part of his Scalp and Ear.--Cures effected--Flying
Trip to Urias.--Where we take General Urrea's Orderly.--Who is
afterwards set free.                                               168


CHAPTER XXV.

Mexican Troop pronounce against their Leaders.--We become Poverty
Stricken.--Lancers attempt to run the Gauntlet, and carry away
some Buckshot.--Description of the Casa Blanca, and how we
behaved.--Madre Maria and Pretty Juana.--The Elite of the Town,
who praise us for not beating our Wives.                           173


CHAPTER XXVI.

Dolores and her Lover; who is wounded; and who is a Coward.--Lola
dies and is buried.                                                182


CHAPTER XXVII.

El Tigre del Norte.--Mr. Bill
Foley.--Sociedads.--Circus.--Monté.--Golden
Toad.--Carnival.--Intercourse with Foreign Society.--Hauson and
the Hern Hutter. Don Guillermo.--While moralising one night we are
nearly impaled.--Our Little Housekeeper.--Pita.--Fandango de la
Tripa.--Where a Lepero abstracts our Sword and Pistols.            186


CHAPTER XXVIII.

News of the Peace.--The Outsiders become complimentary, and pay a
visit to Madre Maria.--With the Mounted Patrol and Captain Luigi
we ride to Venadillo, and disturb the slumbers of Señor Valverde,
who, with some hesitation, returns with us to the Port, being the
last Prisoner of the War.--A Man deserts, and we go to the
Presidio for him.--General Anaya and Officers.--Commissioners meet
and depart in Dudgeon.                                             194


CHAPTER XXIX.

Siege of San José.--Defences of Garrison.--The Summons and
Parley.--The Storming Party.--Mijares Killed with his Forlorn
Hope.--The Brave Whalemen.--Ambuscade and Prisoners.--The
Guerrillas begin the Second Siege.--Death of M'Lenahan.--The
Garrison Beleaguered.--Arrival of the Cyane.--Battle and Relief.   203


CHAPTER XXX.

We Begin a Journey to the City of Mexico.--Disembark at San
Blas.--Ride to Tepic.--Cotton Mills of Barron, Forbes &
Co.--Volcanic Masses.--Aquacatlan.--The Red-hot Patriot.--Wake of
Don Pancho.--Plan de Barrancas.--The Piece of
Ordnance.--Muchatilti.--Madelena.--How Horses are Hired in the
Republic.--Race with Banditti.                                     216


CHAPTER XXXI.

Guadalajara.--Señor Llamas.--The Lovely Señora.--Plaza and
Beauty.--The Great Bridge.--Old Cypriano's Superstition regarding
Horses' Souls.--Tepetitlan.--Puéblos del Rincon.--The Drowsy
Commandante.--City of Leon.--Knife Duel.--Mexican Mesons, and the
Society therein.--Illumination and Supper.--We take Coach and
reach Guanajuato.--The English Mint and
Machinery.--Gaming.--Scenic Views.--Pat is a Deserter.--Don
Pancho.--Escape from Los Compadres.                                232


CHAPTER XXXII.

Querétaro.--Aqueduct.--Night ride by Post.--The United States
Escort.--City of Mexico.--We are refused a
Drive.--Cathedral.--Palace.--Plaza.--Museum.--Sacrificial
Stone.--Manners and Customs in the Hells of
Montezuma.--Chapultepec.--The Deep Spring where we bathed.--Moleno
del Rey.--Paseo.                                                   251


CHAPTER XXXIII.

Bureau of Postes.--Depart from the Aztec Capital.--Exemptions of
Government Extraordinarios.--Livery Stable Woman at
Tepetitlan.--Invited to a Country Seat, and dine with Ladies.--We
are afterwards kicked by a Horse, but continue the
journey.--American Deserters.--Encounter Ladrons, and present our
Passport.--Somebody killed by Mistake.--Excitement in
Querétaro.--Traitors of San Patricio.--Official Visits.--The
Dignitaries of the Republic.--Breakfast with a Brilliant
Colonel.--The Alemeda.--We run a Joust.--Treaty signed.            260


CHAPTER XXXIV.

Señor Rosa forgets our Escort, and we are scared and nearly
coach-wrecked.--Mine of La Luz.--Pass through Guanajuato to
Lagos.--A Pronunciamento.--Padre Jarauta, who treats us with
contempt, and afterwards wishes to make an _ejemplo_.--We bid a
Hasty Farewell.--An Ambulating Pulperia.--San Juan de
Lagos.--Arrieros.--Puente Calderon.--Bathing in the Rio
Grande.--The Rayo.                                                 275


CHAPTER XXXV.

Bull-fight at Guadalajara.--What Fools the Beasts are, and what
Brutes the Men are.--La Comedia.--Antique Guide.--Execution of
Robbers.--Tequilla.--Patron of the Meson and his
Daughters.--Endurance of Mexican Soldiers.--Adaptability of
Western Provinces for Military Operations.--La Nubarrada.--Horse
Jockeying.--We are made Unhappy.--Bathing in Tepic.--Rio Grande
and Santiago.--Shower of Water Melons.--Rio San Pedro.--Rosa
Morada.--Acaponeta.--High Mass.--Tierra Caliente, and Old Tomas,
the Poet.--We return to Mazatlan.                                  287


CHAPTER XXXVI.

Don Guillermo and Señor Molinero.--The Olas Altas, and the gay
scenes there enacted.--Thieves and Leperos.--How to learn
Castilian.--Evacuation of Mazatlan by the U. S. Forces.            307


CHAPTER XXXVII.

Sailing of the Squadron.--Cross the Gulf, and arrive in La
Paz.--Appearance of Vegetation.--How we amused
Ourselves.--Fandangos.--Ball on Shipboard.--Marine Pic Nic.--The
Carrera.--The Uncivil Vacuero and his Rude Cattle.--The Chowder
Party.--Perils and Pearl Fishing.--Hunting.--Game in Lower
California.--The Cove of San Antonio, and Escape from Boatwreck.   312


CHAPTER XXXVIII.

What the U. S. Government did to induce the Natives to lake up
Arms.--The Volunteer who shot his Wife.--Little Sam Patch.--Flying
Visit to Mazatlan, and Last Farewell.                              326


CHAPTER XXXIX.

We leave Mexico.--Go to the Sandwich Islands, and anchor in
Byron's Bay, or Hilo.--Natives.--Scenery.--Constables.--Meeting
House.--Dialect.--Sermon.--We Depart for the Interior.--Half-way
House.--Society there, and how they cook Turkeys.--Volcano of
Kilauea.--Frozen Sea of Lava.--The Great Crater.--Sulphur
Banks.--Return to Hilo.                                            329


CHAPTER XL.

Hilo.--Education.--Fondness for Liquor.--Favorite dish of roasted
Dog, and process of fattening them.--Water Nymphs.--Rainbow
Falls.--The Wailuku.--The Three-Decker.--Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  339


CHAPTER XLI.

Paipolo Passage.--Maui.--Lahaina.--Cocoanut Tree, and its
uses.--The Governor, James Young.--His Fortress.--Surf-Swimming
by Girls, who gave us Lessons.                                     348


CHAPTER XLII.

High School of Lahainaluna for Boys.--Other Institutions for
Girls.--Character of Hawaiians.--Their Crimes and Vices.--Board of
Presbyterian Missions.--Exaggerations upon Moral Condition of the
Natives.--Expulsion of Catholics.                                  355


CHAPTER XLIII.

Oahu.--Honolulu.--Rides and Drives in Vicinity.--Society.--The
Pali up the Nuana.--Saturnalia of Kanakas.--Rage for Horses.--Straw
Hamlets.--and Life within them.                                    362


CHAPTER XLIV.

King Kammehamma, or the Lonely One.--Ministers.--Presentation at
Court.--Furniture of the Palace.--Approach of
Royalty.--Speeches.--Costumes.--Princes of the blood royal, who
patronise us.--And what became of Moses.                           368


CHAPTER XLV.

We sail from Sandwich Islands.--The Tar of all
Weathers.--Weather.--Currents and Passage to Marquesas.            376


CHAPTER XLVI.

Nukeheva.--Bay of Anna Maria.--Style of Head-dress in
Vogue.--Tattooing, and other Ornaments.--French
Garrison.--Physical Characteristics of these
Savages.--Bathing.--King's Residence, where we beheld a Nobleman
drunk with Arva.                                                   380


CHAPTER XLVII.

Visit to a Distinguished Chief.--His House and Attendants.--Babies
Swimming.--Making Fire with Sticks.--An Ancestor
Embalmed.--Catholics.--Vagabonds and Deserters.--Whaling
Interests.                                                         387


CHAPTER XLVIII.

Sail from Marquesas--for Society Group.--Tahiti.--Port of
Papeetee.--The Reef.--Shores and
Batteries.--Missionaries.--Melville.                               393


CHAPTER XLIX.

Brown Road.--Semi-Civilization.--Excursion to Pomàrce Country
House at Papoa.--The Queen and her Hen-coop
Habitation.--School.--Fondness for Flowers.--Native Dinner.--Jack
the Head Waiter.--Finger Glasses.--We sleep in the Palace, and are
Serenaded.--Visit from a Tahitian Noble, and how he conducted
himself.--Coral Groves in the Harbor.--Islet of Motunata.          400


CHAPTER L.

Trip to the Mountains.--Teina.--Ferry-Boat, By Toanni.--Lofty
Cascade, Fortress of Faatoar.--Losses by the French.--The
Diadem.--We spread a Banquet, and the Ladies have an
Appetite.--Soirée by French Governor.--Departure.                  413


CHAPTER LI.

Leave Polynesia.--Accident to Topmen.--The Great Pacific.--Old
Harry Greenfield's Yarn.--The Royal Bengal Tiger, who had a
difficulty with the Cook.                                          421


CHAPTER LII.

Callao.--Appearance of the Place.--The Citadel.--Rodil.--Road to
Lima.--And what may be seen in the City.--Rimac.--Public
Edifices.--San Domingo.                                            426


CHAPTER LIII.

The Clergy Mingling in every-day
Panoramas.--Vespers.--Promenades.--Bull Fights.--Berlinas.--Sayas
y Mantas, and Speculations upon uses and abuses.--Youthful Lumps
of Gold, and Attachment to their Uncles.                           433


CHAPTER LIV.

Cathedral.--Viceroy's Palace.--Plaza.--General
Castilla.--Museum.--Antiquities.--Portraits of
Pizarro.--Opera.--The Scene not in the Play.                       439


CHAPTER LV.

Valparaiso Again.--El Dorado.--Rides.--The Yorkshire Dame at the
Post House.--Pic-Nics.--Our Lovely Country-Women.--The
Terraces.--Monte Allegro.                                          445


CHAPTER LVI.

Homeward Bound, and the Cruise is over.                            452



CHAPTER I.


It was on the last day of summer, 1846, that a large vessel of war lay
in the stream of Boston Harbor; presently a dirty little steam tug, all
bone and muscle, came burroughing alongside. The boatswain and his mates
whistled with their silver pipes, like Canary birds, and the cry went
forth, to heave up the anchor. Soon the ponderous grapnell was loosened
from its hold, and our pigmy companion clasping the huge hull in his
hempen arms, bore us away towards the ocean; by and by, the unbleached
canvas fell in gloomy clouds from the wide-spread spars--the sails
swelled to the breeze--friends were tumbling over the side--light jokes
were made--hats waved--cheers given, whether from the heart, or not, was
a problem, and then there came a short interval in the hoarse roar of
steam, as the pigmy's fastenings splashed in the water--then all was
silent; and the stately ship, dashing the salt tears from her eyes,
turned her prow, in sadness, from her native land.

There were many, no doubt, of those six hundred souls on board, who
leaving home with the sweet endearments of domestic life fresh upon
them, were looking forward with blanched cheeks and saddened hearts, to
years of distant wanderings. And there were others, too, equally
indifferent, and regardless of the future--


     "With one foot on land, and one on sea,
     --To one thing constant never,"


who, perhaps, never had a home--tired of the shore--were eager for
change or excitement; but I question much, if there was one on board, of
all those beating hearts, who did not anticipate a safe and joyful
return. Alas! how many of these fragile aspirations were never realized.
Numbers found a liquid tomb beneath the dark blue waves, or died a
sailor's death in foreign climes, far away from friends and kindred, or
returned with broken constitutions, and wasted frames, enfeebled by
disease, to linger out a miserable existence on the native land they
still loved so well.

A fortnight we sailed moderately and pleasantly in a race with the sun
towards the equator. The pole star slowly but surely declined in the
north; faces began to assume a more cheerful aspect; we became
reconciled to our fate; to banish those hateful things called
reminiscences, which, even though pleasant, only make us regret them the
more, when gone forever. Thus we entered the tropic, and then lay
lunging and plunging in the doldrums--clouds dead and stupid, with the
sun making all manner of gay transparencies, at the rising, and most
particularly at the setting thereof. Then came another week of _una
furiosa calma_--a furious calm, as the Spaniards have it--bobbing about
in undulating billows, and the tough canvass beating and chafing in
futile anger. It was thus we learned, those of us who had not made the
discovery before, what a really animal existence one leads on shipboard;
a sort of dozing nonentity, only agreeable to those who have no
imaginative organizations desirous of more extended sphere of action.

It does passibly well to eat and sleep away life--that is, presuming
the dinners be hot and eatable, and nights cool and sleepable--in smooth
seas, and under mild suns; but when the winds are piping loud and cold,
the vessel diving and leaping at every possible angle of the compass,
with the stomachs of the mariners occasionally pitched into their heads,
as if they were dromedaries, with several internal receptacles apiece,
devised purposely to withstand the thumps and concussions of salt water;
when the ship is performing these sub-marine and aerial evolutions I
take it, as a reasonable being, there can be found a stray nook or two,
on hard ground, far more comfortable and habitable. And by way of
parenthesis, I beg leave to recommend to any and all unfortunate persons
given to aquatic recreation, and troubled with the disease whilom called
sea-sickness, to divest the mind and body of care and clothing, tumble
into a swinging cot, and on the verge of starvation sip sparingly of
weak brandy and water, nibble a biscuit, and a well-roasted potato. I
made this important discovery after being a sufferer ten years, and
pledge a reputation upon the strength of that martyrdom, of its
infallible virtues.

Indeed, there are but two kinds of sailing at all bearable. I allude, of
course, to those who take to it _con amore_, and are not compelled to
crowd all dimity to weather a lee shore and the almshouse; one where the
glorious trade wind fills the bellying canvas, and the vessel slips
quietly and swiftly along with the gentlest possible careening; without
hauling and pulling of cordage, nor heavy seas, nor heavy rains, but the
light, fleecy clouds flying gracefully overhead, the waves blue and
yielding, the watch dozing lazily in the shade, and the decks clean and
tidy--it is a pretty sight, to see a noble ship properly manoeuvred,
come swiftly up to tie wind, the sails laid rapidly aback, with lower
canvas brailed up in graceful festoons, and the buoyant hull rising and
falling on the gentle swell, like the courtesies of Cerito or Ellsler in
Sir Roger de Coverley, with all the drapery of dimity fluttering around
them. Then, again, in that blue sea of seas, the Mediterranean, where
more than half the year one may sail over level water, with none of the
ocean swell, with delightful breezes only strong enough to fan the light
and lofty sails to sleep, the shores of Italy or Spain lifting their
green-clad hills along the beam, or the ever varying islands of the
Grecian Archipelago coming and going, as you dart rapidly through their
straits. Ah! in those times, and in those seas, ships are possibly
endurable, but of all monotonies, that of shipboard is the dullest, most
wearisome and detestable.

Week after week passed away, one day like another, nothing to chronicle
save the birth of a sailor's pet in the shape of a tiny goat--taking a
shark--the usual pious Sunday homily, and on a certain occasion one Jem
Brooks, whose residence, in company with other cherubs, was somewhere
aloft in the main-top, whilst in the act of dropping a boat into the
ocean, some mishap attended the descent, and he dropped overboard
himself, thereby cracking the small bone of his leg, with a few other
trifling abrasions of skin and flesh. Iron life buoys that no one as yet
ever did comprehend the mechanism of, always fizzing off the port-fires
in broad day, and enshrouding themselves in utter darkness at night when
only needed, were instantly sent after the aforesaid Jem Brooks, who
imbued with the wit and tenacity of his species in extremis, seized one
of them, and in a short space returned pleasantly on board.

This was all that served to enliven our stupid existence. The winds
coquetted with all the perverseness of a spoiled beauty, at times
blowing provokingly steady, then we went reeling over the seas, with
piercingly blue skies above us, and all reconcileable elements to our
journeyings, excepting the breeze ever blowing so pertinaciously in the
wrong direction; at others we managed to cheat Eolus out of a puff, and
steal a march upon him, right into his breezy eyes, but then again he
gave a wink, distended his huge cheeks, and blew us far away to leeward.
It was truly trying to the nerves to be crying patience continually,
when there was no appeal--we could not exclaim with Dryden:


     "The passage yet was good; the wind 'tis true
     Was somewhat high; but that was nothing new,
     No more than usual equinoxes blew."


There was naught new nor usual about it, wind and weather were a mass of
inconsistency; a few more revolutions of the sun, and we should have
found ourselves stranded in the Dahomey territory, or other equally
delightful regions, bordering on the Bight of Benin, in Africa; even the
good old captain of marines began to look worried and anxious, paid
nightly visits to the sailing master, and with the most earnest and
imploring tone, would ask--"Well, Master! how _does_ she head?" as if he
reposed full trust in his sagacity, and for God's sake to ease his mind,
and let him hear the worst at once. Surgeons, pursers and secretaries,
went off their feed, and from being rather over sanguine at times, burst
forth with lamentable wailings in the poignancy of their despair. The
captain of the ship, too, reviled creation generally, and was rather
snappish with officers of the watches; hinting that the yards were not
trimmed, ship steered properly, and other legal animadversions. Then the
lieutenants, kind souls, abused the master, taxing him with manifold
crimes and delinquencies for bringing adverse breezes, did those
sagacious creatures, and at other times becoming jocose, would advise
him to kick the chronometers several times around the mast to accelerate
or diminish their rates, and talked loudly of requesting the Commodore
to follow the first bark we might encounter, to the end that we should
get safely into port--in fact, we were all, morally speaking, in a state
of gangrene; morbid, morose and our circumstances getting more desperate
hourly; but the longest night, except in the winter season off Cape
Horn, has its dawning: the wind veered fair, whitening the ruffled water
to windward, the noble frigate recovered her long lost energy, and with
white sails swelling from trucks to the sea, shook the sparkling brine
from her mane, and left a foaming wake behind; the thick, mucky, sticky
atmosphere that clung to us upon entering the tropic, was quickly
displaced, by refreshing and grateful breezes.

We crossed the dividing line of the sphere, rushing and splashing down
the slope on the other side, carrying the whole ocean before us: myriads
of flying fish flashed their silver-tinted wings as they broke cover,
and flew upward at our approach. Porpoises and dolphins would dash
around the bows, try our speed, and then disappear, perhaps, with a
contused eye, or bruised snout from a sparring match with the cutwater;
on we bounded with the cracking trade wind, tugging the straining canvas
towards Brazil.

The mess was large, and composed of strange materials--men of gravity
and men of merriment, some who relate professional anecdotes and talk
knowingly of ships, and sails and blocks, and nautical trash generally,
others, would be literary characters, who pour over encyclopedias,
gazetteers and dictionaries, ever ready to pounce upon an indiscreet
person, and bring him to book in old dates or events; then there is the
mess grumbler, the mess orator, a lawgiver and politician, and always an
individual, without whom no mess is properly organized, who volunteers
to lick the American consul in whatsoever haven the ship may be, for any
fancied grievance, but particularly if he happen to be poor, and not
disposed to give a series of grand dinners upon his meagre fare of
office.

All these individual peculiarities we had sufficient leisure to indulge
in, and although I have asserted that ship-board is the most horrible
monotony in life, and hold to mine oath, yet Apollo tuned his lyre, and
old Homer took siesta, thus by example, if anything can relieve this
dulness, it is in the very contrast, where the mercury of one's blood is
driven high up by cheering prospects of favoring gales, and
anticipations of a speedy arrival, after a tedious passage.

Our amiability returned with our appetites--alas! too keenly for the
doomed carcass of a solitary pig, grunting in blissful ignorance of his
fate, in a spacious pen on the gun deck. Juicy and succulent vegetables
had long since vacated the mess table, and the talents of our
_cordon-bleu_, Messieurs Hypolite de Bontems, and François, were
constantly phrenzied with excitement, composing palatable dishes, from
the privacy of tins of potted meats, and hidden delicacies of the store
rooms. We all became sociable, quizzed one another good humoredly--some
declared they had been dreadfully spooney with some fair girls before
leaving home, but were better now, and thought the marine air wholesome
for those complaints. Others, again, still remained faithful, compared
their watches with the chronometers, to determine the exact difference
of time on certain periods designated beforehand, with may be a choice
collection of stars of the first magnitude, to gaze at by night.
Nevertheless, there was a radical change for the better; we became more
companionable, hobnobbed across the table, after dinner, heard with calm
delight orchestral music from the flutes and fiddles of papa Gheeks and
family--an old gentleman from _faderland_, whom the sailors, in their
ignorance of German, had baptized "Peter the Greeks," a soubriquet by
which he universally went--and one of our mess had the humanity to
inquire if the small French horn, or octave flute, had tumbled down the
hatchway, and whether he broke his neck or was merely asphyxic. We even
ceased grumbling at the servants, and to a man all agreed that the
passage had been of unexampled pleasantness.

Nothing checked our headlong speed, and the fiftieth day from Boston saw
us close to the high, desolate mountains of cape Frio, within plain view
of the little rocky nook where the English frigate Thetis made a futile
attempt to batter the island over, but went down in the struggle. 'Tis
said the gun room mess were entertaining the captain at dinner, who
somewhat oblivious to everything, save being homeward bound to merry
England with a ship laden with treasure, disregarded the sailing
master's wishes to alter the course, and the consequence was, after
night set in, the frigate struck, going eight knots--providentially the
crew were saved. The long Atlantic swell was rolling heavily against the
bluff promontories, and the surf lashing far up the black heights,
giving many of us a nervous disinclination to making a night expedition
among the rocks, going to sleep with a dirty shirt and mouthful of sand,
without even the consolation of being afterwards laid out in clean
linen, to make luncheon for vultures; but since it takes a complication
of those diversions to compose a veritable sea life, we banished
perspective danger, and indulged in speculations upon the pleasures of
port.



CHAPTER II.

     "The far ships lifting their sails of white
     Like joyful hands; come up with scattered light,
     Come gleaming up, true to the wished for day,
     And chase the whistling brine, and swirl into the bay."
                                               REMINI. OF LEIGH HUNT.


The approach to Rio Janeiro, so far as God's fair handiwork is
considered, presents a bold, natural, and striking grandeur, and is,
perhaps, unsurpassed by that of any other land on earth. The mountains
spring abruptly from the sea, in massive, well-defined outline, assuming
at different points the most fanciful and grotesque shapes. Those to the
southward make in goodly proportion the figure of a man reclining on his
back, even to feet and eyes, while further inland are seen the narrow
tube-like cones of the Organ Mountains, shooting high up into the sky,
and then lower down, and around, are strewn lesser hills, sweeping and
undulating from vale to vale, in an endless succession of picturesque
beauty.

Passing the strait that opens into the bay, which appears narrower than
it really is, from the steep sides of adjacent heights, the river
expands, and stretching away on either shore, lie graceful curves and
indentations, whose snowy beaches are fringed with pretty dwellings,
half hidden beneath the richest tropical foliage. To the left stands the
city, built amidst a number of elevations, but like Lisbon, it has
neither spire nor dome to relieve the eye along the horizon. Yet this
drawback is in a measure lost sight of in contemplating the frowning
peak of La Gabia, which seems to hang over, and shade the town itself;
but take all in all there are few lovelier scenes the eye can gaze upon,
than Rio.

Just ten years had passed since I sailed from this noble bay, and
although I had been the wide world over, in stirring scenes, quite
sufficient as I indeed supposed to drive all recollections of it out of
my head, into dim obscurity and forgetfulness, yet as we approached the
harbor, every point and islet, fort, tower, reef, grove, and hamlet,
started vividly before me, as all appeared when I was a boy, and the
long years between dwindled away into minutes, and I fancied it but
yesterday since we had parted.

I greeted Lord Hood's nose like an old acquaintance, as it reposed in
gigantic outline, towering above the surrounding mountains; the small
island near the shore with the white tower that was then just begun; the
Sugar Loaf with its smooth surface of rocks, and on the other side the
Slaver's Bay--palmettos swinging their finger-like branches to and fro;
and beyond, the fortress of Santa Cruz, with the sickly yellow diamond
of Brazil, waving above; indeed, when the long speaking trumpet was
shoved through an embrasure, I knew the old soldier's melancholy howl by
intuition. At last the harbor's mouth was passed, we rolled up our sails
and sank peacefully to rest on the quiet bosom of the bay.

A mob of us tumbled into the boats; the ashen sails, plied by sinewy
arms, soon bumped us against what was once to me the Palace Stairs, but
either the water had receded, or land encroached upon the bay, for where
the waves once washed the sea wall, and where many a time I have sat
kicking my heels in the surf, sucking oranges the while, is now forty
feet from the beach, and the wall itself stands in the silliest manner
imaginable, quite in the middle of the square. To the left is a tall
modern range of warehouses and the hotel Pharou. Swarms of cigar-smoking
bipeds were lounging edgeways from the cafés and billiard rooms. I
recognized many old familiar faces of the boatmen, and among other rare
birds, the overgrown eunich organist, who used to be the wonder of my
boyhood--there he stood as of yore, exercising his curiosity in
scrutinizing the new comers.

The tenth of a century makes vast strides towards changing the
appearance of things in these electrical times, and although I
discovered no difference in beauties of dale, hill or mountain, for the
Organos still shot their needle-like peaks as high up into heaven, the
weather was quite as calm and hot in the mornings, and as breezy in the
afternoons, the same bells were heard ringing the most confused of
chimes, squares were as crowded, streets no wider, and negroes as
numerous and spicy as ever; yet what I mean is, the animus of the town
itself had been transmogrified. The beautiful bay was traversed by
hateful little beetles of steamers, drawing long lines of sooty black
smoke through the pure air, instead of multitudes of picturesque lateen
craft, with the musical chants and cadences of the negro oarsmen,
skimming and singing over the water. Then, too, streets were filled with
omnibii, cabs, gigs, gondolas, and all other conceivable inventions for
locomotion, serving to make one uncomfortable from the very strivings to
avoid it: I forgive the entire African races for whistling the latest
polkas, or rather _sistling_ through their closed teeth, for holding to
the ancient custom of affectionately interlacing little fingers, as they
come dancing, chattering and jabbering along the streets. Fleas, too,
were as lively and vigorous as ever, and I thought I recognised one
centenarian, who hopped on me with an ardor truly delightful, upon
stepping on shore at the palace stairs. The shopping Rua Ouvidor was
still the same incongruous assortment of French and German shops, with
here and there an unobtrusive counter, behind which some Levite
displayed ebony trays of twinkling brilliants, enough to make the mouth
water, eyes wink, and pocket bleed, should a purchase be thought of.
Black nurses still held their juvenile charges out from the lattice-work
doors and windows, with little bare legs dangling outside, to favor any
chance pedestrian with an eleemosynary kick, should he come within
reach. Then the same interminable lines of slaves, each a bag of coffee
on his head, preceded by a leading chorister, with small rattle, by way
of accompaniment to the harsh chorus, as they pass swiftly on with a
sharp jerking trot to the shipping or warehouses of the port. All this
was still the same to me, but in general it was not my Rio, not the spot
where my first and boyish impressions were formed, of the voluptuous,
luxurious life under tropical suns. The march of invention is rapidly
reducing everything to a standard of its own, and I could only sigh over
the innovations constituting refinement in civilization, where it seems
so little needed.

A very great improvement, in all praise be it said, had taken place in
the order and cleanliness of the city--we were not accosted once by
mendicants, when formerly they were as thick as lazzaroni in Naples. The
police was large, remarkably well organized, and the riots and
assassinations of former days were unheard of. The cafés and hotels have
kept pace with the times, where one may satisfy his gourmanderie with a
certain show of epicurianism, provided his palate be not too delicate
for many kinds of fishes and vegetables, with mayhap, at rare intervals,
a taste of monkey or paroquet. Yankee ice is very generally used, and a
philanthropic person had hung out a banner with "Mint Juleps" inscribed
thereon, but the thirst for these cold institutions is not so much felt
as in some parts of the United States; for here the weather, though hot
and enervating, has not the oppressiveness and lassitude of our summers,
and besides, fluids are made sufficiently cool and cooling, through the
medium of unglazed water jars, swung gently in the breeze.

We saw one deformed African attached to a small tray and sign, on which
was legibly painted "ginger-beer," evidently meaning ginger pop. We
execrated that monster on the spot, and said to ourselves, what is the
necessity for leaving home, if we are to be stared out of countenance by
our household gods, at the antipodes.

Another trifling peculiarity attracted our attention. I allude to the
trumpet-shaped water pipes, sticking boldly out from below every
balconied window, of all colors and sizes, reminding us of misshapen
angels, with puffed out cheeks, and trombones, invariably found in the
upper angles of miraculous, or scriptural paintings: fortunately there
was no rain, or we might have been gratified with a douche that the
great Preussnitz himself would have been proud of.

By no art or teaching can His Imperial Majesty, with "all the Senate at
his heels," be induced to give a respectable currency to the country.
The stamped paper of the empire in rais fluctuates like quicksilver at
the mart, and it is next to impossible to form any reasonable conjecture
what change may take place from day to day. In lieu of this, copper
coins, nearly the diameter of ship biscuits, valued from twenty to forty
rais, and commonly called "dumps," are used in every day traffic, but
should a person require more than one dollar at a time, it were
advisable to employ a negro and basket to transport them.

Among the devices before touched upon, in the way of ambulation, was one
which amused us excessively. Nothing less than a four-mule omnibus,
driven by the most remarkable Jehu ever beheld--evidently one who had
seen, or at least heard of, the natty style things were conducted at
Charing Cross before rails were laid. I had the honor to be propelled by
this individual a number of times, and it was well worth a "dump" to see
him pull on a very dirty buskin glove, the manner he handled the rope
reins, give his glazed hat a rap, and button up a huge box coat, with
the sun pouring down a stream of noonday fire; then an encouraging yell
to the leaders, swinging himself from side to side, away he rattled to
the astonishment of every wonder-loving person in the neighborhood. The
mules acted up to their natural propensities; at times dashing along the
sidewalks, and against houses; again coming to a dead halt, and favoring
each other with a few slapping salutes with their heels; then off they
clattered once more, until about to double a sharp corner, when if they
did not bolt into the pulperia opposite, like a Habanese volante, the
conductor, with the most imperturbable dignity, would crack his leathern
whip, shout like a devil, and do his possible to run over a covey of
miserable lame blackies, who would start up in great bewilderment, like
boys catching trapball, without knowing precisely in which direction
would be safest to dodge the eccentric vehicle. I always cheered my
friend with reiterated marks of approbation, as I look with leniency
upon the peculiarities of mankind, and ever make a rule to respect the
absurdities of others. The Jehu whose accomplishments I have so faintly
portrayed, can be regarded at any hour of the day, on the road to Boto
Fogo, and he will be found quite as interesting an object of curiosity
as the Falls of Tejuco, to say nothing of the fatigue and expense of the
journey.



CHAPTER III.


Much of my time was passed with friends on the shores of the bay, a
short distance beyond Gloria Hill, and I was in a certain degree
relieved from the banging and roaring of cannon fired in compliment to
distinguished personages, who appear to select Rio as the place of all
others, where they may smell powder to their noses' content; to say
nothing of being immured on ship-board after nearly two months' passage.
Escaping these disagreeables, I had leisure to stretch my limbs on
shore, and enjoy the perfumes of flowers and fruit from the stems that
bore them.

It is in the direction of the beach, or, as the Portuguese have it,
Praya Flamingo, on the road to Il Cateto, and the charming and secluded
little bay of Boto Fogo, that most of the diplomatique corps, and
foreign merchants reside. The houses are rarely more than two stories in
height, a combination of Venetian and Italian orders of architecture,
with heavy projecting cornice, balconies and verandas, and washed with
light straw or bluish tints.

The saloons are always spacious and lofty, with prettily papered walls,
and floors of the beautiful, dark polished wood of the country. Nearly
all those residences are surrounded by extensive gardens, blooming in
bright and brilliant foliage, only matured beneath the burning rays of a
vertical sun. There are no springs in Rio, and the grounds are irrigated
by miniature aqueducts, led from mountains in the rear; sufficiently
large, however, to float in their narrow channels, serpents and many
other noxious reptiles, enough to make one's hair stand erect. It is by
no means an uncommon occurrence to find the giracea, a venomous snake,
insinuating themselves within the sunny marble pavements of steps and
porticoes and I was assured by a resident, that one monster after having
some four feet cut off from his tail, ran away with head and remaining
half with a most cricket-like and surprising degree of celerity. Indeed
I was myself a witness to the intrusion of an individual of the scorpion
breed, who walked uninvited into the saloon, and was on the point of
stepping up a young lady's ancle, when, detecting his intention, with
the assistance of a servant, he was enticed into a bottle that he might
sting himself or the glass at pleasure. Being somewhat unaccustomed to
these little predatory incursions, I was particularly cautious during
the remainder of my stay, to examine every article, from a tooth-pick to
the couch, before touching the same. Another approximation to the same
genus is the white ant, possessing rather a literary turn, and I was
told, that it is not unusual for a million or two to devour a
gentleman's library--covers and all, in a single night. I have never yet
been able to conquer disgust for even docile, harmless, speckled-back
lizards, and indeed all the hosts of slimy, crawling reptiles I heartily
fear and abhor.

We found the town in a furor of enthusiasm in admiration of the song and
beauty of a French operatique corps. I went thrice and was well repaid
for the dollars, in sweet music of Auber and Donizetti--there were two
primas--for serious and comique--both, too, primas in prettiness. The
Academy of Paris Music had never, perhaps, seen or heard of Mesdames
Duval and her partner, but La Sala San Januario had been captivated
with both, and beauty covers multitudes of faults, particularly with
men, for what care we, if the notes touch the soul, whether a crystal
shade higher or lower than Grisi, or Persiani, so long as they flow from
rosy lips, that might defy those last-named donnas to rival, even with
the brightest carmine of their toilets.

The theatre itself is a very respectable little place, having three
tiers and parquette. The royal box faces the stage, hung with damask.
The whole interior of the building was quite Italian--every box railed
off with gilded fret work, and lighted with candles swinging in glass
shades. The Brazilians are fond of music, and all the world attended
each representation, including the Emperor, Empress and Court. As I had,
in times past, seen a good deal of Don Pedro, when he was a studious,
meditative boy, at the Palace of Boto Fogo, I was somewhat curious to
observe the effect of old time's cutting scythe on the Lord's anointed,
as well as on the rest of us clay-built mortals. His face and shape of
the head had changed very little, but he had grown immensely; tall,
awkward, and verging on corpulency even now, though I believe he is only
twenty-eight years of age. His Italian wife appeared much older. Both
were well and plainly dressed, attended by some half a dozen dames and
dons of the court.

The curtain rose as the imperial party took their seats, and there were
neither vivas, nor groaning manifestations to express pleasure or
disgust, from the audience. All passed quietly and orderly, like
sensible persons, who came to hear sweet sounds, and not to be overawed
by great people. I made the tour of the donas through a capital
lorgnette, and although like Mickey Free, fond of tobacco and ladies, I
must pledge my solemn assurances, that with the exception of something
pretty, attached to the French company, there was not a loveable woman
to be seen. I doubt not but there are rare jewels to be found in out of
the way spots, secluded from public gaze, but it was terra incognita to
me, and we saw none other than the light molasses-hued damsels, who are
fully matured at thirteen, and decidedly passée at three and twenty. In
the present age it is a questionable inference if saponaceous compounds
might not be judiciously used in removing some few stains that nature is
entirely innocent of painting; albeit, a lovely Anglo-Saxon of my
acquaintance was vastly horrified at thoughts of a friend espousing one
of these cream-colored beauties, valued at a _conto_ of rais, and
shiploads of coffee; and assured the deluded swain, with tears in her
eyes, that it would require more than half his fortune to keep his wife
in soap--supposing she should acquire the weakness or ambition to become
enamored of fresh water.



CHAPTER IV.

     "Uptorn reluctant from its oozy cave,
     The ponderous anchor rises o'er the wave."
                                                FALCONER.


On the twenty-ninth of October, the anchors were loosened from their
muddy beds; a light land wind fanned us out of the harbor, and with a
white silver moon, we began our dreary march towards Cape Horn.

The following night the ship was dashing over the seas eleven miles the
hour. The bell had just struck eight, watch set, and the topmen came
dancing gaily down the rigging, here and there one, with a pea jacket
snugly tied up and held by the teeth, preparatory to a four hours'
snooze in the hammocks, when a moment after the cry, "Look out,
Bill!--Overboard!--Man overboard!" was cried from the main rigging, and
amid the bustle that ensued, the voice of the poor drowning wretch was
heard in broken exclamations of agony, as the frigate swept swiftly by.
Down went the helm, and sails were taken in as she came up to the wind,
but by the strangest fatality, both life buoys were with difficulty cast
adrift, and even then the blue lights did not ignite. A boat was soon
lowered, and sent in the vessel's wake. An hour passed in the search,
without hearing or seeing ought but the rude winds and breaking waves;
and this is the last ever known of poor Bill de Conick.

He struck the channels from a fall of twenty feet up the rigging, and
was probably either encumbered by heavy clothing, or too much injured to
be able to reach the buoys.

Friday, too, the day of all others in our superstitious calendar for
those "who go down to the sea in ships:" even amid a large crew, where
many, if not all, are utterly reckless of life, an incident of this
nature sheds a momentary gloom around, and serves to make many reflect,
that the same unlucky accident might have wrapped any other in the same
chilling shroud. There are few more painful sights in the world than to
behold the imploring looks, with outstretched hands, of a fellow being,


     --"When peril has numbed the sense and will,
     Though the hand and the foot may struggle still--"


silently invoking help, when all human aid is unavailing--before the
angry waves press him below the surface, to a sailor's grave. Aye, there
can be no more dreadful scenes to make the strong man shudder than
these. Yet it seems a wise ordination in our natures, that the sharp
remembrance of these painful incidents is so rapidly dispelled. This
very characteristic of the sailor, his heedless indifference to the
future, in a great degree makes up his measure of contentment in all the
toils and dangers that beset his course, unconscious that time,


     "Like muffled drums, are beating funeral marches to the grave."


A fortnight flew quickly by, the good ship going at as lively a pace. We
passed the wide mouth of La Plata, buttoned our jackets, and slept under
blankets. As the weather became colder, mammy Carey and her broods, with
goneys, albatrosses, boobies and cape pigeons, swarmed around the wake,
to pick up the stray crumbs. Divers hooks and lines were thrown out to
entice them aboard, but for a long interval all efforts proved
fruitless, until one morning, an albatross abstractedly swallowed the
bait, and much to his surprise was pulled on board, like to a boy's
kite. He measured eleven feet four inches, with enormous quills and
feathers, and such a bed of down the monster had concealed about his
oily person, was never known nearer than an eider duck. He had large,
fierce, black eyes, too, with a beak sharp, and hard enough to have
nipped a silver dollar into bits. Whales favored us occasionally with an
inspection--rolled their round snouts out of water--tossed a few tons of
foam in the air--threw up their enormous flukes--struck the waves one
splashing blow, and then went down to examine the soundings. Thus we
sailed along the dull shores of Patagonia, with the long taper top
gallant masts replaced by stumps to stand up more obstinately against
the furious tempests of the "still vexed Bermoothes" of Cape Horn, the
bugbear of all landsmen, and the place of all others, where more yarns
are spun, wove, and wondered at, than from China to Peru. He was a bold
sailor any way, who first doubled the Cape, whatever others may be who
follow. At last came our turn, and on the afternoon of the sixteenth day
from Rio, the clouds lifting, we saw the dark, jagged, rugged bluffs and
steeps of Staten and Terra del Fuego. The next morning we rounded Cape
St. John, and were received by the long swelling waves of the sister
ocean. If the great Balboa when standing on the mountains of Panama,
regarding the placid waves of the equatorial ocean, could have known the
tempestuous gales and giant seas of the polar regions, sporting around
this snowy cape, he might possibly have been less overjoyed at his grand
discovery. Our pleasant weather and smooth seas clung to us, to the
last, and, as if loth to leave, gave one unclouded view of Staten Land,
like a casting in bronze, with the bleak, snow-capped heights, tinged
by the rising sun. An hour after the bright sky was veiled by mist, the
rising gale, from the west, brought hail and chilling rain. We lost
sight of land, reefed the sails close down, and then bid defiance to the
storm. Nothing venture nothing gain, is as true with ships' rigging, as
thimble rigging, and we staked all our hopes on a rapid passage. Sorry
work we made of it. The very birds were obliged to trim their pinions
with great nicety in beating to windward--even then a terrible gust
ruffled their plumes, and away they were driven, eddying, and screaming,
to leeward. Still we strove the tempests to disarm, by stout hearts, and
tough canvas, with partial success, too, for even with adverse winds, we
managed to get to the southward, besides making something in the voyage;
blessed, also, by a cool, bracing atmosphere, and day and twilight the
whole twenty-four hours. Though the sun in tracking his bright career in
either hemisphere is supposed to tinge the land and sea beneath his
blaze, with what is generally called summer, yet an exception to the
rule exists in vicinity of Cape Horn. The days, it is true, are longer;
in fact the night is day, but the sun diffuses no pleasant, genial
warmth, and is only seen peering out from behind the clouds, with a
careworn, desolate, blurred face, as if he was ashamed of his company,
and had marched entirely out of his beat.

In all this time hardly an incident occurred to make us even wink,
except, perhaps, the tumble of a topman from aloft, who was picked up
with a fractured spine; and a little sauciness, reproved by our stout
armorer, through the intervention of an iron rod upon the limbs of a
tall negro, thereby breaking his arm in two places. One's bones are
brittle in frosty weather, and young Vulcan was made to submit to severe
personal damages. I must chronicle also the sudden demise of a
venerable sergeant of marines, who departed this life one cold night,
while relieving the guard under the forecastle--the next day he was
consigned to the mighty deep, divested of all his worldly accoutrements,
save a hammock and a couple of round shot, to pull him into eternity. We
had not exchanged nautical salutations since leaving port, and well nigh
believed the ocean was deserted; however, one day there came looming
through the mist and rain, a large ship, with all her flaunting muslin
spread, running before the gale--the distance was too great to make out
her colors, but sufficiently near to cause some of us to wonder when our
bark's prow would be turned in the same direction, and the sheets eased
off for home. Speaking of ships, while at Rio an American vessel of war
arrived, and our sympathies were universally enlisted on learning that
she had been two long months trying to reach Valparaiso, but when off
the Horn, or in fact after having passed it, she experienced tremendous
hurricanes and giant waves, which blew the sails to ribbons, tore away
the boats, shattered the stern frame, and left her altogether in a most
distressing and heart-rending condition, consequently she put back. It
was worthy of remark, however, that she came buoyantly into the harbor,
tricked out in a bran new suit of clothes, and when a number of officers
went on board to survey her pitiable plight, they could find neither
leak nor strain, and very sensibly concluded she was one of the
staunchest and best corvettes in the navy, as indeed she was. John Bull
took back his mails and declared he would never take advantage again of
a crack Yankee sloop-of-war to forward important dispatches by.

Our pleasures were now limited, no one raised his nose above the
taffrail if not compelled; our chief resource was reading, and after
absorbing heaps of ephemeral trash drifting about the decks, we sought
the library and poured over ponderous tomes of physics, history or
travels. Books find their true value a shipboard--cut off from all
amusement of the land, we derive the full benefit by reading, for more
than reading's sake, or for the purpose of killing time in silly
abstraction, and many a stupid author is thoroughly digested, and many
labored narrations of voyages are carefully studied, whose narrators
have "compiled very dull books from very interesting materials," and
they should be grateful to governments for purchasing, and thankful for
indifferent persons to peruse them.

On the advent of Saturday nights, when the wind was blowing cold and
dreary, we sought the lowest depths of the frigate. _Facilis decensus
averni_, in other words, "'tis easy to dive into the cock-pit"--there in
a cozy state-room, we made a jovial little party, conducted on strictly
private principles, for the purpose of seeking medical advice. We
consulted a pot-bellied gentleman, with a small copper kettle on his
head, illumined by a spirit lamp, whilom, termed Doctor Faustus--unlike
the Sangrado practitioners, the Doctor constantly poured out instead of
in. One humorsome fellow, the President of our club, who was rather
stout on his pins, and _carée par la base_, poured forth wit and hot
water by the hour, diversifying both occasionally, by ravishing strains
on the violin, and chanting Virginia melodies, which acted on the heels
of one of our attendants, in a complicated series of jigs, called the
double shuffle.

At last the fates befriended us; a new moon appeared, and the west wind
having apparently blown itself out of breath, a breeze sprang up from
south-east and commenced blowing the sea and ourselves in an opposite
direction; snow fell thick and fast, driving the thermometer below
freezing point, and barometer running rapidly up. As the flakes fell and
adhered to rigging and sails, the entire mass of ropes, spars and
hampers were soon clothed in icy white jackets. The sun broke out for a
moment and converted a showering cloud of snow into a magnificent bow.
Rainbows of sun and moon are beheld by the million, but seldom a novelty
like a _snow-bow_! The ship was hurried along at great speed on the
sixtieth parallel, until reaching the meridian of eighty, when we bore
away to the northward. Congratulating ourselves with the hope that the
clerk of the weather had forgotten to announce our arrival to the court
of winds in the great South Pacific; faint delusion!--off the gusty isle
of Chiloe, we had a hug from a gale, which, however, exhausted itself in
a few hours, and then left us to flounder about on the mountainous backs
of waves as best we might--then there was an interval of rain and
squalls from all quarters, when the breeze again came fair, and on the
second of December, we anchored at Valparaiso, just five weeks from Rio
Janeiro.



CHAPTER V.


There can be no greater satisfaction to a wind-buffetted rover, than
sailing into a new place, and the consolation of knowing there are still
others behind the curtain. It was thus we felt, and after rounding the
Point of Angels, and casting anchor in the Bay of Paradise, fancied
ourselves quite in altissimo spirits, if not precisely in cielo.

On approaching the Chilian coast, the eye of course seeks the
white-robed Cordilléras, and well worthy the sight they are--forty
leagues inland, cutting the sky in sharp, clear outlines, with peaks of
frosted silver, until the attention is fairly arrested by the stupendous
peak of the Bell of Quillota, and Tupongati, the colossus of all,
tumbling as it were, from the very zenith--then nearer, diminuendoing
down to the ocean, are generations of lesser heights, each, however, a
giant in itself, until their bases are laved by the Pacific. It is a
grand _coup d'oeil_ at rise or set of sun; but there is a sameness
about masses of reddish rocks, ravines and mountains of the foreground,
and one is apt to doubt the immense height of those beyond, from the
gradual rise around. Moreover, there is nothing striking or diversified,
as with their tall brothers in Switzerland or Asia; snowy tops without
glaciers; frightful chasms, and sweeping valleys, without torrents or
verdure; all this is nature's design, but the decorations have been
forgotten, and bare walls of mount and deep is all that appears
finished.

Little can be said commendatory of Valparaiso; and truly I think the
most rabid of limners would meet with difficulty in getting an outside
view from any point; for, owing to formation of the land, furrowed into
scores of ravines by the rush and wash of creation, with the town
running oddly enough along the ridges, or down in the gullies, it
becomes a matter of optical skill, for a single pair of eyes to compass
more than a small portion at a glance.

The houses are mean; streets narrow and nasty; the former are built of
adobies--unbaked bricks of great thickness--or lathed, plastered and
stuccoed; the latter paved with small pebbles no bigger than pigeons'
eggs, and only those running with the shores of the bay, are at all
walkable. A little way back in the _quebradas_, or broken ground, is
like stepping over angular Flemish roofs, and with a long leg and short
one, to preserve an equipoise, you may walk along these inclined planes
without any serious personal danger, save what consists in liquids
thrown on your head, and the torture endured by your corns.

There is not a single public edifice in Valparaiso worthy of even
passing admiration. The custom house is most conspicuous, facing the
port; the theatre fronts one of two small squares, and but a few meanly
built churches are to be found, packed away, out of sight, under the
steep hills back of the city. Improvements, however were planned, and
rapidly progressing. The port for many years had been steadily rising in
wealth and population, under the sure incentives of a large foreign
trade, and the enterprise of foreign residents; and all that appears
necessary to make the city much in advance of other commercial rivals
in the Pacific, is that Dame Nature should play excavating Betty on the
next earthquake, and remove a few of the obtrusive hills that encroach
so abruptly upon the bay.

There is an unusual bustle pervading the quay and streets, for a Spanish
Creole town. As ships cannot approach the unprotected shores to
discharge their cargoes, the port is crowded with multitudes of lighters
and whale boats, constantly passing to and fro, while porters, bending
under packages of goods, copper, and produce, are moving from the
_duana_, or warehouses, to the mole and beach. Videttes of mounted
police are posted at every corner, and small guards of soldiers in the
streets, supervising the exertions of gangs of convicts at work for the
authorities. In emulation, also, of the means of locomotion in vogue at
Rio, there has been introduced a ricketty contrivance, of the cab genus,
called _birloches_, to which is attached a horse within the shafts, and
another to caper at the side, similar to a Russian drosky, until a relay
is required, when they are changed. They rattle through the town with
reckless speed, urged by lash and spur of the driver mounted on the
outside beast. The same system is pursued on the longest journeys, with
merely the addition of a larger drove of animals to make up their own
posts from the cavalcade--the only respite from labor remaining in the
privilege of travelling at the same rate without the load.

Shops are sufficiently numerous, filled with manufactured goods from
Europe and the United States, with lots of gimcrackery from China. In
the old _plaza_ at night, almost every inch of ground is occupied by
itinerant venders of wares, toys, shoes, combs, fried fish, fruit, and
_dulces_; each squatted on his own cloth counter, with paper lanterns at
the sides. The proprietors of these ambulating establishments are women
and children. A fine band discourses delightful music, on alternate
evenings, and when one feels disposed to say pretty speeches to pretty
damas, moving gracefully around, and enjoy what is in reality a touch of
Spanish life, it were as well to saunter an hour on the _plaza_.

Valparaiso is extremely disproportioned in breadth to its great length,
necessarily so, from the jutting elevations that hang over it.
Immediately back of the heart of the city are a number of these salient
spurs, on one of which is planted the Campo Santo--foreign and native
cemeteries--while those to the right have been, by trouble and means of
the foreigners, cleared away into small esplanades, having neat and
pretty cottages, surrounded by shrubbery--one, the flora pondia, a very
beautiful, but diminutive tree, blossoms luxuriantly, with delicate,
white flowers, shaped like inverted cones, or bells, and although
shedding no odor during the day, yet at night it fairly renders the air
oppressive with perfume. These lofty turrets command fine views of bay,
shipping, and port, fully repaying the fatigue of getting up, in the
absence of dust, dirt and noise.

To the left, bordering close upon the harbor, is a long curving
promenade, called _El almendral_--almond grove--for no other reason
possibly than that there is not a vestige of trees or verdant leaves to
be seen. Away at the southward, in the opposite extremity of the city,
on what the sailors designate as the fore and main tops, is another
succession of sharply riven ravines, filled and faced with clusters of
one storied dwellings, from the summits down to the narrow gorges
between. It requires some geographical knowledge to explore these
regions, and though the toil of clambering about the uneven chasms and
numerous lanes, be not pleasant, yet one is recompensed while mounting
the steep acclivities by the most novel and striking views of the sea
or city at every turn--never being able to determine where the next
flight will lead--whether but a few yards from the spot just left, with
a bird's eye view of the shipping, or shut up in small causeways between
redly-tiled roofs, with the scene closed by barriers of whitewashed
walls, and even after attaining another airy eminence, under the belief
of having the broad ocean spread out at your feet, one is startled to
find himself gazing quite in another direction. These tops, with the
_quebradas_ between, are portions of the terrace, where we spent some
pleasant hours, dancing the _samacueca_, or fandangos, to the tinkling
of guitars, swept by nimble fingers of sloe-eyed Chilians. We were
always received courteously and sincerely, and in making ourselves
particularly agreeable, have been occasionally treated to a sip of weak
rum negus.

Once, accompanied by a friend in these exploring rambles, we had the
good fortune, through the medium of cigarillos, smiles, and a smattering
of Castilian, to make the acquaintance of a hospitable old lady and her
two pretty daughters. Carmencita was my favorite--lovely Carmencita! She
was very pretty--large, very large black eyes, half shut with roguery,
or coquetry; an adorable plump little figure, and what with a fairy
touch of the guitar, a soft, plaintive voice, and a fondness for
cigarillos, we thought her one of the most enchanting amourettes
imaginable. Poor Carmen! She had just lost by the fell destroyer her
lover, who was a superintendent of mines in San Felipe, but who had the
generosity during his last moments, to leave his tender sweetheart a
handsome legacy, a letter to the French consul, and his blessing. Pretty
Carmen! She preserved each and all of these interesting relics, with
great care, and although, "Souvent femme varie, bien fol est qui s'y
fie," she resisted all further assaults upon her heart--confessed that I
had _buen sentimientos_, but, nevertheless, she had resolved to live and
die within the severest rules of platonism.

I know not how or why, but there certainly is an irresistible charm,
that floats like a mist around Spanish creoles; indeed, creoles of all
nations have a style of fascination peculiarly their own, which renders
them truly bewitching, with the power of retaining their spells as long,
and as strong as any. Not that their features are more beautiful, eyes
brighter, or manners even as refined as those in older countries, for
they are not; but still they have soft, languishing eyes, rich, dark
hair, and pliant, graceful forms, combined with the greatest possible
charm in woman, earnest, unaffected, and amiable dispositions.

It is to be wondered at, too, that in remote countries, where so few
advantages are attainable in education, knowledge of the world and
society, that they should be so well supplied with pretty airs and
graces. It can only be attributable to that sublimated coquette Nature
herself, who provides those little goods the gods deny.

We had the pleasure of attending a number of _tertulias_, or evening
parties given in the houses of native residents, and witnessing the
dances of the country. The _tertulia_ is easy and sociable, without form
or ceremony. The _bayles_ are more staid affairs, where ladies are
seated in silent rows by themselves--men very hairy and grummy--taking
advantage of intervals in dancing to lounge on the piazzas, swallow a
few mouthfuls of cigar smoke, (not a bad institution this in warm
weather,) and exclaim, _dios que calor_! (how hot.) At one of these
assemblies we first saw a minuet called the _samacueca_. It was
undertaken by a beautiful young married lady, in company with a rather
corpulent old gentleman, and danced in a very sprightly, rogueish
manner. The prelude and music is similar to that of fandangos, but the
movements and _motif_ are far more indelicate, and it is by no means a
matter of difficulty to divine the meaning. Although these innocent
ballets would no doubt shockingly jar the nerves of a more refined
audience, and many a performer might be considered "too fine a dancer
for a virtuous woman," yet I am convinced that among these unaffected
creoles, naught is seen in the least degree improper, but they are
regarded from infancy as the harmless customs and amusements of their
country. As an individual I am fond of a notion of cayenne to existence,
and only clapped hands, or cried, _brava! buena! bonita!_

The opera was in full blast--the house large and convenient, with very
pretty scenic displays, and quite a brilliant constellation of Italian
stars to illumine the proscenium, but on no representation did there
appear evidence in the boxes that the manager's purse was filled. We had
the honor of being presented to the primo basso, Signor Marti, who
conversed pleasantly with a melodramatic voice from apparently very low
down in his boots. We listened to his sweet _seguadillas_ with rapture.

We found the climate truly delightful. It was the summer of the southern
ocean--pure, pleasant breezes with the sun, and clear, calm, sparkling
nights by moon or stars. Little or no rain falls, except in the winter
months, and as a consequence where the soil is fine and dry, dust covers
everything in impalpable clouds, at the same time affording a desirable
atmosphere for that lively individual, the flea!

On the coast of Syria the Arabs hold to the proverb that the Sultan of
fleas holds his court in Jaffa, and the Grand Vizier in Cairo; but so
far as our experience went in Valparaiso, we could safely give the lie
to the adage. As an unobtrusive person myself, I have a constitutional
antipathy to the entire race, and invariably use every precaution to
avoid their society--all to no purpose. They found me in crowds or
solitudes--alighted on me in swarms, like the locusts of Egypt,
destroying enjoyment on shore, and I fully resolved never to venture
abroad again, of mine own free will, until some enterprising Yankee
shall invent a trap for their annihilation.

I remember one mild afternoon sauntering on the almendral, when my
attention was drawn to a lithe, young damsel on the sidewalk, who,
whilst tripping along with a dainty gait, suddenly gave her foot a
backward twist, with a dexterous pinch at the pretty ancle, and again
went on like a bird. She had captured a flea! but it was a style of
piedermain worthy of the great Adrien; a feat I was prepared to believe
nearly equal to mounted Cossacks picking up pins from the ground with
their teeth, at full speed--in fact, something really wonderful, and
although I was quite confounded, and almost speechless with amazement,
yet I followed mechanically in order to see what she could or would
accomplish next. Nor could I repress some audible expressions of
encouragement; but the fair _donçella_, unconscious of having performed
anything remarkable, gave me a look, as much as to say, in the language
of a touching nautical ballad--


     "Go away young man--my company forsake."


So not wishing to appear intrusive, I returned pensively to mine inn.

Fashions in ladies' dress are similar to those in Europe or the United
States, and even among the lower orders the bonnet is worn; but to my
way of thinking, a Spanish girl's forte is in a black satin robe and
slippers, a flowing _mantilla_, fine, smooth jetty tresses, and a waving
fan to act as breakflash to sparkling eyes!

Of the men of Chili, or at least those of them whom transient visitors
encounter in the usual lounging resorts of _vaut-riens_,--theatres,
cafés, tertulias, plazas, and other purlieus, they cannot be said to
compare with their captivating sisters--for a more indolent, hairy,
cigar-puffing race of bipeds never existed. In dress they ape the faded
fashions of Europe, retaining, however, the native cloak costume of the
_poncho_. It is a capital garment for either the road or the saddle,
leaving free play to the arms, and at the same time a protection from
dust or rain. It is worn by all classes, and composed of the gaudiest
colors, occasionally resembling a remarkably bright pattern of a drawing
room carpet, with the head of the wearer thrust through a slit in the
centre.

The President of Chili during our visit was General Bulnes, a soldier of
distinction in the civil wars of his own state, with a laurel or two won
in numerous bloody blows dealt upon the neighboring Peruvians. As the
hero of Yungai, his Excellency was elevated to his present position by
the bayonets of the troops, but latterly he evinced a keen sagacity in
reducing to a small force this army of vagabonds, who are prone, in
South American republics, in the absence of more agreeable occupation,
to amuse themselves with hatching conspiracies for the purpose of
slitting the throats of their former coadjutors.

There was but one regiment of infantry, and a few hundred cavalry in
Valparaiso. The militia system, as with us, had been partially
introduced throughout the provinces. It answered every purpose at much
less expense than regular troops, indeed excellently well, as a police,
and to the credit of Señor Bulnes' subalterns, good order was most
strictly and promptly enforced in his sea-port.

Every one subscribed to the opinion that the government was firmly
established, which may have been attributable, in some measure, to the
decided argument suggested by the President. Shooting, instead of
talking, down all opposition. By these decided proceedings he has been
enabled to keep turbulent spirits in check, and under fear of his
displeasure, there had not been a revolution for a long time, which was,
in itself, surprising.

Chili undoubtedly possesses resources within herself to become one of
the most prosperous and flourishing of the independent states of the
South American continent; and could the government be induced to take
proper steps to invite a more general emigration, and make it the
interest of emigrants to settle permanently in the country, by their
vigor and enterprize, the true development of the mining and
agricultural wealth might be easily accomplished, and this communion of
interests might be the means of securing Chili from the doom which seems
destined to await her sister republics. But notwithstanding the rapid
strides of liberality throughout the world, it appears that the rulers
of all the rich soil of America, washed by the Pacific, still maintain a
cramped policy, actuated by religious intolerance, and an indolence
unknown elsewhere. Destitute of energy themselves, the voracious
foreigner soon fattens on their resources, and in the end, having no
ties to bind him to a country where the religion precludes his forming
closer domestic relations, embarks his easily acquired fortune, to end
his days under an enlightened government.

It is indeed melancholy that such baneful influences do prevail, when
the whole universe is subscribing to more liberal notions, but as I do
not purpose preaching a capucinade for or against the Chilians, or take
any extraordinary measures to discover vice or follies, what might be
termed the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, and apprehensive
lest any one should entertain ideas of me widely at variance to my real
and confirmed opinions, I simply assure them, I have long since given
over all philanthropic researches for that which does not affect my
heart or digestion. I once lived with a Russian, who was blessed with a
stomach and organs durable as the platina of his native mines, and he
ever assured me, after first finishing a flask of absinthe, that hard
hearts and good digestions were the only true elements of happiness in
life. Becoming a convert to this doctrine, I care not for the foibles or
follies of mankind, so long as people do not pick my pockets, or tread
on my toes. I take more delight in seeing a child skip the rope, a
monkey at his tricks, or a fish jump out of water, than all the palaces
or churches on earth, and I had much rather chat an hour with a pert
_dame de comptoir_, than dine with Señor Bulnes--nor were my spirits
affected by learning the vast amount of copper exported, or the quantity
of tea and tobacco smuggled; neither dispensations reduced the price of
billiards, or induced laundry women to lave linen a whit the whiter;
thus the truth being apparent that I am an indifferent worldly person, I
make the merit of my necessities, in striving to live the space allotted
me in the world, and not for it.

And now, if I be forgiven for venting this egotistic digression and
harangue, I promise to make my mouth a _mare clausum_ in future, for all
personal grievances.



CHAPTER VI.


We were aroused one morning at peep of day by the heavy, booming report
of a gun from the frigate, and on tearing open our eyelids, saw the
chequered cornet flying at the fore, the signal of sailing.
Anathematizing ships and seas, we shook fleas and dust from our heels,
and repaired forthwith on board. Breakfast over, the shrill whistles of
boatswain and mates called up anchor; much easier said than done, that
ponderous instrument being loth to leave his bed. And it was not until
after a tremendous amount of cursing and heaving had been expended, that
it deigned to be roused out at all; even then, the ship under topsails,
with a fresh breeze, and forty fathoms water, the strain was
enormous--when by a sudden surge, owing to a number of nonsensical
contrivances of iron teeth biting the breathing cable, they let go their
gripe, and out flew the chain, making the whole vessel tremble from its
quivering jar and whirl. When its fury was a little exhausted, the
brawny compresses were drawn, and the unruly gentleman brought to a
stand. Then great apprehensions were felt for the seamen in the chain
lockers. They were pulled out alive, with only a broken leg, and a
multitude of painful contusions. How they escaped being torn into atoms,
in a confined box; six feet square, during the frightful contortions
and vibrations of the immense iron snake, was little less than a
miracle.

At noon we were clear of the harbor, and as the sun went down, he gave
us a last glimpse of the Bell of Quillota, and his tall companion,
Tupongati. The wind was fair, we murmured that beautiful saline
sentiment, "The ship that goes, the wind that blows, and lass that loves
a sailor." I sighed adieu to Carmencita, ordered my valet of the
bedchamber, Giacomo, to arrange my four poster of a hammock, and then in
dreams forgot the past.

The fourth day out we passed near to a cluster of desolate, uninhabited
islands--St. Ambrose and Felix--the first about two miles in length, and
rising abruptly from the ocean, to the height of fifteen hundred feet.
Numbers of queer-shaped, pointed, rocky islets, white with guano, were
grouped along the base of the island, and through one was cut, by some
action of the water, a well-defined arch, open to the sea, like a
telescope.

Pursuing an undeviating track, with glorious seas, skies and winds, on
the last day of the year we crossed the equator, in a longitude of 110°.
During this period there were two deaths; one a good old man from
Deutschland, named Jerry Wilson. On being asked an hour before he
expired, how he felt--"First rate," said Jerry, and no doubt he is now,
if not then. The other was a youth named Tildon, caused by a spasmodic
affection of the throat, so as to prevent swallowing food, until he
absolutely starved to death. He made his last plunge as the sun went
down. The stately frigate, careless of all, went flying with
wide-stretched pinions, towards her destination, at a speed of Jack the
Giant-killer's boots. On the 20th of January, land ho! Alta California!
For forty-eight hours, we sailed lightly along the base of a compact
ridge of mountains that rose like a sea wall, seamed into ten thousand
furrows, the summits fringed with lofty forest trees, and not a cloud
visible in high heaven, then appeared a green, shelving point, of waving
pines and verdure, terminated by a reef of fearful, black rocks. Giving
this a wide birth, we shortly entered a wide, sweeping indentation of
the coast, in shape of a fish hook, with the barb at the southern end,
furled our sails, and moored ship in the Bay of Monterey, forty days
from Valparaiso.



CHAPTER VII.


Before resuming the thread of this narrative, it may be as well to give
a brief summary of events that had transpired previously to our arrival.

Pending disturbances between the United States and Mexico, when the
quarrel had not reached an open rupture, much excitement prevailed in
Upper California, through the agency of a few foreigners, who wished to
revolutionize the country. At this epoch, Mr. Fremont, of the U. S.
Topographical Engineers, was in the heart of California, engaged upon
scientific explorations, ostensibly in relation to the practicability of
the best route for emigration to Oregon. There is reason to believe,
also, that he was instructed to feel the geographical pulse of the
natives, as well as the mountain passes. Be this as it may, Mr. Fremont
was encamped near Monterey, with sixty followers, when José Castro, a
Mexican officer in command of the province, issued a proclamation,
ordering Fremont to leave the territory immediately, and at the same
time threatened to drive every foreigner away also. Fremont and his
party, after holding Castro's bombast in contempt, and his troops at
bay, at last began to march, quite leisurely, towards the northern route
for Oregon: these occurrences happened early in the spring of 1846. On
the 13th of June the first movement began, on the river Sacramento,
near Sutler's Fort, and one of the tributaries to the head waters of San
Francisco. This attack was composed of a few lawless vagabonds, who,
carrying a banner of white, with a red border and grizzly bear, styled
themselves the "Bear Party:" they were of all nations, though claiming
citizenship in the United States. After stealing a drove of horses,
belonging to the Californians, their numbers were increased by other
marauding gentry to forty, when moving rapidly around the northern
shores of the Bay of San Pablo, they surprised and captured the little
garrison of Sonoma, under charge of General Guadalupe Valléjo. Then they
committed excesses, without the slightest recognized authority, but
purely, it appears, from love of a little independent fighting and
thieving on their own private accounts. Meanwhile a large naval force
had been hovering on the Mexican coast for a year previously, awaiting
the first blow to be dealt on the other side. Intelligence of the
battles on the Rio Grande reached Mazatlan in June, and Commodore Sloat,
who was there at the time, sailed for Monterey with the squadron,
arrived in July, and on the 7th hoisted the American flag, and took
formal and legitimate possession of the territory. The same course was
pursued at San Francisco. A week afterwards the frigate Congress
arrived, and Sloat, transferring his pennant to Commodore Stockton,
returned home. The new Commander-in-Chief then sailed for San Pedro,
three hundred miles down the coast; where disembarking a force of three
hundred seamen and marines, he marched towards the capital of Upper
California, Pueblo de los Angeles, a town some thirty miles inland. On
the route, he found a body of five hundred men, under Pico, and Castro,
the military governor of the territory. The Californians broke up their
camp and dispersed, before getting a glance of the sailors' bayonets.
Stockton occupied Los Angeles, received the submission of the native
authorities and citizens, placed a small garrison, returned to San
Pedro, where he re-embarked for San Francisco; in the interim the
settlements of the valleys of Santa Clara and Sonoma were occupied by
American forces.

Fremont overtaken on his way through Oregon by Lieut. Gillespie,
retraced his steps to California, and learning the U. S. flag had been
hoisted in Monterey, proceeded with a battalion of settlers to the lower
country, where they were duly enrolled. At San Francisco news reached
Stockton that the natives, six hundred strong, had risen after his
departure. The Savannah sailed to aid the small garrison, which,
however, had been obliged to capitulate, and Captain Mervine, with three
hundred men, was beaten by a much smaller force.

The Commodore sailed again in the beginning of November, and landed at
San Diego with about 500 men. While at this place, General Kearny with
100 dragoons arrived from a toilsome march of nearly three months from
Santa Fé. At the Pass of San Pascual, he fell in with a Californian
force under Andreas Pico, and after a severe skirmish, beat them off,
though with great loss to himself--eighteen of his saddles were emptied,
including three officers, and as many more badly wounded. Forming a
junction with Commodore Stockton, they left San Diego for San Angelos.
After a toilsome march of 150 miles, through a broken and mountainous
country, on the 8th and 9th of January, their passage was opposed by
Governor Pico and Castro, at the river San Gabriel and plains of La
Mesa, heading a body of 500 cavalry and four field guns; after an
obstinate resistance, the Californians were put to flight. Subsequently,
they fell back upon Colonel Fremont, who, with the volunteers, were en
route to unite with the naval forces from San Siego. The Californian
leaders again capitulated and signed an armistice. This was the position
of affairs on our arrival at Monterey--a few days later General Kearny
arrived, after his difficulties with Commodore Stockton and Fremont, in
relation to the governorship of the territory.

The news we received was by no means inspiriting, nor even the
perspective view of matters becoming better. Among minor details, the
wreck of the schooner Shark, at Columbia river--the drowning of a launch
load of sailors and two officers, in San Francisco, and a host of more
trivial misfortunes. The vessels of the squadron were dispersed up and
down the coast, necessarily scattering men and officers at different
posts, for the purpose of retaining and subjugating the country; but of
course rendering the ships generally inefficient, from the great
diminution of their complements. The natives had been confounded and
bewildered by speeches and proclamations--relays of fresh
commanders-in-chief, who, amid their own official bickerings, never
ceased forming new governments, organizing armies, appointing officers,
civil and military--but what served in a great degree to urge matters to
a crisis, was the banding together of a few mongrel bodies of
volunteers, who enhanced the pleasure of their otherwise agreeable
society, by pillaging the natives of horses, cattle, saddles, household
utensils, and the like, in quite a maraudering, buccaneering,
independent way; all of course under the apparent legal sanction of the
United States' government, and not a doubt but demanded by the
imperative necessity of their patriotic plunderers themselves. The
result was easily foretold. These miserable Californians, who at first
were not averse to subscribe to our laws, and to come under the flag
peacefully and properly, were soon screwed up to such a maze of fear,
uncertainty, and excitement, as to make all future arrangements an
affair of exceeding difficulty. Besides, another important obstacle
intervened; they were to be convinced that the Americans really intended
to hold permanent possession of their country, and not to make another
revoke, as could be reasonably inferred from the invasion of a few years
previous, when we so quickly resigned the conquest--a tergiverse
proceeding, which they, as well as more enlightened nations, were
somewhat at a loss to comprehend. Thus judging from experience of the
past, they had no desire to make themselves obnoxious to their Mexican
rulers, in case a like event should occur again; and consequently, in
the absence of a sufficiency of those convincing arguments done up in
military jackets and trousers, with muskets by their sides, to overawe
even a thin population over so great an extent of territory, the
natives, even those at first most favorably disposed, seized the lance,
took a decided stand, and with the prospect of doing more fighting than
was originally contracted for.

These were the causes principally instrumental in bringing about the
last outbreak. But the Californians, without organization, arms, or
competent leaders, though with all the elements to prolong the contest,
seeing fresh arrivals of ships and troops appear on their coast, were
induced to throw by the lance for the lasso, and agree to an honorable
capitulation. Milder influences prevailed; steps were taken to
tranquilize people's minds by a spirit of conciliation dictated by good
sense. Useless and annoying restrictions were abolished, property of
every description was returned or liberally paid for, prisoners
discharged, paroles annulled, the blue jackets, playing soldiers on
shore, were ordered to their respective ships, and the volunteers
disbanded. All this tended in a great measure to reassure the natives of
an amicable endeavor on our part to make the new yoke rest as lightly as
possible on their shoulders.



CHAPTER VIII.


The rain came down in a steady drizzle, as we anchored in our new haven,
but as the falling water thinned, and rolled partially along the land,
we discerned an endless succession of green gentle slopes and valleys,
with heights of just a medium between hills and mountains, rising
gradually from the shores of the bay, clothed and crowned with
magnificent vegetation. We did not call to mind any land naturally so
picturesque and beautiful. Afterwards, when our excursions had extended
for many leagues in all directions, we were ever amazed to perceive on
every side the loveliness of plain, hill, and valley still the same.
Indeed, for leagues in some directions it presented the appearance of
extensive artificial parks, decked and brilliant with a carpeting of
rich grasses and flowers, shaded by noble clusters of wide-spreading
oaks, all entirely free from undergrowth.

The town of Monterey, if it could be dignified by the title, we found a
mean, irregular collection of mud huts, and long, low, adobie dwellings,
strewn promiscuously over an easy slope, down to the water's edge. The
most conspicuous was the _duana_--Custom House--a spacious frame
building near the landing, which unquestionably had in times past been
the means of yielding immense revenues to the Mexican exchequer, but now
its roomy store-houses were empty and silent. Neither men nor
merchandise disturbed its quiet precincts. Notwithstanding the rain,
numbers of us resolved to dare the moisture, and I, for one, would wade
about on land, up to my neck in water, at any time to get quit of a ship
after forty days aquatic recreation; but here there was no resisting the
gratefully green appearance of the shores around us: we were soon stowed
in a boat--the oars dipped smart and strong in the water, and we went
merrily towards the land. Indeed I have invariably observed that
men-of-war's men are wont to use their arms with much vigor, on first
pulling on shore in a strange port; a physical characteristic which I am
led to attribute to a desire on their part to test the virtues of any
liquid compounds to be met with in the abodes of hospitable publicans.
The anchorage was barely half a mile from the shore, and in a few
minutes we disembarked at a little pier, that only partially served to
check the rolling swell from seaward; but what's a wet foot in a fit of
enthusiasm, or a heavy shower! Nothing, certainly, so we scrambled up
the slimy steps, and while on the point of giving a yell of delight, to
announce our arrival in California, my pedal extremities flew upwards
and down I sank, making a full length _intaglio_ in the yielding
mud--this was my first impression, but after getting decently scraped by
Jack's knives, I became less excitable, and took intense delight during
the course of the afternoon, in beholding my companions going through
precisely the same performances. By cautious navigation we reached the
main street, then our progress was dreadfully slow and laborious. The
mud--a sticky, red pigment, lay six good inches on the dryest level, and
at every step our feet were disengaged by a powerful jerk, and a deep,
gutteral noise from the slippy holes; occasionally, too, we were forced
to climb ungainly barricades of timber, with here and there a piece of
ordnance gazing ferociously out into the surrounding country. Although a
casual observer might naturally have supposed that the mud would have
offered a sufficient barrier to all the armies ever raised, still, as
trouble had been brewing, and most of the garrison withdrawn for an
expedition into the interior, these precautions were quite an imposing
display, which was, no doubt, all intended. At last, by dint of
perseverance, we attained a firm foothold in the barracks, and then had
breath and leisure to look around.

Monterey, before the war, contained about five hundred people, but on
our advent there was scarcely a native to be seen: all the men had gone
to join their belligerent friends in the southern provinces, leaving
their property and dwellings to be guarded by their wives and dogs; even
their ladies bore us no good will, and our salutations were returned by
a surly _adios_, extorted from closed teeth and scowling faces. The dogs
were more civil, and even when showing their fangs, were sagacious
enough to keep beyond the chastening reach of Yankee arms. There were a
goodly number of sentinels on the alert, prowling about, with heavy
knives in their girdles, and the locks of their rifles carefully
sheltered from the rain; and at night it became a matter of some bodily
danger for an indifferent person to come suddenly in view of one of
these vigilant gentlemen, for with but a tolerable ear for music he
might detect the sharp click of a rifle, and the hoarse caution of "Look
out, thar, stranger;" when if the individual addressed did not speedily
shout his name and calling, he stood the merest chance of having another
eyelet-hole drilled through his skull.

All this at the first rapid glance gave us no very bright anticipations;
everything looked triste and cheerless. Upon inquiring, too we were
shocked to learn there was nothing eatable to be had, nor what was yet
more melancholy, naught drinkable nor smokable: everybody was so much
occupied in making war, as to have entirely lost sight of their
appetites. We began to indulge the faintest suspicions that somehow or
other we had gotten into the wrong place, and that California was not so
charming a spot as we had been led to believe; however, there was no
appeal, and fortunately for our health and spirits, as we were leaning
listlessly over the piazza of the barracks, staring might and main at
the little church in the distance, we beheld a body of horsemen coming
slowly over the Verdant plains, and soon after they drew bridles, and
dismounted before us. The _cavallada_ of spare horses were driven into
the corral near by, and we were presented in due form to the riders. It
was the most impressive little band I ever beheld; they numbered sixty,
and, without exception, had gaunt bony frames like steel, dressed in
skins, with heavy beards and unshorn faces, with each man his solid
American rifle, and huge knife by the hip. With all their wildness and
ferocious appearance they had quite simple manners, and were perfectly
frank and respectful in bearing. Their language and phraseology were
certainly difficult for a stranger to comprehend, for many of them had
passed the greater portion of their lives as trappers and hunters among
the Rocky Mountains; but there was an air of indomitable courage
hovering about them, with powers to endure any amount of toil or
privation--men who wouldn't stick at scalping an Indian or a dinner of
mule meat;--and you felt assured in regarding them, that with a score of
such staunch fellows at your side you would sleep soundly, even though
the forests were alive with an atmosphere of Camanche yells. They were
the woodsmen of our far west, who on hearing of the disturbances in
California enrolled themselves for service in the Volunteer
Battalion--more by way of recreation, I imagine, than for glory or
patriotism. In truth, the natives had good reason to regard them with
terror.

We soon became quite sociable, and after a hearty supper of fried beef
and biscuit, by some miraculous dispensation a five-gallon keg of
whiskey was uncorked, and, after a thirty days' thirst, our new-found
friends slaked away unremittingly. Many were the marvellous adventures
narrated of huntings, fightings, freezings, snowings, and starvations;
and one stalwart bronzed trapper beside me, finding an attentive
listener, began,--"The last time, Captin, I cleared the Oregon trail,
the Ingens fowt us amazin' hard. Pete," said he, addressing a friend
smoking a clay pipe by the fire, with a half pint of corn-juice in his
hand, which served to moisten his own clay at intervals between every
puff,--"Pete, do you notice how I dropped the red skin who pit the
poisoned arrer in my moccasin! Snakes, Captin, the varmints lay thick as
leaves behind the rocks; and bless ye, the minit I let fall old Ginger
from my jaw, up they springs, and lets fly their flint-headed arrers in
amongst us, and one on 'em wiped me right through the leg. I tell yer
what it is, hoss, I riled, I did, though we'd had tolerable luck in the
forenoon--for I dropped two and a squaw and Pete got his good
six--barrin' that the darned villians had hamstrung our mule, and we
were bound to see the thing out. Well, Captin, as I tell ye, I'm not
weak in the jints, but it's no joke to hold the heft of twenty-three
pounds on a sight for above ten minits on a stretch; so Pete and me
scrouched down, made a little smoke with some sticks, and then we moved
off a few rods, whar we got a clar peep; for better than an hour we seed
nothin', but on a suddin I seed the chap--I know'd him by his
paintin'--that driv the arrer in my hide; he was peerin' around quite
bold, thinkin' we'd vamosed; I jist fetched old Ginger up and drawed a
bee line on his cratch, and, stranger, I giv him sich a winch in the
stomach that he dropped straight into his tracks; he did! in five jumps
I riz his har, and Pete and me warn't troubled agin for a week." With
such pleasant converse we beguiled the time until the night was somewhat
advanced; when, finding a vacant corner near the blazing fire, with a
saddle for pillow, I sank into profound slumber, and never awoke to
consciousness until the band was again astir at sunrise.



CHAPTER IX.


The time passed rapidly away. The rainy season had nearly ended,--we
were only favored with occasional showers, and by the latter part of
February, the early spring had burst forth, and nothing could exceed the
loveliness of the rich, verdant landscape around us. After the treaty
and capitulation had been signed by the Picos at Los Angeles, their
partizans dispersed, and all who resided in Monterey shortly returned to
their homes. Every day brought an addition to the place--great ox-cart
caravans with hide bodies, and unwieldy wheels of hewn timber, came
streaming slowly along the roads, filled with women and children, who
had sought refuge in some secure retreat in the country. Cattle soon
were seen grazing about the hills. The town itself began to look
alive--doors were unlocked and windows thrown open--a café and billiards
emerged--pulperias, with shelves filled with aguadiente appeared on
every corner--the barricades were torn down--guns removed--and the
Californians themselves rode blithely by, with heavy, jingling spurs,
and smiling faces--the women, too, flashed their bright eyes less
angrily upon their invaders--accepted pleasant compliments without a
sneer, and even Doña Angustia Ximénes, who took a solemn oath upon her
missal a few months before, never to dance again, until she could wear a
necklace of Yankee ears, relented too, and not only swept gracefully
through waltz and contra dança, but when afterwards one of our young
officers became ill with fever, she had him carried from the tent to her
dwelling, watched him with all a woman's care and tenderness, as much as
though she had been the mother that bore him, until he was carried to
his last home. Yes, bella Señora, you may swear the same wicked oaths
forever, and still be forgiven by all those who witnessed your
disinterested devotion to poor Minor.

Gradually these good people became aware that the Yankees were not such
a vile pack of demonios as they first believed, and thus whenever
guitars were tinkling at the fandangos, or meals laid upon the board, we
were kindly welcomed, with the privilege of making as much love, and
devouring as many _frijoles_ as may have been polite or palatable. Upon
visiting the residences of the townspeople, true to the old Spanish
character there was no attempt made in show or ostentation--that is
always reserved for the street or alemeda, but a stranger is received
with cordiality, and a certain ease and propriety to which they seem to
the "manner born." With the denizens of Monterey, even the wealthiest,
cleanliness was an acquirement very little appreciated or practised, and
I should presume the commodity of soap to be an article "more honored in
the breach than the observance." For being given to cold water as a
principle of lady-like existence I was something shocked on one
occasion, to find a nice little Señorita, to whom I had been playing the
agreeable the night previous, with a chemisette of a chocolate hue
peeping through a slit in her sleeve; her soft, dimpled hands, too, made
me speculate mentally upon the appearance of her little feet, and I
forthwith resolved, in the event of becoming so deeply infatuated as to
induce her papa to permit a change of estate, to exact a change of
raiment in the marriage contract.

The occasion of inspecting the arena of this young woman's vestments was
during a visit to her portly mamma, and I may as well, by way of
example, describe my reception. The dwelling was a low, one story pile
of adobies, retaining the color of the primitive mud, and forming a
large parallelogram; it enclosed a huge pen, or corral, for cattle, over
which guard was carefully mounted by crowds of _gallinazos_. There were
divers collections of Indian families coiled and huddled about beneath
the porticoes and doorways, each member thereof rejoicing in great
masses of wiry shocks of hair, quite coarse enough to weave into bird
cages on an emergency; there were some bee-hive shaped ovens also, from
the apertures of which I remarked a number of filthy individuals
immersed neck deep, taking, no doubt, balmy slumber, with the rain doing
what they never had the energy to perform themselves--washing their
faces. This much for externals--men and beasts included, merely
premising that the whole affair was situated in a quiet detachment by
itself, a few hundred yards in rear of the village. My guide, though a
good pilot, and retaining a clear perception of the road, was unable to
convoy me safely to the house, without getting stalled several times in
the mire; however, I reached terra firma, thankful to have escaped with
my boots overflowing with mud, and then we marched boldly into the
domicile. We entered a large, white-washed _sala_, when, after clapping
hands, a concourse of small children approached with a lighted tallow
link, and in reply to our inquiries, without further ceremony, ushered
us by another apartment into the presence of the mistress of the
mansion. She was sitting _a la grand Turque_, on the chief ornamental
structure that graced the chamber--namely, the bed, upon which, were
sportively engaged three diminutive brats, with a mouse-trap--paper
cigarritos--dirty feet, and other juvenile and diverting toys. The Doña
herself was swallowing and puffing clouds of smoke alternately--but I
must paint her as she sat, through the haze. "Juana," said she, calling
to a short, squat Indian girl, "_lumbrecita por el Señor_,"--a light for
the gentleman--and in a moment I was likewise pouring forth volumes of
smoke. She wore her hair, which was black and glossy, in natural folds
straight down the neck and shoulders, dark complexion, lighted by deep,
black, intelligent eyes, well-shaped features, and brilliant, white
teeth. I saw but little of her figure, as she was almost entirely
enveloped in shawls and bed clothes; the arms, however, were visible,
very large, round and symmetrical, which of themselves induced me to
resign all pretensions to becoming her son-in-law. She excused herself
on the plea of indisposition for not rising, and it being one I surmised
she was a martyr to every year or so, I very readily coincided in
opinion, but in truth I found the Señora Mariqueta sensible,
good-humored, and what was far more notable, the mother of fourteen male
and five female children--making nineteen the sum of boys and girls
total, as she informed me herself, without putting me to the trouble of
counting the brood; and yet she numbered but seven and thirty years, in
the very prime of life, with the appearance of being again able to
perform equally astonishing exploits for the future. She named many of
her friends and relatives who had done wonders, but none who had
surpassed her in these infantile races. In Spain she would receive a
pension, be exempted from taxes and the militia. On being told this she
laughed heartily, and gave her full assent to any schemes undertaken in
California for the amelioration of the sex. Her husband, who chanced to
be absent, was a foreigner, but the whole family were highly
respectable, and universally esteemed by their fellow citizens. After an
hour's pleasant chat we took leave, with the promise on my part of
teaching the eldest daughter, Teresa, the Polka, for which I needed no
incentive, as she was extremely graceful and pretty.



CHAPTER X.


One morning, at break of day, I left Monterey for a tramp among the
hills; the natives by this time had become pacifically disposed, and
there were no serious apprehensions of getting a hide necklace thrown
over one's head, in shape of the unerring lasso, if perchance a Yankee
strayed too far from his quarters. The war was virtually ended in
California: there was no further hope for gold chains or wooden legs;
the glory had been reaped by the first comers; and I made the time and
shot fly together, ranging about the suburbs. With a fowling-piece on my
arm, and a carbine slung to the back of an attendant, we pursued a
tortuous path, through a gap in the hills, to the southward, and after a
four or five miles' walk we found ourselves at the Mission of Carmelo.
It is within a mile of the sea, protected by a neck of land, close to a
rapid clear stream of the same name. A quaint old church, falling to
decay, with crumbling tower and belfry, broken roofs, and long lines of
mud-built dwellings, all in ruins, is what remains of a once flourishing
and wealthy settlement. It still presents a picturesque appearance,
standing on a little rise, above a broad fertile plain of many acres,
adjacent to the banks of the river, and at the base a large orchard of
fruits and flowers. Following up the stream for some leagues, through
the same rich level, crossing and re-crossing the pure running water,
with noble salmon flashing their silver sides at every fathom, we soon
bagged as much game as we could stagger under: wild ducks, quail,
partridges, hares of a very large size, and rabbits. Not contented with
this we left the valley, and struck through a narrow gorge of the
adjoining hills. Here I caught a glimpse of a trio of _coyotes_ and
instantly blazed away with the carbine, which brought one of them
tumbling down the steep, but much to my surprise his two friends
followed, and actually bolstered up their wounded comrade, and assisted
him out of sight before I could send another bullet. They were as large
as wolves, of a light yellowish brown, with long sharp snouts, bushy
hanging tails, and a gait like the trot of a dog. They are very
disagreeable customers to sheep and other small fry, and, as I
discovered subsequently, that when badly wounded, they have a very
unpleasant way with their teeth. Continuing onward, and hardly recovered
from my astonishment at the rencounter with the _coyotes_, when up
bounded, within thirty yards, three large deer, and with the coolest
impudence stared me full in the face. _Maldito!_ the carbine was again
in the hands of my companion, some distance behind, but I could not
resist the temptation of giving a strapping buck a hail-storm of fine
shot between the eyes. Even this only made the party a little frisky,
kick up their heels, toss their heads, and wag their short tails. I was
in hopes the carbine would reach me in time to send the lead more in a
lump, but in another moment they sprang off like the wind, and the next
seen of them was in company with a large herd, a mile away, with their
graceful bodies and limbs standing in clear relief against the blue sky,
I had not a doubt but that they were relating my chagrin as a capital
buckish joke. By this time we had penetrated so far from ravine to hill
as to have completely lost our bearings, and becoming quite bewildered,
I began to entertain serious ideas of seeking some place of shelter for
the night. My attendant, too, had fallen down two or three times from
exhaustion, the sun was rapidly declining, and I was not at all pleased
with the wild appearance of the hills and valleys that encircled us.
Throwing away the greater part of our game, we made a toilsome effort,
and reached the crest of an adjacent height, in hopes of getting a
glimpse of the plains of Carmelo. Again we were disappointed; and while
on the point of making the best of our bargain, by risking a hug from
grizzly bears or panthers during the night, I espied a horseman slowly
winding his way beneath us in the gorge. By discharging a barrel of my
piece, and continued shouts, we soon attracted attention, and thus being
encouraged by the sight of a fellow-being, we sprang briskly down the
steep. However, our ally evinced no violent affection for us, and in a
trice wheeled his horse up the opposite face of the acclivity; there he
paused, well out of gun-shot, and presently I heard a shrill voice
crying, "_Que es lo que quiere?_" "We are lost," I replied; "will you
assist us?" With many a wary glance and movement, he at last came
frankly towards us, and I then discovered an intelligent little fellow,
about ten years of age, astride a powerful animal, which he guided by a
single thong of hide. Slipping from the saddle, and letting his lasso
fall on the ground, he doffed his broad glazed _sombrero_, and stood
awaiting my wishes. On learning our situation he gladly volunteered to
guide us, and in return told me that he had been all day seeking stray
cattle among the mountains, that the bears were very numerous, and that
we had described a wide circuit around the hills, and were within a
short league of the Mission. This last was highly gratifying
information, and mounting my worn-out attendant on the horse, our
little guide took the bridle, and led the way towards the valley. It was
quite dark on reaching the stream, and I felt thoroughly knocked up, but
a few minutes bathe in the chill water gave me new life, and shortly
after we were housed in the great hall of the Mission. It chanced to be
Sunday evening, moreover, during carnival, and there were preparations
for a more brilliant fandango than the usual weekly affair generally
produced. A few horses were picketted about the great _patio_, and two
or three ox-carts with hide bodies were serving for boudoirs to damsels,
who had come from afar to mingle in the ball. But the company had not
yet assembled in the old hall, that had once served the good _frayles_
for a refectory; and on entering I was kindly welcomed by the Patrona
Margarita, and her handsome coquettish daughter, Domatilda, who were the
liege and lady hostesses of the Carmelo Mission. With her own hands the
jolly madre soon prepared me an _olla podrida_ of tomatoes, peppers, and
the remains in my game bag. Then her laughing nymph patted me some
_tortillas_; and after eating ravenously, and draining a cup of
aguadiente, the hospitable old lady tumbled me into her own spacious
couch, which stood in an angle of the hall, and giving me a hearty slap
on the back, shouted, "_Duerma usted bien hijo mio hasta media
noche_"--Sleep like a top until midnight. I needed no second bidding,
and in a moment was buried in deep sleep. Unconscious of fleeting hours,
I was at length restored to life, but in the most disordered frame of
mind; suffering under a most complicated attack of nightmare, of which
bear-hugs, murders, manacles and music present but a slight idea of my
agony; and indeed, when after pinching myself, and tearing my eyelids
fairly open, I had still great difficulty in recalling my erring
faculties. I found my own individual person deluged with a swarm of
babies, who were lying athwart ships, and amid ships, fore and aft,
heads and toes, every way; and one interesting infant, just teething,
was sucking vigorously away on the left lobe of my ear, while another
lovingly entwined its little fingers in my whiskers. Nor was this half
the bodily miseries I had so innocently endured. A gay youth, with a
dripping link, nicely balanced against my boots, was sitting on my legs,
with a level space on the bed before him, intently playing _monté_, to
the great detriment of the purses of his audience. On glancing around, I
beheld the lofty apartment lighted by long tallow candles melted against
the walls, whose smoke clung in dense clouds around the beams of the
lofty hall; the floor was nearly filled, at the lower end, with groups
of swarthy Indians and paisanos, sipping aguadiente, or indulging in the
same exciting amusement as the gentleman sitting on my feet. On either
side were double rows of men and women, moving in the most bewildering
mazes of the contra danza: turning and twisting, twining and whirling
with unceasing rapidity, keeping time to most inspiriting music, of
harps and guitars; whilst ever and anon, some delighted youth would
elevate his voice, in a shout of ecstasy, at the success of some
bright-eyed señorita in the dance: _Ay, mi alma! Toma la bolsa!
Caramba!_--Go it, my beauty! Take my purse! Beautiful!--It took me but
an instant to appreciate all this; and then, being fully roused to my
wrongs, I gave one vigorous spring, which sent the _monté_ man, candle,
cards, and coppers, flying against the wall, and bounding to my feet I
made a dash at the Patrona, drank all the _licores_ on the tray, and
seizing her around the waist, away we spun through the fandango. Long
before rosy morn I had become as merry and delighted as the rest of the
company. I bought a dirty pack of cards for a rial, and opened a monte
bank, for coppers and paper cigars, and although a select party of
Indios did their best to impose upon my youth and inexperience, yet on
receiving their treasure of _centavos_, winning a hatful of cigarritos,
and only paying half a one for _importas_, I comprehended by their
gutteral exclamations that their _compadre_ was not so verdant a person
as they at first imagined. Thus I left them to their reflections, and
busied myself swearing love, and sipping _dulces_ with the brunettas;
vowing friendship to the men; drinking strong waters; promising to
redress all grievances, to pay all claims out of my own pocket for the
government; and ended by repudiating the Yankees, and swearing myself a
full-blooded Californian. However, these ebullitions were partially
attributable to the heated rooms, and _licores_ of Madre Mariqueta; but
when the golden sun came streaming into the house, the links had formed
heavy stalactites against the walls; and notwithstanding the earnest
solicitations of my new made friends, I jumped up behind my little guide
of the evening previous, and galloped off towards Monterey.

Thus passed my first visit to Carmelo, and scarcely a week went by that
I did not enjoy a supper of one of the Patrona's capital ollas, with may
be a little wholesome exercise to digest it, at the evening fandango--it
was the only place where could be seen a dash of native life, but even
this lost its charm. During carnival, I made my homage to all who were
docile enough, and I must add clean enough to receive it; but whether
owing to a want of tact, fervor, or devotion, I failed to keep the
mercury up to boiling point, and after presenting one slim little doña
with a two shilling brooch of great magnitude and brilliancy--crushing
dozens of variegated eggs on the shining tresses of others, and nearly
driving a horse distracted through the agency of enormous spurs, in
hopes to show my skill and win a smile from one in particular--I at
last, through weariness and disgust, gave up the chase, and became a
devoted lover of chasing still wilder game in the beautiful regions
around. For days and weeks I did naught but ride and hunt, and became so
inured to long fatiguing tramps and night bivouacs, that with the
ever-varying excitement of the sport, I not only slept the sounder in
the open air, but enjoyed better health than I had before known. The
climate of the interior is far dryer, clearer and more salubrious than
by the sea. On the coast we were frequently for many successive days,
annoyed by raw, foggy weather, and on one occasion there was a light
fall of snow, but every league inland gives a more genial invigorating
temperature. There are very few unhealthy spots in either Central or
Lower California. On the low banks and tributaries of the Bay of San
Francisco, fever prevails to a great extent during the summer and fall,
but elsewhere all epidemic disorders are extremely rare. The summer
subsequent to our arrival in Monterey, a malignant fever attacked and
carried off a number of foreigners, but this, although not severe upon
the natives, was regarded as something extraordinary.

In these hunting excursions I was often attended by some friendly
hunter, whose time hung heavy on his hands, but usually by the same
little fellow who had been my pilot through the Carmelo mountains; his
name was Juaquin Luis, and by far the most intelligent, handsome boy in
the place. On Sundays, with his gala dress of blue velvet trowsers, red
sash, glazed hat and silver rope around it, he was quite a picture. His
knowledge of all the roads, most intricate paths and passes for many
leagues, was remarkable, and at times I was almost confounded at his
apparently instinctive sagacity--he knew the haunts and habits of game,
was a capital shot, rode a horse like part of the animal, never daunted,
never dismayed, never without an expedient, he was the most perfect
child of the woods conceivable, and quite won my heart by his
intelligence. He was always delighted to be my companion, for not being
one of those wise children who knew their sires, his home was none of
the pleasantest, for his dame was living with a cross-grained cobler, in
_relatione_, or as the youngster expressed it, she was wedded, _detras
la iglesia_--behind the church--or in other words, had cheated the
priest out of his marriage dues, and being, I fancied, rather given to
aguadiente, the domestic felicity of the mansion was somewhat marred;
consequently the boy was left to thrive upon his own resources.
Sometimes the old lady endeavored to detain him from accompanying me,
but I threatened to stop her grog, by reporting her conduct to the grave
and reverend alcalde of the place, and thenceforth she contented herself
by extorting a few rials from her child's store, at my expense.

On passing the hut on the outskirts of the town and giving a shrill
whistle, out sprang Juaquinito, with his little black head and sparkling
eyes shoved through the slit of his _serapa_, swinging the lasso in
steady circles, and noosing his horse in the corral, the next moment
would leap on his back, take the carbine or rifle, and off we sallied.
At night we made fire, ate broiled partridges without stint, and slept
under the same blanket. One of our excursions was to the river and
plains of Salinas, about fifteen miles in a northerly direction, along
the shores of the bay. These plains vary from ten to twenty miles in
width, and extend fifty or sixty into the interior, and like the great
plain of Santa Clara, have evidently at some former period been the
beds of large lakes or rivers. The Salinas is walled in by compact
ridges of mountains running transversely towards the ocean, from the
main Sierra Madre of California. The river is a muddy rapid stream,
subjected to heavy freshets during the melting of the upland snows, and
coursing close along the southern edge of the plains. On approaching the
heights above the plain, I suddenly checked the reins, perfectly
transfixed with surprise; for never in my life had I beheld such a
magnificent vista of its kind; one broad dead level extending far as the
eye could compass, like a solid brilliant sea of grass and flowers,
dotted here and there by vast flocks of sheep and cattle, with the
margins of the stream marked out for many a league, with fringes of
drooping willows. Descending the hill, we swam the river, and after a
short ride along the verge of the plain, came to the _molino_--mill--and
rancho of one Bill Anderson, who, with his head powdered by flour, like
a lord of the olden time, received me cordially, and being furnished
with fresh horses, away we started to slaughter wild geese. They were
congregated in myriads, both white and grey, feeding on the rich short
grasses, and when disturbed, the noise of their wings and throats was
truly deafening--they were excessively shy, and finding even buck-shot
not efficacious in doing its work from a fowling-piece, I was obliged to
throw single balls among the masses, from the carbine; by which method,
in a few hours, we had collected a respectable horse load; they were
quite fat, and resembled the tame goose with us in every particular,
except the bill being much sharper and smaller. During the wet seasons,
a great number of natural canals intersect these lovely plains, and are
filled with swans, wild ducks, snipe and curlew, besides multitudes of
quails and cranes, with now and then a large eagle to fatten on them. As
night set in, and the wolves were beginning to cry and howl melodiously
after the wounded or sleeping birds, we returned to the rancho.

Our host, the afore-mentioned Bill Anderson, was a Cockney: very
hospitable, very much given to the bottle, and withal a great talker and
liar. His history was a simple one. Leaving England as ship-boy, he
deserted and drifted about the islands of the Pacific, until at last he
found himself stranded on the shores of California. Here he shortly
became a man of importance, from having been summarily carried out of
the country, with the Graham party, who, like our Bear friends, had
rendered themselves highly obnoxious to the native population. In course
of time Bill was released, and returned; established a mill on the
plains, married a Californian wife, and then got drunk at his leisure
and pleasure. Bill received me again most civilly, as he also did a
bottle of brandy. Whether attributable to my arrival, or necessity, I
did not pause to inquire, but certain it is that a bullock was slain
immediately thereafter; and, I presume in compliment to the carcass, an
inundation of dependents of both sexes and of all hues and colors, had
dropt in to share the feast. Bill and I, with little Juaquin retired to
an inner apartment, which happened to be laid with a plank floor, and a
good fire in the place; there was a very respectable preparation for
supper, and being much too famished to mind the filth, I shut eyes,
opened mouth, and ate away voraciously. Dogs soon licked the plates
clean, in readiness for breakfast, probably; and in a couple of hours my
thirsty host, from a too frequent application of the brandy to his
parched lips, became very gloriously tipsy; and after indulging me with
a full confession of many sins, and all his grievances, moreover his
utterance becoming somewhat indistinct, I bade him adios, while about
relating what he would observe to the "English Secretary of State, if
he only had him there,"--pointing with the bottle to his dozing sposa.

My shake-down was in a small receptacle for rubbish, fleas, and other
lively furniture, which in getting at, I was obliged to pass a large
room, laid out with about five-and-twenty of the servitors--men, women,
and children--all in heaps. There were a number of limbs obstructing the
passage, and I was obliged to push them aside, rather unceremoniously, I
fear, for I was greeted by a volley of Indian gutteral curses, sounding
quite like a person who had swallowed a collection of shells, and was
anxious to get them up more expeditiously than was possible. Being too
tired and drowsy to heed their complaints, with Juaquinito I betook
myself to mat and blankets, and never moved until break of day; when I
arose, kicked up an Indian, and sent for fresh horses, and continued
shooting geese and curlew, until the morning was far advanced; then,
after swearing devoted friendship to Bill Anderson, his bullocks, and
his wife, we departed for the port.



CHAPTER XI.


We remained two months at Monterey; and then upon the assembling of the
squadron, and the arrival of a new Commodore, rather than play segundo
violo, and have the blue pennant of a Commander-in-Chief flaunting its
folds in face of our red, we were glad to lift the anchors, and sail for
the waters of San Francisco. Steering too far from the land, a northerly
gale arose, and although the distance is but eighty miles, we were a
week in gaining our destination, on the 29th of March.

The face of the coast presents the same general aspect as that to the
southward of Monterey--one great sea-wall of mountains, split into deep
ravines, and tufted with towering pines. Many of these trees that fringe
what Humboldt terms the maritime Alps of California, are of enormous
magnitude. A German naturalist, employed in scientific pursuits in the
country, assured me that he had measured pines in the Santa Cruz
mountains fifty-seven feet in girth at the base, and carrying the lofty
tops upon a clear shaft for two hundred and seventy feet without a
branch!

I have also seen, in my Californian rambles, pines of immense growth,
taking root in the wild glens of rich and sheltered mountain gorges,
shooting up straight and clear as javelins, with symmetrical columns
that would make too taunt masts for the tallest "amiral" that ever
floated.

Near to the mouth of San Francisco the land recedes, and passing through
the narrow jaws of the Straits, which are framed in by bold,
precipitous, and rocky cliffs, where violent currents are sweeping and
foaming in eddying whirls around their base, you soon debouch into the
outer bay. It is like a great lake, stretching away right and left, far
into the heart of California. To the north another aperture, and still
another, leads into the Bays of San Pablo and Sosun, washing the valleys
of Sinoma and Tulares, and fed by the rivers Sacramento and San Joaquin,
after passing over the golden sands of the rich mines beyond. To the
southward the waters are not so extended, and the bay laves the garden
of California in the beautiful vale of Santa Clara. Green islands adorn
the bosom of these vast estuaries, and everywhere are found safe and
commodious harbors.

Our anchorage was near the little village of Yerbabuena, five miles from
the ocean, and within a short distance from the Franciscan Mission and
Presidio of the old royalists. The site seems badly chosen, for although
it reposes in partial shelter, beneath the high bluffs of the coast, yet
a great portion of the year it is enveloped in chilling fogs; and
invariably, during the afternoon, strong sea breezes are drawn through
the straits like a funnel, and playing with fitful violence around the
hills, the sand is swept in blinding clouds over the town and the
adjacent shores of the bay. Yet with all these drawbacks the place was
rapidly thriving under the indomitable energy of our countrymen.
Tenements, large and small, were running up, like card-built houses, in
all directions. The population was composed of Mormons, backwoodsmen,
and a few very respectable traders from the eastern cities of the
United States. Very rare it was to see a native: our brethren had played
the porcupine so sharply as to oblige them to seek their homes among
more congenial kindred. On Sunday, however, it was not uncommon to
encounter gay cavalcades of young paisanos, jingling in silver chains
and finery, dashing into town, half-a-dozen abreast; having left their
sweethearts at the Mission, or some neighboring rancho, for the evening
fandango. Towards afternoon, when these frolicsome _caballeros_ became a
trifle elevated with their potations, they were wont to indulge in a
variety of capricious feats on horseback--leaping and wheeling--throwing
the lasso over each other;--or if by chance a bullock appeared, they
took delight while at full speed in the _carrara_, in catching the
beasts by a dextrous twist in the tail; and the performance was never
satisfactorily concluded until the bullock was thrown a complete
summerset over his horns. These paisanos of California, like the guachos
of Buenos Ayres, and guaso of Chili, pass most of their existence on
horseback; there the natural vigor of manhood seems all at once called
into play, and horse and backer appear of the same piece. The lasso is
their plaything, either for service or pastime; with it, the unruly wild
horse, or bullock, is brought within reach of the knife. Ferocious Bruin
himself gets his throat twisted and choked, and with heavy paws spread
wide apart, is dragged for miles, perhaps to the bear-bait,
notwithstanding his glittering jaws, and giant efforts to escape.
Without the horse and lasso, these gentry are helpless as infants; their
horses are admirably trained, and sometimes perform under a skilful hand
pranks that always cause surprise to strangers. I once saw a band of
horses, at General Rosa's quinta, near Buenos Ayres, trained to run like
hares, with fore and hind legs lashed together by thongs of hide; it
was undertaken to preserve the animals from being thrown by the Indian
bolas, and the riders, as a consequence, lanced to death. But I was far
more amused one afternoon while passing a fandango, near Monterey, to
see a drunken _vaquero_--cattle-driver--mounted on a restive, plunging
beast, hold at arms length a tray of glasses, brimming with aguadiente,
which he politely offered to everybody within reach of his curvettings,
without ever once spilling a drop. I thought this better than Camille
Leroux, in the polka, or a guacho picking up a cigarritto with his
teeth, at a hand gallop! It is remarkable, too, how very long the
Californian can urge a horse, and how lightly he rides, even when the
beast appears thoroughly exhausted, tottering at every pace under a
strange rider; yet the native will lift him to renewed struggles, and
hold him up for leagues further. Nor is it by the aid of his enormous
spurs, for the punishment is by no means so severe as the sharp rowels
with us; but accustomed to the horse from infancy, he appears to divine
his powers, and thus a mutual and instinctive bond is established
between them. The saddles here, as well as those along the southern
coasts, partake in build of the old Spanish high peak and croupe, and
are really intended for ease and comfort to the rider. In Chili the
pillion is used--a soft material of rugs, smooth and thick, thrown over
the saddle frame; but it distends the thighs too greatly. The
Californian is both hard and heavy, and murderous to the horse. The
Mexican is best,--less cumbersome, more elegant in construction, and a
great support to the rider. The stirrups of all are similar--weighty
wooden structures--and the feet rest naturally in them.

There is nothing either pleasing or inviting in the landscape in the
vicinity of Yerbabuena. All looks bare and sterile from a distance, and
on closer inspection, the deep sandy soil is covered with impervious
thickets of low thorny undergrowth, with none of the rich green herbage,
forests or timber as in Monterey. The roads were so heavy that the
horses could hardly strain, nearly knee deep, through the sand, and
consequently, our rides were restricted to a league's _pasear_ to the
mission, or across the narrow strip of the peninsular to the old
presidio; but in the town we passed the hours pleasantly, became
conversant with the Mormon bible and doctrine, rolled ten-pins, and
amused ourselves nightly, at the monte in the _casa de bebida de Brown_;
still there was a great stir and bustle going on. A number of large
merchant ships had arrived, bringing the regiment of New York
volunteers, and the beach was strewn with heavy guns, carriages, piles
of shot, ordnance stores, wagons, tents and camp equipage, whilst the
streets were filled with troops, who belonged to the true democracy,
called one another mister, snubbed their officers, and did generally as
they pleased, which was literally nothing. However, in due time, they
were brought into the traces, and properly buckled to their duty, when
their services were exerted in planting a battery of long 24-pounders,
to command the straits, and their excitable spirits kept under control
at their quarters in the presidio.

This was Yerbabuena as we found it on our first coming--rapidly
springing into importance, and bidding fair at some future day, even
without the advantages to be derived from the mines which were then
unknown, to become the greatest commercial port on the Pacific.

Previous to our arrival in the waters of Francisco, a frightful incident
transpired amidst the Californian mountains, which goes far to surpass
any event of the kind heard or seen, from the black hole of Calcutta,
to smoking the Arabs in Algeria. It relates to a party of emigrants,
whose shocking inhuman cannibalisms and sufferings exceeded all belief.
The news first reached us in Monterey, and also that a party had been
despatched to succor them. From an officer of the navy in charge of the
expedition, and from one of the survivors, a Spanish boy, named
Baptiste, I learned the following particulars: The number of emigrants
were originally eighty; through a culpable combination of ignorance and
folly, they loitered many weeks on the route, when, upon gaining the
sierra, the snows set in, the trails became blocked up and impassable,
and they were obliged to encamp for the winter; their provisions were
shortly exhausted, their cattle were devoured to the last horse's hide,
hunger came upon them, gaunt and terrible, starvation at last--men,
women and children starved to death, and were eaten by their
fellows--insanity followed. When relief arrived, the survivors were
found rolling in filth, parents eating their own offspring, denizens of
different cabins exchanging limbs and meat--little children tearing and
devouring the livers and hearts of the dead, and a general apathy and
mania pervaded all alike, so as to make them scout the idea of leaving
their property in the mountains before the spring, even to save their
miserable lives; and on separating those who were able to bear the
fatigue of travelling, the cursings and ravings of the remainder were
monstrous. One Dutchman actually ate a full-grown body in thirty-six
hours! another boiled and devoured a girl nine years old, in a single
night. The women held on to life with greater tenacity than the men--in
fact, the first intelligence was brought to Sutter's fort, on the
Sacramento, by two young girls. One of them feasted on her good papa,
but on making soup of her lover's head, she confessed to some inward
qualms of conscience. The young Spaniard, Baptiste, was hero of the
party, performing all labor and drudgery in getting fuel and water,
until his strength became exhausted; he told me that he ate Jake Donner
and the baby, "eat baby raw, stewed some of Jake, and roasted his head,
not good meat, taste like sheep with the rot; but, sir, very hungry, eat
anything,"--these were his very words. There were thirty survivors, and
a number of them without feet, either frozen or burnt off, who were
placed under the care of our surgeons on shore. Although nothing has
ever happened more truly dreadful, and in many respects ludicrously so,
yet what was surprising, the emigrants themselves perceived nothing very
extraordinary in all these cannibalisms, but seemed to regard it as an
every day occurrence--surely they were deranged. The party who went to
their relief deserved all praise, for they, too, endured every hardship,
and many were badly frostbitten. The cause of all this suffering was
mainly attributable to the unmeaning delay and indolence attending their
early progress on the route, but with every advantage in favor of
emigration, the journey in itself must be attended with immense
privation and toil. The mere fact, that by the upper route there is one
vast desert to be travelled over, many hundred miles in width, affording
very little vegetation or sustenance, and to crown the difficulty,
terminated by the rugged chain of Californian mountains, is almost
sufficient in itself to deter many a good man and strong, from exposing
his life and property, for an unknown home on the shores of the Pacific.



CHAPTER XII.


Tarrying a fortnight at Yerbabuena, we then crossed the bay and dropped
anchor beneath the lofty hills of Sousoulito, where we busied ourselves
filling up with fresh water. This anchorage is a great resort for whale
ships, coming from the north-west fishing grounds, for water and
supplies; the procurante of which was an Englishman, for many years a
resident in the country, and possessing myriads of cattle, and a
principality in land and mountains; among other valuables, he was the
sire of the belle of California, in the person of a young girl named
Marianna. Her mother was Spanish, with the remains of great personal
charms; as to the child, I never saw a more patrician style of beauty
and native elegance in any clime where Castillian doñas bloom. She was
brunette, with an oval face, magnificent dark grey eyes, with the
corners of her mouth slightly curved downward, so as to give a proud and
haughty expression to the face--in person she was tall, graceful and
well shaped, and although her feet were encased in deer skin shoes, and
hands bare, they still might have vied with any belles of our own. I
believe the lovely Marianna was as amiable as beautiful, and I know her
bright eye glancing along the delicate sights of her rifle, sent the
leaden missive with the deadly aim of a marksman, and that she rode like
an angel, and could strike a bullock dead with one quick blow of a keen
blade, but notwithstanding these domestic accomplishments and
anglo-Saxon lineage, she held the demonios Yankees in mortal abhorrence;
but who could blame her, they had murdered a brace of her handsomest
lovers, and this in California, where lovers were scarce, was a crime
not to be forgiven.

One morning I shouldered a rifle--indebted to Don Ricardo for horses,
and his beautiful daughter for a cup of water, and being attended by a
little truant ship-boy as guide, who had been left to cure hides during
the absence of his vessel, we dashed inland. Crossing a belt of
mountains, we struck the sea shore, and turning to the northward,
ascended a succession of steep hills, until we had gained a rocky
table-land above--there was no timber to be seen, and except the stunted
undergrowth netted together in valleys and ravines, all was one rolling
scene of grass, wild oats and flowers. Near by was a small sheet of
fresh water, caught by the rain and held in by a narrow plateau,
swarming with water fowl, and framed by broken masses of huge rocks. It
was a great resort for deer, and I found them herding in large bands of
thirty and forty together, but from the nature of the country, so open
and free from foliage, it required the utmost caution to approach within
striking distance. However, I managed to pop the death billets into the
hearts of two noble bucks, and while creeping down a gully for a shot at
a third, I was startled by the shouts and gestures of the boy, "Here's a
grizzly a-coming! here's a grizzly." Gott in heimmell, I mentally
ejaculated--there is going to be a race. Away I clambered and ran to the
nearest height--there was a huge black monster, the size of a bullock,
coming from the direction of the lake, and tearing up the opposite ridge
towards where the horses were picketed. The frightened beasts scenting
their enemy, were plunging and snorting terrifically, until at last
they broke their _riatas_, and plunged like mad down the steep--the boy
was making his heels fly as if provided with a steam engine in his
trowsers; then looking upon the mission as fully accomplished, I
tightened my belt, and leaped in the tracks of my companion. I have no
accurate means of determining the rapidity of my flight, but should any
one feel disposed to test the full capacity of his lungs and legs, he
can do so to the utmost, with a grizzly behind him. I little thought,
the last time I saw one at the _Jardin des Plantes_, and took such
interest in watching children feeding him with sweet buns, enclosing
nice bits of tobacco, or a pinch of snuff, that I should encounter one
of his brethren among the wilds of California, with the joke entirely
the other way. We never halted until a good mile lay between Bruin's
paws and our own, then we could see him lazily walking along the crest
of a hill, with a saddle of venison in his dainty jaws. One of the
horses in his anxiety to be foremost in the race, leaped over the boy,
inflicting an unpleasant hoof tap on the ribs--fortunately the injury
was not serious, and we contrived to catch one and lasso the other; but
may the devil catch that bear, I was obliged to leave my strapping bucks
to his tender mercies, and return to the ship, scared and chagrined
beyond measure--laughed at, of course; still I deemed it far preferable
than to be hugged to death, with the only consolation left in knowing
that what part of one is not devoured will be carefully buried,
according to custom, for another meal.

There is scarcely a resident in the mountains of Upper California who
has not, at one time or another, been attacked by these formidable
beasts. I saw the scars, left by the claws of one, on the broad back of
a fine old Irishman; and he informed me, that after being torn from the
saddle, he feigned death, until his friends, who were in sight, came
up, and drove some balls into the beast, who never for a moment before
removed his powerful jaws from within two inches of his victim's face.
They are extremely hard to kill, and unless the bullets take effect in
the head or heart, are only rendered the more infuriated.

Previous to the adventure at Sousoulito, I had been in the habit of
expending all my powder and prowess on Angel Island. It is a very
picturesque little spot, about three miles in circumference, rising to
the height of near eight hundred feet, and radiating in numberless
ridges and ravines down to the water's edge. There are many fertile
slopes luxuriating in fine trees and vegetation, and on all sides pure
rills of water leaping into the bay. Lying in a wide sweep of the San
Francisco, within a mile of the main land, the deer resort there in
great numbers, to feed on the palatable herbs growing on the northern
sides, and also for the close shelter afforded, beneath multitudes of
the densest network of tangled thickets that ever man or quadruped has
explored. Angel Island will for ever be a bright oasis in my hunting
career, as it was the ground of my maiden prowess. Nor shall I soon
forget the day, when, tired as possible after a long unsuccessful tramp,
I happened to glance down a gentle ravine and beheld a sturdy buck
nibbling daintily at the young shoots. Blazes! how the blood and
excitement came dancing back through veins and wearied frame, even to
the extremity of my trigger-joint! Up came the heavy tube! Click!
crack!--and at the instant, the wounded deer sprang convulsively in the
air and fell back dead;--down the gully--heels up;--the edge of a
sheath-knife made a very respectable slip athwart his throat; and the
same evening he was quietly reposing, among less gamey meats, under the
eye of the sentinel, on the frigate's gun-deck. I have killed many a
one since, but I shall never again feel the same thrill of triumph as
that I experienced in this my first effort.

I also had the good fortune to slay an elk on the same island, and I
believe the only one ever found there. On seeing him rush past, I at
first mistook him for a horse, but on perceiving the short cocked-up
tail, small elegant head and branching antlers, I quickly changed my
opinion; and as he paused a second on the brow of a projection below, to
honor me with an inspection, I returned the compliment by laying my
cheek to the rifle. Crack! Away he trotted--none but the does
bound--apparently unhurt, and I followed in the wake; the next bullet
made him squirm, and at the third I noticed a crimson stream pouring
from his mouth; then feeling satisfied there was some essential injury
done to his digestion, and coming again within range, about a mile from
the last shot, I pitched another ball right through the spine: three or
four frightful leaps, and down he went, plunging, groaning, and
bleeding, to the foot of the slope. As I came up, he sprang to his feet,
and with painful meanings attempted to give me a taste of his horns, so
I let him have the _coup de grace_ crashing through the brains. Upon
examination, every shot was within four inches diameter, near the centre
of the back, as I was each time compelled to fire, as he stood or ran,
from below. It required the full strength of six stout men, with ropes,
to drag the carcass to the beach--weighing, when dressed, over six
hundred pounds, and we found him most delicious eating. This was my
crowning achievement, the pleasure enhanced by entertaining no fears
that the bears could rob me of the prize before getting to the boat;
nevertheless, there were many speculations volunteered by malicious
gentry on board, who, from the hair being somewhat rubbed off, in the
transit to the beach, insisted that I had massacred a pack-mule, which
was in itself mendacious slander.



CHAPTER XIII.


Having completed watering at Sousoulito, we left San Francisco and
returned to Monterey. Even during the short period of our absence a
rapid improvement was visible. Many Mormons had arrived, the streets
were cleansed, and vehicles of a civilized build were occasionally
beheld in the town. Some companies of the Volunteer Regiment were
encamped on the slopes of the hills, and the artillery were busily at
work throwing up fortifications on a pretty eminence, overlooking the
town and harbor. Grog shops were thriving apace--handsomely patronized
by Jack and the soldiers,--and monté banks and gaming were following _en
suite_. Stone buildings were under construction; and among others,
through the excellent management of the Alcalde, a large school-house
presented a bold front to the uneducated natives; thus we had the vices
and virtues hand in hand--no existing without them. There was also a
little newspaper published weekly; for, with the usual enterprise of our
countrymen, and their naturally saturnine dispositions, they had pounced
upon a fount of types, carefully secreted beneath the font of the
church, and instead of being applied to their original purpose of
disseminating the authority of Mexican rulers, they were made to preach
the true republican doctrine to all unbelievers among the astonished
Californians. The editor of this infantile journal was Dr. Semple, who
although supposed to have been connected with the famous Bear party,
wielded the editorial pen with the same facility as his rifle, and
merits all praise for having been the pioneer of civil and religious
liberty in the country. I only trust the Doctor may live to fill his
ample pockets with gold dust, even though they be lengthy as his legs or
editorials.

Remaining barely long enough to take in provisions, we left Monterey on
the 19th of April, and beating clear of Piney Point, with a spanking
breeze, turned our prow towards the Mexican coast. A few days
afterwards, during the night, we discovered the Island of Guadalupe,
laid down in the charts more than half a degree too far south,[1]
though, singularly enough, correct in longitude. Fortunately we had
changed the ship's course previously, for as the night was dark and
cloudy we stood a chance of making a nearer acquaintance than would have
been satisfactory to the noble frigate: in fact at all times we labored
under great disadvantages in being destitute of maps of sufficient
accuracy for the commonest purposes of navigation, and those at all
useful we were obliged to compile ourselves from the rough sketches and
experience of navigators frequenting the coast; still we made great
speed, and the flying fish flew from before us as we entered the tropic.
At midnight, on the 26th we doubled Cape San Lucas, the extreme southern
point of that long finger-like Peninsular of Lower California.

Lower California embraces an extent of territory seven hundred miles in
length, and varies in breadth from thirty to eighty miles; broken up
into barren mountains four or five thousand feet in height, verging
close upon the shores of sea and gulf. The country is very unproductive,
and only serves to subsist a small population of probably not over ten
thousand. There are a few narrow valleys, watered by the condensation of
clouds and mist in the dry season from the naked heights, which serves
for fertilizing strips of rich soil below, producing maize and fruits.

The Jesuits have, centuries ago, even in these sterile regions, planted
the banners of their faith, and the missions and villages that sprang up
around them still exist. The principal places are Todos Santos, on the
sea coast; San Antonio, in the interior; San José, La Paz, and Loretta,
the capital, lying on the shores of the inland gulf. There are two
excellent harbors--the Bay of La Paz, and another higher up called
Escondida; both places having deep anchorage, and fresh water, for the
largest vessels.

There is but little trade carried on with the Peninsula: a few small
craft exchange country-made cheese and soap for domestic goods in San
Blas and Mazatlan. Near Cape San Lucas had been found by the whalers a
resort for a new species of fish, producing an oil supposed to be
suitable for paints. One or two ships were filled, but we heard
subsequently the material did not answer the desired purpose. There is
the island of Carmen within the gulf, which contains vast lakes of salt,
as inexhaustible as the guano beds on the Peruvian coast. This salt is
of excellent quality; it is cut out in large blocks, stacked, and left
to be washed by the rains, when it becomes ready for shipping. These are
all the known inducements for trade, of the Peninsula and the Adriatic
of the Pacific. Guaymas, situated nearly at the head of the gulf, and
Mazatlan abreast the southern cape, though neither possess such safe
havens, with so good fresh water ports, still have positions more
adaptable for commerce on the main shores of Mexico.

At daylight we were boarded by one Ritchie, who played the _rôle_ of
marine postmaster for our squadron; and then steering for thirty miles
along the high, barren, sterile coast, we hove-to off the little bay of
San José; communicated with one of our ships-of-war; again filled away,
and lazily fanned across the Sea of Cortés to our destination. This
occupied, at a snail's pace, three long days, and the next morning we
awoke within the scorching lines of the tropics--one-half the horizon
bounded by a dull monotonous ripple of sea, and hazy sky, and the other
faced by the high sierras framing the grand plateau of Mexico, and
nearer a line of hot rugged rocks, and islets, and white sandy beaches,
together with ranges of houses bordering upon the shores, and upon the
hills; which was the goodly town of Mazatlan. We anchored, as it were,
at sea, off the bluff promontory of Creston; an island itself, divided
by a narrow strait from the main, and resembling a sleeping lion, with
paws tossed before him. The British frigate Constance, a French
corvette, another of our own, with two merchant vessels, comprised the
entire nautical coterie. Our arrival caused some excitement in the town,
and we were in hopes the authorities would either strike for
independence, or declare themselves neutral, and thus open the port, as
at the time we had no serious intentions of molesting them; but we were
disappointed in our anticipations, and found there was naught to do save
maintaining a dull, idle, passive blockade for a long month to come.

The day after our arrival, two armed boats were sent to make a
reconnoissance of the old harbor, for the purpose of selecting a
suitable berth for the ships, in case an attack should be made. Not
perceiving any bustle or stir pervading the town, we pulled warily in,
until, on passing out from cover of the corvette's guns, we
unconsciously raised the most infernal din imaginable. Drums rattled
incessantly, dirty soldiers formed in companies; the Governor and suite
attended by a guard of cavalry galloped up and down the beach. Consuls
run up their national flags, women and children ran up the hills; all
evidently in great consternation at the anticipation of a hostile
invasion. On comprehending the true state of the case, we amused
ourselves out of musket shot, by making feints to land, and by this
method we kept three or four hundred filthy villains in a violent state
of fatigue and perspiration, running and scampering from point to point
to oppose us. No sooner did they get comfortably posted, and weapons in
readiness on the cliffs, than in we would dash for the beach. At last
the whole garrison turned out, and getting a field piece under way,
manned by three jackasses, rather than give them the laugh against us,
we thought advisable to edge out of range, and thus when they had
cleverly pulled the piece into a commanding position, they could only
greet us with a volley of execrations instead of grape shot. However, we
completed our work by taking the requisite bearings and planting a buoy,
which was cut adrift the same night for a large reward, and carried
about the town in great triumph and procession, and generally believed
to be a Yankee bomb. Indeed, these Mazatlanese were extremely wroth and
patriotic during the blockade, and it was only a week preceding our
advent, that they had illuminated the town in honor of Santa Anna's
victory at Buena Vista. The fact was, the Mexican general's dispatch was
not altogether so clear as the circumstances of the case demanded, and
it admitted of a variety of constructions.

Still, after escaping the bolts of Mars, we came near being sacrificed
to the cestus of Venus, for, on pulling towards a rocky ledge, we
discovered two sunny-faced maidens, one attired in a red camisetta, and
the other waiving a _manta_, in a most enticing and beguiling manner.
Intercourse with fashionable society impelled me, from politeness, to
regard them through a glass, and a capital spy-glass it proved to be,
for I was able to discern thirty or forty of their admirers temporarily
ensconced behind the rocks, and each, too, adorned with a musket. We
halted, made a low obeisance, and retreated rapidly on board, leaving
them the opportunity of forwarding a despatch by express, to
head-quarters, narrating how _los Yankis eran repulsados en varios
puntos_--how the Yankees were put to flight.

On the following morning was captured the first prize--a miserable
little schooner from San Blas, laden with plank and plaintains,
rejoicing in the classic appellation of Diana, and having given the
boats a smart pull, she was christened the chased Diana. The Patron was
Italian, who wept like a pump--talked of his utter ruin, and starving
_bambinos_ to such an extent, that after taking and paying liberally for
his fruit and lumber, he was permitted to depart; he afterwards proved
to be an arrant rogue, and turned an honest penny while the war lasted,
by smuggling powder to the Mexicans. He was too wily to be caught the
second time.

At night there were always signal fires burning on the hill tops around
the town, as a warning to vessels approaching the coast; but with all
their vigilance and caution, our boats after being out all night,
generally returned with some indifferent prizes--at best it was but
pin-hook business, for we cared not to make war upon the poor, causing
us constant annoyance, and after all the trouble the little prizes were
released with lightened cargoes, and heavier pockets of the owners, for
which no doubt, the scamps would have been pleased to be captured daily.

In a few days our consort received orders to blockade Guaymas, a port of
some commercial importance, nearly at the head of the gulf of
California, and she accordingly sailed, leaving a small prize tender, a
schooner of about forty tons, to be "turned over," in a professional
sense, to the flag-ship--there being no more enterprising person than
myself who cared to assume so imposing a command, I was at once
installed in the skipper ship and was immediately paddled on board.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] The correct latitude is 29° 14'.



CHAPTER XIV.


Leaping over the taffrail of the Rosita, without the aid of an
accommodation ladder, I found myself the monarch of a peopled deck of
fifteen trusty sailors, and a small boy, to whose trust, from sad
experience, I confided nothing uncorked or unlocked. There were the same
number of carbines, pistols, pikes, cutlasses, fishing lines and a few
other etceteras, pitched in bulk on the floor of a small cabin, just
sufficiently bunkish to stow my very worthy first lieutenant, Mr. Earl,
and my own rather unportly self. This, I believe, comprised all the
equipage that was to add dignity to the flag of so tall an admiral.
Hoisting all sail in the afternoon, and bobbing about a number of hours,
we came to anchor during the night under lee of the Venados
Islands--piles of rugged red rocks, five hundred feet high,--steep,
precipitous, parched, and arid: their situation was within a mile from
the main land, and ten times that space from the frigate's anchorage; an
excellent position for intercepting small craft, bound from the Gulf
into the old port of Mazatlan. We soon had the little Rosa clean and
trim; got up new spars, and on their tapering stems spread loftier
muslin than those she had been accustomed to carry, which, in the
absence of proper materials, the sailors had quickly fashioned out of
duck frocks. Then we scrubbed her bottom, re-arranged the stowage, put
on a new coat of paint, so that she worked like a top, sailed tolerably
well, and with her Yankee pennant and flag might fairly make her old
masters on the shore right proud of the little craft, and indulge, as
they did, in some yearnings to get hold of her again. Our life was not
one of quiet repose, nor were we overburthened with luxuries and
comforts, but anything is better than the insufferable monotony of a
ship of war, even though one loses in comfort by the exchange; for we
had variety and excitement, which of itself is preferable to the tame
stupidity of the quarter-deck of a big ship, or uninterrupted yawnings
in the gun-room.

We were boarded the first morning by three drunken Englishmen, in a
whale-boat, who informed us that the frigate's boats had captured a fine
schooner called the Correo. They also brought off what is consularly
termed "a distressed American," a very sombre-hued person, who, by his
own showing, gave us reason to believe him a Carolina nigger, whose
asperities of wool and color had been somewhat softened by being
engrafted on a more distinguished stock in the city of Boston. His
profession was that of cook, and the most urgent cause of bidding
farewell to a large and extensive assortment of friends in Mazatlan, was
that he became involved by some unforeseen mercantile transaction to the
amount of nine dollars, over and above his comeatable assets; for this
dereliction from the paths of honesty, he was offered a choice of being
half starved in the _carcel_ or entirely starved out of it, with a
musket in his embrace fighting the enemies of the republic. Amid so
serious an accumulation of horrors, not being troubled with heavy
baggage, he ensconced himself within the Englishman's boat, and was
exhibited to us on the memorable occasion of his presentation, attired
in a white beaver hat and trowsers of but one leg. A few words we caught
of his opening address was to the effect that,--"bress de Lord, he was
wunce more under de country's flag, and if dem Mexikers kotched him
agin, dey'd have to fotch him dead." The following morning doctor Barret
appeared newly skinned, in old clothes the crew had furnished, busy as a
demon in the mysteries of the caboose; hinting his capacity for the
office by proclaiming that he had been "head bottle-washer of a
Liverpool liner, with glass nubs on de cabin doors!" The doctor soon
became oracle of the schooner, and, albeit, tickled our palates with the
most savory of messes.

For a day or two we did nothing but cruise pleasantly around the
islands, within sight of the Mexican pickets, sometimes landing on the
larger Venado, and scooping up, from a natural bowl, a few gallons of
fresh water that was distilled from the dew, and trickled down between
crevices of the rocks. The climate, though excessively damp, was yet
delightfully agreeable, tempered by the most regular succession of
diurnal sea breezes. It never rains out of season, and were it not for
the heavy night dews, the very birds would famish. Until now we had made
no prizes, saving quantities of excellent fish jerked out of old
Neptune's bosom, without going through the forms of condemnation by a
court of admiralty. Once we made a swoop on a small shallop, manned by a
couple of Frenchmen, but finding nothing for the trouble, and the Patron
swearing he would, under cover of night, bring us on board something
green and eatable, we set him at liberty, after whispering in my ear the
request that Messieurs would discharge a carbine over his boat to
preserve his honor; which mild compliment we promised to comply with.
All this did very well, and we had begun to be quite happy in our
independence. We discovered the best fishing rocks, clearest bathing
beach, and purest pool of water, when the powers above us, kind souls,
judged we were too far removed from the parental protection of their
guns; talked about the possibility of our being cut out, and cut up, and
so forth; and the little Rosa was ordered to take a nearer station by
the Flag-ship. There we lay rolling and tumbling in the worst possible
sea and humor, within a cable's length of the Constance, keeping a
bright look-out on the town, and a brighter still on a surf chafing rock
near our counter. Then again, we would run round little Creston, which
forms a sort of gate-post to the new port, and get in comparatively
smooth water, and bathe twice a day; eat sparingly, per force, and do
anything to fill up the crevices of indolence; until at last we were
again ordered to resume our former position, and the Rosa gladly
stretched her wings, and the same day dropped her anchors at the old
birth, under shelter of Venados.

At the faintest crack of dawn the next morning, a sail was seen creeping
close along the main land; in a few seconds we were springing away in
the whale-boat, most of us sans culottes. The chase was a large
sloop-rigged launch, with a great big sail, swelling to the land wind,
and urging the vessel rapidly towards the harbor. She had a long start,
but then eight ash oars acting on a light whale boat will make it skim
like a gull over the water. We were upon them before they knew it, but
on becoming aware of our proximity, and finding themselves within a
stone's throw of the _garita_, they raised their voices in shrill notes
for assistance from the garrison. I felt quite assured, however, that
Mexican soldiers were not given to early rising. As a last resort the
Patron put the helm down, hauled aft the sail, with intention of
running, what I considered to be our property, on the beach. This
proceeding laid me under the necessity of attracting attention, and
covering his red shirt with a carbine, I shouted, _Mira!_--look out! He
dropped as if actually shot, the sail caught aback, the launch fell off
from the wind, and in an instant we were alongside. By this time the
guard on shore were getting their eyes open, but before they
comprehended the true state of the case, the distance was so wide
between us, that burning powder would have been an utter waste of
bullets; very possibly they consoled themselves, as did the Patron and
crew, with paper cigars. The prize proved to be from La Paz, with a
cargo of sugar, dried fruits, and cloth; but what was far more valuable
in our estimation a few sacks of potatoes, upon which we levied tribute,
and then sent the vessel to the Flag-ship. We had very little reason to
plume ourselves upon this exploit, for the same afternoon we were placed
in a nearly similar predicament. Whilst beating between the islands and
main, with baffling light breezes, we became embayed, within a little
indentation of the coast; and shortly afterwards a dozen Indian girls
ran along the beach, making most polite and hospitable offers of
service, if we chose to disembark. At the same time we could not help
remarking the heads of numbers of desultory Mexicans, peeping out from
the under growth that lined the banks. Our position was certainly
somewhat critical, for the schooner had missed stays, and was sagging
slowly into the rollers; and we became painfully alive to the fact that
the little Rosa would inevitably return to her former masters. But, many
thanks to San Antonio, the breeze freshened, and getting out sweeps, and
using them with a will, we got the little lady's head off shore; the
sails filled, and away we danced across the straits. This lucky change
in our fortunes was not so well relished by our acquaintances on the
shore, for immediately a troop of thirteen dragoons, with an officer,
rode down to the beach, flourishing their long spears, in what we now
thought a very furious and funny style, and then galloped and pranced
along the shore, to our entire satisfaction. We saluted them graciously,
by hoisting the American ensign over the Mexican, and thus bid them
adios. From one of the lofty eminences of the islands, which commands an
extensive view of the plains, and suburbs of Mazatlan, we perceived,
near the scene of our escape, an encampment of about two hundred
soldiers; so we resolved to run no more risks in future, merely for the
sake of being lanced to death for their diversion.

The next day we had another sail, and anchored near the upper island,
dipped the last pint of fresh water from the basin, and, with one of the
sailors I took a tramp over the hills--but such a parched, burning,
suffocating promenade can be found no where else: here and there were
dense, impassable thickets of cactus and aloes, and the air reeked with
the odor of pelicans and nests swarming with young; while the newly
fledged birds bore a strong resemblance to slim old gentlemen enveloped
in yellow flannel morning gowns. On reaching the beach we were glad to
plunge in a tepid bath, within a clear briny pool, shaded by a straight
wall of rocks. Much refreshed, we rowed over to the windward _venado_,
and having heard that deer had been seen, we started in pursuit. This
island is less abrupt than its neighbor. On the eastern side there is a
wide slope, and at the time of our visit it was covered with tall dry
grass. Leaving a party to haul the seine and broil our breakfast, on the
beach, we commenced the ascent, and seating ourselves on a pile of
rocks, about the summit, we perceived that the prairie beneath had been
set on fire, and was flying towards us with the most amazing rapidity.
We quickly gained a rocky acclivity thirty feet above the ground, and
had the satisfaction of seeing the red flames lick the naked rocks at
our feet, scorch the undergrowth to cinders, and then pass like the wind
coursing towards the other end of the island, leaving us nearly
suffocated with smoke, but thankful to have escaped the flames. This
incident was sufficiently amusing, without indulging in the excitement
of the chase; and we retraced our steps over the charred and blackened
soil to the beach, even then rather wanting in appetite for breakfast.
The same evening, after a delightful surfy swim, and while my pleasant
confrére was getting the arms recapped, nettings triced up, and all in
readiness for the night's vigil, preparatory to a sip of cold grog,
incited by fumes of a cigar, we saw a rocket let off from the main, and
being presently followed by a long stream of fire, terminating in a
bright galaxy of stars from the frigate, we supposed it to be intended
to answer a signal from us for assistance, which proved to be the case;
for in a few hours a large cutter, filled with men, came dashing
alongside to aid us. We were grieved to thwart their anticipations of a
skrimmage, and not so grateful as we should have been for the extreme
solicitude exercised for our well-being on board, for it was the means
next day of telegraphing us down to the ship. "Come within hail," said
the bunting; "anchor where you can comfortably." So it was up helm, and
in the dusk, the Rosita crept stealthily under the sombre shade of
Creston, and let go the _killick_ at the gap beneath the signal-tower.
We were neither so quiet nor secret in our movements as not to attract
attention from the town, and shortly we could discern boats stealing
along the shadows of the bluff, evidently reconnoitering. We had no fear
of a surprise, for there was always three pair of eyes on the look-out,
and a man at the mast-head. Mr. Earl and myself having no fancy for
being overrun by mice and cockroaches, snoozed away on deck, always on
the qui-vive; besides, the arms were constantly in perfect readiness,
and the men to handle them as determined a set of matelots as ever
grasped a cutlass; and notwithstanding we were lying within point blank
distance of a contemptible three-gun battery, we took the precaution to
anchor in line of the English frigate, feeling assured that our Mexican
friends would be exceedingly loth to pitch a round shot at us, with the
probability of hitting Mr. Bull on the horns; consequently, so far as
mere safety was concerned, it did not in the least affect our repose.

The next morning, after capturing old Jack's oyster-boat, which was of
daily occurrence, in a friendly way, at two dollars the hundred, in
company with the Correo, Captain Luigi, we sailed thirty miles down the
coast, but finding the ocean deserted, and not so much as a canoe to be
seen, we beat back; the next day made our official respects to the
frigate, and thence returned to Venados. Here again, in the absence of
more agreeable excitement; we trapped crabs, shot curlew, paddled about
the beach, or amused ourselves hauling the seine. One afternoon, after
taking immense quantities of fine fishes, of every size, shape and
color, one scaly mullet of plethoric caliber, weighing some forty
pounds, leaped five feet out of the net, clearing seine and floats, and
terminated the performance by running a joust full tilt at a big burly
Irishman, breaking the bridge of his nose, and keeling him over and over
in the water like winkin'. "Take him off, be Jasus!" shouted Paddy,
accompanied by fearful struggles in the water. It was rather a ludicrous
incident to all except the sufferer. The same evening we had another
visit from the oystermen, and the trio were more than usually groggy.
Contrary to our advice, Jack determined to face the town once more,
brave the captain of the port, and have a lark, as he said, off the two
hundred and more _pesos_ made on board the Yankee frigate. Away he went,
but, owing to his faculties being somewhat obscured, and mistaking the
channel, the boat got among heavy breakers, was capsized, and stove to
atoms. One man was drowned, old Jack himself water-logged, and drifted
on shore without a dollar, and the next morning was consigned to the
_carcel_ for trading with the enemy. The remaining companion was picked
up at daylight on a reef of rocks, and taken on board our ship; but he,
too, poor follow, met with a violent death eighteen months later.
However, unconscious of old Jack's misfortunes, it did not prevent us
from feasting on his oysters; and the fires of the caboose were soon
sparkling under broiling mullets, roasted potatoes, and what was to be a
_chef d'oeuvre_ of Doctor Barret--a steaming chowder. We were about to
begin a series of naval entertainments. Even our little French
goblin-faced valet, Gashé, devoted his energies for once in his life to
the matter in hand; and, by the way, if ever a being on this earth was
gifted with ubiquity, this youth was he: there was no mischief dreamed
of that he was not an adept in. When not attempting some unknown method
of loading or priming a carbine or pistol, he was perched on the
fore-truck, swinging on the main-gaff, stealing sugar in the pantry,
smoking himself sick with a pipe, or playing pranks on the sailors; and
on a certain occasion, when he tumbled on deck from the
fore-cross-trees--a height that would nearly have killed a mere
mortal--we all treated it as such a capital joke, and laughed so
unmercifully, that the imp sprang to his feet, jumped overboard, and
swam on shore.

The little Rosa was lying calmly at anchor--watch and lookouts at their
stations--awnings closely tented, and veiled around the
quarter-deck--arms and ammunition glittering beneath the light from a
lantern swinging beneath the main boom, while the arrangement for the
banquet was spread in two exact rows, along the lid of an arm-chest,
with camp-stools ranged around. Captain Luigi and his mate brought their
own spoons and white sugar. Our worthy boatswain, Mr. Mills, who came as
lord of the seine, was our common guest, and was spooned and fed from
the general contribution. We fell to and did full justice to the feast,
pleasantly diversified by a narrative from Doctor Barret of his dark
true-love in Boston, and a pitched battle that suddenly arose towards
the close of the entertainment, between Monsieur Gashé and Captain
Luigi's butler, a youthful Swede, called Baron Stockholm, who
incautiously accused the valet of surreptitiously secreting divers
table-knives and crockery, belonging to the Correo. Thereupon the fight
ensued, and when finally concluded, much to the regret of the audience,
our guests withdrew to a canoe, and paddled to their vessel.

Soon after daylight the next morning, the report of a gun came booming
from the Commodore. A large ship was lying becalmed in the offing; by
the aid of the glass we could see the little bright-colored flags
talking to the stranger, and presently our number was displayed, and the
telegraph said, "Prepare to give up the schooner." Alas! shorn of our
honors, we slowly hove up the anchor--made all sail--spliced the
main-brace--and thus ended our fortnight's cruise in the Rosita.



CHAPTER XV.


During the period of our blockade, which lasted but thirty-four days,
there were no demonstrations made by the authorities of Mazatlan, to
pronounce against their government, nor any steps taken on our side to
compel them to do so. Finding there was no intention of molesting them,
the alarm excited by our arrival soon subsided, and with the exception
of exchanging a few musket shots occasionally, between the boats and
shore, everything went on as quietly and peacefully as if no hostile
force was at their gates. The commandante of Mazatlan was Colonel
Telles, an Habanéro by birth, and withal a brave man. He had pronounced
against Vegas, the President of the province, and the troops of the town
being devoted to him, he, of course, like all other disaffected persons
in Mexico, assumed supreme direction of affairs, and laid violent hands
on all moneys in the custom-house. He was described as a pleasant
convivial person, keeping quite a seraglio of his own, and altogether an
eligible acquaintance; a character, of which at a later date, when there
was better means of judging, we found no cause to change our opinion.
Just previous to our arrival a messenger reached Mazatlan with
instructions for Telles to resign his authority to General Bustamente,
who was en route, and charged with full powers from the Mexican
government, to direct the province of Sinaloa. Colonel Telles very
discreetly incarcerated the emmissary in the cabildo, and begged him to
inform his master, the General, that there was no necessity for
disorganizing his ideas about the government of the port, as he, Telles,
would retain authority so long as he deemed proper. It had the desired
effect, for there was nothing afterwards heard of Bustamente.

Leaving Mazatlan to be guarded by our consort, we sailed on the morning
of the third of June, bound once more to Upper California. Long before
dark, Creston had disappeared below the horizon, and the ship went
calmly pushing her way towards the broad ocean. At meridian of the
twelfth, the sun measured an altitude nearly vertical, our shadows
vanished, and we resembled that facetious Dutchman, Mr. Peter Schemmell,
who, it is said, disposed of his to the devil; at the same time while
throwing the log, a voracious monster snapped up the log-chip, swallowed
some fathoms of line, broke it, and went on his way unconcernedly, thus
verifying the old song:


     "A shark being on our starboard, boys!
     For sharks d'ye see don't stand,
     But grapple all they get at, boys!
     Like sharks they do on land."


Without any other incident worthy of remark, we continued hugging the
wind, and describing a great segment of a circle, until after passing
through the prevailing north-easterly trades, we attained a latitude of
thirty-six, and then being met by the west winds, we turned to the
coast, and began sailing swiftly towards our destination.

The twenty-fifth day from Mazatlan saw us in sight of the red woods
that fringe the Santa Cruz mountains, and that night as the moon sank
glimmering down, we let run the cables in the bay of Monterey.



CHAPTER XVI.


Being charged with dispatches for San Francisco, an early breakfast and
hasty preparations soon placed me astride a dragoon's saddle. Attended
by an artillery soldier and six horses for escort and cavallada, I drove
a sombrero hard on my head, the spur yet harder in the ribs of my
cavallo, and away we sallied en route. The sun had passed the meridian
when we reached the Salinas plains, and we stopped to change horses at
the Molino--a simple performance for one who can swing the lasso at any
time, but for those unacquainted with the mode, it is requisite to drive
the beasts into the corral, near every rancho, and catch one at leisure.
I found my friend Anderson as hospitable and convivial as ever, and,
after a mutual exchange of greetings and drinks, we galloped off across
the plains. Instead of the smiling grassy deserts, gaudy flowers, and
narrow canals of spring, I beheld parched earth, large patches of wild
mustard, and miles of wild oats. Before accomplishing many leagues, one
of the best little beasts of the cavallada eluded the vigilance of my
body-guard, and we were compelled to abandon him. However, I made a
forcible loan of a black mare brousing by the road-side--according to
the custom of the country--and which, indeed, proved an admirable ally
towards the close of our journey. Before entering the gorge that leads
over the mountains on the opposite side of the Salinas, we halted at a
rancho--and peeping in at the door of an outbuilding, I discovered two
industrious persons playing cards with much interest and
deliberation--there was no cash up, but they assured me that each bean
before them, which marked the game, was a transferable I O U for a
bullock. One of the party was brother to the last Mexican governor of
the territory--who absconded to Mazatlan, after showing a feeble and
futile resistance to Commodore Stockton. He appeared somewhat pleased by
the information I was able to communicate from his relative, Don José
Castro, but not sufficiently so to interrupt the constant interchange of
beans between him and his grave companion. We commenced ascending the
pass that bars the road to the valley of St. Johns, and after winding a
couple of hours slowly among the hills, gained the topmost ridge--which
commands a fine triangular view of the rich slopes and plains below--and
then soon accomplished the descent--passing the ruined village and
dilapidated mission of San Juan, we galloped briskly around. On the road
I enticed a mounted Indian into service by a taste from the brandy
bottle, to act as _vacuero_--by no means a sinecure birth with such a
lazy perverse set of brutes as we possessed--but I was grieved to find
the soldier, sent as my guide and defender, had more than he was equal
to in keeping himself and musket in the saddle. Moreover, he was neither
amiable nor companionable--a serious crime for a traveler--and I was
obliged at times, to drive and catch the horses, talk for him, and in
fact, do all but eat and sleep for him--which last accomplishments he
enjoyed in perfection, having a constitution like refined steel. I am
happy to add, out of regard for the army, that he deserted shortly
afterwards; although he forgot in his hurry to return a silver cup of
mine.

Skirting along the banks of a rapid stream, the shades of night began
to fall as we drew bridles at a small rancho of one Don Herman. Our
host, as usual with the race, was making a slight repast on a paper
cigar: he was very cordial, and good-looking, as was also his still
handsome old sposa. Like everybody I encountered before and since in the
interior, they inquired when the United States Government would pay for
horses and cattle taken during the war. _Quien sabe_--who knows--always
came to my aid, and I drawled it out much to the purpose. Indeed, though
our Californian Volunteers be good men and true among their own kith and
kindred, yet their mistaken ideas of what constituted civilized warfare
made them the most unscrupulous of freebooters; and they could be
tracked far and near in their thirst for their enemy's horses and asses.

My host had no children, but, like Spanish padres, lots of nephews and
nieces. Amid a detached group of young people, I observed a pretty
little girl, as I at first supposed a child, nursing an infant, but on
inquiry I learned that she was the mother at fourteen, and had been
married two years and a half; a fact which beats East India jungles for
the precocity of women. Again on the road, with the husband of the
little baby-mother for guide, who, by the way, was a most consummate
scamp, incessantly urging me to make a short detour of five or six
leagues, to dance all night at a fandango; and on taxing him with his
gallivanting, and inconstant disposition among the softer sex, he
replied, with an air of triumph,--_O! yo he engañado muchas!_--Bless
you, I've broken the hearts of dozens--although he did not inspire me
with being so determined a Lothario as he himself believed.

On we spurred, and urged the jaded steeds some leagues further, when we
came upon the rancho of Carlos Castro. I was half famished from a long
day's fast, but there was neither bread nor edible matter in the hut.
At last the buxom mistress asked me, _Quiere huevos?_--have an
egg;--_caramba! si amiga!_--Why did not you tell me of this before? She
was good enough to boil exactly fourteen, hard as bullets, but, what is
equally incredible, I ate them all without salt; and then being in good
humor with all the world, threw a peso in the kind Señora's lap, and
with a lively adios, turned our horses' heads again towards the north
star. The moon was riding high, round, and gleaming as the silver dollar
I had just thrown the good lady, flooding the whole lovely plain, with
its waving fields of yellow oats, and magnificent clusters of oaks, in
one continuous vista of unexampled beauty. Five leagues beyond we struck
off to the right, and after losing our path repeatedly, amid beds of
water-courses, and bolls of trees, and when I was on the point of giving
orders for a night bivouac on the sweet and yielding grain, we became
aware of our proximity to a habitation by the usual barking diapason of
half an hundred dogs and curs, and I was not sorry to swing my weary
limbs from the saddle after a hard ride of eighty miles. In a few
minutes I was stretched beside the proprietor of the rancho, Mr. Murphy,
and as kind a specimen of the true Milesian as ever took leave of the
Hill of Hoath. I knew that by the kindly tone of his voice; but I fell
sound asleep, giving the old gentleman an account of the battle of Cerro
Gordo, and never moved until long after sunrise. On awaking, I found
myself in a dwelling constructed of pickets, driven perpendicularly into
the ground, the apertures filled in with mud, and all covered by a
roughly-thatched roof. The enclosure was rather a primitive, and I
should judge temporary affair, to serve the first year or two of an
emigrant's home. The dwelling was large enough, however, to comprise
capacious beds in three of its angles, a couple of tables, dresser,
chairs, and a variety of useful articles scattered around the earth
floor, but all presenting a far neater appearance than usually
characterised the ranchos of the country. I was not left long to
conjecture the cause of this tidiness, for whilst lacing my moccasins,
preparatory to a yawn and shake, by way of toilette, I was saluted by a
very nice young woman, with the hope that I had slept well, and at the
same time presented with a large bowl of water and clean towel, by the
young lady herself, who was afterwards introduced to me by her good
father, as his daughter Ellen. She was tall and well made, a very
pleasing face, lighted by fine dark grey eyes, black hair, and
beautifully white teeth. I learned from her own rosy lips that she was
the first American girl that ever walked over the mighty barrier of the
Californian sierras, which she accomplished with one of her brothers,
leaving the wagons, and her friends, to follow on a longer route. They
were a large family, and most of the children born in Canada, thence
_locating_ in Missouri, and so on to the farthest West in California.
There were four stalwart sons, who had all more or less been engaged in
the last troubles, and had shown the natives a choice mould of bullets
from their unerring rifles. They treated me with the utmost kindness;
and after partaking of a capital breakfast of new eggs, hot bread, cream
and _lomo_--tenderloin--prepared by their pretty sister, I felt quite
equal to a short tramp among the hills, particularly upon finding the
horses well nigh knocked up, and requiring a few hours more rest.

The rancho was situated on the northern verge of the broad valley, on
the borders of a pure sparkling stream, surrounded in every direction,
far and near, with golden lakes of wild oats, thickly studded and shaded
by the oaks. In company with one of the boys, Dan, we followed up the
course of the stream for a mile or more, and I then had the satisfaction
of sending a ball through and through the shoulders of a large doe.
Dragging the carcass down to the water, and divesting it of its jacket,
we then did the same ourselves, and swam and plashed for an hour in the
little torrent. At the same time, with an extempore rod, twine, hook,
and a "devil's darning-needle" for bait, Dan pulled out from a limpid
pool delightful salmon-trout, full two feet in length; I ate part of
one, and a charming fellow he was. Leaving our deer to the varmints, we
returned to the rancho at noon, dined, and again boot and saddle; struck
the road, and six or eight leisurely leagues brought us to the
settlement of Puebla de San José. Here I was most civilly received, and
entertained by an American gentleman, Mr. Ruckle, to whom I bore a
letter. Supper, good old sherry, a cigar, and four hour's sleep; up
betimes, and sent the jaded animals on to the Mission of Santa Clara for
a bite of grass. I remained to break my fast at the house of an
agreeable white-toothed lady named Pico, and then, accompanied by Mr.
Ruckle, we hurried along the road which traverses the plain, shaded by
noble avenues of oaks and willows. The Mission stands but a league from
the Puebla, presents a tolerably flourishing appearance, with a
well-preserved church, clusters of out-buildings, and well-cultivated
gardens. It is by far the most important and respectable settlement of
its kind in this portion of the territory; and since the dispersion of
the priests, and confiscation of church-lands, has still fortunately
retained a mite of its former wealth and influence. The good Padres, a
score or more years ago, were pleased to live well; and their
well-filled granaries, cultivated grounds, and myriads of horses and
cattle--in all praise be it said--were the first to induce the native
Indians, who, in brutish ignorance and social degradation are even now
but a remove from beasts of the field, to devote their time to some
useful employment. By these means the shrewd Fathers never lacked
comfortable houses to shelter them, nor raiment to clothe their sleek
skins.[2]

Tarrying but a few minutes at Santa Clara, and selecting the best horses
of the cavallada, I parted with Mr. Ruckle and continued my journey; the
first fifteen miles was wearisome labor with our worn-out beasts, and we
stopped for breath at a ranchito of a pretty little widow, who did the
amiable most refreshingly by handing me a dish of raspberries and cream.
Seeing a filthy Indian poke them out of a bottle with a stick,
occasionally giving it a suck, did not enhance the flavor of the fruit.
A short league beyond, we came to another mud-built rancho, and our
horses having apparently determined to proceed no farther, accordingly
tumbled down; there were half a dozen women and children about the hut
busily employed in cutting beef in long strips for drying; but they
continued their occupation without deigning to cast even a glance of
sympathy upon our pitiable plight. Indignation getting the better of my
misfortunes, I kicked off the spurs and marched bravely up to the
mansion; then, after dodging about under long fringes of raw beef, I was
suddenly confronted by a stout dame, with a mass of meat clutched in one
hand, and a dripping knife long as her arm in the other; this savage
apparition rather abashed me, and I timidly inquired how she did? She
merely gave a sharp upward jerk to her chin, with an ireful visage--as
much as to say, "I'm in excellent preservation, don't bother
yourself"--pointing to my foundered studs, I politely urged the
necessity of procuring fresh horses! "_No, Señor! no hay!_ the horses
are all mares, the mares are wild--there is no one to catch them"--in
other words--I'll see you in purgatory first. So I called up a little
resolution, though far from feeling it, and letting the butt of my rifle
fall heavily to the ground, I said, "Hark ye, my friend, if you don't
speedily furnish me with beasts I'll make a seizure of that fine animal
I see saddled in the corral; besides, I'm willing to pay liberally." At
the word "money" the patrona's features relaxed, _tu no eres
voluntario_--she remarked!--_por dios! no! mi alma yo soy de la marina,
y Católico ademas!_--I'm a sailor and a good Catholic to boot. At this
last admission and the sight of a handful of bright pesos, the whole
party surrounded me--_ah! tan malicimos son esos malditos voluntarios!
Ave Maria! El oficial no es herége--es Christiano--y pagara los
caballos_--ah, what light-fingered gentry were the Volunteers; but the
gentleman is a Christian, not a heretic, and going to pay like a
trump--they exclaimed. There was still some doubts as to whether I
intended to pay in _effectos_ or hard tin, and if I could make it
convenient to liquidate a few outstanding claims which some of my
countrymen had forgotten to adjust; but when satisfied on that point a
small boy ran off to drive in the cavallada. Meanwhile the Señora poured
me out a cup of aguadiente, touched her lips to it, and handed it to me
to quaff. The drove of horses was soon brought up, and as a particular
favor, the patrona selected her own nag to bear me--a small mare and
natural pacer that rattled along at a great rate without whip or
spur--embracing the party, we again mounted and started off in fine
style. The country has the same lovely aspect as in the vicinity of San
José; great level plains teeming in wild grain, and wide-spreading
foliage of oaks, chesnuts, maple and willows, enclosed between
high-swelling hills. In fact the country for more than forty leagues of
this broad valley is so perfectly level that a coach could be driven in
any direction without serious obstruction; however, there is one
annoyance to which horses are subjected, in the multitudes of holes
burroughed by a species of ground squirrels, very frequently bringing
horse and rider to their faces. A few leagues rapid travelling brought
us in sight of the southern arm of the waters of San Francisco, and
skirting along its shores, by sunset we had left the low country,
traversed the rugged hills of the sea-girt peninsular, floundered knee
deep in the sandy road, and by nightfall I found myself comfortably
housed with a generous batchelor friend, Mr. Frank Ward, in Yerbabuena.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] This Mission, according to Vancouver, was established in 1778, by
Franciscans, which, with one founded three years previously at San
Francisco, were the northernmost settlements of any description formed
by the court of Spain, on the continental shores of north-west America,
exclusive of Nootka. Although the Jesuits had planted the cross on the
lower territory, on the peninsula at Loretto (1697), they had not
explored the west coast. Of all the numerous voyagers of note who have
visited and written upon California--Perouse, Vancouver, Kotzbue,
Belcher, Wilkes, and others--there is not one whose delineations are
characterized with so much truth and simplicity as Vancouver,--not only
in this territory, but in the groups of Polynesia. He must have been
truly a good man. His intercourse with the untutored savages of the
Pacific was ever tempered with justice and humanity. He did more than
any succeeding navigator in stocking the islands with cattle, and his
scientific duties were executed with exceeding accuracy for the means at
his command. The English may well be proud of the renown he has shed
upon the land of his birth; and his name will be for ever cherished in
the Pacific, when the unscrupulous deeds of his great Commander shall
have been forgotten.



CHAPTER XVII.


Remaining but a few days in Yerbabuena, and when on the point of taking
leave, I met with a brace of navy men, who were about to sail up the Bay
for a hunt among the hills; so giving orders to the brave courier to
join me at Puebla, I embarked with my friends one day at noon in a small
launch, and a stiff sea-breeze soon wafted us forty miles; then entering
a narrow creek, formed by high sedgy reeds that sprang from the shallow
water, we performed a tortuous serpentine track, in a labyrinth that
fairly required Ariadne's clue to thread its mazy windings; actually
sailing sixteen miles to gain three, as the bird flies; at last we
arrived at the _embarcadera_ of San José; and after a fatiguing walk, at
dark we came upon a tenement. The house was filled with women and dogs,
who chattered and cheated, dinned and dunned us to such a pitch that we
were obliged to seek shelter elsewhere; and accordingly we _packed_ our
saddles, blankets and rifles, and at about nine o'clock reached the
estate of one Don Ignacio de Sylva. Our host received us with open arms,
prepared a supper of beef and _tortillas_, and in return, we
complimented him with strong rummers of punch; his fat spouse joined in
the festivities, and when the evening was somewhat advanced, a
shake-down was arranged for us on the floor of the _sala_, which,
fortunately for fleas and ourselves, chanced to be laid with a floor of
boards. My slumbers were greatly disturbed by being placed in full view
of a pretty young brunette, whose light from an adjoining apartment
threw her form in most distinct rays of animated beauty, amusing herself
the while playing with a baby, whilst her filthy villain of a husband
regaled himself for an hour or more with a _cigarrito_. My dreams were
none of the pleasantest, and I was glad when day dawned to light me out
of the dwelling, and breathe the pure morning air. _Como les gusta á los
Americanos el fresco_, said our lazy host, as he sat wrapped in a
blanket on a hide, observing me take a bath in a little rivulet near by;
_se hace daño_--be the death of him--as he blew the cigar smoke from his
lungs with a deep sigh! Notwithstanding his indolence we found him a
most consummate extortioner, and after throwing every impediment in our
way, he hired us miserable horses at an extravagant rate; and then
mounting, we took the road over a dry, salt, marshy country. Passing the
mission of St. Josephs, we never halted until reaching Puebla, where we
were most kindly welcomed by Mr. Ruckle. The town is planted in the
midst of the great plain, with small streams of water, which is much
needed elsewhere, coursing on either side. The place contained some five
hundred inhabitants, the dwellings all of the adobie mud-built order of
architecture, with but one road between them: for ten leagues around the
land is most fertile, and the country in many respects appears to
possess great advantages, and has the reputation of being the garden of
Upper California. We saw quantities of fruits, peas, peaches, and
grapes, very unripe, but the natives like them the better green.

Under no contingency does the natural face of Upper California appear
susceptible of supporting a very large population; the country is hilly
and mountainous; great dryness prevails during the summers, and
occasionally excessive droughts parch up the soil for periods of twelve
or eighteen months. Only in the plains and valleys where streams are to
be found, and even those will have to be watered by artificial
irrigation, does there seem the hope of being sufficient tillable land
to repay the husbandman and afford subsistence to the inhabitants. Sheep
and cattle may be raised to any extent; as the gentle slopes, clothed in
rich wild grasses, afford excellent districts for grazing.

We breakfasted at the residence of a plain, sensible and industrious
family of emigrants from Virginia, named Campbell; then strolling to the
banks of a little rivulet, we took siesta beneath the shade of drooping
willows, surrounded by groups of brunettas washing in the pools near by.
In the afternoon my fellow travellers left me for their hunt among the
mountains; and upon learning that Commodore Stockton was in the village,
I immediately made my homage. He was by long odds the most popular
person in California, and by his enthusiasm, energy, and determination,
accomplished more, even with the limited means at his command, in the
acquisition of this valuable territory, than any other man before or
since, who has planted his foot on the soil.

The following day was Sunday, the Fourth of July, and moreover the fast
day of the Patron Saint of California--_Nuestra Señora del Refugio_.
Meeting Miss Ellen Murphy and brother on the road bound to high mass at
the mission, I agreed to accompany them and return to their rancho in
the evening. There was a large assemblage in Santa Clara, and we
attended church. The building was oblong, painted roughly in fresco, and
decorated with a number of coarse paintings, and lots of swallow-tailed,
green and yellow satin pennants dangling from the ceiling. During
service an indefatigable cannonier, outside, gave frequent _feux de
joie_, from a graduated scale of diminutive culverins--made of brass in
shape of pewter porter pots, half filled with powder, and the charge
rammed down with pounded bricks--this with music of kettle-drums,
cymbals and fiddles made a very respectable din; there were two
gentlemanly priests of the order of Saint Francisco, whose acquaintance
I afterwards made, who preached each a brief sermon with eloquence and
force. Among the congregation were all the belles and dandies of the
valley; the former kneeled demurely on little rugs or bits of carpet in
the nave of the church; but the latter were lounging near the
doors--their gala costume is quite in keeping with Andalusia--and one
handsome fellow at my side took my eye, as I have no doubt he did that
of many a brighter. He was dressed in a close-fitting blue cloth jacket;
sky-blue velvet trowsers, slashed from the thigh down, and jingling with
small filagree silver buttons; snow-white laced _calçoncillos_,
terminated by nicely stamped and embroidered _botas_; around the waist
was passed a heavy crimson silk sash; a gay woollen serapa hung
gracefully over the shoulder; in one hand a sugar-loafed, glazed
sombrero, bound with thick silver cords; and in the other, silver spurs
of an enormous size, each spike of the rowels two inches long: all these
bright colors--set off by dark, brilliant eyes, jetty black locks, and
pliant figure--would have made him irresistible anywhere. Turning
towards me, he asked, smilingly, _Porque no se arrodilla, vd en
Misa?_--Why don't you kneel at the Mass?--_Tengo pierna de palo_, quoth
I, quite gravely: glancing at my pins with much interest, to discover if
they were of timber, he seemed to relish the joke, and we then sidled
out of the church, and became firm friends on the spot.

After service, I was introduced to many American emigrants, mostly
Mormons, who, in a free and easy style, had taken possession of the
outbuildings and tenements belonging to the Mission; and who, in their
contempt for the kind and good Padres, and rightful proprietors of the
domain, were not only averse to request permission to remain for a
season, but were hugely indignant at the military Governor of
California, Colonel Mason, for having issued a decree, requiring these
lazy gentlemen to leave the lands of the Church. Notwithstanding their
mutterings, a few weeks later they were summarily forced out by the
bayonet.

Whilst we were at mass, a serious mishap occurred to young Murphy. A
juvenile damsel, whose cognomen was "sugar-plumb," and being the only
eligible maiden for matrimony, I was assured by a hospitable dame, one
Mrs. Bennett, "that she was the forwardest gall in the Mission," through
some silly, childish freak, frightened my friend's horse, so that the
restive animal broke the halter, and made long strides over the plain. A
couple of drunken Indians started in pursuit, but having a quarrel on
the way, one plunged his cuchillo up to the haft in his companion's
thigh, which brought him, deluged in blood, from the saddle. We found
this poor devil and conveyed him to town; but of the runaway horse and
saddle, which was worth half-a-dozen Indian lives, or horses, we could
learn nor see nothing. We made but a short stay in Puebla, and an hour
before the sun sank for the day, we put foot in stirrup, and a long
swinging gallop of seven leagues soon carried us to good Mr. Murphy, and
a good supper.

The following morning I arose with the lark, took a long pull at the
milk-pail, volunteered a little surgical advice to an Indian _vacuero_
who being thrown from his horse, was suffering under a badly-contused
thigh; he had bound the limb tightly with strands of hide, and was doing
a new principle of local bleeding by puncturing the flesh with sharp
stones--a mode of treatment very much in vogue with the natives. Under
guidance of Dan, we mounted capital horses, and sallied out for a
bear-hunt. Entering a gentle rise of the hill sides to the southward, we
wound around the grain-covered slopes for two hours, seeing but a few
stray deer, and a herd of wild horses; and although the traces of Bruin
were everywhere visible, we were on the point of turning our steps
homeward, when my companion grasped me by the shoulder, pulled me back
to the horse's flanks, and whispered, "Thar's one! lie low, Captin! lie
low!" It was a large he bear, walking about a little bowl of a valley
below us, in the laziest, hoggish manner possible, going from side to
side, rooting and tearing up the earth by wagon loads, in his search for
ground-rats--his course being directly towards us. We dismounted,
hitched horses to the lower branches of an oak, a few yards in our rear,
divested ourselves of all but knives and rifles, taking the precaution
to keep a bullet in our mouths, that they might slip easily down the
guns in case of emergency, then crossing to the edge of the hill, we
awaited the grizzly. He came nearly within point-blank range, when
changing his track, he passed over to the other side of the slope. We
tightened girths, mounted again, and rode around to head him off; when
going through the same operations as before, we ensconced ourselves
behind a giant tree, and remained perfectly silent; presently the
monster entered a knoll of bushes, within forty yards of us. "Captin,"
said Dan, with his mouth close to my ear, "when I whistle, plug him in
the head." I brought my rifle down, but at the moment of springing the
trigger, I must confess feeling some inward quakings, from all I had
heard of their ferocity when wounded, and accordingly I intimated a
request to Dan that he would open the ball. Giving a low whistle, to
attract Bruin's attention, the long barrel rested motionless for a
second against the tree, and as the beast raised his head to listen, Dan
let the hammer fall. _Maldito!_ the cap only exploded; but it startled
Bruin, who leaped from the shrubbery, and took to his heels. My turn
came, and I sent him a bullet out of twenty to the pound; wheeling on
his haunches, he showed a range of glittering jaws, and not seeing us,
made off again. We once more got in the saddle, and rushed in pursuit.
Dan had another glimpse--snapped again--I took a long range, and blazed
away. Nothing done. On we galloped up the hills, and skirting around the
summits, we began slowly to descend along the brow of a ravine, in which
we anticipated finding the chase. We had nearly reached the base without
perceiving him, when Dan, who was behind, shouted, "Mind your eye,
Captin!" I heard a sharp, rattling growl, and within thirty feet below
me was Bruin, licking a stream of blood flowing from his rump. He raised
up, snarling with rage, with huge paws and claws distended; and when
about making for me I fired right between the shoulders, and heard the
lead strike _chug_. The moment after my horse plunged, took the bit in
his teeth, and dashed across the valley. After getting him again under
control, we tracked the bear over the crest of the hill to a small dense
thicket, where we heard him groaning, and angrily snapping his jaws. Dan
swore it would be "rank pison" to venture after him, and we both thought
him hit too hard to crawl out alive. I was extremely disappointed in not
beholding the last of him, but Dan consoled me by promising to pay him a
visit with the dogs the following day; which he did, but the beast was
half devoured by coyotes and gallinazos, so that it was impossible to
save the skin. It was of a verity the most formidable beast I ever saw
outside the bars of a cage: covered with long grizzly hair, dark upon
the spine, and inclining to a yellowish tinge along the shoulders. He
must have weighed fourteen hundred pounds.

At noon, my escort and cavallada having come up, and all ready for the
road, fully appreciating the honest kindness of the Murphys, I threw
myself in the saddle, and departed for Monterey. We had but four
horses--miserable beasts they were--one gave up the ghost before the
spur had made a hole in his hide, and another was brutally murdered by
my illustrious soldier, who being unable, in his stupidity, to noose
him, brought the poor animal lifeless to the ground with two ounces of
buck-shot from the musket. Apart from these annoyances, we had the
utmost difficulty in urging those we rode into the settlement of San
Juan. On the road I was favored by a specimen of native rusticity. A
youthful vacuero accosted me, and walked his cavallo at my side;
familiarly placing his hand on the barrel of my rifle, he frankly opened
a discourse by asking if I had any tobacco; not fancying his
impertinence, and thinking I detected a mischievous expression in his
visage, I quickly replied, with my rifle at half-cock, _No tengo. Que
tienes pues?_ he added, with a sneer. _Dinero_, I responded, chinking
the coin in my pocket, upon which he made a jocose grasp at that
receptacle of my treasure, whereupon the solid tube of the rifle came in
forcible contact with his nose, with such a violent collision that the
claret spirted over the mane of his steed. He reined quickly back--the
water standing in his eyes--made a demonstration of taking a whirl at me
with his lasso, but observing the dark hole of my rifle staring him in
the face, he contented himself by yelling _puñetero!_ and galloped away.

I found St. Johns a detestable spot--half a score dwellings--the
church, and long ranges of buildings of the Mission, more than half in
ruins, and rapidly crumbling to the ground. Thirty years before, this
abode of the Frayles possessed twenty thousand head of horses, three
times that number of horned cattle, and a thousand Indian serfs to till
their broad acres. Meeting the intelligent priests who had officiated in
Santa Clara, they directed me to a house where a lodging was procurable.
Crossing the deserted plaza, I entered a large ill-constructed adobie
dwelling, where I was received by a filthy young Gascon, who appeared to
be mayor domo, in the midst of a houseful of girls and women. I lost no
time in doing the amiable to my agreeable hostesses, who in turn
prepared a supper of dirty junks of beef, and still worse _tortillas_.
_Bifstek à la god dem_--fingers before forks--_comme l'usage en
Californie_, said the Frenchman, as he vigorously commenced operations.
But the supper was so unpalatable and unclean a meal, that hungry as I
was, I fain amused myself the while, puffing cigarillos, catching fleas,
and drinking execrably sour country wine. The feast was barely ended,
when a loud screeching, and violent commotion among the women attracted
attention; and presently there came running towards me an old beldame
with, _Dios de mi alma, es rd medico?_--the Lord preserve us, are you a
doctor. _Si! si! amiga! Medico y cirujano bueno_--Yes, Jack of all
trades--I replied, deeming it a fair chance of exhibiting a little
irresponsible empirical practice. Upon inquiring the necessity for my
professional abilities being called into play, I learned that the entire
household had been exerting themselves the day and night previous
dancing at a fandango, and that one of the _jovencitas_ was attacked
with fits, consequent upon her exertions. The poor girl was lying on
the the tiled floor, her head propped up by pillows, with loose
dishevelled dress, and rich masses of dark hair strewn over her bosom
and shoulders, like serpents in Eden. She was moaning piteously between
the convulsions, and one old Hecate was striving to pry her mouth open
with an iron spoon, whilst another was slapping her hands and yelling
all the while, _Crescencia! Crescencia!_ Kneeling beside the pretty
suffering patient, and finding her pulse throbbing like a steam-engine,
in my ignorance I advised bleeding; but this was out of the question, as
nothing sharper than a hatchet, jack-knife, or old steel-pen, was to be
had in the place; consequently, all left to be done was the application
of hot vinegar and blankets. While superintending this process, and
bathing her forehead, she went off again into spasms, clasped her arms
around me, and for the space of five minutes I was favored with a
succession of the warmest embraces; and, although it may not be
generally credited, yet I'll venture to assert, that one may be seldom
placed in a more trying situation, even if a charming girl has fits.
_Crescencia_ became calmer after this trifling ebullition, and was put
to bed. I was anxious to sit up with the party during the night, but the
_rieja_ declined my services, and I retired to another dormitory, where
I slept tolerably well on a table, wrapped in a blanket, with holsters
for pillow. Arising at daybreak, I was concerned to find my horses had
disappeared from the corral, which I had reason to attribute to the kind
offices of the Gascon. However, I paid him a dollar to have them caught,
and upon bidding adios I gave him a _souvenir_ from the thick lash of my
riding-whip, which was no doubt serviceable to other travellers who have
succeeded me.

We reached the Salinas Plains at noon; half way across my horse dropped
with me into a ditch, so I scrambled out, packed saddle and duds on my
own back, gained the molino, procured a Spanish brute from the
proprietor thereof, and the same night arrived in Monterey. I regret to
add, this was my last interview with Anderson--he was assassinated a few
months later, by a person named Callagan.



CHAPTER XVIII.


The latter part of July found the frigate again moored off Yerbabuena,
in the waters of San Francisco. A number of us had long anticipated the
pleasure of a trip to the northward; and a fine prize schooner, the
Julia, being unemployed, she was accordingly made ready, and, early one
morning, our party, with a few trifling kits, were all snugly stowed
away on board. With the broad pennant fluttering at the main, and all
sails spread, we soon lost sight of the anchorage. The Julia's cabin had
four berths sufficiently capacious for grown people, and two others,
which were, in reality, intended for minors, or any adult under three
feet in length; a settee ran crosswise, and the intermediate space
filled in with a cozy table. Our mess amounted to seven, and the caterer
had been careful to provide servants and cooks, cold hams and tongues,
potted oysters and biscuits, silver-topped bottles of ale and stout,
cases of pale sherry, bundles of havannas, and what with a haunch or two
of venison, and lots of edibles, indiscriminately packed in huge
baskets, we counted upon a sufficiency of _viveres_ to allay thirst and
famine for a week to come. Indeed, there's nothing answers so well as a
profusion of "provender," to promote good humor and agreeable
conversation. Major Dalgetty understood this practically and
philosophically. Guitars, pretty spirituelle women, babbling brooks and
shady lawns, with a bowl of chicken salad, do very well when one goes a
picknicking in an omnibus, or canal boat; but when it is necessary to
rough it a bit in open air and unknown regions, we require something
more substantial.

Passing through the inner straits, above Angel Island, we entered the
bay of San Pablo, or Sinoma, and, with a pleasant breeze, steered for
the upper shores. It is a vast, circular sheet of water, twelve miles in
diameter, fenced in from the ocean, on one side, by a rim of broken
hills, closely abutting upon the bay; while to the north and east, the
land trends easily away, in less abrupt elevations, into the interior,
leaving a base of wide, fertile plains and valleys, verging upon the
shores.

A noble ship channel takes the direction of the eastern coast, leading
into the straits of Carquinez, an opening quite similar to the outer
passage from the sea. Our course lay in an opposite point, and, turning
to the left, we sailed over shallower depths, until late in the
afternoon, when, finding there was no water to spare betwixt the keel
and the bottom, we dropt anchor, two miles from the land. The barge was
presently manned, and leaving our butler, Mr. Bill Moulden, to exercise
his care and corkscrew over the comestibles, we rowed to the entrance of
a creek, where, after winding about in the serpentine tracks of an inlet
for, at the least, ten miles, we at last jumped on shore at the
_embarcadera_ of Sinoma. The gentleman to whom we were bound, not being
apprised of our coming, but two horses were to be procured, and the rest
of us trudged along on foot. The road was perfectly level, walking good,
and, with sparkling stars for lanterns, in an hour we found ourselves at
the residence of General Vallejo, were ushered through a spacious _porte
cocher_, into a large _sala_, and graciously received by the lady of the
mansion, whose husband chanced to be absent on important business. It
may be as well to state here, that Vallejo had been the most important
personage in Upper California, both from family influence, intelligence
and wealth. On the commencement of the war, notwithstanding the
annoyance he had experienced from the Bear party, he espoused the cause
of the United States; and, being blessed with a clear head and much
discernment, saw at a glance the benefit derivable for California by a
connection with a staunch Republic, in preference to letting the
territory languish under the misrule of Mexico, or, perhaps, at some
future period, to maintain the needy soldiery of a foreign monarchy. I
believe myself within the mark, in estimating the General's landed
property at one hundred square leagues, embracing much of the best
agricultural and grazing districts in the country, with many of the most
eligible sites for commercial ports on the waters of San Francisco. The
little Pueblo of Sinoma stands with its back resting against a ridge of
high hills, shutting in, on one side, a lovely plain, near fifty miles
in extent, and presenting much the same pleasing aspect of golden lakes
of wild oats and luxuriant oaks, as grace the vale of Santa Clara. The
principal dwellings and barracks form three sections of a square--all,
except one edifice, owned and occupied by the relations and family of
our absent host. His residence was the largest--as usual, built of
adobies--two hundred feet long, of two stories, having a tier of
balconies above. The apartments we occupied below were well furnished,
walls papered, books and cases, prints and mirrors in profusion. We were
somewhat surprised, not believing so much refinement, in that which is
termed modern civilization, existed in the territory. The Señora
herself, assisted by a well-behaved youth, did the honors of the supper
table; and after we had made a hearty meal, she retired and left us to
the enjoyment of chateau margaux and cigars. During supper we were
complimented by a serenade, sung by a number of Russians and Germans,
whose harmonious chorus, and songs of "Faderland," almost carried us
away to the Rhine. We sought the music room, shortly after, where the
little daughters of our entertainers were performing on the piano. They
had been properly instructed, and performed remarkably well; besides,
they were pretty, becomingly attired, and, what is still more
commendable, exceedingly well bred. Towards midnight we said _buenas
noches_, and sought our beds, where, if we had been previously a little
astonished to find ourselves surrounded with elegance, we soon had
reason to return to realities, by the aid of the pincer-like stings of
the curse of the country, _pulgas_, who, finding us tender and
palatable, hopped about us for the remainder of the night. To evade
their sharp bites, I tried to smoke myself insensible, and would no
doubt have succeeded in deluding myself into slumber, had not my repose
been again interrupted by a loud altercation between the Admiral's
aid-de-camp and Captain Swayback, of the dragoons, who chanced to be
billetted together. The former, through abstraction, had swathed
himself, like to an Egyptian mummy, in all the clothes, and persisted in
occupying the centre of the bed; moreover, hinting a disinclination to
pass the night with any gentleman perfumed with tobacco. Upon this, the
captain became jocosely indignant; and although admitting that, in his
varied hardships and travels, he had been necessitated to bivouac many a
time under worse auspices, yet he still had a mortal antipathy to share
his pillow with a man; so, he betook himself to the floor, where, with
blanket, an inverted chair for pillow, and a brilliant cigar illumining
either corner of his month, he rendered the room dense with smoke until
daylight.

Early on the morrow we took a pleasant ramble about the village, and
were individually hugged by a tame grizzly cub, who was altogether
more ardent in his affectionate embraces than our recent acquaintance
required--thence to breakfast on the accustomed _olla podrida_,
which is a stereotyped mess everywhere with Spaniards and their
descendants--though at times differently prepared--here it was flanked
by _frijoles_. The meal finished, horses were standing, ready
caparisoned, at the door, and whilst my friends amused themselves to
their fancy, I seized a rifle, and in company with a young American,
started on a hunt. We had ridden a league over the valley, when we
perceived a small herd of antelopes; but they descried us, too, a long
way off, and not without much trouble and hard riding, did I succeed in
striking one with a bullet, flying, as I may say; for never before had I
beheld such nimble heels. Another was wounded, also, but, with his
companions, reached the highlands and escaped. The first had his fore
leg nearly severed from his shoulder, but, notwithstanding it traversed
around in his flight like a wheel, he still ran good four leagues before
we approached near enough to kill him. We soon packed the meat on a
horse, which is done by removing the entrails, breaking the back bone,
and doubling the animal, horns and tail; then it is secured to the
saddle. Two may be carried this way; but wo to the hunter, if the sharp,
hard hoofs happen to prick his horse, the probability being that the
rider will describe a summerset. Highly pleased with the exploit, we
sent our prize to the _embarcadera_. The antelope abounds in great
numbers in the vicinity of Sinoma. They pass more evenly over the ground
than deer; are far swifter, and extremely shy. We all rëassembled at the
Puebla in good time and condition for dinner, which passed pleasantly,
and then taking leave of our handsome, hospitable hostess, who
expressed much regret at the absence of Don Guadalupe, her husband, we
mounted fresh horses and turned our backs on the little village of
Sinoma, all highly pleased with the visit. Embarking again at the head
of the creek, with a strong favoring tide, we reached our floating
domicile at dark. Fatigue of the day made heavy eyelids, and supper was
barely despatched, before sleep shrouded us in the land of dreams.

Weighing at sunrise the next day, with light winds, and charming
weather, we bore away to the Carquinez Straits. This passage lies on the
eastern face of San Pablo; it may be a mile and a half wide, and we
found a broad ship channel, ranging from twelve to five fathoms
soundings, all the way to the head of the straits, where we anchored the
Julia, in twenty-five feet water, within a bound of the bank. Our
position was at the site of an embryo city, called Benecia. The
selection was made by Doctor Semple, and the land owned by Vallejo, in
compliment to whose wife the place was named. In point of natural
advantages, I know of no more eligible situation: the country rises in
gentle sweeping undulations for some miles, terminating quite around by
a lofty amphitheatre of hills; the climate is equable and salubrious,
with a rich and fertile soil, and plenty of timber, and it is said coal
of a superior quality exists in the vicinity. At the time of our visit a
mania was raging in California about lands, and lots, and although
nothing had been attempted in Benecia, except a very pretty plan on
paper, and three miserable little board sheds, with a flat boat to ferry
travellers across the straits; yet from being the highest navigable
point, where large vessels can conveniently discharge or load from the
main rivers of the San Francisco, that pour into the shoal Bay of
Sossun, we predicted that eventually Yerbabuena might play a relative
Sandy Hook to a New York; _then_, nothing was known of the El Dorado
fifty miles above: had we been aware of it we might have taken the
little city off the Doctor's hands; for now, with its manifest
advantages, and enormous influx of emigration flowing towards
California, there can be no bounds placed upon its progress.

We made a hunting trio during the day, crossed to the opposite shore,
but not being acquainted with the haunts of game, and being a little
timid about the prospect of meeting a grizzly, we did not venture into
the interior; and after a long and arduous tramp over the steep spurs of
heights that entrenched boldly upon the straits, we saw no opportunity
for firing our rifles, being only repaid by a treat of delicious melons
found at an isolated rancho.

At nine the following morning we bid adieu to Benecia, with the credit
of having been the largest vessel, and only one of war, that had ever
floated so far on the broad bosom of San Francisco. With this plume in
our castors we were obliged to be content, as the Admiral could not
spare time to explore further. With an ebb tide, and prevalent west
wind, we tacked boldly from side to side; before noon had cleared the
straits, and entering a narrow channel that borders on the Tulares
Valley, we ran between Mares Island and the main, and again came to
anchor. Here we tarried all day, in hopes of filling the Julia with elk;
but although the low banks and extensive fields of reeds are famed as
the resort of immense bands, yet, for a wonder, there was not a
four-legged animal to be seen. Fowling-pieces, however, came into
requisition, and we filled our bags with mallard, curlew, and plover;
these tit bits came in seasonably, for the antelope, which by the way
proved most excellent, was literally on his last leg. When the ebb tide
again made, at night, we lifted the anchor once more, homeward bound,
and the next afternoon were again comfortably kicking heels under the
mess mahogany of the frigate.



CHAPTER XIX.


On the 26th of July, 1847, the Columbus, seventy-four, bearing the
pennant of Commodore Biddle, sailed from San Francisco for the United
States, leaving the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, flying on board the
razee Independence. By this time most of the ships composing the
squadron had either rendezvouzed in Monterey or Yerbabuena. Central and
Upper California had become perfectly tranquil, with the exception of
some trifling difficulties which had arisen in San Diego, between the
New York Volunteers and the natives. But these were speedily settled;
and a sufficient force being now ready for service, the preparations,
which had already been too long delayed, were actively begun for the
purpose of attacking the Mexican coast. The crews of the different
vessels were constantly exercised in companies and battalions for
service on land: they were taught to march and counter-march, in line,
platoons, and column; to throw themselves into squares; were thoroughly
instructed in the manual drill; and although they occasionally knocked
their broad-brimmed tarpaulins off at "Shoulder arms," yet upon the
whole they did extremely well for sailors, and on the weekly field-days
on shore, went through the evolutions in a very creditable manner.

Early in September we returned to Monterey. The bright green verdure
that clothed the hill sides, the beautiful mantle of green and flowers
of spring, had long since paled beneath the blaze of summer. No rain had
fallen; the clear rills that murmured in every gully were absorbed by
the parched earth. The broad lagoons near the beach were rapidly
receding, and mud had been converted into dust. And although vandals
were making the axe resound in murderous blows upon the picturesque
bolls of fine trees that decked the slopes, there was still sufficient
delight for the eye to rest upon in the lovely undulating landscape
encircling the shores of the bay.

Monterey was rapidly increasing, and houses of a more substantial build
than the paper-like structures of Yerbabuena, were rising in the
streets. The fort on the hill was nearly completed, mounting a numerous
battery of long twenty-fours; and in the rear were stone magazines,
barracks, and quarters; so that the natives, if they entertained doubts
before, were now convinced that their invaders had resolved to remain. A
salutary system of police had also been established in the town--the
Reverend Alcalde was a terror to evil doers. Woe betide the pockets of
those who slaughtered cattle at their door-steps, or the rollicking
gentry vaulting at full speed through the streets, or drunken Indians,
or quiet persons in back rooms, amusing themselves at monté--for down
came that ivory-headed cane--"Alcalde de Monterey"--like a talisman; and
with a pleasant smile he would sweep the white and yellow dross into his
capacious pockets. Others were mulcted in damages, or made to quarry
stone for the school-house; but, whether native or foreigner, the rod
fell impartially on their pockets, and all, more or less, contributed
towards the new Californian college. These measures were not relished at
first by the natives, but in the end they discerned the wisdom of a
prompt and just administration of the laws, and became devoted admirers
of the indefatigable Alcalde.

About this time a more serious event occurred. Two Indians were charged
with the murder of a foreigner; a woman, who was their accomplice,
betrayed them; they were tried by jury, selected equally from natives
and strangers; the crime was clearly and indubitably proved--the
offenders were condemned to be hung. The punishment was unknown in
California, and a large concourse of persons assembled around the
gallows, which was erected within sight of the town. Attended by two
priests, the criminals, who seemed perfectly indifferent to their
fate--in fact many thought rather pleased at being the observed of all
observers--were placed beneath the beam, and the cords finally adjusted
by the pious fathers. At the signal, down came the platform, and with it
the murderers; but, by some unaccountable fatality, both knots slipped,
and with the exception of being a little "choky" in the face, they
sustained no injury. In a moment one of the priests mounted a horse, and
galloped to the Governor's, urging a reprieve on the plea of a special
dispensation of Providence--that the criminals had been hung once, and
were consequently entitled to pardon. The philanthropic padre might
better have saved his ride and breath, for Colonel Mason informed him,
that in case these villains were not executed, Providence might
interfere with the ropes for ever after, and moreover the sentence was
to hang them until dead. Meanwhile the sheriff on the ground had
replaced the halters with unslippable hitches, as he observed that they
would receive "particular fits;" and soon after they were properly
worked off, and swung, dangling, lifeless figures, within their timber
frame. This event generated a feeling of bitter hostility on the part of
the Catholic clergy towards the local government, although generally
conceded by the Catholics themselves to be entirely uncalled for and
unreasonable.

On Saturday evenings, crowds of these degraded Indians, of both sexes,
after laboring during the week, and feeding on locusts or grasshoppers,
were accustomed to congregate on the outskirts of the town, where, with
gaming and arguadiente, they were enabled to remain torpid all the
following day. Their favorite amusement was a game called
_escondido_--hide and seek--played with little sticks; and their skill
was exerted by trying to discover in whose hands they were: seating
themselves on the ground, around a huge blazing fire, separate parties
were ranged on opposite sides; then beginning a low, wild chaunt, moving
their bodies to and fro, groping with their hands within the serapas
before them, until the perspiration starts in streams down their naked
sides, after a strange succession of deep, harsh, gutteral grunts and
aspirations, they suddenly terminate their exertions by giving a sharp
yell, and pointing to one of the opposite party, who, if rightly
detected, pays forfeit. When one set of players becomes exhausted,
others supply their places, and thus they keep it up the live-long
night.

Among the Californians an agreeable pastime, much in vogue, is the
_merendar_--Angliee, pie-nie. They are usually given, on the patron
saint's day of some favorite señora or señorita, by their admirers. A
secluded, pleasant spot is selected a few miles away from the presidio,
where provisions, wine and music are collected beforehand; then each
cavalier, with arm thrown affectionately around his sweetheart, on the
saddle before him, seeks the rendezvous. Guitars and choral
accompaniments soon are heard, and the _merenda_ begins, and is kept up
with the greatest possible fun and spirit: dancing, frolicking, drinking
and love-making. There are two or three singular dances of the country:
one, called the _Son_, where a gentleman commences, by going through a
solo part, to quick, rattling music, then waving a handkerchief to a
damsel, who either pays the same compliment to another favored swain, or
merely goes through a few steps, without relieving the first comer, who,
in turn, is obliged to continue the performance until a lady takes pity
for him. It not unfrequently happens, that when a particularly graceful
girl is on the floor, making her little feet rapidly pat the ground,
like castanets, to the inspiriting music, that some enthusiastic _novio_
will place his sombrero on her head, which can never be reclaimed
without a handsome present in exchange. But, Heaven help us! the pranks
and mischief indulged in on the return home; the tricks and tumbles,
laughter and merriment; even the horses appear to enter into the play,
and when a cluster of gay lads and lassies have jostled one another from
the saddles, the waggish, animals, fully appreciating the joke, stop of
their own accord. The last affair of this kind I attended, was given by
the best-hearted little fellow in the territory; and I am prepared to
prove it--Señor Verde--he was an universal favorite, as well with old as
young; for he was at different times taking a short _pasear_ on every
horse, laughing with the madres, and kissing the shy donçellas--_valgame
dios_--but I had work in getting him into Monterey that night, for my
cavallo carried weight--besides a big overgrown dame and myself, Verde
hung on to the tail.

We were many weeks in Monterey, and I passed a large portion of leisure
time either hunting with Juaquinito, or chatting and smoking during the
afternoons with our excellent friends, the army men, at the Fort. But at
last we began to tire of foggy mornings, damp nights, tough beef,
lounging under the Consul's piazza, sweltering dust, catching fleas,
playing monté, and fandangos at Carmelo. The time was drawing near for
our departure. The ships were provisioned and ready for service. Jack
had become quite a soldier, and we consoled ourselves with the
prospective excitement of a descent upon the Mexican coast.



CHAPTER XX.


We sailed from Monterey on the 16th of October--rounded Point Piños,
and, bidding a final adieu to Upper California, bore away to the
southward. On the 25th, we found ourselves near Cape San Lucas, where,
for three blessed days, we lay becalmed, all hands existing, as it were,
in a warm bath of their own providing. The morning of the fourth, there
came a breeze, and with it, under a cloud of canvas, one of our
frigates, with the intelligence that she had bombarded Guaymas, and
blown up the fortifications. No resistance had been made, and a corvette
was left to guard a deserted town. It was certainly a severe instance of
patriotism, where the Mexicans left their homes and property, choosing a
precarious existence among the sterile mountains, rather than cry
_peccavi!_ to the Yankee banner.

Anchoring at San José, we learned that trouble was brewing on the
Peninsula, and that some hundreds of men in arms were assembled at Todos
Santos, a place on the seaside of Lower California, fifty miles distant.
Nothing, certainly, was more preposterous than the forgetful policy of
our Government, in expecting to hold two thousand miles of coast with a
handful of men. The principal points on the Peninsula had already been
occupied transiently by our forces; but notwithstanding proclamations
had been issued, declaring the "Californias unalterably" annexed to the
United States, and that very many of the natives had warmly espoused our
protection; yet the very moment the ships or force were withdrawn from a
place, the disaffected patriots--and they were patriots--immediately
sprang up, issued _pronunciamentos_, threatened foreign residents, and
their own countrymen, who had befriended the invaders. As a consequence,
the whole lower portion of the territory and the Peninsula were kept in
a constant state of excitement and inquietude. Nor could we have
reasonably expected aught else, without a respectable force to overawe
them.

The second evening after our arrival, a small mounted party, of thirty
muskets, from the flag ship, was ordered into the interior, to disperse
the insurrectionists at Todos Santos. They had not been absent half a
dozen hours, when a report was circulated, that a body of the enemy were
lying in ambuscade on the route, to attack them. A great commotion
ensued, and I was selected to proceed to the Mission and inquire into
the truth of the rumor. Attended by our marine postmaster Richie, we
procured horses on the beach, and after sliding over loose stones,
winding around precipices, until quite dizzy at the narrow bridle paths,
running full as much risk in losing our eyes by thorns of aloe or
cactus, as our necks, in the darkness, by the precarious foothold of the
beasts, we reached San José at midnight, and presented ourselves before
the alcaldes. We found these worthies and their wives deeply immersed in
monté and cigarillos. They were ignorant, as alcaldes universally are,
of any treasonable rumors; but, on citing an old Indian woman and her
son, who were the divining magicians of the place, we learned that, in
truth, a number of evil-minded persons had been in town, tampering with
those more peaceably disposed, in hopes of raising a sufficient force to
cut our little band to pieces. Upon concluding our inquisitorial
proceedings, we returned to the ship. The next morning, news was brought
from La Paz, a post some distance up the Gulf, and recently occupied by
a company of the New York regiment under Lt. Col. Burton, that the
disaffection had extended in every direction, and the Mexicans were
resolved to make a last struggle for lost ground on the Peninsula. The
same night we received more _violente extraordinarios_--break-neck
expresses--stating that the little town near us was about to be invaded
by the insurgents. There was so much truth in this, that a number of
officers from the ships took to the road, "accoutred as they were," and
a very flimsy toilet some of them appeared in, on their five mile flight
to the watering beach. Boats were armed, and companies detailed for
service; but another violent extraordinary arrived, and for the time we
remained passive. The next evening, a detachment of five-and-twenty
marines left the ship for shore. We were a long time disembarking, as
the surf was breaking ten feet high upon the open beach. Skirting along
thickets around the town, we marched up a valley, through a deep sandy
road, for more than two leagues, before reaching our destination. It was
a little hamlet, called _cerrillos_, of miserable ranchos, lying upon
the side of a hill, where we had hopes of meeting a party of
_guerrillas_. Our arrangements were quickly made--men posted--pieces
cocked--the houses summoned successively--but, alas! for our
anticipations of a skrimmage, the birds had flown some hours before,
leaving but a few old people and children in the place. I was sadly
disappointed, for I had an extremely perilous path to explore in getting
to my station--no more nor less than charging, full leap, through a
large corral of sheep and cattle--with half a dozen fixed bayonets close
at my heels--the bullocks jumping right and left, in great affright,
and I expecting every instant some rampant bull ahead to toss me into
the air, or a sharp bayonet to stick me in the rear; nor did I feel
relieved, until the muzzle of my carbine struck the door of the rancho,
and I found breath to cry, halt! to the party. After a deal of praying
and screeching, from the shrill throats of women and children, the door
fell, and, by the glare of a flickering torch, an old lady tremblingly
approached, with a baby in each arm, crying, _Somas pobres, señor, ave
purissima! no hay mas que esos! tome ad un niño, por el amor de
Dios?_--we are poor, but take a baby, for the love of God. We generously
declined the good woman's kindness, and succeeded in allaying her alarm,
by the assurance that we were in search of men, and not infants. Truly,
it has a tendency to jar one's nerves, this storming a person's house
with armed men in the dead of the night.

We had a dreadfully fatiguing march back, and had there not been many
rivulets to quench thirst, some of us would have been thoroughly
exhausted. Entering the town at eight o'clock, we learned with surprise,
that the friends whom we went in search of had been making night hideous
in the village itself, and only decamped towards daylight on our
approach.

A few days succeeding our arrival, the ships were busily employed
watering. In the southern arm of the bay is a small cove, partially
sheltered from heavy surf by a jutting reef of rocks, where, during the
rainy season, is the mouth of a mountain-torrent; then, the stream was
not visible, but on digging a little way below the sandy bed, pure
delightful water bubbled up, filtered through miles of coarse gravel.
The large boats anchored a few yards from the strand, and the men amused
themselves by swimming the casks off when filled. Nearly the whole
population of the Mission assembled there at daylight, offering fruit,
vegetables, and other articles for traffic. Lots of girls and women were
there, all far better dressed, and more comely than those we had been
gazing upon so long in Upper California. I devoted my time to an old
lady and two daughters, who had pitched a tent near by, and opened a
shop for the sale of milk and eggs. Of the two damsels my adoration was
the younger--Eugenia--a charming little brunette, who shared my dinner,
and, by way of a frolic, cunningly squeezed lime-juice in my month when
asleep. This style of existence quite enchanted us; and what with
sucking oranges, dozing in the welcome shade, and bathing half the time
in the water,--we fancied it somewhat resembled the pleasant life in the
South Sea Islands.

One of the roads, from the watering ravine to San José, had much the
appearance of an alley through a flower-garden: the foliage blazing in
bloom, with a plentiful display of blossoming aloes and cactus, shooting
up into the air like Grecian columns; many of the latter twenty inches
in diameter. The town stands in a pretty valley, with red, sterile
mountains toppling around it. One broad street courses between two rows
of cane and mud-built dwellings, thatched with straw, having shady
verandahs in front, constructed of frameworks of canes and leaves,
answering very well to screen the burning rays of the sun, which sheds
light and heat, with the force of a compound blow-pipe. At the upper end
of the avenue, standing on a slight, though abrupt, elevation from the
valley behind, was the _cuartel_, a small building, which at a later
period was the scene of a gallant stand and siege, where a mere handful
of our sailors and marines bravely repulsed twenty times their number of
Mexicans.

Within sight of the village is a shallow, rapid brook, which serves to
irrigate many well-tilled plantations about the suburbs. The people were
kind, and particularly hospitable, always welcoming us with the utmost
cordiality. We usually dined at the house of an old Chinaman, who was a
miracle of a cook, and dished us up beneath the shade--plover, curlew,
wild ducks, and olives without stint--with which, and chatting, smoking,
lounging from house to house, and _siesta_, we got through the hours
pleasantly. On one afternoon, having somewhat soiled my outer man, in
leaping into a puddle instead of over it, my newly-discovered sweetheart
washed my trowsers and shirt, whilst I dozed away on a low cot frame,
upon which was tightly drawn a tanned sheet of leather--and a capital,
cool, comfortable apparatus it is in warm weather. We generally returned
to the ships by night, as the unsettled state of the neighboring country
rendered it impossible to remain; so, after rewarding pretty Eugenia
with my handkerchief for her trouble, I turned my steps for the last
time on San José.

The expedition that started for Todos Santos on our arrival, and for
which serious uneasiness was beginning to be entertained, got safely
back on the seventh day. They found a dull, barren region to traverse,
and were not repaid by a sight of the guerrillas, who had all decamped
for a rallying point near La Paz.

In consequence of the earnest solicitations made by the simple
inhabitants of San José, for a small force to protect them from their
brethren in arms, who were not so favorably disposed towards the North
Americans, it was deemed advisable to comply with the request, and a
detachment of twenty marines, a nine-pounder carronade, with four
officers, under command of Lieut. Charles Heywood, U.S.N., were
detailed for the service, and the next day occupied the town.



CHAPTER XXI.


Mazatlan lies in latitude 23° 12' N. verging on the tropic, flanked by a
broad belt, ten leagues wide, of the _Tierra Caliente_, with the lofty
mountains that support the elevated terraces and grand plateau of the
interior plainly visible in the background. The town is built upon a
triangular space formed by three hills at the angles, the apex a bluff
promontory, extending seaward, and beyond two small islets, barely
divided from the frowning helmet of Creston. These salient points form
together a bold, rocky partition, which with another parallel barrier to
the eastward, breaks off the ocean swell, sufficiently to admit of a
secure anchorage from all but southerly winds. This is called the New
Port. Right and left of the town are curving sandy beaches; the one
abreast the New Port, protected by a sand-bar, that incloses a safe
haven for small vessels; then further, a wide _estero_, or inlet, runs
inland, following the bend of the coast for sixty miles to the
southward; while one channel branches away to the west, encircles
Mazatlan, and passing some miles in a line with the sea, is only
prevented from again meeting the ocean by a narrow strip of marsh and
sand. To the right of the town commences a small patch of sand called
_Olas Altas_, whereon some of the best buildings are situated; beyond is
an abrupt dome-like elevation; and then farther still, is a narrow
indentation, formerly used as the Puerto Viejo; when the beach
continues in a gentle curve, as far as the eye can reach, up the gulf,
to the northward.

In the year 1830, Mazatlan was a miserable Indian fishing village; but
owing to its advantageous position in affording a better harbor, and
fresh water, than existed for large vessels north of Acapulco--its
facilities for communication with the rich mining districts of
Zacatécas, Durango and Culiacan, besides the market opened in the
populous provinces bordering upon the Pacific, it soon increased in
magnitude to a fine thriving little city of ten thousand inhabitants,
and became the most important commercial point on the continent north of
the equator.

Sailing from the Bay of San José, in company with the frigate Congress,
and corvette Cyane, we crossed the Californian Gulf, and made the land
on the afternoon of November 11th. The sea breeze set in late, and the
sun was down upon arriving at the Venados Islands. The ships were
together, and having each a position assigned, the Independence passed
ahead, and standing boldly in, anchored abreast the Olas Altas beach,
within half musket-shot of the shore. The Congress came to anchor in the
old port, commanding the old road and garita, while the Cyane brought
her guns to bear upon the eastern face of the town, from the new
anchorage.

All remained quiet during the night on shore; the boats of the squadron
were gotten in the water; batteries in fighting order; guns cast loose
and trained; besides whole hail-storms of round shot, shells, grape, and
divers other sorts of deadly pyrotechny, piled in stacks and racks,
around the decks, all ready at a moment's warning to knock the town to
dust. At sunrise a flag of truce was sent to summon the authorities. The
Commandante Telles, in consequence of fatigue caused by galloping about
the place, and brandy, did not appear, but delegated his officials to
inform the American cartel, that he could not reconcile with it his
honor to receive our officers, and to inform El Señor Commodore that he
saw no necessity for surrendering Mazatlan, but the same time he should
retire to his camp at the Palos Prietos, beyond the environs, where he
would await the ruthless invaders.

Four hours were given for deliberation; we were told subsequently, that
they anticipated four weeks, with the privilege of breaking off
negociations at the end of that period. Before the time had expired, the
companies for landing were ready in the boats, and the artillery
awaiting the stroke of the bell to begin the ball; but presently there
came alongside a dapper little personage, with intelligence that the
Mexican troops had entirely deserted the town, and no resistance would
be offered by the inhabitants. After all the trouble we were a little
disappointed, and even Uncle Ben Bunker, our worthy gunner, was quite
exasperated, being obliged to stow away his fire-works, and secure the
guns, for a more remote occasion.

The flotilla of twenty-nine boats had assembled around the flag ship,
and, headed by the Commodore, we pulled between Creston and the Main,
and made for the mole. Not a bayonet was visible. A concourse of persons
lined the beach, who merely gratified their curiosity by scowling upon
us, as the boats came to land and emptied their loads. In ten minutes
our flag was flying over the town, and twenty-one guns saluted it from
the Independence. Field-pieces were then disembarked, placed in
position, the men wheeled into column, the band struck up, and away we
marched through Mazatlan. The house-tops were crowded with veiled
faces; but upon so slight an acquaintance we found difficulty in putting
in even a wink, except at rare intervals. We reached the Cuartel, a
large square building for barracks and citadel, situated on a slight
eminence in rear of the town, and commanding the main roads to the
interior. The sailors and marines were soon quartered, guns planted, and
all preparations made to resist an attack. Three hundred were detailed
for garrison, and the remainder sent on board. From appearances, the
Mexicans had departed with great precipitation, leaving many of their
accoutrements, some hundred stand of rifles and muskets, saddles, and a
few pieces of artillery. Their whole force was about eight hundred, more
than half regulars, and had they chosen to stand their ground, we should
have suffered severely, although not perhaps repulsed. Telles and his
troops were posted a league up the road, near the forest of Palos
Prietos, and it was stated that his intention was to assault us; but we
experienced no alarm on that score, feeling assured that, after
relinquishing all their advantages in position, they could have no
further wish to retake them.

The first few days we were occupied making reconnoissances in the
neighborhood. Two positions were selected for fortifications: the one, a
steep hill, overlooking the estero; and the other, a lower eminence,
entirely guarding the main and only approach for cavalry by land to the
port. This was the Garita. Between these two points, in former times, a
line had been marked out, faced by a broad and deep ditch, intended to
connect the western branch of the inlet with the sea, thus cutting the
town entirely off from the main land; but the excavation had only been
completed as far as the Garita road, leaving, however, but a narrow
causeway open.

Heavy ordnance, long twenty-four pounders, with carriages and wheels,
mortars, and lighter guns, were brought ashore from the ships; and as
they were drawn through the streets, by the stout arms and shouts of
hundreds of sailors, the inhabitants fairly looked astounded. In a short
time these heavy monsters were staring, with their dark cavernous
mouths, from the esplanade of the Cuartel. Picks, shovels and barrows
went briskly to work; ditches, walls and parapets were commenced, and
went on unceasingly for many months.

Previous to our coming, a great number of the more respectable residents
had retired to their estates, or the towns in the vicinity; but upon
finding that the North Americans were not such outrageous invaders as
they had been led to believe, gradually these families returned to their
homes in Mazatlan. Meanwhile, a military and civil Governor and
Lieutenant Governor[3] had been appointed, and an _ayuntamiento_ called
from among the citizens, with commissioners on our side, to arrange
preliminaries for the municipal administration of the town. This proved
to be a matter of very difficult adjustment. The _junta_ were averse to
removing the _alcobala_--a tax levied upon provisions and produce
entering the gates--at all times a burdensome and unequal extortion,
falling upon the poor: this was at last yielded, and it, of course,
became a very popular measure, although with little real benefit; for
the producers themselves were compelled to suffer severely from the
rapacity of their own troops outside. The President of the Council was
Señor Créspo, a very respectable, honest person; and could he have been
induced to fill the post, saving a few illiberal ideas and fears of
compromising himself with his former friends outside, all would have
gone on smoothly; but he refused to serve, and Señores Pelaiz and Leon
were appointed to preside over the civil tribunals. This caused
dissatisfaction, as neither had a surplus of moral character to boast
of; but as the commodity was scarce, the judgeships would have remained
vacant a long while, before more suitable selections could have been
found among the Mexicans. Nevertheless, the policy pursued by us became
popular with all classes, and there were but few exceptions to the
general wish, that our flag might float over them forever. What tended
in a great measure to revive confidence among the wealthier inhabitants,
was our manner of conducting business at the custom house. The scale of
duties, as exhibited by the Secretary of the Treasury, was modified to
suit this market, and, in the absence of all bribery and corruption, it
restored a certain harmony of association among the merchants, which,
necessarily, was interrupted by the Mexican policy of holding out
inducements for every trader to undersell his neighbor; when all were
constantly intriguing with the government _empleados_ to get their
cargoes through the customs, at a lower mark than usual. This system was
done away with, trade was thrown upon an assured basis, and it
consequently encouraged a more friendly intercourse. As a single
instance of the rapacity and extortion practiced by the Mazatlanese
authorities displaced by us, there were five-and-twenty officials
employed within the custom house; and of a yearly revenue averaging
nearly a million of dollars, not a rial ever went to the general
government. In the first place, the Mexican tariff was frequently so
heavy as to amount to prohibition, and to save time and the risk of
smuggling, it was only necessary to throw a third or fourth of the
duties into the commandante's or collector's hands, who, in turn, made
a smaller distribution to the cormorants beneath them. Telles had it in
his power to have laid by half a million of money, but it all went like
water through his fingers, and he fled as poor as he began.

There were no restrictions placed upon the liberties or pleasures of the
people. They had justice by their own laws. We preserved order. Patrols
and police parties perambulated the town night and day. After _oracion_
had tolled, no person was permitted to enter or leave the Garita until
sunrise, without the risk of a bullet in his body! for sentinels were
doubled at night, and mounted pickets guarded the great ditch towards
the _estero_. No arms were permitted to be carried by citizens, and both
gentlemen and _paisanos_ were obliged to leave them, upon entering the
town, at the Garita.

There was but one church in Mazatlan, for the people are not piously
inclined, and one Padre was all we ever saw; and him the girls called
Father Windmill. The only good public edifice is the _Duana_. The houses
generally are of one story, built of bricks, or adobies, and plastered
over; but all the wealthy residents have fine, cool and spacious
dwellings, with flat roofs, which command pleasant views of the sea and
environs. The streets are wide, having trottoirs, tolerably well paved
and lighted. There are two small plazas, many very handsome shops, cafés
and _sociedads_. Altogether, we found ourselves in a modern little city,
and much nearer civilisation than in the mushroom settlements of
California.

The climate is very warm in the morning, though tempered by cooling
breezes from the ocean towards afternoon. After the summer rains have
passed, much sickness prevails, owing to the malaria that is generated
from the wet, marshy plains and lagoons around the town. Congestive
fevers and agues are then quite common, and the wealthier orders retire
to the high lands of the interior.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] The last named appointment was ably filled by Lieut. Halleck, of U.
S. Engineers, who, from his military and scientific knowledge, was of
the greatest assistance to the expedition.



CHAPTER XXII.


The Mexicans remained encamped but three days at Palos Prietos, when,
leaving strong posts of cavalry to blockade the roads, and intercept
communication with the town, they retired to the Presidio of Mazatlan--a
place eight leagues beyond--where they went into quarters. As yet they
had committed no hostile acts, except making a bonfire of a number of
their own launches, and small craft, that had been carried for safety up
the Estero, to prevent them falling into Yankee hands. We could see the
gay pennons of their lances constantly with the spy-glasses; and by this
time having acquired a slight idea of the topography of the immediate
suburbs, we began to extend our scouts further beyond the lines.

The skirmishing commenced on the 18th. With fifty men, we left the
Cuartel at midnight; pursued a path parallel with the beach, and after
resting some hours in ditches, and nearly devoured by musquitos, at
break of day found ourselves a league from the garrison. Soon after, we
discovered a body of forty horsemen moving along the road in direction
of the town. We were obliged to break cover, and run smartly to a hedge
that fringed the road, in hopes of intercepting their retreat, and were
of necessity soon exposed to view. The lancers wheeled to reconnoiter,
and then came on at a trot. We blazed away with the muskets, when they
increased their speed, until on reaching a thicket, they halted and
returned the fire from their escopetas. This continued some time, the
balls knocking the dust up in little puffs, but too far distant to do
any damage, when hearing the sharp pinging song of a bullet, I turned my
head and beheld a verdant reefer, with a cutlass strapped around his
waist, one hand in his pocket, and the other scratching his cheek.
"Hillo!" quoth I; "what's the matter?"--"Nothing but these musquitos,"
he replied, and continued attentively regarding the flashes from the
bushes. While this little fusilade was going on, we espied two officers,
who had probably ventured too far in advance of their troop, and were
entirely cut off from the main body; we hailed them to surrender, but,
without heeding the summons, they behaved quite coolly; moved slowly
towards where a dozen muskets were gazing at them, and where they were
obliged to pass an angle of the road, when having availed themselves of
the last chance of even a leaf of shelter, with one arm clasping the
horses' necks, they half swung from the saddles, and made a desperate
rush to pass us. A hail-storm of balls and buck-shot rained around them;
the horses plunged, evidently hit, and the hindmost rider fell from his
seat, still clinging to the saddle, but the speed of the animals soon
bore them to their companions and shelter. We afterwards learned that
they had lost one killed and five wounded. Pursuit was useless, our
heels being less nimble than horses, so we formed and returned to the
barracks.

The night following this adventure we were out again, about three hours
past midnight, with a single attendant, I became separated from my
party, and after getting bewildered among swamps and thickets, just as
day was breaking we reached the beach. All right now, we thought, and
trudging stoutly over the sand, we suddenly came full upon a Mexican
picket. We dropped as if shot. It was early dawn, and we were not
discovered. They were sitting on their horses, behind a little hillock,
with the butts of their long lances resting on the ground; and for my
part I already, in imagination, felt one, half through me; they were
anxiously peering about, and we were certain that the first movement on
our side would be attended with inevitable capture, with melancholy
thoughts of perspective dinners on frijoles and paper cigars. So we
remained quietly lying on the sand, until presently one exclaimed, with
much emphasis, _compadre, no hay Yankis! corramos_--there are no
Yankees, let us be off. A moment later, there was heard a sharp rattle
of musketry, soon followed by a volley; uttering loud curses, they gave
spur, covered us with dust as they galloped by, and disappeared in the
woods. Regaining our feet once more, we plunged waist deep through a
lagoon, crossed fields and fences, and reaching the main road, devoted
all our energies to our legs. A mile of this healthful exercise
exhausted our powers, and we paused for breath; but the troubles
apparently were not ended. A party of horsemen came dashing along the
road in our wake; running was out of the question, there was no more run
left in us, so with a cocked carbine and pistol we stood the result. Our
fears were groundless, however; and, upon seeing ladies in the troop, we
took courage, and advanced to meet them. It was a Spanish family,
returning from Rosario, who falling accidentally between the firing of
the skirmishing parties, were nearly frightened out of their wits;
indeed, one of the ladies had fainted, and been left at a rancho by the
roadside, until a litter could be sent from town. They were not more
rejoiced at having us for an escort than we were to avail ourselves of
their protection, and we all jogged bravely into Mazatlan. Our fellows
returned soon after, having made a few prizes of arms, saddles, and camp
equipage, but did no bodily harm to the enemy, who, as before, had fled.

On the night of the 19th, a plan was matured for surprising a body of
infantry under command of a Swiss, the former captain of the port, named
Carlos Horn; our spies reported his position in the small hamlet of
Urias, about seven miles up estero. A hundred men, with a small
field-piece, took the main road, while half this number were to embark
in boats, pass beyond the Mexican post, land, and march down to meet the
shore party.

We left the ships at midnight, and with muffled oars pulled silently up
the river. On passing the hamlet, we saw the gleam of camp fires, and
the cry of their sentinels arose, shrill and clear in the still night,
_alerto! alerto!_ The oars dipped noiselessly in the water, and,
continuing up the estuary, we soon came to the spot indicated by our
guides. Scarcely had the men formed on the beach, when we heard, first a
few dropping shots, and then volley upon volley, from our friends to the
left. After groping about some time to find the road, the guide
discovered that he had mistaken the landing, and we accordingly
rëembarked. By this time, the firing from the shore party had ceased,
and all was again quiet. Beneath the deep shade of overhanging foliage
that fringed the banks of the estero, the boats were carefully pushed
down the stream, until a narrow opening in the bushes gave a clear view
of the broad level _marisma_, and we found ourselves directly in front
of the village itself, with fires and lights flashing in all directions.
Without attracting attention, the boats were cautiously drawn within the
thickets, the sailors forming, and lying down upon the sand. We were
close to the Mexicans--their sentinels not twenty yards distant, and
every word they uttered distinctly audible. Presently a body of horsemen
came clattering over the hard beach. _Quien es!_ sang out the guard.
_Carlos!_ said the watchword, and then began an angry altercation: "Why
did you fly from those cursed Yankees, when you knew they were
approaching?" _Porque mi Coronel, los Americanos rompieron el fuego
contre la advanzda--y habia balazos aqui, y alla, y que podia hacer yo?_
rejoined the speaker--They fired upon our advance, and the bullets were
flying so thick, that, what could I do? "Where are they now?" said the
Colonel. "Oh! they have retreated to Mazatlan again." _Loco!_--you're a
fool--said the Colonel, with much disgust; "they're only awaiting
daylight, to be upon us--is all quiet at the water?" _Si Señor_, not a
soul has passed. "Then let the men fall in, and go through their
exercise." It was about three o'clock; their men formed in ranks; horses
were led out, and the troopers mounted; officers began drilling their
companies, encouraging them to stand firm, and the Yankees would
certainly be cut to pieces. Nothing was heard or seen, for an hour, but
the heavy thud! thud! of the ramrods in loading, and glancing of sabres
and small arms. During all their proceedings we remained motionless.
By-and-bye the first grey streaks of dawn came slowly over the eastern
hills--still we did not stir--the men, however, were becoming a little
nervous, from resting so long in one position; and occasionally, the
clink of a bayonet or noise of accoutrements striking together were
audible; and just as the day was bursting forth, like a flash, as it
does only in the tropics, a Mexican soldier, on duty nearly at our
elbows--and who, by the way, disturbed our repose during the night by a
bad cough, and talking to himself--discovered us, and sung out, _Aqui
está hombres!_--these were the last words he spoke--the signal was given
along our ranks, "rise!--take aim--fire low." As the smoke rolled
upward, we saw a number of saddles emptied, and the _marisma_ strewn
with dead and wounded; although taken completely by surprise, the
Mexicans were not as yet intimidated, and, shouting _viva Mexico!_ they
immediately gave us a heavy fire from carbines and escopetas; but our
sailors had kneeled to load, and the leaden shower passed over. The
firing lasted for some minutes, when the word was given to charge! Away
we splashed over the _marisma_--their horsemen broke and fled, dragging
off dead and wounded--the infantry did not make up their minds until the
bayonets were nearly upon them, when they, too, dropped their muskets
and plunged into the chapparal. Meanwhile the shore party was
approaching, and had commenced a fusilade upon the advance post of the
Mexicans, and very much to our relief, after putting them to flight, the
cheers of our friends greeted us, for the field-piece was pitching shot
far beyond the enemy, and a few stand of grape had already fallen about
our heels. Sending small bodies into the thickets, we drove the
discomfited troops to the hills, and then finding their cavalry had
rallied up the road, pursued them a mile, exchanged a few shots, when,
the field-piece coming up, they finally made good their retreat.

Returning to the hamlet, we collected a few articles of camp
equipage--mules, horses, and arms; then digging a pit in the sand, we
laid the corpses of the slain within, covered them decently over, and
erecting a rude cross, put on our hats and retired. There was a vile old
virago standing in the door of a rude rancho, who, during the whole
skirmish, never for a moment ceased to curse _los demonios Yankees_; and
although the walls of the house were thickly spattered with bullets,
she escaped unhurt; not so her comely daughter, who was grazed on the
cheek. Our own force suffered pretty severely: one killed and twenty-two
wounded, of whom two afterwards died. The Mexicans we learned had lost
nine killed and eighteen badly wounded. These little affairs are capital
sport during the flurry and excitement of action, amid the cheering and
firing, noise and confusion; but when the fun is over, and the surgeons
are busied with bandages and blood--pallid faces, splintered bones,
streaming gun-shot wounds around--and, perhaps, a pair of lifeless legs
dangling outside the carts near by--the scene presents a more gloomy
aspect.

Placing the disabled in boats we began our march towards the port.
Through the kindness of Mr. Canova, who filled the office of First
Lieutenant to our company, I transformed myself into a dragoon, my
friend having stumbled upon a black charger, ready equipped, which he
placed at my disposal: moreover, I was somewhat bruised from the blow of
a spent escopeta ball, that during the melée had struck me under the
arm, knocking me over into the water, as if--as was strongly surmised by
my friends--a jackass had kicked me. However, this was scandal,
industriously circulated by the Lieutenant-Governor, who was himself
sorely disappointed in not getting hit, after untiring exertions amid
the thickest of the skirmish. Nevertheless, I lost a cutlass by the
operation, and thought it no robbery to draw a long toledo-like weapon
from the belt of a dead Mexican, which, with the image of his patron
saint, and a bundle of cigarillos, amply repaid me for my bruises.

Some months later, in a conversation with the officer who commanded at
Urias, he informed us that he had been aware of our coming from the
merchants in town, and had requested reinforcements from Telles, which,
however, was not attended to; and a body of eighty cavalry, who had been
detailed to charge the shore party, fled without discharging a carbine.
He spared no abuse on the cowardice of his officers, but very highly
praised the conduct of the soldiers.

We reached Mazatlan at noon. The day after, Telles marched to Urias,
with his whole force and artillery; but, hearing a report that the
Americans were coming to attack him with _bombas_, retreated the same
day to Castillo, where he again encamped.



CHAPTER XXIII.


A month had elapsed since the occupation of Mazatlan, and we had all
been busily employed upon the fortifications, and in acquiring a little
knowledge of our new duties on shore: we dropped the sailor and assumed
the soldier; forgot all about rigging and ships; talked of roll-calls,
reveillés, parades, countersigns, drills, sections, ditches, and
parapets; the officers of the day, too, appeared in red silk sashes
round the waist, with swords at their sides--sat in guard-rooms--sung
out, "Sergeant, let that man pass," or, "Corporal, let the fatigue
parties fall in"--quite like generals of division. I had only been a
week in barracks, at the Cuartel, and getting initiated in the mysteries
of soldiership, when, the fever making sad havoc among our ranks, I was
ordered to relieve the company stationed at the Garita, where the
illness had been unusually severe. The position was a conical eminence,
within three hundred yards of the sea beach, nearly surrounded by
lagoons, and entirely commanding the main road to the port. The hill was
originally owned by a gentleman, who, after building a decent little
balconied dwelling thereon, for a summer retreat, eventually had the
satisfaction of removing his family thence, in carts, to the more
wholesome air of the town. In consequence of its unhealthy situation,
caused by miasma that arose from the stagnant pools below, it was not
considered a desirable post, notwithstanding its pretty location; and I
may as well add, that out of one hundred and seven officers and men who
had been stationed there, I was the sole individual that was not taken
ill with fever during the six months of our stay. Previous to my
occupation, an energetic brother officer had already raised a
breast-high stone wall, and three guns had been planted in battery. It
was a place of much importance, and an equal degree of annoyance; for we
were obliged, with a small force of thirty men, to be extremely
vigilant, and were kept chattering, from morn until night, in examining
hundreds who were passing to and from the port. The house was filled
with fleas, too, whose attacks were far more troublesome than the
Mexicans; however, after a hard war of six weeks, constantly deluging
the floors with salt water, they migrated in a body, and we were never
again molested. Workmen came, re-plastered and washed the walls,
repaired windows and doors, restored cook-house and stable, so that in
the end we found ourselves more pleasantly quartered than in any other
position in town, and had no wish to leave. At the same time large
working parties were detailed daily from the main barracks, who were
employed digging a deep, wide ditch, throwing up an embankment, and
raising a heavy stone wall immediately around what the peasantry
designated our _casa blanca_--white house.

During this period the military force outside committed robberies
unceasingly. A few miles beyond our lines the roads were strongly
guarded during the day, but at night were left open--the lancers and
cavalry retiring beyond our reach. Our force was too small to occupy the
roads permanently, without imprudently weakening the garrison of the
town; consequently, those thieving gentry, under the name of _alcobala_,
levied tribute in the most impartial manner, upon all their poor
countrymen alike. We had frequently gone out in small ambuscading
parties in hopes of picking off a few of the ladrons, but without any
success. Scarcely a single individual out of hundreds who passed the
Garita but had some bitter curses to lavish upon the _lanceros_; even
the poor women occasionally were muleted in their petticoats, until at
last they all became exasperated, and many volunteered to conduct us to
the retreats of their tormentors. The services of one brave paisano were
called into requisition, who had been robbed of his hogs, which being
valuable property among the peasantry, and his revenge being warm, we
thought he could be trusted, and indeed a staunch and valuable ally he
ever afterwards proved. The expedition was under command of Captain
Luigi, and with fifty-five men we left the Cuartel, without beat of
drum, at nine in the evening. Leaving the main road at the Marisma, we
entered a pathway, closely sheltered by trees and foliage, and after two
hours rapid marching, halted at a cluster of ranchos by the roadside.
Here we could only learn that the Mexican cavalry had passed by at
sunset; but during an examination of one of the huts, we laid violent
hands upon a rude squint-eyed youth, who though half naked, and
apparently stupid, had a bag of dollars tied up in the tail of his
shirt; him we interrogated with a bayonet at his throat, and there were
sufficient symptoms of intelligence in him left to assure us that if he
himself were not attached to the party we sought, he knew the bivouac.
With a _riata_ around his neck, and carefully guarded, we again
advanced. Four miles beyond, we reached the encampment; it was situated
in a flat little meadow, a few feet lower than the road, and girdled
nearly around by the gully of a water-course that hemmed it in on all
sides. Our march had been so silent as not to create alarm, and strange
to say there was not a sentinel awake. Embers of the watch-fires gave
sufficient light to distinguish the sleeping figures of the troops, with
horses picketted near. We divided our forces into two parties, one
commanding the pathway to the meadow, whilst the other poured in a
deadly fire, and immediately charged across the ravine. Taken completely
by surprise, they jumped up in great consternation, and in their flight
received the bullets from our remaining muskets; before we could reload
they were flying, like so many ghosts, across the field, leaving
everything behind. On gaining the bivouac, we found it quite a
picturesque little glade, shaded by lofty forest-trees, and beneath,
were a number of bough-built huts, verging on the rivulet that crossed
the road. We counted eight dead bodies: one poor youth was breathing his
last. By the fitful light of a torch I tore open a bale of linen at
hand, passed some thick folds over the welling blood of his wounds,
placed a drop of brandy to his lips, and left him to die. They were
sixty in number, and we captured all they had--carbines, lances,
ammunition, horses, saddles, and clothing, besides their private
correspondence.

There was one incident connected with this _escaramuza_, which was a
source of deep regret to us. The wife and daughter of the commanding
officer had, very imprudently, been on a visit to the encampment. When
the attack commenced, they were sleeping in a hut, and immediately fled;
but the child, a little girl of ten years, had been grazed by a ball in
the foot, and told her mother the pebbles hurt her feet; the kind but
unfortunate woman ran back, in the thickest of the fire, for the child's
shoes, and, upon returning, received a mortal wound in the throat. She
was found by her friends, and died the following day--


     "O! femme c'est a tort qu'on vous nomme timide,
     A la voix de vos coeurs vous etes intrepide."


Loading our men with such articles as could be conveniently
transported, we burned or destroyed a large quantity of arms, munitions
and merchandize, and then began our march towards the port. Such a
motley throng as we presented! Some were laden, from the muzzles of
their muskets down to their heels, with every possible variety of
trumpery--bridles, sabres, flags, serapas, and even women's clothing;
others, mounted on several saddles, one a-top the other, with bundles of
lances and fluttering pennons secured to their horses. Our trusty guide,
in lieu of the purloined swine, had heaped bale upon bale on his horse
and individual person, until he appeared, in the midst of his plunder,
as if seated on a camel: our gallant captain had contented himself with
a key bugle, and a capacious uniform frock-coat, some sizes too large
for him: I did better--for, coming upon the dead body of an officer, I
removed a silver-bound saddle from his head, which, with silver-mounted
bridle, handsome sabre, and a few other articles, I appropriated to
myself. Indeed, I have never since wondered at the rage one feels for
abstracting an enemies' goods and chattels on similar occasions--such an
itching, too, beyond mere curiosity, to search people's pockets, that,
in a few more guerrilla excursions, I felt confident of becoming as good
a freebooter as ever drew a sword. Three months after this affair, I
became great friends with a Mexican officer to whom some of these
equipments belonged. He assured me there had been six golden ounces
concealed in the saddle, which I readily believed; for the leather-man,
who renovated it in the port, remained oblivious six weeks after
completing his task. Love-letters, miniature, and commission, I returned
to my friend; but the handsome sabre--on the blade of which is engraved,
_No me saques sin ras' á, no me embañes sin honor_--Draw me not without
cause, nor sheathe without honor--and saddle, I have retained, trusting
that El Teniente Lira will acquit me of any other motive than that of
possessing some trifling souvenir of our first meeting at Sigueras.

We reached Mazatlan at daylight, and after arresting two members of the
municipal junta, who were occupying a seat in the council, and who,
while expressing much sympathy for the Yankees, had written detailed
accounts of the distribution and strength of the garrison, I retired to
my cool cot at the Garita, and indulged in sleep.

Donning habiliments again towards evening, I mounted my horse, and in
riding to the plaza, had the happiness to make the acquaintance of the
fair wife of Telles, who was _en route_ for the Presidio. Agreeably to
request, I accompanied herself and suite beyond the Garita, when she
informed me that her liege lord was highly indebted for allowing his
weekly supply of cogniac to pass--because good liquids were rarely met
with at head-quarters--but that I would be doing him a service by
retaining a large amount of dunning billets, that passed through my
hands to his address. Promising to comply with the Colonel's wishes, I
bid his lady adieu; but I am sorry to add, that politeness to the
graceful señora was the innocent cause of my losing a beautiful horse;
for it was quite dark on reaching the port, and instead of going where I
originally intended, I paused a moment at the bowling alley, where,
meeting some officers of a British frigate, I gave the bridle to a
_lepero_ to hold, and passed into the building; but scarcely had we
crossed the threshold, when, startled by the report of fire-arms, we all
rushed out, and found the poor animal raining blood from a bullet in the
throat. The villain of a _lepero_ had shot him with a pistol from the
holsters. A group of kind-hearted young reefers did their best to
staunch the blood, and one little fellow even tied his trowsers around
the wound; but all was unavailing, and in ten minutes my spirited
blooded bay was dead. Oh! Mr. Smithers! you keep, a good ten-pin alley,
sing a good song, and your wife prepares good chocolate; you are,
together, good fellows; but you should never, O! Smithers! transform
your establishment into a knacker's yard. And you, my cruel _lepero_!
had I ever got a sight of you along that weapon you handled so well--ah!
I well nigh wept for sorrow that night, and did not recover my spirits
for a fortnight.

The _escaramuza_ at Sigueros was the means of keeping the roads free for
a few days; but in a fortnight the Mexicans had again taken position,
and though falling back some distance, were yet enabled to cut off all
communication with Mazatlan. The paisanos, as usual, complained sadly,
and asked protection. Accordingly, an expedition was planned, under the
guidance of a diminutive ranchero, who, after tracing paths and diagrams
on paper without end, in hopes his individual services could be
dispensed with, at last determined, with many misgivings, to lead the
way to his habitation, where a troop of lancers were wont to enjoy
themselves upon his bounty.

Early in the evening a battalion of an hundred marines left the
garrison, but had barely been gone an hour, when a lot of frightened old
women rushed to the Cuartel, and swore that a large body of troops were
landing from the estero, for the purpose of sacking the town. Rub-a-dub,
rolled the drums--the walls were manned--and rockets went fizzing and
bursting in the air, for assistance from the ships. Meanwhile, I was
despatched, with a small party, to inquire into the truth of the rumor.
After making a thorough examination along the river, and scaring the
last breath out of a poor fisherman, dying with fever, we were convinced
the report was merely a ruse, a sort of counter-irritant, attempted by
the town's people to alarm the troops outside, and call back our men.
The marines had marched by the beach; and at midnight, with thirty
muskets, I took the main route, and lay in ambush at the cross of the
Culiacan and Presidio roads, for the purpose of intercepting the enemy's
retreat, in case they fled towards headquarters at San Sebastian. For
nine hours we were nearly flayed alive by muskitoes, and only
recompensed for the torture by detaining some hundreds of people and
their beasts. It was quite diverting to observe a simple pedestrian,
stepping jauntily along, whistling blithely away--as the natives always
do when travelling alone by night--when a look-out, perched high upon an
overhanging branch, would utter a sharp _hist!_ the traveller would
falter, and perhaps thinking his fears had misled him, again pass on,
and while faintly resuming his chirrup, another energetic summons would
quite startle him, and ten to one but down he would fall, crossing his
breast, and ejaculating a pious _ave purisima_! A tap on the shoulder
would direct them in the thickets, where, squatting on the ground, they
never thought of moving until permission was granted. Just at daylight,
a stout brown _muchacha_ came tripping by, and unconscious of our close
proximity, seated herself on a rock, and unfolding a little bundle,
began to comb her locks and attire in a gala dress, either for the
Sunday mass, or to create a sensation upon entering the port. After
carefully arranging the _camiseta_, and whilst in the act of throwing,
as a woman only can do, her _basquina_,--a worsted petticoat--over the
shoulders, one of my ungallant scamps hit her a smart rap with a pebble.
Giving one terrified scream, and uttering a prayer to the Virgin, she
dashed up the road; but, encumbered by loose drapery, soon measured her
length, in the most ludicrous plight, upon the sand. We assisted her to
rise, and perceiving our lurking-place, she laughed heartily, after
indulging the gay sailor fellow who threw the stone with a specimen of
the sinews in her stout arms. The women were, almost invariably, the
vehicles for transmitting information concerning our designs in town, to
their friends outside; among our multiform duties at the Garita was that
of opening all correspondence and perusing the contents. It was
surprising how shrewd and accurate were many of their surmises, and the
tender regard they still evinced for their forlorn lovers--at least on
paper; and such imploring billets, too, from the banished _caballeros_,
for their faithless _amantes_ to join their fortunes in the camp, to rid
themselves of the hateful Yankees. Yet with all their coquetry they
still did their best to shield their former friends from danger, and so
cunningly, too, as to be difficult of detection. On a certain night,
while visiting the sentinels at the road, a negress came from the town,
and in reply to the hail, as was customary with the natives, replied,
_norte Americano_! On being told no one could pass before sunrise, she
retraced her steps, and in attempting to steal past by another path,
came near being shot, notwithstanding her cries of _norte Americano_!
Upon making a third effort some hours later, my suspicions were aroused,
and as we were desirous of preventing all egress at the time, to my
shame be it said, I ordered her searched. Nothing was discovered, and to
repay her for the indignity she had experienced, I gave her a kindly and
paternal pat on the wool--there was the object of our search! a little
crumpled bit of paper, on which was scrawled, _a la carrera, entre dos
luces, los gringos!_--be off: the Yankees will be upon you at daylight!
But neither threats nor entreaties could induce the black courier to
betray the writer.

Finding no signs of the Mexicans, we marched back to Mazatlan at noon.
The marines shortly followed, having surprised the _lanceros_, and taken
a number of horses, arms and prisoners. But a damp was thrown over the
affair, by their bringing in the body of our little ranchero friend,
Madariaga, who was accidentally killed during the fray. Poor fellow! he
was intelligent, and we drank out of the same cup. The day after, while
riding through the town, I saw tapers burning in a house, and upon
entering, there was stretched the corpse--still in his bloody
vestments--a bullet had entered behind one ear, and passed out at the
other. A crucifix reposed upon the breast, whilst a common flat-iron lay
on the stomach. Near by, his sister was gazing mournfully at the blue,
pinched face, while close behind her stood an inhuman virago,
anathematizing him from all the saints in the calendar, for having been
a _traidor y espia de los compatriotas_--spy upon his countrymen. The
Mexicans asserted that he had been deliberately assassinated, and
rejoiced that he had received a worthy recompense for his traitorous
conduct.



CHAPTER XXIV.


Towards the close of the year we had become quite domesticated in the
town, and habituated to our new duties: the dullness that ensued upon
the occupation had changed into animation, business, and bustle; the
port was thickening with merchant-ships and coasters, and duties were
rapidly rolling into the Yankee treasury; the merchants themselves had
entered into arrangements with the Mexican officials outside, and the
staple export of the province--logwood--came in on the backs of hundreds
of mules daily, to fill the homeward-bound vessels for Europe. The
laborious task of the garrison still went on, much to the disgust of
Jack, who swore ditching and hod carrying was no part of a sailor's
duty. The fever still continued, in a milder form; but few new cases
ensued, although those who convalesced almost invariably relapsed, and
were never entirely cured until going again upon salt water. The
townspeople began to look less gloomily upon their invaders, and the men
were not averse to finger Uncle Sam's cash; and the women, bless their
sweet, forgiving souls, sought the main plaza in the afternoons, arrayed
in tastefully flowing robes, and graceful _ribosas_, whilst their
surprisingly diminutive feet beat time to the music from our bands. Nor
were they chary of flashing glances, or murmured salutations; and in the
calm nights, when pianos and harps were disturbing the still air, it was
not regarded as a novelty to behold a few blue-jackets, spinning around
in dance and waltz at the fandangos, or, as the more tonnish were
termed, _bayles_.

The native society of Mazatlan cannot certainly boast of a very elevated
tone of morality. Indeed I have good authority for asserting that there
were not fifty legitimately married couples in the town--rather a small
proportion for ten thousand inhabitants: perhaps the marriage formula is
considered a bore, and since even the rite within pale of the church is
not so religiously respected as elsewhere, it appears unreasonable that
they should place any legal check upon their domestic felicity. Still
this system of _relatione_, as so generally practised in Mazatlan,
appeared to work well, and we never heard of lawsuits for children.
Occasionally, it is true, a jealous master would thrust a _cuchillo_
into the tender bosom of his spouse; but what of that--it was _costumbre
del pais_; however, these were the exceptions.

Among the lower orders, the women were invariably gifted with amiable
dispositions, natural in manner, never peevish or petulant, requiring
but little, and never happier than when moving night after night in the
slow measure of their national dances. Even the men were not
bad-tempered, though beyond comparison the laziest and most ignorant set
of vagabonds the world produces. They were a quiet people also, never so
far forgetting their natal sloth, as to go through the exertion of
making a noise. Even their knife encounters were conducted with a
certain show of dignity and decorum. For example, at the _esquina_ of
some street is a group of _leperos_--gentlemen throughout the Republic
of Mexico, enjoying the same moral attributes as Neapolitan
Lazzaroni;--their property at all times on their backs, and residences
precarious; they are playing monté on a coarse blanket or _serapa_ laid
upon the ground; one accuses another of cheating, and at the same time
twits him with the most deadly insult a Spaniard can offer, possibly
because it is so near the truth: _tu eres cornudo_; true or false, his
antagonist calls on all the saints to bear witness to his innocence,
springs to his feet, twists a serapa around the left arm, and, before
one can say Jack Robinson, their keen blades are playing in quick, rapid
passes, seldom giving over until deep and sometimes fatal stabs are
interchanged; but if not seriously hurt they drink a cup of aguadiente
together, light cigarillos, and continue the game until another quarrel
arises. These little passages of arms were of hourly occurrence, and the
severest regulations were not sufficient to repress the evil, although
there never was a solitary instance, during our stay, where a quarrel
had arisen between the townspeople and the garrison. I chanced to be an
eye-witness to one of these street skirmishes one evening, near the
_Sociedad_. A fellow received a perpendicular cut, which severed nearly
half the scalp, and the entire ear, leaving the mass hanging down the
neck, like a flap to a pocket-book; it was properly dressed by a skilful
surgeon, and the man was about again in six days. Indeed the climate was
most efficacious for wounds, and remarkable and most extraordinary cures
were said to be effected; two of a serious nature came under our
observation. The first, a sailor-sergeant, who, while returning from his
rounds, and walking up the Carita hill, not replying to the sentinel's
hail from above, in a sufficiently loud tone of voice, received a
musket-ball in his right breast, which wounded the lung, and passed out
of the back, below the shoulder-blade: the case was aggravated by a
severe and lengthened attack of fever, but the man eventually
recovered, and was entirely restored to health and strength. The second
instance was a young Mexican officer, named Soriano, who was shot by a
rifle-bullet at Urias, transversely through the breast, beneath the
ribs. After suffering some months, under a quack, he was brought to
Mazatlan, where he was successfully treated by one of our surgeons, with
every prospect of speedy recovery.

Of late, we had had no guerrillas worth mentioning, and were amusing
ourselves by drilling a troop of sailors into dragoons; and truly it was
a matter of as much satisfaction as mirth, to see how well the seamen
accomplished their task; of course, it was great sport for them, but
naturally fearless, and all well mounted, they soon were taught to dash
recklessly at anything, from a stone wall to the fire from a battery,
and in due course of time, became, for a sudden burst, quite equal to
any Mexican emergency that chose to stand the brunt of a charge. We
never had the opportunity of testing their cavalryship, but I think they
would have made a creditable report of themselves. They were commanded
by Captain Luigi, and at intervals I had the satisfaction of
accompanying his troop on short excursions into the interior. One night
we took a flying gallop down to Urias. On the way thither, over the
level marismas, the Captain's charger plunged into a hole and the whole
left file vaulted, or trampled, over him, but, as usual, he escaped with
the loss of a little parchment from the visage, while the horse had a
broken shoulder. On nearing the vicinity of our former _escaramuza_, I
passed ahead with four men, and found the prize we sought, in a Mexican
soldier, who proved to be the orderly-sergeant of General Urrea, the
Governor of Durango. Our prisoner was quite taciturn at first, but on
the assurance that he would certainly be hung the following morning,
and after profuse libations of _muscal_--a country liquor--he opened his
mouth and confidence, informing us that he had left an escort at the
Presidio, and when taken was awaiting some effects belonging to his
master, from the port, to be carried to Durango. At daylight, the
articles were seized; but, owing to the fact that some innocent persons
were drawn into the transaction, the Governor good-naturedly signed
passports for the whole party, including the soldier; although his
master, the General, bore no enviable reputation, for the cruelties he
had perpetrated upon American prisoners on the other side of the
continent.



CHAPTER XXV.


The new year dawned upon us, and January and February passed rapidly
away. The popularity of the Mexican Commandante, Telles, was waning
fast. A number of his own officers had pronounced against him--but this,
with a few effective followers, was speedily put down, and the leader
shot. However, a strong force from Culiacan was raised by the powerful
family of Vegas, the legitimate Governor of Sonora--and from whom Telles
had wrested the command of Mazatlan--in conjunction with a body of three
hundred troops, under one Romero, from the opposite extreme of the
province Tepic, and resolved to gain the ascendancy by destroying our
blockaders. Upon the approach of these bodies, Telles' troops refused to
fight against their countrymen, and nothing was left for their old
captain but to succumb to circumstances; these ups and downs, however,
being not uncommon in Mexico, the chagrin attending the disgrace is not
taken seriously to heart. After a week's intrigue and negociations,
finding his enemies implacable, he resigned his authority, was then
betrayed, arrested, sent to Guadalajara under a guard, where he shortly
afterwards expired. His case excited much sympathy, for he bore the
reputation of being brave and generous, lavishing all he received upon
the treacherous friends about him, who flattered and cheated, until
adversity stalked in, when away flew the gay birds who had made him
their prey. One of these gentry did me the honor to present himself late
one night at the Carita, claiming parole as a deserter from the
Mexicans. He had been chief of the staff and cavalry, bore the name of
_compadre_,--adviser and rascal-in-general to Telles--but having had the
sagacity to cram his filthy pockets with fifty thousand wheels of
fortune, of course had no further wish to remain. He pointed out all the
weak positions, avenues of attack, and general information concerning
the force of the outsiders--more, I was convinced, to vent his spite on
those whom he had already betrayed, than from regard to us. On parting,
the gallant major favored me with a note of introduction to one of his
lady-loves, coming from the interior, and remarked, with a pecuniary
sigh, that when commanding my little post he never made less than a
thousand pesos a month. It was upon the Mexican system--where the strong
steal from the weak: but here was my captain of battalion, Mr. Mitch and
myself--with all the trouble of guarding, examining, quarrelling, and at
times beating, hundreds of paisanos daily, and devil the _centavo_ could
we ever extort; on the contrary, our exchequer was at a deplorably low
ebb, so much so that we were scandalously accused of playing monté for
_quartillos_--fippennybits;--and we discussed the alternative of taking
to the road, robbing a _conducta_ of mules laden with money, or
remaining in the port until peace should be declared, inciting a
pronunciamento, and declaring ourselves commandantes of the province.

The united force of the Mexicans who had assembled in Rosario, amounted
to one thousand, three hundred of which were cavalry, and seven pieces
of artillery. They talked bravely of driving the Yankees on board the
ships, and were constantly drilling and exercising their troops and
guns. Vegas' proclamations were clear and business-like; he established
an internal _duana_, or custom house; declared a specified and moderate
scale of duties--having the sense to perceive that soldiers must be fed,
and although rich himself, he had no inclination for playing commissary
at his own expense--and besought the merchants of the port to send their
merchandize to the interior. All these warlike preparations caused us
neither alarm nor trepidation. Our works were near completion, and we
had twenty-six guns mounted, besides the additional security of some
small hulks, moored at a ford of the estero, mounting a battery of
Paixhans. The garrison had been slightly increased, and, altogether, we
felt confident of holding the port against any odds. The merchants,
however, were as yet shy of trusting their valuable property within
reach of Mexican rapacity, and consequently, the troops were beginning
to find themselves somewhat embarrassed. The commanders quarrelled, and
Végas himself, being heartily disgusted, forthwith fell back, with
troops and artillery, towards Culiacan, leaving a fourth part of his
force, under charge of Romero--a miscreant, who had the reputation of
assassinating his own colonel, at the storming of Chapultepec, for a
beltfull of doubloons. Being thus left without the means of doing us any
injury, they pursued the same annoying process as their brethren before
them, by robbing their own countrymen, under the odious alcobala.

During all this time we never for a moment ceased keeping up a rigid
discipline, and exercising the utmost vigilance; the severest punishment
was impartially meted to all offenders; and our knowledge of the
topography of the country, for some miles round, being quite equal to
the Mexicans', they had good reason to keep beyond our limits. At rare
intervals, indiscreet persons would try to run the gauntlet into town,
and one dark night, three troopers, not seeing our guard, attempted to
steal in by the beach: one was astounded, on not halting at the hail, at
receiving a bullet through the shoulder, and they then turned bridles,
leaving us a brass-bound hat and lance, as keepsakes. Indeed, once we
came nigh peppering our own patrol; fortunately, but one ball only flew
over Captain Luigi's head. It may have been a peculiarity of some of our
sailor sentinels, that, at night, they immersed themselves breast deep
in little pits, resting their muskets upon mounds of sand in front, at a
dead aim upon whoever advanced along the roads. I do not know if this
kind of tactics be tolerated by Regulation; but Jack, in his ignorance
of minute detail, had to place reliance on his eyes.

Once, after hearing the report of a musket, I inquired of the sentry the
cause. "Sir," said he, "the chap wouldn't stop, so I hailed him in the
very best Spanish, and then fired; there he lies kickin', up the road,
sir!" It turned out to be an innocent stray jackass, a bad linguist, who
could only converse in his mother tongue. However, these little
incidents convinced our neighbors that security did not throw us off our
guard.

We still worked hard at the Garita--deepening the ditch--filling up
embrasures, and raising the walls. It was fatiguing labor, for the heavy
stone had to be wheeled from the base of the hill. Already strong frames
of timber had been erected at angles in the walls, where three
twelve-pounder short guns moved on quadrants, overlooking the parapet,
and sweeping the hill in every part, while, near the centre of the
little fortress, a beautiful long brass nine traversed on a circle, that
could throw the iron messengers two miles over the plains below. The
sides of the building facing the lagoons were planked up, enclosing
spacious piazzas, and sheltering the men from nightly malaria borne
along by the land winds. The men were obliged to keep their quarters
perfectly clean, and they slept comfortably in hammocks suspended from
beams above. Everything went on regularly--they had long since given up
bad habits of drunkenness--and out of the entire company, but two drew
their allowance of spirits. Four old dames came with the early dawn,
bringing coffee and chocolate, which they exchanged for surplus rations
and the privilege of washing Jack's clothes. Liberty was occasionally
granted to visit the port, and every day two or more were gunning around
the lagoons, keeping the post supplied with quantities of delicious wild
ducks and curlew, and, when the moon was full, numbers of terrapins. We
had strict inspection, morning and evening. At nightfall, sentries were
doubled on the hill and roads--the guard set--guns primed--matches
lighted--and everything ready at a moment's notice. I am thus minute in
describing these unimportant details about the Garita, for it was my
first, and most probably, will be my last attempt at soldiership.
Besides being a great source of pride and pleasure, it was the spot
where I have passed many happy hours. Indeed, it was the only decent or
habitable post pertaining to the garrison; and I deem it not amiss to
state, that, had a twentieth portion of the quarter million of dollars
collected by us through the customs, been judiciously expended in
restoring the old Cuartel, and providing a few necessary comforts the
sailors required, it would in a measure have repaid them for toils and
hardships on ship and shore, where they were necessarily obliged to
undergo many expenses, in a service apart from the line of their duty.
And furthermore, a due regard to their personal comfort might have been
the means of reducing the medical estimates, and at the same time, of
saving many a poor fellow, whose bones now moulder beneath the sod. But
notwithstanding these drawbacks, it was gratifying to the officers who
commanded them, to know, that, even amid the novelty of their position,
they reflected credit on their country, and left an excellent impression
behind them, among the Mexicans themselves.

Many of the officers who had been detailed for service at the Garita,
were eventually obliged, on the score of health, to leave for more
healthy posts; and in the end, Mr. Mitch and myself were the only ones
left. Our quarters were immediately over the men, in a large square
apartment, the ceiling taking the angle of the roof; two balconied
windows faced the sea; another overlooked the port and estero, while a
large, roomy piazza commanded a wide and extensive view of the
surrounding plains, dotted by fields and ranches, with a high wall of
mountains in the back ground. When in the town the heat was almost
insupportable; in our _casa blanca_ it was never in the least degree
oppressive. We always slept under a blanket, in white canvas cots,
swinging from the rafters, curtained off by bunting. Bathing was our
chief delight, and the green waves well nigh broke at the base of the
hill, where we played in the foaming surf for hours each day. We had
breakfast brought from the French hotel in the town, which incident
happened about eleven o'clock, on a table screened off in the piazza.
Coffee we sipped, with a spoonful of cogniac, before the morning's bath,
to drive away the malaria. So we drank light bordeaux with the meal, and
when nice fruit passed the Garita, made a selection, in lieu of the
abolished alcobala.

Ah, dear Mitch, those were pleasant days! And do you ever recall our
pleasant little suppers by night--our cosy confabs--our sage
reflections--quiet moralizings and speculations upon the reverses of
fortune, after an interview with Don Manuel--and our schemes for reform.
Ah, my boy, those bright days have vanished. Then came the afternoon's
_pasear_, with a troop of officers, or the good hospitable merchants of
the port--showy horses, jingling trappings, coursing and capering along
the sea-road;--to the plaza again in time for music, with a bow, or
smile, as the case might be, to some gracefully-robed, tiny-footed doña;
then a few prancing _vueltitas_ to show off, around the square, when we
gave spur for dinner.

Just without the range of our guns was a ranchito, owning for its
mistress a jolly dame, named Madre Maria; it was not for her that we
occasionally extended our evening's ride, but for a half-uttered _adios!
Capitan!_ from the pearly teeth of little Juanita. I believe there never
was so much dirt and beauty combined. She was the sweetest mite
imaginable, and of a style to have destroyed Murillo's slumbers. Then
pretty Juana suffered from _calenturas_--fever and ague,--and I at times
carried a little phial of quinine, and felt Juana's pulse and temples,
but the jolly patrona would shake her head roguishly, and exclaim,
jestingly,--_No es possible, Señor Chato, sin matrimonio_--you can't
make love without marriage. _Ah! pico largo_, I would reply, _con razon,
pero llama vd el padre Molino_--certainly, so send for Father Windmill.
We had a private code of signals with Maria, to hang a "banner on the
outward walls," in shape of a white petticoat, whenever the Mexican
troops came within hail. She mortally detested them, for they made too
free with her hen-roost, and muscal bottles; and on her weekly
pilgrimages to the port, seated on a quiet mule, with pretty Juana
behind, attired in her holiday dress, and Jesusita, the youngest and
most diminutive piece of womanhood, tripping along the road beside them,
they would pay us a visit at the _casa blanca_, with some little
present, of eggs or fruit; and the brave old lady would invariably
beseech us for a loaded carbine _para fusilar los ladrones_--to shoot
the scamps. Once I saw the signal with the spyglass, and attended by a
friend rode out to the rancho; but it was a false alarm, caused by an
old white horse standing lazily behind the pickets. We found the group
of Maria and daughters washing in the lagoon, nearly all in dishabille:
Juanita with naught but a flimsy _chemisetta_, not a ceinture around the
little waist, revealing the most adorable juste-milieu form--between the
bud and the rose--with rich masses of dark hair covering her shoulders,
and rivalling in beauty the splendor of her eyes. I drove the old lady
into the pond, for which indecorous behavior she launched a calibash of
wet clothes at my head, then snatching up little Jesusa, just four years
old, I bore her to the beach for a dip in the surf. "How rich you are,"
said the little creature, as I commenced disrobing. "Why?"--"Because you
wear stockings." And this, indeed, is one of the distinctive marks of
wealth among the lower orders throughout Mexico.

It not unfrequently happened, that reports were circulated, without much
foundation, that the troops outside were about to attack the post, and
as a consequence the timid farmers living in the environs became
alarmed, and would send their families to seek shelter within the fort.
At times we would be gratified with fifty or sixty women and children
visitors, huddled together quite contented and merry about the piazzas.
They had learned to place full reliance upon their invaders, and
whatever course we adopted was looked upon as the only correct and
proper mode of acting. While testing the range of our guns one morning,
a carronade was accidentally discharged, and a stand of grape-shot
struck the lagoon below, dashing a shower of spray over a group of old
crones washing on the banks. I immediately ran down to see if they were
wounded, but I found them quite cool, and even surprised that I should
have surmised such a thing. "Why?" said I. _Porque, Capitan, usted es
capaz para qualquiera cosa_--because you Yankees have sense for
everything.

On Sundays our receptions were more select; then the élite of Mazatlan
extended their promenades around the works of the garrison, and would be
induced to ascend the hill, and sip dulces or _italia_ at our quarters
in the casa blanca. The gentlemen would glance over the newspapers
detailing revolutions or pronunciamentos in the interior, when casting
up their eyes, with a simultaneous puff of cigar smoke, would
exclaim--_Ay! pobre Mexico!_ and one had the sense to observe, that the
war was death to Mexicans, but life to Mexico. But of one fact no logic
could convince them--that our worthy collector of the Duana returned all
he received to the government--so wonderful a dispensation, that an
honest _administrador_ could be found in any position was entirely
beyond their comprehension. The ladies were generally very curious and
inquisitive, and after affording all the information we possessed,
relating to domestic economy and dress, once a pair of lovely señoras,
after mature reflection, apparently having made up their minds, favored
me in this strain: "Without doubt, you North Americans are very good
people, and you don't beat your wives; but then you don't know how to
lavish money on ladies like our own countrymen!" But I interposed--"We
feel obliged to pay our debts, and then pleasure afterwards." "_Bah que
importa_," said they; "all we know is, that where you Yankees give a
dollar, our people shower gold."



CHAPTER XXVI.


Soon after the occupation of Mazatlan, I made the acquaintance of a
young Mexican girl, of a respectable family in Guadalajara, who had
eloped with her lover, an officer stationed in this province. She was
better educated, far more intelligent than the generality of her
countrywomen, and with all the graceful, winning ways, peculiar to
Creoles. She was living with an old relative, in a cottage near the
skirts of the town, and I frequently sought her society, listened to the
low, sweet _cançioncitas_ of her native land, or, seated beneath the
shade of a spreading tree in the inner _patio_, she would recite by the
hour old legendary redondillas and ballads of Mexico, while her servant
played with the sweeping masses of her jet-black hair: she was very
proud of it, and often told me, that when she became poor, it would
serve her for a _mantilla_. She had soft feminine features, pale
complexion, lighted by large, languid, dark eyes. She was a tall and
slender girl, but with the smallest feet I ever beheld. This was
Dolores. Her mind appeared to partake of the mournful signification of
her name, and, even during her gayest moments, she was always tinged
with sadness. Poor Lola! she was thinking of her lover, who had left
with the troops on our coming.

Returning one morning from a fatiguing night skirmish, the servant
Tomasa met me on the road, and placed a note in my hand from her
mistress. It was simply a desire to see me. Without going to the
quarters, I turned my horse's head towards the town, and soon dismounted
at the house. The old aunt received me with some agitation, and I could
see the shadow of Dolores reflected from an inner room. _Que hay Señor?
Nada, una escaramuza, no mas! Y muertos? Quien sabe! puede ser un
oficial de ustedes._--What's the news? Nothing but a skirmish. Any
killed? Yes, perhaps one of your officers. At this reply, Dolores
entered the chamber, and with a quick low voice, asked, "and the color
of his horse, señor? white!" She burst into tears, and sank to the
floor. I afterwards learned that it was her lover, who, however, had
only been slightly wounded. He had been in the habit of entering the
port disguised as an _arriero_, and was expected on the morning alluded
to. Had I known what he was capable of doing at a later day, he might
have lost the number of his mess, instead of receiving a buckshot in the
leg.

From this period, poor Dolores became more and more triste and
depressed. She never was seen again in the plaza--the music had lost its
charm--her books were thrown aside, and she would hardly mingle in
conversation. Some weeks went by, and duty claiming all my time, I had
not called for many days. Late one night, Tomasa came running to the
Garita, and with breathless haste, told me that her mistress was very
ill, and wished to see me. A few minutes' gallop took me to the door.
The old lady was weeping, and poor Lola was lying upon a low couch, with
blood slowly frothing from her lips--but I thought there was a gleam of
pleasure in her eyes. She had burst a bloodvessel--at least I imagined
so at the time, and I instantly despatched a boy on my horse for a
surgeon. In the sequel I discovered the cause Tomasa informed me, she
had heard the Señora scream, and upon entering the room, found her lying
insensible on the ground, deluged in blood, and on coming to, she had
begged her to say nothing, but send for me. The fact was, that her lover
had again stolen into town, and whether from idle jealousy, or natural
brutality of disposition, had the dastardly cruelty to beat the poor
unresisting girl, with the hilt of a pistol, until she fell lifeless
from heavy blows showered upon her breast and shoulders. This was fully
shown by the post-mortem examination. The miscreant fled, and many an
hour of sound sleep he cost me, in hopes of getting a glimpse of him
along the tube of a rifle.

At the time, there was a chance of recovery; and daily, after the
hemorrhage ceased, I sat by her bed-side, and tried to encourage her
with anticipations of returning health. _No! no! me voy á morir_--It is
all useless, I am going to die!--counting with her thin fingers--"in
three weeks! _Ay de mi!_ for one last sight of my native land."
Sometimes I would read to her a Spanish translation of Sue's Mysteries
of Paris, and she never tired of saying of Fleur de Marie, _Pobrecita!
que dolor!_--Poor thing! what sufferings! She was gradually sinking, but
still her spirits rose, and her big black eyes became more and more
luminous. It was sorrowful, indeed, to see a young girl, so beautiful
and bright, just bidding adieu to life.

She had the best medical attendance, but another hemorrhage ensued, and
the lamp of life was fading fast. At last, Tomasa came for me: _Dios de
mi alma! la Señora se está moriendo_--My mistress is dying. I found the
sick chamber filled with women, and a priest, while a number of tapers
threw a strong light upon the nearly breathless sufferer. The padre soon
accomplished his drawling work--a crucifix was pressed to her pallid
lips--the bed and floor sprinkled with holy water--a hasty _avé_ was
muttered, and they then withdrew. Fortunately, a sister had arrived a
few days previously, and it was a great consolation to the dying girl. I
drew near, and seated myself at the couch. She placed her limp little
hand in mine--told her sister to sever a tress from her hair when she
was dead--and drawing a ring from her finger, smiled faintly, saying,
_acuerdese de mi amistad_--remember me kindly. An hour passed, and I was
forced to leave--indeed, while every breath came fluttering to the lips,
weaker and weaker--I could not bear to see the last--I whispered
_adios_, kissed her pale forehead, and went away.

She expired just at midnight. During the whole period of her illness,
she never once murmured a reproach against her lover, but left him a
blessing when she died. If such beautiful devotion has not heaped coals
of fire on his head, he is less than man.

The night following her decease, I was seated on a tombstone in the
little cemetery near the port, when my eye was attracted by a flickering
torch, and advancing, I met the corpse. We made five in all. The grave
was open, and we lowered her gently down. All was still, save the
convulsive sobs of Mañuela, and the rolling earth falling upon the
coffin--the dew sparkled by the reflection of the blazing torch--the
work was done--light extinguished, and mourners gone. Alas! poor
Dolores! I have preserved your tress and ring, and time has not yet
erased the remembrance of your love and sufferings from a stranger's
breast.



CHAPTER XXVII.


We could not boast of an opera, or any grand theatrical displays in
Mazatlan; but yet our sailor-troops, as sailors always do when
unemployed, had contrived a Thespian corps, and weekly representations
were given, by stout tars in whiskers and petticoats--and once a grand
tableau in commemoration of Stockton's victories at La Mesa. There was a
pretty theatre in town, where a little ranting was done, and there was
the usual Sunday resort in the cock-pit, where a deal of dollars changed
hands, but the greatest spectacle of any was in the arena, where we were
favored by brilliant feats of horsemanship, by Mr. Bill Foley, of Circo
Olimpico notoriety, in conjunction with his "ingin-rubber boy." He was a
useful, amusing vagabond, who had passed more than half his life in
Mexico, and went by the savage title of _El tigre del norté_. The Tiger,
upon the claims of national relationship, applied for the office of
collector to the port, but not being successful, he deigned to accept
the high position of forage master to the troop, but whether owing to
his prompt method of settling accounts, or the sphere not being
sufficiently enlarged for his abilities, he threw up the commission in
disgust, declaring his countrymen were the "ungratefullest people in the
world," and again devoted his talents to dress, love, monté, and the
arena. The last accounts of Bill, he was starring it away like a planet
in the interior of Chili. May bright dollars attend thee, Bill, in
whatsoever portion of the globe thy destiny directs thee.

Added to these public _divertmientos_, there were the _sociedads_, where
the necessary aliment of Mexican existence was in constant operation.
This was monté--our usual resort was that of the gran sociedad,
conducted by Don Manuel Carbia;--he was a diminutive old Spaniard, very
shrewd and intelligent, and among his numerous occupations was that of a
proprietor of launches, keeper of an almacen of ship chandlery on the
Mole, divers pulperias, billiard-tables, restaurateur, and pawnbroker in
general. Señor Carbo, as our beloved Colonel Jacobus called him, was
never seen without a cigar between his teeth; it acted as a kind of
safety valve to his vital organs, and it was strongly surmised that if
he ever discontinued, for an interval of five minutes, he would
inevitably choke to death. Seated behind the long green baize-covered
table, with his implements of cards and dollars around him, the very
chink of the coin lighted up his dark visage, like to a fresh cigar. He
merely played for amusement--so he said--and although he amused himself
considerably at our expense, yet we had no grounds for just complaint;
he played, _bueno como caballero_--fair and above board,--and if we lost
our cash, it was in striving to win his. Once if my memory serves me
aright, when mounted on the _caballo_--the picture of a horse on Spanish
cards--I kicked Don Manuel so severely, that his teeth chattered like a
pair of castanets--but this did not often occur.

There was another odd character, who kept a _casa de bebida_, near the
Cuartel, where the officers sometimes touched in passing. No one knew
what nation claimed him as a subject--he was a fat mottled-visaged
Boniface, whom the Mexicans--as they always nick-name every one--had
christened the "Golden Toad." The toad played melodiously on the flute,
supposed to be a mild restorative to soothe the sorrows consequent upon
the unfortunate state of his domestic relations.

The carnival was not carried on with much spirit, nor was Lent regarded
with the same pious severity as in other Catholic countries. The
Mazatlanese are not a pious people; there were, to be sure, a few
processions, and fire-works, accompanied by a wooden piece of artillery,
discharging salvos of sugar-plums, with nightly fandangos, but this was
all.

Our intercourse and diversions were not restricted to native society,
for we also enjoyed a pleasant association with foreign residents. The
circle of our own countrymen was limited--the Consul, good Doctor
Bevans--who gave us a grand feast on leaving,--and the Anglo-American
house of Mott & Talbot. From all of these gentlemen we experienced the
utmost civility; but to Mr. Mott and his amiable lady we stand indebted
for many and repeated acts of kindness and hospitality, that never can
be too gratefully remembered.

Not only in Mazatlan but all over the world, the great firm of "Mynheer
and Company" chase the dollars with as keen a scent as the Yankees; and
there is not a nook, however remote, where these thriving Germans are
not filling their sacks, but still their thirst for gold does not
prevent the pleasures of "faderland" from being re-enacted in their
far-away homes. There was one jolly Belgian there--a large, handsome,
jovial blade, ever on the vivo for fun or punch,--his house, like
himself, was lofty and capacious, with a cellar over the way, where one
might wish to live until it became dry. And the Hern Hutter, too. Will
eye of thine, my pleasant friends, ever glance at this tribute to your
virtues? Let us recall those delightful evenings. Old Jack's oysters,
and, mein gott! that delicious arrack--when shall we ever taste the like
again?--with the piano tinkling, and the rich sonorous voice of portly
Hausen chanting the solemn _avé purissima_ until the very paving-stones
rattled, and the lovely lips of his pretty wife were held in a painful
state of wide-mouthed laughter. Where art thou, O! Hern Hutter! dost
remember Piny and Luigi, even until the matins were tolling, when we
mounted our steeds--your own the famous piebald charger--and never
checked rein, until tumbling in the sparkling surf upon the sands?

Besides these warm-hearted fellows, there was another to whom my heart
still yearns, and no time can ever banish the love I bear him. He was
the beau-ideal of a John Bull--burly, surly, brave, obstinate, and
strong in his likings or dislikings. We met at first, neither in a
pleasant mood; I was the aggrieved person, for he permitted me to
mistake him for a Mexican, and talk bad Spanish half an hour, when he
coolly broke ground in Anglo-Saxon. But time removed first impressions,
and in his little cottage by the shore, at his generous board, and in
fact in very many ways he loaded me with favors and hospitalities, which
I shall always recur to as among my brightest recollections of the past.
And truly it is not in great cities, or teeming ports, where merchants
are seen to social advantage; it is in out-of-the-way spots--far, far
away--when least expected, that the traveller finds warm hearts and firm
friends--and none more so than in Mazatlan.

I was a daily guest of Don Guillermo's, at the cottage. Dinner over, and
a rubber at whist, I usually strolled about the town--peeped in at the
fandangos--perhaps a shy at monté--thence to arrack--music, jolly
Hausen, and so home to my quarters. Though a sort of vaut-rien
existence, still it was one quite in consonance with my tastes, and
since I am not at all competent for a clerkship, if any of my former
friends can employ me as a smuggler, or in any other nautical and honest
pursuit, I shall be most happy to comply with their terms.

For a short period, these my amusements were unpleasantly interrupted,
and came within an ace of being finally closed in eternity. Sitting one
night, in a moralizing mood, by my friend, Mr. Mitch, during a pause in
conversation, we were startled by the long rolling sound of the drums,
beating the alarm from the Cuartel. The sentries shouted from the walls,
for the men to get under arms, and snatching up hat and pistols, we
rushed out. The night was quite dark, with thick fog; besides, I was
nearly blinded from a lighted room; and mistaking the stairs by a few
inches, I walked off the piazza--a height of fourteen feet--falling,
most fortunately, between three men coming out from below, with fixed
bayonets, and escaped being impaled, by a slight wound in the wrist. I
was picked up insensible, and my companion thought even burnt brandy
would prove unavailing. However, on coming to, and being duly jerked
about the legs and arms, no bones being fractured, I was found whole,
with the exception of some severe contusions in legs, back and head.
After all the row, the _generale_ was only beaten by way of precaution.
For some days I was confined to my cot, without being able to move,
consoled, however, by lots of agreeable visitors--bottles of
liniment--good cigars--alleviated by the sympathies of an admirable
young nurse. There I was, reposing "in ordinary," swinging backwards and
forwards. From one window I could see green plains and lagoons
stretching away to the distant hills; and from the balconies, long
strings of mules, with their cargoes, and could hear the shrill whistles
and cries of the arrieros, urging the perverse brutes in either
direction. The borders, too, of the lagoons were dotted with groups of
women and children washing; and whenever I took a too long glance
through the telescope, at some brown half nude figure, I was sure to
attract the attention of my black-eyed nurse, who cunningly would place
her finger before the lens. I always chose the mornings to study or
write, when the clear, cool sea-breeze was beginning to fan the polished
surface of the water, as the swell rolled rippling on in gentle
undulations towards the beach--while swarms of pelicans sailed
sluggishly along, until sighting their prey, when, with a dart like a
flash, they parted the waves in concentric circles around, and rested
contentedly on the water, packing away the little fishes in their
capacious pouches. Then, if our little house-keeper was docile, and not
mimicking the Colonel, for she detested the sight of a book, I would
draw the table to my cot, and enjoy an hour's tranquillity. But when,
later in the day, the breeze began to roughen the sea into light caps of
foam, causing the waves to break heavily upon the shore, then the
windows began to struggle and slam, books and papers to whirl across the
room, until I was glad to put by everything, and say, _amigita
canta_--sing, my little friend. She would purse up her roguish lips in
mimic affectation, and then, in a lively strain, begin some provincial
ditty--


     "En la Esquina de casa,
     Un oficial mi habló."


Yet there are no alleviations that can recompense a person of active
habits for being laid up, even in lavender. In a few days I was able to
sit a horse, and soon after, perfectly restored.

Thieving and pilfering were practised among the lower orders, in an
almost equal degree to knife combats. Leperos are thieves and liars by
profession, and their coarse serapas serves to conceal all their
peccadillos. The Spectator tells us, that in the days of Charles II, a
rascal of any eminence could not be found under forty. In Mazatlan they
were more precocious. Eating, sleeping and drinking, they could easily
dispense with, for a handful of beans and the open air was an economical
mode of life, and cost little or nothing: but a few rials were
absolutely indispensable to game with on feast days; and as the Leperos,
as a body, are not fond of work, they exercised their ingenuity in
appropriating property of others. I had escaped their depredations so
long, that I fancied there was nothing worth filching in my possession,
or innocently supposed there was some kind of freemasonry established
between us. However, I was soon undeceived. One morning, according to
custom, Miss Rita made her usual call, attended by some gay friends, and
all attired in their prettiest robes and ribosas:--"Would I read an
anonymous billet in verse?" _Si Señorita_. "You are appointed _Teniente
de la tripa_,"--a ball given annually by the butchers. "Then, would I
meet her at the grand fandango in the marisma?" Of course. "_Pues hasta
la noche amigo mio!_" and away they tripped down the hill in high glee.
In the evening after dinner at the cottage, in company with Señor
Molinero, we strolled to the fields. A large marquée had been erected in
the middle of the open space, and around were smaller affairs, with
numerous booths, sparkling with lights, music and merriment. It was not
a very select affair, and I took the precaution to loosen my sword in
its sheath. Presently we entered into the spirit of the frolic, and were
soon hand in hand with leperos and their sweethearts--sipping from every
cup--whirling away in waltzes--dancing to the quick _jarabie_, and
making ourselves particularly ridiculous when, presto! some expert thief
snatched my sword blade from the scabbard. Search was instantly made,
but the successful lepero made good his prize, and escaped. The girls
sympathized with me, and poor Rita cried, and, regardless of being
vice-queen of the ball, insisted upon leaving--so bounding up before me
on horseback, I landed her at her little cottage. The night was not half
spent, so turning rein, I indulged my friend Señor Carbia with a hasty
visit--not at all to his satisfaction, for the fickle goddess smiled
upon me; but as a slight check to this good fortune, another watchful
person had stolen a valuable pistol from my holsters while the horse was
standing in the patio, with a man to guard him. At the time I would
certainly have presented the ladron with my winnings for the pleasure of
giving him the contents from the remaining weapon; but eventually I
became more of a philosopher--was robbed at all times unmercifully, and
looked upon it as a destiny. One of our good commissaries was also a
sufferer. Being lodged in a small dwelling by himself, every few days he
was regularly cleaned out of his wardrobe, and frequently obliged to fly
trowserless to a neighbor's for a change of raiment. I once had the
happiness to detect a youth in a petty act of larceny. Him I had
carefully conveyed to the Garita, when the sailors made what they call a
"spread eagle" of him, over the long gun. It was a summary process, and
I sincerely believe, had a tendency to repress his rising predilections
for the future.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


In the month of March the first positive information relating to rumors
of peace reached Mazatlan. It was agreeable news to a few former
_empleados_ of the customs and courts, all idle and disaffected
vagabonds, but the majority of peaceably-disposed citizens and foreign
residents were averse to our departure; they had so long been oppressed
by Mexican misrule, intrigue, and extortion, that the law, order, and
tolerant state of things existing under our sway, presented a too
pleasing contrast not to sigh for a continuance of it.

One of the brothers, Vaso vil Vaso--gentlemen who stood deservedly high
in public estimation--had been appointed Governor of the Province, and
in defence of the conduct of his fellow-citizens who had remained, and
accepted office in Mazatlan, he published a pamphlet in Guadalajara,
giving a narrative of former grievances, with a truthful account of our
proceedings; also speaking in high terms of commendation of the legality
and justice that had characterised our policy since the occupation of
the port.

The Mexican force outside evinced no disposition to molest us, and ere
this we had discovered that it was time thrown away to pursue them:
there was no fighting to be had, petty skirmishing was all that had been
accomplished; want and desertion were rapidly thinning their ranks; the
commanders were at swords' points, and their only resources were derived
from the miserable pittance extorted by the Alcobala--in fact, they were
fast devouring one another. At this juncture, Vegas having withdrawn his
guns and disbanded the troops in Culiacan, was threatened by Romero with
an attack, in case the artillery was not sent back. For this piece of
mutiny Romero was dismissed the army, and the military command of the
province devolved on a respectable officer named Don Juan Pablo Anaya,
who made his headquarters at the Presidio, with, however, but a mere
handful of soldiers.

On the last day of March the official notification of the armistice was
promulgated in the port. A few days previous, late in the afternoon,
some arrieros informed me that a number of Mexican soldiers were
collecting a little revenue, a short distance up the road, and then I
perceived a signal flying from the rancho of Madre Maria. This was a
heinous offence, to come within long range of our guns; so sending a
small party by the beach, I rode out myself. We arrived a minute too
late--the dust from their horses was just subsiding. The patrona was in
a towering passion, said there had been a brace of officers, and four
dragoons, making merry in the house; knocking the necks off poultry and
bottles, and demanding toll from the paisanos. Juanita added, that one
of the gentlemen had desired his _memorias_ left at the Garita! a piece
of politeness I was quite unprepared for. Returning to town, I forthwith
went in quest of the Governor. He was afloat, nor was the Captain of the
Cuartel to be found. What to do I knew not; it would have been a great
breach of decorum not to repay the courtesies of my afternoon visitors,
so I concluded to consult with a _compadre_. Towards midnight I met
Captain Luigi, who being in want of exercise, agreed to take the
relief-patrol, and accompany me; the officers on duty, Mr. Baldwig and
Earl, made up the party. Ten was our number, and the horses half wild
with spirits. We had an inkling of the whereabouts of our _amigos_, as
there was to be a grand fiésta on the morrow, some leagues up the
Culiacan road, at the village of Venadillo; and as there was to be
dancing and frolicking, it did not seem improbable that the Mexican
advance-guard should bivouac in the neighborhood. There was a round
white moon to light us, and away we leaped at a slapping pace towards
the hamlet. A league this side we fell in with a couple of paisanos, one
of whom not replying to our questions, with any due regard to truth,
concerning the locale of the troops, was speedily forced to mount behind
one of the patrol. In three bounds, he allowed himself to tumble to the
ground, but having his intellect sharpened by a sound kick from the
horse in the head, he then thought it advisable to cling on like wax;
moreover, his fears induced him to tell a straight story, and we soon
came in sight of the village. The entire place was filled with mules and
jackasses, their loads of fruit, vegetables, and drinkables lying beside
them, awaiting the great jollification of the succeeding day. In front
of a large house, were seated on the ground some fifty or sixty curious
persons, who, to save time, were attentively playing monté, on their
serapas, lighted by paper lanterns. Dismounting a few rods in the rear,
and leaving the horses in charge of two men, we silently approached the
assembly, and taking position, I stepped up, and tapped a swarthy fellow
on the shoulder; he turned around, and upon recognizing me, exclaimed
with much astonishment, _Aqui están los gringos_--Holy Moses, here's the
Yankees! The whole audience began leaping to their feet, but merely
pointing to the levelled weapons behind, we besought them to resume
their seats, and not utter a syllable, or a carbine might accidentally
explode, and drive a bullet through some one's head. Thereupon they
again took up the cards; when clapping a pistol to an intelligent
person's ear, we gave him five seconds to point out the stopping place
of the Commandante. "Here," said he, jerking his thumb over his
shoulder, "here, in the big rancho." _Y los soldados? Mas por alla en la
arboléda! Quantos? Habra cosa de cincuenta dragones!_--Where are the
troops? Up yonder in the grove!--about fifty. This was no joke, we
thought, to be within musket-shot of five times our number; but since no
alarm had yet been made, we resolved to seize the _Administrador_, We
walked to the door, and struck a few heavy blows. "_Quien es?_" said a
gruff voice. Another blow from the hilt of a sabre. _Soldados!
fuégo!_--fire!--was the reply. Aha! so you have a guard, Señor, and we
instantly placed a thick wall between our persons, that the balls might
circulate through the door, and meet with no resistance or obstruction
on the outside; but no report or explosion following the command, we
detected the ruse, and assured the individual within, that if he did not
make himself visible; we would return the compliment in earnest. This
threat unbolted the door, and in a moment I slapped El Señor
Valverde--that was his cognomen--on the shoulder; and after apologising
for disturbing his slumbers, at so unreasonable an hour, through anxiety
to return his visit in the earliest possible time, desired him to equip
in all haste for a little excursion to the port. He could not forbear
laughing, notwithstanding his fright. We gave him leisure to drink half
a bottle of brandy, and put on a clean shirt; when he gave up his
papers, and assured us, with a gratified smile, that he had that very
day sent all the cash to headquarters. And now we said, "Amigo, where's
your horse?" "Ah," he replied, "there is one here, but let me send to
the corral for another." The next instant, we found him whispering to a
small boy cruising around our legs; but pointing a naked sabre to El
Señor's throat, we gave both him and the juvenile to understand, that
whispering was not allowable in polite society, and he would oblige us
by mounting the _cavallo_ that stood ready at the door, without further
ceremony. While this was going on, our friends, Baldwig and Earl, were
inspecting the outbuildings, and came upon the captain of the troop in a
very ambiguous position. He jumped up in his shirt, and flew away like
the wind. There was now no time to be lost: collecting a lot of handsome
arms and equipments, our horses were brought up, we leaped into the
saddle, tossed two dollars to the patrona, who swore some one had stolen
a sheet; said adios! to the monté men, who gave us shouts of viva! and
appeared quite as well pleased as ourselves.


     "Then ho! ho! hurry; hopp, hopp, hopp.
     Rode off the troop, with never a stop,
         Until all gasped together."


We came bounding back the twelve miles within the hour, and after giving
Mr. Valverde a supper, were safely housed and asleep before daylight.
But now it came the prisoner's turn to laugh at us. I had hardly opened
my eyes the next morning, when an orderly came from the Governor! What's
to pay now? thought I, and off I rode to the Cuartel. On the way I met
Captain Luigi, with a most serio-quizzico expression of visage, just
from an interview. After being announced, in I walked. "Good morning,
sir." "So, sir"--a pause--"you had the presumption to detach a force
from the garrison last night, and go many miles into the interior?--I
arrest you, sir--consider yourself arrested, sir--you and Mr. Luigi
both, sir." "But, Governor," I ventured to remark, "let me explain; I
thought you would be pleased, and a--" "No explanation, sir--pleased
indeed!--when you knew the armistice had been signed!" However, in the
end, the Governor, who was a good amiable gentleman, consented to
believe that no disrespect was intended, and received our apologies.
Whereupon we wrote a letter that brought tears to his eyes; he asked us
to dinner, and so the affair terminated. Mr. Valverde had all his arms
and chattels restored--very much to the chagrin of Mr. Baldwig, who had
already apportioned a saddle unto his own keeping--got a good breakfast,
and was escorted beyond our lines with _muchos cumplimientos_. The
red-headed wretch never passed me afterwards without a face full of
sardonic winks and grins. But from that moment, we resolved never to be
again patriotic on our own responsibility; and our only consolation was
in knowing that we had made the last prisoner during the war.

Some days after, one of our men deserted. He was intercepted by the
Mexicans, and since the armistice had been declared, a message was sent
to the Governor, expressing a willingness to give him up. I attended the
flag of truce, as interpreter. Not finding the escort at the place
designated, we were requested by a Mexican officer to proceed along the
Presidio road. Passing Urias, we gallopped on, league after league,
until within a mile of headquarters, where we were politely received by
a guard and an officer, sent to conduct us to the General. The old town
of Mazatlan, or Presidio, is situated on a broad plain, with a rapid,
shallow, limpid stream, coursing beside it. In times past, it was a
place of some importance; and the ruins of large _almacens_, a
dilapidated church, spacious dwellings, barracks and plazas, still keep
up the belief. Yet, as the port was found to possess such manifest
advantages for all commercial purposes, the old town was nearly
depopulated for the new, and the residents were even induced to leave
their pure stream of water, for the brackish element nearer the sea. The
road is excellent, and adapted for artillery, but every road presents
capital spots for ambuscades, and it would have required much caution to
have approached and surprised the Presidio, as we had originally
intended. As we forded the stream, and entered the town, the whole
population turned out to behold _los Yankees_--dogs barked--mothers held
up their children--and dirty troops tried to stare us out of
countenance. We were conducted to a range of buildings facing the plaza,
and presented to the commander-in-chief, General Anaya. He had a
pleasant European visage--tall, well-made, dignified and gentleman-like
in his bearing and address--numbering, may be, some sixty years. We
stated the business which brought us to his notice, and after some few
inquiries from his officers, he informed us, that the officer who had
apprised the Governor was unauthorized to do so; that the deserter had
already escaped--which was, indeed, the politest possible, and at the
same time sensible way of telling us that we could not have him. He then
cooled us off with a cup of claret and cigars; hoped all national
difficulties were about to cease; regarded the United States as the
mother of Republics; boasted that he had been present, and wounded at
the battle of New Orleans, as aid to Jackson; and finally, turned us
over to the kind offices of his staff. Our horses, meanwhile, had been
well cared for, and three hours after noon we were escorted outside the
lines, and reached the port at night.

The next day I was ordered to proceed again to the Presidio, with a
flag of truce, to communicate an official copy of our armistice, and
request a conference, to arrange certain articles pertaining thereto. As
we did not get there until late in the afternoon, the escort and myself
were billeted for the night upon the Commissary General, Don Isidro
Beruben, who did the honors of his house with great liberality and
attention, to say nothing of the sweet smiles of his charming little
daughter Chonita. We slept soundly and rose early, walked around the
town, saw the graves of eight long bronze cannon, about three hundred
troops exercised, and were introduced to scores of officers. They were
all delighted at the armistice, and on tiptoe to get leave once more to
visit the port, which they somehow regarded as a little Paris. They
overwhelmed me with interrogatories about their friends and sweethearts:
where were the Manuélas, Madelinas, Antonias, Josephas--_pobrecitas_!
how they must have suffered! and were they all true to their old lovers?
Of course they were--and I vouched for the truth of the statement.

As the General had not a reply prepared, we remained to a breakfast
given by our host. There were some thirty officers at table--a number of
generals, and all, I believe, colonels: the Mexican army is well manned
in the higher grades. The breakfast passed off well, with no absurd
toast-making, and an hour after its termination, Don Pablo requested
many _memorias_ to the American Commodore and governor, adding that he
would be pleased to meet our commissioners, as soon as he was able to
mount his horse, being at the time somewhat troubled with a complaint of
the _barrica_. Then entrusted with a despatch, I had the honor of making
my congé--_Adios señores! Adios amigo! hasta luego!_ and so we parted.

There were one or two articles of the armistice that had been signed in
Mexico, which could not have been intended to meet the exigencies of
ports on the Pacific, and at the conference which ensued, the Mexicans,
in return for relinquishing the alcobala, demanded the privilege of
collecting duties levied upon the coasting trade--it seemed a bagatelle
that we might easily have conceded, for it was absolutely necessary that
some means should be granted for their support. The commissioners,
however, were not able to arrange the matter, and both parties separated
in dudgeon. Anaya retired to the Presidio, the alcobala continued, and
the merchants were extremely disappointed at the rupture; for having a
large amount of goods destined for Durango and the adjoining provinces,
which had already passed our customs, they were unwilling to risk the
transit before some positive arrangement had been established between
the two parties.

These official misunderstandings, however, did not prevent constant
visits of the Mexican officers and their families to the port--a few of
them were pleasant, conversible, intelligent gentlemen, but generally
speaking, they were dirty, ill-bred persons, without moral principle,
and the greatest liars in existence, and they invariably taxed one
another with being cowards. On entering Mazatlan, they were obliged to
register their names and report the time of departure. We were
occasionally amused when they assured us they found great difficulty in
the search for their _amantes_, and had not been received with the same
ardor of affection that so long an absence would have justified.



CHAPTER XXIX.


During the period of our occupation of Mazatlan, the remaining ships of
the squadron had not been idle along the neighboring shores of the gulf.
The Port of Guaymas, on the Main, had been closely guarded by a sloop of
war; and notwithstanding the immense superiority of force, under the
Mexican General, Campuzano--of five hundred regular troops--he had been
at all times beaten, whenever attempting any demonstrations upon the
town--on one occasion with the loss of twenty killed and forty
wounded;--affairs which sufficiently damped their ardor, and warned them
to keep beyond the reach of their invaders.

The Peninsula, also, had been the theatre of more serious struggles; and
as the events attending their history were in themselves characterised
by the utmost gallantry, reflecting the highest degree of praise upon
the actors, who bore their plumes most bravely; and as they were, in
fact, the only affairs of importance, which may be considered as
shedding a ray of glory upon our arms, during the naval operations on
the Mexican coast, I may be excused for relating them more in detail.

It may be recollected, that prior to the departure of the squadron from
Lower California, through urgent solicitations made by the respectable
inhabitants, a small detachment of marines, under command of Lieut.
Charles Heywood, U.S.N., had been deputed to occupy the little town of
San José.

As I have before mentioned, the settlement is situated in a narrow
valley, about a league at its greatest width on the gulf, and is rapidly
wedged in, as it falls back into the interior, by converging walls of
lofty barren mountains. It is fertilized by a swift little stream of
pure water, which, in pleasing contrast to the parched arid hills
around, brightens the landscape with many green patches of cultivated
fields, fruits, and foliage. In the bosom of this little vale, upon a
slight eminence, two miles from the bay, reposes the Mission--a village
of some five hundred inhabitants--having a broad avenue running entirely
through it, in a parallel line with the stream. At the upper end was a
square adobie building, protected in the rear, by an abrupt descent to
the base of the plain, and the front facing and looking down upon the
whole length of the main street. This was designated as the Cuartel. On
the right, and opposite angle, stood another commodious dwelling, behind
which a high wall enclosed a small court-yard: it was owned by an
American, Mr. Mott, of Mazatlan, and occupied by his agent, Mr. Eugene
Gillespie--who as an amateur in the trying events that ensued, well won
the guerdon of a brave and loyal gentleman.

Immediately upon landing, on the 9th November, 1847, these two buildings
were taken possession of, and the American flag was displayed. The
Cuartel was found to be in a very dilapidated condition, and to prevent
the walls and roof from falling, crossbeams and pillars were used to
prop the decayed timbers, while numbers of useless windows and doorways
were closed up with masonry, leaving the main entrance and another
portal in the rear, where a platform was laid for more convenient
traversings of a cannon.

The low parapet which invariably surmounts the flat roofs or _azoteas_
of Spanish houses, was raised sufficiently to afford a breast-high
protection, and the walls were pierced at the commanding points, with
loop-holes for musketry: this, with a trench between the two buildings,
constituted the defences.

The garrison numbered twenty-five, including the Commander and his four
subordinates. This force, however, was swelled, in a numerical sense, by
about twenty friendly natives, who, in seeking protection under the
pledges conveyed in our proclamations, had timidly volunteered their
services, in case of assault. Still, they were of but little effective
aid, and, with their families, only served to reduce the provisions and
uselessly waste the limited supply of ammunition with which the garrison
had been furnished. The gun, too, was an unwieldy nine-pounder ship's
carronade, mounted upon a clumsy slide, without wheels for easy
transportation, or any of the conveniences necessary for manoeuvering
on land. It was planted in front of the Cuartel, to sweep the avenue
with its fire. The force was divided between the two positions, and with
but forty rounds of ball cartridges in the cartouche boxes, the little
band calmly held their ground.

The Californian partisans who had enrolled themselves for guerrilla
warfare on the Peninsula, were composed of mongrel bodies of deserters
and disbanded soldiers from the Main, together with divers Yachi
Indians, and other disaffected vagabonds, who, having nothing to lose,
and anxious for plunder, either from their own countrymen or their
enemies, were indifferent by what means it was to be obtained.

This force amounted in the aggregate to more than six hundred mounted
men, tolerably well equipped with weapons, and commanded by Pineda,
Mexia, Moreno, Angulo, and Mejares. The last-named individual had been
former Captain of the port of Mazatlan. He was a man of activity and
desperate courage, for which last quality, at a later day, he paid the
penalty with his life.

The passions of these guerrillas had been violently inflamed by the
persuasions and advice administered by a shrewd Mexican priest, named
Gabriel Gonzales, who, fearing probably a loss of clerical influence
among the native population, and inheriting, with all his race, a
natural antipathy to the march of the Anglo-Saxon, consequent upon the
secession of the territory, made unceasing efforts by every means in his
power to have a strong blow struck for its salvation. He partially
succeeded.

The original scheme of the Mexican leaders was, in the first instance,
to have made a concentrated attack upon the town of La Paz, at the time
in possession of a company of the New York regiment, under Lt. Colonel
Burton; but perceiving the weakness of the force to contend against, in
the small garrison of San José, and deeming it an easy prey, they
divided their force, and with the moiety resolved upon its destruction.

Hardly had the squadron disappeared below the horizon from San José,
before reports came flying thick and fast, that a serious attack was
contemplated. These rumors only infused renewed energy in the
preparations for defence and resistance, nor was the garrison kept long
in suspense.

On the morning of the 19th, ten days after the sailing of the ships of
war, a small cavalcade, bearing a banner of truce, entered the village,
and by a blast of trumpets demanded a parley. Possibly, to give
additional weight to the summons, clouds of dust were beheld rolling
down the valley, and strong squadrons of cavalry scouring the roads and
underwood, in advance of their main body. The effect was not realized.
The flag of truce was met by an equal number from the Cuartel, and a
missive received, demanding, under the high appeal of _Dios Patria y
Libertad_, an immediate surrender, under penalty of the horrors of
annihilation by a greatly superior force. The reply was prompt and
decisive: the American commander regretting his inability to comply with
the summons, and declaring his intention to defend his flag against all
odds.

Negotiations being thus courteously terminated, the guerrillas, nearly
two hundred strong, skirted the suburbs, and took up a position on the
right of the American quarters, behind the church, on an elevation,
three hundred and fifty yards distant, laterally commanding the town; it
was called La Lomita.

During the afternoon the Mexican eagle and tricolor was unfurled, and
with cheers and pealing bugles, they opened a fire from a six-pounder
and musketry, continuing the work until dark. The shot, however, did but
little damage to the soft adobie walls, save fracturing cornices or
boring fresh apertures for loop holes; nor was it judged prudent to
return their salutes but rarely, inasmuch as the carronade of the
Cuartel could not, without much difficulty, be brought to bear upon the
enemies' hill, and the limited supply of ammunition rendered it
advisable to await closer quarters with the small arms.

As night closed around the valley, there was a cessation of firing; the
garrison remaining under arms momentarily anticipating a more vigorous
attack; nor were they disappointed. By ten o'clock the besiegers had
cautiously crept within close proximity to the occupied buildings, and
with a field piece in the main street, began a simultaneous assault
from all directions, front and rear. Showers of bullets flew into every
hole and aperture of the Cuartel, whilst determined efforts were made to
gain a lodgment in the opposite house: but they were severally repulsed
with loss, and not an ounce of lead was thrown away, or powder idly
burned without a definite object. Three of the garrison only, were
wounded.

A hot but ineffective fire was kept up by the assailants during the
night, but at daylight the force was withdrawn again to the camp at La
Lomita. All the following day the garrison were encircled by the
guerrillas, who maintained a brisk fire of musketry from behind the
walls and parapets of adjoining dwellings. The disparity of numbers was
too great to risk the chances of dislodging them at the point of the
bayonet.

With the night the garrison were still under arms at their posts The
plan of the guerrillas was to have stormed the front of the Cuartel with
forty picked men, under cover of three field pieces, receive the
discharge from the nine-pounder, rush in, and capture it, whilst other
bodies, provided with bars and ladders, were to scale the _azoteas_, and
then pour in a destructive fire on the occupants below. In the end,
these matured calculations were defeated: nevertheless, the positions
were well chosen, and the Mexicans in readiness for the assault. Just
before midnight the garrison sentinels challenged: the hail was
immediately answered by trumpets sounding a charge, and a heavy fire
from guns and small arms; at the same instant, Mejares, the commandant
of artillery, with four of his followers, in leading the forlorn hope,
were riddled by rifle balls from the besieged, whilst another in
striving to bear away the body of his comrade, fell mortally wounded on
the same bloody heap. Deprived of the animating example of their
leader, the storming parties faltered, thus disconcerting the entire
movement, and they returned to their encampment without attempting
further demonstrations that night. Eight newly made graves was the sole
glory reaped in this abortive struggle.

Meanwhile a series of vigorous attacks had already been commenced upon
the command at La Paz, but was repulsed by a stouter resistance than was
anticipated; equally unprepared for the gallant conduct of the little
band at San José, and depressed by the loss of their leader, the
guerrilla chiefs ordered their partisans to again unite in the north,
for a combined movement upon La Paz--as had been originally intended.

This course of action was considerably hastened, on the morning of the
21st, by the appearance of two large vessels in the offing; eventually
proving to be the whale ships "Magnolia" and "Edward," of New
Bedford--Captains Simmons and Barker--who learning from a launch, near
Cape San Lucas, the state of affairs in San José, without a thought to
their own interests, resolved to do the utmost for the garrison.
Standing boldly into the bay, dropping anchor, discharging a cannon, and
taking in sails together, they succeeded completely in deceiving the
guerrillas, who were posted in strength on the beach to oppose a
landing; and who, under the belief that the ships were either men-of-war
or transports, fell back to their camp, and shortly after retreated up
the valley; not, however, without giving a parting volley to the
Cuartel, which was courteously returned by Mr. Gillespie, who knocked a
trooper from his saddle by a rifle-bullet.

On being informed of the straightened situation of their countrymen,
these bold captains, with their brave crews, armed themselves with
muskets, lances, spades, and harpoons from their ships, and sixty in
number at once landed, and marched to the Cuartel. The provisions and
ammunition of the garrison had been nearly exhausted, and these resolute
whale-men instantly brought on shore a quantity of bread--all the powder
they possessed, and even parted with hand and deep sea leads to mould
into bullets! Not contented with this, they formed into companies--were
drilled--and evinced an enthusiasm to do good battle for those they had
so generously and disinterestedly succored. Not only were these gallant
deeds undertaken without solicitation, but they nobly gave food and
raiment to many of the timid peasantry received on board their ships. If
any more admirable patriotism can be shown than this, let it be
inscribed in grateful remembrance, with the names of Simmons and Barker!

A few days later a government transport and corvette arrived: the
garrison was supplied with two more carronade guns, and an abundance of
ammunition and provisions. The quarters were considerably strengthened,
and an adobie bastion, with four embrasures raised in front of the
Cuartel. The force was also increased by ten marines, and sixteen men
whose terms of service had not quite expired; many of whom were
invalids, and were thus merely a make-weight upon those they had been
detailed to assist.

For a month all remained quiet in the vicinity--the guerrillas had
fallen back upon La Paz. Reports, however, gave every indication that
another and more serious attack was contemplated upon San José; but,
notwithstanding this state of affairs, and the events which had
transpired, the commander of the corvette saw no further cause for
alarm, and being homeward-bound, sailed for the United States. The bold
whalers had also long since departed--although not until their services
had been no more required--and at length the bay was once more deserted.

No longer deterred by the men-of-war, the guerrillas, having been
baffled in their demonstrations upon La Paz, again resolved to attempt
the reduction of San José, with such an overwhelming force as to place
the result beyond a doubt. Accordingly, breaking up their camp, with
three hundred cavalry, they entered the lower valley on the 15th of
January. For a week they were posted within a league of the village,
whilst detached portions were employed driving off cattle and horses,
destroying the crops, and intercepting all communication with the
interior. On the 21st, a small schooner anchored in the bay, having some
articles for the garrison. The following morning, the sea road appearing
free from the enemy, two officers and five men, well armed and mounted,
started to communicate with the vessel. On gaining the beach, they were
surrounded by an ambuscade of one hundred and fifty guerrillas, and
taken prisoners. Shortly afterwards, they were carried up the valley:
with pain and anxiety, their friends saw them from the Cuartel, without
the means of affording them relief. Emboldened by this success, which
was indeed a bitter loss to the little garrison, the guerrillas
contracted their lines, and each day found them nearer the town. Again
the besieged and the native residents, with their families, were obliged
to keep closely within their quarters. Step by step the enemy after
gaining the main avenue, pierced the buildings on either hand, and
cutting trenches across the transverse lanes, they succeeded in forcing
a passage, entirely concealed from view, until they gained complete
possession of the town. And in an adobie house, within fifty yards of
the American battery, the walls, already three feet in thickness, were
increased by planting stakes inside, which were filled up with hard
timber and sand; and such was its strength, that twelve-pound shot,
fired at forty yards, made no perceptible impression: from the azotea of
this entrenchment the Mexican flag floated in defiance.

Besides these annoyances, almost every dwelling in the street was
loopholed, occupied and protected by heavy angular barricades of pickets
and earth, making safe points for the use of musketry, while the church
and surrounding eminences were strongly guarded.

During these operations the garrison had not been merely spectators.
They made a number of sorties, with the loss of but one man killed, and
succeeded in saving a small quantity of rice. But by the 10th of
February, the guerrillas had entire possession of the town, and from
front, sides and rear of the Cuartel, they were enabled to throw a
raking fire. From that time forth, the fusillade was incessant; the
least exposure of person being made the target for a simultaneous
discharge of fifty bullets; and from long practice they were found well
skilled in handling their weapons--pouring the lead in at every
aperture.

On the afternoon of the 11th, the garrison had to lament the death of
the second in command, Passed Midshipman Tenant McLenahan. While engaged
at his duties on the azotea, amid a shower of deadly missiles, he was
struck down by a bullet in the throat, and fell with one hand clasping
the flagstaff that upheld the colors he had so intrepidly defended. He
was a young officer of undaunted resolution, courageous and energetic.
He expired two hours after being wounded, and was buried in rear of the
Cuartel, while the sharp whistling of bullets and reports of cannon
echoed over his untimely grave--a fitting requiem for the noble spirit
that had taken its flight.[4]

The commander and a single officer were now all that remained. The whole
garrison numbered but sixty, including sick, wounded, and twenty of the
enrolled natives; the buildings were crowded to excess with women and
children; they were to be fed; provisions were becoming scarce; bread
was entirely gone, and naught remained, save a few days' salt meat on
half an allowance. In addition to the want of these necessaries, the
assailants had cut off the access to the stream in rear of the Cuartel,
or at least so enveloped the outlets and approaches to the pools--by
screens of sand and barricades of pickets--as to make it a matter of
almost certain death to seek water, either by day or night. There was no
other course to pursue than the arduous task of digging a well within
the walls. This, by the most untiring exertions, was finally
accomplished, by boring thirty feet through the solid rock.

In such an emergency, surrounded by nearly ten times their numbers, less
undaunted spirits might reasonably have succumbed to the perils of a
siege that was hourly becoming more straitened. But the beleaguered
little garrison, though a small band, were true to themselves. There
were neither murmurs nor thoughts of surrender--they still vigilantly
guarded the defences--with but limited rest or food--while the bullets
and shot of the besiegers flew in by the loop-holes, or plunged through
the walls. Yet there was no flinching--ever on the alert--for hours and
hours they watched the enemy, and wo betide the adventurous guerrilla,
who, becoming rash from fancied security, exposed an inch of flesh! the
leaden messenger from some deadly carbine gave sad warning to his
comrades.

It was evidently the intention of the guerrillas to starve the garrison
into submission, who had already sustained a close siege of more than
four weeks, resisted many determined assaults, and made a number of
successful sorties. Yet their position had become eminently critical,
and without speedy relief, their well-defended flag would have to be
hauled down. It did not hang upon the simple results devolving upon
capture. They felt no greater uneasiness on that score than commonly
falls to the lot of the vanquished in civilized warfare. But the
innocent inhabitants, who had sought refuge under the inducements held
forth by our proclamations, and who trustingly relied upon American arms
to shield them from the inevitable fate to which they were to be devoted
by those whose vindictive hate and malice they had provoked--and whose
_gritos_--cries--resounded from every housetop, singling out by name,
with bitter taunts and revilings, those most obnoxious, and the doom in
store for their apostacy--were the causes that still nerved the hearts
of their defenders.

Joyfully, on the evening of the 14th of February, the garrison beheld a
ship of war sail into the bay, and though apprehensive that the
opposition would be too great to admit of a landing, yet at daylight the
following morning an hundred of the crew disembarked, and soon after,
the musketry from the Mexicans opened upon them. The odds were four to
one; but steadily the seamen rushed on, pouring in their fire, and
fighting their way, pace by pace, until met by a party from the Cuartel,
when the guerrillas retreated, with a loss of fifteen killed and
thirty-five wounded. Thus was the little band relieved, their wants
attended to, and the sick and wounded cared for. The enemy, baffled in
their enterprise, and deterred by the presence of the corvette,
deserted the valley for the interior.

A month later, Captain Steele, of the New York volunteers, with thirty
mounted men, left La Paz, and after a flying march of sixty miles,
reached San Antonio, when, dashing into the plaza, they put the garrison
to flight; rescued the party captured at San José, and returned to their
post, with the loss of but one man killed--having performed the entire
distance of one hundred and thirty miles within thirty hours! Such
gallant little forays need no comment. The prisoners had been treated
with extreme kindness, and although moved from place to place, never
experienced the slightest insult or injury.

Early in April, Lt. Col. Burton's command being reinforced by another
company from the upper territory, with one hundred and fifty of the
volunteers, moved towards the interior; while seventy-five seamen and
marines left San José to form a junction at San Antonio. Before the
bodies united, Lt. Col. Burton, with his troops, came up with the
guerrillas, three hundred and fifty strong, at Todos Santos, and after a
severe action, totally defeated them, taking many prisoners and their
leaders. By the close of the month, the town of San José was occupied by
Captain Naglee, of the volunteers, and the naval force was withdrawn.

Thus ended the war on the peninsula of California.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] On an eminence overlooking the bay, a small white railing and tablet
mark the spot where the remains of poor McLenahan were subsequently
buried, with the honors of war.



CHAPTER XXX.


Early in the month of May, the Ohio, 74, arrived at Mazatlan. On the
8th, I was ordered to prepare for a journey to the city of Mexico--my
preparations were made in five minutes; merely a saddle, sabre, spurs,
pistols, undress jacket, riding trowsers and serapa. The same night I
rode to the Presidio, where General Anaya politely furnished me with a
special passport, and afforded every facility to expedite the journey
through his immediate command. Returning to the port at daylight, a
letter of credit awaited me, which, with a dispatch enclosed in oiled
silk and concealed in the lining of my jacket, completed my
arrangements. A ship of war had been ordered to land me at San Blas, a
port some one hundred and thirty miles down the coast, and considered
the nearest practicable route to Mexico. I was to be accompanied by a
Mexican officer, a dark pop-eyed little man, of a quiet and gentlemanly
demeanor, who was bound on a mission to his own government, and took
passage with us in the frigate.

Attended by light flyaway airs and calms, we were nearly three days in
accomplishing the short distance of the voyage, and it was not until
nightfall of the 13th, that the good ship lay becalmed a few miles from
the shore. With my fellow traveller, I was tossed into a boat, and after
a smart pull of two hours, we were safely landed up a narrow estero, on
the banks of which was placed the little town of San Blas, apparently
overstocked with musquitos. A letter to a Chinaman, named Passio, made
him yell for his servants; before midnight had struck, after embracing a
number of officers from two of our ships at anchor there, we went pacing
away through the thick foliage, answering to the echo the loud shouts of
the friends left behind--it was thus began my rough notes and jolts on a
Mexican saddle. We were accompanied by a guide, and a pack-mule for my
companion's portmanteau. My wardrobe did not require one--consisting of
two shirts and a tooth-brush.

The horse I bestrode was not very beautiful to behold, certainly--being
what is technically termed in animal structure--a singed cat; but
nevertheless he rattled along bravely, without a jolt, plunge, or
stumble, and we got on famously together. We contrived to while away
miles and hours, coursing along the _marismas_ of the sea, with a clear
bright moon to light us; or winding through magnificent forests of
sycamore and pine, beneath dense thickets, arched with vines, cactus and
acacia;--grouped here and there with palmettos, or cocoanuts, crackling
in the breeze--and looking for all the world like long-legged
trowserless turbaned Turks. The scene was quite exhilarating, and even
my comrade allowed his huge moustache to be parted; but whether owing to
the pure air, and excitement of the ride, or the yet purer brandy from
his _alforgas_, his hitherto taciturn tongue was let loose, and we
became bosom friends on the spot. He had put sufficient in his mouth to
steel away his brains, and not a little to my surprise--though I
expressed none--he shortly proposed to me a capital plan of cheating the
government: that by keeping together--he being empowered to take horses
for nothing--we might charge the full amount, and halve the proceeds. I
readily assented, sealed the bargain by a squeeze that nearly wrenched
him from the saddle, and resolved to cut his fascinating society at the
first convenient opportunity. This gentleman bore the reputation of
being one out of a few honest officers in the Mexican army. However, it
is but justice to state that these little sins of commission are not
regarded in so serious a light as with us; although I could not help
speculating on the beautiful moral attributes possessed by the remainder
of the army. They have a very trite saying, which hits their case
precisely: _Primero jo, pues mi padre_--me first, then daddy.

At about three o'clock we had left the grounds bordering upon the ocean,
for the first step to the temperate terrace. Alighting at a large
rancho, we unceremoniously aroused some sleeping figures--had a mess of
scrambled eggs--thence to horse again. We soon gained the highland, by
bridle-paths skirting along crests of hills and ravines, until daylight
found us ambling from one to the other, in an everlasting up-and-down
route, both tiresome and monotonous. Eight leagues of this work brought
us to the more elevated region of the plateau--a more open country, with
now and then a rancho--cultivated fields--broader roads, and all the
signs of approaching a large town; then in a moment the view opened upon
a broad, lovely plain, framed in by three noble swells of sierras, and
before us lay long lines of buildings and gardens, with a thin stream
winding down the slopes, like a white thread--and this was Tepic.
Leaving my compañero at a meson, I swung myself from the saddle, after a
twenty-eight leagues ride, within the spacious _patio_ of an American
gentleman's house, to whom I was regularly endorsed--Mr. Bissell. He
received me in the kindest manner possible--washed, shaved and
breakfasted me, and put all in train for a renewed start by night. We
called on the Commandante Aristi, who declared the inexpressible
pleasure he experienced at the sight of me, signed my passport, and
bowed us most politely out of the house, even to the furthermost
door-step. This state visit over, I took a sound nap, and was aroused in
season for a bath. We rode to the green suburbs of the town, where were
nice thatched sheds stretching half way over a rapid stream. After a
refreshing swim, and a sip of lemonade filled with caraway seeds, we
returned to dine on delightful brook trout, and pleasant vinous
accompaniments. The horses were again equipped, and making a tour of the
city, we stopped at the cotton mills belonging to the wealthy English
house of Barron, Forbes & Co. The _Fabrica_ stands at the base of a
steep hillete--composed of large white buildings, encircled by high
walls on three sides, and the fourth facing an impetuous torrent, from
which a strong body of water is diverted to drive the machinery. The
banks were handsomely walled up, and laid out in parterres, prettily
planted with shrubbery, all bearing the impress of great care and
beauty. Further down the stream was an extensive garden, with broad
alleys, arbors and spacious tanks, teeming with fruits, flowers and
exotics of the rarest kinds.

The senior owner of the manufactory, Mr. Forbes, did the honor to play
cicerone, and take me over the works. There were about five thousand
spindles in operation; then working day and night. The machinery was a
beautiful specimen of American ingenuity; nearly all the overseers, and
the intelligent superintendent, Mr. Whiting, boasted of the same origin.
None but coarser fabrics, suitable for the Mexican market, were milled;
but the profits were enormous, having netted the previous year a
fraction less than two hundred thousand dollars. The operatives were
all natives; and although, I was told, without the wish or energy to
rise, still they did very well in the work required.

I never saw out of Europe or the United States, or Continental America,
or in even the British Colonies, such extensive improvements keeping so
close a wake to the rushing march of the age; all, however, begun and
matured by the indomitable skill and enterprise of the intelligent
owners.

I left Tepic two hours before midnight, and made all sail under a heavy
press of spurs and stirrups. I said adios to the _Capitan_, who assured
me his frame was deplorably jolted, and that he felt unable to proceed.
The fact was, the Don carried too much weight for anything beyond a
quarter stretch. I was recompensed for the loss of his society by the
attendance of two dark _mozos_ as guides, and three spare horses; but
with the beasts I must confess having been decidedly duped: I booked
them to Guadalajara, but they were neither swift nor well gaited. My
attendants expressed great regret, as a matter of course, which did not
prevent the avalanche of blessings with which they were indulged. At
sunrise we dismounted a minute, for coffee, at a small village, with an
unpronouncable jaw-cracking Indian name. It was a very pretty spot,
shrubby and treesy, with a noisy rivulet washing the door-steps of an
old ruined chapel. A barefooted damsel was quite attentive to my
pencilling occupations, and with an inquisitive frown and nod, as much
as to inquire--"What on earth is he about?"--handed me a little glazed
pot of wheat-coffee; but being a courier of the grand route, and having
no time to satisfy the muchachita'a curiosity, I swallowed the beverage,
threw her a peseta, and while she was hunting for the change, we were in
the saddle and off. At ten of the clock we halted at the hamlet of
Ocultilti, in front of a little mud-built _fonda_, where, for a Mexican
miracle, was laid a tolerably clean cloth upon a table. The road thus
far had been hilly and rugged, and the last five miles a tedious clamber
over a mountain-pass. My horses had given out, and I felt a strong
inclination to shoot the lying guides for imposing on me; but the
patrona of the inn sent every boy in the place scampering in search of
fresh horses, while she busied herself at the fire getting a breakfast
of everlasting _frijoles_. In reply to my anxiety for more beasts, she
continually repeated--_Quien sabe! hay muchos! si Señor!_--in this part
of Mexico the oft-repeated exclamation--Who knows! there are thousands!
Presently appeared two ragged, filthy Indians. They approached each
other, tipped their broad sombreros, at an angle like to the rings of
Saturn. _Como está vd? Muy bueno! Me allegro, y la familia? Para servir
vd!_ They kept up this strain of compliment for ten minutes, neither
letting go hands nor hats--until my patience becoming exhausted at such
fatiguing politeness--I let the lash of my whip fall lovingly around
their legs. "I say, my fine fellows, are there any horses to be had?"
_Quién sabe! Señor, hay muchos!_ they both replied in a breath; but
nothing more satisfactory could I learn. The boys never came back! the
mistress became less civil after getting paid for her breakfasts; and
after vainly waiting an hour, I felt convinced there was not a
four-legged brute in the hamlet, or that the two-legged ones were too
lazy to find them. Selecting the best of our spavined jades, we stumped
slowly on, and a league beyond came to a post-house; here a good-natured
dame, in the absence of her helpmate, mounted a mule, and soon drove up
a cavallada. Transferring the saddles to better beasts, and followed by
a diminutive elf, to bring them back, we continued our journey. The
roads became smoother, and less broken; the country presented a more
smiling aspect: green fields of grain, and cultivated plantations of the
argave, covered the sides of hills and valleys. Pursuing a course
through a well-watered district, without any evidences visible of
volcanic origin, our road was suddenly closed by a very curious lava
formation--an elevation not in the highest parts more than eighty
feet--springing strangely and abruptly from the table land of the vale.
There were acres upon acres of black volcanic masses thrown up into the
most fantastic shapes; there were churches and altars, castles and
coaches, figures of men and monkeys--with clusters of straight, slender
cactus, in full flower, shooting far above all--rearing their white and
red torch-like heads, as if to light up the black congregation below;
which from a distance struck me as bearing a miniature resemblance to
the Giant's Causeway. We passed this barrier, over a deep cut of
slippery aqueous lava, when we again debouched into the _vega_, took a
lave in a cool, clear torrent, and then came on at a great pace to the
town of Aguacatlan.

From a hasty glance it appeared a nice place, and we drew up at a
spacious meson, facing a pretty plaza, lined by magnificent rows of
elms, with a handsome church in front. All looked gay withal: troops of
vagabonds and girls were passing and repassing the portals. In a lofty
hall of the Fonda, I had an excellent supper, washed down by a flask of
capital bordeaux, which, the maestro informed me, had lain an unsaleable
drug on his hands for eleven years. Passing from the sala to a shop in
the building, I found a crowd of idlers, absorbing cigarillos and
hearkening to the harangue of a stout fellow, shrouded in a seedy
serapa: he was striving to awaken their patriotism by violently
declaiming against the policy, of the Mexican government, for tolerating
an idea of peace, and lavishing a fair share of abuse upon the Yankees.
_Christo! Señores!_ said he, "why didn't General _Skote_ attack Piñon,
where all was prepared for him, instead of creeping around the valley to
Churubusco? Answer me that! _Porque Señores los Yankis son cobardes!
todos! toditos!_"--Because every mother's son of the Americans were
cowards. Upon the conclusion of this speech, he honored me with a
close inspection, and apparently not being satisfied, touched his
castor by way of formal introduction. "Capitan," he suggested,
"you belong to the cavalry." I nodded. "Ay, he knew that by my
_divisas_--shoulder-straps--but he mistook me at first for one of the
San Patricios. Where was I bound?" I shrugged my shoulders. "Did I know
Mazatlan?" I had been there. This last admission quite won his
confidence; so, grasping me by the elbow, he drew me aside, and informed
me that he was on a mission to that port for the purchase of arms to put
in the hands of flaming red-hot patriots in Guadalajara; and that any
intelligence to further his designs would be highly acceptable. I, of
course, gave him all necessary information, and at the same time dropt a
line by the post, which was the means of giving him an opportunity to
inspect vacant apartments in the _carcel_, for some weeks after his
arrival. Having no more time to waste, I left the good people to pump my
_mozos_, whilst I took a short nap.

Before midnight, nerved by a cup of strong coffee, we mounted, and six
leagues of rapid riding carried us to the post-house of Istlan. There
was just light enough by the moon to reveal all the quiet beauty of the
little town. The square was deserted; not a dog bayed; the noble trees
with drooping branches reposed motionless in the air; not a sound was
heard but the uneasy plashing of the sparkling fountain in the centre;
and there was not a vestige of life, save a solitary twinkling taper
that shone through the open door of the post-house. Our shouts echoed
back from the tall walls of the church on the opposite side of the
plaza, and soon brought a gruff personage to the street. It was the
_administrador_ himself. He inquired, what _demonios_ dared to raise
such a din, when his venerable sire, Don Pancho, was stretched upon the
bier, and masses to be said for his soul as soon as day dawned? I have
ever remarked, that the safest mode of treating perverse, obstinate
persons, who are resolved to quarrel, is to approach close to them, in a
moral sense, and--like to dealing with a fierce ram by patting him on
the tail--they have no space to rear and pitch into one. It is time
enough to bid defiance when this system fails. Bowing to the saddle-bow,
hat in hand, I thus began: "Pardon me, my good friend! had we known of
your bereavement, be assured we should have torn our teeth out, rather
than have disturbed your grief: we are bound _extraordinario_! If there
be no horses, at least oblige us with a cup of water to wash down a
measure of this oily _licor_ from the grand Meson of Aguacatlan, and
oblige us by touching it first to your own lips!" I saw by the moon's
silver beams athwart his rubicund visage, that he relented; whereupon,
paying him some sorrowful compliments upon the demise of his aged
parent, I quite conquered his anger. Leaving me in charge of the defunct
old gentleman, I puffed a cigarillo, while he went to get beasts for the
guides, and his own mule for my use, as he assured me, _bueno y muy
vivo_--lively as a cricket. In a few minutes we were again upon the
road. Skirting along the banks of a small river for a couple of leagues,
we then crossed to the opposite side, where hills arose in endless
succession, soaring to the clouds in the distance, and where we were
destined to pass. It was the _Plan de Barrancas_. I had for the past
hour been venting maledictions on the administrador and his _vivo_
mule, for I never saw any but monks and muleteers who properly
understand their peculiar management. To one, like myself, ignorant of
the habits of these quadrupeds--never mind how expert a horseman he may
be--if they ever be urged out of their usual amble on a level space,
their gallop is such a jerking short pace, that the inexperienced rider
will be kept alternately shifting his position from withers to rump, at
every stride. But commend me to a good mule; over a broken country,
where their delicate little hoofs find a secure foothold over shelving
rocks, or upon the brink of a yawning precipice, where you drop the
bridle, close your eyes and offer up an orison for your blessed mule to
bear you safely. And with what sagacity they feel their way, and how
often an imprudent rider will find cause to bless his stars that the
wilful little beast takes the bit in the mouth, and obstinately pursues
his own path! However, as I said before, they are not pleasant animals
when the danger is passed; then they become at times unreasonably
perverse, and persuasions, punchings, or spurrings, only serve to
exhaust strength and temper, without any avail.

Our speed became necessarily slow, the country more and more barren, and
the paths stony and uneven; still we passed from height to height,
gradually ascending, until we came to the base of the great _Barrancas_.
Here, much to my surprise, commenced a well-constructed military road,
very broad, and coped in by a wall of loose stones, winding around the
eastern brow of the _sierra_. In some places near the summit, I am
confident, a dollar could be thrown four thousand feet before striking
the base of the gorge that splits the great chain, asunder. The view was
bird-eyish, and rather good--with the bright green dells below, in
pretty contrast to the red basaltic rocks above--but limited by peaks of
the surrounding heights. The road itself is a far more substantial work
than the traveller is prepared to meet with in this part of Mexico,
where everything relative to easy locomotion appears to have been left
as nature and the mules will it. Still, but little reputation is lost in
the way of consistency; for the moment the mountain is passed, the route
again becomes little better than a sheep path. Although crossing this
fine road caused me some astonishment; yet a little before, I was thrown
into a stupor of amazement, to behold lying in the pathway a long iron
thirty-two pounder gun, of the heaviest ship's calibre and weight! My
_mozos_ informed me, that this was the only one out of six that did not
reach Guadalajara from San Blas--a distance of more than three hundred
miles! They were intended for service in battery, during the revolt of
1825. Each was under the guidance of one hundred and fifty Indians with
animals, and it occupied many months in accomplishing the transit; but
notwithstanding these ample means, I'll venture to affirm that no one in
his natural senses, after making the journey, could be induced to
believe that anything greater than a mule-pack--to say nothing of an
enormous piece of ordnance--could be transported over such numbers of
streams, ravines, paths and mountains! The thing seems nearly
impossible.

We toiled over the Barrancas--threaded the valleys below, when taking
another ascent, we attained a level, barren uncultivated region, and
shortly drew bridles at the great Meson of _Muchatilta_. From an outside
view of the spacious inn--its fanciful frescos, and highly brilliant
exterior--we reasonably inferred that something even more delectable
might be found within. Yet although the patrona was neither ill-looking
nor ill-natured, she _siento 'd muchissimo_, and still declared there
was naught more palatable than _frijoles_. However, our appetites were
keen, and we made a good deal go a little way, for we had ridden
nineteen leagues since midnight. Bidding adieu to my _vivo_ mule, by
patting his sleek neck--not the least the worse for his work, while the
horses were well nigh done up,--I gave him a loaf of bread, in gratitude
for bearing me safely. With a fresh relay of horses, and the sun on the
meridian, we left the brightly-painted meson, and continued our journey.
Ever since mounting up to the _tierra templada_, near Tepic, the climate
had been delightful--neither uncomfortably warm during the day, nor too
cool to travel with a serapa at night. By urging our cattle we made ten
leagues, and reached the town of Madalena at twilight, where a stubborn
old administrador refused to give me a change of horses. The fact was I
deceived myself, in supposing the journey could be made as quickly by
taking a cavallada from one city to another, as by the government post;
and through ignorance of the formalities, I had omitted to take out a
license. It is a very simple process, and consists in merely paying
exorbitantly, at about the rate of a third of a dollar per league for
the privilege of demanding beasts from agents on the roads--that is
supposing they are to be had, and generally they are not; but if there
chance to be found any beasts in the corral, they are such horrid
brutes, as not to be worth, even to a cunning cabman, the rial you are
to pay per league. These are the animals pertaining to the Republic.
After a mournful inspection of their raw hides and protruding ribs, the
administrador may possibly hint that if the traveller requires a good
horse there are two or three belonging to a neighbor that might be
procured by paying over and over the legal charge. This system of
corruption is the chief cause of the heavy expense of travelling in
Mexico: honesty in its lightest sense is unknown, and the principle
throughout nearly all classes is one of fraud and extortion. Indeed if
the rage for foreign travel ever leads our rising generations to extend
their tours to these lands, their respectable governors will deserve
much sympathy on cashing the bills, and perhaps be induced to believe
that their progeny have fallen among the Philistines.

Finding nothing was to be gained from the Madelena proprietor of
horse-flesh, I betook myself to the Alcalde; my special passport making
it imperative on all military and civil authorities to afford me succor,
sustenance, and all sorts of _ausilios_--that is if they deemed
advisable;--but I depended more upon the yellow onças in my
trowsers-pocket, which gave a zest to their exertions, and did not
render them lukewarm in complying with the orders conveyed in the
passport. The townspeople were under arms, and a guard of some thirty
paisanos were assembled outside the courtroom. They received me with a
"present arms," and one adept in soldiership let his musket fall to the
stone floor, exploding the piece, and driving a mass of paper wads, and
a quantity of slugs, over the gateway; whereupon they all put by their
weapons, and whacked the unfortunate victim over the head with sabres.
My terror subsiding, I presented myself to the Alcalde, whom I
found--_mirabile dictu_--quite a civil, intelligent young man. He
informed me that a strong body of highwaymen had occupied a hill within
a league of the town, and every evening succeeded in carrying off what
they required, by breaking into houses, maltreating the residents, and
robbing every man, woman, and child on the road. He strongly urged me to
defer my journey until troops which were expected, could arrive, and in
this he was seconded by a number of travellers, who were also awaiting
safe convoy. The advice, though well intended, was far from changing my
purpose to proceed, and after receipting for the value of the horses in
case of capture, I prepared for a start. There being no regular soldiers
in the place, no money could induce the timid paisanos to act as escort;
and then I began to discover the true value of my guides. They had been
under the ban of my displeasure for cheating me with their beasts; but
they had determined faces, and in reply to my question if they intended
to fight, both exclaimed, _Hasta muerto! Señor_--until death!--this
restored them to favor. Entrusting each with a sum of money, I drew the
loads from their carbines, carefully recharged them with balls and
buck-shot, looked to my own pistols, and mounted. Moving quietly through
the back streets of the town, we struck the main road, where we
encountered a poor Padre who had been robbed of seventeen dollars,
relieved of his mule, and stripped of all his raiment, save gown and
cravat. _Santa Maria!_ said my _mozos_--"no respect for the church!" The
good priest gave us his blessing, and the exact position of the
villains. _Adios, mi padre!_ It was eleven at night, the moon was
rising, and we kept the horses nearly as possible in the shade of the
roadside foliage--going very leisurely--until on the slope of a hill to
the right, we saw a number of fires casting a lurid blaze around, and
figures moving before them. Approaching nearer, a din of shouts,
chaunts, and laughter, saluted our ears, for the rogues were evidently
making merry over their potations. The road sounded hollow over the hard
clay, and on descending a narrow canal-like passage, that just left our
heads visible above, we unslung carbines, and with cocked weapons, I
gave the word--_Vamanos_--let us fly. The noise of horses' hoofs
thundering over the hard ground instantly attracted attention; we were
greeted by loud yells of _Quien es? halta! halta!_--and plainly saw a
score or more running to intercept us, with the barrels of their arms
glancing in the moonlight; but deuce the syllable did we utter, but
driving the spur yet deeper into our steeds, we went flying along,
single file; in thirty seconds we were shielded by a high wall of rocks,
and in a short time had lost sight and sound of our pursuers. I think
they were quite unprepared for travellers at so late an hour, or our
flight could easily have been barred. Yet it is anything else than a
joke, to be encircled by a legion of these scamps--stripped stark
naked--certainly beaten and robbed--or perhaps shot. Besides there are
so many nice secluded spots, where, like Fra Diavolo, "on a rock
reclining," behind a jutting ledge, or precipice, these rascals could
insinuate the dark barrel of a carbine in one's ear, and cry
_Entregarse, o no la Vida!_--surrender, or your life!--Not pleasant,
surely, and I was delighted to escape scot free--clothed in my breeks.

At full gallop we rode into the town of Tequilla: considerably fatigued,
for I had not slept in forty hours, excepting perhaps now and then a
brief cat-nap in the saddle--of a second or two duration--wherein one
may dream of years of adventure. However, I determined to hold on twelve
leagues beyond, to Guadalajara. It was daylight, and I found Tequilla
quite a large place: with picturesque church, clusters of fine trees,
all snugly posed in a bowl-like valley--fertile and well watered, with
extensive plantations of the _argave_ extending far as the eye could
compass, over the neighboring country.

Whilst a relay of horses were being sent for, the landlord of the meson
accompanied me to a running brook, where I cooled my jolted
frame--swallowed a bowl of coffee, lit a cigar, and learned that we were
the first travellers who had passed in five days, and that a detachment
of cavalry was hourly looked for, to dislodge the rogues near Madelena.
Feeling now indifferent about the matter, we got into the saddle, and
once more gave spur towards our destination. The road was tolerable, the
horses were better, and the country became more populous. Once the
grateful steam of fried fish involuntarily caused me to halt for a hasty
breakfast; but it was only for a moment--when on we rushed, up hill and
down slope, splashing over water-courses--passing huge, ungainly carts,
with hewn timber wheels, creaking and groaning to market, while vehicles
also of a more modern build lumbered slowly along, with six or eight
mules ahead. Then I doffed my sombrero to a gay young officer in advance
of a well-appointed troop of cavalry, and, with horses white with foam,
we dismounted at the outer garita of Guadalajara. It was a small village
and military post, seven leagues from the city, having a great stone
arch and gateway commanding the road. Another relay, and an hour's
gallop brought the spires and towers of the goodly town in
sight--standing in the midst of an immense plain, and watered by a
branch of the Rio Grande. Passing through a town, with a noble church
and convent, we crossed the river by a substantial stone bridge, where
stood statues of Santa Anna and other patriots, with their noses knocked
off, and faces otherwise scarified. After being detained for inspection
at a guardhouse, we entered the city proper, through long lines of paved
streets, until we pulled up in front of the palace, at the house of Don
Domingo Llamas, to whom I had letters.



CHAPTER XXXI.


Guadalajara is a beautiful city, of an hundred thousand people, laid out
in broad, regular streets, with solid and imposing houses, painted
outside gaily in frescoes--and plazas, fountains, shady alamedas, richly
adorned churches, and fine public buildings. It is the capital of the
populous province of Jalisco, famed for its wealth, and only second in
importance to the city of Mexico itself. The crowds of well-dressed
pedestrians that thronged the streets and squares, the well-appointed
troops, elegance of the buildings, and smart appearance of equipages and
dashing horsemen, all gave the air, even at a rapid glance, of great
ease and opulence.

The gentleman to whom I was endorsed, Señor Llamas, had been in early
life an _arriero_, but by the force of merit and ability he had urged
himself to his level, and became a person of immense wealth, universally
respected, and occupying a place of high judicial trust under the state.
He possessed more energy, quickness and enthusiasm, than any Mexican I
met with, before or since. After arranging in the minutest details
everything for my comfort and speed on the road, I went to a very good
stopping-place, the _Fonda de Diligencia_. Here I bathed, and slept
until the streets became noisy with vehicles and horses passing for the
afternoon's drive. Facing my balcony, in an opposite dwelling, there
appeared a lady of exceeding beauty, or, as the porter of the hotel
told me in reply to my exclamation, _Si Señor! bonita como un
peso_--lovely as a dollar. She first appeared at the gilt-railed balcony
in the dishabille of the country, that is, with only skirts of the
dress--the sleeves and bodice hanging down in front; leaving the person
from waist up only slightly concealed by the camisetta, which half
reveals and half hides the shoulders and bosom. One must be blind,
indeed, not to become something of a connoisseur in female beauty, after
residing any length of time in Mexico; for the flimsy veil, which is
usually worn in the day by all classes of women, only serves, by the
pliant grace of their movements, to render their forms more defined and
attractive. But to return to my vis-a-vis. At a second visit to the
balcony, the bodice was laced, and superb masses of hair fell like a
dark cloud over neck and arms. At a later period the toilette was
completed, with a lace mantilla, and her tresses braided in two long
plaits. A dear little baby was crowing upon her breast, and the
beautiful Señora amused herself by entwining and knotting the braids of
her hair under the infant's arms, when she swung the little fellow to
and fro, in the most graceful manner conceivable. I never beheld so
charming a duet. The bell sounded for dinner--there was a well-set
table, and among a number of pleasant conversible persons, I made the
acquaintance of a particularly intelligent and amiable priest, who very
kindly acted as cicerone in my after rambles. We rose from the table
d'hôte as the military band began the night's performance in the plaza.
The marble-paved paths and the benches were filled before we got there,
and we found some difficulty in getting places; but when my cigar got
fairly under way, and eyes widely open, I did and do still take it upon
me to affirm, that no town in the universe can boast of so much female
beauty. Not only were they in fives, but fifties. My friend, the little
Padre, appeared to be very generally beloved. Nearly all paused a moment
to say a kind word or greeting, and thus I had a clear chance of
observing the pretty throngs that swept by. They were so tastefully
attired in full flowing and becoming skirts, with no awkward stays or
corsets to cramp the grace of motion--the coquettish _ribosa_, never
quiet an instant, but changing its silken folds, and half revealing the
glancing neck and arm!--the hair, too; such hair! _ay de mi!_ no odious
bonnets to conceal God's fair handiwork!--then their arched tiny feet,
kissing the marble pavement, with so firm, so light, yet dignified a
tread--and then the elders, sailing majestically astern of their lovely
convoys--like ships of the line--regarding with wary eyes privateers in
disguise of gay young cavaliers, crossing their track. _Hola!_ what
blockade could intercept those softly audible murmurs! or the light
downy touch of dimpled fingers, quick as a swallow's kiss to his mate!
or, more than all, withstand the languid, lightning glances flashed from
their upper deck of eyes! _Avé purissima!_ the waking hours by day, and
sleepless ones by night, that Spanish maidens have caused me! "I'm not a
lover now," but still, I derived great consolation in admiring these
sweet donçellas; and fearing a relapse to former maladies, I shook hands
with the Padre, buckled on spurs and sabre, and as the cathedral bell
was tolling ten, I was leaving Guadalajara, with its blaze of lights and
beauty, behind me.

Taking the main road for three hours, we crossed the Great Bridge, and
turning to the north, struck the route of the Haciendas, which in lieu
of smooth travelling and robbers, possessed the advantages of safety,
and a more direct communication to the interior. At daylight, we had
ridden nineteen leagues, on capital animals, who never once slackened
the reins in their mouths. I was not only indebted to Don Domingo for
these excellent adjuncts to my journey, but for a few written lines
also, to divers persons along the road, which seemed to infuse them with
a portion of their master's energy; besides, he had sent his own trusty
courier with me as guide. This was an old man of sixty, strong, active,
and honest: in youth he had proved himself a brave soldier; in virtue of
which he was permitted to carry--besides his carbine--a long lance, and
pennon that fluttered in the breeze. He frequently went without sleep,
for three days and nights successively, when riding express for his
patron. I made old Cypriano my commissary, and he always became
frightfully incensed, when called upon to pay more than he deemed the
service demanded; but again he would laugh heartily, when urging a beast
that had been overcharged, with a lash and a kick at every leap--which
he called taking a medios worth. Indeed Cypriano, from long riding, had
become a little callous, in thus visiting the sins of the masters upon
the beasts, and believed in the superstition, that hired horses had no
souls.

The face of the country was fast losing its abruptness; mountains were
verging into hills with table tops, and long sweeping undulations
stretching away in the hazy distance. It was very open, fertile, and
well-tilled, but neither wooded, nor so profusely watered as the lands
seaward of Guadalajara.

Early in the afternoon we entered the little town of Tepantitlan, where
a huge wheezing gentleman gave me a brute troubled with his own
complaint, but transferring him to the treatment of Doctor Cypriano, we
then got on in fine style. The night was far advanced when we reached a
round, portly mountain, called Cerro Gordo; where tarrying at a small
settlement, the keeper of a rancho surlily resisted opening his gateway,
until he heard the talismanic name of Don Domingo--then the door nearly
flew off the hinges. A relay was, with some delay and trouble, procured,
when again in the saddle. The road was stony and tortuous, so that we
had thirteen tedious leagues to crawl and stumble over. Gladly we threw
ourselves from the fagged-out beasts, and sought the residence of a
good-natured paisano, owning a large rancho, a large wife, and two large
daughters. Giving orders to be called in an hour, my spurs were no
sooner unclasped than I fell into heavy slumber, on a low bed beneath an
image of the virgin. When the time had expired, I was aroused by my
faithful guide. One of the girls was seated on the ground, near the
fire, with a stone trough and roller before her, busily employed with a
batch of unleavened dough, of which, when consistently kneaded, she
would catch up a dab, press it between the palms, and as the mass
enlarged she began patting and tossing it from hand to hand until it
spread into round, thin cakes; they were then laid upon a flat piece of
sheet-iron, and browned over the fire; these were _tortillas_: they have
a taste like the oaten-cakes in Scotland, and are not particularly
palatable to a young practitioner. A chicken had also been grilled on
sticks, which, with a mixture they called coffee, served me for
breakfast.

Horses were ready in the corral, and saying adios to the fat family, we
galloped, away. A bathe in a roadside brook, and two changes of beasts,
and at three in the afternoon we toiled slowly over some dry, chalky
hills, and looked down upon Los Pueblos del Rincon. It was a very
pretty, verdant spot, almost hidden in foliage, and reposing in an angle
of wide and extended plateau. Having a note to the Commandante, I went
straight to his quarters: but being a merchant as well as soldier, I was
told he could be found at his shop, in the plaza. On going thither he
was indulging in siesta, and notwithstanding the urgency of my
requests, no one could be found foolhardy enough to disturb his
slumbers; nor was I permitted to do so myself. I then trotted across the
square, and presented my passports to the Alcalde, who having already
been mollified by repose, consented to find some brave individual to
awaken the sleeping rajah opposite. "_Señor_," said I, hat in hand,
"very sorry to incommode you, but necessity of the case," and so forth.
He continued scowling quite ferociously while buttoning his trowsers,
and as he pulled over his suspenders, and arranged them to his
satisfaction, demanded what was wanted. "Oh, nothing!" said I, "merely
an order from General Yañes in Guadalajara," throwing the missive
towards him. It acted as a charm: "_Jésu, Señor_, excuse me--those
rascals never told me you were waiting!"

Good animals were soon provided; and amid all Don Manuel Garcia's
generosity, he was pleased to sell me a bottle of sour wine from the
_tienda_; for which we ran his beasts, with a heavy thunder-storm of
wind and rain close upon our heels for a long six leagues. The road had
led through a rich, level district, covered with forests of fine timber,
and abounding in cultivated fields of grain. Presently clusters of
spires and towers sprang from the plain, and coursing through suburbs of
walled gardens, convents, and country dwellings--all gratefully reposing
beneath the shade of overhanging trees--we entered the city of Leon. It
includes, with the environs, a thriving population of near sixty
thousand souls; delightfully situated in the heart of one of the most
salubrious table-lands of the higher terraces of Mexico. The town,
though inferior to Guadalajara in elegance, can still boast of much
manufacturing wealth, with fine churches, spacious squares, and great
uniformity in the general construction of the houses, while streams of
pure water traverse it in every street, and irrigate the extensive
suburbs around. Indeed, let a Spaniard alone for choosing a pleasant
site, near good water; not that these their descendants have any cleanly
predilections that way, for, on the contrary--except for the commonest
purposes of drinking--their general filthiness of habit induces the
belief that they are universally imbued with a hydrophobial aversion
thereto.

We rode through one of the main avenues of the city, and entered the
grand plaza as the great bell of the cathedral was slowly tolling for
_oraçion_, and unconsciously we checked the horses, to behold a vast
concourse of many thousands silently kneel--with uncovered heads, and
faces turned towards the church--whilst all was hushed to perfect
stillness. I never was more deeply impressed with an emotion of awe and
solemnity.

Three sides of the large square were lined with _portales_, or arcades;
with every archway and open space filled with venders of glass, cigars,
cutlery, saddlery, bridlery, and every kind of horse equipment; all,
however, destitute of workmanlike finish. The plaza itself was crowded
with itinerant traders, screaming in every possible intonation of voice,
their different wares. Stalls and booths were also doing a large
business in _licores_ and fried bits of meat, _frijoles_ and
_tortillas_, but what carried away the commercial palm by long odds,
were the _dulce_ women. There were a number of these popular saleswomen,
squatted beneath huge umbrellas, full ten feet in diameter--surrounded
by crowds of buyers--to whom they were dispensing papers of colored
sugars, candies, and sweetmeats unceasingly. I passed them again the
next morning, when they appeared busy as ever; and I was an eye-witness
to a little incident, wherein a centavo's worth of sugar was the cause
of a fatal stab. A lepero was purchasing a bit of chocolate--it fell in
the dirt, when another, probably thinking it a lawful prize, seized it,
and took a large bite; whereupon the lawful owner swung a mass of heavy
steel spurs attached to his wrist, jingling with some force, on the
offender's head. In a second down dropped the spurs, and serapas were
wound round the left arms. With low, deep curses and flashing eyes,
their knives gleamed in the light; the spectators cleared a ring, and to
work they went. I sprang upon a stone pillar, to be out of harm's way,
and thus had a clear view of the fray. Their blades were very unequally
matched: one was at least eight inches, and the other not half that
measurement; but both appeared adepts at the game,--watching each other
like wild cats, ready for a spring--moving cautiously to and fro, making
feints by the shielded arm, or stamp of the foot, for a minute or two;
when, quick as a flash, I saw two rapid passes made by both: blood
spirted from an ugly wound in the spur-vender's throat, but at the same
moment his short weapon scaled the doom of his antagonist, and he lay
stretched upon the ground, as lifeless as the bloody steel that struck
him. I glanced at the wounds after the affair had terminated, and found
the knife had been plunged twice directly in the region of the heart.
There was no effort or attempt made by the beholders to arrest the
parties; and the survivor caught up his spurs--a bystander quickly
folded a handsome kerchief to his neck--and threading the crowd he was
soon out of sight. The corpse was laid upon a liquor-stand, with a delf
platter upon the breast.

My letter was to apparently the mercantile nabob of Leon, Don Miguel
Obregon. He had a long range of _tiendas_, with a handsome dwelling
filling a large space, facing the square. He received me civilly--had
places taken in the diligence, which fortunately left the following
morning--and leaving my horse-trappings in his charge, I engaged a
jaunty young valet, who looked far more respectable than his new master.
He was dressed in blue velvet slashed trowsers, silver buttons thick as
peas, embroidered shirt, with a glazed sombrero and silver band. Juan
conducted me to a meson, which, like all other native inns in the
republic of Mexico, has two large enclosures, or court yards: the inner
ones with stalls for beasts, and the other for bipeds--the only
difference is, that the accommodations for the latter animals are closer
and the apartments more confined, having as a luxury a chair, and solid
brick structures raised a little way from the ground, whereon one may
sleep, if he can endure the filth and fleas. This is all the furniture
they rejoice in. Each lodger has a key to his own quarters, and the main
gateway is guarded continually--not, however, sufficiently vigilant as
to the society admitted; for the patios are crowded with improper
persons, who every few minutes make flying trips around the inn,
knocking at the doors; then, droves of beasts coming or
going--clattering over the paved yards, mingled with the whistles and
shouts of the _arrieros_--are not altogether provocative of repose. At
the _Caravanserai_ where I lodged, there was a hump-backed Ganymede, of
the most hideous kind. I have thought since, he would have been a mine
of wealth to an enterprising showman; or, in the dark ages, have made an
acceptable present to some bold Baron. Although not more than five feet
in height, his thin lucifer-match-like legs, being split up to the hump,
gave him the stride of a giant! and what with keen, glittering, beady
eyes, and the footfall of a cat, he made my flesh creep whenever he came
near me.

Every body is his own cook and housekeeper in Mexican mesons; and old
Cypriano having procured me a wool mattrass that fairly danced with
_pulgas_, and some long tallow links, which we stuck around the
walls--having no fears of a conflagration--I despatched Juan for the
best supper to be found. This amounted to red wine, beans and sausages.
However, we made merry, and treated some gay damsels outside to the
remains of our bottle. Cypriano then extinguished our illumination, and
stretching himself on the threshold, covered by his serapa, with a
weapon beside him, he left me to repose. It was my first night's rest
since leaving San Blas, that is, if the pile of bricks and mortar which
upheld my frame could reasonably be supposed to afford it. Yet the
fleas, for once, caused me no sensible annoyance, and I regained my feet
at sunrise, in readiness for further journeyings. I was pleased, too, at
the prospect of quitting the saddle for a coach, although with good
beasts I preferred the former: but to be subjected to the misery of a
racker--then a pacer--then a trot or gallop--and by way of change, a
horrible combination of all, with rapid travelling, is not only enough
to jar one's nerves and aid his digestion, but to give a disinclination
for a continuance of it.

Parting with old Cypriano, who gave me some sensible advice about
entrusting Juan with too much change, I sought the Diligence
Fonda--swallowed a hasty breakfast, and with no heavier baggage than a
spare shirt and tooth-brush, took my place.

Contrary to expectation, and agreeably disappointed, I found the coach a
thorough modern-built Yankee vehicle--comfortable and strong, with noble
teams of five and six horses, that tugged us along quite ten miles the
hour. The road was good, and a heavy shower had slaked the dust. The
country was again broken into rocky hills and ravines. At two o'clock we
reached the richest mining district of Mexico, in the neighborhood of
Guanajuato. Within a league of the city proper the route leads through a
valley into a deep split gorge, with rugged, arid hills running high up
on all sides. Passing a number of mining _haciendas_ of great extent,
the city, bit by bit, begins to unfold itself. It presents a most
extraordinary and picturesque appearance. The houses seem toppling one
upon the other--built in zig-zags, up and down sharp corners and
defiles--with the spire or towers of some church perched away in
mid-heaven, all brightly frescoed--the bases and gorges below being
filled in with thick mist--leaving the loftier portions in distinct
outline--closely resembling a city suspended in the sky. No scene of the
theatre could be painted more singularly novel. It fairly made me giddy,
as we came whirling through the outer defiles--turning hither and
thither--catching a panoramic view of the town, like a glimpse in a
prism, or revolutions of a kaleidoscope--when every moment one might
expect the whole fabric thrown into a sparkling succession of bright
colors--and what with the continual booming of reports from blastings in
the distant mines, I felt quite relieved when the diligence dashed down
a little pit of a plaza, and drove through a _porte cocher_ into the
court-yard of our Fonda.

My coach companions were pleasant fellows--there was a padre, two mining
agents, a gentlemanly young Mexican officer who had been adjutant to
Valencia, at the battle of Churubusco, and beside me sat a gentleman
possessing a remarkably handsome face and person, with the loss of his
right arm. He was French, Mons. Ribaud; he had been many years in the
country--was intimately associated with the leading chiefs and
revolutions of Mexico--had fought desperately, bore the marks of
honorable wounds, and was a man of much military experience and
acknowledged bravery; but latterly, owing to strong personal hostility
existing between him and Santa Anna, he had not been employed in battles
of the North or valley of Mexico. I found Monsieur Ribaud delightful in
conversation, and he related to me many adventures that had befallen him
during his long residence in the republic. On alighting from the coach,
I attended him to the commandante's, where my passport was properly
considered and countersigned, and an aide-de-camp kindly volunteered to
be my guide to the mint of the English directory. Here I was presented
to the superintendent, Mr. Jones, an American, from Connecticut, who
appeared pleased to meet a countryman, and showed me over the
establishment.

The machinery was of the most primitive kind--the stamping process
worked by hand, with a lateral wooden beam acting upon a perpendicular
screw; at each end of the beam there was attached a small rope, pulled
by four men, with an aperture in the floor sufficiently large to admit a
man, just within arm's length of the stamp, who was employed placing
smooth coins beneath the dies--one would naturally suppose at the
imminent risk of having his finger and thumb nipped off at every half
revolution of the lever; but practice renders the operative skilful at
the manipulation, and the screw descends, makes the impression, which is
as regularly displaced by the smooth dollar and ready fingers of the man
below. There were two of these apparatus, and they were only able to
coin about thirty thousand pieces in twenty-four hours. The contrivance
is surely a bad one, very tedious and expensive. The coiners received
seven-eighths of a dollar per thousand, and instances of dishonesty were
rarely known. The dies were of English manufacture, but the reason why
Mexican money presents such a rough and unfinished appearance, is purely
owing to their government, who insist upon the impressions being
facsimiles of those heretofore coined at their own mints.

The smelting process, the rolling, nipping, and milling machines, were
all much behind the age, and although the silver mines were producing
more than ever before known, and more than, at the period of my visit,
could by any possibility be coined, yet the directory have taken no
measures to introduce the valuable and beautiful labor-saving
improvements now in operation in Europe and the United States, where the
same work could be accomplished by fewer persons, executed certainly at
infinitely less expense, and with far greater facility and despatch.

I saw vast piles of pure metal in the vaults, and uncountable masses of
dollars. Before leaving, I was introduced to Mr. Bruff, treasurer to the
institution, who, with Mr. Jones, treated me with every attention and
civility.

Our _Fonda de la diligencia_ was well kept, commodious and respectable;
we sat down to the ordinary as a multitude of sweet-sounding bells were
ringing and chiming away with their brazen throats for evening vespers,
and after partaking of a Frenchified Mexican dinner, I sallied out for a
walk. My companion knew the town, but in wandering about the steep
angular elevations, I never dared to look up without catching hold of a
balcony or leaning against a wall, fearful of becoming dizzy, and
tumbling down somewhere.

Entering the _gran sociedad_, we passed through a long suite of bright
saloons--nearly suffocated by cigar smoke, or deafened by the incessant
clicking of billiard balls--when we came to the monté and loto rooms.
Here were grouped around a dozen different tables hundreds of players,
from the plumed hats and shining lace of officers, to the mean dirty
serapas of soldiers and leperos; all, however, earnestly intent marking
with grains of corn the numbers on the cards, as they were yelled forth
by the loto man, who was seated on a raised platform at one end of the
hall, watching the little ivory spheres as they dropped one by one out
of a cylindrical box revolving before him. Further on were the monteros
at work--with heaps of gold and silver piled around--with eager faces,
compressed lips, and glittering eyes absorbed in the intense interest of
the game--not a word or gesture save the dull monotonous voice of the
dealers, like to the tolling of a bell--_Juégo señores! se va!_ with
eyes that never winked and lids rigid as sheet-iron. The cards were
pulled slowly and carefully one from the other, until the game was
decided, when took place the rattling chink of coins, with maybe the
deep uttered _carajo!_ of some unlucky wight who has lost a last stake;
yet even he pursues the easy dignity of his race, rolls and lights a
cigarrillo, draws his cloak around him, raises his sombrero gracefully,
and with a polite _Hasta mañana señores!_ disappears from the table.

While moving about the apartments, my comrade pointed out two young men
in the Mexican uniform of captains, who were deserters from the American
army; one had been a lieutenant, named Sullivan; both bore the marks of
dissipation in unmistakable lines around their faces.

We again touched our hats, an invariable sign of courtesy, religiously
practised by all civilized beings on entering or leaving a public
assemblage, and walked into the street. We took a sort of corkscrew
promenade for a little space, when, by some strange flight of footsteps,
we found ourselves on the pavement of a triangular platform. Like to the
frame of a convex mirror, encasing a sheet of blue moonlit sky--lay
before, and as it were, trembling and tottering above us--one of the
many remarkable and scenic views of Guanajuato. Full in front against
the vaulted sky stood a double towered church, with dome, spires and
windows glistening like a transparency, then circling around were
bright, gay-colored dwellings, with lights dancing from casement to
casement, while each separate cornice, balcony and window, threw back to
the silver moon a thousand sparkling reflections--all admirably
contrasted with the sombre shadows of the deep gorge below. The scene
was truly beautiful, and when within a few feet of our position, the
full soft tones of a piano came thrilling through the still night, and a
female voice rose high and sweetly, "ah!" cried my friend, "there's a
deal to live for yet;" and we retraced our windings to the inn.

We were aroused at the first cock-crow, to take our seats in the
diligence; and rattling out of the city by the road we came, mounted a
steep eminence, when, gaining a flat sandy region, we soon lost sight of
Guanajuato. During the forenoon we passed through a number of fine
populous towns. At Irapuato, M. Ribaud and his friend left us. In
Salamanca, where we stopped to bait and change horses, a number of
beggars surrounded the coach, and in one I at once detected the pure
Milesian brogue and visage. He was whining and limping about, with a
tattered bat and stick, imploring alms in the most ludicrous attempts at
the Castilian tongue. "Why, Pat, you're a deserter," said I, from the
top of the vehicle. "Who siz that?" quoth he, evidently startled.
Forgetting his infirmities, clapping on his sombrero, and clenching the
stick in readiness for a fight, or flight, as he peered among the crowd;
and stepping up to a miserable leper, whose face had been painfully
stereotyped into a broad grin, he poked him sharply in the ribs, and
roared out, "Ye lie, ye baste! I was sick in the hospital, and the
Gineral tuk me aff in his own carridge." Here, Pat, I'm your man! "Ah'
is it there ye are, Liftinint? you're a pacock ov a boy! will ye give us
a rial?" No! but if you chance to be caught by the Yankees, you'll get a
rial's worth of "hearty-chokes and caper-sauce," I replied, going
through a little pantomime with heels and neck, for his especial
benefit. "No, be jasus! thim Harney blaggards will niver choke me while
the Dons is so ginerous." This was the last I saw or heard from Pat.

We rolled rapidly along all day, in great trepidation concerning
robbers, since the same diligence had been plundered for the eight
successive days previous. There were four inside, besides my boy and
myself. Early in the morning, a small, fierce-looking Yucatanese was
savagely bent upon slaying whoever should cross our path, and, by the
way, this Don Pancho was a perfect specimen of an ambulating
armory--having no less than two brace of holster pistols, a revolver,
sword, _cuchillo_, and his coat pockets filled with enough ammunition to
have resisted a siege. The two last and critical posts were at hand, and
together we mounted the box, with weapons in readiness. Whilst changing
horses for the last time, the stout _cochero_--and a very expert whip he
was--evinced some curiosity to know whether we intended shooting _los
compadres_--this is polite slang for highwaymen--in case of attack.
Being satisfied on that point, he declared he would not draw a rein
until we again got inside. The warlike Yucatanese seconded him,
protesting, in his cowardice, that he was solely actuated by fears of
compromising the good driver; he accordingly entered the vehicle,
hinting that his plan would be, on the first onslaught, to ensconce
himself under the body of the coach, and rapidly discharge a broadside
at the enemy--a mode of tactics I by no means subscribed to. It
convinced me, however, that there was collusion between robbers and
_cochero_, to make the most out of their prey, and I unequivocally
assured the stout driver, that if he did not lash the beasts upon the
first signs of danger, he should go halves with his _compadres_ from the
contents of my pistols; moreover, I still persisted in retaining a
position on top, in which I was ably seconded by a delicate young French
artiste, who volunteered to do his _possible_, if he could be supplied
with arms: thereupon we made a forcible seizure from the stock of the
brave Don Pancho. There were but two other passengers, who, not having a
dollar in their purses, or a stealable garment on their persons,
expressed utter indifference as to the course of events, lit cigars, and
crouched beneath the seats.

At last the long thong of hide was jerked from the leaders' heads, and
away they plunged like demons. We sped on for a league or more, over a
smooth broad road, lined with dense foliage of cactus and vines; keeping
a wary look-out, and occasionally cautioning the driver, at the risk of
his brains, to give his horses the rein, at the first appearance of our
expected visitors. Indeed I was on the point of congratulating myself
upon escaping their clutches altogether, when, as we whirled quickly
towards a slight declivity, the progress of the vehicle was necessarily
impeded by a few roods of rocky, uneven road; and at the same
moment--_Voila!_ said my companion, _Voila! les voleurs!_ Like magic
sprang up on either side, behind and ahead, a dozen villanous-looking
scoundrels; whilst to the right, upon a gentle knoll, were as many more
mounted, holding the animals of their brethren, and calmly regarding the
sport before them. I instantly levelled a pistol at a gentleman with a
raised carbine in one hand, and sombrero coolly doffed in the other, who
was courteously observing to the cochero, _Como estámos, Don
Pepe?_--how are we?--he was directly ahead of the leaders, and as my
finger sought the trigger, Don Pepe knocked the barrel up with his whip,
and shouted,--"we are good people!" Becoming conscious of the folly of
contending against such odds, I sank back to await my fate. I noticed
one swarthy old villain on horseback, who appeared chief of the gang,
and was withal rather uneasy, urging his _hijos_--children--_Presto! de
priesa! hombre!_--hurry! make haste!--and with good reason too, for
hardly had the villains opened the coach-doors, and commenced rifling
the gallant Pancho, whilst two more had clambered up the wheels, to have
an overhaul of the French painter and myself, when a voice cried
out--_Los dragones! los dragones!_--and the clash of sabres greeted our
ears: _Los dragones! los dragones!_ cried we all. Away hopped the agile
_compadres_ from the horses' heads, down jumped others from boot and
wheels, off they scampered right and left, and in a few seconds they
were seen galloping off in direction of the adjacent hills. The old
bandit who directed their movements was delayed a moment behind the
bushes in tightening his saddle girth. My fingers itched to have a crack
at him; but although, _De los enemigos los menos_--of enemies the fewer
the better--be a sage maxim, yet upon reflecting that we might have been
favored by the whole retreating troop with a volley from their
carbines--and that a coach full of passengers was not a small target--I
very sensibly left the weapon beneath the cushions. All this transpired
so rapidly that when the green jackets of the troopers became visible a
long way up the road, we were entirely relieved of our besiegers. My
companion counted twenty-six, but they got absolutely nothing for their
trouble; much to my regret, however, for I was in hopes the Yucatanese
would have been handsomely plucked, instead of only having his coat well
nigh rent in tatters!

The dragoons were an escort sent to guard a member of the Mexican
deputies, who was expected by the coach. They answered our purpose quite
as well. Nothing further occurred, except arresting a couple of
suspicious individuals on the road, and attended by the cavalry, we soon
arrived at the Garita of Querétaro. Here the brave Don Pancho had
recovered his wits, and wished to play collector for our escort, crying
out _Afloja la bolsa, Señor_,--milk the purse;--but dispensing with his
services, I gave the sergeant the only ounce I had; much better pleased
to give it voluntarily, even to be devoted to monté, than to have it
squeezed out by the ladrons.



CHAPTER XXXII.


I arrived in Querétaro on the 20th of May--seven and a-half days from
San Blas. It is an antiquated city, built when rich mines were yielding
their treasures in the vicinity, and as a consequence, there is no lack
of handsome private edifices, and numbers of splendid churches. It
stands nearly seven thousand feet above the sea, and enjoys a most
delightful temperature. A noble aqueduct of two miles in length, with
arches ninety feet high--spanning a plain of meadow-land--joins a tunnel
from the opposite hills, and leads an abundance of excellent water, from
ten miles beyond, to the city. It is a solid and enduring structure,
built by the munificence of an old Spaniard, the Marquis de Villadil,
previous to the Revolution. Of late years Querétaro had lost a large
portion of its population; the mines have become nearly exhausted, and
it is without manufactures, or inland trade. After the occupation by the
American troops of the city of Mexico, it became the headquarters of the
Government, and seat of the General Congress; and again all the world
had flocked thither, and not a tenantless house or spare nook was to be
found. Crowds were thronging the wide, well-paved streets, and mounted
troops and foot-soldiers, with ear-aching music of cornets, trumpets and
drums, were moving in all directions about the city as we entered.

I had letters to an Hanoverian gentleman--Mr. George Best--who very
hospitably lodged me at his dwelling. From him I learned that the treaty
had already passed the Chamber of Deputies, and only awaited the action
of the Senate to become a law, and that the United States Commissioners
had been apprised of it by the Minister of Foreign Relations, sent
express, the day of my arrival. I determined to continue my journey, and
made all preparations for leaving on the morrow.

During the night there arose a terrible crashing thunder-storm, and a
large church near us was struck by the _rayo_, shattering the great
clock, and "temple and tower came to the ground," with much jingle and
confusion. I slept in happy ignorance of the whole affair.

I was unavoidably detained until late in the afternoon. With
post-horses, and a single guide, we toiled over an elevated sierra at
the back of the city, and taking the bridle route, rode like Jehus all
night; only interrupted by changing animals, every seven or eight
leagues. Once the post-boy's nag gave up the ghost, which was the cause
of an hour's detention to procure another; and again, at a break-neck
pace I rode full tilt into a sleeping drove of swine, when my horse
floundered on his face, and I was shot like a battering ram into a
puddle of mire. With these trifling mishaps, we gave rein and spur,
trusting to the beasts' guidance in the dark night--over bad roads,
hills, and streams--until day dawned, when tarrying for a bath and bowl
of coffee, we again hurried onward. At noon we struck the main route,
and I was gratified to learn the Commissioners had not passed. Without
pausing, we arrived within five leagues of Mexico, where, from a slight
elevation, my guide exclaimed--_Señor! mire vd la escolta!_ Some
distance below us wound a large cavalcade, with four-in-hand coaches,
and trains, attended by squadrons of cavalry, magnificently mounted on
dark bay horses, with sabres and housings flashing in the sun. I knew it
at a glance to be the American escort. Saluting the officer leading the
advance, and stating my mission from the Pacific, I was immediately
presented to the Ministers, and, much to my own relief, delivered the
despatches. There were a large number of officers in the escort; some
old friends, too, with whom I had parted in as many different portions
of the globe. Retracing my steps in company to the village I had just
previously left, the cavalcade halted, and I was instructed to proceed,
and report myself to the General-in-Chief in Mexico.

Once more I galloped away, while the splendid squadrons of dragoons
moved slowly along by the opposite road. In two hours' quick riding, we
turned short round a bluff promontory, and entered the great valley;
then for the first time I saw--far, far beyond--arise, in Alpine
grandeur, the snowy peaks of Popocatepetl and Iztaecehuatl, and nearer,
the clustering towers that sprang up from the famed city of the Aztecs.

Our course traversed luxuriantly fertile plains, over one of the broad
causewayed roads radiating from the city--beautifully shaded by noble
trees, with canals of running water on either side--until at last we
passed the unguarded garitas, and entered what Cortez called _la mas
hermosa cosa en el mundo_--the prettiest thing in the world--Mexico!

Trotting through a long, straight street, that appeared interminable, I
stopped at a sign of _Bains Français_, where, alighting and getting quit
of the horses, I plunged into a warm bath: then being shampooed with
spirits--much to the horror of an attendant, who at first imagined it
was my intention to apply the whole bottle inwardly--and feeling much
refreshed, I ventured out on a voyage of discovery. The streets were
filled with soldiers, and I had no difficulty in finding the quarters of
the Commander-in-Chief, not, however, until becoming sufficiently
wearied, wandering about the city in quest of acquaintances, of whose
address I had been advised. But they were all abroad, and the rain
coming on with darkness, I succeeded in making my way to the residence
of General Butler. He was alone, and after an hour's conversation, he
politely sent an orderly with me to hunt up my friends. We stopped at a
coach-stand, but the instant the soldier requested a vehicle, the whole
worshipful company of coachmen seized their reins and drove off like
magic. The reason of this ballet appeared to be, as the orderly hinted,
that they were "done" so frequently by the volunteers! Nevertheless,
coming suddenly upon one fellow, who, by dint of a dollar beforehand,
opened his door and agreed to enter our service for the time being, we
drove to the clubs, cafés, sociedads, and other places of public resort,
until near midnight, without finding those we were in search of, when my
friend, the orderly, suggested a visit to the grand ball in the Grand
Sociedad. In a few minutes I had gained admission, and making a run
through the mazes of a contra danza, came plump upon the friends I
sought. Though tired as possible after a fifty-six leagues ride, I could
not resist the fascination of a whirl, and catching a trim little damsel
around the waist, off we stamped and pirouetted through the large
saloon. Accompanying an old friend to his quarters, I soon fell into
heavy sleep, and never awoke until the sun was blazing in mid-day.

My visit to Mexico lasted five days. On the whole, I was not highly
impressed with the city. Like all other Spanish-American built towns,
the streets are laid out with great regularity and, excepting near the
suburbs, are well paved; the houses are of two stories--solid and
imposing--without any attempt at architectural beauty--the shops
particularly mean and insignificant for so large a town, and not
remarkable for either novelty or cleanliness. The city does not cover a
large space proportionate to its inhabitants, but it is seldom you meet
with streets so densely crowded. In some quarters, towards evening, when
leperos, vagabonds and population generally, left their dens for the
open air, the main avenues were so closely packed as to make it a matter
of the utmost difficulty to pass--far more people than are seen in the
lazzaroni haunts at the same hour in Naples, or the great thoroughfares
of London.

The Cathedral in the Plaza is a fine building, standing on the site of
the ancient Aztec Teocallis, but not comparable to the meanest of its
kind in Europe. The outside was very much pock-marked with musket balls.
I was more pleased with the Palace than any other brick-and-mortar
structure that came under my observation. It occupies the eastern face
of the Square--is of two stories, and painted a light-pink tinge--with
immense gateways opening into the Plaza, where were two brass guns,
gleaming like gold. Apart from its historical associations, and having
been the scene of many bloody struggles in the oft-repeated internal
revolutions of the Republic, it has little to recommend it. The council
and state chambers face the Square; they are decorated with handsome
furniture and crimson hangings to correspond; lighted by noble windows,
from floor to the lofty ceilings, with heavy stone balconies outside. In
the adjoining building is the National Museum, where, in a court-yard,
surrounded by quantities of feathers, belts, cloaks, and other Indian
ornaments, was the famous sacrificial stone, that once graced the
ancient Temple of the Aztec monarchs. It is a horizontal convex wheel
of granite, curiously carved in hieroglyphics on the perimeter, and
having a hole and gutter on top, that received the victim's head and
carried off the blood. In the _patio_ of the same edifice, was a huge,
ungainly colossal statue in bronze, of Philip of Spain--not worthy a
second glance.

Undoubtedly I saw Mexico at disadvantage; and indeed I took more
pleasure in leaning over the stone balustrades of the Palace, regarding
the different regiments going through their evolutions--particularly the
Seventh Infantry--who impressed me so deeply with their soldierly
bearing, and national pride for the hard battles they had fought and
gallantly won, as to leave no room for admiration of the curiosities to
be seen of a conquered city. Indeed Mexico was almost entirely
Americanized. The great fondas and sociedads were all under the dominion
of Yankees--with Yankee ice, Yankee drinks, signs, manners, habits, and
customs, as if the city had been from time immemorial Yankeefied all
over, instead of being only occupied a short twelvemonth by the troops.
I usually dined in one of these large establishments, and excepting the
hall of the eating saloon--from patios to attics--on every angle of the
broad flights of stairs, crowded one beside the other, were
gaming-tables of every kind and description. Such a condensed essence of
worldly hell, in all its glaring, disgusting frightfulness, never
existed. And there never were lack of players either--no! not one but
was closely surrounded by officers and soldiers--blacklegs and villains
of all sorts--betting uncommonly high, too--many of the banks having
sixty and eighty thousand dollars in gold alone on the tables--and once
I saw a common soldier stake and win two hundred ounces at a single bet.
Other saloons were filled with Mexican girls, with music and dancing,
attended by every species of vice, all going on unceasingly, day and
night together. My friends called these pandemoniums the hells of
Montezuma. Whether such scenes will be of future benefit to the
thousands of young men whom the war had called to Mexico will be a
matter for future speculation.

One afternoon, accompanied by a navy friend, we rode to Chapultepec. I
had already visited the battle-grounds of the valley, but the last
presented claims of greater interest. The Indian definition of the
height is Grasshopper Hill. It rises very strangely from the heart of
the great plain, within half a league of the city--on all sides steep
and precipitous, to the elevation of about two hundred feet--and with
Molino del Rey, forms a long parallelogram, completely walled around.
The former position is nearest the city, the King's windmill occupying
the opposite space, with a noble grove of giant cypresses between the
two points.

The road runs parallel with the arches of the aqueduct, and terminates
at the base of Chapultepec. A gateway opens upon a broad causeway,
leading with but one angle to the esplanade of the castle. It had been
occupied of late years as a military college; and, though strongly
manned by artillery and infantry, was still not susceptible of using
cannon to advantage, when the assailing parties had approached the base
of the hill. The walls and defences were of no great strength, and not
capable of resisting round shot.

I had the pleasure of being made known to the Colonel commanding the
fortress, who went with me over the works, and courteously explained the
nature of the different battles in the neighborhood. The flat roof of
the castle commands a fine and extensive view of the valley, city, and
sierras. There were many marks of the bloody business still
visible--shot holes, broken balconies, fractured butments, shattered
casements, and a precipice near the western angle, from which, when the
castle had been stormed and taken, numbers of the Mexican garrison had
thrown themselves, and were crushed to death.

The grand aqueduct draws its aliment at the foot of the hill, from a
large, square tank of spring water--so pure, so very pure, that in
looking down its almost unfathomable depths, one is apt to mistake the
calm, clear fluid for the very air he breathes. It was near this spot
where is shown a noble cypress "that circles in the grain five hundred
rings of years," beneath whose "giant hole" "the slight she slips of
loyal blood" were wont to gambol before the Aztec Sybarite, Montezuma;
where "Malinche's shade" is still seen to flit amid the grove, seeking
her gallant lover, Cortez; and where, at a less remote period, Yankee
linemen strewed the ground with Mexican corpses, until the spreading
trees were covered to the knees with blood-stained clay.

While gazing down the crystal reservoir, we resolved, in emulation of
the Indian monarch, to test its virtues, and, in a moment, we were
plunging and splashing in the icy water. It was, apart from the
associations connected with brown Indian divinities, the very seventh
Heaven of a bath; but whether we sullied the pellucid clearness of the
aqueduct's tribute, or detracted from the cooling fragrance of the
celestial mint-juleps drained in town, we never had leisure to enquire;
and indeed without caring a drop about the matter, we mounted our tall
steeds, broke branches from the legendary tree, and passing through the
kingly forest and meadow beyond, entered the deserted walls of Molino
del Rey.

As I have heretofore observed, this building fills the south side of the
square--a sort of irregular barrack of two stories, and some eight
hundred feet in length. Directly fronting this structure, at the
distance of a few hundred yards, standing upon a very slight swell of
the plain, is what was termed the _Casa mata_--a small redoubt--ditched
and flanked by trenches, standing angularly in the direction of the
windmill. It was the spot where our troops suffered severely, where many
undaunted soldiers fell, under a murderous fire of artillery and
musketry; and where, after being repulsed, the Mexicans left their
entrenchments, and put the wounded and dying to death in cold blood.
This was the reason why so small a number of prisoners were taken at the
storming of Chapultepec!

Leaving Molino del Rey, we made a short tour of the environs, and
returned again by the main Paseo! It was the hour when most frequented.
There were but few ladies, and they not of the handsomest. Lots of queer
antique coaches went rumbling along, and vastly neat cabs and stylish
barouches whirling past them--while showy, spirited Mexican barbs,
covered with gold and silver trappings were capering and prancing, five
hundred steps to the minute--then an American General and staff would
sweep by, elegantly mounted on high-mettled chargers, the small horses
of the natives appearing like pigmies in comparison--and again along the
grassy roadside paths were little children astride large sheep,
completely caparisoned with saddles, housings, and bridles, trotting
away quite gaily with their innocent young burthens. We took a glance at
all this, and giving spur, rode into the city.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


The day previous to my departure from Mexico, I called at the Bureau of
Postes for a license, and made a report of what I considered collusion
betwixt the Ladrons and Cochero, near Querétaro. The office was
conducted by Mexicans; and the Administrador, quite a gentleman,--who
excused his servants at some length, by stating that the causes which
prevented them from disobeying the orders of the highwaymen were fears
of subsequent punishment, in case of escape at the time. Moreover, in
the present unsettled state of the country, crime had never been so
prevalent, in consequence of the few troops at the disposal of the
authorities, for the purpose of keeping the roads open, from the hordes
of deserters who mostly composed these lawless bands; and even in the
immediate vicinity of Mexico itself, highway robberies and murder were
of daily occurrence. I was not convinced, although silenced, by the
plausible courtesy of the Administrador.

Early on the morning of the 26th of May, I shook hands with my kind army
friends, newly capped pistols, and vaulted into the saddle. _Estámos
listos_--all right--said the post guide, as he succeeded in tightening
the circingles, by kicking the beasts under the belly--_Vamanos_.
Pulperias and tiendas were being opened; lepéros taking their morning's
dram of _pulqae_; closely veiled faces and sombre gowns were moving to
mass; patrols of horse and foot, returning drowsily to barracks;
markets thronged; jackasses trumpetting their morning's note of
thanksgiving, and the great city awaking again into hum and bustle;
while, as the sun was climbing over the white-robed volcanoes that
looked down upon the beautiful valley, we passed the long lines of
streets and garita, gained the main road, when our pace quickened, and
on we hurried along the branching shade of the avenues. Pell mell we
went through droves of mules, at times driving a group of perverse
donkeys right and left with the impetus of a catapult--maybe, one or
more over, in a smoke from their own cargoes of charcoal, wood, or
vegetables;--and long before the arrieros could right the little brutes
on their legs, with _arrés_ and blows--in readiness to treat us with
curses--we had swept by in our heedless flight, unmindful of all; my
guide scrupulously consoling himself by asserting that a government
_extraordinario_ had the the privilege to knock over everybody that
intercepted the path. In an hour we had left canals, streams, bridges,
causeways, and fertile fields of the lovely _vega_, and turning to the
right the bluff hill closed upon the scene--and this was my latest
glimpse of Mexico.

Soon leaving the main road, we branched off by narrow bridle paths, and
cross cuts of the post route: four relays, and as many fresh guides,
carried me to a place called Tepetitlan. Here the horse purveyor was a
woman, who declared, with an ireful voice and gesture, as I drew up
before her tenement, "that the blessed virgin might send her to
purgatory if she had a horse with a hoof to stand on--that I might
report her to the Alcalde or the devil, or both, or go there myself,
just as I pleased." _Que mi importa_?--what do I care? And the director
had no right to send three expresses in one week, when she had nothing
but the old grey and the mare! _Ave Maria! pues!_--so help yourself!
Cracking my whip a little savagely, I crossed the verdant slope of a
hill, and dismounted at the gate of a walled garden, having, a
dilapidated and venerable habitation within. I was decoyed thither by a
brace of buxom damsels--mother and daughter--who, perceiving my
distress, despatched an old cripple in search of beasts.

The little town had much to recommend it; the houses were very quaint
and antiquated, strewn, as they might be, upon the sides of a grassy
slope--with a crumbling stone bridge and rapid brawling river coursing
at the base. Midway between was a large old church, ivy-grown from the
ruined towers and belfry to the decayed buttresses and lintels of the
doorway; all around the front were broad flights of stone steps, leading
from the declivities of the hill, down to a level amphitheatre-like
space, which was filled with glorious old trees, creeping vines, bright
green grasses, ranges of marble benches beneath the shade, and in the
midst, a thread of a rill, plashing about the ruins of what once had
been the bowl of a large fountain.

Besides the picturesque charms of the village, I was recompensed for two
hours delay, by the frolicsome Señoras, at whose estate I had tarried.
They very obligingly prepared me a nice little repast of frijoles--fried
eggs and tortillas--assisted me to drink a flask of bordeaux, and
entertained me the while with a narrative of how the horrible Yankees
had entered their great city--for they were cockneys, these ladies, and
merely rusticating at their retreat--and their dreadful fears, and the
horror they would undergo in case the invasion extended to Tepetiltan.
My guide, who had been industriously eating a bowl of beans, using an
original spoon like to a diminutive scoop--made in a jiffy from his
tortillas--and swallowing beans and spoon at every mouthful, thereby
putting himself to the trouble of reconstructing another at each
succeeding bite--he, I say, informed my good hostesses that I was one of
those _demonios Yankees_. _Ay! dios!_ said the elder; _es possible que
vd es gringo?_--can it be true that you are a green-horn? _Si amiga_, I
responded. Then their curiosity was interested to know my destination,
religious impressions, and so forth--if I was a _herege_? And being
assured that I was a Christian catholic, could make the cross, and name
more saints than they could, their good humor returned, and we made the
old trees merry with laughter, chatting away the hours, seated upon the
velvet sward. Still there appeared no indication of horses, and when
beginning to despair, an individual saluted us, and I noticed him
privately telegraphing my guide as to the probable amount the _gringo_
could be cheated! when turning to me, with a resolute air, he exclaimed,
_Tengo caballos hasta Tida a ocha pesos cada uno!_ This was a triple
extortion, but, very much to his astonishment, I immediately closed the
bargain: upon which, he darted a disappointed look upon his coadjutor,
in not having been signalized to charge more, and then drew forth his
beasts from behind the garden wall. I had to be cheated, and there was
no necessity of losing one's temper. I kissed the ladies--I say it with
modest pride--and pursued my route.

I came on smoothly and peaceably the remainder of the day and during the
night, until towards daybreak, when, to keep my eyes open, I took a
refreshing dip in the little river Tula. On attempting to mount again,
accidentally placing a hand on the horse's rump, he very unceremoniously
struck me with both heels on the thigh. I was hurled some yards, and
fell senseless. My guide dragged me again to the stream, and I suppose
his novel mode of treatment had the happy effect of restoring me to
animation; for I partly recovered consciousness with my head beneath the
water, in what I thought the last struggles of strangulation. It was
meant, however; in kindness; and fortunately having a flask of strong
muscal in the _alforgas_, he bathed me, inside and out, to my great
relief, although I was obliged to lay on a serapa by the road side, in
sharp pain, for two hours. Then exchanging my vicious brute with the
guide, he assisted me into the saddle again, and we walked quietly into
the town of San Juan del Rio--not, however, without passing a body of
sixteen deserters from our own army, in full uniform--who seemed to wish
to be more sociable than I judged civil--and I was right glad to hear
the last of their reiterated _adios_.

At San Juan, a large _donceur_ procured magnificent horses for myself
and a small urchin, who was sent as post-boy; after being again chafed
with spirits, I mounted, and with a swollen, painful leg, left the town.
The animal I bestrode moved with a spirited though easy gait, and
nothing transpired for some miles. For easier travelling we had taken
the main road, which traversed a level, well-cultivated country, hedged
on either side with close plantations of the cactus and argave. It was
about nine o'clock, when my little companion called attention to three
horsemen, who, most unaccountably, had started up within an hundred
yards of our rear: _Hay mala gente_--they are bad fellows--he softly
exclaimed. They were well mounted, and like most other Mexicans on the
road, had the lower portions of the face bound around with colored
handkerchiefs, and notwithstanding the extreme mildness, not to say
warmth of the morning, were closely wrapped in serapas. I must confess
seeing naught remarkable in all this; for the country was open;
apparently well travelled; shortly before, we had passed a large drove
of pack mules, and a _hacienda_ was visible in the distance. Still I did
not neglect the hint of my sharp young guide, and bade him make sail
ahead. He needed no second bidding--gave a terrified look back, and
struck spurs to his beast. Waiting a little while, I, too, increased my
speed, but had not made a dozen bounds, when a loud voice called me to
halt! What for? said I, without pausing. _Su passaporta_, was shouted.
Pulling a heavy rifle-pistol from the holster, and bringing my horse to
a stand, I replied, "Here's my passport!"

They instantly checked their animals, within twenty yards, threw off
serapas, and whilst the individual nearest me was rapidly unrolling a
cloth from the lock of his short carbine, believing hostilities to have
commenced, I took deliberate aim, and fired. He was sitting diagonally
towards me, and the ball, of nearly an ounce in weight, struck him high
up the chest; and I venture to assert, upon the well-known virtues of
Mons. Devisme's weapons, on the boulevarde Poissonierre, that it went
through and through him, I saw his carbine fall to the ground, and heard
him exclaim, with both hands pressing the breast, _Madre de Dios!_ I
myself was of the opinion, that the sooner he said his prayers the
better, and although I felt a twinge of regret at what had taken place,
it was speedily dissipated; for at the same moment there were three or
four reports--two of them from persons on foot, inside the hedge; but
not hearing even the whistling of the bullets, I judged their aim had
been somewhat inaccurate. Giving my horse the rein and spur, I went
flying along the road. One of the mounted gentlemen alone followed in
pursuit, and finding I had the heels of him, I held my nag well in,
until I had disengaged the remaining weapon, when, halting suddenly, I
cried, _Venga mi compadre, para el cambio_--come and take your revenge.
The instant of perceiving the movement, he fired a pistol at random,
shouted _puñetero!_--wheeled rapidly into the thickets, and was out of
sight. He was at too great a distance to make sure of him, or I
certainly should have saved the _garotte_ a wrench. The old adage
preserved him: _El diablo siempre cuida por los suyos_--the devil
regards his darlings. Once more giving my willing beast the bit, I never
ceased running for five leagues; as for my leg, I had forgotten all
about it. Overtaking the little guide, we slackened our pace. But the
trouble was not ended, for presently the diligence came in sight, and as
we approached, what was my surprise and dismay, to observe an individual
on the box deliberately level a blunderbuss at my head, and never remove
his aim until the coach was lost to view! _Bueno!_ thought I; this is
diverting--first to shoot a thief, and then be mistaken for one!

Dismounting at a small pulperia, near an extensive _hacienda_, I bathed
my lame limb in muscal, and reloaded the pistol; during which last
operation, the patron of the grog-shop, who looked something villanous
in the visage, interrogated the boy, who afterwards informed me that the
wounded rogue on the black horse was one Señor Felipe, an intimate
friend of the pulperia man, and greatly respected by the community at
large. I was not again molested, and experienced no further
interruption. Three posts carried us to Querétaro late in the afternoon.
Meeting Mons. Ribaud in the streets, I related the adventure, and he
strongly advised me not to make it known, as there was no calculating
the number of Don Felipe's associates, or the annoyance one might suffer
from the sharp thrust of a knife, unexpectedly dealt by noon or
midnight. Subsequently I was introduced to an English gentleman, who had
been robbed the day previous in the diligence--who stated, that, as
there chanced to be a German mechanic in the coach, the _compadres_
mistook him for a Yankee, and very promptly blew his brains out--which
little incident made me feel highly gratified that a like interesting
episode had not been enacted with mine own.

I reported my arrival to the American Commissioners, and took quarters
with the officers attached to the escort. They entered the city on the
25th, as the vote upon the Treaty was being taken in the Mexican Senate:
very possibly it may have hastened it. The division stood but four in
opposition--much excitement prevailed in Querétaro, as the measure was
decidedly unpopular among all classes of military men; there being no
less than twenty-seven hundred officers of the army, besides immense
swarms of empleados and every species of Government people, awaiting the
action of Congress. It was universally conceded by liberal-minded
persons, that the old army should be completely disbanded, and
regenerated on a smaller scale; but still they kept up the cry of War!
War! without the slightest means in men, money, or material, to carry it
on; merely as a watchword to frown down reform, without the merest hope
or wish to do any more fighting or running--idle words and wind, and
thus the _gritos_ of _Viva la guerra! Abajo la paz!_ were yelled in
every street and plaza.

The battalion of traitors, under the banner of San Patricio, who
amounted to some hundreds, had very judiciously been withdrawn from the
city before the coming of the American troops. Strong guards of Mexican
cavalry were posted throughout the town to prevent any disturbance,
since the entrance of the escort had been strenuously opposed by the
Ministry, but with the exception of a few stones thrown at the
Commissioners' empty coaches, on driving to the stables, and a
corporal's guard of our Riflemen charging and clearing a street--for
some real or fancied insult--no collision took place.

Our soldiers were quartered in a large, commodious church on the skirts
of the city, and strong guards daily detailed for duty at the residences
of their officers. They were a splendid body of cavalry, and deservedly
elicited a deal of admiration from natives and foreigners. We were
lodged in two spacious houses facing the principal street--the Ministers
with their numerous attachés in one, and the officers adjoining. Each
edifice was big enough for a regiment. Our receiving and sleeping saloon
was all in one, and a fine lofty hall it was, with capital balconies in
front.

We passed the time very pleasantly. There were nice baths in the
vicinity, where we laved before breakfast. We devoted the mornings to
walking, or lounging over the wide balconies, where, from dawn till
dark, an audience of near a thousand leperos and vagabonds, were thickly
seated on the opposite sides of the street, regarding with marked
attention our minutest proceedings. Within a few minutes walk was a
circular promenade, closely planted with undergrowth and towering
foliage, where in the afternoons all the world assembled to behold their
enemies, _Los gringos_.

One morning I had the pleasure of accompanying the commanding officer of
the escort and his officers on an official visit to the military
Governor of the town. He entered the saloon, very like Harlequin, after
we all were seated. He was a little man; and as the doors swung open, in
he bounded with open arms, and bowing most gracefully to his visitors.
He was not in uniform; and his only military insignia were a number of
ribbons and decorations on the breast of his coat. He had received a
ball through the cheek at the battle of Buena Vista, which was
carefully concealed beneath a luxuriant growth of whiskers. The
conversation was not very general, and remaining but a brief sitting, we
made our salaams; upon which I could not resist complimenting the Major
at his excessive grace whilst outbowing the General, and he assured me
that he had even injured the King of Naples' spine, who attempted to
surpass him in the business!

From here we repaired, to attend one of our Commissioners on another
official visit, to the Mexican President and Ministers. The
reception-room was rather a mean apartment, hung with crimson curtains,
and at the upper end was a chair of state, with others ranged around.
The President, Peña y Peña, pleased me more than his advisers, having
a mild, benignant expression, and evidently appeared worn down
with care and anxiety. Anaya was a tall, bony person, with high
cheek-bones--denoting his Indian origin--and a stolid striped face.
Rosa, the Secretary of War, was short in stature, of swarthy complexion,
with full, dark, intelligent eyes. But of all the public characters, who
held office under the Mexican government, whom I had the opportunity of
seeing, there was none who struck me so forcibly as one of the
deputies--Señor Cauto.

At the conclusion of the Presentation, a number of polite speeches were
interchanged, all of which impressed me as being very gracefully done,
though destitute of a particle of sincerity, as these empty-headed
formalities usually are. But indeed I felt for the pitiable position of
those poor Mexicans, who were having bitter pills crammed down their
throats, though gilded by so many sweet, courteous compliments; and I
was glad when the audience terminated, and we had turned our backs on
the miserable, cowed-looking sentinel at the gate.

The officers of the escort received many civilities from the Mexicans,
and extended others in return. The Governor had obligingly furnished a
full colonel, who was an excellent cicerone about the city, who ordered
dinners, assisted in eating them, and made himself generally useful: he
bore a surprising resemblance to the portraits of Don Quixote. On one
occasion we had a call from a colonel of cavalry: a large, fine-looking
fellow, flashing resplendent in gold, from the glittering plates of his
fur shako, to the richly-chased scabbard of his sabre, and rowels of his
bright spurs;--he must have been worth a fortune as he stood! It was his
wish that all the American officers would honor him at a breakfast
preparing for the occasion. The invitation was cheerfully accepted, as
much, possibly, in compliment to the dashing colonel, as to the fact
that our own board was not so well supplied as was altogether palatable
and proper.

It was quite a grand affair--was the breakfast--laid out in the
billiard-saloon of a fonda, having the bar and cooking convenient, as it
were, in the same apartment; there were some twenty Mexican officers at
table, besides ourselves; to say nothing of as many more casual
observers, who aided vociferously in drinking all the toasts in
succession, and afterwards carefully secreted the glasses--which were
limited--in readiness for another toast. The first course consisted
simply of a wine-glass of pure cogniac--intended for an appetizer no
doubt--but it was probably subversive of the desired effect, for I
noticed, immediately afterwards, a number with watery eyes, and great
difficulty of articulation. This was followed by a pilaus of rice and
chickens, beefsteaks, soups, frijoles, fruit, and viands in the most
indiscriminate confusion. Bordeaux and sherry circulated freely, and we
had speeches, toasts, and sentiments: we drank the memory of every
general, living or dead, of both armies, beginning with Washington and
Hidalgo, and gave, I should imagine, upon a rough calculation, as many
as eighty or ninety cheers for Santa Anna, and "Skote!" I had the
happiness of translating--rather freely I must confess--these different
effusions, and also the sense of a long harangue delivered by an
advocate, who came late, and for that reason got comfortably _boracho_
at once.

Our gallant host, in a few disjointed observations, assured us that he
was not only brave himself, and loved bravery in others, but that his
horse was brave, and had been wounded in divers battles. _Yo soy
valiente!_ said the fierce colonel, pounding the orders on his capacious
breast, and forthwith proclaimed to the audience his intention to pay
for everything that anybody could possibly eat or drink for a fortnight
to come, and seizing me by the arms, he impressively remarked that I was
the most intimate friend he ever had except his wife, and requested me
to throw his huge shako up to the ceiling--solely for _amistad_, and
good fellowship of the thing--which I instantly did, and made the
bearskin and golden plates ring against the rafters. Thereupon he called
for more wine, and desired all who loved him to break a few glasses,
commencing himself with a couple of decanters. At this stage of the
action the landlord interfered, and very sensibly cut off the supplies
of liquor, which reduced the party, who were "merry in the halls," to
consistent behavior; when, embracing one another frequently, horses were
ordered for a turn in the Alameda. They treated us with the greatest
kindness and hospitality, only the manner of doing it was different from
our own. All were decorated; and one handsome young officer of the
Lancers had four emblems of defeated battles.

The Pasco was thronged by all the élite of Querétaro:
richly-caparisoned barbs were jingling musically with multitudes of
little steel or silver drops attached to the housings; pacing, and
fretting, and foaming, full of fire and spirit, but curbed and trained
to short steps. Then came the well-appointed carriages of the President
or Governor, drawn by sleek fat mules, and close behind cumbrous masses
of timber--hewn wheels and axles lashed together with hides--all hitched
by ropes to half a dozen, or more, dirty beasts; the vehicles themselves
filled with rare specimens of fat old women, decked off in gay
haberdashery, each holding an armful of children, all bent upon a good
sight of the North Americans. And there were youthful faces too--bright
glances from brighter eyes--emulating those aged matrons in curiosity,
peering from behind waving fans, within long lines of carriages drawn up
at the sides of the promenade. Nor had the _Gringos_ aught to fear from
the investigation, for there were handsome young dragoons and riflemen,
attended by their orderlies, mounted on noble chargers with arched necks
and shining coats, moving with a high, proud bearing, as if regarding
with great contempt the capering graces of their little brethren beside
them.

After a number of turns around the park--the last at a thundering
gallop, with a stride that made the natives shudder--we dashed out of
the gates. On our way through the city, one of our Mexican friends
espied me, and in true Californian style, shook his bridle, gave spur,
and came leaping like a flash towards us. I was not a novice at the
sport, and touching one of the finest horses in the army with my heel,
the gallant sorrel sprang forward to greet him. We met in full career,
my charger stood like the great pyramid, but the shock rolled my
antagonist into the street. I should in courtesy have got down from the
saddle to his assistance, but reflecting that without a ladder I never
should be able to get on my high steed again, I accordingly remained
quiet. However, my friend quickly remounted, and made an earnest attempt
to laugh; but as there chanced to be hundreds of spectators, I hardly
thought the mirth reached his heart: he may have been somewhat allegro
from the good cheer at breakfast, or have eaten something indigestible,
yet under either dispensation, it will caution him not to run another
joust at a Kentucky-bred charger, or he may, as in this instance, get
tilted from the saddle. Being a sailor, I gained a great reputation for
this feat, and gave an entertainment on the strength of it.

Some days elapsed after the Treaty had finally been acted upon in the
Mexican Senate, before the ratifications were exchanged. Mexican
diplomacy is proverbial, and they chose the most tortuous track to gain
the goal. The delay was in some degree attributable, so said the
Government, to the absence of the official seal, and certain time
required to make proper copies and translations; but it was with equal
reason surmised, that it arose from causes relative to a division of the
first instalment of the indemnity, as a new ministry was to be elected,
and the old cared not to assume the odium of signing the Peace, without
being fortified with the assurances of their successors that they should
receive the reward of their services. But here subterfuge was
unavailing--the armistice expired on the 2d of June, and time was
flying. At length, after refusing permission for the American cavalry
and artillery to take up their line of march by land to the Northern
frontier, on the night of the 30th of May, the final signatures were
affixed to the Treaty, and an hour later, Herrera was chosen President
of the Republic.

Soon after midnight, with a copy of this document in my jacket, and a
promise, from the Secretary of War, of an escort for ten leagues, I once
more began my journey towards the Pacific Ocean.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


It was quite dark on taking my place in the diligence, but getting
comfortably seated, I heard one of the passengers inquire if there was
to be an escort; so putting my head out of the window, I asked my man
Juan if he had any idea where the troops were concealed? _No Señor, no
hay!_--not a soul to be seen. _Bueno!_ I consoled myself by being sure
of meeting them at the garita--and then we came to the gate, but never a
sabre visible! Malditos were of no avail. Señor Rosa, in a multiplicity
of _negocios_ had forgotten me! Truly, I was scared out of sleep the
first few posts, but at last my eyelids gained the day--I sailed away in
the land of dreams, and never awoke until reaching Salamanca--much
refreshed and decidedly happy not to have been rifled by ladrons.

It was four o'clock and raining heavily as we drove into the cellar, as
it were, of the sky-built city of Guanajuato. The water was bounding and
leaping down the naked sides of the hills, converting every narrow gully
into a boiling torrent, until cascades and rivulets all poured into the
deep valley beneath, and went roaring and foaming away, increasing in
bulk and impetuosity at every gorge, to feed some rapid river in the
plains beyond. I was intently occupied speculating upon the chances
whether the diligence would be swept along with other floating matter,
or ultimately stranded on dry land; for not long before, one of these
same vehicles had been caught in a freshet--carried some distance,
drowning three insides. But fortunately, we steered clear of these
dangers by flood and coach--with saturated garments--and were soon
safely housed in the comfortable fonda.

Much to my chagrin, the rain prevented a visit to the great mines of La
Luz. They are said to be the largest in the world, and well worthy of a
sight, employing no less than fifteen thousand workmen, including their
families. The owner died in Querétero the day previous to my departure,
bequeathing a fortune of twenty millions of dollars to his heirs.

I left Guanajuato before daylight--the heavens were dropping tears,
although not sufficiently lacrymose to keep the gorges surcharged, and
thus we again escaped coach-wreck. We reached Leon to a late
breakfast--there I exchanged the youthful valet Juan for my horse
equipments, and having but a single companion in the person of an
Englishman bound to Zacatecas, we continued the route: the cocheros
swore there were none other than virtuous people in that vicinity and we
had no fears of being molested: the road became rocky and
uneven--occasionally no beaten track at all--and had not the coach and
our bones been constructed of the toughest materials, I imagine neither
could have reached Lagos--but we got there at three o'clock, with no
more serious mishap than being jolted asleep and awake, at least four or
five times in as many minutes.

Our stopping place was a decent little fonda, administered by an old
Spaniard. While standing in the gateway I observed two persons, and,
from something indescribable in their appearance, immediately accosted
them in Anglo-Saxon: they were North Americans, and had resided many
years in Mexico: they treated me kindly, and extended every assistance
in their power. I visited one and saw as pretty a wife and family as any
batchelor might envy. The town itself is extremely pretty--a remarkably
handsome church faces the Plaza--the houses elegantly adorned externally
in fanciful frescoes, with designs of flowers, wreaths, gardens, and
mythological figures, while a branch of the Rio Grande rushes swiftly
through the heart of the town, fringed with a profusion of verdant
foliage. During my visit the river coursed in two separate channels,
divided by a narrow strip of pebbly sand, whereon were hundreds of
little nude boys and girls, and women nearly so, bathing and washing in
the pools along the shores.

Returning from the walk, we had hardly entered the inn, which looked
into the Plaza, when some fifty ragamuffins, armed with many varieties
of weapons, but principally broken muskets and naked sabres, passed by;
they had music, too, an undeniable drum, which never for a moment ceased
being thumped and pounded, during all the proceedings that afterwards
transpired. There was to be a Mexican Pronunciamento! The band marched
straight to the Quartel near the upper end of the square by the church,
where, after much shouting, expostulation, bluster, and reading of
proclamations, they induced about five and twenty meagre soldiers, who
composed the garrison, to declare in favor of the rebellion; then a
number of bottles of strong waters circulated briskly, the mob mingled
with the fraternised soldiery, possessed themselves of their muskets,
broke up into groups, and filled the air with cries of "_Abajo los
Yankees! Viva Paredes! Viva la Guerra! Viva El Padre Jarauta!_"

The Pronunciamento was completed.

My friends prepared me for this ebullition by stating it to be part of a
combined movement, fomented by Paredes, who was at Aguas Calientes,
seven leagues beyond, awaiting the action of Guadalajara and the western
provinces.

It had been my intention to take the route to Mazatlan by way of
Zacatecas and Durango, but I was earnestly urged not to attempt it in
the present unsettled state of that district, and as the advice was
based on sensible grounds--not without a deal of regret--I at once
ordered horses for Guadalajara. Whilst dinner was preparing I took a
stroll with the innkeeper, around the Plaza to get a glimpse, if
possible, of the sanctified assassin Padre Jarauta. I had heard much of
the villain's atrocities, both from the papers and individuals. The
young adjutant whom I met in Guanajuato related of him, that he boasted
of having killed fifty-three Americans with his own cuchillo, and though
styling himself priest was nothing but a student who had taken to arms
"con amore." To say the least of this good padre, he possessed
unparalleled courage and audacity, had done immense mischief to small
corps and trains of our army, and he was, in fact, the boldest,
bloodiest Guerrilla chief in all Mexico.

I was gratified for my exertions, and passed twice beside him; he was
striking in expression, perhaps thirty years old, with fine fierce dark
eyes, and little beard: he was about the middle height, dressed in a
round jacket and cloak, with a short straight sword on his hip. He
appeared absorbed with great events, regarding the sky and other
celestial bodies, never deigning to honor me with a glance.

One of my countrymen dined with me, and we had an excellent repast, but
it was most unseasonably interrupted by the entrance of the host, who
after a short consultation with my friend, informed me that the good
Padre Jarauta had learned the arrival of an American officer, and had
expressed a determination to make an _ejemplo_ of him in the square! I
reposed full faith in his pious regard, and did not doubt for an instant
that he would be at all loth in executing his virtuous designs--and as
for my passport and papers, they might possibly have given additional
zest to his holy orders, and been considered just long enough to cock
half a dozen carbines, and--_fuego!_ However, there was no time to
deliberate, and but one course to avoid the dilemma--_Gracios a
Dios_--the horses were fortunately in the Corral of the meson, and in a
very few seconds the guide had clasped on my spurs, and I jumped into
the saddle. With warmest thanks to my friends, and a trifle, more solid,
to the true Biscayno for his good offices, in the darkness, the animals
were led down a stone flight of steps, through some outbuildings, where,
gaining a back street, we made the dust whirl in clouds around us, as we
gave lash and steel to the beasts.

At early dawn we halted at a place called Encarnacion for change of
horses, and losing no time, mounted and struck a bypath to shorten the
distance. At sunrise we observed a group of travellers ahead, and pushed
on to overtake them. Perceiving, however, a wish to avoid us, and
warlike demonstrations begun by two individuals unslinging carbines in
the rear, I sent the guide in advance to relieve their anxiety; they
proved to be the family of the commandant of Lagos, flying bag and
baggage to a more safe retreat; there were two ladies in the party, and
we remained in company for some miles: they had lost a valise in their
flight, and, on parting, I was under the belief that they regarded me as
the lucky finder thereof.

Further on we passed a remarkable elevation called _La Mesa_, a table
hill of a perfect oval, rising like the palisades of Hudson River; some
three hundred feet, with a dead flat surface, and but one gateway-like
aperture leading to the summit--making altogether a most regular and
inaccessible natural fortress. My guide assured me, there was a deep,
clear lake on top, and many acres of good soil.

The sun was getting high up, when we drew bridles at a fork of the road,
beneath a wide-spreading tree, and in fact the only one to be seen.
Here, squatted on a stone, was a jolly old gentleman, with a great
earthen jar of pulque, and platter filled with the same sour
fermentation, on the grass before him; the guide, as in honor bound,
swallowed a centavo's worth, but I was contented with a little diluted
museal, which is far more palatable, and has much the taste of Scotch
whiskey. Both preparations are made from the same species of plant--the
American Argave--and to see the immense extent of land under
cultivation--the great droves of beasts carrying the juice to market,
one might readily believe enough was made to keep the whole Mexican
nation in one continued state of intoxication. The keeper of the small
ambulating pulperia informed us that a pronunciamento had taken place
that very morning at San Juan de Lagos, and that large bands of armed
men had entered the town at daylight. Padre Jarauta had destroyed my
appetite the night previous, and this news equally perplexed me--for
there was but one route directly through the town, and I had no
inclination to run a muck; so following the advice of my guide José
Maria, to lay by a few hours, and learn the state of affairs from some
one passing along the road, we descended a small ravine entirely
sheltered from view, where the horses were unsaddled, and a temporary
screen made with the serapas, to shield us from the noontide sun. Here I
stretched myself upon the grass, and before many minutes elapsed had cut
buttons and straps from my jacket: the uniform I wore was generally
taken for that of a Mexican cavalry officer, but in this instance I was
resolved to make assurance doubly sure, and not be mistaken for a
gringo: and accordingly hurled buttons and lace far down the gully.

Two hours past meridian I was awakened by José, who reported having
heard firing in the town, and that he had learned from a paisano, in hot
haste from Lagos, that Señor Jarauta, after making a forcible razzia of
all animals to be found, marched with over a hundred compatriots for
Aguas Calientes: whether he put himself to any inconvenience or not in
regard to my movements, I did not hear or care, so true is the adage,
"sacabo il pericolo, adio il santo." All I ever learned of his after
history, was that a month later he was made prisoner by the troops of
General Bustamente, and immediately shot. Thus being relieved of the
good father, I gathered courage to proceed, and mounting, we gave spur
for San Juan de Lagos; we had but a league's travel, and I was soon put
out of suspense, for on descending a steep hill, which led down to the
town, we encountered a number of arrieros, who gave the pleasing
intelligence, that the place had declared in favor of the existing
government, and the towns people had driven the agents of Paredes
outside, and thus we rode to a meson without molestation. I noticed
about eighty citizen soldiers drawn up in front of the church, listening
to the harangue of a clerical gentleman, attired in a stove-pipe hat and
flowing gown.

There was not a _remuda_--change--to be had for love or money in San
Juan de Lagos; all the horses having been secured and carried into the
country during the pronunciamentos; after a bowl of frijoles and
tortillas, we were obliged to remount our wearied beasts, and toil
slowly onward.

The same evening we reached the town of San Miguel, when another of
these infernal pronunciamentos was brewing, but a polite old gentleman
procured me a relay, and away we rattled over a dry undulating
champaigne country to Mirondillo, where finding another remuda, and
leaving Cerro Gordo on the left, the full moon lighted us safely into
Tepetitlan. Here I proposed tarrying, but the meson was so filthy and
detestable--so full of fleas and uncomfortable, that wearied as I was,
after vainly trying to sleep on a table, I ordered fresh horses, and
departed at midnight. In two hours, becoming too sleepy to keep the
saddle, notwithstanding José made his _macarte_ fast to my steed's neck
and towed us some distance, we fell in with an encampment of arrieros
and their mules, who, after a strict sance, very kindly allowed us to
bivouac near their fires.

In no other part of the world do I believe there can be found such a
worthy, brave, hardworking, and industrious class of persons as the
arrieros of Mexico; they are proverbial for honesty, and there is
scarcely an instance known where they have proved unfaithful; trusted
for weeks and months with the most valuable cargoes, from silks to gold,
in a country, too, where crime in its worst forms is rife, and where
detection is vain, they still appear a distinct race from their thievish
countrymen, and preserve an integrity seldom met with.

At the first blush of morn, the encampment was astir. Calling and
whistling to the mules, the sagacious brutes came regularly to the spot
where their pack was deposited, were in turn loaded, and sent on after
the bell mules in advance. Meanwhile, the drivers prepared a hasty
breakfast, which was hastily eaten--the cigarillo lighted, and off they
trotted after their beasts. A good day's journey is six leagues--resting
during the heat of the day.

I stood gazing at them until they disappeared in the dim light of
morning; then, by the embers of their fires, my guide boiled a small
measure of coffee in a broken earthen pot found near by, when we put
foot in stirrup, and came on in the opposite direction. We rode rapidly
to Puente Calderon, a small village at the foot of an abrupt elevation,
with a noisy torrent dashing its turbid waters against the stone arches
of the bridge. It was the spot where was fought one of the bloodiest
revolutionary battles between the republican and royalist forces.
Dismounting at a rude dwelling fronting the shelving, rocky street, with
_Meson de la Patria_ chalked over the entrance, we entered the patio,
where was standing a huge, ungainly vehicle--a kind of family van, drawn
by nine stout mules--while beneath the portals of the inn-yard were half
a dozen juveniles and a couple of staid, portly parents. _Para servir
ustedes_, quoth I, _Pasé vd bien_, murmured the party; _Vamonos
almorzar!_ and accordingly I sat down on a saddle and partook of their
hospitality. The family were destined to Guadalajara from a two months
sojourn on their plantations, and were as ignorant of what was going on
in the world as a fish under water. Indeed, in this particular, they
were not singular examples; and the ignorance of the peasantry was
almost incredible. I frequently met individuals in the Western
provinces, who, though they had heard of the war, had not the slightest
conception with whom--_unos gringos_--some foreigners, they would
say--and as for the simple information regarding short distances from
place to place, or the nature of the road, and such trifling matters, it
defied the most acute cross-examinations.

The conversation at our breakfast ran upon the war, and revolutions of
the country. "And where are you from, Señor?" asked the old lady, as she
chucked a hot tortilla towards me. "From Mexico, and the peace is
declared!" _Valgame Dios!_--is it possible! exclaimed they all in a
breath; "and will those horrible Yankees ever leave the city?" _Si! si!_
"But, Señor, we are wondering who you are?" Oh! I'm one of those
demonios Yankees! _Jésu Maria! dispense mi amigo!_ screamed the Señora.
The old gentleman offered his apologies, and we all laughed heartily;
but still I remarked the younger shoots of the family observing me with
furtive glances, as if I might have been a wild animal lately uncaged.
My hunger was soon appeased, and fresh horses carried us to Puente
Grande. The river was much swollen and flowing over its rocky bed with
turgid violence. Before crossing, I turned up the stream, selected a
clean grassy bank, threw off my clothes, and plunged in. It afforded me
great relief, in its icy coldness, for my leg was still painful with the
hoof-prints of the vicious brute near San Juan del Rio. My ablutions
seemed to create much surprise and amusement to a group of brown damsels
washing on a green islet near by, who, on swimming towards them, changed
their tune and retreated to the willowy thickets. My guide, José Maria,
was vastly horrified and shocked, not so much at the conduct of the
girls, as my own regardlessness of life and health, in having the
temerity to lave in cold water. _Se hace daño_--be the death of you--he
continually repeated, and related many direful incidents where persons
had contracted diseases thereby, and had lived but a very few minutes
after coming out; perceiving that I was not affected to that extent, he
at last discovered me to be a _gringo_, who could endure anything. We
again mounted--changed horses in the town--were exempted from paying the
rial toll at the bridge, on account of being an _extraordinario del
Gobierno_--ate a melon--purchased a new whip with a lash like the thongs
of a knout, and thence proceeded towards Guadalajara. Half way, we
overtook two ladies with servants, mounted on fast mules, and we
accompanied them to the city. As we rode through the suburban town of
San Juan--where is the residence of the Bishop of Jalisco, with many
fine houses and beautiful gardens, the rain began to fall, and by the
time we reached the long Paseo, it was descending in cataracts, with
thunder and lightning resounding and flashing around us. I halted for
shelter under the close-leafed protection of the trees that fringed the
promenade; but no arguments could induce my lady companions to do the
same, and they were drenched with a torrent of waters, while standing in
the middle of the road, fearing a shock of the _rayo_, beneath the
foliage.

I was the first to bring confirmed intelligence of the peace, to
Guadalajara. The news of its passage through the Mexican Congress had
already been received, and had caused some demonstrations in one of the
regiments, instigated by agents of Paredes: more was anticipated upon
the confirmation of the treaty, but nothing of importance occurred.
There existed, as in Querétaro, a violent party among the military,
opposed to the new government under Herrera. All moderate and reflecting
_ciudadanos_ were for peace: it was the policy of the State of Jalisco,
though as patriotic as any. It was the wealthiest district of the whole
Republic, and had much to lose and naught to gain, should the waves of
invasion have rolled towards the Pacific. They had drawn a sage moral
from the misfortunes of the neighboring provinces: they had beheld the
largest and best appointed army Mexico ever put in the field, vanquished
at Buena Vista; they had seen a compact body of six thousand troops
cleave their way through six times that force into the garitas of the
capital, and they felt convinced that even half that veteran band of
North Americans could sweep over the grand plateau, and as easily
conquer the fair city of Guadalajara.

At the time of my arrival, the state government felt assured of support,
and besides having means at hand to prevent any insurrection, had
dispatched a battalion of three hundred soldiers, with two pieces of
artillery, to oppose Paredes. Nevertheless, preparations had been made
to guard against any attempt nearer home, and on passing through a
private apartment of an official residence, I observed a number of
persons busily employed making ball-cartridges, but, as usual, they were
too greatly disproportioned with powder, and as a consequence the
Mexicans generally overshoot the mark.



CHAPTER XXXV.


I was duly installed in my former lodgings at the French fonda, and in
the afternoon, being a holiday, went to the Plaza de Toros. The arena
was spacious, but without the wooden screens within the circle to
protect the tauridors and bandilleros, as is seen in the bull-rings of
old Spain. The amphitheatre was well arranged, and capable of containing
many thousands, with a separate enclosure, at a more elevated stand,
filled with troops, with fixed bayonets, and commanding a good sweep
around the audience. The exhibition was more of a cow-combat than an
old-fashioned bull-fight; they are miserable, disgusting scenes at best,
and the stranger ever takes sides with the tortured beasts against their
brutal tormentors. Here the horns were sawed partly off, or blunted with
leaden beads; in other respects the affair was conducted as elsewhere.
As the military governor, Yañes, appeared beneath his crimson canopy,
the music ceased; the gayly-dressed bands of picadores, bandilleros,
tauridors, on foot and horse, headed by the Matador, with long toledo in
his hands, bowed reverently before the General and Judges; then crossing
themselves, a pause ensued; the dulce men, and cigar venders, old
beldames with chairs, and boys with _sombra_--shade tickets--held their
peace. The arena was cleared of all but the mounted prickers and
scarfmen; a bugle sounded, low, heavy panels within the barricade of
the circus swung back, and in rushed the bulls. It is always to me the
finest sight, when the fierce beast--before becoming blinded with
rage--lightly stirs the ground bark with his fore foot, moves his head
slowly from side to side--the eyes flaming in a sparkle of lambent
jet--when with breath short and quick, with a wary glance around, he
selects--poor fool--some light, fluttering object, instead of the arms
that wave it, gives one deep angry bellow, and dashes forward. Then
begin the leaping antics of his active enemies: they tease him to
insanity, fire-work him, until the sulphurous flames blister his tough
hide; hood him, prick him, stab him--he is killed; and the two white
steeds, decorated with streaming red ribbons, bound in, and the
slaughtered beast, with glassy eyes and lolling tongue, is dragged out.
Sometimes, though rarely, the animal is terrified by his novel position,
and no coaxing will make him show fight; then boys and vagabonds
generally are permitted to leap the barricades, and chase the scared
brute about the circus, with shouts and hisses, when he is driven out to
feed the dogs. Then there are cheering _gritos_ for particularly
dextrous picadors, who, with long poles, and a short spike at the end,
afoot, withstand the lunge of the bull, until the hide in the terrible
exertion is nearly entirely loosened from the frame; or when the daring
Matador, with a single vigorous plunge, drives the long blade to the
very hilt, through a bloody sheath, into the tired beast. Again at
_longo intervallo_, a few coins are flung into the circle, to reward the
favored gladiators. All this, with plenty of dust, oceans of orchata,
and a fair show of lovely faces, made up the bull fight.

Later in the evening I attended the kind Padre to the _Comedia_. The
theatre was small, prettily painted, gilded, carved, and particularly
well-stocked with fleas. The audience was highly respectable, and the
female portion still preserved my appreciation of their beauty on the
former visit--there was less youth, but an equal degree of matronly
comeliness. Unlike the saffron-hued damsels generally seen throughout
Mexico, these doñas had rounded forms, rosy complexions, and such soft,
languid eyes, and hair so smoothly banded or braided, that I often felt
tempted to pass my hand over the satin tresses of a lovely woman seated
before me.

The play was a most horrible tragedy--all about Moors, Guzmans and
Granada. The actors magnificently dressed, heaving unnecessarily long
respirations at every word--in fact a gasping species of elocution. The
prompter, too, within his covered trap behind the foot-lights, wheezed
like one far gone in the asthma, with a voice louder than the
performers.

The audience puffed paper cigars--men, women and children--until the
smoke became so dense, that nothing was perceptible on the stage, save
alone the shining armor that encased the legs of a Moor.

The curtain fell at midnight; and after an hour passed in a brilliant
café, sipping ices and punch, I returned to mine inn.

It was with unfeigned regret I parted with the gentlemen who had been
civil to me at Guadalajara--particularly Señor Llamas and the excellent
Padre--may they abide _muchos años_--in health and prosperity in their
beautiful city.

On the 7th of June, escorted by my former antique guide, Cypriano, who
quite reminded me of a knight of the dark ages, with lance and pennon,
we got in the saddle, at nine by the evening clock, and pursued our path
through the silent lanes and suburbs of the city. Without the moon to
light our footsteps, we were four weary hours at a snail's pace in
reaching the Porton, or Garita, when, after much parleying from
house-tops and gratings, the lazy, sleepy sentinels were persuaded to
let down the chains, that barred the gateway, and we passed out upon the
main road. The officer on guard informed us that the troops had, some
weeks before, surprised and captured a number of the Ladrons, near
Tequilla, and sixteen had already been executed, with a choice reserve
of nine more that were to be shot on the morrow; all of which impressed
me as extremely wise and judicious measures.

We went jogging along, having no change of beasts, for I had bought a
stout spotted roadster, called by the natives _pinto_--painted--but by
me Circo, because of his resemblance to those variegated quadrupeds
commonly exhibited in the Olympic sports of North America. Towards
daylight I took a nap beside a rivulet, and with the sun arose, and had
a delicious dip in the pure water--all the reasoning powers of my
ancient mozo to the contrary. And here I feel, in gratitude, called upon
to say a feeble word in praise of Mexican guides. They, indeed, should
be classed with _arrieros_! Their attentions are unceasing. I found them
honest, obliging, good-tempered, and possessing a certain share of local
and traditionary intelligence. They appeared to exist without sleep,
too; for whenever I laid down, I pointed to sun or stars, as a celestial
clock, to mark the hours and true to the dial--was always awakened at
the proper time, finding all ready for mounting, even to the spurs
attached to my feet. _Ha dornudo vd bien? quiere vd tantito de pan? una
capita de licor, pues!_ says your guide, producing the morsel of bread
or wine from the pouches of the saddle; but if neither be required, he
will roll, and light you a cigarillo, and if he sees you enjoying its
soothing flavor, he throws up his hand and exclaims, '_Ay! mi alma! está
bueno!_ I've hit your fancy now;' and continues the route with renewed
good humor, apparently amply happy that he has effected something to
please you. Such a one was old Cypriano; besides having a fund of
marvellous legends--upon every stone cross or mountain pass in
Mexico--that very much relieved the occasional monotony and fatigue of
the journey.

The ride was dreadfully oppressive with heat and dust, besides fear of
robbers, which, after a by-no-means hearty breakfast on a water-melon I
had no stomach for. An hour past noon we drew up near the environs of
Tequilla, and remained sleeping by the side of the stream, until the
declining sun warned us to be off. The horses and myself had been washed
and fed, and with a cooler atmosphere, we toiled over bad roads, hilly,
rocky and dusty, when soon after nightfall the twinkling lights of
Madelena were visible, and we trotted into the Meson. The neighborhood
had become quiet since my departure; the compadres dispersed, and the
paisanos had thrown aside the weapons they dared not use. It was too
late for a call upon the Alcalde, and my venerable guide ordered supper.
The patron of the inn was not an obliging person--not anxious to add to
the comforts of his guests. He had a pair of daughters flitting about
the yard in loose undress, who busied themselves for an hour in the
attempt to boil eggs to my liking; but after the fifteenth trial, some
as hard as brickbats, and others hardly warmed, the effort was
relinquished, and I contented myself with the national dish of frijoles,
which is ever an excellent preparation, and invariably well cooked.
Meanwhile, the surly patron kept a lynx-eyed supervision upon the
erratic damsels; and they never came near the bench, laid for our
supper, without he would snatch the dish from their fair hands, and,
with a rough push, cry "_Basta! basta! muchacha! anda!_ Be off with
you." Old Cypriano lost patience at last; and seizing his lance, swore
by the Holy Virgin if he did not know how to treat a cavallero, who
spent his cash like a king, he'd teach him--he would! These threats had
the desired effect; and calling off his handmaidens, he sent them to the
_cocina_, sat down before the door, and left us in peace. I remained at
the Meson until daylight, reclining on a large rough-built settee in the
patio, with no other covering than a comfortable serapa between my body
and a canopy of stars: certainly preferable to the close, damp holes
within the building, where fleas and vermin parade in battalions on the
look-out for wayworn travellers. Moreover, nothing can exceed the
delicious atmosphere of the nights, in the _Tierra templada_ of Mexico,
soft, yet invigorating--clear, calm and refreshing. I speak, of course,
of the dry season--with the rains one must seek a more modern
habitation.

My venerable soldier had the _pinto_, grinding his last mouthful of
grain beside me, ready for a start. I arose, as the sailors say, wide
awake as a black fish, and swung into the saddle. _Vayase con Dios_--go
to heaven, or the other place, just as the intonation implies--said the
grum inn keeper. _Hasta nunca_--hope never to see your ugly phiz
again--retorted Cypriano, as he gripingly counted out the rials for our
entertainment; I threw something more weighty to the _muchachas_, who
repaid me with kindly wishes.

With the fresh air of morning we left Madelena, and kept for some miles
along the borders of a broad, shallow lake, of the same name, until the
road diverged to the right, when we were obliged to forsake the good
ground, and level country, for tedious labor, over mule paths and rugged
mountains.

At Muchatilti we passed some ninety soldiers, horse and foot, barefoot,
conveying a pack of rascally-looking thieves, and a small field piece.
They were attended by twice this number of women and children, who at
times relieved their liege lords of muskets or equipments, with the
weight of camp utensils on their heads. On questioning a sergeant
belonging to the detachment, he told me they generally marched four
leagues a day, and in many places were obliged to throw the gun from its
carriage, and transport each part separately for leagues at a time. This
person also assured me, that he had served at the battle of Buena Vista,
and with his company of infantry had marched twenty-eight leagues in
forty-eight hours, with but a pint of parched Indian corn, and a quart
of water per man! So far as marching, and powers of enduring privation
go, I presume the Mexicans can do as much, if not more, than other
nations. They are not deficient in courage either, when well officered
and led--some of their bloody internal struggles attest it--but with us
they proved sadly deficient in both.

I have but little knowledge of what constitutes the proper field for
extended military operations; but from a few indifferent ideas picked up
in other countries, as well as in this trip through Mexico, I think I
may hazard the belief that in the line of march from Guadalajara towards
the Pacific, there are seldom met with positions adapted to the
operations of large bodies of troops, and save in the vicinity of large
towns, an army of any magnitude would find difficulty in procuring
subsistence; for the country is thinly populated, and but little land
under cultivation, and though I should judge not totally impassible for
artillery, it certainly seems an impracticable route for a numerous
train, or heavy guns.

Making no longer stay at the brightly-stained inn of Muchatilti than
was requisite to swallow a cup of coffee, and thrash a filthy Indian for
being caught _flagrante delictu_--stealing a bit of silver from my
bridle--we traversed the table-land beyond, and began zigzaging through
defiles of mountains on the approach to the Plan de Barrancas. The sky
became overcast--thunder was growling angrily in the distance, when we
overtook a drove of mules, the arrieros urging them at speed down a
valley to escape the fury of the impending storm. Descending to the base
of a gorge, we crossed the rocky bed of a rippling brook, and removing
the saddles from our horses, led them above, and secured them to a tree,
whilst we ascended still higher, and sought refuge under the lee of a
great shelving crag that had once formed part of the stupendous wall,
five thousand feet above us. Rain began to fall in large heavy drops,
lightning to glare, and thunder came nearer. The air was perfectly
still; and the sharp whistles and cries of the drivers echoed and
re-echoed from side to side of the chasm, as they hurried their beasts
across the stream. By-and-by a strong gust of wind went rushing
overhead, the thunder came crashing yet closer, the dark slate-colored
clouds poured down in torrents, and lightning forked, flashing and
vivid, made the narrow valley tremulous with noise and fire. The rain
descended in unbroken sheets, and in an inconceivably short space of
time, the bubbling brook had become a boiling torrent, swelling and
leaping from rock to rock, until, at last, joining in the uproar of
rain, wind, flame and thunder, the rocks themselves were loosened, and
came rumbling and crashing down the steep gorges, and were swept away in
the whirlpool of foaming waters. He who has never beheld a
quickly-raised storm amid wild mountain passes, and the amazing power
of the elements, can have but a vague idea of Nature when clothed in
all her angry grandeur and sublimity.

The _nubarrada_ was soon over, but the whole face of the valley was
changed: trees and undergrowth had been torn up by the roots or washed
down--deep fissures had been cut wherever the red clayey soil gave play
to the impetuous currents--masses of basaltic granite had been
dislodged, thrown from their foundations, hurled some distance below,
and either served to block up some open channel, or enlarge others; and
the point where the path crossed the stream had been burrowed out into a
deep, raging pool, which would in future be impassible.

One of the poor mules belonging to the drove, with his cargo of sugar,
had been caught and carried away in the contending water; the arrieros
cursed like infidels, and wickedly declared they had long before wished
a like fate might befall him for his stupidity.

As the thunder went muttering to the adjacent mountains, and the flood
was still deluging our devoted heads, I yelled into the ear of Cypriano,
who all the while kept his cigarillo alight, that it was _una cosa
rica_--a fine display--_tiene ud rason_--"there's sense in that," said
the old man, "but wouldn't you rather have a dry serapa and
calconcillos?" So forthwith he wrung the moisture from my garments, and
we prepared the horses for service. Leading them by a dangerous foothold
down the course of the stream, we came to an enlarged basin, and halted
on a smooth belt of rocks. Here the sun shown again warm and
cheerily--we dried our reeking raiment, and I amused myself the while
under a light cascade of turbid water.

At midday we had toiled slowly up the steep sides of the Barrancas, and
four hours later, left the last link of the Sierra, and drew bridles at
Istlan. Having no further need of the post administrador, or the
services of his _vivo_ mule, I sought the public meson. Here were seated
under the portals a select group of politicians, listening to, and
commenting upon an article in an old newspaper, read with much emphasis
by a dirty jacketless person, with a head so large, and buried so deeply
between his shoulders, as to bear a close resemblance to a turtle.
_Señor_, said he, as I dismounted, rising with a graceful gesture, "the
good patron of the inn is away; the caballero who addresses you is the
well known _licenciado_ Don Augustin Jarano--_criado de vd_: What can be
done for you? that is a noble animal you bestride; he is tired! beat
out--dead! You will profit by an exchange--my friend, here," winking to
one of his auditors, "has an angel of a beast--_tienes sobre pasos_--has
a gait like a lady--paces! and has refused two ounces--_eh! no! quarante
douros_--forty hard dollars!" _Buéno_, I replied, much to the horror of
my guide, who began to think the sharp advocate was going to become the
owner of the pinto. After a world of tugging and struggling a miserable
spavined nag was pulled from a corral to the patio, and secured to a
post. Waiting until the praises of this _muy bueno cavallo_--this fine
steed--had been fully sounded, I made them a prompt offer of six rials
for him as he stood!--when, finding the gringo was not to be so easily
jockeyed, they declared he was not worth half the money, and we became
warm friends at once. I tarried an hour, discussing the right of church
taxation; when Cypriano, having had a fowl grilled, a bowl of frijoles,
bread, and country wine, snugly stowed in the _alforgas_, I informed my
acute acquaintances that I was bound to Guadalajara, bid them adios, and
after skirting the pretty town, turned to the opposite direction. It is
always advisable in Mexico while travelling, to avoid if possible
public places, and keep the destination secret; for the
_compadres_--highwaymen--are often in collusion with people about mesons
and derive information of the guests from those sources.

Striking a path on the banks of a pretty stream, we shortly found a
secluded nook, beneath a scrub olive-tree, where the beasts were bathed,
fed, and picketted in the rich grasses, when we did much the same, and
took a comfortable siesta beside them.

Towards evening resuming the journey, a few leagues carried us to
Aguacatlan; to preserve the strength of our animals for a thirty leagues
travel on the morrow, I concluded to remain until daylight. The spacious
fonda was filled with guests, and I made the acquaintance of an
agreeable young Irishman, from Tepic. In an adjoining room there was a
large family of señoritas, convoyed by a venerable matron and servants.
They were very chatty and amiable while sitting in the patio in front of
their domicile; so much so, in fact, that the señora became suspicious,
and, as my Milesian companion remarked, "_corral'd_ the donçellas too
early in the evening." The duenna had no compassion for bachelors, and
we saw no more of their fluttering white dresses and ribosas; though we
could hear them frolicking and shouting in great glee, which was very
provoking, as windows there were none, and Spanish bolts and portals
being famous for strength and solidity, we were obliged to relinquish
any further hope of their charming society.

It was getting late, old Cypriano was sitting at my door, enveloped in a
serapa, giving no signs of life, save the occasional reluming of the
cigarillo, like a dim glow-worm, betwixt his teeth. The honest fellow
needed rest, and saying _Buénos noches_ I threw myself upon the brick
bedstead, with saddle for pillow, and was soon asleep.

Before sunset on the following afternoon, my gallant little beast
galloped bravely into Tepic, and I was again made quite at home with Mr.
Bissell. A vessel was awaiting me at San Blas, but the passage being a
tedious one to Mazatlan by sea, I concluded to pursue the land route
along the coast to the latter port, on the following night, and
accordingly called on General Aristi, who endorsed my passport, and I
then took a post license. I was sorry to discharge my faithful old
guide, Cypriano, but a liberal donation, and present of the _pinto_
served to lessen our mutual grief. He still hung about the court-yard,
jealous of the attentions shown me by others, and buckling on my spurs,
affectionately pressed my legs at parting.

I rode about Tepic, with a young Englishman, who was handsome enough to
drive all the women in town distracted. The city has not the air of stir
and bustle, like other places of note in the interior, nor is it so well
built; it has charms, however, in quietude, in verdant fields, the
fertility of its lovely plain, its swift streams, long lines of gardens,
all looking as if calmly cradled in the arms of the giant sierras that
encircle it.

The rainy season was approaching, and whilst we were bathing in the
little rush and mat-built cabins by the river, the first shower
fell--there were numbers of ladies and children beneath the leafy
frames, which only served for shelter a moment, and at last, in
desperation, groups of them sallied out for a run to the town; the
effort was ineffectual, the gusts of wind and rain drove them back, with
light dresses completely saturated, and clinging to round pretty limbs
only more exposed in efforts to conceal them. Our gallant offers of
assistance were all in vain, they only screamed and laughed the louder
the nearer we advanced; thus on the wet grass they reclined, and
remained in the heavy rains until servants returned with shawls and
wrappers, when, with many a light laugh and flashing glance, they ran
across the plain.

Although prepared to leave Tepic at midnight, the rain was violent and
darkness too black to begin the journey. Towards daylight, with guide
and postboy, and closely buttoned _armas_, of skin leggings, with faces
turned from the tempest, we made the attempt. We had not proceeded much
beyond the city, when the roads became so exceedingly slippery over a
clayey soil, and our progress so tedious and dangerous, that we
dismounted at a rancho, and were compelled to remain until near noon. By
this time the heaviest clouds had apparently squeezed themselves dry,
and under light droppings we again pushed on and commenced descending
very gradually from the grand plateau towards the Tierra Caliente below.
This I did not accomplish without having my steed to fall with me, but
luckily escaped injury, the saddle bearing the brunt of the shock, and a
broken stirrup saving my leg and foot from a like mishap. We reached the
low lands within eight leagues of San Blas, and found a disagreeable
contrast in the dry heat, from the salubrious atmosphere above.

Changing horses and rapid riding brought us to the main trunk of the Rio
Grande, when embarking with our saddles and geer, in broad canoes, we
were ferried to the opposite bank at Santiago. The river is wide, rapid
and muddy. Small houses of rushes extended from the banks, and hundreds
of people were washing or bathing within them.

The town appeared to have been visited with a heavy shower of
water-melons; I had never before seen such quantities. In front of
every house there were pyramids five feet high, like racks of shot in an
ordnance yard; every man, woman and child had their heads immersed to
the ears in huge fragments; even cattle, swine and dogs were at work,
and the river, too, was covered with seeds and rinds. It was not
surprising, that under such a novel dispensation, there was delay in
procuring horses; to pass my time I supplied myself with a huge green
monster of its species, engaged a little shed of rushes, and cooled my
limbs in the tepid waters, which last feat did not in the least shock
the modesty of an ancient _planchadora_--washerwoman--who carried on
her occupation quite unconcernedly beside me.

Under lash and spur away we went in great good humor, but had not gone a
league, when I waxed exceeding wroth on discovering that some watchful
thief had stolen three ounces from my hat while bathing--it was too late
to return, and we consigned him to his just deserts. The roads were
perfectly level, dry and sandy; at times we scented the ocean air, borne
along by the regular sea breeze, and the atmosphere was filled with
knats and musquitoes, that by no means enlivened the journey. The
vegetation had changed, and we passed for leagues through groves of
tapering palm trees, broad-leafed bananas, rank vines and vegetation.
Fording the Rio San Pedro, we traversed the little towns of Rosa Morada
and Buena Vista, thence over the Rio Caña to Acaponeta. The river was a
clear, shallow stream, and had not yet been swollen or turbid by the
freshets near its source above. We had ridden all night, and sending my
mozo to the town, with the post boy who had suffered severely from the
sting of an _alacran_, a venomous scorpion, I remained to bathe and put
on my other shirt.

During the entire trip to and from Mexico, I found that by eating
sparingly of light food, smoking less, and laving constantly, I could
endure almost any amount of fatigue, with but an hour or two of sleep in
the twenty-four; a few paper cigarillos was all the extraneous stimulant
I indulged in while on the road.

Acaponeta is a hot little town, half built of mud, with a spacious
rural-like square, shaded by fine trees, and boasting of a quaint old
church. It is but a few leagues from the ocean, surrounded by a sandy
soil, which however, under the sun's fierce rays, over all the Tierra
Caliente, produces quantities of tropical plants: the cassava for meal,
bananas and guavas, with melons and many kinds of fruit. The inhabitants
of these secluded districts, living in little worlds of their own, free
from care or war, regardless of the political revolutions so continually
agitating the mother country, seem to enjoy the _dolce far niente_ in
its truest sense. They are too poor to excite the rapacity of the
government; their land yields almost spontaneously all means of
subsistence; they live in mud cabins or bamboo huts, through whose light
lattice-work of reeds or trellis, the sea breeze cools them during the
languid siesta; then at the fiesta or fandango, the women, in white
muslin camizettas and gaily striped basquinas, with gilt baubles,
perhaps, thrust through their black locks, attended by the men, whose
only wealth consists of horse, saddle, spurs and serapa--dance, game and
drink until the fiesta is ended, with no fears of interruption save what
lies in the sharp steel of their mercurial cuchillos--ignorant and
unenvious of all around them.

I found my guide in the Plaza, and walked into a white building on a
corner, purporting to be a _Fonda y Billar_. It was Sunday morning,
besides some notable feast day; a little old spider-legged uneven
billiard table was thronged by rakish blades, with little miniature
nine pins stuck in the centre of the cloth, which were being rapidly
knocked down by the players; a pulperia was close at hand, and the chink
of _copitas_, filled with aguadiente or muscal, was keeping a musical
accompaniment to the click of the billiard balls. The patron was an
active, portly person, and from his clean, natty attire and huge beard,
with a certain sea roll to his gait, I correctly surmised that he had
"sailed the broad ocean," or that he might have been a retired pirate.
He received me very hospitably, ordered a lithe black-eyed little girl
of ten years not to go to the Iglesia until _El Capitan_ had made a
breakfast, and pointing to a bedstead in the sala, upon which was
tightly stretched a side of dressed leather, desired me to repose until
he could procure horses.

From my position I had a clear view around the Plaza--crowds of
gaily-dressed paisanos were moving from house to house, or thronging the
bough-built booths and little shops, all strewed beneath the lofty
trees, sipping dulces, making purchases, eating fruit, smoking or
gaming. Presently the large bell began tolling for high mass; like
magic, at the first stroke of the iron tongue, traffic ceased, the monté
was discontinued, the dealer putting by money and cards; half eaten
fruit was thrown upon the ground, children ceased squalling, caracolling
steeds were reined sharply back by riders crossing the square, the noise
of balls and glasses in the Billar and Tienda was silenced, hats were
reverently doffed, cigarillos dropped, and the hum and murmur of many
voices had passed away. Then, as the little chimes with noisy throats
were bursting forth in clanging peals, the whole concourse of persons
that filled the plaza went moving with uncovered heads, sombreros in
hand, toward the church, and now the organ rose in solemn strains,
embers were swinging, multitudes of tapers were twinkling within the
nave, like stars in the firmament, while hundreds were kneeling in piety
and awe before the shrines they worshipped. In no portion of the world
can there be found more true respect for religion or real reverence,
than in some parts of Mexico, and the truthfulness and simplicity with
which they conduct the beautiful ceremonials of the catholic church, is
not a flattering commentary upon the indifferent professions of more
enlightened countries.

In witnessing this impressive scene, I sighed to become a convert, and
indeed I felt convinced that if I had had the persuasive lips exerted
for my conversion, that pertained to the penserosa face and Murillo eyes
of my host's graceful little daughter, I should have thrown away the
sword for the cross on the spot. She was standing with half raised eyes,
and an impatient expression, wondering very naturally, no doubt, why the
gringo did not swallow the eggs and milk she had prepared by her sire's
commands--_Quiere usted mas Señor?_--want anything else--she murmured,
with a pretty, petulant frown; "No! no! _amigita! mil gracias_, forgive
me for detaining you from the mass;" her face brightened joyously, and
readjusting her little flowing ribosa, she tripped away to her
devotions.

Horses were soon at the door, and passing beside the now-deserted booths
and shade, we once more became exposed to the burning glare of the
tropical sun. During the afternoon, light showers of rain chased us
along the road--a great relief from breathing the light sandy dust of
the parched soil; but as night came on, and our track led through
interminable forests of sycamores, closely woven with thousands of
creeping vines and parasitical plants, the very light and air were shut
out, and what with myriads of stinging insects, heat and dust, I thought
of never surviving. Two tours past midnight we emerged from these
sultry groves, and reached the village of Esquinapa, where, changing
steeds, I was attended by an old post boy, named Tomas; and from the
moment I unceremoniously disturbed his slumbers until we parted, he
never ceased singing and rhyming. He would have made a character for
Cervantes. Awaking with a couplet on his tongue, he followed it up by a
trite Spanish proverb, hit off scores of doggerel, like an
improvisatore, on my name, and, indeed, with his joyous, hearty old
laughter, that acted like an epidemic in every scar and wrinkle of his
fine bronzed face--with generous bonhommie and good humor, he kept me
full of merriment the nine leagues we travelled; and I have only to
regret, for my own satisfaction, not having noted some of his poetical
sallies.

We gained the Rio Rosario before dawn, and halted between two channels,
on a dry pebbly spot, where, throwing myself from the saddle, I plunged
into the running water, and then, with a little mound of sand for a
pillow, took the first half-hours sleep since leaving Tepic. At sunrise,
old Tomas aroused me with a verse and song, and fording the remaining
fork of the river, we entered Rosario. It is a place of some importance,
with a number of substantial public buildings--internal custom house, a
tobacco monopoly, and barracks for a military commandancia; in fact less
provincial, more modernized with cafés, shops, sociedads, and
well-constructed houses than any town of the Tierra Caliente, save
Mazatlan. While awaiting a relay, I was regaled by the gentlemanly
administrador of the Duana with a cup of delicious chocolate, and in
turn favored him with late news from the capital.

Departing from Rosario, which is nearly thirty leagues from the Port, I
came on at a flying gallop to the old Presidio; then tarrying for
breakfast with General Anaya, I again continued with all speed to Urias,
where my horse's heels, and my own anxiety, outstripped the broken wind
of the guide's, and I never drew rein before reaching the Marismas of
Mazatlan. The tide was very high, and I was almost forced to swim; but
encouraged by a cavalcade of gentlemen on the opposite shore, I
straggled through, and was greeted by hosts of acquaintances, who, by
mere accident and fun, had proposed to meet me on the road. I feel
assured that I never shall be so handsomely escorted again; and what
added to the éclat of my arrival was, that upon entering the crowded
plaza a polite commissary ordered the band to play "Hail Columbia!" and
I was nothing loth to hide my blushes, travel-stained garments, and
jaded horse, from the admiring populace, and seek refuge within the
residence of the Governor.

Thus terminated my rough notes and jolts in a Mexican saddle, after a
journey of near twenty-five hundred miles, mostly on horseback; and the
last one hundred and twelve leagues from Tepic performed in fifty-three
hours, which was said to be the quickest trip on record. I was happy
that the journey was finished; and although I experienced no subsequent
fatigue, and my frame was much stronger, yet it is an undertaking that I
should not be anxious to attempt again.

When a gentleman travels in Mexico, he goes provided with beds and
baggage on pack mules, and half a dozen attendants at least, armed to
the teeth, and ready to do battle when occasion requires. In my case it
was different: at all times hurried, with at best but indifferent
beasts--riding night and day together--never meeting a person on the
roads without a mutual fumbling in the holsters for pistols, not
knowing whether in raising the hand to the _sombrero_, it is intended to
salute or shoot you, as friend or foe; yet, the provinces of the
Republic that I traversed were out of the beaten track of tourists, with
portfolios and poodles--a country where one is _per force_ obliged to
rough it a little; and where in the first essay, as in my case, the
novelty and excitement attending fresh scenes, varied scenery, strange
forms, manners and habits, more than balanced the fatigue, insecurity
and annoyances of the journey.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


My arrival happened on the 13th of June. The garrison had been very much
strengthened, and a block-house was under construction near the estero,
with the expectation of holding the town during the rainy season and bad
weather, in the absence of force afloat. The news of the peace changed
these plans, and preparations were commenced for evacuating the town.

My little post at the Garita had been relieved of its old garrison, and
fallen into strange hands, so I took quarters with my good friend Don
Guillermo and Señor Molinero, where we lounged all day in the cool
patios, under the awnings, smoking away like Turks. Muzatlan was
extremely gay, owing to the yearly festival that takes place on the Olas
Atlas--a curving beach between two bluff promontories facing the ocean.
I am ignorant if there be in the calendar a patron saint devoted to
gamblers, or I should certainly believe that this jubilee was expressly
dedicated to him.

There were a great number of bough and cane-built booths raised on the
sandy promenade, all prettily draped with muslin and other light
fabrics, each having a tasteful display of liquors and fruits, with
little saloons screened off, and facing the sea, for either eating or
gaming: further on were stout upright poles, firmly planted in the
ground, supporting circularly swinging coaches or wooden horses, some
revolving perpendicularly, while others described the horizontal
circuit: beyond were meaner _barracas_ for the lower orders--gaming,
mountebanks, juggling, eating, and maybe a little fighting.

Towards nightfall the population assembled on the Olas Altas, and the
scene became very gay and animated--the monté tables were
thronged--dollars and ounces of gold chinking incessantly--loto banks
playing for prizes of dulces or licores--Indians with figured boards and
dice, making more noise than their _confréres_ in the trade, betting
coppers or fried fish. The cars and horses were filled with delighted
paisanos, who were enjoying the pleasures of city life. At the
fandangos, too! were girls in their gayest dresses, dancing to the
enlivening music of harps and guitars, bursting forth at intervals with
some shrill chaunt or ballad, to relieve their nimble feet, perhaps,
from exertions attending the _jarabie_ or _jota_. It is altogether quite
an attractive spot; and when one is tired of the monté, bowling at
Smithers', or dancing at the fandangos, there is the sparkling surf at
your feet, where the energies may be revived for a cosy supper with some
fascinating little Mexicanas who are never known to decline a cup of
chocolate and sweetmeats.

The influx of so many strangers from the surrounding country was not
particularly advantageous to the morals of the Mazatlanese community:
petty thieving and pilfering were all the rage. One evening some expert
practitioner contrived to entice a valuable pair of pistols, clothing,
and other articles from my table in the centre of a large apartment, by
introducing a pole and hook through the iron grille of the window; and
the same night my friend Molinero was robbed of his bed-clothes, while
sleeping, by the same enterprising method. Indeed I incline to the
belief that one may have the gold from his molars picked out, if the
mouth chances to be opened, in a crowd of these cunning leperos. My
consolation was, in being aware that they had filched all worth
stealing, and in being indifferent to future depredations.

The first night of my arrival I met our former little housekeeper at the
Olas Altas, surrounded by a group of merry friends: "_Ah! dios!_" she
exclaimed, "but they told me you were never to return--what _diablitos_
those Yankees for telling such fibs. You have been gone just five
_Domingos_"--they count by Sundays,--"and that _loco gringo amigo_ of
yours nearly ruined your horse, and came near breaking his own neck in
the plaza--_gracias a Dios_!" Her breath being by this time exhausted,
we made up a little purse, or _vaca_, and fortune befriending it at the
monté, we sent her home, with enough silver to keep her Cuartel going
for a twelvemonth. Early the next morning she was at my bedside, saying,
_Digame de sus viajes_--tell me your adventures. To be relieved of her
inquisitiveness, and get more sleep, I threw around her pretty throat a
silver image and chain of our lady of Guadalupe which saved me any more
exercises in the Spanish idiom until breakfast. And, by the way,
ignorant people may indulge the idea that the Castilian tongue may
easily be acquired "without a master," but, so far as my individual
experience goes, no study is comparable to its acquisition with a
tutoress, who, with the charms of bright eyes, rosy lips, and clear
natal enunciation, renders the task not only facile, but pleasurable. I
would advise any person who wishes to become proficient in this
beautiful language to pay his homage to some artless, unaffected
señorita, who, although she may not be ultra-enthusiastic, will still
seem pleased, and interested at all your blunders, correct you with a
tap of her fan; and if you be devoted, though stupid, will forgive all
but flirtation with her _cuñada_--confidant;--guide your bungling feet
in the dance, walk with you in the plaza, receive your little devotions
of laces, gloves and flowers, and sing her sweetest low cançioncitas for
your especial admiration.

The regret of the townspeople was universal at our approaching
departure; and even the few who were at first opposed to the North
Americans had become the warmest in our favor. The sailors had all
embarked, and the marines remained to perform the concluding honors. On
the 17th of June, in the afternoon, General Negrete, escorted by a
number of officers and a small squadron of cavalry, entered the Plaza.
Drums rolled, the soldiers presented arms, the American flag came down,
the Mexican Eagle flew up over the Quartel, and amid the thundering of
artillery from ships and shore, bowing of officers, and waving of
chapeaus, the ceremony ended. Arraya remained at the Presidio, having
delegated his authority to the second in command.

I mounted my horse for the last time, rode through the deserted garita,
and around the town. Many a kind adios was said, and although mine were
laughed in return, I felt quite sad, for I had made happy acquaintances
and friends, amid a class of people of all others, the wide world over,
whose society and manners I have ever fancied, besides being relieved of
the detestable monotony of shipboard; and I regard the half-year passed
there as among the most contented of my existence, and shall ever refer
with many a yearning to those pleasant days in Mazatlan. However,
repinings are unavailing when a man's course in life is clearly defined,
and he has no alternative but the almshouse on a dead lee-shore, and
carrying a press of canvas to weather it; or else I might have taken
the law in mine own hands, and settled down comfortably in Mexico.


     "Ay de mi! un año felice
     Parece un soplo ligero,
     Pero sin dicha, un instante.
     Es un siglo de tormento."


Farewell Mazatlan! adieu, ye black-eyed girls, who so detested the
Yankees, and shed such pearly tears at their departure! Adieu to
fandangos, bayles, and tiny feet! Good-bye, ye jovial, hospitable
traders, and your ruby wine! Alas!--in one sad sigh!--Farewell!



CHAPTER XXXVII.


The squadron sailed, and I was ordered to embark in a fine old
store-ship, to cross the Sea of Cortez. The lumbering craft went urging
her lazy length through the water, her sails now and then giving a
gentle flapping, as if to convince herself they were not asleep, but
napping, unlike the indolent sailors beneath their shade. "Blessed be he
who first invented sleep, for it covereth a man all over like a mantle."
When eyelids have fallen with very grief or weariness, how we may retire
within a shell, to live a new peaceful existence, shut out from all the
toils and cares of everyday life.

We arrived in the broad bay of La Paz. Circling hills and mountains
arose red, parched and arid, enclosing on three sides a vast sheet of
water--like an inland gulf--thirty miles in length and fifteen wide.

Vegetation appears to have forgotten this portion of the Peninsula
entirely, at least to deck it in that delightful greenish hue that
attracts the gaze when beheld from a distance--creeping up narrow
valleys, or reposing, like an emerald carpet, on the sloping plains.
Here Nature looks as if baked in an oven, until she had been thoroughly
done too! A mile from the anchorage, at the head of the bay, another
large lake extends beyond, and near by is the little town of La Paz--the
ancient Santa Cruz of Cortez. The place has nothing to recommend it,
except the fig-groves and vineyards of a Portuguese, named Manuel, and a
tank of fresh water, where one may have a morning dip, before the vines
are irrigated. There were a score or more señoritas, who danced with us
all night, and washed our clothes all day, and very well they performed
both accomplishments, being withal intelligent, and, to a certain degree
educated; also two or three billiard-tables; a monté bank, of course;
millions of cat-fish; plenty of fleas, dust, and heat; and about an
hundred of Yankee Volunteers--charming follows they were, as was
remarked, "for a small tea-party without spoons." I think this is a
correct summary of all the diversions and societies of La Paz, in the
which we soon became contented and domesticated.

No civilized beings excepting those unkillable gentry, yclept
salamanders, could by any chance endure the noontide heat on shore; no
one ever had energy to consult the mercury, but we presumed it was very
high--say three or four hundred. We never left the ship until after the
land wind came from the lofty heights to apprize us, perhaps, that we
might risk a visit, without becoming sublimed in perspiration. Then the
vine-clad arbors of the Portuguese were our favorite resort, where we
killed time, devouring figs and grapes, or puffing cigarillos; the
evenings came cool and temperate, with never a cloud in the heavens; the
lassitude and languor of the sultry day gave place to more invigorating
influences, and we sauntered from casa to casa, wherever lights were
twinkling. The doñcellas were seated on low stools beneath the leafy
awnings, whilst careful _amas_--house-keepers--were plying the needle or
tambour work within.

"Kiss your hands, señoritas." "Shall we dance this evening?" _Con mucho
gusto!_ cry they all in a breath. Aye! the Graces doubt them! who ever
knew a lithe young creole to turn her pretty toes away from whirling
waltz or contra-danza. "Where shall we dance?" At Lola's, or Mariana's,
or Ampara's--it matters not. "But the music?" Pshaw, you _gringo_! as if
those well-fingered old harps and guitars were not ready tuned for the
occasion, and the old night owls of musicians ever watchful, playing
around the girls, like pilot fishes about the sharks. _Vamanos pues!_
The well-known faces are shortly assembled in a neighbor's dwelling; the
listless, indolent air of morning has gone--at the first tinkle of the
harp, eyes are sparkling with rapture, and feet patting the floor, like
prisoned birds, only awaiting the harmonising crash of the little
orchestra to be in motion. _Contra-danza!_ shrieks the old leader. Two
lines are formed--swinging gracefully to and fro, figures are changing,
hands clasping and thrilling, arms are twining and winding, until the
different bands are wound into beautiful and panting groups, when the
music pauses a moment--hands fall, and to be convinced that our angelic
partners have not wings, each seizes his fair companion around the
waist, and away we spin in the waltz.

In return for the nightly _tertulias_ on shore, we gave them a little
ball on board the frigate--the quarter-deck was gaily dressed and
bedizzened with parti-colored bunting, flags, chandeliers of bayonets
and other nautical ornaments; but in the absence of any marketable
matter, the supper-table below presented more variegated hues than the
ball room itself; being all lights, glass, fancifully carved melons and
dulces. However, they had capital music by the German Confederation, led
by Peter the Greek--dancing until midnight--the old ladies were allowed
to puff cigarillos on the quarter-deck, and all went away apparently
highly delighted.

When becoming a little ennuied with these light pleasures, we made
boating expeditions, and afterwards returned to them with renewed zest.
Once on the glorious anniversary of Yankee Independence, we made the
lease of a jolly boat. It was a capacious, portly and staunch receptacle
of marine locomotion, generally used for big market baskets, beef,
vegetables, and at times to transport drunken sailors. Our party was
select and companionable; the General, Luigi, Canova, Speckles,
Magarrabin, Earl and myself--a tambourine and fiddle, with each a nigger
accompaniment, both combining with music a taste for cooking. We had
fishing lines and fowling pieces, which last were voted bores and
forthwith ordered to be discharged, and kept so during the cruise; then
there was plenty of malt and sherry, a huge jug of punch after the
ancient Romans, a comfortable chowder kettle and bag of biscuits. We
were up betimes, and as the first ruffle of the sea breeze disturbed the
quiet surface of the bay, we pushed off from the ship.

Here let me apostrophise! I hate ships, I hate boats, I hate everything
that floats! even more than I detest poor people; but at times they are
all endurable, and marine misanthropic as I am, once in a great while I
become reconciled; but should I ever have a son, and should ships exist
and not merge into balloons, and he wish to become notorious for filial
piety by reading the book his sire wrote--and be thus imbued with that
parent's ideas and prejudices--I beseech him never to trust his precious
toes with only half an inch of plank betwixt them and the briny deep.
But providing he should be so fortunate as to fall into a roomy bowl of
a boat, like to our jolly, then after selecting the smoothest,
shallowest of water, the gentlest of breezes, and flimsiest of sails,
that will fly out of their bindings at the first puff of wind--armed
with a broad sombrero, summerly jacket and trowsers, let him recline
pleasantly on the seats, with a leg and arm thrown over the side,
trailing in the rippling current--if there be the slightest suspicion of
a shark, don't do it--then I say, let him lounge and doze as we did, as
our richly freighted argosie calmly turned the native element from her
prow, and proceeded majestically up the inner bay.

We had a ten miles voyage, pausing occasionally to cast out the lines,
temptingly baited by choice bits of meat, whereby were hooked great
numbers of horned fishes of the feline species, commonly called cats,
which served to divert our leisure moments until the cooks pronounced
the market glutted, and we accordingly drew in the hooks, and again
steered lazily towards our destination. It may have been an hour past
meridian when the keel grated softly on the strand. We had chosen a
little jutting sandy point, where the wind made a cat's paw of us, and
came fawning and eddying around in the coolest manner imaginable. Days
are ever the same in La Paz--there had not been a sprinkle of rain for a
century, so we had naught to fear but the clear bright glare of the sun,
which poured down light and heat on the arid mountains and glassy sheet
of water, from which, like a polished mirror of silver, it was reflected
back again.

On the little promontory there chanced to be a stunted olive, and it was
but a minute's labor to cut away the lower branches, clothe the
umbrella-shaped top with a boat's sail, spread mats and awnings beneath,
build a temporary fire-place near by, and then repose happily in the
shade, with cigars in full blast, and supervise the interesting process
of cleaning fish, by the sailors, whilst the negro minstrels charmed us
with falsetto ballads, or highly-complicated jigs.

We had narratives of adventure, accounts of previous fourths of July,
and anecdotes of distinguished naval heroes, which last, I am sorry to
say, as a general rule, are not complimentary--a pint of ale and a bite
of luncheon. Then after multitudes of speculations upon the merits of
the embryo chowder, and many direful threats and disrespectful allusions
to the shins and pedigree of our sable cooks, in case the mess should
prove a failure--gradually one by one we fell off into siesta.

San Antonio, or that great fisherman, Sam Jones himself, only knows how
long we remained in this happy state of insensibility, or how long the
fishes, potatoes and _chillis_ had been bubbling in the cauldron, or how
often the jolly's crew had applied their lips to the punch jug--if I
might be allowed to conjecture, possibly very often; nevertheless, we
were all startled by a doleful yell from Mr. Speckles, who at the same
time expressed his opinion in emphatic language, that the larger portion
of the infernal regions "had broke loose." Appearances certainly favored
the conviction, for within a few yards there came tearing along the
beach a drove of bullocks, scattering the sand in clouds, besides having
a very unpleasant expression about their horns. We immediately vacated
the front seats, and rolled away into the interior of the branch-built
castle, leaving no impediment in the path of our enraged visitors. We
emerged again as they went by, and in the words of the Archbishop of
Granada to Gil Blas, wished them "all manner of prosperity and a little
more taste." The cause of this stampede was soon explained by the advent
of a youthful _vacuero_, who stopped to observe us. The General very
dextrously hitched a boat hook on to the waistband of his leather
breeks, whilst some one else with equal skill, applied a like implement
to the bit ringbolt of his bridle, and thus, as it were, brought him up
all standing: _Señor_ quoth we, "you behold the _rightful
conquistadores_ of California, the enormity of your crime, in driving
wild beasts through a cavalier's house and furniture, renders you liable
to fine and imprisonment, therefore we desire you to dismount,"
whereupon, making vigorous resistance, we assisted him to alight by the
aid of the boat hook.

Now, being supplied with a horse, we instantly made up a purse for a
_carrera_--sweepstakes for all runners. But two competitors
entered--Canova and Earl. The rest of the party held the bets and
bottles, and constituted themselves judges. Mr. Earl took the nag, and
Canova to his heels. The course was stepped fifty yards, the day being
warm. They got away cleverly together, although the first twenty yards
the former tried to jockey by crowding his antagonist into the water! At
the turning-stone the cavallo was ahead, and if he could have been
turned at that precise moment, the game would have been up; but every
one knows how difficult it is for one unaccustomed to the business to
pull a horse short up at his speed, and, consequently, the animal went
still farther ahead, and when suddenly checked, pitched the rider to the
ears several times before he could be made to gather fresh way on the
other tack. At this period of the action, Canova was making long
strides, and came in winner, after a hotly-contested race of two
minutes. Rewarding the _vacuero_ with a ship's biscuit, we graciously
permitted him to depart on his steed.

The chowder was done to a charm--smelled and tasted nicely--neither over
done nor underdone, nor too much _chilli_, nor too dry, nor too cold;
and not being afflicted with indigestion, we did full justice to the
feast, and attacked the big pot unceasingly, whose capacious interior
did not shrink from the encounter. Still there is an end to all things,
and there was, after a great while, to our appetites; so we sighed
deeply, and drained the cups to the memory of '76, and other republican
sentiments of patriotic tendency.

As the shades of evening began to fall, we walked into the water and had
a delicious bath. The old jolly was then gotten ready, and as the last
rays of the setting sun flashed behind the western hills, we pushed from
the strand, and gave three cheers in commemoration of our marine
pic-nic. The light land wind wafted our bark slowly down the bay--the
large lug sail swelled sluggishly over the gunwale, sound asleep. The
crew were doubled up on the thawts, sound asleep also; and our own
coterie, while listening to a narrative by Magarrabin, one by one dropt
into slumber, and there was no one awake save the helmsman. I was
comfortably esconced on the low grating, and on awaking the "pale night
stars in millions bespangled heaven's pavilions." The breeze had
freshened, and the water was seething and hissing under the cut-water.
"Hillo! coxswain, where are we? near the ship, eh?" "Sir," said Fagan
solemnly, "we have not budged an inch these two hours--it's strong
flood." True enough we had been sailing in an aquatic treadmill, going
through all the motions, without getting ahead. Pending these
reflections Luigi came forward, and peering through the gloom to have a
glimpse at the surrounding scenery--for he was near-sighted--accidentaly
lost his foothold, and popped overboard. I caught him by the toe of his
boot, and assisted by the brawny arms of a stout Dutchlander, who,
reaching down, seized our friend Luigi by the head, and letting go his
heels, he righted, and was hauled on board.

The oars were now called to account, and without any further episode,
sometime during the night we crept sedately up the frigate's side,
descended to our several dormitories, and sank peacefully to rest. This
was the way we passed the glorious anniversary, thousands of leagues
away from our homes and country.

A few days afterwards, in one of the frigate's large cutters we departed
on an excursion of longer duration, for the Pearl Fisheries. We sailed
late in the afternoon for the Island of San José. It stands like a
sentinel at the mouth of the great bay, almost forty miles from the
usual anchorage of La Paz. With a fresh and fair wind, just as day was
dawning, we rounded an elbow-shaped reef, and let run the little anchor,
near the shore. At sunrise a portion of the crew were landed on the
beach, and under the shady lee of a rocky bluff, tents were pitched, and
all the necessary arrangements for an encampment promptly made.

From the first discovery of the peninsula, in the sixteenth century, by
Hernando de Grijalva, the shores of the gulf have been famous for their
valuable pearls. Many of the inlets and bays were then resorted to, and
continued to yield large quantities for more than two hundred years; but
from the beginning of the present century the trade has gradually fallen
off, and at the breaking out of the war with the United States, there
were but two small craft employed in the fisheries. Still there is no
doubt that the pearl oyster abounds in immense quantities, and were the
ground properly explored, the labor would be attended with profit; but
the natural indolence of the natives throws a wet blanket upon
everything like industry or enterprise, and as a consequence these
submarine mines hide their beautiful treasures from view.

In the harbor we visited there were a number of squalid Indians, farmed
out by some more sagacious _armador_, or patron, who provided them with
jerked beef and paper cigars, in exchange for rare shells or pearls.

The season is chosen during the prevalence of calms and light winds, so
that the water be not disturbed during the operations; for they


                   "Dare not dive
     For pearls, but when the sea's at rest."


We had three _buzos_, or divers of great celebrity, but in the end we
were not so highly impressed with their skill.

The manner of conducting the performance is a very simple one. The boat
is slowly urged over the calm water--perfectly clear and transparent it
is, owing to the white sandy bottom. The _buzos_ stand in succession on
the prow, each provided with a short sharp stick to dislodge the shells,
whilst another with shaded eyes close to the surface, peers down into
the pure blue depths, and marks the object of their search, or warns
them of the appearance of the _tintero_--a ravenous species of shark.
_Mira!_ says the look-out man, pointing with his stick. Splash! down
plunges the swarthy figure. You see him squirming and groping on the
bottom, reflected in the mirage-like fluid, when presently he shoots to
the surface, in one hand holding the prize, which is tossed into the
boat. _Hay mas!_--there's more!--he exclaims, takes a long respiration,
and again sinks--this time reversing his heels, after getting under
water. Two or three feats of the kind, and he gives place to a fresh
_buzo_. The depth ranged from twenty to thirty-five feet, and they
remained below about a minute.

One would naturally suppose that the oldest oysters, like heads of
families, out of the sea would adorn themselves with the costliest
jewels, but the system is quite the reverse. The venerable shells are
contented with little, valueless seeds, and the princely peas of pearls
are distributed among the juveniles. This is invariably the case, and
the rarest gems are always found in the smallest and youngest oysters;
nor are they worn, as with mortals, in the ears, for we ever discovered
them, after much scrutiny, carefully secreted in their beards!

After shelling and fishing until the sea breeze agitated the inlet, and
put an end to the morning's sport, we disembarked, and did full justice
to the excellent fare of one Señor Eloi, who had kindly attended the
party in capacity of major domo, keeping a watchful eye, moreover, on
vicious persons inclined to filch an over allowance of grapes, or
unconsciously to swallow an entire bottle of porter, which, by the way,
is an unpardonable crime on aquatic recreations like the present.

Towards evening, refreshed by _siesta_ and bath, we shouldered rifles
for the chase. I returned very soon, satisfied with stumping along the
beach, where were strewn hundreds of thousands of polypii, or squids,
with large black eyes like human beings, their putrefying jelly-like
carcasses filling the air with a horrible stench; after a sweltering
tramp over the dry, parched ravines and hills of the island, which were
thickly covered with scrub cactus, having thorns nearly as long as
bayonets, and very much sharper, as I found to the damage of my legs and
trousers. I saw nothing within range of a bullet, and was altogether
tolerably disgusted, and glad to get once more within shelter of the
tents. My companions were more fortunate--they started numbers of
deer--were far more fatigued from their tramp, and returned quite as
empty handed.

Game is said to be very abundant on the Peninsula, but I can hardly
believe the nature of the country admits of it. We had venison
occasionally, of indifferent quality, flavored with the flowers and
shoots of the aloes, upon which the deer can only find nourishment. On
the opposite shores of the Gulf, in the Tierra Caliente, between San
Blas and Mazatlan, I occasionally saw a few deer, stray coveys of
quails, chichilacas, wild ducks and turkeys; but even on the upper
terraces of the interior, I met with only a large species of hares; and
I am confident the whole country can bear no comparison to the worst
regions for game in Upper California.

My friend, Don Guillermo, in Mazatlan, who was a great hunter, told me a
curious fact relating to the Coyote, who, on spying a wild turkey on the
lofty branch of a tree--after a wary approach--fixes his eye upon the
bird, and commences a revolving promenade, never for an instant removing
his fascinating gaze from the devoted prey. The poor turkey, anxious to
observe the perambulations of his friend below, follows him with eye and
neck, until becoming too dizzy to maintain the perch, when down he falls
into the cunning wolf's clutches!

We made a hearty supper, and then sat down to an old fashioned rubber of
whist--the bets were glasses of toddy. "Steward," shouts Monsieur
Borodino, who had won a stake, and nearly drank half of it, "Steward,
it's too strong!" _Si Señor_, said the attentive domestic, and forthwith
gave it a dash from a dark-colored liquid, which was not water. "Ah!
Eloi," murmurs, _sotto voce_, another young gentleman in delicate
health, "Have my flask filled, eh? Want it for stimulant, in case we
should fall short!" This caused a _pronunciamento_, and being somewhat
fatigued with our day's work, we made a smoke to drive away mosquitoes,
rolled ourselves up in blankets, and sought repose on the yielding sand.

The following morning we were early astir--diving, fishing, and
hunting. Being unsuccessful, however, after breakfast it was decided to
leave our haven in San José, and try the fortune elsewhere.

At noon the tents were again metamorphosed into sails, and away we
steered, in an easterly direction, across the broad strait which opens
into the bay. The first hours of the voyage were fair and tranquil, but
with the declining sun the wind arose from the gulf and began blowing
with great violence. The straining canvas was reefed down, and curtailed
of its fair proportions, and by the assistance of the _buzos'_ eyes we
were piloted into a narrow, alcove-like nook, of the Island of San
Antonio. Then the dimity was all furled, and with the ashen sails we
strove might and main to get beneath the high cliffs of the little port.
_Dios!_ how furiously the gusts came sweeping down the steep gorge,
brushing the stout oars like feathers alongside the boat; then a renewed
struggle, only to be blown from the course, and the water torn into
foam, and dashed over us. We began to despair of getting on shore,
although the strand was nearly within arm's length, for the gale blew
with such unremitting violence as to defy our efforts. However, thanks
to San Antonio, there came a transient lull, and the pilots were enabled
to fasten a strong cable to the rocks. It was somewhere in this bay
where the great Cortes became tossed about in his crazy bark--perchance
it may have been the haven we had sought--and in gratitude for our
escape, we voted a candle to the Virgin.

We found ourselves shut up in a slender canal, walled by precipitous
masses of granitic rooks, hundreds of feet above us, and the channel
terminated by fifty yards of smooth, pebbly beach. The fires were soon
blazing merrily, and after a hasty supper, we stretched ourselves on
the clean sand, and in sleep, forgot our escape from boatwreck.

The morning came bright and cheerful, with not enough wind to roughen
the quiet surface of the little haven. We were amused paddling among
caverns and grottos of the cliffs for an hour, and then once more
stepping on board the cutter, we soon lost sight of our harbor of
refuge.

Coasting along the island we passed a number of these narrow
indentations, protected like spaces between one's fingers. At one of
them we threw out a grapnell, and the divers collected upwards of an
hundred pearl oysters within the hour; beyond we selected a cool
retreat, beneath overhanging ledges of rock, where we proposed dining.
Our position was exceedingly novel and curious. The finger-like
promontory lifted its crest perpendicularly from the bay; the base of
the cliff was composed of a thick and variegated strata of black
pudding-stone, worn into lateral curves and arches, upon which rested
the great body of the cliff, which appeared formed of red sand-stone,
having one side scooped and scolloped into profiles upon
profiles--hideous caricatures and contortions, letters and numerals,
while on the face, looking towards the inlet, and immediately over our
dining-hall, was cut a well-defined gallery, leading from turret to
turret, the whole closed by a most artificial-looking tower and
battlement! We had to gaze a long while, before convinced that the
elements themselves had been the sole architects.

The same evening we sailed over to the mainland, took another night
bivouac on the sandy shore, arose with the sun, beat through the Harbor
of Pichilingue, and in the afternoon reached our floating home in the
frigate.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


Long before the arrival of the squadron in La Paz, the natives of Lower
California had been awaiting with the extremest solicitude the
negociations prior to the final ratification of peace. The treaty
arrived--their anxiety and doubts were soon over. They learned with
amazement, that notwithstanding the positive assurances held out by the
United States Government, that "the flag of the United States would for
ever wave, and be unalterably planted over the Californias," and that
under no possible contingency could the U. S. ever give up or abandon
the possession of the Californias, as conveyed through the official
proclamations of the Naval Commanders on the coast, they had been duped,
with these texts for their support--to defend our citizens and to fight
under our colors, at the loss of standing, property, and life itself,
and afterwards were to be taught a commentary upon the good faith of our
Government. In the Treaty of Peace, Lower California was not alluded to,
nor even protection of the Peninsula glanced at. Thus they reaped the
fruits of their too easy credulity, and were about to pay the penalty in
again becoming shuffled off to Mexican authority, and suffer the endless
private and political persecutions attending their apostacy from the
parent stock.

It was assuredly a hard case--for our Government had been solely to
blame. Instead of leaving the Peninsula in a state of neutrality, as it
was, in effect, so far removed from the mother country as to be thought
unworthy of notice, we busied ourselves fomenting disturbances and
planting military posts until the major part of the respectable
inhabitants of the territory became compromised, by espousing our
quarrel.

All were eager to leave for the upper territory, but an entire
emigration was out of the question. Many of the poorer classes, with
numerous families, could not forsake their land, or little property,
without any certain means for future subsistence; but those who could
leave were quickly preparing to avail themselves of the opportunities
afforded by our ships of war and transports for a new and distant home.

We remained nearly a month at La Paz. The only incidents worth noticing
had been the trivial affair of a volunteer on shore very coolly shooting
his wife to death; and a piece of Sam Patchism of one of the ship's
boys, who, while climbing up the fore royal-mast head, and within grasp
of the truck, became exhausted and fell, pitching heels over head
through the air, tossing from brace to brace, until he finally struck
the awning, bounded up, and fell again motionless--the stout canvas of
the main deck awning having saved him. I was an eye witness to this
performance; the next day he was again on his feet, mischievous as ever;
but a plunge of near two hundred feet, without serious injury, would not
be generally credited.

One morning, the boatswains whistled, the cables rattled, ship unmoored,
sails spread; and as we slowly took the direction of the sea, and left
the "Ohio" astern, down came, for the third time, our red pennant and up
went the blue. We had bid adieu to Commodores, squadrons, and signals,
and were henceforth to cruize in a little fleet of our own.

We were bound on a flying visit to Mazatlan, and, after a tedious
passage, on the fifth day, Cresten reared his castor above the sea, and
the white town and red mountains of the interior became again visible.
The hills and plains were looking fresh and green from recent rains, but
the town was nearly deserted, and not a vestige of life or bustle was to
be seen.

Negrete with his officials were no sooner warm in their nests, when one
Palacios collected a number of discontented followers, entered the city,
occupied the Cuartel, and summarily ejected Anaya's friends. They
declared a more liberal policy than the government party, abolished the
alcobola, reduced duties, and agitated a measure of forming Cinaloa as
part of a Republic, in conjunction with the States of Jalisco and
Sonora. These fragile schemes did not meet the sanction of the
reflecting portion of the community, and the foreign merchants were
particularly disgusted, fearing, as usual during these pronunciamentos,
some forcible extortion from the Palacios, upon refusing to advance
money.

Anaya himself, with a small force, and means insufficient to put down
the opposing faction, occupied the Presidio. Our old friends welcomed us
kindly, and many believed we had returned to re-occupy the town; and
even though the different consuls and foreign residents tried their
utmost to detain us, it was unavailing, and the day succeeding our
arrival the canvas overshadowed the frigate, and we said adieu, for the
last time, to Mazatlan.



CHAPTER XXXIX.


For twenty days after sailing from the Mexican coast, the steady
trade-wind drove the frigate merrily over the blue water, until one
evening we found ourselves, with wings furled and anchors down, within
shelter of the reefs and hills of the Bay of Hilo.

Near us nestled an enchanting little village, with straw huts and
cottages, half hidden beneath a perfect forest of flowers, banana, bread
fruit, and coffee trees, with here and there thick clusters of cocoanuts
shooting high in the air, like petals from the brilliant parterres at
their feet, waving rattling leaves and trunks in a very indolent and
graceful style peculiarly their own. Then the deep, velvety verdure
around gradually rose in green slopes, and receded far away in the
distance, until the scene was closed by the "twin giants of the
Pacific," Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Nearer, along the fertile shores were
white rills leaping into the sea, groups of natives upon the beach, and
the little bay alive with slender and reed-like canoes, skimming like a
breath over the water, the broad paddles flashing in the sun, tempting
tropical fruits, reposing dewily in leafy baskets, the natives
themselves gesticulating and chattering with amazing volubility, which
added to the bright, fresh, novel, and glorious scenery of the island,
made a pleasing contrast to the parched Sierras and Tierra Caliente of
Mexico.

The day subsequent to our arrival chanced to be Sunday, and, soon after
breakfast, we pulled on shore. There was no reason for disappointment in
a closer view of the village. The richest and densest tropical foliage
shaded, and almost impeded the pathways. Native huts, with bleached
thatching, and pretty cottages of the missionaries, were peeping from
amid the groves. Streams of pure water were murmuring in every
direction, and the cool trade-wind was blowing breezily through the
branches of the trees. Altogether, the effect was quite exhilarating.

Large numbers of copper-hued natives, dressed in their gayest colors,
were waiting to receive us, and, stepping on shore, I resigned myself
with great docility to the guidance of a stout person, who, tapping an
embroidered crown on the sleeve of his coat, with a short baton,
informed me, with an expressive nod, that he was _kaiko_--king's man--in
other words, a guardian of the peace.

A few minutes' walk brought us to an immense thatched building, which
was the native church. On entering, we were politely shown places, and I
was fortunate in getting a seat immediately fronting the preacher, and
facing the congregation. There were, at the lowest, a thousand present,
ranged on plain wooden benches, all over the vast earth floor of the
meeting-house, and crowds more were pouring in from the different
doorways: ancient matrons, in dazzling calico frocks, cut very high in
the neck, and very low at the heels, unconfined by belt or bodice,
wearing coal-scuttle bonnets--sometimes two--toppling very much in
front--giving a general idea of having been put on wrong end foremost:
young damsels attired in gaily-colored shawls and ribbons, their nether
limbs encased in a superabundance of hose, and strong brogan shoes:
venerable, gentlemanly _kanakas_, in tightly-fitting trousers,
unconscionably short-waisted coats, with swallow-tails: others again
saved from appearing in _puris naturalibis_ by the aid of a _tappa_, or
flimsy shirt, about the loins. But they were a sober, orderly
congregation, and with the exception of a little restlessness amid the
juveniles, all listened with marked attention to the discourse of their
pastor.

The Reverend Mr. Cohen preached to them, and seemed to adapt the sermon
to their comprehension; occasionally, however, interrupted by some
elderly person, when any obscure passage was not rendered sufficiently
clear, whereupon an explanation always followed, in the most urbane,
kindly manner.

The dialect is exquisitely soft and vowelly; and then the frequent
repetition of many words, from the want of copiousness, renders it
susceptible of being delivered with the most inconceivable rapidity. We
had singing at intervals during service by some fifty youths from the
Reverend Mr. Lyman's school. I judged it rather discordant, and although
the voices were not harsh, nor unmusical, there was yet neither taste
nor harmony in their efforts. After church, we visited the comfortable,
pleasant residences of the missionaries--they were surrounded by
well-cultivated gardens of taro, vegetables, and fruits. The inmates we
found pious, sensible, and excellent persons, who had devoted many years
among their heathen neighbors in philanthropic diffusions of the Gospel.

We had but a day or two to ramble about the village before an expedition
was planned to visit the volcano of Kilauea. We were indebted to the
good offices of Mr. Pitman for making all preparations for the journey.
Each was provided with a _kanaka_ as a sort of body-servant to take
charge of extra luggage and wardrobe, stowed in two huge calabashes,
with the half of other shells laid over the round orifices on top, which
effectually shielded their contents from the weather: they were then
slung by a net work of bark braid to each end of a short pole, like a
pair of scales, over the swarthy shoulders of our valets. There were
full half-a-dozen more fitted with the like contrivances filled with
edibles. All were sent off at daylight, while we remained to a
delightful breakfast of fresh water fatted mullets, new eggs, and
butter. Horses were then brought forward, and attended by a guide, we
moved in direction of the south end of the island. In an hour we had
lost sight of the ocean, left the pretty, "dim o'er arching groves" of
Hilo, and struck a narrow pathway over smooth undulating masses of
vitreous lava, just as it lay cooled from the lips of some remote
boiling crater, whose overlapping iron waves had flowed from the regions
above, whilst the rankest ferns and vegetation blocked the route,
creeping and extending as far as the eye could span up the gradual
slopes of the mountains. It was certainly a dull, uninteresting
landscape. We pushed our way through these green fibrous barriers, with
nothing to diversify the monotony, save the course through a dismal
forest of ragged trees, laced and covered with impenetrable thickets of
vines and parasitical plants, only relieved by the pale green of the
candle nut and mighty leaves of an occasional banana tree; meeting,
perhaps, at every dreary league with a filthy, ill-constructed native
hut, filled with yet filthier occupants. From nearly every habitation we
had a volunteer or two in our train, so that, in the afternoon, when we
reached what is called the half-way house, there were enough followers
for an Indian army.

Our halting place was a well-built thatched dwelling, planted on a
little mound of lava, and fenced in by a living hedge of _ti_, whose
bare stems rose four feet from the ground, and then branched out in
spreading leaves, like plumes. Inside the building was a raised
platform, running the entire length of the room, resembling the pleasant
structures used as beds by soldiers in guard-rooms. Clean mats and
pillows were strewn upon it, and the remaining space of the apartment
was plentifully provided with tables, chairs, and crockery; the whole
being especially _tabooed_, and guarded by a native chief for the
accommodation of tourists. It was situated in the midst of a little
hamlet of huts, and on leaving the precincts of our domicile, to take a
general survey of the country, we found ourselves stormed, as it were,
by troops of tawny kanakas, and loosely-attired _wyheenees_--young
ladies,--who had called to have a chat with the _houri-man-a-wars_. They
were quite sociable, squatted beside us on lava ridges, laughed and
chatted, took the cigars from our teeth, blew a whiff themselves, passed
them around the circle, returning them again to the original puffers,
which being interspersed with pokes and pinches, they made themselves
very friendly and at home. Our staid chaplain, too, became well-nigh
captivated, before they were made to comprehend that he was a
_mikonaree_! then these dusky nymphs became mute as mice, and very
demure in his presence.

The rain came on presently, and we sought shelter, took a nap, and at
sunset sat down to dinner. Apart from sundry palatable dishes prepared
by our own major-domo, there was a _luau_ turkey, after the Sandwich
mode of cooking, which, as I witnessed, I shall here take the liberty of
describing the process.

It was a large gobbler, who, upon being knocked down by a billet of
wood, was stripped of his plumes, cleaned, dressed, and stuffed with a
green, cabbage-looking vegetable, called _luau_; then carefully swathed
like a mummy in damp banana leaves, he was laid on a native oven of
red-hot stones, all covered thickly over with more leaves, until there
was not a chink or cranny for the escape of heat or steam. How long he
remained undergoing this operation I do not exactly remember, but on
sitting down to table, he was ushered in, on a huge platter, in his
green winding-sheets, and after removing the outer coatings, he
presented a whitish, parboiled appearance, half-drowned in a pulpy mass
of _luau_; and fell to pieces at the first touch: he was steamed to
death. I experimented on him, and truthfully declare he had not a taste
of the turkey flavor, and we thought it the worst possible use he could
have been put to; albeit the vegetable was delicious, and made amends
for the tasteless gobbler.

Early the next morning we arose, breakfasted and mounted; the route was
over the same swelling hillocks and mounds of lava, the view bounded far
and near by the same dense growth of ferns, and a dull, unbroken
solitude reigned around--uninterrupted by chirping of birds, or even the
wheetling of lizards or crickets. Slowly we ambled along--the weather
was lowering and gloomy; there was not a trickling rill of water,
nothing but dull sky above, and lava, always lava below!

My horse, too, was a monster of his species--never shall I forget that
brute; had he been provided with a cocoanut column on each leg, by way
of stilts, he could not have come down harder--ugh! at every other step
on coming to some narrow crevice of the rocks, he would raise his fore
hoofs, and let himself fall, at it were, with a jar that made my jaws
rattle like cracking walnuts with my teeth; it makes me shudder even at
this late day to think of it. I tried to coax him into a gallop with
lash, spur and pen-knife, that he might break his neck, and gratify my
revenge! but no! it was his maiden visit to the crater, and so far as a
letter of future recommendation, he was resolved never to go again.

We journeyed on during seven tedious hours--the great dome-like mountain
of Mauna Loa appearing even to recede as we approached--its smooth, oval
base and sides sloping so easily from the frosted summit as to induce
the belief of the practicability of a coach and horses going up, without
let or hindrance. Almost imperceptibly we had attained an elevation of
four thousand feet, when we came upon a broad plain, extending nearly
twenty miles to the base and flanks of Mauna Loa. Shortly after, a few
light wreaths of steam were blown from the rocky crevices around, and in
a moment we stood on the brink of Kilauea!


     "For certain on the brink
     I found me of the lamentable vale
     The dread abyss that joins a thundrous sound."


We were on the rim of a mighty, depressed circus, walled about without a
break, by precipitous masses of brown and reddish basaltic rocks, and
looking down hundreds of feet, aye, more than a thousand! we beheld with
a bird's-eye glance, a vast frozen black lake, once a huge sea of
fire--now a congealed surface of lava, where you may place Paris,
reserve a nook for New York, and not be pushed for space either!

After infinite toil and peril, we clambered down the steep face of the
wall by a broken pathway, and with some misgivings, planted our feet on
the crunched, crowded and broken slabs of lava, with the ashes
_crickling_ beneath the tread, very like crisp snow, and all closely
resembling a frozen estuary, where the tide had fallen and left the ice
very much shattered and uneven. Yet there was no danger--walk miles and
miles in every direction--take care you don't step into those
unfathomable cracks and splits, for the longest and strongest arm ever
moulded could not save you from this the pit of Pluto!

Three miles from the point of descent, near the opposite shore of the
gulf, is still another large and deep crater, which probably plays the
safety-valve to the whole island. It is generally in a state of great
bubble and contention, but now was quiet, and only favored us
occasionally with a few uneasy sputterings, as if the vestal devil below
wished to have it understood, that he had not entirely gone out or shut
up the shop, but was more busily occupied poking the fires of Hecla or
Stromboli.

My companions were hunting over the broken slabs of vitreous lava for
bits of specimens, of a sort of glassy fibre, called Pele's hair, after
the heathenish superintendent of the realms: I was seated on a frowning
black ledge, near unto what resembled a long range of four story granite
warehouses, the day following a conflagration--resting my wearied limbs
and determining mentally in which direction I should run to escape, in
case the black, frothy cauldron should happen to boil over, or how I
should feel boiling in it; when my reverie was disturbed by a Caliban of
the calibashes, the color of a burnt brick, who was capering around in a
pair of primitive pattens, formed of rushes bound to his feet, as if the
lava was warmer and sharper than agreeable: pointing with his chin to
the mouth of the breathing crater, _aramai_, said he,--come
here--beckoning me to approach nearer, to make an impression with a
dollar in the molten mass, at the risk of my coins and singed fingers.
"_Aramai_ yourself, with that kettle of cold water," quoth I, quaffing a
sip to his infernal majesty's health and spirits. "I didn't come all the
way here to see simmering lava, and get my nose and toes scorched for
the trouble; believe me, fiery Pluto! those pleasurable sensations I've
enjoyed many a time and oft, years ago; but could you give us a
downright good ague with an earthquake, by way of a novelty, I should
consider my education completed, and make no further call upon your
generosity." Notwithstanding my invocation, the mountain remained firm
and apathetic, and becoming heartily disgusted, I forthwith turned my
back on Kilauea.

Our guide on this volcanic excursion rejoiced in the epithet of Barnes,
and I beg leave to endorse him for any other tourist. Mr. B., in our
ignorance, assured us that gentlemen ever indulged in strong waters
before descending, after inspecting the crater, "sweetening the very
edge of doom," as it were, and also upon mounting upward; suggesting
that the guide was treated in like manner, and as an invariable rule,
all ullages were confided to his care. Mr. B. also gratified us with
many remarkable narratives concerning the native population.

We had a dreadfully fatiguing ascent to the upper regions, somewhat
alleviated by the kind services of the calibash men, who butted us up
the most difficult steeps with their heads, when, after gasping an hour
from exhaustion, our appetites returned with renewed vigor, and we made
another meal on _luau_ turkeys. We were, moreover, comfortably housed,
and fortunately, for towards nightfall, the wind arose from the great
Mauna Loa and drove the light chilling rain in loud gusts and meanings
over the plain. During the night we heard the muttering throes of the
volcano, and at intervals in the darkness, a bright sheet of fire would
leap up from the black abyss, so intensely vivid as to paint a brilliant
_flame-bow_ in the thick mist that crept along the crater's sides. There
was a perfume of sulphur and nitre, that seemed to spring from the very
floor of our habitation, but far too fagged out to heed it, we were
soon wrapt in forgetfulness, or what was better, good warm cloaks and
serapas.

The day broke cold and stormy, so we huddled on flannel shirts, and paid
a hasty visit to some enormous sulphur banks that were steaming actively
near the verge of the crater. Beautifully colored crystals were
profusely found on the fissures of wide steam cracks and yawning chasms;
then there were fearful dark holes, like chimneys, as indeed they were,
evolving strong puffs of sulphur, that kept flurrying and eddying
around, and when a whiff chanced to take one in the nose or mouth, it
quite gave a choking taste of Uncle Nicholas's abode.

We regarded the whole affair as a special providence intended for the
Hawaiians, who are all, more or less--men, women and children--afflicted
with the itch, and if they could only be induced to give the steam a
fair trial, there could be no skepticism upon the beneficial results
that would ensue.

This was all there was to be seen or wondered at--returning to the straw
hut, we ate more _luau_ turkeys--sent _kanakas_ and calibashes ahead,
and then got on the beasts once more on our return route. We shortly bid
adieu to the drizzling rain hanging above Kilauea, for a clearer
atmosphere. The same night we had more turkeys and more sleep at the
half-way house, and the following evening reached Hilo.



CHAPTER XL.


During the fortnight of our stay in the bay of Hilo, we had
opportunities of observing a fair sample of island life. It is a place
less visited than others of the Hawaiian group, and as a consequence,
the natives have lost nothing from a less constant association with more
civilized nations.

They still preserve, in a certain degree, old habits and heathenish
customs, though very much modified by the benevolent efforts of their
missionary pastors; yet there are many deeply rooted and immoral
practices, which the good teachers find a Herculean labor to eradicate.
Nevertheless, it must strike a stranger with surprise to find all those
demi-barbarians have been taught to read and write--exceedingly well
too--indeed the clean, well-defined caligraphy of the Hilo nymphs will
compare with that of the most fashionable style of the art in young
ladies' seminaries at home--they pay a strict outward observance to the
Sabbath, have a general knowledge of the Scriptures, and many of the
youth, a tolerable share of education.

The huts in the vicinity of towns and settlements are more comfortable
and habitable than in the days of Cook and Vancouver, partaking somewhat
in build, to the steep angular Dutch roof, but constructed of poles and
thatch, without windows, and with only a single entrance. Great
quantities of clean, well-made mats are piled about the floors, which
are couches for eating or sleeping; the bedstead is not used, and since
a deal of rain falls upon the windward side of the island, the health of
the population is seriously affected by the dampness of the ground.

The natives are amiable, good-natured, indolent beings, and approach
nearer to the _toujours gai_ than any people in existence. But let no
one, judging from their simplicity of manners, be so verdant as to
suppose he can win their hearts or produce with glass beads,
jack-knives, or any other species of baubles! Per-adventure he will
discover they have as correct an appreciation of silver, and can drive
as sharp a bargain, as ever the Jew out of Jerusalem. Still they were
obliging, and would attend us all day in our tramps and excursions,
apparently well satisfied with a trifling present of stumps of cigars.

One great detriment to health is removed, in the article of spirits.
Like all the Indian races, they are extravagantly fond of it but in
Hawaii there is not a drop to be had, and in the other islands of the
cluster, a heavy penalty is rigidly inflicted for disposing of it to a
native.

Among their favorite dishes is that of raw fish, and as a great rarity a
_luau_ dog! Under the most solemn pledges of secrecy, I was permitted to
witness the exhuming of one of these animals, with the privilege of
making a meal, in case he was found to be palatable. These solecisms on
modern cookery and viands are severely frowned upon by the missionaries;
and with much caution, we were taken to a small hut, back of the
village, and when a venerable kanaka had been placed on guard in a cane
brake, to prevent surprise from _Kaikos_, we entered the tenement. A
huge calibash was placed on the ground, filled with the national
preparation of _poee-poee_. It was a white mixture, made of smashed and
fermented taro, of the consistency of a stiff paste, and it is not
considered the mode to eat it with aught else but fingers--one, two,
three, or the whole hand, according to its liquidity. The Hawaiians heat
the Neapolitan lazzaroni in dextrous use of their digits and digestions!
whereas the latter beggars can only suck down several continuous leagues
of maccaroni without a bite, and be satisfied, the native will make a
cone of hand and fingers, and with the whirling velocity of a
water-spout, he takes up enough of the plaster of Paris like liquid to
make a thorough cast of mouth and jaws, with the energy to repeat the
impression every minute! Where it all goes to is a mystery. It has been
suggested that they are hollow, like bamboos, down to their heels; but
it is a mooted point. I tasted this _poee-poee_, by way of an
appetizer--found it not unlike sour starch, and felt no further
inclination to make a hearty meal. By this time stones and leaves were
taken from a sunken oven in the corner of the hut, and lo! the barker
was exposed to view! The warning of _Cave Canem_, which I had seen in
former years at Pompeii, never struck me forcibly until now! I had
heard, too, a metaphor about "the hair of a dog being good for a bite,"
but the moment I beheld the entire animal, with his white jaws and
tongue lolling out, I felt no inclination for even a bite--lost my
appetite, and came quickly away, with the intention of turning informer,
and sending the _Kaikos_ in among the party.

The manner of fattening these interesting and delicate animals is not
dissimilar to the process of cramming turkeys with walnuts. They are a
peculiar kind--short-legged and domestic. The feeder takes a mouthful of
_poee-poee_ and raw fish; after masticating it to a proper consistency
and shape, he seizes his victim by the throat, chokes the jaws wide
open, then drops the contents of his own mouth into that of the brute.
We were told that it is only necessary to use this violence with
puppies, on becoming older and docile they take to the food more kindly.

Among other novel sights, I saw with calm pleasure the native boys climb
cocoanut-trees, by tying the big toes together by a wythe of bark, then
aided by hands and knees they run up the tall, waving columns. Down come
bounding the nuts; a small dusky imp at your elbow whisks off the husks
with his teeth! cracks a hole in the skull--up! up! gurgle! gurgle!--and
down your throat glides the cooling and delicious draught. Pine-apples,
too!--large, perfumed, luscious fellows!--thirty for sixpence, and
considered exorbitantly dear at that price! Then there is the spreading
bread-fruit, with the greenest of dark green leaves; but my juvenile
impressions of the fruit I discovered were entirely erroneous; for
instead of being like bakers' loaves, or even French rolls, they were
different as possible; the fruit being enveloped in a coarse, thick
rind, tinged with yellow, with white meat, about twice the bulk of
pippins; and when properly roasted has the taste of an insipid potato.

I have been perfectly sheltered, too, in a pelting, pitiless shower, by
an extempore umbrella, constructed of two big banana leaves; and sipped
water from native cups, made in a trice from a goblet-shaped leaf
snatched at the road side; and on a certain occasion, when wearied by a
long walk, I threw myself beneath the heavy shade of a fan-leafed
pandanmus, and submitted to the _loammi-loammi_. It is a more delicate
operation than the Turkish mode of shampooing, and when the operators
are laughing native girls the sensations are far pleasanter.

They commence a running succession of pinches from heels to shoulders,
accompanied by kneadings, and pokings with the tips of their fingers;
then selecting a clear space, they begin a diapason of light thumps and
blows, interspersed by a gentle trip-hammer movement with outer edges of
the hands; now slow, now fast, faster--like flashes of light--until the
cadence dies languidly away, in soft, melodious tappings, leaving the
patient in a quiet frame of mind, and the body very much refreshed.

The high chiefs, who are all immensely corpulent, and said to be rather
given to overfeeding themselves, use the _loammi-loammi_ to make them
comfortable after repletion, so that they may go on again, without
personal inconvenience--always keeping a number of expert practitioners
in their trains.

All classes at Hilo evince an enthusiastic admiration for flowers, and
the maidens particularly are never without natural wreaths, or necklaces
of woodbine and jessamine, prettily woven for the occasion. There is a
yellow bud of the candle-nut, which is not so pleasant to eye or nose,
though more generally worn. But in all the tastes and diversions of the
natives, there was not one that charmed us so much, and in which the
natives indulged with such wild delight, as bathing in the river
Wailuku.

Along the whole eastern face of the island of Hawaii there are
numberless rills and streams that come bounding from the lofty sides of
the giant mountains, in cataracts and cascades, until at last they jump
from the green-clad shores into the salt foam of the ocean. One of the
largest of them is the Wailuku. No farther than a league from the harbor
inland is a miniature Niagara, of more than a hundred feet, which dashes
a mass of broken water into a bowl-like basin, flashing upon, either
side brilliant rainbows, from which the fall takes its name. Retracing
our steps towards the village, the banks of the little river become less
abrupt, and within a few hundred yards of the bay the water is diverted
into a multitude of channels--here, a torrent boiling over scattered
rocks, with a clear, sleeping pool beyond--there, the white cataract
plunging swiftly through narrow straits, and leaping gaily down below,
like a liquid portcullis to some massive gateway--again, whirling eddies
playing around rocky islets, until at last by one sparkling effort the
waters re-unite, and go roaring and struggling down a steep chasm into
the noisy surf of the bay.

It is here the young of both sexes pass most of their time. Troops of
boys and girls, and even little ones scarcely able to walk, are seen in
all directions, perched on broad shelving crags and grassy mounds, or,
still higher up, clinging from the steep sides and peeping out from amid
the foliage. On every side they come leaping joyously into the rushing
waters! There on a bluff--thirty, forty--ay! seventy feet high--a score
of native maidens are following each other in quick succession into the
limpid pools beneath. The moment before their flight through the air
they are poised upon the rocky pedestals, like the Medicean Venus. One
buoyant bound--the right arm is thrown aloft, knees brought up, and at
the instant of striking the water the head falls back, feet dashed
straight out--when they enter the pools with the velocity and clearness
of a javelin, shooting far away, just beneath the surface, like a
salmon.

Others, again, are diving in foaming torrents--plashing and
skirling--laughing, always laughing--plunging--swimming, half-revealing
their pretty forms before sinking again beneath the stream. Others,
still more daring and expert, go whirling through narrow passages,
thrown from side to side in the white waters--now completely hidden in
the cataracts--anon rising up in a recumbent attitude, when away they
are hurled over a cataract of twenty feet, emerging far below, with long
tresses streaming behind, and with graceful limbs cleaving the river,
like naught else in nature more charming than themselves.

It is a sight to make a lover forget his mistress, or a parson his
prayers. I know it would have been my case, had I been so fortunate as
to be either! Here I passed all my leisure hours, never tired of
beholding the beautiful panorama of life and water moving before me; and
there were others, on these occasions, who were wont to mingle bravely
in the sport--portly post-captains--husbandly lieutenants--mad-cap
reefers, of course--staid chaplains, too!--but all declared it was
pleasant, exceeding pleasant! although mingled with a few indifferent
remarks as to what the good missionaries might think of it.

Many of the _wyheenees_ have pretty faces, expressive black eyes, and
long, jet-black hair; then there are others, who make good imitations of
Blenheim spaniels in the visage; but nearly all have rounded, voluptuous
forms, perfectly natural and beautiful when young, with small hands and
feet: but such larks they are for fun and laughter! with a certain air
of sly demureness that renders them quite bewitching.

In the cool of the afternoons, a number of us in company with half a
dozen of these attractive naiads, would amuse ourselves sliding over a
gentle water-fall that poured into a secluded basin stretching calmly
away below: hand in hand--and very soft, pretty hands they were!--or,
forming a long link, one after another, in a sitting posture, we threw
ourselves upon the mercy of the lively foam above, and like lightning
dashed over the brink of the falls, and were drawn with magical celerity
for a great depth beneath the surface; until our ears tingled and senses
reeled with the rushing noise, when we would again be swept swiftly by a
counter-current up to the air of heaven, and carefully stranded on a
sand bank near by, wondering very much how we got there, and always
greeted by the gay laughter of the water nymphs around us. Nor is it the
safest sport imaginable, for in some of these submarine excursions an
inexperienced person is sometimes given to beat his head or body against
rocks, or be carried to the wrong eddies and floated among dangerous
straits, to the great detriment of his breath and digestion. However, no
one need entertain the slightest fears when attended by the natives.
They may, when saving you in the last gasp of drowning, hold you up in
the combing breakers, and ask, "how much? tree monee?" with a
prospective glance at a reward. But when diverting yourself with these
nut-brown naiads, they guide you in safety through perilous labyrinths,
and shield you from all harm. On one occasion, a laughing, good-humored
damsel, whom we christened the Three-decker, in compliment to a double
row of ports tatooed around her waist, was seated beside me on a flat
ledge, and opened the conversation by asking, "Watee namee you?" "Bill,"
said I. "Liee namee Harree," she archly replied, and shoved me into the
torrent for laughing at her curiosity. But on gaining my lost position,
she broached another theme, which was so appallingly ludicrous, that,
losing all command of soul and body, I rolled off the rocks, and had it
not been for the stout arms of a nimble _wyheenee_, who gallantly came
to the rescue, I should in all probability, as the Three-decker jocosely
remarked, have been _muckee moi_--defunct; for the water had so nearly
filled me up, that there was not the faintest vestige of a laugh left in
my body. I rewarded her with a plug of tobacco, which is occasionally
used as a currency.

We experienced much rain during our sojourn, and when prepared to leave,
were detained some days by the wind. The harbor is protected by a
sweeping sunken reef, that forms a _cul de sac_ of the port, with an
entrance like the neck of a bottle. On the 28th of August, by the
assistance of our pilot, Mr. Kit Baker, who played corkscrew on the
occasion, we were safely drawn out--shook the wet canvas from the yards,
and away we coasted along the island.

It was a beautiful sight, indeed! The smooth, green freshness of the
slopes--the distant village, with its groves and fields of coffee and
sugar--native huts and plantations fast coming and going, as we went
sailing by--white cascades--and intensity of verdure everywhere--spread
like a glowing mantle from the mighty shoulders of Mauna Kea and Mauna
Loa--made me doubt if, in all our future "Polynesian researches," we
should behold any scenery so surpassingly lovely as Owyhee, with sweet
little Hilo, and its foaming Wailuku.



CHAPTER XLI.


Before dusk the green shores had faded from our sight, although the
snow-capped head of Mauna Kea arose as plainly and proudly as if we were
within a mile of his feet.

Sometime during the night we entered the Paipolo Passage, and the next
morning were becalmed, in a triangular sea, between the islands of Maui,
Molokai and Lanai. We were bound to the former; towards meridian the
breeze again filled the sails, and in a few hours we were at anchor in
the Roads of Laihaina, securely sheltered by the high hills of the
island.

The general appearance of this group is not unlike clusters of the
Grecian Archipelago: the same reddish hues to the heights, the same
basking verdure in the valleys, with perhaps a far grander outline and
boldness of scenery. In Maui there is no comparison to the universal
greenness and fertility of the east side of Hawaii. The lofty mountains,
attaining an altitude of ten thousand feet, arrest the trade clouds in
their westward flight, and the contents are condensed on the opposite
side of the island. Yet, although the background shows for a great
extent barren and sterile, there is still much to relieve the eye in the
deep green reposing between the sharp split gorges, where vegetation
creeps in thick profusion to the topmost peaks. And then the town
itself--larger than Hilo--built along the sea-shore, radiant with noble
groves of cocoanut, and bread-fruit, and pretty houses half buried in
shrubbery. There is also a great red-roofed New England meeting-house--a
two-storied square stone edifice, which is the King's country palace,
having a double range of verandas in front, and a little lake of black
mud in the rear, not in the best possible state of order or cleanliness,
but more conspicuous than all, placed a league up the hills, is the
large white buildings of the the native High School of Lahainaluna.

Maui is becoming a great resort for whale-ships to recruit from their
long cruisings; it has been the means of infusing energy and industry
into the native population in the cultivation of the rich soil, and thus
for miles around the town the lands are planted with Irish and sweet
potatoes, taro, yams, and many kinds of excellent vegetables and grains,
which grow all seasons, whenever sown. The markets were well supplied
besides with meats and fruits; and nothing can exceed the clean,
tasteful manner in which the lighter produce of the island is put up in
native baskets. With the fresh leaf of the cocoanut they are woven or
braided in a trice--oval, round or square,--with a pliable green handle
all ready for transportation. The cocoanut is to these simple islanders
what prayers are to the Turks--meat, drink, and pantaloons; or rather,
as I have been told by others professing a deeper knowledge of the
Mahommedan lingo than myself, when listening to the Muezzins shouting
their signals from minarets of mosques. However, here is better
authority:--


                     "The Indian's nut alone,
     Is clothing, meat and trencher drink and can,
       Boat, cable, sail, and needle--all in one."


They catch fish, too, with nets, and lash their huts together by braid
of the husk. Their couches are mats of the leaves. The milk makes a
delicious beverage, and is kept cool, no matter how burning the sun, in
the lofty husky reservoirs. The tree itself never ceases bearing while
there is a drop of sap in the body, and I have counted more than a
hundred of these nutty tanks on a single shaft. If I remember aright,
when a boy I was extravagantly fond of a penny's worth of the fruit
fished out of glass jars. I never touch it now, for experience has
taught me to confine myself to the milk alone. Indeed, I know of no thin
potation more truly refreshing before breakfast, than a cooling draught
of cocoanut _wai_. The nut must be neither in its infancy, nor yet
matured, but just on the verge of manhood; then commend me to it, and
they will be rosy lips to draw one from its mouth.

We found everything more advanced than at Hilo--the bread-fruit
particularly--but not only in the vegetable kingdom--for civilization
was far ahead, also; or at least so far as creature comforts
extend--aided by a good hotel, dinners, and pleasant rides in the
vicinity.

The lanes and avenues were so clouded with fine red dust, that walking
any distance was out of the question. Foreigners have many cool,
matted-straw-built dwellings on the sea beach, and there are numbers of
pleasant cottages near the suburbs; but prettier than all, is one
secluded country house, a little way from Lahaina, closely embowered in
foliage, with a trickling rivulet at the door-way, that would make a
retreat for a princess.

The Governor of Maui was James Young, a half-breed, or _happa houri_,
and descended from the English seaman mentioned by Vancouver. He had
visited England, and spoke the language perfectly, although with the
tone and expression of a common sailor. In person he was large--with a
pleasant face--much lighter than the natives generally, and from his
conversation he appeared to be a man of excellent practical sense. His
residence was within the fort--a large square enclosure--constructed of
rough red coral rocks, banked up fifteen feet with earth, and mounting
an oddly assorted battery of some thirty pieces of artillery, of all
sorts of carriages and calibre--long, short, and mediums; they command
the usual anchorage, and no doubt do very well to prevent any acts of
violence from merchant ships; but it is a question, if at the second
discharge of shot they do not tumble to pieces. There were a company of
Hawaiian troops to man this fortress, who were well uniformed, and
looked as well as Kanakas, or any other savages who have been accustomed
half their lives to go naked can look, when their natural ease of motion
is cramped by European clothing.

Governor Young very sagaciously removed all restrictions from the
pleasures of our crew, who had liberty on shore--leaving it a matter of
supererogation to bribe the Kaikos, whose integrity is never above
suspicion. However, there was no liquor to be bought, but Jack got very
comfortably drunk on Cologne water: completely exhausting the large
stocks of a long-tailed Chinaman, in whose possession it had for a
lengthened period lain an unsaleable drug. Even after it had been all
sold, so great was the demand, that an old salt threatened to take the
Chinese by the heels and snap him like a coach-whip, in case he did not
produce another bottle of "tooloone" water, without more palaver.

One evening, during our visit at Lahaina, I was entertained by a
hospitable countryman, at his cool, airy residence, which stood on a
little raised embankment of the sea beach. A group of native maidens
also favored us with their fascinating society, and without further
invitation seated themselves at table, and seizing a pack of cards,
soon became deeply engaged in the game. It was like most other games:
those who held certain cards, certainly won; but although it was to me
incomprehensible, I observed that they cheated in the most expert
manner, at the same time slapping the bits of pasteboard on the table
with the energy of inveterate whisters; occasionally muttering, when
losing or winning, such exclamations as _ka! ka!--maitai!_--meaning "Oh!
I'm ruined!" "Disgusting!" or "I'm in luck!" and the like.

Becoming ennuied with these proceedings, after much entreaty and a glass
of wine, they consented to give me an idea of surf-swimming.

The moon was high and full, throwing a white, bright light athwart the
rippling water, like a quivering sea of silver coins. A Kanaka attendant
speedily produced slabs of light cotton wood, about a foot longer than
the person, and two feet and a half wide. Each provided with one of
these boards, they swam, or paddled out to the farthest roller. It may
be as well to remark here, that there is no reef, as at Hilo, within
whose coral walls shipping can anchor; only a ledge near the shore, that
serves to break the force of the waves upon the beach. Boats, however,
land without inconvenience, through the agency of a small canal cut from
the ledge to the heart of the town, in shape of a letter L.

The girls are at the outermost roller, when awaiting the moment before
it breaks, they come flying in on the very crest of the wave, at the
speed of a race-horse, the great art being to preserve so nice a poise
on the back-bone, as it were, of the breaker, as not to be left behind,
nor yet, as I found at the cost of several abrasions, launched too far
ahead, and thus have the whole crash of the roller pitching you over and
over in a series of hydropathic revolutions by no means safe or
pleasant: but to understand the thing properly, it is excessively
exciting sport. One of the girls, daughter of a chief, possessed the
knack in great perfection, and while dashing in with astonishing
velocity--at least the rate of twenty miles the hour--she would spring
buoyantly upon the board, and then maintain a _pose_ on one leg, either
kneeling or standing, with an _à plomb_-like security of balance, that
would have ruined the reputation of Ducrow!

During the day every little idle imp and lounger about the town devote
the time sporting in the surf; I have watched them for hours, a dozen of
them perhaps in a group: their black heads set in a liquid frame of
sparkling foam, half lost to view, as the wave subsides, then taken up
by another, and borne on the unbroken ridge of a green roller, crossing
and recrossing each other's tracks, shouting and laughing, until the
moment before striking the coral strand, the boards are turned aside,
and off they paddle again for another ride.

I was not successful at the first lesson, although carefully instructed
by my amiable companions in boards; and after an hour's practice,
finding I had swallowed as much salt water as I could conveniently, we
returned to the house.

Never having witnessed a legitimate native dance, all our persuasive
eloquence was exerted to induce the young ladies to delight us with a
_hexar_, but they proved obdurate; and one assured me, with great
indignity, that she was _mikonaree all ovar_; at the same time making a
graceful manipulation with her hands, from head to foot, to add strength
to her assertion. Thus finding myself associated with so pious and
virtuous a coterie, who, however, did not deem it incompatible with
their morality to sit down, with renewed zest, to cards, I desisted from
further efforts, and betook myself to a cigar.

In this, as with all my later experience and intercourse with island
beauties, I became convinced that I should never fall in love with them
out of the water. There is their native element for grace and witchery,
whilst cleaving the yielding fluid with rounded limbs and streaming
tresses, when one's nice sense of perfume is not offended by rank odors
of cocoanut oils, and other villanous cosmetics, which in themselves are
enough to transform a Hebe into a Hecate.



CHAPTER XLII.


The large native seminary at Lahainaluna, upon which the Missions place
great hopes of future usefulness, was under the superintendence of
Messrs. Andrews and Alexander, gentlemen attached to the Presbyterian
board, who impressed us very forcibly with their intelligence, by the
liberal views they entertained in relation to their charge, and fitness
for the office.

It is intended as the high school for the sons of chiefs of the group,
and such other youth whose aptness for instruction make them worthy of
being educated. The buildings belonging to the institution are capable
of accommodating more than one hundred pupils. Six hours are devoted to
study and recitation: they cook their own food, and a portion of time
intended for relaxation is occupied in practical utility--chiefly
agricultural pursuits, or as the mission report of the young ladies'
school under Miss Ogden, at the east end of Maui, states, "the time from
four to five they devote to exercise with the hoe."

About eighty of the pupils visited the frigate, by special
invitation--they appeared between the ages of twelve and twenty--attired
in curiously devised European garments, but clean in their apparel,
orderly and well-behaved, although awkward and uncouth in movements. I
was not struck with many intelligent faces, and their instructors gave
no very flattering ideas of their aptitude for the acquisition of
learning. Not more than one in twenty could be termed a bright boy; they
experience the greatest difficulty in gaining a knowledge of the English
language, and it is a question if it would not be advisable, even at
this late day, to do away entirely with the native dialect, pen up the
children, and substitute some other idiom having fewer words to express
vice, and more, the higher attributes of morality and virtue.

Physically speaking, the students were well formed, robust, and active,
but all more or less tinged with scurfy, cutaneous disorders,
transmitted to them through their progenitors as an indelible mark of
esteem by the first discoverers of the islands. Our visitors remained on
board an hour, and everything was done to make it a happy one: they
climbed the rigging, went all through the ship, fired cannons shotted,
and were loud in their admiration of the band. Upon leaving, they seemed
highly delighted, kindly greeted us with the usual expression of
good-will--_aloha!_--and very generally offered to shake hands, but we
pleasantly declined, I trust without wounding their feelings, for we
were ungloved, and a long way from the sulphur banks of Kilauea.

Institutions for female scholars are numerous in the group, but there is
not one on the same scale of magnitude as that of Lahainaluna, nor are
the girls themselves worthy of the benevolence and solicitude extended
to them by their excellent teachers. A school at Hilo, under the
direction of a missionary lady, highly distinguished for ability and
perseverance, had lately been relinquished on account of the abandoned
character of the pupils.

These instances must indeed dampen the ardor of the most sanguine
philanthropists, who have been so many years striving to emancipate
these Indian races from the depths of vice and ignorance. The whites
themselves, to their shame, be it said, are far from lessening the
evil, and I heard Mr. Cohen feelingly and truthfully remark, in
connection with the difficulties encountered in their labors, that the
missionaries' voices were but a breath in stemming the torrent of bad
examples, caused by hundreds of loud voices from every merchant vessel
and ship-of-war touching at the group. Assuredly much has been
accomplished in the outer crust of civilization, by an association for
so long a period with the whites, but notwithstanding the almost
unparalleled efforts of the missions, they have gained little in true
morality, though everything, perhaps, in decency, contrasted with the
native state in former times.

The Hawaiians are naturally indolent, voluptuous and deceitful, more
imbecile than vicious, destitute of morality, preserving of late years,
the form, not from principle, but fear of exposure, and subsequent
punishment. Infanticide, always prevalent in the Polynesian tribes, is
here more alarmingly frequent than even during their darkest days of
sacrifice and idolatry, caused, no doubt, in a great degree, by
unnecessarily severe laws against illegitimacy. There are no government
hospitals, and the disease brought by Cook is sweeping still, with the
deadly strides of a pestilence. These causes serve to check and diminish
the population to an extent hitherto unprecedented, and not unless their
very existence as a nation becomes obliterated, does there appear to be
any reasonable prospect of reform.[5] And now, it can be asked, if, with
all these evils entailed upon them by strangers, does it not seem
problematical, if in their days of superstition and ignorance they were
not morally better? Happier they certainly were! Then, their very
indolence, induced by an equable and delicious climate, where Nature so
bountifully scatters her fruits in their path, produced an enervating
languor, where neither cares nor sorrows surrounded them! Now, their
natural sense and experience teach, that they cannot cope with the skill
or energy of the foreigner, and hopelessly and inevitably they must look
forward to the rapid future, when their lands will be in strange hands,
and the few remnants of their race the slaves or puppets of their white
masters. Although sad the picture, the results bear no comparison to the
world at large, in the benefits accruing to civilization by acquiring a
foothold on these islands, which, from their position and resources, are
shortly destined to become of vast importance to commercial enterprise
in the Pacific.

The Board of Presbyterian Missions, first in the grand work of
redemption, have done all that philanthropy could suggest, in earnest
and unceasing efforts towards reclaiming the race from barbarism--in a
spirit of the greatest liberality, expending nearly a million of
dollars, distributed through a period of thirty years--wherein, if
naught else had been adduced than the beneficial results resting upon
the simple fact, that out of a population of about a hundred thousand,
which compose the Hawaiian cluster, more than half have been taught to
read and write, instructed in the rudiments of education, and generally
conversant with the Scriptures--this is of itself sufficient to claim
the lasting gratitude of all who have the progress of civilization at
heart. But what is still more surprising, this has been begun and
completed within the space of but thirty years--a point of time
inconceivably brief in the history of a nation, even in the age of rapid
advancement in which we live.

The groundwork of Christianity has also been firmly planted, and so
long as the Hawaiians do exist, it will go on slowly but steadily to
increase. Yet the reports from the Board, detailing such immense numbers
of conversions made so miraculously of late years, under missionary
auspices, should be received _cum grano salis_. Surely they cannot be
intended purposely to mislead--but still it has the semblance of a sort
of paid-up imaginary capital, to swell and exaggerate the amount of
their labors. On all sides it was universally believed, that there are
not five hundred true converts in the group, instead of over thirty
thousand, as these reports would make out! Then why these incorrect
statements? And again, a retired missionary quoting the Honorable J. P.
Judd, another gentleman formerly attached to the Board and now at the
head of the Hawaiian government, says: "The moral condition of the
Islands may compare favorably with that of any other country."[6] Such
glaring mendacity is beneath the contempt of any visitor to the group
blessed with eyes; and as a slight proof of the estimate, at this late
day, in which this morality is held, the missionaries, themselves, who
have young families, never permit them to acquire the native dialect,
and most carefully guard them from any intercourse with the natives,
fearing probably the contaminating influences of an association, so
deplorably exhibited in the children of the English Mission in one of
the groups of Southern Polynesia.

Furthermore, the violent ravings of the retired missionary I have
already quoted, against what he terms "papacy, prelacy, papists,
abomination of the Church of Rome," and the like balderdash, are enough
to induce the belief, that were it not for the great conservative Law
and Order party, which now rules the world--wherein the virtues of hemp
are duly set forth--these deluded enthusiasts, so blinded by their
fanatical zeal, would be cutting one another's throats, with the same
malignant ferocity as in the bitter wars of the Huguenots.

The missionaries fully deserve all the love and influence they possess
with the native population, for the toil and labor of very many weary
years, passed away from homes and kindred; and so long as they
sedulously abstain from secular affairs, and resolutely confine
themselves to the field of their good work, the very piety and blameless
purity of their lives will shield them from the smallest reproach. But
human passions are ever the same. This very influence induces them to
take part in the political contentions of the government; and whatever
may be said to the contrary, it is evidently by their direct means, or
connivance, that almost every public measure emanates. Nor is this the
most innocent charge laid at their doors. Behold the illiberality and
want of true Christian charity, evinced not only here, but with equal
hostility by English missionaries in the Society Islands, in unremitting
persecutions and expulsion of the Catholics. Whether directly urged by
the Protestants, or at their instigation through the native chiefs,
matters not--they were driven like dogs from these inhospitable shores,
and never dared to return until backed by the cannon of their King.

It may well be doubted, if the Catholics had been the first to have
raised the banner of the Cross on the Islands of Polynesia, whether they
would quietly have submitted to any foreign innovations upon their creed
or forms. History gives no instances where an acquisition has been
relinquished without a deadly struggle; but in these days of
enlightenment, when the field is so ample, why not throw wide open the
gate to all laborers in the cause of philanthropy, where no harm can
arise, and great good may follow?

The Catholics lead as pure and irreproachable lives as their Protestant
brethren--without perhaps the comforts--and are rapidly making
proselytes; their religion teaching forgiveness and absolution, being
more in accordance with the backsliding sins of the natives, who meet
with no appeal from the more austere puritanism of the Protestants.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] Vide Report to the Hawaiian Legislature of 1848, by R. C. Wyllie,
Minister of Foreign Relations.

[6] Bingham, page 609.



CHAPTER XLIII.


After a delightful visit spent at Lahaina, late one afternoon, we bade
adieu to Maui, and steering between Lanai and Molokai, by daylight the
following morning we had passed Diamond Point, and let run our anchor at
a great depth of water, a mile or more outside the Oahu reef, the
frigate's draught being too large to allow her to enter within the
smooth and well-protected arms of the port.

We were in Honolulu--the Ismir of Polynesia--a little thriving city of
nearly eight thousand people, and its situation one of the prettiest in
the world. It lies spread about at the base of the beautiful valley of
Nuaana, upon a very gentle slope down to the verge of the harbor. On
either hand the shores are fringed with cocoanuts, and all around, up
hill and vale, save the burnt sides of the Devil's Punch-bowl and Point
Diamond, is laid the deepest, densest verdure, as if it had been
actually poured down from the heights above, in liquid floods of
foliage, until there was not a spot on the leafy waves where another
green branch could find a lurking place!

Honolulu is a town of strangers, with shops, stores, and warehouses;
handsome dwellings with verandas and piazzas; pleasantly shaded cottages
of elegant modern build, with grass and flowers; and nice little straw
huts, in clusters by themselves, for bachelors, all very cool; then the
unpaved streets are filled with dust, and natives wander about, in
bright-colored, loosely-fitting garments, looking forlorn, diseased, and
miserable, living, no one cares how or where; sleeping in the most
loathsome abodes of wretchedness, and vilest dens of vice; in all save
absolute want or destitution, far below, in the moral scale, the worst
hovels of iniquity in the great cities of the Old World! But we have no
time to waste upon morals. Presently a low four-wheeled vehicle rattles
along--there are many of them--drawn by Kanaka cab-horses; very kind and
humanizing it is too, for the beasts are tame, never kick, not given to
prove restive, or run away, at least with the coach! I often speculated
mentally if the fair women when taking an airing ever blushed for their
cattle; and when I saw a pious missionary lady trotting gaily by, I
wondered if she had ever seen or read a "High-heeled Shoe for a Limping
Sinner"--most probably not. And then within those charming cottages I
spoke of, there are lovely women from far, far over the seas--oh,
beautiful was one!--who make music and dancing, and most agreeable
society, and hand around delicious tea fresh from the Celestials, and
piquant lemonade--eschewing vinous compounds--while the sweet perfume of
the lime-trees is present to eye and sense, and all pleasantly
commingled with innocent sips of scandal.

Again the quays are crowded with more miserable natives, with sprigs of
coral, shells, calibashes, or island ornaments in their hands, looking
wistfully, and silently towards you; for they never use importunities,
they are too indolent by half. And there is a market shed near by, where
a fat woman will swallow a full gallon of _poee-poee_, to show how the
thing is done, provided it be paid for! And then, as a relief from these
diseased beings, there is the white reef seaward, vainly chafing and
lashing the coral barrier; and the calm harbor, clustering with fine
ships, chiefly of the oleaginous order, while whale-boats, and graceful
Koawood canoes--with light frameworks of sticks, and outriggers to bear
them upright--are dancing over the blue wavelets.

There are agreeable rides in every direction diverging from the city.
The most fashionable is up the Nuana Valley. The road is broad and
straight, lined on either side by well-tilled plantations of fruits, and
patches of vegetables, with elegant country-houses, placed back from the
causeway, half visible through the rich and sombre foliage.

Five minutes' gallop takes you, by an easy ascent, away from the heat
and dust of town. The atmosphere is purer and cooler, the blue sea,
shipping, reef, town, groves and fields, are lying in miniature at your
feet! Go on--pass the King's villa--up, up, for six or seven miles, and
suddenly the trade wind sweeps with heavy gusts, around a sharp turn of
the craggy verdant peaks, and you stand on a lofty terrace, and gaze
through a great balconied window, cut like an embrasure, and formed by
piles of rocks at the sides and base, while below is a frightful
precipice, and beyond a glorious undulating landscape is breathing in
verdure and beauty, dotted here and there by native hamlets, whose
bleached white thatching is glistening in the sun, with herds of cattle
upon the hill sides, chequered by bright patches under cultivation;
while further still, the island is girdled about by high waves, breaking
upon the rock-bound coast with the full force of the trades.

This is the _Pali_, concerning which, among other heathenish legends,
which have neither romance nor chivalric merit to recommend them, it is
said that a certain island king once hurled from thence a number of his
rebellious subjects.

Returning, we can take a glance at scores of poor squalid wretches,
with closely-shaven heads, living in filthy kennels that a decent dog
would despise; but they have been guilty of breaking one of the
commandments, and to reform their morals are herded together, and made
to labor upon the public roads!

Saturday is the Saturnalia of the Kanakas! They revel on horseback; the
streets, roads and plains are filled with them. It is surprising where
they all spring from; for although they are an ambulating population,
without local attachments, and go in schooner-loads from island to
island of the group, particularly upon the advent of a large ship of
war, and no doubt are packed very closely in their hovels in and around
Honolulu, yet it still is a matter for wonderment where all come from.
Hundreds of both sexes throng the pathways; and those more fortunate,
who can hire horses, are riding, and racing, leaping, and kicking up all
the noise and dust possible. The women bestride their steeds like men,
with petticoats tucked snugly around them, and sometimes wearing for
head gear as many as three bonnets of different colors, one within the
other, like nests of pill boxes. The young princes of the blood, too,
attended by the copper-colored nobility of the kingdom, ride with
headlong speed, and are not remarkable for taking less than
three-fourths of the highway, to the great peril and inconvenience of
more soberly-mounted passengers. On one pleasant evening an aristocratic
sprig rode rudely against an Anglo-Saxon demoiselle, in whose train I
had the pleasure of being, and without pausing to apologise for his
brutality, continued on, causing me to indulge in certain pious
aspirations for my Mexican whip that I might inflict a few mild
exhortations, in spite of his long line of Kanaka ancestry.

Neither men nor women sit the horse gracefully or firmly, and it is a
matter of hourly occurrence to see them take an aërial toss from the
saddle. A certain kind of equestrian intoxication--possibly caused by
brandy--appears to possess them, and they gallop and prance about as
long as the beasts have a leg to stand on.

It is customary for strangers visiting Honolulu, in the absence of
requisite hotel accommodation, to hire a small tenement expressly
appropriated for that purpose; many of them are pleasant little
domiciles, built of straw, and kept by their proprietors tolerably
clean, free from fleas, and habitable. They are in clusters by
themselves, and surrounded by adobie walls, enclosing a few trees, and
shrubbery, and generally take their designation from the last ship of
war whose officers may have occupied them.

The Alsatia we affected was named in compliment to an English
flag-ship--Collingwood _row_! Our hamlet was tabooed, and none others
than those especially licensed, were permitted to darken those
sanctuaries.

We arose early for a bathe on the coral flats or shoals of the reef,
then took gallop before breakfast; and when the trade began its diurnal
breeze, and the streets were impassible from dust, we reclined within
our thatched castles, enjoying the cooling gusts blowing down the Nuana,
or were seated with segars beneath the shelving eaves, regarding the
natives grouped near the doorways! They were mostly girls--poor,
miserable shameless objects, with diseased, unhealthy complexions,
lounging all day in the glaring sun, or clustered, two and three
together, sucking _poee-poee_, smoking pipes, and chatting their soft
idiom, low and laughingly; but they had not the grace, nor coy witchery
of the charming rustics of Hilo: they were city ladies--in Honolulu,
where there is more population, more want, and far more vice!

Before the sun sinks for the day, there is but little wind, and walking
or riding is then a pleasureable excitement. There is a circle of
agreeable society, too; not alone with foreign merchants and consuls,
but with a higher order of diplomatic agents, who, although severed from
their homes by thousands of leagues of water, still surround themselves
with all the elegancies and enjoyments of social existence which they
have known in their native lands. Indeed Oahu, though without the
salubrious, agreeable climate of Maui, is still a place of much
interest; and from its delightful position, and fine scenery, well
worthy of all the commendation that voyagers bestow upon it.



CHAPTER XLIV.


King Kammehamma, or Kamme, as he is familiarly called, is the third of
his race: his ancestors were fierce, ungovernable gentlemen, who, in the
good old times, clubbed and killed--perhaps ate, too--nobody knows--a
great number of their enemies; but without tracing the historic truth of
these remote events, it is only necessary to state, that his present
majesty has been invested with the purple, and is, to all formal
appearances, the chief potentate of the islands.

The government is a complicated piece of political machinery, with a
constitution, and masses of subtle laws, equal in magnitude to the huge
proportions of a Chinese dictionary. There is a Legislative Assembly of
Kanakas, Ministers of State, War, Finance, Solicitors-general, an army,
a navy, and a court! This is not half, but it makes one dizzy to think
of it all at once: however, on due reflection, it is not quite so
complicated an affair after all! The government is simplified by two
bosom friends of the King--Mr. Robert Crichton Wyllie, Minister of
foreign relations; and Mr. G. P. Judd, Minister of finance. The former
is a very clever Scotch gentleman, somewhat inflated with the royal
trust reposed in him, and has, moreover, the _cathoethes scribendi_ to a
most melancholy and voluminous extent; yet he is an agreeable person,
and gives good dinners, and I have not the heart to say a syllable to
his disparagement, although I have not had the felicity of testing his
cuisine!

But Mr. Judd is the Magnus Apollo of the Island. Kamme, or the Lonely
One--as the word signifies--is his puppet, and most particularly lonely
he keeps him! The King is Punch, and Judd is Judy, and the Lonely One is
jumped about and thumped, and the wires are pulled unremittingly. Judd
is his prime counsellor, his parliament, father confessor and ghostly
adviser--his temperance lecturer, purse-bearer, and factotum generally.
There was a rumor, too, in courtly circles, that an order of nobility
was to be established, and then we shall have, probably, Baron Judd,
Peer of the Realm and Regent of the Kingdom. One would naturally suppose
that a staunch democrat from the Model Republic could not bear the
tainted air of a monarchical court in his republican nostrils, But it is
wonderful how soon we learn to estimate patriotism at so much per annum,
and with what suppleness we can kneel before a throne, if there be
dollars hidden beneath the dais. What boots it whether the chair be
filled with African or white? We want dollars!

The king was universally liked by the foreigners; for he has, indeed,
for a modernized savage, much bonhommie; is a good-hearted, well-meaning
person; rather given to conviviality, like all his race, and when
permitted to throw off the restraints of the court, he "allows his more
austere faculties to become pleasingly relaxed by a little gentle and
innocent indulgence." However, these backslidings are of rare
occurrence, and when under the argus eyes of his financial adviser, he
is never seen to exceed the limits of propriety--eschews ten-pins and
tobacco.--sips malt, and devotes his leisure to billiards.

We were to be presented at court! It occupied a number of days to
arrange certain punctilio, and finally, without any decided
misunderstanding, an hour was fixed for a royal audience.

One day, precisely as the clock tolled twelve, we sallied out into the
dusty streets--chapeau'd, sworded, belted, and laced up to the chin. The
weather was warm, too. A few minutes walk, guided by our obliging
cicerone, Mr. Wyllie, carried us to the Palace.

It is a large, square-built villa, spaciously piazzaed and windowed,
surrounded by pretty plantations of shrubbery and fruit-trees. At the
gateway a guard of Kanaka infantry presented arms, the royal standard
was unfurled from the flag-staff and floated to the breeze. Passing up a
broad, gravelled alley, we ascended a flight of steps to the piazza, and
were again saluted by a double line of officers, who were supposed to be
the black rods in waiting. Entering the villa, we found ourselves in a
wide hall traversing the centre of the building, with saloons to the
right and left. The King not having arrived, we had leisure to inspect
the reception room. It was a spacious apartment, with windows on three
sides, having green Venetian blinds opening to the piazzas, and two
doors leading to the hall. It was handsomely carpeted, and the furniture
consisted of a few plain mahogany chairs, with another of state,
surmounted by a crown. A round table stood in the centre, supporting
alabaster ornaments, volumes of Wilkes' Exploring Expedition, and a
richly-bound Bible in the native dialect, presented by that estimable
philanthropist, Elizabeth Fry. The walls were hung with portraits of the
Lonely One's family--dingy chiefs and their ladies, smiling intensely,
with round saucer eyes and thick lips--a painting of Blucher--two of the
Kings of Prussia--and facing the throne, in a gorgeously gilt and carved
frame, the King of the French; which two last, by a singular
coincidence, had lately been presented in great state and procession by
the respective consuls, on the very days their several majesties had
been dethroned!

Time was only allowed us to take a rapid glance around the saloon, when
the approach of majesty was announced, and we hurried back to the hall.

From the opposite side of the terrace appeared the regal
cortêge--brilliant in embroidery, gold lace, nodding plumes, and swords
at their sides: on they came, two abreast--foremost, the King with the
Minister of Finance--then a brace of Chamberlains, followed by the High
Chiefs and officers of state, and the procession closed by the two young
princes, Alexander and Lot.

In a few moments, his excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations
imparted the august intelligence of all being prepared for our
reception. Forming in line--the Admiral leading, under pilotage of Mr.
Wyllie--we entered the saloon, and approached the throne. The King was
standing, and the courtiers ranged on either side. Our Admiral backed
his topsails and let go an anchor on the Lonely One's port beam: we were
then telegraphed by name--shot ahead--hove to abreast His
Majesty--exchanged signals--filled away and took position by order of
sailing on the starboard bow!

His excellency the Minister of Finance--who, by the way, was not an
ill-looking nobleman--in full court costume, and a field-marshal's
chapeau tucked under his arm--announced to the Admiral that His Majesty
would deign to lend a willing ear to any observations upon religion,
war, politics, or any other topics most agreeable. Whereupon, the
Admiral having a few remarks all ready prepared in his pocket, proceeded
to dilate on the happiness he felt in being thus honored--spoke of the
extraordinary beauty of the Islands--touched upon usefulness of
missionaries, and ended by expressing solicitude for His Majesty's
welfare and dynasty.

This speech, was immediately translated by the courtly Judd, who, with
admirable foresight, had provided himself beforehand with a copy.
Thereupon he handed the King a reply, who began in much the same strain
as the Admiral, and concluded by hinting that he hoped his dynasty
_would_ last a long time!

The business being now happily arranged, His Majesty and the Admiral
became seated, and the rest of us were permitted to mingle freely with
the Kanaka court.

Kammehamma, and all his native attendants, had handsome, agreeable
faces, and were extremely well made. The Premier, John Young, a
half-breed, would be recognized for an elegant person in any part of the
world. Two were of just and colossal proportions--one, the High Chief
Parkee, the greatest Chamberlain probably in the world--for he weighs
nearly four hundred pounds: I forget the precise number of chairs he
crashes annually, but it is something enormous, and he is the terror of
all housekeepers.

The King, Premier and Judd, had broad red ribbons thrown baldric fashion
over breast and shoulders, of such extreme breadth as to give the idea
of the wearers having burst their jugular arteries.

Whilst intently occupied regarding this brilliant throng, I happened to
attract the attention of an intelligent copper youth, some twenty years
old, who spoke English perfectly well, and who in fact patronised me
with great politeness and suavity of demeanor; and well he might, for he
was Prince of the blood royal, and could afford it. There chanced to be
a fine engraving of Queen Victoria and infant family, in the hall.
"This," said His Highness, pointing with marked emphasis to the little
Prince of Wales, "this is the heir to the British throne!" Ah! thought
I, forgive me, but you occupy the same elevated position in the Hawaiian
dynasty! My conjecture was well founded.

By some means the succession of late had been changed. And, by the way,
it is a wise institution they have, of continuing the descent from the
female branch. The war-club, feathers, and other regalia, were to have
fallen upon the brows of one Prince Moses; but Moses was suspected of
being too pointed in his attentions to the Queen consort
herself--scandal perhaps--although there could be no question about the
sad havoc he committed in the hearts of the youthful _wyheenees_ of the
Royal Academy! Ah! wicked Moses! His excellency the Financial Minister,
fearing future inroads upon the peace of families, had the gay Lothario
banished to a remote and desolate district of the Island, and the
succession transferred to a brother--the youth who evinced so much
complaisance towards me.

We remained a full hour, and then made our adieus, "the interview having
passed," according to the Court Journal, "much to the satisfaction of
all parties."

For my own part I was excessively diverted with the rarce-show, and
thought it highly ridiculous. What greater folly can exist than aping
the forms and etiquette of an European court? If, as is contended, the
natives are not sufficiently advanced in civilization for free
government, it is by no means imperative to set up a tinsel puppet, to
dazzle the eyes of a few half-naked savages; for surely no intelligent
person can be so blind an owl as not to detect and despise the cheat.
These vain-glorious ceremonies and pretensions are also, in a certain
degree, the cause of embroiling the Hawaiian Government with other
nations, whose consuls or diplomatic agents complain of bad treatment;
but in all the bullying or advice volunteered, incident upon their
indiscretions, there has been none so sensible, and so plainly given, as
the letter of an English Admiral to the King, consequent upon outrages
committed upon a British subject in 1846. Outcries are raised, too, in
these cases, by individuals who have renounced their own country and
sworn allegiance to a new native master, about the oppression of
American citizens.

One may forgive the absurdity attending these proceedings in a
Scotchman, but it is inexcusable in a Yankee. Still many measures
emanating from these sagacious councillors are characterised by a
careful regard to the interests of the native population. But then there
are other laws, which have not the ground of expediency to uphold them,
wherein strangers are incapacitated from becoming owners of landed
property without swearing fealty to the Hawaiian King! As a consequence,
the greater portion of tillable ground is held by the chief, who has
neither the sense nor energy to direct the steps for a proper
development of the soil. The lower order are the occupants, who
themselves are not eligible to a free tenure, and at least one-half, or
two-thirds the benefits of their labor is taken in some way by the
proprietors. Thus, without an incentive to greater efforts the country
languishes under the same species of feudal tyranny and extortion, as in
the days of their cannibal forefathers! The islands are rich and
fertile; sugar, coffee, and tobacco flourish luxuriantly; and under any
other system than the present, there could be no bounds placed upon the
advantages and wealth that would follow. Yet, although this policy,
which destroys the energies and resources of the group, is in the
greatest degree narrow-minded and illiberal, still it is the only course
that will sustain the wise statesman who framed it; for their
Excellencies are much too shrewd not to perceive, with prophetic
vision, that the very moment the lands are thrown open to foreign
enterprise and competition, a preponderating influence will be acquired
by the wealth and intelligence of foreigners themselves, the lands will
slip like water through the hands of the chiefs; and not only will the
Lonely One be called upon to throw off the Imperial tappa, but the royal
ministers, also, will be required to resign the purse-strings and
portfolios, and betake themselves to the retirements of simple
citizenship.

It is blameable, too, to pamper these semi-tutored island potentates
with such highly-seasoned dainties, when in a few years, or may be
months, they may be obliged to descend to native life, and without the
interest attached to martyrs or Eastern princes we read of, be made a
laughing-stock to their former subjects. As things remain, the entire
institution of puppet-king, complex government, and scheming advisers,
is at best but an indifferent piece of charlatanism and deception.

Nevertheless we were distressed at the thoughts of leaving these lovely
islands, for we had become deeply imbued with the rage for realizing
rapid fortunes, in the culture of sugar and coffee. Indeed, some of our
party were so thoroughly bitten, as to enter into negociations with
prime ministers, and other great people, wherein special royal
ordinances were to grant certain titles, with many advantageous
exemptions; and we spoke seriously of importing machinery, Malays,
Chinese, and of other operations; until at last we began to fancy
ourselves doomed to pass the remainder of our lives among the kanakas.



CHAPTER XLV.


We were forty days at the Sandwich Islands, and on the 21st of September
weighed anchor, and sailed away from the fertile vales of Oahu. Passing
along the western shores of the group, we steered to the southward,
until the trade winds carried us within a few hundred miles of the
equator; where meeting, between the parallels of seven and ten, a strong
easterly current, reacting from the north-eastern trades, we were swept
three hundred miles to the eastward.

During this period we had light, variable winds, attended by a confused,
uneasy sea, and one continual series of rains. The like was never seen;
it poured in torrents for seventeen days; the tar of the standing
rigging appeared white-washed; sails wet, chafed, and torn; decks sodden
and spongy, and the heat below oppressive.

One night, as usual, the windows of heaven were opened, and the rain
came down, beyond all ancient similes. I was wet to the bones, and am
convinced they too were damp; the heavy canvas was slamming and beating
against the masts and tops, with a noise like the report of cannon,
whenever the ship gave a quick lurch, giving the idea, of flying out of
the bolt ropes; indeed I wished they would, for the yards had been
braced every way to woo the fitful breezes, which only for a moment
would fill the leaden sails, and then hop around to another quarter. The
night was black as Erebus! except when the lightning flashed out in a
blinding glare, with a pale, blueish dazzle, like to the flash of a gun,
or a burning blue light; illuminating the mazes of rigging, lofty spars,
and clusters of the watch, crouching under partial shelter of the
hammock-nettings;--then all was dark again. I was standing on the poop,
up to my ancles in water, although feeling as if swimming; a little old
quarter-master directing the helmsman was at my elbow--I could not see,
but I felt him,--he too was at times trying to feel the white feathery
dog vane, to know where the wind was! It was old Harry Greenfield! None
of your low-crowned, flowing-ribbon'd, wide-trouser'd dandy Jacks,
pricked all over with china-ink, like a savage; but a short, stout,
wholesome little "tar of all weathers," with a pleasant, rosy,
good-humored visage, bronzed and wilted to be sure, and rather mouldy
about the head, for he had "served his full time in a man-of-war
ship"--nearly half a century--and no doubt had taught many a sucking
reefer, and given excellent advice to lots of sapient lieutenants--I
know he has to me often; in a word, to complete his portrait, he was the
image of Durand's Santa Claus! "Well," said I, "old gentleman, how are
you to-night?" "Dry as dust, sir." "What! I thought you wet!" "Fat!"
said he, misunderstanding me, "what on--salt junk? You might carry a
lump of it from here to Jerusalem, and not get enough fat to grease the
pint of a sail-needle." "No! wet I say." "Ah! yes, sir! You're right, my
hands and feet are shrunk up like a washerwoman's thumb, but I meant
_inside_, sir." "Well, here's the key of the locker, go down and take a
glass of grog, but mind you allow for variation." "Aye, aye, sir--no
higher nor nor-west." Presently he came splashing back to his old stand.
"Mr. Blank, I don't see any shells, tappa, and them sorts of
curiosities stowed away in your state-room." "What of that?" "Presents
to your friends, sir?" "Oh, no, I heard of a witty lady, who had a
nautical lover constantly sending her navy trash, that she had it all
packed in the attic to prevent the drawing-rooms being taken for a
sailor boarding-house." "Sensible woman, that," chuckled old Harry; "you
may buy the same things for half the money in Water-street, besides
hubble hubbles made in Hamburgh." The rain came down with renewed
violence, if possible, and I became so completely saturated, and
water-logged, as to be on the point of requesting a couple of stout
top-men to take me by head and heels and wring me comparatively dry,
when our confab was interrupted by a sharp squall; but just as as the
frigate began to move lively through the water, the wind died quietly
away, the topsails flapped against the masts, and all became dark and
rainy as before. Could a saint help anathematising such weather? "It's
unpleasant business this going to sea," chimed in old Santa Claus,
deprecating my wrath against the unfeeling elements; "you ought to try a
smoker, I did once." "You did?" said I, incredulously. "Yes, sir, I was
paid off from a merchantman in Orleans, and took passage in one of them
smokers, bigger than a three-decker."

"But tell me, my old sea dog, why don't you leave the broad ocean, and
settle down quietly on shore?" "Why; sir, I can't afford it!" "No! well,
let me hear your ideas of life!" Moving close to my side, while the
light from the binnacle flashed upon his pleasant face and dripping
garments, he took a reflecting glance at the compass and then began:
"D'ye see, sir, I want a country seat--with a nice sail-boat. I'd get up
early, and take a good sniffler of brandy, with a dash of peppermint;
then I'd go somewhere or another and take breakfast--call for me horse,
and ride away eight or ten miles in the country--(he looked like a
horseman!)--when I'd get half slewed, and come to town and visit the
ladies--." Here he appeared palled. "Go on," I said "Then, sir, I'd take
a glass of old Madeira--with an egg in it--every half hour--until
bed-time, mind ye--when, with another sniffler"--

"Eight bells!" sung out the orderly at the cabin doors. The watch was
called to take their accustomed drenching, and I went below,
without-hearing the conclusion of old Greenfield's yarn.

This weather, caused probably by the Equinox, lasted until the 11th of
October, when the winds sprang from the South, blew away the wet clouds,
and carried the ship to a longitude of 128° in 5° North latitude, when
the breeze gradually veered to the Eastward, and we crossed the Equator.
On the morning of the 25th we discovered the easternmost Islands of the
Marquesas--passed Hood's Island, and the following day anchored in
Nukeheva--the Anna Maria bay of Mr. Gouch--Surveyor of the Daedalus, one
of Vancouver's squadron--who, in ignorance of the previous discovery by
the Spaniards under Alvaro de Mendaña, had named the group after his
commander, Hergest.



CHAPTER XLVI.


The bay and harbor of Anna Maria is scooped out of the Island in shape
of a horse-shoe; hemmed in on three sides by steep mountains, whose
sharp, well-defined acclivities spring boldly from the water--dense with
foliage--where the brightest verdure closely clasps and kisses the
perpendicular faces of the lofty barriers around.

At the head of the harbor, along a white, shelly beach, are multitudes
of cocoanuts, hibiscus, and bread-fruit trees, screening within
their leafy groves thatched huts and villages of the natives. To
the right is a rocky projection, frowning with a heavy battery
of cannon; while near by are the pretty villa and grounds of the
Governor--barracks--store-houses--buildings and plantations pertaining
to the French garrison.

I viewed this scene soon after daylight, as the first rays of morning
came glancing in horizontal gleams over the eastern heights, tinging the
opposite peaks with the rich, warm glow of sunlight, peering and prying
into many a green-clad precipice and grassy dell, step by step, until it
fairly illumined the dark alcove-like bay and shores below.

The anchors had hardly struck bottom before the frigate was surrounded
by canoes, of a rough, clumsy structure, filled with natives of the most
hideous and frightful descriptions. The men were nearly naked. Many had
large, frizzled wigs of human hair, thrown down the back of the neck,
and confined to the throat by cords or wire--a style of peruke not
intended to be used, but merely as a decoration. Others had fresh green
leaves entwined around the brows, with concave flaps in front, like
visors to caps--their ears perforated with misshapen holes, in which
were thrust carved ivory horns, or small bunches of flowers. The hair,
from constant bleachings in salt water, dews and tropical suns, had a
brown, sandy hue, or the color of tow--brushed straight back, somewhat
resembling the head costume of ladies of the court of Louis Quatorze!
But what rendered them preëminently hideous, was the tatooing. It,
indeed, bordered on the infernal! Not only were their bodies covered
with these dark stains, of every pattern, figure and device, but large
numbers had angular stripes, two inches broad, beginning at the temple,
crossing the eyelid, part of the nose, traversing the mouth and lips,
and then going out of sight around the face. I judged it to be a dim
idea of the facial angle. Others had the entire upper or lower part of
the visage stained like masques in domino. Isosceles triangles were
common, leaving the noses clear, and from a distance they appeared the
only feature of their faces. There was one demon who claimed a large
share of our attention: not a square inch of him, excepting the tongue
and eye-balls, was free from this hieroglyphical human "picture
printing," and he took immense delight in pointing out many high touches
of art, that might from their position have eluded our observation, and
dilated with, to us, unintelligible gibberish, upon certain other
indescribable arabesques. We thought him intended as a pattern card; an
ambulating advertisement, or sign board, sent abroad, as knowing tailors
send dandies at home, to give an idea of the higher and more correct
delineations of the tatoo: but this individual was altogether so very
interesting a specimen of goblin tapestry, that Champollion himself
might have studied him with much benefit and gusto.

They all looked like consummate rascals, and not in the physiognomony of
a single individual could we detect the slightest approach to
benevolence, or any of the milder virtues. On the contrary, they are
famed for cruelty, selfish apathy, and cunning, and are among the worst
of the Polynesian tribes. There have been two or three praiseworthy
attempts to reform them, by different missionary boards, but they
signally failed. The Nukehevans were found too vicious to even suffer,
without great privation and danger, their teachers to reside on the
islands, and they now remain in the same shocking state of barbarism as
before the discovery of the group, in sad contrast, so far as the
humanizing influences of Christianity and civilization extend, to the
benefits the pioneers of religion have shed upon the other islands of
these Indian Archipelagoes.

During the few years the French, in their rage for colonization in the
Pacific, have occupied Nukeheva, they have encountered great
difficulties in keeping these unruly natives within the bounds of
moderation. For a length of time they were continually on the _qui vive_
to guard against treachery and attack; of late, the islanders had been
quiet, understanding that the French, who held the harbor under what was
termed a forcible proprietorship, were shortly to depart; and, indeed,
as a preparatory step, some of the government buildings had already been
taken down and sent to Tahiti. Still there seems no reason why the
Marquesans should have evinced this bitter hostility, for it was
conceded that they have been treated with great lenience and
forbearance.

As a harbor of refuge, in time of war, Anna Maria is perfectly
safe--accessible and defensible; but from the natural indolence of the
natives, it is destitute of supplies in sufficient quantities to feed
even the few whale-ships touching here during the year.

The garrison was composed of two hundred and fifty _Infanterie de la
Marine_, maintained, no doubt, at considerable expense, and for what
present or perspective benefit it would be difficult to surmise. The
Governor was M. Fournier, the commander, also, of a fine corvette, the
Galathée, moored near the shore battery. He was all prepared to give us
a warm reception, in case our ship had worn the cross of St. George at
her peak, instead of a Yankee gridiron, for they were hourly
anticipating a rupture with England, consequent upon the French
revolution.

Going on shore, I made the acquaintance of a number of polite officers
belonging to the garrison, and had also the pleasure of meeting an old
friend, a handsome young Enseigne de Vaisseau. "Ah!" said he, "would you
believe, I've been here amid these beasts of savages eighteen months.
_Mon Dieu!_ Such a _monotone diablement horrible_! And do you remember
all France was talking of Du Petit Thours and this Paradise of
Polynesia, and I, like a fool, was dazzled, too! _Sacré!
Voila!_"--pointing to a group of copper-tinted and tatooed imps
reclining under a banana tree devouring raw fish, and sucking _poee_
with their filthy fingers--"and regard me in a flannel jacket, smoking
pipes, and reading, for the hundredth time, old Revues des deux Mondes!
perpetually sighing for those ravishing scenes we passed together--those
dinners in the Bois de Bologne--the races in the alleys by
moonlight--evenings at Ranelagh, when I used to dance the _cancan_ with
poor _Reine Pomarée_, and, behold, I've a lock of her hair," running to
an escrutoire; "and is it not droll we should meet again five thousand
leagues away, and so near the veritable dominions of the great Pomarée
herself!" My young friend had cause truly to be disgusted.

We took a long stroll around the beaches and valleys at the head of the
harbor, made a number of visits, then bathed in a shallow, discolored
stream of mineral water. The district is not populous, and, during our
sojourn, the king and many of the natives had gone to a high heathenish
festival in an adjacent valley, on the opposite side of the island.
Since the occupation by the French, perfect amity had existed between
the different clans of Nukeheva, where each petty chief and people are
independent sovereigns in their romantic and secluded valleys: not so
much for mutual friendship existing between them, as in hatred to their
white visitors. The French seldom wandered to any great distance from
their quarters, fearing, possibly, the "anthropopagian tastes of their
cannibalistic brethren."

The women were tall and well shaped, with very much brighter complexions
than the Hawaiians, and, with exceptions of young girls, were all more
or less disfigured by the indigo hues of tatoo; the faces escaping with
a few delicate blue lines, or dots, on lips or cheeks. They all seemed
complimented, and gave us every assistance in deciphering different
designs engraved upon their persons, and one buxom dame, who had a large
painting similar to the tail of a peacock spread upon her shoulders,
insisted upon doffing her drapery and preceding us, that we might study
its beauties with every facility possible!

Many were decorated with bracelets and necklaces of leaves or flowers,
and some with anklets of human hair, toe nails, and other valuable
relics. All were perfumed with cocoanut oil, and smeared with another
equally odoriferous ointment, which dyed arms and faces a deep
saffron--neither cosmetic was I able to acquire a taste for, after
repeated trials; and, indeed, I may admit, that I have never conquered a
disgust, perhaps engendered by too nice a sense of perfume.

From a number of unmistakable signs and expressions, I presumed the
_Franees_ were not entirely beloved, even by the women, although the men
deigned ludicrous attempts in mode of beard, moustache, shrug of
shoulders, and other little grimace, to copy French dress and manner.

After bathing, we reclined on the thwarts of an immense war-canoe that
was hauled upon the beach, capable of holding, at least, fifty paddles,
and amused ourselves watching a score of young girls swimming in the
bay: they swam like fishes, but, as there were no surf or rocks, I had
no means of determining what novel or extraordinary feats they were able
to perform: they were quite skilful little fisherwomen, and procured for
us a cocoanut-shell full of delicious oysters--no bigger than shilling
pieces--which served to pass the time until we adjourned to the king's
house.

It was rather a modern structure--of roughly-laid stones and
boards--built by the French, though falling to decay. There was but a
single apartment of tolerable size--floor and walls were strewn with
mats, stools, a couple of bedsteads, spyglasses, fowling-pieces covered
with rust, spears, nets, calibashes, rolls of _tappa_, war conches,
whales' teeth, circular crowns of cocks' feathers, besides an infinite
variety of serviceable and useless trumpery, scattered indiscriminately
around.

Coiled up on a low, beastly collection of mats and _tappa_, was a
repulsive object, half dead with some loathsome disease, and drunk with
_arva_--he was the chief's brother, and was expected to die shortly, or
be killed on the return of his sovereign--a custom strictly observed
with invalids and old, decrepid persons.

Within a stone's throw of this habitation, was another nearly completed,
in native design. The foundation was raised two feet by a platform of
large, round, smooth stones. The building itself was in shape of an
irregular inverted acute angle, or trapezoid, at the ends, with the legs
slightly inclined outwardly, and resting on the foundation. Large
upright shafts of polished red wood supported roof and sides, which were
nicely formed of frames of white poles, lashed securely and neatly
together by braids of parti-colored sennit, and thatched evenly and
tastefully over by the spear-shaped leaves of the pandannus, leaving the
front of the dwelling open for light and air. It presented a deal of
ingenuity and nice mechanism in the design and construction.

The French allow the king sixty dollars a-month, and I should say, from
the careless appearance of his household, that he made a bad use of
it--besides, he was addicted to _arva_, which my friend assured me was a
shade worse for the stomach than prussic acid. I returned to the frigate
in the evening, with a party planned to visit the Happar valley, whose
beauties we had heard much extolled, on the following day.



CHAPTER XLVII.


Early the next morning I went on shore, but duties of the garrison
prevented the officers from leaving until the morning was somewhat
advanced--too late to cross the dividing ridges to the adjacent glens,
and we accordingly changed the destination, for an excursion up the
valley at the head of the harbor.

A pair of native boys preceded us, with baskets. Walking briskly through
paths lined with thick, wild undergrowth of tobacco, arrow-root, ginger
and guavas, we mounted a number of acclivities, and then striking the
bed of a water-course, in two hours reached a comparatively level space,
which, my friend informed me, was _la cour de l'ancienne Noblesse_, and
the spot where high festivals of the Nukehevans were held. The court was
a parallelogram, paved with smooth, round stones, and on three sides
surrounded by native-built houses, unoccupied, but very large and
commodious, all in good repair, and ready for a perspective feast. At
the lower ends of the square coursed a little stream, and the place was
dark with shade of lofty cocoanuts, bread-fruit, iron-wood, maple and
gigantic hibiscus. All was silent, gloomy and deserted, the imperative
decrees of Taboo preserved it sacred from native footsteps, during the
intervals between their sacrifices and feasts--even our
_cumulees_--boys, made a wide circuit, with bowed heads and averted
faces.

Closely scrutinizing this field of heathenish revels, we continued on
up the ravine, and in a few minutes familiarly paid our respects to the
King's father, by unceremoniously bobbing through his doorway, and
slapping him smartly on the back.

The hut was large, in accordance with the position, rank and wealth of
the owner. A trickling rivulet in front filled a scooped-out bowl in the
rocks, some yards in diameter, and then flowed over a little natural
channel, worn at the side, like the gutter to a fountain. Around and
above, the cocoanuts were rustling in the sea-breeze.

We were cordially greeted by the host, who was seated on his hams and
heels, with no other apparel than a _maro_ wound around the loins, and a
necklace of straggling, snow-white hairs hanging on his meagre breast;
it was the honored beard of his ancestors, which was, I suppose,
retained merely to swear by, as it did not appear either valuable or
ornamental. He was a remarkable and venerable Goblin, and he informed us
that his existence comprised nine hundred moons. This would have made
him somewhere verging on eighty years; but he appeared as aged as
Saturn.

He was tatooed all over the body and limbs, face alone exempted. It must
have occupied as much time to delineate him as it did Rafael to fresco
the galleries of the Vatican! But his hide was so ancient and
worm-eaten, that many fine touches were almost illegible. Around his
knees were playing two little dusky imps, scarcely a year old! God knows
where they came from--may have been a present, as it is all the fashion
among the Marquesas. Nevertheless, he regarded them with the most
affectionate interest, and watched their every movement, even to sucking
his mouldering toes and pulling his grizzly top-knot, with the tenderest
solicitude. Presently they crawled in front of the dwelling, and
actually toddled into the pool. I instantly started up to fish them out,
but the old Goblin only chuckled, and the little elfs kept bobbing about
the surface of the water with the buoyancy of corks--like junk bottles
in a lea-way--crowing and smiling bravely. I never was more amazed, and
taking a dip myself afterwards, found the basin up to my neck.

Native attendants soon produced clusters of cocoanuts, with the crowns
of their heads knocked off, ready for consumption. We made cocoanut-milk
punch--every man his own punch-bowl; with a sprinkle of lime-juice, and
syrup of powdered sugar-cane--gently agitated within the milky
shells--which made as delicious a beverage as ever a regent brewed: it
is worth a trip to Polynesia alone to enjoy it. Then exploring the
resources of the baskets, we discovered a case of sardines, bread,
bananas, and oranges; made luncheon, and fed the children on the crumbs.

Pipes were filled, and a native boy quickly brought forth two sticks,
and cutting the hardest to a point, and holding the other firmly fixed
against a stone, began to wear a groove with the pointed stick in the
softest by a measured movement along the surface. Presently a fine dust
was deposited at the lower end; the white wood turned dark; quicker and
quicker, stronger and stronger traversed the pointed stick; the dust
began to smoke, some dry fibres and leaves were laid across, and in an
instant burst into a blaze. The operation lasted three or four minutes,
and was skilfully performed. I had plenty of lucifers in my pocket, but
not having witnessed the native process of striking fire, and thinking a
little wholesome exertion would not injure the young _Cumulee_, I did
not produce them.

Throwing ourselves at full length on the mats, we devoted the time to
conversation and tobacco. The old Goblin fascinated me, I could not
remove my gaze from his lineaments, but by and by I opined that there
was a singular odor pervading the habitation; and upon reflection, I
experienced something unpleasant upon first entering; but then there are
so many villanous compounds surrounding native dwellings, and being
moreover deeply engaged brewing punch, eating luncheon, smoking, and
surveying the Goblin, I forgot other matters for the time being, until a
pause in the conversation induced me to enquire the cause of the
annoyance. Ah! said a Frenchman, giving a few agonizing sniffs, and
looking around: _Ah! le voici!_ Casting my eyes upward, I beheld a long
object, enveloped in native cloth and tappa, hanging slantingly across a
beam, like a _fantoccino_, just before throwing a summerset on the
slack-wire! It was a near relative, lately deceased, who from an
elevated and unchristian notion of respect, had been suspended under the
paternal roof, until dry enough to be deposited in a raised native tomb
of stones and thatch. Dropping the pipe, I gained my feet, and bidding
our antique host a hasty farewell, rushed into the open air; where,
after swallowing a modicum of eau de vie neat, I swore a mental vow
never more to visit Nukehevan nobility!

Returning towards the harbor, we tarried to exchange a kind word with
the Catholic priest attached to the garrison. It is needless to add that
he had made no proselytes among the natives, and when, from idle
curiosity or merriment, they attended mass, and were under no
apprehensions from _Franee_ bayonets, they delighted themselves by
mimicking every word and gesture of the good father.

During the jaunt we encountered two or three American or English
vagabonds, residing permanently on the island, subsisting on _poee
poee_ and raw fish, lost to all the tastes and habits of civilized
society, making a livelihood by trading with ships touching at the
group, or idolized by the islanders for their skill in the distillation
of deleterious intoxicating drinks from the dragon-tree, kava, or
sugar-cane. They are a class of persons, who, if not naturally
unprincipled, are driven by harsh usage to desert from the whalers, and
the contrast of the indolent voluptuous life of the islands, with the
hardships and disease of shipboard, is more than sufficient to reconcile
them to the change.

The whaling interests of the United States have now attained so vast a
magnitude, that it is high time our government should take measures
exclusively for their protection in these seas. The enterprise of our
hardy fishermen has driven the ships of all other nations almost
entirely off the ground of competition. In the Pacific, and its
continental seas alone, we have a mighty fleet of more than five hundred
whale ships, manned in the aggregate by twenty thousand seamen. The
larger portion of these vessels are fitted for the right whale, and seek
their prey on the northern coasts of America or Asia, in high southern
latitudes, and latterly, with extraordinary success, on the shores of
Japan and sea of Okokts. The sperm fishermen cruise near the equator,
and not only are frequently surrounded by dangerous navigation, amidst
islands or reefs little known, but have also to guard against surprise,
and the treachery of savages of the uncounted groups of Polynesia;
unavailingly at times, for, in addition to the long catalogue of crimes
committed in this ocean, was that of the capture of the ship Triton, in
December of '47, by the natives of Sydenham Island--one of the King's
Mill cluster--a number of whose crew were inhumanly massacred.

It does not necessarily follow that the natives are always to
blame--gross outrages sometimes demand prompt vengeance;--but yet a
small squadron of double-decked corvettes, of light draught, and ample
stowage, constantly cruising, and touching among these groups, would
tend in a great degree to shield our whalers from harm, and the natives
themselves from the imposition and injustice so commonly practised upon
them.

Again, if there were stringent laws for the internal government of this
branch of our marine--were masters not allowed under any circumstances
to keep the sea beyond the usual period comprised in a fishing season,
before visiting port, and the scurvy considered a capital offense, we
should meet with fewer instances of desertions or mutiny, and fewer
diseased, vicious vagabonds drifting about these islands at the mercy of
the natives.



CHAPTER XLVIII.


On the 28th of September, the well-used chains and anchors were raised
from their beds, and with a light wind we drifted slowly from the lonely
bay of Anna Maria. The sun arose the next morning, and a dim blue haze
alone pointed to the spot on the ocean where lie the Marquesas.

The fifth day after sailing from Nukeheva, we approached the
north-western clusters of the Society group, and passed a number of low
coralline islands, appearing like a raft of upright spars adrift upon
the sea. One was Kruzenstein's--named by Kotzbue, in compliment to his
old commander.

At sunrise of the following day, we were before Tahiti. The land rises,
grand and imposing, to the elevation of seven thousand feet. One
core-like ridge runs along the summit, branching off into numberless
steep valleys and acclivities, down to the water's edge. The peaks
pierce the sky bold and strikingly--thrown up into the most fantastic
and grotesque shapes--while more singular than all, cradled between a
great gap of the heights, is the Diadem of Faatoar, having a dozen
pointed elevations circling around a crown, like the serrated teeth of a
saw. Nearer towards the bases of these ridges are low points jutting
into the ocean, crowded with cocoanut trees--then a narrow belt of
lagoon, and the whole girdled by a snow-white wreath of foam,
embroidered on the coral reefs.

The morning was cloudless. To the southward, rising clearly and bright,
tinged by the glorious sun, undraped by a single atom of mist or vapor,
was the Island of Aimeo, equally varied and novel in its strange
formations; and when at a later day we sailed around it, while the
different phases were brought in clear relief against the heavens--we
discovered battlements, embrasures, pyramids--ruined towers with
terraces and buttresses--a cathedral with domes and spire--all so
fantastically blended in one beautifully verdant picture, as to leave
the imagination in doubt as to its reality!

We hove to in sight of the harbor of Papeetee. The French ships of war,
with chequered rows of ports, were lying with drooping flags and not a
breath of air, whilst with us the loud trade-wind was tearing crests
from the waves, and the frigate trembling under her top-sails.

A gun, and jack at the fore, and shortly there came dancing over the
waves, in a whale-boat, an officer, Monsieur le Pilot! Two hours we
remained outside, awaiting the breeze to fill the Port--and then wearing
round, the ship leaped, replete with life and vigor--every seam of the
stout canvas straining--towards an entrance through a coral gateway. The
sea was light green on either side of the aperture, barely wide enough
to admit us, when, at the turning point, the helm was put down, and the
strong wind bore the huge hull through the blue channel into the smooth
water within. Sails were brailed up, and at the proper moment down fell
the ponderous anchor--splash--with its unfettered cable rumbling to the
coral beds of Papeetee! What if there chanced to be a group of mermaids,
parting their wet locks, in the emerald villas below? Nothing! Crashing
through the snowy groves and shelly mansions, goes the ruthless anchor,
alike indifferent to all!

We were locked in by the reef--no ungainly ledge of black, jagged
rocks--no frightful barrier to make tempest-tost mariners shudder--but a
smooth parapet of coral, just beneath the surface, with the outer face
like a bulwark of adamant, where the swelling billows vainly expend
their rage, and then bubble rippling over in a liquid fringe of creamy
foam.

Skirting along the semi-circular shores of the harbor, is the town of
Papeetee. Lines of houses and cottages half smothered in glossy green
foliage--pretty, square-built, veranda'd, straw-colored dwellings and
barracks of the French--and midway between reef and shore, a little
bouquet of an islet, teeming with cocoanut, banian, bread-fruit and the
iron-wood tree, with its filmy, feathery, delicate tissue of leaves and
branches--all drooping over a few cane-thatched sheds and a _demi-lune_
battery of open-mouthed cannon.

Night came, and the breeze was done. Not a sigh disturbed the tranquil
water--the towering ships were mirrored and reflected by the
moonlight--red fires were shedding twinkling glooms from fishing canoes,
through the moon's silver flame, athwart the sparkling phosphorescent
surf--the sharp peaks of Tahiti were hanging high above, with
Aimeo dimly visible in the distance! Presently bugles from the
ships of war rang out clear and shrill in the calm night--drums
rattled--tap--tap--tap--flash--flash--the nine o'clock guns, and as the
reverberating echoes from the reports went dying away from valley to
valley, there came the clash of cymbals from the shore, and then the
full crash of a brass band, pouring forth the most delightful melody
from Norma; whilst the low "shaling" roar on the reef beat time in a
deep musical base.

We thought Papeetee by far the loveliest spot that we had seen, not
excepting charming little Hilo!

Pomàree's flag and the French tricolor floated side by side. The queen
was handsomely pensioned, as were also the chiefs, the French having
kindly taken possession of their heritage, under a forcible
protectorate. People may prate an ocean of nonsense about the injustice
of the thing, but the fact is, France wished colonies in the
Pacific--Tahiti was one selected, and the English themselves afforded an
excellent pretext to make the acquisition. Suppose, for
example--Catholics had been first in the field, and, by their
instigation, Protestant or Puseyite missionaries had been kicked into
the sea, would John Bull in his lion's mantle have calmly beheld his
subjects maltreated for heresy, in striving to preach the Gospel among
the heathen? No! not without baring his claws, and making them felt in
the tawny hides of every savage in Polynesia! Ay! and, if need be, in
white skins, also, though they had been French!

Then what sickly sympathy it is to talk of the wrongs and aggressions,
or the rights and laws of European nations as having a bearing upon a
handful of barbarians, subjected to the savage sway of tyrannical native
masters, when contrasted with the benefits conferred upon the world at
large, by their being under the enlightened rule of a civilized
government!

The French experienced hard fighting and much difficulty in subduing
Tahiti; and, even after all the trouble, loss of blood and money, it
seems highly probable that they are dissatisfied with their conquest,
and may shortly resign it: at any rate, the expenditure attending the
occupation must be very great, and it appears a mistaken policy in
retaining so large a garrison. There were thirteen hundred troops,
exclusive of ships of war always in port, posted in Tahiti--far more
than needed to overawe the natives, and too few to withstand a land
attack from a foreign foe. Trade is a mere bagatelle--the French have no
commerce--and whale-ships have deserted Papeetee, since most of the
produce is consumed by the garrison. The population, as in all
Polynesia, are constitutionally opposed to labor--they cannot bend their
energies to any steady employment, and, when compelled to work, they
pine away like unhappy monkeys--thus the soil, though rich and tillable,
is only made to produce a small quantity of arrow root, sugar, and
cocoanut oil.

Fortifications were progressing rapidly, and the harbor is very
susceptible of defence. Two heavy batteries, _en cavalier_, which, when
completed, were to mount sixteen traversing guns, mostly eighty-pounder
shells, will rake the entrance through the reef, at point-blank range;
twelve more cannon on Pomàree's little islet of Motunata, cross the fire
from the shore battery, and sweep in every direction over the
reef-seaward. There are besides, four small block houses, perched on the
salient spurs of the mountains in rear of the town, with each a long gun
which can be brought to bear on the harbor. All the world bear witness
with what skill the French use artillery on land, and it must be an
intrepid commander who attempts a demonstration on the island by the
harbor of Papeetee.

The Governorship was placed in the hands of M. Lavaud, to whom, with the
officers of the garrison, and officers afloat of the fine frigate,
Syréne, and steamer, Gassendi, we were indebted for many acts of
courtesy. They were all extremely Republican, under their reversed
tricolor.

Since the occupation of the Society and Marquesas groups, Tahiti has
been made the See of a bishop. But although the Catholics have
prosecuted their labors with laudable and philanthropic zeal, yet,
strange as it may be, they have not met with the same success as their
fellow missionaries in the Hawaiian Islands. Nor have the Tahitians,
together with the inhabitants of many of these southern groups,
forgotten the early truths taught them by their kind Protestant
teachers, and they still lament the untimely fate of John Williams: a
man of the noblest piety, possessed of the undaunted resolution and
industry of the Apostles of old, who fell a martyr to his faith and
labors, among the very savages he went to reform.

There were two excellent gentlemen, stationed at Papeetee from the
London Board of Protestant Missions--Messrs. Howe and Thompson--who, if
sound sense, unbiassed by narrow-minded sectarian prejudice, combined
with great practical information, and knowledge of the native character,
can be of service in their mission, they have indeed the true elements
of success. From the opportunities we had of judging in Papeetee and the
vicinity, there certainly was exhibited a more modest and correct
deportment among the natives than we observed elsewhere; and although
morality, strictly speaking, is unknown, there was still less outward
licentiousness visible than was a matter of hourly occurrence in the
other groups.


     _Note._--In all the lighter sketches upon Polynesia, I cannot
     resist paying the faint tribute of my own individual admiration to
     Mr. Melville. Apart from the innate beauty and charming tone of his
     narratives, the delineations of Island life and scenery, from, my
     own personal observation, are most correctly and faithfully drawn.

     At Nukeheva and Tahiti I made inquiry about his former associates,
     and without in the least designing to sully the enchanting romance
     of his fair Typee love, I may mention having seen a "nut-brown"
     damsel, named Fayaway, from that valley, who apparently was maid of
     all work to a French Commissary of the garrison. She was attired in
     a gaudy yellow robe de chambre, ironing the Crapeau's trowsers!
     _Credat Judeus!_ There was also a diminutive young _oui oui_
     tumbling about the mats, so it is presumable she had become
     childish of late; yet the proof is not strong, for it is quite as
     much in vogue among these southern groups to change names and give
     away infants, as the fashion in the Sandwich Islands of knocking
     out a couple of front teeth to evince grief at the decease of near
     friends or relatives, and the nymph alluded to may not be the
     original Fayaway after all.

     Mr. Melville's friend, Dr. Johnstone, whom he has immortalized in
     Omoo, was excessive wroth, and refused to be pacified, resolving
     shortly to prosecute the English publishers for libel. He politely
     permitted me to transcribe some items from his dose book, declaring
     however, that the "embrocation" so relished by the Long Ghost, was
     a villanous preparation, having the least taste of gin in the
     world, and made up from laudanum, turpentine, and soap linament!
     Here is the memorandum:--


                       "Ship, Lucy Ann, Captain Vinton.
                   October 10th, 1842. Melvil Herman. Stocks.

                Embrocation                                    75
          19th.     Do                                         75
                                                             ----
                                                            $1 50"


     I felt no inclination to task it, since I found the Doctor's other
     prescriptions unexceptionable. The Ghost must have been seriously
     indisposed; he had a large quantity: was supposed at the period of
     our visit to be in Sydney, or after gold in California, but, with
     his ubiquitous propensities, may have been in both places. Captain
     Bob, of the Calaboosa, was "muckee-moi," so was Father Murphy, all
     under the sod. Charming Mrs. Bell had taken to hard drink, _before_
     Mr. Melville's rencontre, and may have been slightly elevated on
     that occasion. H. M. _ci-devant_ Consul, Mr. Wilson, was in the
     like vinous state, and occupied his leisure in the pursuit of
     shells at the Navigator Islands. Shorty was still devoting his
     talents to the culture of potatoes at Aimeo, and strongly suspected
     of shooting his neighbor's cattle.



CHAPTER XLIX.


The rain fell in torrents the day succeeding our arrival, and it was not
until Sunday that I had courage to set foot on shore: then I went solus,
and jumping on the beach, two minutes' walk found me in the Broom Road,
a broad lane running nearly the entire circuit of Tahiti, within a
stone's throw of the surf-locked lagoons, shaded like a bower by
magnificent trees and undergrowth, that hang their drooping, green arms
in grateful coolness, to shield the traveller from the heat of tropical
suns. Notwithstanding mud from recent rains, the roads and lateral paths
were thronged with natives: I was surprised to find them so much
superior in physical mould and beauty to those of other islands we had
visited. The men were well proportioned, and some with a noble bearing;
the women were very tall, scarcely one less than five feet eight; many
of the young girls were exquisitely shaped, with small hands and feet.
Moreover, they had borrowed a nicer taste in dress from the French, and
their gowns and bonnets were very becomingly worn.

I splashed and trudged about the Broom Road until evening, and then,
following the tide of population, entered the well laid out grounds of
the gubernatorial mansion. The lawns and alleys were crowded with
natives, officers and soldiers, listening to the evening music; this
over, I devoted the evening wandering from café to café, and wondering
if I were in France or Tahiti. Lights were gleaming from every little
auberge and cabaret of the town--the tables within covered with pipes
and bottles of red wine--soldiers were drinking and chanting favorite
songs of Beranger; and one inebriated sapper, meeting me in the road,
placed both hands on my shoulders, and roared out, with but an
indifferent appreciation of music:


     "J'ai connu Moreau--Victor--Argerau--
     Et Murat--Et Massen--a--a--
               Vash a fling a flong--tra a long, a long--!"


The streets were filled with groups of gaily-attired native girls, who,
with low, musically laughing voices, were chattering their soft, vowelly
dialect, unceasingly, interrupted occasionally by some gallant
Frenchman, who would perhaps give a stray damsel a chuck under the chin,
or a hasty clasp around the waist, and pass on, regardless of their
lively sallies. Then overgrown gend'armes would be perceptible in the
distance, by their white cotton aguillettes and clashing sabres, when
the nymphs would disappear like frightened partridges amid the adjacent
groves, and all were hushed in an instant, until the dreadful police had
passed by, when they would again emerge and occupy their former ground.
Then, too, the light yellowish tinge of plastered houses, so often seen
in France--the thatched cane huts of the natives--sentinels pacing the
ramparts--near by, a brass field-piece gazing up the road--and beneath
the spreading bread fruit, or under the stately trunk of a cocoanut, a
soldier in red breeches, resting on the shining barrel of his musket.
All this, with the profusion of tropical foliage, the grand scenery of
the island, and a thousand other novel scenes, so strangely contrasted
with _demi-bar-bare_ life, that I became quite bewildered, and was glad
to make the acquaintance of an agreeable French officer, who, with a
bottle of Bourdeaux, soon brought me to my senses.

I passed the night on shore, in the warehouse of an American merchant,
and should probably have slept well, in defiance of musquitoes, had not
a choice coterie of _sous-officers_, in an adjoining cabaret,
within-arm's length of my window, made vociferous music, by screaming
Republican airs until daylight, very much incited, no doubt, by
continual cries of _Encore du vin, mon cher_, and the usual ringing
accompaniment of bottles and glasses.

Rising betimes, I donned walking dress, and after breakfast, in company
with my friend Larry and an officer of the French Marine, who spoke the
Tahitian dialect perfectly well, we left Papeetee for an excursion up
the Broom Road towards Point Venus.

The rain had quenched the dust, and there was a grateful freshness
clinging around the lime and orange groves. The sun had not yet drank
the sparkling diamond-drops of dew trembling upon the guava thickets,
nor had the breeze shaken a leaf of the towering cocoanuts, nor vibrated
a single sphere of bread-fruit that hung like pendulums from amid the
glossy leaves. The air, too, was heavy with perfume of orange and
jessamine--and we went larking along the quiet road--kicking up our
heels and whooping joyously--pausing a moment to catch a gleaming view
of the slender peaks above us--the conspicuous Diadem of Faatoar--the
green savannahs sloping up the valleys, or the blue sea and reef as yet
undazzled by the rising sun.

We dallied frequently with young cocoanuts, and said _aroha_--love to
you--to any lithe _vahinees_ we encountered in our path. Once we tarried
for repose and beer at a French auberge, and then, without further
break to our voyage, we continued on along the curves of the reef-locked
shores for some miles, when a lane branched away to the left, and we
came to the new country house of Pomàrce at Papoa.

It stands on a narrow coralline embankment, within a bound of the
smooth, pebbly beach--surrounded by noble trees, and overhanging
clusters of the richest tropical foliage. The building is an oblong
oval, one hundred feet by thirty. Through the centre runs a range of
square, polished columns of light koa wood, eighteen feet high,
supporting a cross-sleeper the whole length of the roof: from this beam,
drooping down at an angle of about fifty degrees, were a great number of
white, glistening poles, radiating with perfect evenness and regularity
to within six feet of the ground, where they were notched and tied
securely with braids of variegated sennit to ridge-pieces fitted in
posts around the circuit of the building. The roof was thatched with the
long, dried, tapering leaves of pandannus, folded on slim wands, and
plaited in regular lines, down to the eaves, where, just within, fell a
few inches of plain fringed matting nicely stitched to the roof. Inside
this curtain, again, were the perpendicular sides of the dwelling,
constructed of the same white poles of hibiscus as those upholding the
roof, and all lashed by braid to cross sections between the
posts--leaving narrow spaces between each pole, and but two arches for
doorways on the side opposite the sea.

The house was quite new, and indeed hardly completed, but with the
breeze blowing through the open trellis-worked walls, and the great
lofty roof hanging lightly above, it presented the most airy, fanciful
structure conceivable, and was admirably adapted to the climate and
habits of the Islanders.

The floor was carpeted with dried grass and rushes, six inches deep;
mats were scattered around, groups of swarthy natives were lounging
listlessly on the grass, and bands of girls and women engaged weaving
mats, scraping cocoanut shells to transparent thinness, playing cards,
or sleeping on the laps of others.

The Queen was absent on a visit to the island of Aimeo. She was
described as a brave, temperate, fat old lady of about forty years, who
has never yet been able to overcome youthful prejudices against European
style of living--and although the French have built and furnished her a
pleasant residence in Papeetee, she is still happy to kick off
etiquette, with her shoes, and fly to native pleasures and kindred. She
was blessed with a large family, and six were being educated in Aimeo by
the English Mission, who with great liberality would voluntarily defray
the expenses of their education, as well as of the children of the high
chiefs; but the Governor very properly sets aside portions of their
pensions for that purpose, which is undoubtedly the best use the money
can be put to. As Pomàree detests the French, and cannot be persuaded to
assume, except for a moment, European manners and customs, she neither
assumes any of their virtues, but leads a rollicking, sportive life,
surrounded by gay troupes of frolicsome attendants--spending the
remainder of her five thousand dollar stipend in decking her dark-eyed
favorites with pretty dresses and trinkets.

Mr. Ellis has written an interesting poem, filled with virtuous
indignation in relation to the poor Queen's wrongs, and there is one
couplet which is unfortunately too true--


     "Who would believe that England would have left
     That _trusting_ Queen thus suffering and bereft?"


The fact is, the beautiful, princess Aimata that was, is now by her own
imprudence low in purse, and having acquired the habit of coquetting too
extensively with tradesmen and merchants of Papeetee, she finds
difficulty in getting trusted before her pension falls due. Still, with
all her foibles, she was universally acknowledged to be a woman of
strong sense and character, adored by her subjects, and respected by
foreigners.

After idling an hour with a few of the young ladies of the court, who
were making preparations for their sovereign's reception, we left the
Palace, and keeping along the shelly strand, passed through a sacred
grove of iron-wood, whose gauze-like branches waved over the tombs of
the ancient kings of Tahiti. There was naught to be seen, save heaps of
mouldering coral ruins--thence crossing a point of the reef, which
closed upon the beach, we reached one of many indentations of the
Island, Matavai bay, and shortly afterwards came upon a native
school-house. The building was large and dilapidated--the rush-laid
floor was occupied with forms for the scholars, who were seated about in
rows. Some of the girls had very pretty, attractive faces, and nearly
all of both sexes wore around the brow and hair, chaplets of braid
entwined with red and white flowers--orange or jessamine--having
tasteful tassels of fresh blossoms hanging down behind the ear. They
were not the most quiet school in the world, but applied to their tasks
with great spirit and quickness. The teacher was an odd fish in his
way--of the dwarf species--scarcely five feet in altitude--but from his
peculiar build, he looked to me growing larger and larger every instant.
The head was immense--hair white and cropped--the face expressed
firmness, benevolence and intelligence. His body and arms were those of
a giant, while the lower limbs tapered away to nothing, half shrouded in
blue tappa, and over all he wore a flowing, yellow shirt.

The roll was called, and I noticed a few urchins, who were tardy in
arriving, whimpering, from which I surmised they were at times indulged
with the bamboo. A hymn was sung in good time; and although the girls
had soft clear voices, there was little musical taste. In conclusion, an
extemporaneous prayer was made--all kneeling--by a venerable native, who
was afflicted, like many of his race, with _elephantiasis_. At the word
"Amen," the little pupils gave a joyous whoop, and leaped pell-mell
through the doorways.

Returning by the Broom Road, which is never beyond a few yards from the
sea, we paid a visit to another hencoop habitation, owning for its lord,
Arupeii, brother to the Queen's last husband, and his wife a cousin to
Pomàree herself. They were a fine-looking couple, and the chieftainess,
with her pretty baby, struck me as particularly handsome.

Dinner was preparing, and we passed the time pleasantly, lounging on
mats, and smoking pipes. The first preparation for the feast was made by
a plump girl, in an extremely brief petticoat, who ascended a tree above
our heads, and picked an armful of broad round leaves, which afterwards
were used for a tablecloth. They were carefully lapped one upon the
other in rows on the ground, and mats and low stools placed near them.
The girl, whom we christened Jack, from a peculiar roll in her gait,
assisted by two more attendants, ranged a close platoon of youthful
cocoanuts, with mouths open like lids, along the centre of the board; on
either side were laid transparent shell goblets--the dark filled with
sea-water and the light with fresh. Thus much for the table-service. Now
came in on a huge wooden platter a baked pig, his dear little trotters,
tail, and even to the extremity of his snout, crisped and browned most
invitingly. In a trice Jack twisted a brace of leaves around her
fingers, seized the tempting grunter, and hey! presto! no articulator of
anatomical celebrity, no, not even the professional carver mentioned by
Sir Walter, who dissected becaficos into such multitudes of morsels,
could have more cunningly divided the dish, giving each of the company
an equal share. Now came a stack of roasted bread-fruit. Jack, with
gloves of more fresh leaves on her hands, peeled, halved, tore out the
seeds, and tossed them from platter to table, with the dexterity of a
juggler at his tricks. Then there came piles of taro, and snow-white
yams; heaps of oranges, and golden pineapples, with bunches of bananas
in the offing.

We were six at table, seated, _à la Turque_, on mats. The servants first
handed shells of fresh water; and, by the way, every one knows who
invented steam-engines, playing-cards, and pin-making; yet in the
absence of positive information, I claim the finger-glass as of Tahitian
origin, and wish it to be generally understood. Then falling to, and
with a fragment of bread-fruit crushed within the hand, and a delicate
bit of crisped pig dipped in salt-water, by way of castors, we munched
and sucked our digits alternately, until the heavy edibles were well
nigh consumed; when laving again, dessert of fruits were distributed,
the goblets once more went round, we rinsed our throats with cocoanut
milk, and thus ended the feast. We had a _chasse_ of pipes and brandy;
but this last was purely an innovation on a native dinner.

Our comely hostess was treated with great deference and respect, none of
the attendants presuming to sit in her presence; indeed, we were
entertained by distinguished nobs of the true Tahitian nobility, and all
was _maitai_. Previous to the repast, we had dispatched a courier on
horseback to the Port for wine, and, before dark, he returned, with but
the breakage of a single bottle, and somewhat inebriated--so we judged
he had broken the vessel after tasting the contents; but the matter was
not satisfactorily proven; there was still abundance, and the cups
circulated freely.

The pretty chieftainess smiled, the baby took a sip and crowed like a
chicken. Arupeii facing me, cross-legged, laughed outright, and related
by signs, and a few words I could comprehend, many reminiscences of war
and battles--ships of war and their commanders, with unpronounceable
names--all of whom, I assured him, were my intimate friends and near
relations.

Later in the evening, we walked to a running stream hard by, and, with
the full moon above us, and while


               "Hesper, the star with amorous eye,
     Shot his fine sparkle from the deep blue sky,"


twinkling over the grotesque heights of Aimeo, the air laden with the
odor of orange and jessamine, we waded into the brook, and diverted
ourselves by plashing water upon a group of maids of honor who had
followed us.

Before we knew it, a heavy black cloud had stolen from the shade of the
high mountains, and we had barely time to snatch our garments from the
grass and scamper through the grove, before the rain was upon us: it
passed as quickly--the wine was exhausted--the chieftainess presented me
with a shell goblet, and bidding good night to our noble entertainers we
were escorted to the palace of Pomàree, where the chief in waiting had
large fine mats laid for couches, curtained by rolls of tappa, and with
the moonlight glancing on the foaming reef, visible through the
cage-built house, and the water rippling on the sandy shore, we betook
ourselves to rest. Our repose was shortly disturbed by a regiment of
juveniles who marched before the palace, chaunting, with great
vociferation, the Marseilles hymn, giving the word "battalion" in full
chorus; then, much to our astonishment, they struck up "Jim along,
Josey," and concluded the opera with "Dan Tucker," set to native words.
At this stage of the concert, our host, by request, made a few remarks,
and the performers vanished.

Fleas were excessively troublesome, and, during the night, to get rid of
the annoyance, we had several dips in the lagoon, which was an easy
matter, since the water was nearly at the foot of our couches. Once I
was on the point of shifting my bed of mats to the beach, under a clump
of cocoanuts, but our host would not hear of it--declaring it was _ita
maitai! ita maitai!_--impossible! not good! Indeed I afterwards found
the practice was never indulged in by the natives--for should one of
these heavy nuts--and they are very large--many containing a full quart
of milk, to say nothing of the weight of shell and husk--falling from an
elevation of nigh an hundred feet, chance to alight on the cocoanut of
the sleeper, it is reasonable to suppose it would damage his ideas or
slumber: besides, large rats ascend the trees, and sometimes detach the
fruit, while knawing into the tender nut: crabs, too, the sagacious
creatures, crawl up the trunks whose branches incline over the rocky
shores, cut the stem with their claws, and the concussion attending the
fall splits them wide open, or cracks them ready for eating. I never saw
them at these pranks, but have the information from reliable authority.
As the daylight guns from the Port of Papeetee came booming and echoing
among the mountains, we sprang to our feet, swallowed a cooling draught
of cocoanut milk, enjoyed another bathe in the stream, and then trudged
gaily back to town.

A few days later, we were visited by our hospitable friend, Arupeii! He
was shown every attention, and, at the usual hour, placed his heels
under the gun-room mahogany. He dispensed with forks, and ate
indiscriminately of viands, vegetables, and other dainties; occasionally
storing away bits of bread and ham in the flowing bosom of his shirt,
for, no doubt, a more convenient season. He never let a bottle pass him,
either of port, sherry, or malt, appreciating brandy most, and having a
fancy for drinking all from tumblers. With these little solecisms, he
got on famously, and, at the termination of the dinner, patted his
portly person and shouted _maitai_.

I do not know whether it be considered with the Tahitian aristocracy
complimentary to covet a neighbor's goods, but certainly my stout
chieftain was the most shameless beggar I ever remembered to have any
dealings with. He volunteered to accept hatbands, plugs of tobacco,
sealing wax, pistols, newspapers, anything and everything he saw, until,
at the end of the third glass of strong waters after dinner, he
requested, as a particular favor, the mess candlesticks, when, losing
all patience, I told him his boat was waiting, so he hitched up his
trousers, offered to rub noses, and with a present for his handsome wife
stowed in the capacious shirt, we shook hands, and away he paddled on
shore. This was the last we saw of Arupeii.

The frigate was always, Sundays excepted, surrounded by canoes filled
with the natives, and they must have made a golden harvest, to judge
from the immense quantities of fruits constantly coming over the
gangways--so great was the demand for cocoanuts, that they were rafted
off from the shore in strings, like water-casks. The canoes were
awkwardly hewn out of rough logs, with ill-arranged, misshapen
outriggers; quite unlike the buoyant, swift little water vehicles of the
Sandwich Islanders.

One day, attended by a tidy little reefer, we hired a clumsy, crazy
equipage, with a copper and indigo-colored monster in the stern to
paddle us about the reef and harbor. It was low water, and as our canoe
drew but an inch or two of water outside--she was half-full inside--we
were able to skim over the shallowest parts; and, by the by, there is a
strange anomaly in the tides of Papeetee, which are not in the least
influenced by the moon--there are many ways of accounting for it--I only
speak of the fact--we ever found a full sea at twelve, and low water at
six.

In many places, a few feet below the surface, we glided over what seemed
the most exquisite submarine flower-gardens, corals of all colors, and
of every imaginable shape--plant, sprig, and branching antlers--of
purple, blue, white, and yellow--variegated star and shell fish, and
narrow clear blue chasms and fissures of unfathomable depths between;
but what was equally beautiful to behold, schools of superbly-colored
fishes swimming and darting about in the high blue rollers as raising
their snowy crests just before breaking upon the outer wall of the reef,
the finny tribes were held in a transparent medium, like that seen
through a crystal vase.

A heavy shower interrupted our aquatic researches, and we sought shelter
on Pomàree's diminutive island of Motuuata. It hardly covers an acre,
but is a most charming retreat beneath the drooping foliage, and I did
not wonder at the jolly queen's taste. She never goes there now: the
_Franees_ were busy with pick and barrow on parapet and bastion;
blacksmiths and artizans were hammering away at the forges, and, beneath
the trees and sheds, soldiers and sailors were munching long rolls of
bread and drinking red wine. Who can wonder that the poor Queen has
forsaken her former haunts, when her cane-built villas are polluted by
foreign tread, and the weeping groves that sheltered her troops of
languishing revellers, the "cushions of whose palms" had clasped the
smooth trunks of all--where merriment, games, feast, and wassail went on
unceasingly, in all the native abandonment of island life and pleasure;
now to have those scenes so changed by red-breeched _Franees_--the
shelly shores tossed with stone and mortar into embankments for dreaded
cannon, and the grove resounding with stunning sound of hammer and
anvil. Alas! poor Pomàree! recall the bright days of your girlhood, and
curse the hour when you invited the stranger to your kingdom.



CHAPTER L.


Early one morning the Governor and myself left the ship at gunfire, for
a pic-nic among the mountains. We met with no more serious adventure in
our transit from the frigate to the beach, than the capsizing a barrel
of bread, by our stupid Italian valet, belonging to the baker's bumboat,
in which we had been kindly offered a passage to the shore. The loaves
went floating all about the harbor, and we were some minutes rescuing
the manna from Neptune's pocket. Without further mishap we went straight
to the domicile of an English gentleman, who had politely planned the
party. All was prepared, and we set off as the troops of the garrison
were filing into the parade ground for weekly review, and a very
creditable and soldierly appearance they presented.

We made quite a respectable battalion ourselves, so far as numerical
force went. In advance trotted a vigorous _taata_, with a couple of
large, native baskets slung by a pole over his shoulders, loaded with
bottles and provender; at his heels, our own unfortunate esquire,
Giacomo. The Governor, our English friend and myself, constituted the
main body, and the rear guard was composed of three laughter-loving
damsels--straight and tall--with an easy grace of motion, like willows.
One was housekeeper to our friend, and the most beautiful woman in face
and form we had seen in all the islands. Her figure was lithe and clear
as an antelope--hands and feet small, with arms that would have made
Canova start in his dreams. The face was full of sweetness and
expression--eyes soft, full and dark--the mouth and chin large and
rounded--with even, white teeth, and long, glossy-black tresses. Her
name was Teina, and it, had as pretty a sound as the euphonious _ita
ita_, the Tahitians pronounce so melodiously. The other maidens were
Teina's companions, who, having no engagements on hand, accompanied us
as volunteers, or light troops. We tramped blithely along the Broom
Road, whilst the delicious strains from the brass band went sailing up
hill and grove.

Between the radiating mountain-ridges of Tahiti, which diverge from the
longitudinal core of the summit, there are many frightful
precipices--awful splits in the bosom of the earth--narrow, gloomy and
deep, that hang frowningly over the sombre, turbulent torrents of waters
that spring from the misty faces of the upper heights. Our route led up
one of them. Turning up a broad valley, we followed the course of a
rapid stream, crossing and re-crossing where rocks of the adjacent
heights became too precipitous to admit a pathway; and to save time and
unnecessary trouble, we were either ferried over on the shoulders of our
_taata_ convoy, breasting the foaming surge, or once or twice I was
mounted on one of the native damsels--Miss Toanni--who kindly offered
her services. I blush for my want of gallantry, but trust it was in a
measure redeemed by holding her drapery from the water during the
several wadings. She wore for head-dress a broad straw hat with
fluttering ribbons--a figured gingham sac, plaited and buttoned to the
throat, fell loosely over a white under-tunic--and demi-pantaletts
reached below the knees, where the costume terminated by open-worked,
indigo stockings, that would bear washing--while her fingers were
covered with indelible blue rings, of the same material as the hose.

There is very little tatooing among the Tahitians--a few leggings--blue
devices about the neck--rings on fingers or toes, but never a mark on
the face. As civilization advances, they acquire a distaste for these
heathenish skin-paintings. However, I must not lose sight of Toanni. She
had a firm, well-knit frame--wide mouth, fine, brilliant teeth, intended
for service--such as cracking flinty ship-biscuits, or wrenching husks
from cocoanuts--large, mirthsome, dark eyes, with but one flaw to their
beauty, which she enjoyed alike with all the Pacific Islanders--the
whites of the eyes were yellow! Such was Toanni.

Occasionally, when resting within the close shade of the valley, if the
bright eyes of the girls detected the sunny bulbs of _papao_ gleaming
through the surrounding foliage, off they sprang for the fruit, or
climbed the _vai_ for apples, or pretty flowers clustering about the
lower branches, which were soon turned into wreaths or necklaces.

Advancing inland, the lateral valleys converged into one deep gorge,
closing perpendicularly on either hand; and further on, the stream
itself was cut off by a bold, transverse acclivity between the two
sides, like a wall of masonry, more than half way up the lofty shafts
that framed the gorge. From this shelf, more than a thousand feet above
us, there came leaping a thin thread of water--but long before reaching
the base of the grassy barrier, it was diffused in showers of spray, and
poured its sparkling tribute into the deep chasms of the valley.

Leaving the lower bed of the stream, we began mounting upward by a
zig-zag pathway, cut lately by the French on the flat, sheer face of the
mountain. It was at this point, where at an immense height above, the
Tahitians had poised vast masses of rocks, with levers ready pointed, to
hurl death and destruction on the adventurous soldiers who should dare
to attack their stronghold. The natives were posted at the head of the
pass, upon an acclivity, with no other approach from below than a
crumbling goat-path, where the road now leads. They were well provided
with arms and ammunition, cartridges charged at both ends, to prevent
mistakes, and kindly furnished, it is said, by foreign ships of war in
port at the time. Indeed, the French during the last year of the war,
were harrassed night and day. Alarm-fires were blazing on every hill,
feints were made upon the town, and the neighboring posts, until the
troops became worn out, and more than half ill in hospital. Nor were the
French so successful in their different engagements as the superior arms
and discipline of trained soldiers would imply; for in one affair at
Ta-a-a-a, they had fifty slain.

Thus the Tahitians, believing themselves invincible, after a thirteen
month's siege, were at last dislodged through the connivance of a
traitor, who guided their enemies up a narrow ravine, when, after
surmounting almost inaccessible precipices, by the aid of
scaling-ladders and ropes, they succeeded in attaining a foothold on a
sharp spur of the peaks above the pass, and then rushing down completely
surprised and captured the native camp. To the humanity of the French be
it said, every soul was spared. This was the last struggle: tired of
subsisting on roots and berries, enveloped in mists and rain, the
natives sighing once more for their smiling homes by the sea-side,
surrendered in December, 1846.

In the great losses sustained by the French in this warfare, it struck
us very forcibly that there must have been great ignorance and
inexperience in the knowledge of what we call bush-fighting. The
Tahitians do not compare with the North American Indian in either
courage, hardihood, or sagacity; and without any disparagement to French
valor or gallantry, in our innocence we sincerely believed that two
hundred of our back-woods men would have hunted every copper-colored
warrior into the ocean.

After a toilsome struggle we gained the lateral ridge that joined the
two acclivities, and entered an artificial aperture, cut through the
rocks, which was the portal to the native fortress.

The well-defined diadem of Fatoar rose in clear relief against the blue
sky above our heads, and looking around we were in the midst of a
multitude of gullies and ravines, with the bed of the same rivulet we
had left below rolling rapidly at our feet towards its fearful plunge in
a gap of the precipice. A number of wicker-basket osier-built huts for
soldiers were perched about the elevations; the vegetation was rich and
beautiful, wherever a foot of soil gave nourishment; and there were
little gardens, too, with many kinds of vegetables, irrigated by narrow
aqueducts, formed by gutters of canes or bamboos, and fed from adjacent
springs.

The scenery was quite Swiss, could we change tropical suns, running
streams, and unceasing verdure into frosts, glaciers, and avalanches.
But yet it was a romantic solitude, despite the remark of the French
officer in command, who assured me, with a most expressive gesture, that
it was _terriblement mauvais_.

We continued our walk some distance beyond the fort, and coming to a
shaded, smooth tier of rocks, where the stream was bubbling noisily
along, with little sleeping pools half hidden amid the crags, and
opposite a pointed slender peak like a fishing-rod--well nigh punching a
hole in the blue expanse of heaven--we spread our rural banquet on the
rocky table, plunged the bottles in the icy water, and then reclined
luxuriously around, with full resolve to do justice to the feast,
incited by our long tramp and fast.


     "Flow of wine, and flight of cork,
     Stroke of knife, and thrust of fork;
     But, where'er the board was spread,
     Grace, I ween, was never said."


Wings of chickens, slices of ham, roasted bananas, huge loaves of bread,
preserved fish, and cups of wine disappeared with marvellous rapidity.
We did all rational beings could be expected to perform under the
circumstances, but at last were obliged to cry _peccavi!_ Not so our
lady guests--the war of maids and viands had only begun; my friend,
Toanni, thought a trifle of taking five or six of these oily little
sardines at a mouthful, pushing them down with half a banana, and
violent thrust of bread. She devoured ham and fowls with great apparent
relish, wagging her lower jaw, to detach any stray masses of
unmasticated matter that chanced to have escaped the ivory hopper, and
fallen between her capacious cheeks; every few seconds giving her round
fingers a sharp suck, like popping a cork. Truely Toanni's head room was
enormous. Once or twice, when thinking her rage entirely appeased, she
relapsed again, and performed prodigies with rashers of baked pig. I
believe it was Voltaire who designated the illustrious Shakspeare as a
"sublime barbarian;" could he have seen these island maidens, he
certainly would have awarded the palm to Toanni; and I'll wager a flask
of bordeaux--a peculiar weakness of mine--that these Tahitian belles can
eat more, laugh longer, talk faster, all at once or separately, than any
others of their adorable sex the wide world over. I speak advisedly,
and am prepared by documentary evidence to prove it.

Rescuing a small cruse of cogniac from the melée, I reclined upon a
rocky bed, with my heels in the water, for a doze, induced by the
soothing fumes of a pipe! But, alas! hardly were my eyes closed, before
I was startled by the cries of our frolicksome light-hearted companions,
who with a lizard-like facility of grasp, were running up the
perpendicular surface of the peak, clinging and climbing by fibres and
roots, that crept and laced themselves about the crevices of the rocks.
Plucking a quantity of bright flowers, the girls bounded into the
stream, and then commenced weaving never-ending wreaths and chaplets.
This universal fondness for these spontaneous jewels of the earth, with
their love for bathing, are the most innocent and beautiful natural
tastes possessed by the savages of Polynesia.

We were three hours getting back to Papeetee, only pausing for a last
cooling swim in the lower stream.

The evening previous to our departure from Tahiti we attended the usual
soirée of the French Governor. Important despatches had just been
received from France, and the saloons were filled at an early hour with
officers of the ships and garrison, consuls, and merchants, with a
number of foreign ladies, all in _grand tenu_. It was a pleasant gay
little court, with écarté tables and conversation, vivacious punch
handed round at intervals, and maybe a little flirting and love-making,
with "music to fill up the pauses," from the regimental orchestras
stationed near the verandas, while the lawns and grounds were crowded by
laughing groups of natives, talking scandal, perhaps, of the
_oui-oui's_.

The next morning, before day had dawned, our frigate was crowded with
canvas, and assisted by a flotilla of boats from the French squadron, we
were quietly towed outside the coral reef, then taking the trade on the
quarter, we went off with a spanking breeze towards Aimeo.



CHAPTER LI.


With easterly winds we sailed away to the southward. In a fortnight the
sky became dull and gloomy--the rain fell, chill and cold--we tumbled
from our warm beds with a shock into the cold air, for we had been a
long time beneath the clear skies and warm suns of the tropics, and
rather magnified our hardships, in a thermometrical sense.

Still we were bound once more to the realms of civilization, which was
in itself consoling--we buttoned our jackets--declared it was fine
dumb-bell weather, and exercised those implements constantly. Doctor
Faustus, too, lighted his jovial lamp when the night closed around us,
and we blew the steam from a tumbler of _italia_ punch with much
thankfulness and gusto; and those of us who had watches, forthwith bent
our steps to the upper regions.

One cold November night, in a hard squall, whilst the topmen were
furling the lofty sails, two men were hurled from the main-top-gallant
yard, and falling through the lubber's hole of the top, were caught at
the junction of the futtock shrouds. One escaped with severe injuries,
but his unfortunate companion died in thirty minutes. He was a handsome,
active, young fellow, who made my acquaintance during the blockade of
Mazatlan, in old Jack's oyster-boat.

In speaking of the accident, the day after, to an old Swedish
quarter-gunner, called Borlan--"Vy, sir," said he, pulling aside his
huge whiskers and disclosing a broad, jagged seam, the whole length of
the face--"Vy, sir, see here! I vonce toombled vrom a brig's
mast-head--top-gallant yard and all--lying to in a gale of vind. Vell,
sir, I broke mine jaws and leg, but managed to get alongside again, and
was hauled on bort. Vell, sir--vat you dink?--the gott tarn skipper
vanted to lick me for not bringing der yard too!"

After making a latitude of 47° South, the East winds departed, and
taking a gale from the opposite direction, we flew before it for eleven
days at ten miles the hour towards the Chilian coast. Oh! what a
"melancholy main" is this wide expanse of the Pacific! There is, may be,
in the feeling of being near continents or islands in less illimitable
seas, something a little pleasurable; but to be pursuing the same
wearisome, liquid track, for weeks and weeks, with nothing to relieve
the monotony of sky and water, is desolate, indeed!

In the long night-watches, when strong gusts of hail or rain were
whistling by our ears--the top-sails reefed down, though quivering and
struggling, like great birds with cramped pinions, to burst from the
stout cordage and fly away in flakes of snow--the gallant ship would,
like a mettled charger feeling the whip and spur, at times run lightly
and swiftly on the back of a mighty wave, almost as silently, too, as if
gliding on a lake--when, the instant after, heeling from side to side,
she would dash down impetuously amid the tumult of waters, cleaving a
wide road before her!

Mutter your last _avé_, Jack! if you leave the strong ship in nights
like these! Think of the keen-sighted albatross that will pick your eyes
out next morning, if the keener-scented shark has not already rasped
and grated your bones into white splinters within his merciless jaws!
Keep close under shelter of the solid bulwarks, Jack! Cling to your
life-lines! Feel a rope twice aloft before you swing your full weight
upon it! but hold on, Jack! Hold on!

Think of it, ye rich traders, when your big ships come gallantly into
port. Think of the hands that have strained and grasped upon those lofty
spars that now so motionless lift their taper heads, like needle-points,
to the sky. Think of the cold sleet and chilling rain--but above all,
think of poor Jack--take pity on his faults, and extend the helping hand
in his distress.

There was my old marine oracle, Harry Greenfield, muffled in his
pea-coat, braced firmly against the fife-rail, over the wheel, every now
and then slowly twisting his rosy face around the stern, taking a glance
through half-closed eyelids at the angry scud flying overhead, or during
a rapid succession of heavy lurches, when the high masts appeared to
describe three-fourths of a circle against the gloomy sky, he would
pleasantly hint to the briny forecastle-man who grasped the steering
spokes, or the old quartermaster at the compass, "Steady, old Tom
Scofield! Not so much, boys! Touch her lightly, Charley! don't you see
she's flying off?"--and again relapse within the folds of his
pea-jacket.

"Well, old gentleman, what are you pondering on?" "Why, Mr. Blank, I'm
thinking how pleasant it must be to have a menagerie on board ship in a
breeze like this; in case the animals should break loose, the tigers,
bears, hyenas, and the elephant, and the monkeys flying around the decks
in heaps, yelling, howling, and fighting together! Ah! it must be a fine
sight on a dark night, with a lantern up the main rigging. I never
sailed with any of them chaps, 'cept once--he was a royal Bengal
tiger--ah! I made a good bit of money out of him--he had a difficulty
with the cook--." Here the old salt went into a series of chuckles, and
I was forced to beg him to proceed. Emptying his mouth of the grateful
weed, and wringing the sleet from his weather-beaten beard, he
continued: "You remember Jim Hughes, Mr. Blank, the captain of the old
ship's foretop." I nodded. "Well, I fell in with Jim one day in
Greenock; he was just from Orleans, with a pouch full of cash, for he
had been there in the height of the cholera season, and bagged twenty
dollars a day for driving the dead cart." Here old Harry chuckled again.
"Well, sir, Jim was Scotch, and among his people, and very decent they
were; they treated me all the same for being his shipmate. Well, after a
time a brig was ready for sea; Jim was taken as second mate, and me as
bo'sun. We were bound to Calcutta; off Java Head the first mate kicked
the bucket, was tossed overboard, Jim was promoted, for he had larnin',
and I stepped into his shoes." Another chuckle. "We staid in Calcutta
five months, taking in rice, cotton, indigo, and other products of them
countries, when, just before sailing, there came on board the tiger, a
present for the King of England! A noble beast he was: a big strong iron
front cage was built for him abaft the mainmast, and he never once
stopped licking his white tusks, gaping, walking, and lashing his rope
of a tail, for weeks and weeks after leaving the river. We all began to
take a fancy to him, and I believe he did for us, 'cept the cook, who
was a Nubian nigger, and black all the way down his throat. I never see
such an intense darkey! His royal tigership never could bear the sight
of him, probably because he had been trepanned by some of the nigger
race; and whenever 'Lamp Black,' that was his name, came near, his eyes
kindled like live coals, and he growled from the bottom of his belly.
We often cautioned cookey to be careful, and so he was. Well, we touched
at Saint Helena, and right glad old Bengal was, no doubt, for we had got
short of chickens--the only delicacies he seemed to relish--and he
couldn't be coaxed to touch salt junk. A few days after, the Nubian was
handing him his breakfast, with the galley tormentors, a pair of tongs
like, through the small trap door on top of the cage, and, like a fool,
he just took one little peep, to see how tenderly the tiger could suck
the last drop of blood from a chicken's body, when, by one rapid blow of
his paw, he sunk his sinewy claws into the darkey's neck, tore the head
from the trunk, and in a second was crunching the reeking mass between
his grinders. He scoffed bones, wool, and flesh, and there lay the
remains of poor 'Lamp Black' quivering on the rod decks. After this
little difficulty, he became quite civil and civilized, and never caused
us more trouble. By and by, we arrived in London docks, and as they were
a good while preparing a birth for him in the Zoological gardens, Jim
and me exhibited him from a ha'penny to half-a-crown, to men, women, and
children. So you see, sir, we made nigh forty pounds a piece, and had a
capital spree, I tell ye." Old Harry nearly choked, and did not
thoroughly recover until his throat had been cleared with a glass of
grog.

Thirty-six days from Tahiti, and we arrived in Valparaiso. Remaining in
port nearly a month, the anchor was again weighed, and our prow again
turned seaward. Passing the Point of Angels, the burnished keel bravely
ploughed the open ocean, the blue waves following in snowy crests, and,
in a few minutes, shores, town and hills had faded from sight.



CHAPTER LII.


The 28th of January, 1849, found us on the Peruvian coast, abreast the
Island of San Lorenzo, a mountain of sand, where not a blade of grass
can vegetate; and rounding Galera Cape, we were shortly moored in the
port of Callao.

The bay is a wide, sweeping indentation, with Lorenzo, Fronton, and a
narrow spit of land jutting from the main, serving to keep the harbor
smooth from prevailing southerly winds. To the north, the spurs of the
Andes approach layer upon layer to the brink of the coast, while nearer
the land trends away, towards the interior, nearly plain-like--green,
fertile, and pleasant to gaze upon--with the clustering towers, and
spires of Lima abutting on the distant hills.

There is no difference of opinion about Callao: for it is a filthy,
bustling little port, reeking in garlic and drunken mariners, alive with
fleas, miserable, dirty soldiers, and their yet more slovenly wives.

The place is thriving, for steam frequents it; and on the curving quay
are piled mountains of English coals, enormous heaps of wheat, great
stacks of _pisco_, and _italia_ jars, where Haserac, the celebrated
captain, might have concealed an army of thieves with impunity.
Merchandise moves backwards and forwards on railway trucks, and lazy
villains in pale yellow jackets, with iron chains and anklets attached
to the legs, are at work after a fashion of their own.

The houses of the port are mean and irregular, built anywhere and any
how, either of adobies, boards, and on the outskirts, pleasant cottage
residences, built of bullocks' hides and poles. Streets and lanes run
hither and thither, and glaring English signs stare you in the face,
such as the "Jibboom House," "The Lively Pig," "Jackknife Corner," and
"House of Blazes." Along the beach are ranges of wicker, reed, and
mat-made sheds for bathing, which are thronged during the season. But
the most prominent features of Callao that attract the eye, are the
round, flat turrets of the Castle, flanked on either side by long lines
of curtains, bastions, embrasures, and batteries. It covers a great
space, enclosing within its thick and massive case-mated walls, ranges
of barracks--now happily converted into warehouses for the
customs--magazines, and a large square, with a fountain in the centre.
The fortification, from the nature of its position, is somewhat
irregular, constructed partly on a ridge of sand, leading towards the
southern arm of the bay, where in former times was the site of old
Callao, before its destruction by the memorable earthquake of 1746.

There is a wide, deep moat, like to the bed of a river, encircling the
fortress, with narrow channels cut on either side to the sea. This is
now dry and partially filled in nearest the town. The redoubts and
detached outworks are also in ruins, but yet enough remains to make us
reflect, that what the old Spanish engineers left incomplete in this
work would hardly be worth attempting in our day.

It was here where the last stand of the Royalists was made in New
Spain--where the bloodiest foot-prints were left since the days of the
Incas and Pizarro--and it was in this same castle, where the brave
Rodil, with a handful of devoted followers, clung to the soil of their
royal master with a tenacity and determination amounting to
heroism--where horse meat sold for a gold ounce the pound, and a chicken
for its weight in the same precious metal: when, hemmed in on all sides,
by sea and land--surrounded but not dismayed--they still kept their
assailants at bay, until gaunt famine stalked before them, and they were
forced to furl the well-worn colors of their King![7] A score of Rodils,
and another century might have intervened before South American patriots
could have wrested the continent from the old Spaniards.

If tired of contemplating these bloody reminiscences--or bathing under
the sheds and awnings, where all resemble, in their saturated black
frocks and trowsers, watery nuns; or if your temper is destroyed by the
fleas, you can fly to the harbor, where are sturdy merchantmen reeking
in guano, smoking steamers, and heavy ships of war--and thick fogs at
night--or, what is more diverting, you may watch the motions of swarms
of gulls that frequent the Port. Our good surgeon, who professed to be
an ornithologist, called them platoon birds. They fly in regular
battalions and divisions, in strict military apportionments--led and
apparently commanded by their chieftains. The reviews generally began
with fishing. At some understood, feathery signal, while sailing over
the bay, they wheel like a flash, and strike the water simultaneously
like a shower of bullets, and not with the eyes of Argus is it possible
to detect the smallest irregularity in movement, nor a stray winged
soldier out of the ranks.

However, all these amusements are, at best, dull recreation, and it is
a great relief to get quit of Callao. Omnibii encumber the uttermost
ends of the earth--so we go to the office, when the smiling
administrador behind a railing exclaims, "_Ah! Capitan!_ you want
_ascientos_! Ah! you give me one Spanish dollar--ah! _buéno!_" "Any
thieves?" we timidly ask. "_Ah, si_, yes; but you give him gold
ounce--no kill you, ah!" "Charming fellows, certainly; but suppose we
give him an ounce of some other metal!" _Ah! cuidado amigo!_--have a
care, my friend!

With five horses ahead, crack! crack! goes the thong of the negro
Jehu--over the paved street, into the dusty road, where the plunging
steeds are brought up floundering, tugging and straining the heavy
vehicle axle, through the finely powdered soil--now firmly stalled, we
get out per force, curse the roads, and threaten to whip the
driver--then we come on harder ground, until imperceptibly there comes a
rocky strata--loose stones, remains of adobie walls and ditches--but all
equally execrable: then, for a mile or more, fine trees bend their
towering arms over the road, and shortly after, we rattle through a huge
gateway--have travelled eight miles, and we are in the city of
kings--Lima! "See it and die," said the old land pirates of the days of
its founder, Pizarro, and their descendants. Whatever it may have been
two centuries ago, in these days it requires no very strong effort of
will to survive the sight.

The city is compact and populous, the buildings are very low, and quite
resemble the old Moriscan towns along the northern shores of Africa,
with close overhanging _jalousies_ and balconies, finely railed and
latticed. The streets are wide and straight, paved with small
pebbles--dreadfully torturing to the pedestrian--the side-walks beneath
the portals or arcades of the plazas, and in the gateways and patios of
dwellings are figured in coarse mosaic, formed by the white
knuckle-bones of sheep and pebbles. Handsome shops fringe the
fashionable avenues, glittering with costly fabrics and toys; then again
packed side by side, in nooks, alcoves, and niches, are small merchants,
who from their numbers, one would suppose to be all sellers and no
buyers.

The little river Rimac flows noisily through the city, fed from far away
by the silvered pinnacles of snows and ice in the lofty Andes. It is
spanned by a substantial and lofty bridge, whose every stone has been
loosened by the earthquake. Lima might be made one of the cleanest
cities in the world; for through all the main arteries runs a narrow
rivulet diverted from the Rimac. Nevertheless, it is excessively filthy,
and the _gallianzos_, or vultures, tame, and pampered by a profusion of
nastiness and offal, take their morning's meal in the streets and
squares, and afterwards hobble to the house-tops, where, with blood-red
eyes, and gorged bodies, they calmly endure repletion.

The most striking features upon approaching the city are the vast
clusters of domes, towers, and spires, that arise in such thick
profusion from the convents and churches, as to favor the belief that
every house has something of the kind attached thereto. From the
neighboring valley of Almencaes I have counted sixty. In the distance
they present a solid, imposing aspect, but on a nearer view, they will
generally be found mere paper structures of reeds and plaster. Many of
the grand edifices, the cathedral, convents, and parochial churches, are
partly of bricks, stone, or the most enormous adobies, up to the
belfreys, but above, all are similar to the pasteboard decorations of
the theatre; and although it seems reasonable to suppose they would
topple down at the first summons of the _tremblor_, yet it is the only
style of lofty work that will bear the frequent shocks, totter like a
tree, and still stand erect. Externally these buildings are elaborately
carved, painted, and imaged, without any consistent order of
architecture; and within they are profusely decorated with rich
gildings, paintings, and statues; all, however, destitute of taste; and
only when brilliantly illuminated, with the myriads of silken
parti-colored streamers pendant and fluttering from the lofty aisles,
swinging censers, organs pealing, with all the pomp and imposing
ceremony of the Catholic church, is the effect worthy of admiration.

The best position for viewing Lima--Asmodeus-like--is from the high
tower of San Domingo, that is, if, after mounting above the bells, you
can reconcile the flimsy quaking fabric you stand upon to any extreme
ideas of personal safety. The devil on this pair of sticks could not
have chosen a more eligible spot for inspecting the arcana of people's
dwellings. The city is spread like a map at your feet; composed of long
lines of crumbling walls, miles of flat roofs, and little patios, the
former loosely tiled, and sprinkled over with dirt, where even dead
cats, and tattered rags quietly repose for ages. There is not in the
universe to be seen such a large area of mud walls, reed, and rush-built
houses, all appearing so unfinished and incomplete. But in a climate
where it never rains, where it never blows, where even the thick
coatings of dust are hardly absorbed by the _dry rain_ of winter fogs,
it is not surprising that all these masses of reeds and plaster are
preserved for centuries without perceptible decay. Still there can be no
scepticism on one point, that if ever there chance to fall a heavy
tropical shower, the city of Pizarro will be swept, a heap of mud and
sticks, into the ocean.

Allowing the eyes to wander around and beyond the city, the discolored
Rimac is seen hurrying from the melting bosom of its Alpine mother down
between the distant hills, diffusing its fertilizing freshness over the
sloping valley--the margins encircled by verdant fields of cane, like
bright patches of emeralds, and the banks fringed by weeping willows,
that dip their bending branches to kiss the rapid torrent. On it comes,
over the stony bed, dashing its strength in fierce anger against the
arches of the sturdy bridge, and then glancing by the flowering meads
and slopes of Almencaes, flies rapidly to the placid waves of the
Pacific.

FOOTNOTE:

[7] In February, 1826.



CHAPTER LIII.


Lima is fast losing its singular originality, although there is still
much to be seen, which, in these days of universal journeyings, has the
merit of being extremely novel.

There are interminable strings of mules and donkeys constantly passing
and repassing to the bubbling fountains of plazas or churches, each with
twin reservoirs of water-barrels balanced on the brute's shoulders;
others with huge milk jugs, baker's boxes of hides, and the drivers in
the midst. Again, matronly dames jog along astride their cattle,
commonly nursing infants; then gilded _volantes_ and _berlinas_ whirl
by, occupied by _damas_ in full dress, looking as if entombed within
crystal shades; then priests in "cope and stole" in processions--white
and black gowned ones--tottering bishops in lawn and mitre, and very
shaky on their swollen ancles, with beads vibrating like uneasy
pendulums; others in stove-pipe hats, sleek, fat, and slovenly--or meek
friars--not of eggs and bacon, from their meagre, famished
appearance--lank and dirty, with robes of coarse serge and girdles of
ropes--all darkening the side walks, with flickering torch and taper
flaring in the mid-day sun, and solemn chaunt, as they move unceasingly
towards church or convent.

Then, again, stupid, stunted native Indians strut along with bow legs
and parrot step; beside them, stout negresses, zambos, and cholos, with
brief frocks, and the most gossamer of flesh-colored silk stockings
encasing their ebony shins; there are _portales_ thronged with shops and
stalls--artizans in gold and silver embroidery carrying on their
avocations, regardless of noise and bustle. Equestrians, too, are
caracolling through streets and squares, clothed in bright ponchos, and
their small, spirited steeds decked in shining trappings, with heavy
Gothic-shaped spurs, half the weight of the riders.

It is a curious scene to contemplate all this motley crowd, as the first
sweet tone of the great bell of the cathedral--and the sweetest sound
from brass and silver ever heard--gives forth its prolonged and
melancholy cadence for _oracion_. As if touched by the wand of a
magician, the busy hum of life is hushed--mules and donkeys halt of
their own accord, and with drooping ears and bended necks, appear
absorbed in prayer. The man who is yelling _Fresquita_! with all his
might, stops miraculously short at the half-uttered word in the highest
note--venders and the disciples of Abraham cease barter--horsemen draw
bridle--these gay _berlinas_ pause, and their fair inmates with jewelled
fingers tell their beads, and rosy lips arrest the dimpling
smiles--lovers silence the soft whispers to blushing _amantes_--the
whirr of loom and spindle weaving the golden threads is checked--hats
and heads are borne low, and every vestige of animation is
suspended--all is beautifully impressive. A minute! The _avé_ is
uttered--the heavy bell sounds twice--thrice--then the deafening and
rejoicing peals ring from towers far and near. Crack! falls the cruel
lash on the devout donkey's hide--_arré!_ shouts the arrieros--_quita!_
screams the dulce-man--_Tres pesos el menor!_ wheedles the Jew--off
glide the gilded vehicles--away gallop capering barbs--the artisans
resume the mazy windings of the reel or shuttle--the lover and his
mistress again become smiling and pathetic--and again goes on the roar
and turmoil of a populous town.

On the right bank of the Rimac are two promenades, neither particularly
well shaded, but the Alemeda nearest the river is most frequented and
pleasant.

During feast days, or after the Sunday bull-fights in the arena near at
hand, it is customary for the élite of Lima to appear in full dress,
enshrined within the glass panels of their pretty _berlinas_, and take a
stand along the drive, beneath the drooping willows. Nor is it
considered indecorous, if you have friends or acquaintances among those
lovely dames, to doff your castor and touch the tips of their ungloved,
rosy fingers, and may be, hear the number of their _palco_ at the
evening opera--or, where the _tertulia_ is given, and what a charming
bouquet it was you sent--and other agreeable pleasantries. Have a care,
my gringo! button your coat tight, or you may lose your heart!

On these occasions, also, the stone benches on either side the promenade
are thronged with _sayas y mantas_--the most bewitching satin envelope
that ever woman, be she youthful or aged, was ever wrapped in. There is
no resisting the large, brilliant, languishing eye--laughing with all
its might--nor the round, white arm, that so pertinaciously keeps the
jealous folds of the _manta_ over the face. Exhaust the whole Castilian
vocabulary of compliments--and it is copious--beseeching and imploring
to be vouchsafed one little word! _Ah Señorita! haceme el favor de una
palabrita!_--do speak one little word. But no! never a syllable from the
silent veil, while the roguish eye twinkles and laughs like a planet!
They may know you--but the sharpest dueña that ever cheated or was
bribed by a lover could not detect her charge within these
closely-fitting dominoes--nor husband the wife, nor mother her
daughter--they are alike enshrouded in the same graceful but
impenetrable black masque. They are so cunning and coquettish, too!
Fancy you discover one. Strive to awaken her jealousy, or pique her
vanity by encomiums or scandal upon a sister or cousin--ten to one it
comes back to you in protean shapes from the one you least dreamed of.
Yet I cannot but think the institution was originally invented by ugly
women; and it appears, many of the fairest portions are of the same
opinion, being generally quite willing to exhibit their charms of face
as nature intended. Except on feast days, or in carnival, the dress is
now rarely worn; but in former years no woman appeared in street or mass
without the _saya y manta_. In those days, intrigue was so rife that a
prudent young bachelor was forced to keep a strict watch upon his
morals, or have his heart forcibly abducted by these warm-blooded
Liméneans--those were the times to hold wicked husbands in
consternation, and set watchful dueñas at defiance! For a wonder, French
taste and dress are rapidly reforming all.

Some distance up the Rimac, near the Alemeda, is to be found the
pleasantest place for bathing. Water is turned by narrow canals, and
pours through a long range of enclosed and covered tanks, nicely
cemented and tiled, sufficiently large for swimming. They are not very
private places at all hours of the day, but one's delicacy is seldom
shocked, for the swimmers are the politest people possible: as an
instance, whilst bathing one morning, two youths accidentally intruded
on my quarters, but recovering their equanimity, very civilly removed
their head-gear and made a polite bow to me, while in the water!

Drives there are none at all pleasurable for any extent around the
city; nor are the rides more so. The environs, in all directions, are
intersected by heavy and high mud walls, shutting out air and vision,
leaving only heat and stifling clouds of dust to repay one's trouble.

Lima itself should not be too narrowly criticised from the streets;
although without, naught is beheld save dingy, adobie walls, dusty
cobwebbed lattices and balconies, half decayed, yet once pass the wide
and lofty portals, and many of the best houses have noble suites of
apartments, furnished with great taste and even splendor; besides, that
which gives, in a certain degree, an air of elegance, is the elaborate
mazes of glass doors, gaily papered or frescoed walls, and a profusion
of gilding. Light is usually thrown from the roof, and the houses are
cool and properly ventilated.

After a few _tertulias_, and a pretty ball given by the American Chargé,
we had no other opportunities of mingling in Liménean society. There
were quite a number of pretty women, with very fair complexions and
winning manners, who danced like sylphs, as what Creole does not? Two
youthful Señoritas, of some sixteen and seventeen years, were pointed
out as little lumps of gold, of "purest ray serene," who were _fiancée_
to their uncles, fine old gentlemen of sixty! It was suggestive of a
post-chaise and bandboxes to any successful aspirant to the ownership of
a lovely pair of eyes. However, these out of the way alliances are quite
common in Lima, and perhaps the fair ones, at a later era, begin to
discover they have hearts of their own not to be sold to the highest
bidder, like bills of exchange at the mart! Very few of these deluded
damsels, it may be reasonably presumed, when fully aware of their
tender wrongs, can exclaim, in the words of the Spanish lady's ballad:


     "I will not falsify my vows for gold nor gain,
     Nor yet for all the _fondest swains_ that ever lived in Spain."



CHAPTER LIV.


The public edifices of Lima, which are so closely connected with the
History of the Conquest, and the bloody revolutionary struggles of Peru,
have no other attributes, either in architectural beauty or position to
recommend them.

The Cathedral occupies nearly one side of the grand plaza; the exterior
is painfully decorated, without taste or system; within is a solid
silver altar, paintings of archbishops, and their earthly remains also,
mummified in leather, and reposing in open coffins.

The Viceroy's Palace fills the northern face of the square--a low,
irregular collection of buildings--the lower parts, fronting the plaza
and streets, occupied by small shopmen, similar to the hosts of tinkers,
fringemen, hatters, and cooks beneath the opposite ranges of the
_portales_. Opening into the inner courtyard are the public offices and
the private residence of the President, General Castilla. He was a
soldier of fortune, had risen from the ranks, and passed through many
vicissitudes of life before being chosen the supreme governor of Peru;
not more surprising probably even to himself, than the extraordinary
anomaly, that he has held his position the four years since the
election, without a revolution having arisen to disturb his
tranquillity. This security he owed, in a measure, to his individual
bravery and soldiership displayed in times past, and the belief
generally entertained by dissatisfied persons of his upright character,
and his indifference to execute summary vengeance on whomsoever should
incur his displeasure, by again involving the country in the turmoils of
civil discord.

The General and staff visited our frigate at Callao, and were received
with manned yards and the usual artillery. In person he was about the
middle stature, with a frank, bronzed face, and agreeable address.

Many curious objects are pointed out within, or in the vicinity of the
palace, rich in reminiscences of the Pizarros, and the tragic drama
connected with the life and death of the Conqueror--the room wherein he
was assassinated, and the balcony from whence he was afterwards hurled
by the Almagros.

The main Patio was thronged with troops of eager and expectant
cormorants, who, my informant stated, were gentlemen in waiting upon the
treasury--officers and _empleados_ with large salaries in
perspective--but, strange to say, the vaults were invariably empty; or,
in case there should be a surplus on hand, it is a description of money
composed of so base a metal that it will not pass for one-fifth the
nominal value out of Lima.

A national museum has lately been established--a small enterprise thus
far,--containing a few Cacique antiquities, Island weapons and
ornaments, a coat worn by Salaverry when he was murdered--bedabbled with
mud and blood--and the walls are hung with portraits of the forty-seven
Viceroys of Peru, but placed in so bad a light that, with few
exceptions, the features and expression of the different rulers were
indistinctly visible. They begin with Francisco Pizarro,[8] and are all
miserably executed specimens of painting, without grace or harmony, and
it would seem that the artists, in their anxiety to have them of a
uniform length, in the absence of correct notions of drawing, have
jammed heads and heels close up or down to the frames, leaving the
intermediate portions of the person harsh and ungainly.

The theatre is a mean edifice, and the immense rafters that uphold the
flat roof are apt to keep a nervous person in the pit somewhat anxious
and uneasy, anticipating a shock of the _tremblor_. It is sufficiently
commodious, but badly ventilated, dimly lighted, and without decorations
or scenic display. The first representation we attended was mediocrily
performed by an Italian troupe--there were three prima donnas--who,
apart from being ugly, which, of course, was no fault of theirs, were
regardless of taste or execution, and all strove to outshout the other.
Indeed, a fifth-rate artiste, coming so far abroad in these climes,
deems it imperative to take a tip-top part; besides, I have remarked
among opera people, that there is always a cruel Empressario, who
tyrannically will have something to say in the management of his
theatre--very much to the disgust of the performers, and who is,
moreover, expected to pay handsomely, even when the troupe cannot half
fill the house.

On the occasion referred to there were myriads of fleas, and what with
Beatrice di Tenda--a donna in red--we were fain to quit the opera.
Subsequently the performances were very creditable, and living in the
same house with the Contralto and handsome Barrytone, we became enlisted
in their clique, and did battle against the unreasonable manager. One
evening, whilst assisting at Linda di Charmouni, between the acts I was
sitting behind the scenes, in a temporarily-constructed saloon,
condoling with the interesting Contralto, sympathising with her griefs,
and admiring her open-worked clocked stockings--for she was costumed as
a Swiss peasant--and when nearly wound up to a pitch of desperate
frenzy, against the barbarous Empressario, the lady's tire woman tripped
in. _Signorina_, said she, _la scéna_! The call-keeper's pipe chirped
musically. I flew to the front, and getting comfortably ensconced beside
a lovely Liménean, with a little mouth like a slit in a rose-leaf, up
flew the curtain. The scene was similar to one in Fra Diavolo, where
Antonio returns down the mountain-steep after an unsuccessful search for
the devil's brother; lots of peasants, flower-girls, and a horde of
attendants, had already ascended, together with the Contralto, and Linda
herself, who weighed fourteen stone. Tap! tap! led the orchestral baton.
Now began the _cavatina_. I was half entranced in melody, cigar-smoke,
and the smiles of her with the rose-leaf mouth, Doña Margarita, when, as
the sweet notes came trilling forth, in wreaths of exquisite
harmony--crash! scream! crash!--the platforms gave way! The prima donna
made a demi-volte, threw an involuntary summerset, and vanished
head-foremost through Mont Blanc, severely damaging the picturesque
village of Chamouni; our friend the Cantatrice, and the little slashed
trowsers and silk stockings, were seen plunging and struggling in an
Alpine torrent of pasteboard. All was tottering scenery, shrieking
supes, clouds of dust, terror, and confusion. Some villain had cut the
cords that upheld the mountain-pass. Our Contralto warbler escaped
without a blemish, but the unfortunate Prima was pulled out from beneath
the treacherous planks in hysterics, and borne off kicking violently in
the arms of stout peasants. Of course the play was ended: but there
nearly arose a revolution in Lima that night, for it was strongly urged
that the murderous Empressario had conspired against his troupe,
although, poor man, he swore until black in the visage, that he never
dreamed of so heinous a crime; and if he might be allowed a conjecture
he should say, that it had been a little ballet got up among the
_Cantatrici_ themselves, to get rid of performing for a week or two! but
no one believed him.

Our hotel was the _Fonda de los Baños_, the best in Lima--faint praise
this. It faces the cathedral in the plaza, and is a capital point of
view for strangers desirous of seeing the motley panorama of the city
from the balconies without mingling in the dust and fleas below. Our
host was an old, frowsy-wigged Frenchman, pleasant and conversible, who
made out the accounts with a crotchety style of caligraphy--fives and
nines hardly to be distinguished apart--although with never an error in
your favor in the arithmetical _calcule_ at bottom. The lady of the
mansion was a fine-looking, although _passée_ person, who presided at
table d'hôte in _grand tenu_, and served coffee and _italia_ for
_chasse_, with a little dessert of _monté_, if called for in the
evening, at a side-table. Underneath the Fonda were billiard saloons and
cafés, with warm baths adjoining. This establishment was cared for by a
vivacious gentleman, extremely popular with navy men, named Señor
Zuderel. I would advise all homeless wanderers journeying towards Lima
to seek lodgings at this Caravanserai. I was pleased myself, and shall
ever bear Monsieur and Madame Morin in agreeable recollection, for a
correct knowledge of the world, tolerably well-served dinners, expensive
wines, and a just appreciation of the _sous entendu_.

It was my intention to have made a hasty visit to Churillos, a small
fishing village on the sea coast, where, at certain seasons, all the
world resort for bathing and gaming--both amusements carried on day and
night without cessation; but finding the time approaching for our
departure, after spending eight days at Lima, one afternoon I buried my
shoulders within a glaring red poncho--and was warned by Zuderel "not to
carry much money, for fear of the ladrones," which I considered purely a
supererogatory piece of advice, as any economical person may convince
himself after a few days visit only!--_El que bebe de las pilas se queda
en Lima_--He who drinks of the fountains will never leave Lima, is a
favorite proverb. Inasmuch as I had only sparingly indulged in the
delicious waters of the city, save when mingled with Bordeaux and pure
blocks of ice brought from the Andes, I cannot be said to have entirely
destroyed the truth of the adage; so, trotting leisurely through plaza
and streets--invoking a blessing from Our Lady--I pursued my ride beyond
the gates, steering for Callao. It was thus I departed from the
"Paradise of women, the purgatory of men, and hell of jackasses!"

We sailed for Valparaiso.

FOOTNOTE:

[8] This is the same portrait from which the engraving in Prescott's
Peru is taken, but the latter bears but a faint resemblance to the
original.



CHAPTER LV.


We found Valparaiso very much improved since our first visit, more so,
in fact, than would be generally believed for a Creole town. Streets had
been newly paved and extended, whole squares of fine warehouses, and
long rows of dwellings completed; all tending, with a rapid increase of
population, to make the port most flourishing. As in the Islands and
Callao, the discovery of the El Dorado of California had thrown the
entire community into a state of feverish excitement, which was
augmented by every fresh arrival. Ships touching here, no matter whither
bound, or for what intent, were either bought before their anchors were
down, or chartered for passengers or freight. Day by day vessels sailed,
loaded high up the shrouds with any articles of merchandise that could
hastily be thrown on board. The city was drained of wares and goods of
every description; merchants, clerks, artisans and mechanics were
hurrying, as fast as sails could bear them, to the swamps and sands of
the Sacramento. Fortunes were made in a minute, and it only appeared
necessary to purchase a ship and cargo at any price, and the day or hour
after be offered twice the money for the bargain. One merchant actually
paid twenty thousand hard dollars for the information contained in a
letter from San Francisco--a more valuable missive was probably never
penned. The mania was equally violent throughout all classes of the
community--natives, foreigners, men, women, and children.

We mariners were merely lookers on, having neither cash nor commodities.
Some of us talked of deserting, and scratching a little fortune of gold
dust with our several digits; others of resigning, and seeking employ in
the merchant service; but in the end we bore the good fortune of mankind
around us, with philosophical equanimity, and remained contented with
our lot.

Notwithstanding this _auri sacra fames_, the same generous hospitality
awaited us, at the hands of our countrymen, as of old, and we passed the
time delightfully.

The rides around Valparaiso are almost destitute of interest; for many
leagues the main roads lead over dry and hilly ground, with no relief
from their dullness, except an occasional glimpse from some more
elevated ridge, of the broad Pacific or the shining snow-capped
Cordilleras far in the interior. There are neither forests nor grasses,
nor yet running water. Even in the most secluded valleys, the herbage is
pale and withered, and vegetation stunted.

Excellent horses are easily found; and after passing over the paved
streets at a slow gait, to escape lynx-eyed _serénos_, ever on the watch
to recover a two-dollar fine from strangers for fast riding, you may
then, at early morn, before the breeze stirs the fine, choking dust, or
in the evening, when the high winds have expended their rage over the
Plaiancha and Point of Angels, take a lively gallop with some degree of
enjoyment. Our rides were usually along the Santiago road towards the
post-house, where a nice breakfast was always procurable, through the
kindness of a motherly Yorkshire dame, whose husband was at all times
particularly vinous; the breakfast, however, never suffered on that
score.

The Chilians, men and women, ride admirably; but there are none who
indulge in this healthful exercise to a greater extent, and who sit the
horse more gracefully and securely than our own fair countrywomen
residing in Valparaiso; and with all their manifold charms, they are
accomplished in the proper understanding of a pic-nic. I am ignorant of
the correct etymology of the word, but have heard it expounded as "all
ham, and no punch;" be this as it may, these agreeable ladies comprehend
the thing thoroughly; they know the most sequestered little glens for
leagues around, when and where, and how to go; they have their own
spirited steeds, too, like their mistress's riding robes, always ready.
The excursion is arranged in five minutes, so, cavaliers, you have only
to send for horses and borrow a whip, and if you know of any troupe of
more charming doñas, pray don't keep it a secret.

Out of the hot city, with veiled faces--up ravines and down dales--leave
the dusty road--clear the hedges, and scamper over the upland downs,
until we have lost sight of towns, suburbs, shipping, and harbor;
perhaps a pair of bright eyes looks back to the nice matrons who play
propriety--pointing with a little gauntleted hand--"There! in that shady
glade, this side the Rancho"--winding about the declivities, we reach
the base of a sheltered valley--we dismount, tie the animals, and then
breaking through interlaced thickets of undergrowth and herbage, a
little trickling rill will possibly be found, bubbling deep down the
cleft of a ravine, on whose margin is a plot of grass, where we clear
away the brushwood, spread saddle-cloths for the ladies, and make
ourselves happy.

Some one must go to the neighboring farm-house in search of fruit--not
everybody, for there are two country belles there, who keep a guitar,
and put on airs of rustic coquetry--besides, it is not complimentary to
the lovely ladies we attend, to be gallivanting or straying
elsewhere--they demand, by laws of chivalry, our homage, and they well
deserve it. By and by, there appears a brown dame, with a huge tray of
biscuits, peaches, "and a dish of ripe strawberries, all smothered in
cream!" What a perfume! "Hand over the _alforgas_, those pockets
attached to saddle housings. Oblige me, sir, by guarding this plethoric
napkin of sandwiches! Stop! here's another; don't let anybody take even
a bite until the Señora gives the word! What is this; a bottle of Xeres,
as I'm a sinner--claret, too! _Ave Maria!_ Get water somebody, and let
me show you the art, acquired by long practice, of pulling a cork
without a screw. There! click! click! crack! Cleverly done, eh? Don't
cut your delicate fingers, Señorita! Are we ready?--we are, and almost
frantic." The time flits on pleasure's wings--the shadows from the
crests of the surrounding heights are darkening the glen--the
strawberries and sandwiches are all gone, and the bottles are dying
marines.

"Come, girls," say the Señoras, "we must be in time for dinner.
Caballeros you will dine with us?--they never forget that--we shall
dance in the evening, but not too late--to-morrow is Sunday." Now hurrah
for the _carrera_--race. Be under no apprehensions, my friends, when you
see those slight forms, with streaming tresses and dresses, flying by
leap and bound over the narrow pathways, rocky descents and
water-courses!--have a care to your own horse, never mind your fair
companions--their sure-footed steeds would race blindfolded, and, I
doubt not, snap their legs short off, rather than injure the gentle
beings who so easily guide them! We soon reach the environs of the
city, and with horses all in a foam, pace sedately through the streets,
towards the terraced residences.

The society of natives and foreigners is quite distinct in Valparaiso,
and general re-unions only take place at the monthly Philharmonic balls.
Those we attended were very elegant and select assemblies, with a large
proportion of beautiful women: all danced with charming grace, and were
most becomingly attired with all the exquisite taste and refinement of
French fashions; and with a fine, brilliantly-lighted saloon, excellent
orchestra, the white fluttering dresses of the women, gayly contrasting
with the gleaming lace and bullion of hosts of officers from foreign
ships of war, it made altogether as inspiriting and magnificent a
display as can be found in any part of the world.

The natives are seen with even more attractions in their social circles.
The _tertulia_ is ever an impromptu affair, and nothing is more
calculated to preserve a happy current of friendly feeling among the
youth of both sexes. There is no staid form or ceremony: people meet for
pleasure in the dance or love-making--'tis all the same--everything is
frank and companionable.

Once get the entrée and make friends with the kind Señora--sip scalding
_maté_, and never forget her at supper at the balls, or _dulces_ for the
_niñas_--you have the game in your own hands, and on velvet with the
dear young _doncellas_, may whisper all the pretty speeches imaginable
to downcast eyes at the piano or guitar, or blushing cheeks in waltz or
polka! I do not believe Spanish girls often break their hearts--they
ache sometimes, perhaps, but are easily consoled--and I advise all who
set up graven images, and who wish to be in good repute with dark-eyed
Creole maidens, to send anonymous bouquets unceasingly, and of course
divulge the donors' names afterwards--'tis a sure passport to the smiles
of fair ladies everywhere, but these dear, little Chilians will
positively adore you.

In a former sketch of Valparaiso, I touched upon the quiet, cool
retreats perched on the salient crests of the adjacent hills. One of
these terraces, Monte Allegro, is the beauty-spot of Valparaiso. Ah! the
agreeable dinners, tea-parties, promenades and dances, given there by
the charming residents, from the little balconied house in the rear, to
the entire cottage-range in front! Heaven help us! we owe them many a
debt of gratitude we may never be able to repay, save in kindly
remembrance to all. There was one, too--


     "Of all that sets young hearts romancing,
     She was our queen--our rose--our star;
     And when she danced--O! Heaven! her dancing!"--


Ah! Doña Pepe! I may never forgive the malicious delight you exhibited
at the Filharmonica, where the thin lady took a first lesson in the
polka--may Terpsichore and all the Graces of the light fantastic toe
befriend her!--but yet, although a few months have borne me thousands of
leagues away, I still preserve your little flower, and shall ever
remember our parting among the brightest of lingering things in
Valparaiso.

Aside from the lovely living attractions of this little _cielo_, it has
much else to recommend it. In the calm nights you can stand on its lofty
esplanade, towering above the heart of the city, and look down upon the
world below. The faces of the tops, with the steep sides of the
_quebradas_, are twinkling with myriads on myriads of bright
lights--long streets and avenues are seen coursing in the opposite
direction along the Almendral, dotted and sparkling with cab and lantern
hurrying to and fro, until far away, all is blended in one even line of
perspective; and perhaps there is seen a procession of flickering
torches winding up the Campo Santo, bearing some unconscious clay to a
last home; then, when the guns from forts and ships have ceased their
everlasting peals among the hills, music from different vessels of war
arises in delicious strains, clearly and distinctly, from the
port--while their black hulls, illumined sides, spars and rigging, are
reposing motionless, with mazy shadows mingling with the starry
reflections upon the polished surface of the bay from the blue vault
above. The whole scene is framed by the crowning heights circling around
the city, and the base is girdled by the glittering waters of the ocean.

I was never tired of musing over this bright and varied picture, or
inhaling the sweet perfume of the _florapondia_ blooming on the terrace.
It is a spot to which the innocent children, who now sport there in
unconscious gayety, will one day turn from all the toil and strife of
future years, and smother many a sigh for the joyful reminiscences of
their childhood.

Adieu to thee, Monte Allegro! May the dread earthquake never blanch the
cheeks of those who tread thy brow, or rend thy firm feet from their
foundation.



CHAPTER LVI.


Homeward Bound! A loud report from the frigate's bow gun, and before the
smoke had vanished, the cornet was fluttering at the mast-head--a signal
for sailing. The brave boatswain and his lusty mates blew ear-splitting
notes from deck to deck--the roar of hoarse voices resounded deep within
the bowels of the ship, "All hands, up anchor for home!" The capstans
spun around like tops--the fifers played their merriest jigs--the crew
danced with glee--"pall the capstan!" The well-worn sails again fell
from the yards, and as the puffs of wind came stealthily over the Point
of Angels, the noble frigate turned slowly on her keel, in gladness
sprang away, and bade adieu to Valparaiso.

In a few days the batteries of heavy guns were drawn in, their frowning
muzzles lashed to the staunch bulwarks, and the windows of the ship
closed to the buffettings of the sea. We passed in sight of Juan
Fernandez, and, soon after, the wind befriended us, and with broad wings
we flew towards Cape Horn. One dark night, another of the unfortunate
maintop men was lost overboard: he had been born and bred upon the
ocean, and thus singularly met his watery grave.

Rain, snows, and storms came over us, but on the seventeenth day we
doubled the tempestuous Cape Horn, where we saw a dozen ships, with
gold! gold! painted in perspective, on every seam of their broad
topsails. Leaving the Falkland Islands, we steered boldly into the
Atlantic, and went on our swift course joyfully.

The strong favoring gales seemed never to tire in efforts to urge us
onward. The very sea-birds gave over chasing us, all save a venerable
couple of grey-backed albatross, who with indefatigable energy followed
us for three thousand miles. Again we crossed the tropics--the southern
cross paled below the horizon--the pole-star, gleaming dimly at first,
rose and rose until sparkling high in the heavens. Again we splashed
through the haunts of flying-fish and nautilus, until, on the
sixty-third day, there came the loud cry of "Land, ho!"

Shortly after, our noble ship--that had borne us in safety fifty-five
thousand miles--let fall her anchors, for the last time, within the
waters of the Chesapeake.





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